It’s a beautiful day for math!

It is a perfect day. Too bad the century ride is tomorrow. The sun is out, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful and so are you…wait,

The title comes from the kids’ algebra teacher. I rode past him on the footbridge on the way home from the co-op, buying supplies for the camping weekend…

As I set up camp, the front blew in. The sky turned dark and the wind kicked up. The temperature began dropping. I closed up the tent before going to Sister Bay to pick up my ride packet. The threatened rain (whose chances and number of hours forecast kept shrinking as the week wore on) never came, but it will be a cool ride tomorrow. I’ll be getting up at the usual time for work due to a 7 AM start two towns up the road from here. Carbo-loading tonight with pumpkin tortelloni covered in pesto I made this morning.

I got up in the dark, normal at home but a little different when camping. Breakfast and coffee and off to Sister Bay at 6:20. First decision – what to wear. The temperature was in the low 50s (11 C), with a forecast high in the mid 60s (18 C) and it wouldn’t get to 60 (15 C) for a few hours. I opted for a long sleeve jersey, figuring it would be good all day, and shorts, figuring they’d be chilly at first but the right choice later. In a variation on the old bike racer trick of stuffing newspapers down the front of the jersey, I used the plastic bag we got our swag in. No ink on your chest, and no peeling off the disintegrating newspaper when you sweat through it. I needed that for the first 25 miles. My knees were cold in the morning and the sun felt pretty good when we were in it.

I avoided the mass start, not liking anything with “mass” in it these days. I rode out with someone I would see off and on all day. We started at a comfortably slow pace. The other advantage to avoiding the mass start is avoiding the adrenaline rush of the big crowd, which makes me ride faster than I should with 100 miles ahead of me.

At the 28 mile rest stop they served brats – only in Wisconsin (at 9 AM). I passed. A few miles on, I saw topiary in the shape of a camel. I wanted to stop and take a picture, but there were barking dogs on the other side of the fence. I figured they’d go nuts at someone stopping right outside their gate. It didn’t matter, since 100 yards later I came upon a couple of real camels grazing.

Camels? in Wisconsin?

At 46 miles I was hoping for some substantial food, but there were only melons, donut holes, and cookies. I noticed I was riding faster than I intended to, so I thought I’d slow down a bit to save strength for the end. A few miles on from there, R from Milwaukee rode up beside me. I had seen him coming and figured he’d pass me, but he settled in and started talking. The next 15 miles flew by – both because I don’t notice them while chatting, and because we were riding faster than I intended.

At mile 64 his family was waiting to meet him. After saying hi to them we started off with 5 more of his friends we met at the rest stop. From there to the mile 80 rest stop was easy going as a result. At that stop, all the talk was about the big hill coming up.

We hit that hill at 85 miles. It was pretty much like the average sort of hill we climb several of on every local ride. The Milwaukee crew disappeared behind me on the way up. I didn’t see them again. At mile 90 I talked to a couple of Ironmen (I don’t know why we don’t call a woman who completes one of those an “Ironwoman”, but we don’t.) I didn’t plan to keep up with her or her partner. They hadn’t done our local Ironman last week, but were planning two others this fall. This was just a warmup.

The miles were starting to take their toll after that as we rode into a headwind. A group of about 8 passed me with 6 miles to go. As they were young enough to be my children, I wasn’t tempted to try to keep up, even though it would have helped with the headwind. Miraculously, they did not disappear up the road and I followed them into Sister Bay after 101 miles and 6 hours and 6 minutes in the saddle. I had expected it to take 7 hours. The free beer was a welcome sight. Even better, they had several choices – all from One Barrel Brewing. It was a perfect day for the Oktoberfest while wading in Green Bay.

It was, by the way, a great ride – well-organized, through beautiful country, and less crowded than the more famous ride up here a week ago (which I did once and will now avoid). In a week, we’ll see if I can do it again (though close enough to home to sleep in my own bed).

Super Spreader Saturday/Roxbury Ride

The first home football game of the season. 80,000 maskless and screaming fans packed together. It’s foggy, so little airflow. What you exhale, I inhale. Once the air gets hot enough, it will rise out of the stadium. Since the air is already saturated with moisture, the droplets will be left behind. The good news is that 90% of the university community has been vaccinated. The bad news is that the university community makes up less than ½ of the audience.

These were my thoughts as I headed out of town, sort of fulfilling a long-term fantasy. As I ride to work, I fantasize continuing on out of town instead of stopping. Today I did that. I was on the road at 9:30 AM, nearly 4 hours later than if I were riding to work on a Saturday morning. I had the day off for the holiday weekend – one of the perks of working every Saturday for 20+ years is that I get a three day weekend when holidays roll around. Of course, so does everyone else, except that they have to work one holiday weekend/year and I don’t. The sidewalks were packed. Traffic through campus was bumper-to-bumper. It was good to get out.

I rode to the once-iconic Roxbury Tavern. Tom had taken over an old roadhouse and decided he wanted a new clientele – people who would sit and eat and talk, with drinking incidental to that. He got rid of the TVs, the video games, the pool table, and the piano. He instituted nightly specials – not the usual bar food, but a Cuban night and (on Wednesdays when we stopped in after rides) an Italian night among them. Spaghetti with Italian sausage and garlic bread was on the menu. Victor was more prone to the mushroom burger and homemade fries, which came with Tom’s own garlic or jalapeño ketchup. Homemade pickles were on the table as an appetizer. The beers were from a small brewery just down the road. Tom was a curmudgeon, and I mean that in the best way. On the other hand, on Paul’s birthday, he serenaded him with “Happy Birthday” on trumpet, guitar, kazoo, and nose flute. I probably told that story here before, but it seemed worth repeating.

Tom retired and there were hints of small changes with the new ownership. Perusing the menu, it looks like a typical roadhouse with the bar food usual suspects. I haven’t been inside. They do have a couple of goats living in the backyard, so it isn’t totally a typical roadhouse.

I stopped to say hello to the goats and have a snack. The bar wasn’t open yet. The goats had less to say than the sheep a few miles down the road. The cattle tend to just watch, sometimes with what seems like idle curiosity, and sometimes looking like they wonder about those humans sometimes. While I anthropomorphize, do they bovimorphize? The town roads were quiet. The fog slowly lifted and the grey was just a little higher off the ground. I had in mind 70 or more miles, but at about 50 the clouds started leaking. Rather than wash off the fresh wax-based chain lube from this morning, I cut the ride short, ending at 61 miles. I froze some cherries earlier this year, so Sunday I baked a Labor Day cherry pie in lieu of riding.

Breaking news! I just learned that the early discount for Cycle America‘s coast-to-coast tour in 2022 has been extended to September 18! Now’s your chance if you want to see the continent the way it was meant to be seen – by bike!

A great Vuelta a España comes to an end. Primož Roglič gave up the red jersey for the middle stages when he didn’t need the pressure. When the chips were down, he answered every challenge. He won the final time trial for his 4th stage win, to go with his Olympic Gold Medal in the same event. It was his third consecutive victory in the Spanish tour. For those who need people from the US in order to feel a connection, Sepp Kuss of Colorado rode brilliantly in support of Roglič, frequently setting the pace in the mountains to narrow the field to the elite climbers, and finishing 8th overall. Lawson Craddock of Texas rode well in support of his teammate Magnus Cort Nielsen, who won three stages. Joe Dombrowski of Virginia finished 39th overall. Thanks to NBC for great coverage, beautiful shots of the scenery, and daily updates on YouTube for those of us who don’t pay their subscription fee.

The Euskaltel -Euskadi team from the Basque region of Spain was invited to the tour. The bikes they ride come from Orbea, a worker-owned co-operative in Mallabia, Spain. In my youth, we dreamed of a co-operative commonwealth; a world in which the production and distribution of goods were owned by the people – not by the government in the name of the people, but by co-operatives owned by the people they served. We worked to build such a system, with co-ops providing food, books, bikes, housing, taxi service, engineering, banking, health care, and car repair; but we fell short of the yogurt production facility we wanted to start. Not all of those co-ops survived, and the association was loose. We discovered that the co-operative commonwealth exists in Mondragón. Mondragón is a network of 96 co-ops employing 81,000 people and divided into four sectors: finance, industry, retail, and knowledge. Orbea is one of those co-ops, owned by the workers who build the bikes.

So long, Mom…

I’m off to drop the bomb, so don’t wait up for me. Some of Tom Lehrer’s lyrics may have gone over my ten year old head, but that one struck home. I thought of it as I rode off from our campsite this morning, not sure when I’d be back.

While Gil Scott-Heron told us the revolution will not be televised, Lehrer let us know that WW III could be shown in prime time and be over before we went to bed.

There was no plan. I headed north (north ¿!?¡?!) as I left the park. I figured I’d check out the lookout tower that was under construction a year ago when I was here. After that…? I used my usual road hierarchy – town roads (named), then county roads (lettered), then state roads (numbered). Since this peninsula is not on the way to anywhere else, there are no US or Interstate highways here.

If the road had an interesting name, it would probably win – Orchard Road sounds more interesting than Townline Road. The final arbiter is that, when I get to an intersection, I look in all directions. If one catches my eye and my heart, I go that way.

I did end up on Townline Road for several miles. After aimless wandering, it was a straight shot on the border between two townships and I covered some miles without having to think about turning – and there were no cars.

One could say I was scouting the route for the century I will ride next month but one would be lying. Since I don’t know the route, I was just wandering. Not to mention that I stopped in the first half hour to hike through a Land Trust.

That is a path – just not very wide

No map is necessary, because it is pretty hard to get lost on this narrow peninsula. Head west and you hit Green Bay. East and you find Lake Michigan. North and the end of the peninsula appears. South and you arrive in the town of Sturgeon Bay. With the sun shining, it’s pretty easy to know which way you’re going.

This spot is kin to Poniatowski, a town that is halfway from the equator to the north pole, and halfway from the Prime Meridian to the International Date Line. The equivalent spot east is in the  Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China, near the Mongolian border. To the south, these points are in the Pacific (W) and Indian (E) Oceans and not particularly near any land.

I found an interesting-looking coffee shop in Bailey’s Harbor. The menu looked good, there were lots of available outside tables, and the sign said “masks and social distancing required”. I put on a mask and joined the line. It’s hot breathing through a mask after a couple of hours of riding. I grew tired of waiting and got back on the road. The state highway was freshly-paved, with a beautiful paved shoulder and not much traffic (it being Wednesday morning), so I headed down the road to Jacksonport, where there is a cafe I’ve stopped at in other years up here. That cafe was closed (permanently? for the duration of the pandemic? because it’s Wednesday?), so I continued on. I thought about lunch at the brewpub in Egg Harbor (a branch of my neighborhood brewpub, owned by a guy whose dad I knew years ago), but I landed on another road with beautiful pavement and it wasn’t going that way so neither was I.

Back in the park, I climbed the steps up to the lookout tower and looked out. From there it was downhill all the way back to camp. A shower, a couple of tamales, a glass of Tuscan grape juice, and I was ready for the rest of the day.

I don’t know how far I rode, and I really don’t care. I’m on vacation. The biggest tasks for the afternoon are chasing sun for the solar charger and shade for me. Sun is harder to find and requires frequent moving of the solar panel. Work, work, work.

The park has miles of paved roads. There is a shoreline road that goes to all the places that tourists want to go, and a bunch of interior roads that “don’t go anywhere”, so no one drives on them. I spent the next day exploring those roads and think I covered every mile of the park. The first photo above is from that day.

Since there is no WiFi and no cell service in the park, you won’t see this until I get home. Poison Ivy is ubiquitous in these parts. It likes recently-disturbed land. This spot was just outside the back door of our tent. Needless to say, we didn’t use the back door.
For the literalists among you, “poison ivy” is a metaphor here.

A week without news or internet and I didn’t miss either. My cell phone had no purpose. A surprise text arrived when the wind blew the right way.

Corn to the left of me…

It was a dark and stormy night, and we were all seated around the campfire, when the Captain turned to me and said, “Antonio, tell us one of your stories.” And so I began…

It was a dark and stormy night, and we were all seated around the campfire…

Heat lightning…all light, no thunder. Like fireworks without noise, or northern lights without color.

We sat outside at some friends’ house last night, eating dinner in a thunderstorm. It felt like camping in the city. When the storm passed, the air turned cool. Due to staying out late, I didn’t make the start of the group ride, and rode out alone. That way I could ride out my driveway and not have to drive somewhere to meet people. It was a “choose your own adventure” ride, with no real plan except to ride to Cottage Grove and see what happened next. The road was closed before I got there, so the adventure began. It was cloudy and humid. I had a vague notion of heading east (East!?! – private joke, sorry), but here I was headed south already. After passing by Deerfield, I decided to head east to Cambridge for an espresso and pastry. The coffee shop I’d stopped at on a prior ride was closed. The only open place I found was crowded, so it was a quick snack at a gas station convenience store and back on the road, headed toward Stoughton and back home. The laundry I’d hung before the ride was dry. The sun was out, it was getting hotter, and I was glad to be done with the ride by noon.

Riding alone, songs tend to drift through my head, inspired by whatever I see (or wherever my mind has wandered). A Great Blue Heron appeared before I left town, sitting at the edge of an urban creek. Riding through corn and soybean fields (and remembering a story from yesterday about the Insane Clown Posse) a Stealer’s Wheel song from 1972-3 came to mind…for those of you who don’t like to click the video links (and aren’t old enough to remember), the chorus says, “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right. Here I am, stuck in the middle with you.”