Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The End of Superweek?

All through the 1990s, when I was living in New York, I'd drive home and stay with my sister Teena in Milwaukee and race Superweek. I started in the 4s, moved on to the 3s, then found some success in the 40 plus division by the time I lived in Wisconsin.

Superweek - now called the International Cycling Class - was THE race in the midwest and in the country. The pros got 17 days of hard racing, and the rest of us had big fields, challenging courses, and the feel of being "pro" for a week.

The who's who of pros who have raced here is endless, including Armstrong, Horner, and Cadel Evans.

In the last few years, Superweek has earned itself some bad reviews: racers not receiving prize money or having checks bounce, cities and towns not getting paid for using their facilities, police departments not getting promised payments. The race lost some very cool venues because of this. I don't know enough of the causes of the problems to cast blame. As a racer, I only know what I've experienced.

Half of the racing has moved to Illinois, and even those courses are struggling.

The organizers of the Tour of America's Dairyland have brought in a well-organized, tightly-run stage race, in contrast to the Superweek of the past.

And this year, the reputation - and ToAD - has clearly had an impact. This year the fields have been small, really small. My fields in the masters 4/5 have been between 8 and 15. The Whitnall Park Road Race had about 25 since it was the only Wisconsin road race and had double points for the overall. The race paid 12 deep today with 12 riders.

The women's 3/4 field today had FOUR riders. Even the pro men's field, with the exception of Downer, has been very small.

Clearly, the Superweek organizers must be hemorrhaging money. It's a sad event that Superweek has been run into the ground. I'd be sorry to see it go. We are lucky in Wisconsin to have so many racing available to us.

I can't see how the race can be rescued. Maybe a week-long event? Maybe an Illinois event?

In the event I used to race, the masters 1, 2, 3, we usually had fields of 80 to 120 guys. Riders would come from all over the country for some of the best racing outside of nationals.

Yesterday, in the Whitnall RR, there were 23 finishers.

An era of great racing in Wisconsin appears to be on its last breath.

Imagine the Customer Service with My Car - Dave's Garage

On my way home from the Whitnall race on my bike, I had a double flat: the tube in my bike bag also went flat.

I stopped in a Dave's Garage in Greenfield on Forest Home Avenue and asked for duct tape to try and fix one of the tubes. The man behind the desk handed me a roll of black duct tape.

"Let me know if it works," he said. "If it doesn't, I'll give you a ride home."

Mind you, I'm in my spandex kit, soaked with sweat, and I'm sure very fragrant!

The duct tape patch didn't hold, and sure enough, Adam, a young man studying to be a firefighter, gave me a ride home.

All I could think of was that if this was the kind of customer service they give to a random stinky bike racer in spandex, imagine the kind of work they'll do on my car.

I clearly have a new place to bring my car. I encourage you to do the same!


Monday, July 4, 2011

The Prairie Project Part 1

For once,  a non-political blog!

Since I bought this little house in Milwaukee last year, I've been thinking about the prairie I want to create in the back and front yards. I want lots of prairie grass and wildflowers.

Yes, I want butterflies, bees, and birds in my backyard!

So today I finished up Part 1 of the Prairie Project. Part 1 consists of covering all the grass I want to get rid of with newspaper, then covering that with a thick layer of mulch. Since there's been no rain lately, I've had to "water" the mulch to keep the newspaper wet. Darryl, my neighbor, gave me some grief this morning, wondering what I was growing in there!

The idea is to kill off the grass while leaving all the organic material intact. I'll likely till all of it together in the fall or next spring. That's the only downside of this process: it takes a few months.

The long term goal is nearly all prairie in the yard, front and back. Now I just need to wait. In the meantime, it's a good excuse to ride more!