|July 29th, 2006|
Indeed we'll remember 2006. SC #8 is going into the record books as a hot one. As always-- and more this year than others-- many many thanks to the support staff: Mom, Sheila, and Kim out on the road; Jean back at the house. Having 2 cars out there was a good idea. Somehow you guys managed to keep the water bucket cold, shuffle around people and bikes, and man was that good spaghetti in the air-conditioned house.
So how did it all work out? In the grand scheme of things, not bad. New record for flat tires (4) but no one keeled over from the heat. Don Holly was a little concerned about the weather so he got out about an hour in front of the group. Makes good sense to me: didn't want to run the risk of drafting off anything-- that would decrease your effective wind and your ability to exchange heat with the outside environment. It's all about staying cool... We saw him at lunch and then again back at home. Once again, all witnesses reported a high spirit level throughout the day; just another walk in the park. Gennady and Toni also got started a few minutes ahead of the gang; missed out on the departure photo (coming soon to a real webpage, now just posted on https://mywebspace.wisc.edu/jkanders/web/ --after the departure photo, the rest on this roll of film were taken while moving... got some bad ones mixed in there...). Just as we were about to get going, a hurried Jim Reardon drove in-- (almost) straight from the airport on his return from Portugal. We felt honored to see him-- no signs of jet lag as he breezed through 100 miles out there.
The group of 18 brave (foolish?) souls headed out from the house and went straight across the nice wide bridge into Iowa. Past Effigy Mounds National monument and then into the thick of Suicide Century territory. Max climbed up the first hill on his fixed gear without any trouble, and I was hoping to watch him on the descent but no such luck as he got the first flat tire of the day at the top of the hill. A quick rest was had in Harper's Ferry; I snapped a picture of the street sign for Bullshit Blvd (although I'm not sure it turned out too well...) and it was two more scenic hills into Lansing.
Then it was the bridge. It wasn't exactly biker-friendly, but any unpleasant memories of the bridge at mile 32 were beaten from our heads by the sun being directly overhead from miles 33 to 69 (lunch stop). These included a big climb out of the Mississippi valley in De Soto, and then about 25 tough miles on the ridge top. And for some reason, in that heat and with a head wind, it seemed hard to get back down to the valley on Cty C. Crazy. Erin was out there on a tune-up ride for her 4 day, 300 mile ride coming up this weekend, so she took a little short cut and headed home in about 64 miles. Gennady took the same route back and met us at the lunch stop with his camera. ( http://www.pbase.com/gfiksel/jkasc_2006&page=all) Toni kept on riding past the lunch stop and then kept Gennady company in the car on the way up to the rest stop in Eastman. Looking through the lunch pictures exposes a theme: it was hot. Max looked like a case of heat stroke waiting to happen, David Ennis (pictured sitting upright) was seen lying in the grass for a spell. Our eastern Wisconsin delegates Skip, Mike Clark and Dale looked to be in pretty good shape at lunch. Dale was out for his longest ride to date, and we had to spend a lot of time trying to squelch his triathlete mentality. He and several others worked in a quick swim in the river, but I believe we did convince him to not go for a run following the return to Prairie du Chien... Mike Clark was running a hydration experiment: 113 miles in the heat, drinking nothing but tomato juice diluted 50-50 with water. He claims no hydration issues throughout the day. Gatorade will soon be out of business. And the best part is the vitamin A-rich tomato juice made it so he hardly noticed when the mighty Mississippi ate his eye glasses. He'd have been flying blind the last 82 miles without the juice. Bruce Rheineck, Steve Oliva (both out for their first go at the SC) and John Sarff could all muster smiles at the lunch stop. Good to see that-- gotta love the spirit... almost Don Holly-like. Mike Kaufman was also out for his first SC, boasting a previous long ride of about 25 miles. Bruce Broker reverted back to sans-helmet, and is pictured here recreating his decision making process: "Do I turn left or right at the bottom of the hill?" The good news is that no one else has (probably) ever had such a complete bike tour of downtown Ferryville. Marty was in good form again this year... no surprises there. Tony Wimmers was out for his first SC, also his first ride longer than about 30 miles. On a mountain bike. Whew. He was able to pace himself right from the start, kept cranking and turned up for lunch in time for the group photo. Thank goodness that Kim-- driving the follow up support vehicle-- discovered a hose with refreshing cold water at the lunch stop. A few soaked heads improved morale, and then it was back on the road. Hard to believe, but things actually got harder after lunch. Many riders showed some common sense and headed straight down 35 for home. Sure they missed a couple of hills, but that stretch of road was like riding in an oven with a head wind and it measured out at a draining 95 miles... Skip had extra morale troubles as he was equipped with the official Suicide Century meteorological data collection apparatus (a thermometer). And riding down the road, he was constantly being reminded... his quote as the miles ticked by on Hwy 35 was: "96....97....98.....99...... *&^%$ it! Now it's 100 degrees!" For those who just couldn't take the heat any longer, about 8 miles down the road was Lynxville. And that brought about the opportunity to get back into some shade for a couple of miles. The tradeoff is that those 2 miles (Cty F) were about 7% upward. The rest of Gennady's pictures were at the rest stop following the Cty F climb... Don and Jim had gone through before the camera-- no rest for them. A group of 4 (Mike K., Mike C., David and myself) arrived to have our pathetic images recorded; and grinding it out behind the cameras were Bruce and Tony. Cty F lived up to its billing... that was a hill. Mike Kaufman and I rode up it together... I thought about telling Mike that, although instantly gratifying, shouting things you can't say on tv takes a toll on your oxygen supply. But up the hill he went. Resting and walking is certainly an option on a stretch like that, but none of that for him. When we got to Eastman, he said something like "I have _never_ done anything like _that_ before." After the ride, Tony recalled the hill: "I was not in a happy place." But it all got better from there... A beautiful, shaded, downhill stretch from Eastman followed Plum Creek to the Kickapoo River; we got to Cty N on the middle of Cemetery Hill outside Wauzeka and we got to coast on down... Took a short rest, and then it was the 16 mile home stretch. There was a little false anxiety (my fault) about the last hill... it was hard, sure, it needed to be counted as one of the 6 on the day, but Irish Ridge was no Cty F. The sun was lower in the sky and the temperature had dropped a lot... maybe even back into the 80's. Pleasant riding all the way back, including the 8% drop into Prairie du Chien on Mondell hill. I've never tried it myself, but Bruce and Tony had the experience of coming down that monster after dark. My computer registered 46.5 mph on the way into town... and in years past good old Ted flirted with 50 on that hill. Let's all hope that the Europeans cut their fusion budget so they'll send Ted home to Tennessee... then he'd have no excuse for next year.
What a day. And, finally, the SC awards committee has met. 2006 was a good one.
If there happened to be a: "Why would you even want to try that?" Award, it would have gone to Max Wyman for getting the fixed gear out there for 95 miles... honorable mention would have gone to everyone who showed up after seeing the forecast.
The Don Holly award (for the most spirited cyclist) goes, once again, to Don Holly. An amazing run. Urine samples have been taken and will be tested (but no specific time frame is set). We won't hesitate to strip this title if indeed elevated levels of anything (other than morale) are found.
The Iron Sow award was pretty clear cut this year. Another repeat winner: it's Bruce Broker. That's not a light bike. There was honorable mention to Tony Wimmers on the mountain bike, and Jim Reardon for the fenders and luggage racks, but they're competing with an awful lot of iron, right down to the wheels... David Ennis and Mike Clark had the anti-Iron Sow nominees: very classy older bikes. Mike was out on the early-80's Trek, and David was out on his restored classic Raleigh. Just another little adjustment and that chain will stay on the free wheel...
The We're Honored award goes to Jim Reardon-- he gets credit for a fraction of the flight from Portugal on his distance to the ride.
The Holy Shit award goes to Mike Kaufman. Hard to tell if that guy was hurting or not, but he was seemingly as fresh on the last stretch as he was on the first one. Wow. I mean, 'Holy shit.'
2006 marks the renaming of our Grit Award, to honor its inaugural (and most impressive) winner. It is now the John C. Wright Grit Award. John battled through leg cramps on the ride in 1999 to grind out the full 105; and between last and this year's rides, John has fought off (through surgery and subsequent treatment) a case of brain cancer. Classic John quote: "Chemo isn't so bad". Looking good this June and back on the bike for commuting and a fund-raising ride. The 2006 John C. Wright Grit Award winner is Tony Wimmers. Good pace. No quit (not even a hint). Good ride.
Plans are underway for the 9th ride next year. We'll do what we can for a nicer day, and it'll probably be a relatively easy route, as SC #10 is right around the corner. And #10 is going to be absolutely ludicrous... it won't be the longest one, but definitely the hardest.