Some days are just too exquisite

to stop and take pictures. After careful deliberation,I have to say the New Glarus ride is my favorite of the Wednesday Night Bike Rides.

The Swiss who settled here called it New Glarus because it reminded them of home. While most of the cattle are now Holsteins and not Brown Swiss, there is still a Swiss atmosphere around here.

The ride started with a long and gradual climb. I didn’t realize how steep it was until gliding back down at 35 mph at the end of the ride. We turned onto Meadow Valley Road for a downhill followed by a few ups and downs. On to Farmers Grove Road for four miles of roller coaster hills, then to Dougherty Creek (which sounds sort of like “dirty crick” in case you’re not from around here). Four miles of following the creek through the woods and it was time to head back up top. A steep climb up Prairie View Road and to the left we saw the pale green of flowering grasses; to the right the deeper green of alfalfa and the deeper still of the thick woods along water courses. Steep valleys meandered off to the right – I thought about stopping for a picture but the scents, the light, the dark recesses in the wooded glens, the killdeers careening around while the hawks circled overhead were way too much to capture with a camera.

After another five miles of not having to think too much because there was no need to turn, we dipped down onto Holstein Prairie Road and another gradual climb with a few roller coasters for good measure. Back up on to a ridge for some great views before the next ear-to-ear grinning descent; and so it went for 30-some miles before we returned to New Glarus for pizza. New Glarus is also home to one of Wisconsin’s worst-kept secrets, the New Glarus Brewing Company. To avoid production pressures, they will not sell their beer outside of the state and, if a distributor is caught doing so, they lose their supply. I won’t say they are my favorite brewery, but I did have a bottle of their Uff-da at the end of last winter’s run and know I need to try it earlier in the season next year before it runs out.

Hats off to the unofficial Maglia Nera winner for 2019: Sho Hatsuyama of Team Nippo Vini Fantini Faizanè. He finished over 6 hours behind this year’s winner, Richard Carapaz of Movistar. Among the elite of the world, there are those who are not-so-elite. Just remember that he could still ride circles around any of us; and, in the third stage, he broke away in the first kilometer and rode a 145 km solo break until caught.

The adoption has been finalized and the results are in: 1.4 miles of highway that looked clean from a passing car yielded 22 pounds of trash. The biggest contributor was Anheuser-Busch, with more Busch Light beer cans than any other single item of trash. Add the Busch, Bud, and Bud Light cans and bottles, and they were breakaway winners.

Driving out, we passed through a serious-looking thunderstorm. Tim swore he saw Miss Gulch fly by on her bike (at 52 seconds in the video below).

The rain let up and it was a beautiful day by the time we finished. Gratuitous photos to follow.

On the way to work, looking east.
Storm on the way. A day like today, but on the way to work. Made it with minutes to spare before the deluge.
One year ago today – breakfast with Einstein, Jackson, WY.

!La Vuelta!

Okay, bike racing fans! Today marks the beginning of La Vuelta a España, the Tour of Spain.

Certainly less well known than Le Tour de France, probably less known than Il Giro d’Italia, it may be seen as summer’s last hurrah – an international version of the Willy Street Fair for you Madisonians.

The third jewel in bike racing’s Triple Crown, it offers one last chance at a Grand Tour victory, an opportunity to secure a contract for next year, or a shot at redemption for a season that was less than one hoped for.

Maglia Nera – Italian for Half-fast?

I always figured that being a bike racer was incompatible with being half-fast. I have been proven wrong.

I needed some new bike shorts and found a pair honoring the “Maglia Nera”.

Pretty much everyone has heard of the yellow jersey awarded to the overall winner of the Tour de France. Many know of the other jerseys (green, polka dot, and white) awarded in other categories.

Fewer are aware of the jerseys awarded for the Giro d’Italia. They have the same categories as France, but different jerseys. The equivalent of the yellow jersey (maillot jaune) is the pink jersey (maglia rosa).

There was a time when they awarded a Black Jersey (Maglia Nera), which went to the last place rider (the equivalent of the Lanterne Rouge in France).

They stopped awarding the black jersey because the competition got too fierce. Here is the story from Santini, an Italian clothing manufacturer:F826EAB8-5BBF-4932-A5D1-6AD13237EA7EWe hereby acclaim Luigi Malabrocca, the only two-time winner of the Maglia Nera, as an honorary member of the Half-fast Cycling Club.

Heck, we might as well salute Sante Carollo as well, as he was able to “beat” Malabrocca by two hours one year.

It takes a certain type of rider to be good enough to be a pro racer and yet take pride in finishing last in a major race. For this, we honor these men as Half-fast Cyclists.

Green!

Suddenly the world has turned green! Not the delicate spring green of last week, but the vibrant, full-bodied array of greens!

After a week of rain (about 7 inches this month!), the maples, cottonwoods, gingkoes, and ashes have leafed out. There is so much moss and lichen that the trunks of the trees are green. (The photo does not do the tree trunk justice – sometimes the camera does not take in all that the eye does – seeing the green trunk against the green leaves and the third different green of the grass has something to do with it.)

Redbuds and crabapples have bloomed. Lilacs will pop any day. Irises are here. The grass needs its second mowing as soon as it dries out enough to do it.irisWith this much rain, it has dawned on me that there are only five weeks until we start riding. I put in some miles on the trainer Thursday night during a thunderstorm. The check to Cycle America has been deposited. The hotel reservation for Seattle is made. Now I just need to pack and ship the bike and myself.

Our Wednesday Night Ride this week consisted of four half-fast cyclists meeting for dinner at a local pub (which, in previous incarnations, has been a bike shop and a French restaurant).

No long ride today, it being Mother’s Day and my niece’s wedding shower. After baking a coffee cake this morning I went to my favorite Batch Bakehouse for croissants. That required a stop at Cafe Domestique for an espresso and a quick check of Giro d’Italia results on VeloNews.

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Mother’s Day Continental (pre)breakfast

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The cafe currently has a display of old Schwinn Paramounts hanging from the ceiling, including a Campagnolo-equipped bike with chrome-plated frame exactly like the one my friend SI had about 45 years ago. The map of Wisconsin on the wall is made up of cogs.

Next week The Blessing of the Bikes! The ride out there will be led by my half-fast friend Tenny. We’ll hope for sunshine.