Saturday, October 4, 2014

Hitting a dozen--the easy way

You've got to know when to hold 'em
Know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
-Kenny Rogers

Blue Mound beckons
Yesterday marked my twelfth century of the year--the most I've ever done in one season by far.  Tomorrow should have marked my thirteenth making it a nice baker's dozen.  Instead, I took the "easy" way out and high tailed it home, running from the wind.

Laura...fierce like a lion
This all started with a fun idea my friend, Laura, had a couple months ago.  She had been my partner in crime on several long outings which  got us into somewhat precarious situations--biking to Milwaukee in near freezing temps with sleet was one of them.  When she brought up her plan of biking to her father's home in Potosi, WI, there was no question...I wanted in.

A few days prior to rollout, I checked the forecast.  Wind and cold.  Yep, that figures.  At that time, however, the wind, albeit a headwind, was only slated to be about 15mph.  Not fun for nearly 100 miles, but doable.  Then, the next day, they upped it to 20mph sustained with chances of rain and temps dropping into the 40's.  Ooookkkaaayyy.  I won't lie.  My mind started doing that thing not unlike a dog chasing its tail.  Could I do this with the remnants of a head cold and a hip issue that flares whenever I push for long periods into wind?  I decided to try and go against what my brain was telling me.  

Day of brought the forecasted winds even higher.  20-25 sustained with gusts to 30mph.  The rain chances died down, but on our way back we'd be doing the same route with temps around 32 degrees (thankfully without the headwind this time).  I was still determined to try it, knowing I could turn around any time I needed to, but at the same time I didn't want to let Laura down since she was hellbent on going the entire way.  

Although we had a headwind the moment we rolled out, at 15-20 it didn't seem too bad.  As the hours flew by, we were treated to magnificent colors, views of Blue Mound and sleepy driftless area towns.  We were also treated to blasts of wind which humbled me greatly each time we hit anything remotely exposed.  When we turned Southwest, south of Dodgeville, I was hoping we'd get a short reprieve for a 15 mile stretch we shouldn't have had much of an issue with.  By this time, however, the winds had increased to strong gusts and the crosswind was making even my heavily loaded steel frame sway like a drunken sailor.  When we did turn due West, on the top of a high ridge, I knew it was over for me.  It felt like a brick wall and I was most likely climbing around 6 mph.  At this rate I knew we wouldn't hit our destination until darkness fell, not something I was looking forward to at all.

Swear words flew from my mouth, something Laura couldn't hear since she was ahead of me, but I'm sure my friends in Madison got an earful.  My hip and lower back started to seize from the constant push and it was all too easy to put one foot down and call it quits knowing we'd have to battle another 45 miles of this shit.   Although I felt bad leaving Laura out there with my cue sheet, knowing I could continue if I had to, I also felt pretty damn good I'd be getting a tailwind soon--after I forced my way back through the crosswinds.

pretty drifltess farm 
almost to the top

Worth the climb!

When I started heading due East, I thought YAY! this will be cake and I will barely have to pedal the entire way.  Not so.  As I have written about the wind in previous posts, it can be quite the trickster.  For some odd reason, it swirled on the Military Ridge Trail, and for about 15 miles I felt I was still pushing into the wind.  Finally, near Blue Mound, I got my reprieve.  I dismounted the bike, stretched my back and hip, shoved food in my mouth and considered my options:  do I a) keep heading home or b) climb Blue Mound in hopes of seeing some beautiful colors and vistas?  Hills and vistas usually win the coin toss for me and this was no exception.  Alright, I might have needed to redeem myself a bit too.  So up, up, up I went--still hauling my panniers--hoping it would pay off.  And oh, did it pay off.  My time on the fire tower was brief due to the cold winds, but it was worth it.

I flew down the hill feeling refreshed and ready for more.  The elusive tailwind finally decided to come to the party, and I picked up the pace.  As I neared Mt.Horeb, I got greedy.  The ego took over and I decided to lengthen the route home to make a century (I never would have thought about lengthening the ride if I had still been heading West and my mind quietly went to Laura, hoping she was doing alright out there).  I'm not superstitious or religious, and I don't really believe in being "struck down", but I did wonder about this for a moment, since when I passed the turn around point for going directly home, it began to rain.  A cold horizontal rain which quickly made me reconsider my grand idea.  On top of that, I had somehow set aside the thought I'd have to go due West into the wind again to get home.  So there I was, fueled by ego and not much else, wet and heading into a 25-30mph wind, creeping along I'm guessing around less than 10mph--most likely around 6mph.  *This is when I should use the metric system so I don't look like such a wimp.

My slow creeping allowed me to notice the frogs

I got home, barely.  I ate.  Oh god how I ate.  And I texted Laura asking her to call me when she arrived.  Around 5:40 I got the text saying she got there but had to get a ride part way from her sister--something she didn't want to have to do.  She could have made it, I know she could have, but it would have been in the dark and she would have missed dinner with her family.  

I guess we all have our breaking points.  Mine happened to come a bit earlier than I would have liked yesterday.  Now I just have to plan what and when my lucky 13 will be before snow accumulates!


  1. Wow! One hill of a trip nonetheless.
    (Yes, intentional misspelling)

  2. Fantastic Piece...thanks for sharing your adventures! and that dang wind is a fickle friend fo sho