July 21st, 2007

Jay K. Anderson's

Suicide Century

Praire du Chien, Wisconsin




Hi riders--

Well, the 9th ride is behind us and it was a pretty good one: A few glitches, but these minor nuisances are exactly what we need to motivate big improvements for next year. First things first: Thanks to the rolling support staff: Mom. We were short one Sheila. Sorely missed by all, and especially by those who missed lunch. Just not the same without her, but the show must go on. Thanks to Jean and Jeanne back at the house for getting everything ready to go with the spaghetti dinner for some extra hungry riders!! New record: 52 pounds of spaghetti sauce were prepared, and over 80% was consumed that night.

We did get absolutely perfect weather-- mostly sunny, high of 78 and a light breeze. 25 riders set out at about 8:30 on the beautiful Saturday morning, and without wasting any time it was up Mondell Hill. Early in the day it's not too much of a monster-- unless you've got brakes dragging. Way to climb Kiri! I do believe Mike and Tavi (co-presidents of the Prairie Fire biodiesel co-op in Madison) were laughing up the hill behind you; at least they were nice enough to re-center the brakes at the top of the hill. Kati (the other Hope twin) switched bikes with Kiri at some point, so they both got to ride the offensive machine a bit. Jean-Marc (who along with Kiri came all the way from France to ride) was right there on that hill, too. Tavi was out for his first go at the SC; he was riding a bike as old as the Appalachians themselves, which that old Zebra had once climbed over. The steep terrain was nothing new to him. Gretchen was out from Colorado, and her training this year consisted only of living in the oxygen-lean mountain air. The heavy air down here was good enough to get her through the hills with no problems.

Bruce Broker continued his dominance of the Iron Sow division. As if the heavy bike wasn't enough, he's been taking special measures for the last 2 years to get his chain into a perfect octagon: 8 links locked at an angle and no bending at all. He also rode the whole route in the big ring. Why? No one knows for sure. It was there. Good thing Bruce Rheineck (looking real strong on his second SC) carries a little chain oil with him. Bruce B. would have kept on riding with the chain as-is, but we were getting too many noise complaints from Harley riders going by us. David and Stephanie (first time rider) were both out on nicely restored classic bikes. Stephanie looked great with no prior bike training, while the dissertation-drained David Ennis was laying in the grass at lunch but finished strong as well. Those runner people are tough!! And speaking of tough, Dave Gardner was back at it again this year; he and Alex went up and down the hills pretty darn fast, and holy shit! Dave Grace! Whoa, that guy is fast. We'll have lunch for you next year. Promise. Dave got home with enough time and energy to re-shingle the garage before the next riders got in. You really didn't need to do that, but thanks! Tony was back with a new bike-- fancy looking! And there was no sign of tiring this year, either. Great ride. Doug Stone succumbed to peer pressure and came out to ride... borrowed a spare bike, got out there and rode, rode, rode. Not exactly the easiest day for introducing your contact points to a new bike, but hey, that young whippersnapper can take it. Marty came back with his old bike, the Calfee-- and he, Neil (out for his first SC-- great ride out there!) and I talked a bit about getting me on a newer bicycle... maybe there'll be real big changes for next year.

John Sarff and Don Holly were both out doing their things again-- John was sporting a nice Cannondale this year, leaving my brother Scott as the only Schwinn World Tour rider this year. Scott trained a lot this year (like 3 short rides). We didn't give him lunch, either. Kiri and Kati also missed lunch, due to a poorly marked turn... got them a few miles off course, but they got to enjoy the hill on County C that most of missed and they are now bonus-club members at the Bridgeport convenience store. Don was here for the 9th straight year and rolled across Suicide Century mile #1000 at the top of the Gran Grae Rd. That was quite a climb. That was quite a climb for the end of the day. Did I mention that hill on Gran Grae? It was a hard one. The only thing harder than biking it might be running it, but no one would ever do that. A 12% peak grade was recorded... where do we get such detailed data? Skip has a real fancy computer-- (it didn't read anywhere near 100 degrees F this year) but in one of its other modes it spits out instantaneous slope of the hill. Skip, Dale and Mike Kaufman (and Mike Clark and Tavi) went on a little scouting exposition early in the day-- checking the safety of a proposed hill for route #10. Skip's computer started smoking (or were those his quads?) when a whopping 19% was seen heading up Borah Ridge. That's only going to be an 'optional' climb next year... Those guys looked pretty strong throughout the day-- powered by Advil¨. Keeps those knees moving. We got back to a great descent out of Mt Ida on Cty K-- lots of computers up over 46 mph on that one, and we got some brand new scenery on the gentlest climb from the river valley back to the ridge along the Green River. Neat stretch out there.

And that's about it for the day. Oh wait, I guess there was one other little story. Jason Day got a flat tire at about mile 16 of the day. Spare tube inserted and on to the first rest stop. He rode strong the rest of the day, over the hill to Steuben, on in to Wauzeka, and then the last six of us (Mike Clark, Bruce B., Tony, Gretchen, Jason and I were bringing up the rear) lined up on Hwy 60 to burn home over 20 mph. Next thing you know, Jason was gone from the back of the line. I went back to find him just getting rolling again after refilling a tire. I really wanted to see the gang on the last climb so I tried to catch back up, and Jason was just a few yards back at the turn to Gran Grae. And by a few yards I mean just barely out of earshot. And sure enough, at mile 112, there goes his back tire again. Out of tubes. Oh no. As it turns out (and this is no joke) U.S. Cellular plans to put up a tower between Wauzeka and Bridgeport in early 2008 so that black spot in coverage will be eliminated... so if he'd have just waited there beside the road for 6 or 7 months he could have received the calls from home. Instead of waiting, though, Jason started running. There's a mapped route here climbing over 900 feet in just shy of 7 miles. That's quite a run... exactly the kind of grit that legends are made of.

So that's the story. The committee has met, and (drum roll...), The Don Holly award for the most spirited cyclist goes to: Don Holly. 1000 miles of SCs. We're honored by the presence of Jean-Marc and Kiri, here from France to take on the southwest Wisconsin version of the Alps. Tough break for Gretchen, but it was great to see you out here too. Next year bring Chris along. Holy Shit: Dave Grace. Dang! The Iron Sow award for the biggest beast of a bike: Bruce Broker. The John C. Wright Grit Award goes to Jason Day. Didn't really battle the body as others have in the past, but relentless pursuit of the finish line...

Anyone who rode their first century ever out there and would like to have their name forever pasted on the web page should send an email.. I know Stephanie Kayes was out for her first (and opened up a fresh can on it!). That also goes for prior years, we've been a little slow to get this section of the awards page completely accurate, but maybe we'll make that the first big improvement for the upcoming year.

Speaking of next year, there are big things in store. The route is already being investigated; SC #10 is going to be a rough one. Look out Horribly Hilly 100's-- we've got better hills in the southwest corner... Look for 12000+ feet of climb (according to sanoodi.com), and (per recent measurements) slopes flirting briefly with 19%. Most of the climbs will be down between 8 and 10%, but there are some good stretches at 12-15% as well. Of course there will be shorter, gentler options for 2008, and (lesson learned from this year) all routes will roll into the same rest stops. And there's going to be more support. It should be fun. Ah what am I saying. #10 is not about fun, its going to be miserable. But hopefully we'll get good weather again, make it through, and we can go back to leisure rides by #11. Check out Ted's JKASC page periodically as we get pictures and things uploaded.

Happy cycling.

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