I guess you could call this a ride review, but I don’t know it that would be completely accurate. Biking in Madison Wisconsin has been a big part of my life; because I’ve lived in Madison for my entire life, and go to school here now too. Madison Wisconsin is one of the most bike friendly cities in the country, and on many ranking lists, is listed as one of the most bike friendly, progressive, and nicest places to live.
The great thing about being a cyclist and biking in Madison Wisconsin is that the city and surrounding towns like Verona, Middleton, and Fitchburg have all made real efforts to promote cycling as a means of transportation for both commuting and recreation. I ride my bike to work and to school, and can easily ride pretty much anywhere within a 40 mile radius of where I live (mayyybee a little bit less right now, but I’m getting stronger every day).
The city has added bike lanes, bike paths, and even bike boulevards where bikes are allowed to use the full lane on a two way road. Because of this, biking in madison wisconsin is much safer here than in almost any other city in the country.
Madison has a great, bike friendly attitude as well. You notice it through the little things, the details that aren’t there in other cities with cycling initiatives. Many stores are members of the bicycle benefits program offered by BicycleBenefits.org. The bicycle benefits program gives discounts and other perks to its cyclist members, who enjoy biking in Madison Wisconsin enough to join the program and commute to work. Employers are also very bike friendly. Many have bike racks in sheltered areas for their employees, and my boss even has a shower to clean up and a full kitchen that I can use. That way, I don’t smell like I just got off the bike for the rest of the day.
Madison is just a great place to live in general. We have cold winters, but beautiful and warm springs, summers, and falls. Even so, you can still ride in the winter. Just ask the all season cyclist over at AllSeasonCyclist.com. He’ll be able to give you the scoop on how to bike in all kinds of weather, even the coldest winters or the hottest summers.
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If I remember right, the day that I took this temperatures were peaking over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, I rode. You gotta ride.
Often, I feel broken down emotionally as well as physically. The difference in fitness between where I was, where I am now, and where I would like to be, general fatigue, and the day to day struggles that I and everyone else most assuredly face all conspire to keep me from feeling my best. I deal with this by focusing on how much I’ve improved, not how far I have to go.
Instead of picking a goal that seems at times unattainable, make note of how much stronger, faster, and more energetic you are each week that you train. With my focus on improvement instead of my failures and my weaknesses, I feel encouraged to continue on and to work harder than ever.
At the end of the week, I take a moment to reflect and think to myself “Wow. I’ve done things that a week, two weeks, even two days ago would have seemed improbably difficult. I’m amazed at how quick the human body can recover and improve.”. Right now, I feel like writing down what I’ve done, my plans, and setting goals for myself. All of this, because I focus on improvement.
If anyone has ever watched the Tour de France and thought that the climbs in the Alps looked a little too dainty, this one might be for you. Click here to read the bicycling.com article about an authors review of her ride up the Pikes Peak Highway.
Pikes Peak is one of the tallest mountains in the Rocky Mountains, which are known as the “14ers”. The mountains have that name because they’re over 14,000 feet tall. While not the tallest point in the lower 48, Pikes Peak is less than 600 feet away from the honor. Pikes. Peak is known for the brutal switchbacks and incredibly high grade of the highway that travels up the eastern side of the mountain. Many automobile enthusiasts try their hand at a fast ascent and descent of the mountain, risking their lives around hairpin turns, feet away from deadly falls.
Cyclists view pikes peak as less of a sprint, a way of testing your reflexes and your nerves, but as a marathon.with an average grade of higher than 6 degrees (for anyone who doesn’t think that’s a lot, trust me that it is). From base to peak, the elevation increases over 7,000 feet in under 30 miles. In the Midwest, 200 feet of elevation gain in 30 miles would be seen as a noticeable uphill.
Upon completion of a ride up Pikes Peak, a cyclist is utterly spent. However, they’re not done yet. They still have to descend the mountain. While the ascent is an exercise in masochism and determination, the descent is an exercise equal parts in restraint and intestinal fortitude. During a sustained descent over 6 degrees down, speeds approaching 70 miles per hour (which is speeding even on the interstate) can be achieved on a bike. You must believe in your ability to ride and control your bid, as well as in your restraint. While you may want to descend as quickly as you can to the base of the mountain and sleep for the next three days, you need to brake almost constantly to maintain a manageable (I’m not saying go slow, I’m just saying that you probably don’t want to miss a turn and go shooting off the side of a mountain and fall thousands of feet to your death) speed.
After you finish your ride, celebrate! You are an undeniable adventurer. You rode your bike to a point where many people have difficulty breathing without exercise, you were able to power through your pain and achieve something that is universally recognized to be among the most difficult physical tests that you can undergo.