Martins Tour of Wisconson

At boat ready to begin

The following writing is about my recent bike tour in Wisconsin. Hope you enjoy, I sure did!

Big hill @ dells

8:30am Sunday June 5, 2011. I am sitting on the SS Badger ready to depart Ludington, MI. for Manitowoc, WI. First leg of week-long bike tour of WI.  Full of apprehension about the miles and hills ahead. Bike loaded with gear, water, and too much stuff weighs in at 70#  Yikes.  Reminds me of the Bill Bryson book “ A Walk in the Woods”  about hiking the Appalachian trail, and the out of shape hiker pitching out half of his gear during the first day because it weighed too much! Hopefully, that will not be me at tonight’s camp!  Out

Just getting started

Sunday night. Made it to camp in Dundee WI.  58 miles, gentle breeze at back, hot sun. Great campground, tent camping is down a single track, see picture. Riding partners is my long time bike friend Pat Szubilac from Calumet, MI. and his friend James Bialas of Houghton.  Split a six pack of New Glarus Brewing Pale Ale, quite good.  Out

Martin resting along road (2)

Monday Dundee to WI Dells
Off and riding at 7:00, heading straight west to WI Dells, 101 mile day ahead. Strong wind out of the SW, blowing dark ominous clouds right at us. Lightning strikes on occasion, light to moderate rain fell for about 2 hours. Finally reached Waupun about 10:00 am for coffee and cinnamon rolls, yum when you are cold and wet. Off again continuing west, clouds gone and sun burning hot! Applied sun tan lotion multiple times during the day. Plan is to hit a town near the 60 mile mark for lunch.  Soon we discovered that all the towns had died and no businesses were still operating, or the bar in your house taverns were not open. We started stopping and getting water from exterior faucets of farm houses.  The burning sun in Waupun had turned into a fiery orb in the sky and the temps climbed. My bike computer said 104 during one spell on the road. Of course as would be expected the lunch town was also nonexistent, so on we rode eating energy bars, cliff shots, etc. trying to eat enough to stay moving forward. The cross wind in the morning turned into a full frontal attack by afternoon. At mile 90 we hit the town of Briggsville, gas station for water, cola, anything you could keep down and would create energy.  Only 10 more miles and those two hills the attendant talked about, with that great big, “are you 3 crazy” smile. Off we went into the west, plodding onward. First hill conquered; on we went to the second hill, yikes a big long hill that keeps on giving.  I ended up toast with leg cramps and stomach issues from the energy foods and walked the upper half. I watched James and Pat peddling by   in serpentine fashion all the way to the top. I was rewarded by blisters on my heal and feet from my fancy new carbon soled mtb shoes.  We finally reached the Dells about 7:00 pm. Hot, hungry and thirsty.  James and Pat headed off to downtown for dinner while I decided to hang in camp and nurse my wounds, and whooped body back into some type of riding form for the following morning. Took me 1.5 hours to eat my rehydrated dinner and drink water. No nature calls since early morning!  Still hot as blue blazes when I tried going to bed, no rest for the …  Out!

Tuesday; Dells to Nekoosa. 90 miles
Tough night of sleep last night, multiple cramps in multiple muscles, lots of tossing and rubbing legs.  Heading north from the Dells up the WI river valley.  Cool morning riding on tree lined roads. Predicted be another hot one! Hills have been smaller and less each mile we rode. Wind out of the south so it’s pushing us along. I did not think there was anything worse than riding straight into a head wind until the temps today hit 106 and we were riding with the breeze, that means 106 and no breeze, back into the oven we rode! And those nice tree lined roads also disappeared and so did any cover from the scorching sun. We had to buy more sun tan lotion as we were using it a rate far above expected, but no burns worth mention yet. Arrived Nekoosa late afternoon found our way to the campgrounds. Soon discovered the camp had been hit by a twister 2 weeks prior and it was messed up really well. We found a nice grassy lot with agree for shade but still a great breeze, nice!

Martins FUBAR Wheel crash

Wednesday; Nekoosa to Telleda, 87 miles
Off early again, trying to beat the heat, yea right.  North still, following the valley up to Plover, then east through, first cranberry country and then into potato country. Heat continued to build and I felt worse with each passing moment. Stomach issues from the first day came back to haunt me again. Let’s see every time you take a

M & P at finish

drink of water you feel like throwing up and you must keep drinking or die! After wrenching twice in the stretch between Plover and Iola, I made the decision that if I could find a car ride from Iola to Telleda that I would bail on the day. Through the mercy of biker heaven the first guy I asked in Iola was a rider himself and yes he would give me a ride when he got off at 3 pm. Pat and James plodded off as I peddle in the opposite direction of the town swimming lake. Embarrassed as a quitter, but feeling 1000 times better I arrived in camp just a few minutes after Pat and James with bike gear and an iced 12 pack of WI microbrews. Temps continued to soar all day to a high of 103, but since I was swimming there is no official afternoon temp available. We walked into Telleda for dinner and noted on through way back that the temp and humidity were dropping as predicted.

Here comes the rain

Thursday: Telleda to Kewanee 88 miles.
Headed southeast now toward Green Bay and then straight east to lake MI.  Woke to temps in the 50’s and cold, left camp with jackets on and James in knee warmers.  I am feeling super today, no issues with the past day’s health woes. Rode about 10 miles and jumped on a WI state rail trail. These are not your ordinary rail trail, fine gravel topped with chips and dust, packed down like a road bed in the two travel tracks. Mostly all lined with trees, long slow grades and we were able to haul it fast in our three person pace line. Loaded with 35 lbs. of gear on a touring bike that weighs 34 lbs. on a shaded, gravel two track and running an average of 16 mph, it doesn’t get much better, I thought! As we rode we picked up twigs blown by the recent storms, two stops for sticks in shifting equipment and questions between us about what would happen if the stick caught in the fender, we speculated but who really knew?  Well we were about to find out, I finished my pull at the front of the pace line and moved to the back following James when all of a sudden I heard a noise and my front wheel stopped cold and I and the rest of bike were face planting into the trail. Several scary seconds as I checked first to make sure I was alive? Check. Could I move my body? Check. Was anything broken? I was still in a pile on the ground with a 70# bike laying on me, I could barely move anything. Pat came to my rescue pulling off the bike and looking at me then the bike saying oh crap, we have a problem Houston, or at least that what it sounded like to me. I checked no broken bones! But some impressive bleeding and smashed finger that was between the handle bar and the ground when they met each other.

Rail Trail 2 track

The bike on the other hand was in serious condition. Fender supports were wrapped tight into wheel and nothing would move. Disassemble the front rack system, remove the wheel, fender supports, reinstall the wheel and check the rim, spokes, rotor… looks ok so back on the bike it goes. It still won’t rotate; brakes are wacked so we adjust again and again. Finally it’s “just take it off and I’ll ride without”. Wheel rotates but look, the fork is bent! WHAT?  Yep the force bent the fork backwards several degrees, just enough clearance between the tire and down tube to clear. Great the wheel rotates, clears the frame, let’s put it back together and get going, we still have 60 more miles to go today.
Hit Green Bay for a late lunch, stop at Walgreen for a finger splint, tape, antibiotic ointment, everything the ER would have done, and pushed on toward the lake. We made it in to camp about 6 pm, showered bandaged and rode across the street to Costko for beer and my camp dinner of ramen noodles and tuna fish. It’s amazing how improved things taste when there is a large hill between you and the downtown shops 🙂 Cold evening and off to bed early with all my clothes on in the light weight sleeping bag. Rain started in about 4 am. continued through mid-morning as Pat and I peddle the remaining 35 miles south to Manitowoc and the ferry home.  Our 3rd partner James turned and rode back to Green Bay and then 270 miles north to home in Houghton, he is an animal!

Rain's here!

Final thoughts: This was Pat and my second tour together, it’s nice to have a good friend to share my bike passions and failures with. Someone you can ride for hours with and talk or just ride in complete silence and know that it is OK.  Thanks Pat! If you the reader ever make it to the Keweenaw look up Pat for great rides!

Camp in Kewanee WI

Most important is Thanks to Susie for supporting this habit of mine and understanding that I am OK when I call home and report on my crashes and failures.  You’re the love of my life!

Thanks for reading and hope you enjoyed!


Rail trail before crash

Lumberjack 100 review


The story and legends that follow Lumberjack run really deep, enough so that I wanted to give it a shot. Stories of epic pain, extended suffering, and a fun event with a great atmosphere. That all sounds like a event I wanted to finish. The lumberjack 100 was my first outing for a Ultra Endurance Event. I spend most of my riding time on racing and training for shorter event. I didn’t know what to expect for an event like this. I had no idea on how to fuel, drink or what pace to hold. Despite not knowing I signed up and made the 14min window to get in.

I made the drive up north the night before and was able to stop in in pick up my packet. Even before the race started I could tell that atmosphere for this event was different. There was an atmosphere of people who are relaxed and generally looking forward to a great all-be-it difficult bike ride. Everyone had there own reason for racing, past lumberjack story or personal time goal. For most this was a race against yourself.

Race day stared early 5:00 am with a 7:00am mass roll out down the road. 350 people seem like a lot more when you pack them across two lanes. At the masses hit the trail the pace was slower than I would have like. Going up hill had some added difficulty as I was running a 1×10 setup and the front chain ring was a little big. The first lap felt like I had never worked so hard to go so slow. Hind sight showed that the lap time was fine but slow climbing and riders riding the brakes on the down hill can become a test of ones patience. As the first lap finished I dropped in for a quick pit stop. Having a support crew was a welcome addition to the race. They reminded be of the things I needed as my delirium was building.  With the bottles topped off  and a few GU’s tucked in I took off.

Lap 2 was my hardest lap of the day. Half way though the lap I cramped up. My quads and hamstrings lock up and I couldn’t turn the pedals over. I got off the bike and started to hobble up the trail. Thankfully a few strides later my legs loosened up enough. I climbed back on and turn the cranks in small circles. Rolling in to the pits I was starting to question the 3rd lap and I wasn’t sure how much fun it was going to be. I eat some food a snickers, a banana and 2 orange slices and started to feel better. One of my teammates recommended I take some electrolyte caps with me. Seeing no harm I down a few and took the remainder. Oh how wise he was.

Lap 3 was so much better. No cramps, open trail  and the only thing to hinder my speed was my endurance and a hike up to the fire tower. The last lap was a lot of fun. I pushed hard and a few of the riders around me talked like we might be close to breaking 8 hours. That was a much better time than I expected for myself and I pressed on. Rolling into the finish line at 8:07 I felt good. I had done much better than I had expected.  An unlike the end of some races I was not telling myself how I would never ride a bike again. The post ride beer and meal were a warm welcome and made for a great post race atmosphere. I am unsure if I will sign up for lumberjack next year but this years event was a blast.

My result and other Founders racers can be found here


8 Hours of Cannonsburg

This past Saturday, three members from the Founder’s Team (Gabe, Jacobi and myself) decided to give endurance racing a try.  The ski area is one of the best, yet toughest trails around and thinking about riding the 5.5 mile loop for 8 hours can seem daunting.  Adding to this was the logging that had gone on throughout the trail for two weeks prior to the race.  However, with the help of several people and chain saws, the trail was cleared.  Rain fell the day prior to the race which made dirt conditions hard packed and fast.

Upon arriving at the race, Jacobi had the pit area all set.  Jeff seems to know how these races run and had everything dialed in, including a make shift changing room.  As the race drew closer, everyone seemed to be eying their opponents.  In an event like this, you need to know who you are racing against because strategy plays an important role.  There are also several key items you have to think about when racing for an entire day.  How long can you stop in the pit?  What should the pace per lap be?  Can you afford to stop to use the bathroom?  Seeing how this was my first endurance race solo, I figured out the answers to these questions throughout the course of the day.

As the race started, the pace seemed very doable.  Gabe went off the front and led for two to three hours.  He only had four hours to put in and wanted to get a good workout.  As the morning progressed, I found myself right up with the leaders.  Upon finishing my 6th lap, I heard Brent announce that I was dominating my field since I was the only one in the 29 and under category.  This is where I finally started to battle my head.  I pretty much knew I didn’t have to race anyone to win, but I wanted to still prove to myself what I could do.  My lap times stayed pretty constant, but I started to find myself stopping for longer periods of time in the pits.  If there’s one thing I can learn from Jeff, it’s to never sit down and stay consistent.  After my 12th lap, I found myself wanted to just relax and hang out, but Rick talked me into at least one more lap.  As I finished my 13th lap, Rick again was standing towards the finish telling me I had time for one more lap.  Thus, I came through the shoot and headed out for one more lap.

I ended up first in my age group (by default) with 14 laps and a time of 8:24:21.  Jacobi was a beast and ended up first in the 30-39 category with 15 laps in 8:33:27.  Gabe ended up getting 7 laps in 3:47:57 giving him a second place finish in the single speed category.

I did end up learning a few things from this race.  First, one turkey sandwich and four pbj’s about did it for me nutrition-wise.  I tried to drink a full bottle of Heed or water every two laps and really didn’t cramp at all.  Most importantly, whatever song is in the car prior to an endurance race has to be good.  For some reason I had “The Lazy Song” by Bruno Mars in my head all day, which isn’t a real motivational song.

Thanks to Jeff for setting up shop and giving some great pointers.  Also, thanks to Rick and the other teammates for coming out to support.  Good luck to all those doing Lumberjack next week. I’ll be there cheering you on.

Jeremy Karel