July 11th, 2004

Jay K. Anderson's

Suicide Century

Praire du Chien, Wisconsin




Topo-map of the ride thanks to Marty Broeske.

Jay's Report for the 6th Annual JKASC, July 11th, 2004

First things first-- many thanks to Mom and Sheila for driving the food and water around, to Gennady for picking up some soaking wet riders and taking wonderful pictures along the entire way, and to Marty for the aerial view and topographical plot.

There's a correlation brewing here: every time Gennady has a broken bone, we get outstanding photo coverage of the entire ride. Might want to watch out for another "accident" the day before next year's ride. Just kidding-- we're looking forward to having you on the bike next year.

And the topo map is fun to look at as well; the actual elevation change was larger than I was expecting. Generally I've expected that the typical Suicide Century has at least a mile up and down, but we went almost 2 miles up and down this time. Guess next year it'll have to be perfectly flat to average this one out.

Number 6 will be quite a memorable ride. The official weather recording was taken at the rest stop in Wauzeka: Mostly sunny, 74 degrees, and a light breeze. That sounds like perfect biking weather, but I have heard unofficial (and yet unconfirmed) reports of a scattered rain drop or two. Since the ride typically spans several hours and we need to monitor things throughout the day, Don Holly's bike was equipped with the official rain gauge-- the reading: Not a drop. So I'm struggling to find the explanation for my shoes still being wet. Beyond the weather, the riders made this year's ride one to remember. It was impossible to single out achievements for the standard awards, especially the Grit Award. Here's the brief report, with some references to Gennady's pictures at this link.

Cary and Jeff got an early start, rode fast, photo and got home early. These guys are destined to have life-sized cardboard-cutout likenesses in the near future.

John Sarff, Toni and Diane [ photo, photo, photo ] all rode fearlessly. Diane had the sense to stay out of the rain that never officially fell, and ended up riding nearly 100 miles. No one is quite sure how far John rode; one missed turn and the next thing you know you're 20 miles off course (in the unofficial downpour). And Toni (I believe) finished up with a century, riding the complete route with the exception of passing up Plugtown-- not a bad choice for someone who doesn't speak the local dialect.

David Ennis came out for his first S.C. with an Iron Sow-nominated hybrid bike (complete with bright red luggage rack), one small water bottle, and a longest previous ride of much less than 100 miles. And then he rode like a champ, finishing up with a smile [ photo ]. In most years, this would be Holy-Shit Award material, but he's young and strong-like-ox, and there were too many other stories this year. And it appeared that the heavy air in Plugtown may have taken a toll on him: [ photo ].

There was a group that looked and rode like official bikers-- making the 6th Suicide Century look like another Sunday stroll through the park. Marty, Chris, Mike, and Gretchen just made very impressive rides [photo, photo, photo ]. Gretchen rode all the way and didn't even seem to get tired (even after the jaunt through Plugtown)-- what a route for a first century. Definitely a Holy-Shit nominee.

Also in the last picture, you'll see Ted and Aaron riding along. These guys each had inspiring rides, too. I believe Aaron hadn't ridden 100 miles before, and he (with Mike there for motivation) was able to grind out the entire ride. He was enjoying life after tackling the first hill with no trouble [ photo ] , but he didn't look too chipper [photo ] in Wauzeka. But he still rode it all the way to the end. Definitely Grit Award material. Ted set himself up for some trouble by training on his Lite Speed, but he wasn't able to bring it out with him all the way from Princeton for the weekend. So he saddled up on the original Trek [ photo ] for the first time on this ride. I had looked it over and decided that it was road-worthy (tires, brakes, and shifting were good enough) but I never looked at the gearing in any detail. Turns out the bike wasn't really set up for climbing. The numbers may or may not mean anything to you, but Ted's 'granny gear' was 42:21. That would be like the 3rd speed on most bikes. So we're going to see Ted walking up some hills, right? Nope: [ photo ], but his face isn't usually that color. Riding on an Iron-Sow nominee with that gearing... and then to actually make it up all those hills... fast. Shocking. This is the kind of thing the Holy-Shit award was founded for.

Bruce returned to Iron Sow glory with a new bike [ photo ]-- his is the one on the right, with the brake lever extensions to the center of the handle bars and the impressive looking kick-stand. But still no shirt or helmet. And believe it or not, Bruce is the kind of guy who thrives on seeing if he can make it all the way down a hill without using the brakes. Those old steel wheels store up more than their fair share of the hill's potential energy in their rotation, but there's still an awful lot left for plain old speed. If we'd have thought of it before the ride, Bruce would definitely have been the inaugural winner of the "Next-of-kin" award. Look for liability waivers at the start of SC #7.

Then we can't forget about Paul-- out for his first century. Things looked good early [ photo ] and he kept on chugging along. Then there were hills and rain and rain and hills (and lunch), and he may have gotten a little tired [ photo ], but the cranks kept turning. Things started to look a little grim after Plugtown [ photo ]; seems like Plugtown had that effect on a lot of people. But as a true Grit Award nominee, he just dug in and kept riding, and scratched and clawed his way up all the hills, and then down the last hill into Prairie du Chien. But, for the first time in the 6 years of Suicide Centuries, there was a crash. At mile 109.3 out of 109.7 After a nimble maneuver to avoid harming an over-zealous (but otherwise friendly) German Shepherd, Paul got himself a good case of the road rash [ photo ] (and the picture is not even half of it). But he collected himself, got back on the bike and road the rest of the way in. Grit.

And Don Holly has once again proven himself the most-spirited cyclist on the ride this year. As always, he was out in front so the sag wagon could catch his draft, he gladly helped with navigating when the opportunity arose, and the hill that took so much from so many-- (out of Plugtown)-- didn't seem to do anything to Don except cheer him up [ photo ]. Incidentally, this year had the most competition for the Don Holly award and it led to a very tight vote between the top finishers. This year, Don Holly won, but he just barely beat out the Don Holly cardboard cut-out, who also smiled for the entire ride. And a strong third place showing was shared between Gretchen and Paul, (I believe), who were heard singing "Rain Drops Keep Falling on My Head" during a hill climb in the unofficial downpour.

So, upon recommendation of the committee, here is the official announcement of the 2004 Suicide Century Award Winners:

The most prestigious award is the Don Holly Award ( for the most spirited cyclist ) and it goes to... Don Holly.

The 2004 Iron Sow Award goes to Bruce Broker: third year, third bike ridden, 2nd Iron Sow.

The "We're honored by your presence award" goes to Ted B. who made it all the way here from Princeton.

The "Holy-Shit" Award was a tie this year. And for the first and only year, there is a prize associated with the award. Gretchen Suechting won for her consistent ride without tiring (on her first century). She was awarded the anonymously donated prize (which was originally postmarked from Mt Horeb in mid-June). It was a camel-back water bag. The co-winner was Ted Biewer. His prize will be a really old freewheel from Budget Bike's used parts department (a $5 value). We'll see if we can step all the way up to a 24 toother.

And the Grit Award was also a tie this year. A handful of sand in the spaghetti was given to Aaron -- for battling all day long and making it in. And Paul Wilhite was also awarded the ceremonial sand, although he opted to sprinkle some of it into his ground-up elbow and knee.

Anyone who rode 100+ miles for the first time last Sunday should reply to me-- we'll record it forever on the web page under the 1st Century Award listing. (this section still being edited for accuracy.)

Alright, thanks to everyone for coming out for the ride and being good sports all day long. Thanks also to Jan and David who helped bottle the Suicide Century Hill Helper Beer, and for joining us for the spaghetti dinner. Plans for #7 are getting underway; you can expect a really easy (and flat) route next year.


The 6th Annual JKASC, July 11th, 2004

SC 2004 route:
We start by winding our way through Prairie du Chien (trying to stay out of the dangerous neighborhoods‹early Sunday mornings are a rough time in the big city) to Highway 27, and head right up Mondell Hill‹a nice early-morning two mile climb. Therešs a short rest stop planned at mile 13 in Eastman. Then itšs down off the ridge on Cty F and north on the Great River Road to mile 29 in Ferryville where snacks and water bottle refills can be found. From Ferryville, we have carefully chosen a very gentle climb up out of the Mississippi Valley, following Cty C to McQueen Hollow up to Cty B. The elevation change is about the same as Mondell Hill, but wešll be covering it in about 9 miles instead of two. The village of Rising Sun is atop the ridge, and wešll be taking a tour of the downtown area as we ride to Latham Road and head east. We rejoin Cty C and follow it through Star Valley and into Soldiers Grove for a rest at mile 51. The official route takes a two-mile tour of the Solar Village in Soldiers Grove‹ a fine display of progress toward alternative energy, right here in southwestern Wisconsin. We then back-track 2 miles out of Soldiers Grove on Cty C and follow the Kickapoo River Road to Gays Mills with another rest stop at mile 65. Then its south on 131 toward Barnum.

A few miles before Barnum, there is a fork in the road. For those interested in taking a short-cut, you can head straight to Steuben and youšre total distance will come in at about 103 miles for the day. But the real route takes us over the hill to see Plugtown. This is an absolute-must for anyone who wants to see one of the most industrialized cities in the nation. Gary, Indiana? Detroit? Cleveland? Ha! Plugtown, WI has one heavy industry for each home in the city (two) with enough jobs to keep the economy strong in the suburbs. Therešs a large hub for Richardson Trucking (which puts the 18-wheeler to resident ratio at something like 20 to 1) and a house moving business (I believe)‹ some cranes and a lot of steel beams. And not a drop of acid rain. Best part about it: both the roads that meet Hwy 61 in Plugtown are paved.

Anyway, a few miles this side of Barnum wešll be turning left on Juddy Smith Road and we go up a little hill, turn left on Cty W and turn right on Byers Road, which takes us into Plugtown. There we fill our water bottles with diesel fuel, catch a quick breather, and then itšs up Childšs Hollow Road to Haney Ridge and right on Drake Road to Cty W back to 131, and then south to Steuben for a rest at mile 87.

From Steuben, we head out on 131 to Hwy 60 and into Wauzeka, my old home town. The final rest stop is planned at the ballpark at mile 96. From there, we take the shortest paved route back to Prairie du Chien: we follow Hwy 60 west about 4 miles and turn right on Bush Hollow; a mile up the road we turn left on Geitz Hill Road. Then itšs over to Gran Grae and quickly turn onto Irish Ridge Road. Irish Ridge takes us up another hill (moderate degree of difficulty), but at least therešs a nice flat stretch right in the middle of the climb. At the top of the hill, people who rode last year will be pleased to see that the gravel stretch has been paved, so itšs smooth sailing all the way to a left turn on Vineyard Coulee Road. We ride down Vineyard right into the outskirts of Prairie du Chien; then wešll follow a frontage road along Hwy 18 to 15th street, and its just a few short blocks home.
Full route has 8 climbs spread out over 113.7 miles; those willing to sag can call it a ride at 51, 64, 76, 92 or 103 miles.

And, this year only, there is a supported afternoon ride (just in case anyone has plans or is feeling under the weather on the morning of Sunday July 11th). If anyone wants to drive to Gays Mills and join the ride from there, wešll arrange for either a fill-in driver or at least a ride back to your car. Most of the group will probably be rolling through Gays Mills between 1:00 and 2:00 pm‹(Don Holly will probably be there by about 9 am). This leaves a meager 50 mile ride to Prairie du Chien, or about 40 if you skip Plugtown.

JKASC Main Page
Ted Biewer (biewert51@yahoo.com)