Sunday, December 30, 2012


This is one of the major road-to-bike-lane crossings on University avenue.  I had to haul my bike over the snow pile to get onto the path heading East.

It's been nine days since Madison got hit with between 17-21 inches of snow--depending on which side of town you're on.  Nine days and most bike lanes are still full of snow and ice chunks.  Nine days and some of the bike paths on the West side are still covered with 2-3 inches of mush.  Nine days and plates of ice two inches deep still cover many of the side roads.  Hey, I'm not stupid.  I understand this snowstorm was extremely difficult on the city workers...but come on guys, this has happened before and I've never seen the roads in this condition for such a long period of time.  The only person I can blame is Paul Soglin, Madison's mayor.  Paul is a guy who loves to brag about being "bike friendly".  He also loves to talk about how he started the bike movement in Madison.  As most winter cyclists know here, he is also the guy that threatened cyclists lives by writing one of the worst blog posts I've ever read in waxing America.

Let me back up a bit.  When my husband and I first moved to Madison, we quickly fell in love with the plethora of cycling options and the commitment Madison had to becoming a platinum bike city.  Our mayor at the time, Dave Cieslewicz, not only put needed funds into expanding our commuter paths/lanes, traveled to Europe and the West coast to study bike friendly cities in hopes of adopting their practices, but he also supported the winter bike community (he shows up to Madison Bike Winter activities).  Dave had a vision of making Madison a more livable and healthy city.  He was, and is still, dedicated to environmental initiatives and wellness programs.  He sees what Madison could be.

Since Dave was voted out, and Paul was voted in--this is where I shed a few tears--Madison has dropped drastically in our bike friendly rankings.  We used to place in the top three.  This year, we fell to seventh place in bicycling magazine.  I can only guess this is partly due to Paul's "I know best and you can't teach me anything" attitude.

Here is a main commuter path next to Old Middleton road.  Several cyclists, including my husband, called the city to report it having 2-3 inches of mushy snow with ice underneath.  The city still hasn't plowed it.

Here is the same path just down the road but in Shorewood.  Notice any differences?

A few days ago, I took it upon myself to write formal letters to the city of Madison and Middleton expressing my concern for cyclists and pedestrians.  I explained why it's so important to have bike lanes clear and even gave specific street examples.  The city's reply was:  "I will have someone check these out.  I am not familiar with these particular paths.  On street bike paths are very difficult to maintain.  Some are too close to parked vehicles for us to properly clear and it is very hard for us to get sand on them as cars tend to blow the material off."  All of the street examples I gave them have only bike lanes and no parking areas. They were also all major bike routes for people commuting into the city.  As of today, none of the lanes have been touched.  In fact, with the recent 2.5 inches of fresh snow, they are even worse.

Here is a "nicely" plowed street.  The ice chunks force cyclists into traffic.

This all raises an important question.  With the budget issues we are facing, will cyclist and pedestrian safety be thrown out or completely disregarded?  As cities like Minneapolis and Boulder continue to put funds into improving their infrastructure for year round riding, will we drop even further down in rankings?  Let's hope Paul gets his shit together and learns from what Dave was trying to do.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Celebrating Life

Our cycling group doing a casual ride near Michael's birthday

One of the reasons I love my cycling group so much is we all celebrate living.  We ride regardless of the season, and usually end each ride with a smile ear to ear.  Instead of sitting around, allowing our age to get us down, we play and act like kids.  Although not every member likes special attention on their birthday--I will withhold names--I don't think anyone feels they are getting older.  In fact, aside from the jokes about injuries, I'm guessing that everyone feels quite young.  We make a point to keep each other from getting too serious, and we often gather for a ride, food and beer near one another's birthday.  In my eyes, nothing could be better than to celebrate on a bike!  I can't wait until the rest of the members have their birthdays.

Celebrating Steve's birthday and I just found out that Dan's birthday came shortly after.  Dan, you will get your own party next time!
My actual birthday was spent in a tunnel
Guess who's birthday it is?!

Aaron and I split the festivities since our birthdays are close together

Nate's birthday at the Chazen.  photo by Steve Wasmund

Nate even got a concert by Dan for his birthday.  photo by Nathan Vergin
Pre-birthday ride with Martha and Nate.  photo by Nathan Vergin

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Mending and Prepping

As I sit here, still nursing this stupid head cold, while my fellow riding friends are out on trail, I am setting up a plan for my winter training.  In normal years, my "winter plan" would have started in November.  This year, not unlike last, old man winter is late to arrive.  There are, however, rumors that snow--big snow-- is on it's way for later this week.  For me, this means running season has arrived along with more yoga, weight training, and more work on balance and posture.  I had a few false starts this year when I thought winter had settled in, but each time was foiled by warmer temps...and everyone knows my road bike won't stay inside in good conditions.

For those reading this post in hopes of finding a training program for them, keep searching.  As a trainer and cycling coach, I am the first to say no one is the same and no one benefits from following one program designed for all.  The only advice I give across the board is:  a) Take some time off the bike.  Even if the weather allows you to train on the bike year round, your body will thank you for partaking in some cross-training--preferably in the upright position.  b) Posture and balance can help prevent injuries in the future.  Taking a couple months during the "down" season to find discrepancies in the body and even them out to the best of your ability will make you stronger and healthier as you ramp up the miles.

For some of  this "repair" work on myself, there is one piece of equipment I hate and love at the same time.  I was introduced to the foam roller about ten years ago by a 45 year old track racer.  The first time I used it, tears were streaming down my cheeks and I'm pretty sure I threw up a bit.  The track racer laughed and said "Good.  That means you need keep doing it several times each week."  When I'm compliant, it makes an enormous difference.  It has helped me battle a mild case of compartment syndrome, it keeps my Morton's neuroma at bay and it allows my shoulders to go into a semi-normal placement.  My husband and I even have a short one we take when traveling.

I'm including an introductory foam roller routine to follow for those who are interested.  You can pick a roller up at most running stores or get one on line.  I suggest getting a denser one to prevent quick break down, however, the basic white ones still work well--especially for those who are sensitive to pressure.

Happy winter everyone and I hope to see your tracks in the snow soon!