Photo from the 2014 Ice Age Trail 50 Miler by Ali Engin. Permission to use header photo must be obtained through Ali Elgin.

"Don't ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive." - Howard Thurman

Monday, 25 June 2012

Kickapoo. The toughest 100k in the Midwest

What if I told you that for my birthday, I wanted to do a bike race? Would you like me less? Would you give up on my blog? Does it mean I'm less committed to running?

I have a confession to make: I love cycling and The Kickapoo Kicker was one of the best racing experiences of my life!


SR and I took off with one of the many start waves from the Viroqua, WI high school and we actually cycled the beginning together (and took a major wrong turn together). It was so fun to be in a race where I could keep up with SR at the start. He eventually pulled away in a faster group, but I found another group to ride with. I met people from Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin and it is amazing how easy it is to hold a conversation in a bike race (as  compared to running). Not surprising, though.

Here is the altitude profile from fellow cyclist, Greg Padden. Sorry the scale is missing.
The reason this is called the toughest bike ride in the Midwest is in the 71 miles (which they call "100 km") there is 6,230 feet of elevation change- and these are seriously steep hills, on which half of the field was clicking out of their pedals and walking their bikes. There are also some sections over loose gravel- and this can be scary on a thin-tired road bike. I walked one of these loose gravel sections because it was also a steep downhill. It was gorgeous country- basically a large swath of land that is almost exlusively organic farms in the southwest corner of Wisconsin: "the driftless area" that the glaciers missed. Here Wisconsin is incredibly bucolic and picturesque (and of course I have no pictures).

I raced without a Garmin or watch and took my time at the three very well-stocked aid stations, really enjoyed myself, but also really pushed myself. I began to realize the competitive side of it, though, when a couple riding together would not allow me to draft behind them, even briefly! The final stretch was brutal- a 24% grade hill!!  When I reached the finish, I learned that I had actually beaten the female course record from last year!! I had no clue what time it was or what place I was in because of all of the different waves starting at different times. I guess I finished in just over 5 hours. I still don't know the final results of this year since they haven't been posted yet.

We didn't stick around long. We were both so excited and happy on the way home. What a way to see such incredible scenery! What fun!

That evening we went hiking at Perrot State Park with my parents, Natti, her step-sister Cora, Christian and Mattias. It was a gorgeous night to see the Mississippi River. No clouds and no wind. There was such a jovial mood. We ate dinner at the Trempealeau Hotel. At one point, after downing an entire glass of New Glarus Fat Squirrel beer (on tap), I lay in the grass playing with Mattias, watching the river with the bluffs in the background, listening to a talented live singer and guitarist playing Gram Parsons covers and suddenly it occurred to me: this was the best birthday I could remember. I am so incredibly blessed.

10 comments:

Mapp said...

Happy belated birthday! I am glad you had such a great day (and no, I don't like you less because of the cycling... cycling is great fun... I miss cycling... I hate seeing so many cyclists from my home office's window in our new home and not being able to go...).

Kirsten said...

Sounds like the best birthday ever! And I actually remeber you cycling and racing in Denmark. There's no way I'll leave your blog - I'm in for any fun your'e up to!
By the way, all this soda talk. Actually I now realize that I always get constipated (like in seriously) when drinking a lot of sparkling water - so there must be something funny about that stuff. Pity - I like it....
And are you still fuelling on chocolate when racing (running)? Or any better options?

mmmonyka said...

What a fun birthday!!!!

And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!


PS: I think that every bike race in Midwest that has at least a few "hills" in it is called "the toughest", "mountain mayhem" or something similar. It is quite funny because for someone coming from a hilly region all those "tough" hills are just mole bumps. I was cracking up when I did a bike race in Michigan that was supposed to be hilly:)

Julie said...

Happy Birthday! And congratulations on the fast bike time! I haven't been on my bike in ages and reading this makes me want to dust it off and go for a ride.

SteveQ said...

Happy Birthday!

mmmonyka, you'd love my version of "mountain climbing" in Minnesota.

sea legs girl said...

Hey Mmmonyka! Girl, I would think the same thing if I had never been to "the driftless area" where we live, but Greg Le Monde used to live and train here because we have some of the steepest hills in the world. They don't go up for as long a time as mountains, but the climbs are often harder. Our climbs on Saturday had a steeper grade than any point on the Alpe D'Huez in the Tour. Trust me - I have also cycled in mountains and the hills near Viroqua are killer. Have you ever experienced a 24% grade hill??!! I'm going to add an altitude profile for the race now.

Olga King said...

I always miss birthdays. So, did you win when beat the CR? And, you changed the blog lay-out, nice!

sea legs girl said...

Olga, just saw the results and my time was only good enough for 4th out of 59 women this year. Cooler temps and less wind, I guess! Thanks for asking.

sea legs girl said...

Kirsten, I have actually been transitioning over to eating gus/gels during races. When I train I often eat Cliff Bars, too. And Cliff Shot makes gels of entirely organic foods - I think that is super cool.

sea legs girl said...

Oh and Kirsten, I drink a ton of carbonated/sparkling water now, but the belly remains gone! Maybe diet root beer was just super carbonated. Or maybe it was all of the aspartame. It is tough to say.