Monthly Archives: December 2017

Best and Worst of 2017

When my kids were little, we played a game at dinner every night.

Because kids tend to not want to talk with their families (at least when they become teenagers) at the dinner table, we looked for ways to get everyone to engage in the evening.  We started with a no electronics at dinner rule.  That worked to some extent, but we still got a lot of shrugged shoulders or “I don’t know” answers to the normal questions of “how was your day, or what happened at school today?”  Eventually, we came upon a game that we played every night for years and years at the dinner table.  It turned out to be one of the highlights of our family time together.  We called the game Best and Worst, and over the years the game has developed a life of it’s own.  The kids friends participated in the game as well when they were young, and now when they are at our house someone trots out the game to this day.

The rules of the game were simple.  It was a game that the rules could be made up by the person who called the game that night.  Whoever called the game, not before all butts had sat down at the table – as that was outside the overall rules, got to make up the rules for that night.  Of course, since I invented the game, I often times changed even that rule if someone beat me to the game.  Just this past Christmas dinner with the kids and their significant others, we played the game.  It was a fun version.

As I take a look back on 2017, I think the format of the game is my ticket into a 2017 review.  I am calling the game “Best and Worst”, so sit yourself down and take a look.

January 1 snow as far as you can see!

Pre-Birkie race 2 weeks before the Birkie.

On January 1, it looked like we were going to have a normal snow year.  Even 2 weeks before the Birkie at the Pre-Birkie, there was good snow.  Unfortunately, it rained and all went away just before the Birkie.  We found ourselves with an historic 2nd canceling of the race and unseasonably warm conditions across all of the upper midwest.  I guess this all qualifies as a Worst entrant into 2017.

Liz and I enjoying an outside dinner in Madison in February. The Birkie didn’t have a chance.

Springtime brought a trip to Flanders for the race, Vienna for work and a couple of days there for Liz and I.

Flanders on the Koppenberg.  Some years you can ride it, others…!

One more time with Shriver and Freddie at the RVV citizen ride. Maybe the last time I will get to, but it was sure fun. (This is post ride and post plates of frites in Oudenaarde.)

Vienna

We went to the Giro for the first time.  Got to see the future with Tom Dumolin as he dominated the race.  The mountains are just incredible in northern Italy.  The race is way better than the TDF as far as an event to go to. After the race, we traveled up to Amsterdam where we saw Eddie play solo, then home.

First time to the Giro for us. Mountains there are beautiful.

We made it to Amsterdam to see Eddie play solo.

So far, those are all pretty good things.  There were a few bad things that happened in 2017.  I ended up in the hospital with a bad infection that I could not seem to kick.  It all worked out in the end on that point, but it wasn’t fun.  Unfortunately, the bad events with cars and bicycles keep happening, and the world lost Nicky Hayden to a bike and car crash.

Infections and Hospitals kinda suck.

We will all miss Nicky Hayden.

The world lost so many great people in 2017. Chris Cornell has to be up near the top of the list.

Summer came along and was overall pretty great.  Lots of family visits and bike riding and a bunch of other great things.

I finally made good on a motorcycle enduro. It has been years of trying, and I usually screw it up somewhere in the middle of the race.

We have been wanting to go and visit the big musky in Hayward for a while. It didn’t disappoint.

2nd ride with my brother this summer. This time in Hayward, and the bonus is also with my friend Todd Johnson for the first time we have ridden together in 20 years.

Fall always rocks in Wisconsin.  We had plenty of great fun this year by adding a MTB trip out to Utah.  We saw Hanna and Adam, and had an announcement that we will be grandparents from Ali.

After a lot of years, I finally got the Whole Enchilada in. The ride does not disappoint.

Unfortunately, Thomas crashed the day before and could not do the ride with us. But, Hanna, Adam, Liz and I made the best of it.

I also got to ride with one of my great friends in Utah. This is the whole family (minus Ali) with Art at the top of Guardsman Pass in Utah, about to head down the Crest trail.

Liz and I on a MTB date to Duluth to do a day of lift served riding. She is ignoring me.

I only did a couple of Cyclocross races this fall. But did manage to get the podium on 2 of them.

The Marquette Enduro does not disappoint.

A great fall trail ride with the gang in the northwoods.

Last day of my favorite taco place in Madison. El Grito taco truck. Yes, that is a line.

Rolling into Winter and 2018.

My newly unemployed status allows me to experience Madison a lot more. It is a great place.

Birkie training is in full swing.

Christmas in Madison with the whole family. Ali (4 months pregnant, which means I am soon to be Grandpa Joe), Thomas, Hanna, Adam, Liz and I. The zoo is closed folks, the moose out front should have told you.

Birkie training is tough in this weather.

All in all, 2017 was an awesome year with just a few things that did not provide a great experience.  Feel pretty blessed to live where I do, with the people I do and have the opportunities I have had.

Looking forward to 2018.  It is going to be a big year.

Joe

 

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Local can be beyond cool!

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Welcome to 1 OAK bicycles. Downtown Paoli, above the brewery. You can follow them on Instagram @1oakbicycles.

I prefer the local coffee shop to Starbucks.  I prefer a local taco shop to Qdoba.  I prefer a local beer to Sam Adams.  The list goes on and on.  If you are like me or like most people I know, you like supporting a local business.  I enjoy speaking with the owner who is employing local people and supporting the local community.  I make it a policy that I get to know the shop, their personality and learn if they can be a match for my hopes.

But, I wouldn’t support a local business that doesn’t offer a better product that I will like better.  In the end, if I am going to spend my hard earned $, I am going to make sure I am getting exactly what I want to get.  I would rather have something offering a great experience, customized for me vs. just getting a new something or another.  I do not need stuff that badly.

This all brings me to my friend Eric Maves and his new little boutique in Paoli Wi.  Eric opened a new little bike shop above the brewery in Paoli.  Paoli is a small little town filled with not much of anything but there are a couple of restaurants, art studios and a brewery.

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Every bike sold at 1 OAK, is One Of A Kind.  Get it?

Every bike that Eric sells is bespoke.  There is nothing standard or straight out of a catalog.  It is the epitome of expression around individual experience.  Eric will sell you one of the bikes that he has already built or he will build the bike that you have always wanted.  You will not find a catalog of what he offers, beyond the unique vehicles that he has in stock today.

One OAK bicycles environs are exquisite.  Eric has curated an experience that just drips with the love of cycling and how a bicycle can be something more than just a vehicle that can get you down the road.  When you are there, you will feel the passion that Eric has for everything that makes cycling such a great experience.

I did not take any of photos of the bikes that Eric is selling today.  This post isn’t really about his current inventory.  When you visit Eric, he will offer you an espresso in an Italian cup.  He will invite you to sit down and talk about bikes, bike racing, the history of cycling, all of the great things that we all love about cycling, and of course what your dreams are around a unique bicycle.  Chances are that he can get something together for you that embodies those dreams.

Give him a call at One OAK bicycles in Paoli.  Pick up a t-shirt while you are there from one of the coolest boutiques I know of.

Joe

Dec 12

I do not think that Dec 12 is a day that will live into infamy.  But, it is a significant day here at the Vadeboncoeur cabin.  I am just a week into unemployment and the 5th day into Birkebeiner training.  Today is the first rest day in that plan.  I chose this as the first rest day because it is only going to be a high of 12 degrees here (it is currently -1).  I will do some core body work today, wax skis for the next 3 days of skiing, prep snow bikes for finally being able to get out and ride etc…  (There is the pesky need to work on home budgeting, get to the hardware store, groceries etc…)  I am kind of enjoying this “retired” unemployed life.

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Hill repeats on day 4.  This IS how they make you feel. #birkietraining

Here is what my days have been.

The first day was about 1 hour of finding my feet and poles and hands and where my body is supposed to be, and then stepping around debris on the trail.  I was pretty bad and really out of shape.  My hips and feet where killing me.  My heart rate would sky rocket up any incline.

The 2nd day was REALLY tough.  In the morning I had gone out on the snow bike with the dogs, our usual loop around the neighborhood, and I had noticed that someone had tried to skate up the Birkie Ridge trail.  We had about 2 inches of fresh snow on top of the 8 inches that had been deposited earlier in the week.  It was not groomed.  I decided to ski up the 3k Birkie Ridge trail to the main Birkie trail and go north from there.  About 1k into the climb up to the Birkie trail, whoever had skied before me must have turned around, as their tracks went away.  I was breaking trail through more than 8 inches of snow, all the way up to the Birkie trail.  I eventually made it, and skied north for about an hour then returned.  15ish k roundtrip.  But, the 3k of getting through all that snow killed my hip flexors.  Ouch.

Day 3 was a 2hr over distance steady ski.  Parked at Boedecker road, skied south to OO, then north to high point and back to Boedecker.  I guess that it was about 20k.  This day worked much better, but my timing still needs work, and my fitness has a loooong way to go.

Day 4 was an attempt to kill myself.  I parked at Boedecker again then skied to the top of the Birkie Ridge trail.  I found a roughly 1/2k uphill, and did hill repeats up that hill.  At the top of the hill, I felt that my heart was about to explode and my lungs were going to collapse.  On the 4-5k back to the car, I skied twice up every hill – just for good measure and a few more nails.

Yowza.  Sitting in seat 13A for all that time with my job has taken a toll on my fitness and my overall athleticism.  But, I am going to change that between now and the Birkie.  I cannot promise that I will be in my best shape ever in just 3 months.  Not sure that 3 months can erase 2 years of stress and travel and lack of time to chase any fitness, but it will be a start.  It will get me to the point of being able to prep for the cycling season and the moto season.  It will get me to the point that I can ride all day and race hard for a GNCC, local HS race, National Enduro, MTB Endure etc…

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My tools of choice to get my fitness back. An old pair of race skis and ski poles.

 

Let’s Birkebeiner!

IMG_4371I know that this blog is meant to be mostly about 2 wheeler exploits.  I know that not everyone out there enjoys XC skiing, but hey, this is my blog.

For a few years, I have wanted to have the time to focus on being fit enough to do more than just survive the Birkie (that is what we call it as Birkebeiner is just to long to say, plus no one knows how to say it or spell it).  It is a hard ass event.  It takes about 3 hours, is 52km long (I know those are shorter than miles, so don’t send me that note), it is probably going to be about 15 degrees F for the race and there will be 7000 other crazies out there trying to do it – ski poles flying everywhere.  Given that there is marginal snow in the Madison area ever, it would require being north of there to have reliable snow to get enough real training time in.  I have always finished the race and wished that I could have enough time to be really practiced on skis.

Well, now that I have caught the unemployed virus, I really do not have an excuse to not be prepared for the Birkie.  Yes, after nearly 30 years at Trek, I have moved on.  It was actually just 28 years, but I told someone that and they stopped me and gave me license to round up.  I still do not feel good about calling it 30, so I am going to call it 3 decades.  3 decades sounds like a long time, it was.  3 decades is a career.

So what will I do?  Well first and foremost, I am going to ski the Birkie.  I am going to be up north enough to be comfortable on skis and hopefully have the best Birkie I have ever had.  I started this week with some strength and flexibility work, ran some hills on Tuesday, rode the trainer, skied an hour yesterday, skied 20k today.  No more “I wish I could ski more” as an excuse.  After that, I am not sure. Maybe sell one of the houses and buy a Sprinter Van and just travel to the best mountain bike trails in every state, and do all the National Enduro’s.  You know me, so you know that whatever comes next will involve a motorcycle, a MTB, my girl and dogs, a few burrito’s, too many cortado’s and a Pearl Jam concert (or 7).

As for real work, I am not really sure.  I know that I have a passion for helping someone get something started.  That is what I did mostly in my career at Trek.  I am not done working yet, so I will find something to be passionate about.

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#picnictableselfie  There will be many more of these!

I will leave you with 2 things to think about:
There was a movie called Buckeroo Banzai, that for some reason made an impression on me in my youth.  In that movie, the lead character who was named Buckeroo Banzai – oddly enough – said,
Wherever you go, there you are!”  I have always liked that as a statement on life and your condition.
(at least I am not quoting something from William S. Burroughs “Naked Lunch”, which… if you ever want to sit through a movie and not know exactly what it was that you just watched for the last 90 minutes, give that a try. wow)
If that is just too weird or deep, one of my all time favorite authors was Douglas Adams.  If you just want some entertainment, in between the business books, give him a try.  I do not think you will find it a waste of time.  His last book was called,
So long, and thanks for all the fish!  (I don’t really know what that means either, but it feels like a pretty good way to say Adios after 3 decades)
b000217
Joe

 

PS – and now back to the regularly scheduled programing of skiing, riding 2 wheelers, burritos and snobby coffee.