Oktoberfest bike ride: 45 miles with friends & frigid weather

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Yesterday was the 8th annual Tyranena Oktoberfest Bike Ride event, as hosted by the Tyranena Brewery in Lake Mills. The event draws 1750 bicyclists from the midwest and has become an incredibly popular event - it sells out every year - so I made sure to get my registration in early.

I also managed to convince a few friends to join me on the ride, which offers several course routes, with distances of 18, 30, 45, and 65 miles. We decided to do the 45 mile ride - it would be a challenging ride and would help justify the post-ride feast. :-)

The weather here in Wisconsin is "unique," to say the least. All last week, the weather was phenomenal - low 70s, sunny, calm winds - just gorgeous. It rained on one evening, but was otherwise unbelievable. The weekend forecast started out great, but quickly went downhill. When Saturday morning finally arrived, the temperature (at ride start) was just barely over 40, with a relentless northerly wind that clocked an average of 15-20 mph. NICE.

My morning began at 5:30am with a nice 8.15-mile run. I say the run was "nice" because I actually felt great during the run - something that hasn't happened for quite some time. I effortlessly cranked out the miles and even managed a respectable pace of 8:31/mile. I'm not sure why my legs decided to "play nice" but they did and I wasn't about to complain. After the run, I took a quick shower, packed my things, loaded my bike into the car and drove over to my friend's (and co-worker) house in Fitchburg.

We decided to drive to the event together - he has a truck, so we could easily fit our bikes in his vehicle, and with 1750 people at the small brewery, we figured carpooling would help the parking situation. We left his house promptly at 8:30am and made our way to Lake Mills, where our plan was to drive to Dan's shop, unload and set-up, and then ride our bikes down to the Brewery.

We arrived to the Brewery at about 10:00am and were shocked by the number and volume of people. It really is a huge event. The Brewery does an excellent job of managing the event - there were plenty of large tents set-up, registration was quick and painless, the "goodie bag" was really nicely done, the staff and volunteers were friendly and knowledgeable, and best of all, the route map was clear and easy to read. I had a good feeling about this event and we hadn't even hit the road!

After donning our number tags and wristbands, we made a final "pitstop" and then set about on our 45-mile voyage. The first stop on the ride was at the Trek factory in Waterloo, WI, and our route took us through downtown Lake Mills, around Rock Lake, and down some quiet country roads. We bucked the wind for the entire first leg - 11-ish miles of an unforgiving headwind.

The Trek facility had set-up a few tents with food and water; people were eating the food as fast as the volunteers could get it out there. I believe they had peanut butter sandwiches, fruit, and some sweet treats (I didn't eat anything at the stops). Just like at the brewery, the volunteers here were superb. They happily dished out large amounts of food, all with a smile and with nary a complaint or grimmace.

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Trek also invited everyone to take a "tour" of the factory, but it turns out the tour wasn't much more than an invitation to stroll around in a "hall of Lance." It was sort of disappointing, although there were some interesting items. I've highlighted a few of them here:

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They had all of Lance Armstrong's bikes from the various Tour de France efforts; each bike featured a brief story/background, along with some minor technical details.

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They had a mock set-up of the current Trek/Radio Shack team, complete with Lance's current ride. I'm not sure if the mannequins were true to scale, but it looked as if they might have been.

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There was also a section that included some Trek history; I thought this passage about how Trek was created in a Lake Mills tavern was rather interesting...

And after the "tour," Dan, Dan, and I posed for a self-portrait in front of the Trek factory sign. It's not the greatest photo, but it's sort of cool:

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After snapping that photo, we made our way back to our bikes and prepared to head out for the next section of the ride. Despite the temperatures being quite frigid and the wind still plenty blustery, I found myself a bit warm. I had layered "heavily" - a wool t-shirt, a wool long-sleeve shirt, a wind-proof Under Armor shirt, two fleece half-zip shirt/jackets, and a wind-proof/water-proof bicycling jacket. I needed to lose the fleece jackets...

My jacket has several pockets for storing water bottles, and try as I might to roll them as tightly and compact as possible, I wasn't real comfortable. Thankfully, my friend Chris offered to store them in his knapsack - he had thoughtfully brought along an empty knapsack, and I took him up on the offer. Thank you, Chris - you're a lifesaver!

In the interest of keeping as much stuff "out of the wind," he tucked the knapsack under his sweatshirt, which resulted in a Quassimoto look - we all got a chuckle from it:

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Trust me - Chris does NOT have a hunchback.

And with that, we were back on the road - we left Waterloo and headed east, using back roads and so on. Our route would take us to Jefferson, where there was another rest stop. We decided to skip the stop - we had warmed-up, our legs felt good, and we kept riding.

Unfortunately, when we left Jefferson on highway J, Dan quickly discovered that J would intersect with highway G... in a very hilly section. I personally don't mind the hills (I sort of enjoy them, actually), but Dan and Dan were starting to feel the effects of 40-ish miles of riding. To their credit, they took on the hills without hesitation, and even with that nasty headwind blasting them straight-on, they conquered the hills. Kudos, my friends!

We deviated slightly from the course to take advantage of our proximity to Dan's shop; the course map would've had us go around the east side of Lake Mills and then loop around to the Brewery on highway B. We kept heading north on highway G and eventually landed at the shop. My odometer showed 48.89 miles of total riding. Not a bad effort, especially given the brutal winds.

Dan's folks were at the shop where they treated us to a 3 Musketeers bar. We also took a "finisher" photo:

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We loaded the bikes into Dan's truck, changed our clothes, and then drove down to the Brewery where a celebration lunch was waiting for us, complete with Tyranena beer, soda, and several live bands. Tyranena certainly knows how to throw a post-ride bash!

The meal included a pulled-pork sandwich, chips, fresh cut fruit, potato salad, pickles, and cookies. I skipped the potato salad but tried everything else - it was superb! The food came from Glen's Catering in Watertown, and I can't say enough good things about the food and service. It was so fantastic.

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We were able to find a table with some open seats, so we settled-in, wolfed down our grub, enjoyed a few beverages, and listened to the bands. The tents did a great job of blocking the wind and helping to contain the heat that was being generated by the 1000 or so people that were on-hand for the celebration.

Here's our group, sitting at the table after our ride:

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We stayed at the lunch for about an hour or so and then Dan and I headed back into Madison. I was freezing, Dan was tired, and the thought of getting home to shower was a much stronger argument than staying at the post-ride event. So, we hopped into the truck and made our way home:

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Interesting side note: Dan's wife Becky was one of my teammates for the Madison-to-Chicago 200 race. She's quite a runner!

Once home, I enjoyed a wonderful shower (I think I emptied the hot water heater), straightened-up the apartment, and washed all of my riding gear. I also had the pleasure of learning that Dan, Tara, and their kids (Mallory and Christian) would be coming in to Madison to join me for some dinner. Mallory and Christian were going to stay at the apartment and watch TV (Mallory is old enough to babysit and does a wonderful job of it) while Dan, Tara and I went out for some chow.

I made a quick stop at the local Sonic to grab dinner for Mallory and Christian, and then Dan, Tara, and I made our way over to Roman Candle for some pizza!!

We ordered two pizzas: a "Professional" (chicken, pesto, bacon, jalapenos)

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and a "Supreme" (sausage, mushroom, onion, pepperoni):

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After enjoying that pizza, we hit the Hubbard Avenue Diner for some pie, and I was a complete glutton as I had two slices: a banana cake and a peanut butter cream pie. Both were so amazingly stellar - especially with a hot pot of coffee as a chaser. Yummo.

Dan & the family left for home and I hit the hay. I woke-up this morning and did a 50-mile ride, followed by another stellar 8-mile run. As I mentioned before, I'm not sure why the 'ole legs are feeling so good, but I'm not going to question it too much!

I'll definitely be registering for next year's Tyranena ride - it was a great time, and I really had a blast, especially since I got to ride it with my friends. Yes, the weather was challenging, but it was worth it in every way. Thanks to all for joining me on the ride, and thanks to Tyranena for putting on an outstanding event - the event went off with out a hitch, the staff was incredible, the volunteers were life-savers, and everything was so superb. I can't say enough great things about the event! If you haven't done this event, please consider attending next year - you'll love it!

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This page contains a single entry by Steve published on October 3, 2010 3:51 PM.

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