The Ride for Nature to benefit the Ridges Sanctuary is back to help kick off the Door County summer June 15.
Registration for the 25th annual bicycle ride opens Friday, Feb. 1. The ride, which saw a record 734 participants in 2012, is capped at 1,200 participants this year.
“After growing by over 30 percent last year, we wanted to choose a cap that we know allows us to exceed the expectations of everyone involved,” said organizer Brian Fitzgerald. “Our cyclists expect a boutique event experience, and we also have to respect the needs of businesses, vehicle traffic, and public safety.”
Part of that includes a short road closure to accomodate a mass roll-out for those taking on the century and metric century (62-mile) routes.
With routes of 50, 25 and 15 miles, each with full course support and a post-ride meal, the Ride for Nature offers an experience for cyclists of all levels. All distances end at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall Park, where the second annual Door County Beer Festival will feature more than 140 craft beers, locally sourced food, and live music all afternoon.
“Last year’s turnout and festivities were tremendous,” said Fitzgerald, the co-owner of the Peninsula Pacers, which also produces the acclaimed Door County Half Marathon. “With Fyr Bal taking place in Ephraim that day as well we think there’s no better weekend to get the full Door County experience.”
For 25 years the Ride for Nature has raised funds for educational programming at The Ridges, a rare preserve of dunes and wildlife that is one of the most revered preserves in the Great Lakes region.
Register for the ride today here>>
Photo by Len Villano.
By Jackson Parr
An hour bike ride through the park never fails to be enjoyable, but when that ride extends to several hours and dozens of miles, such as the upcoming Ride for Nature Century, your seat can suddenly feel uncomfortable, you curse the blister on your big toe and wonder whether you remembered to refreeze that icepack – but you can’t remember because the smashing headwind is a screaming distraction.
As an avid cyclist and member of the University of Iowa cycling team, I plan on participating in the full century ride in the upcoming Ride for Nature. I may have logged thousands of miles this year already, raced all throughout the country and even shaved my legs like the pros, but a century provides a different kind of challenge.
It takes a different kind of fitness to sit five hours in the saddle and still enjoy the ride and scenery that this route offers. Although I am always training for some sort of race, this century has reminded me to incorporate some other things into my weekly riding routine. I may be a more involved cyclist than most, but many of these things are ideas that can be adopted by all who plan on riding, whether it is the century or family ride.
The first thing to note is an idea that I credit to triathlon World Champion Chris McCormack. He states that, even if you are looking for a fun recreational ride, people would generally want to comfortably finish the century in six hours instead of seven, etc. He always stated that an ironman triathlon is easier for the professionals because it is the age group athletes that are on the course for fifteen hours or more. I am using this ride as more of a low-intensity ride than a strict training ride, but that does not mean that I am eliminating the faster speed work from my weekly riding agenda prior to the event.
That said, once a week I hit the roads for my speed work in what is called interval training. Finding a straight open road (County Road A is a favorite), I start with 15 minutes of a fast pace where I am really putting in effort. This is a pace high above anything I could wish to hold for 100 miles, generally around 25 miles per hour for me. After 15 minutes, I slow to an easy pace and recover for 5 minutes. Repeating this pattern three times gives me a strong hour-long ride. The problem most people have is that their “speed ceiling” is too low. This means that their body only knows how to move at a given max speed. If you take shorter periods of time to go at much faster paces, your body will generate a new ceiling in which it gauges speed, making it easier to increase your long distance pace.
Most important are the long, slow rides in my training. I generally try to find two of these each week, ranging anywhere from two to four hours. These rides serve two important functions, the obvious being an increase in fitness. By going for long rides at a low intensity, your body learns to more efficiently use energy sources and move oxygen to and from your muscles. This will help you buffer fatigue for a longer period of time as well as use the foods that you eat more effectively. The second important function is getting your body used to sitting on a bike seat for an extended time. There is a whole different mental aspect to a century, as the saddle feels less comfortable with the passing of each slow mile. The more accustomed to long rides you can be, the better the century will feel. After all, we are all out there to enjoy ourselves; aero-carbon frames and mountain bikes alike.
Between these days perhaps I find another shorter ride or supplement the riding with low impact swimming to ease the joints or yoga to release the lower back and hips (problem areas for most long distance cycling). In the end though, a century must be accepted as a long day on the bike. The weeks prior to the ride are spent to make sure it is an enjoyable one.
We told you we had exciting news about this year’s Ride for Nature coming for you – and we weren’t lying.
We’re excited to tell you that the first ever Door County Beer Festival will be held in conjunction with this year’s Ride for Nature! The festival, featuring more than 120 of the finest craft beers in the country, with a special focus on Wisconsin micro-brews, will be held at the Baileys Harbor Town Hall Park near the finish line of the Ride for Nature.
“It’s called a beer festival,” says founder John McMahon, “but this is about a lot more than beer. We’ll have several local vendors serving all locally sourced food. We have at least five educational seminars planned featuring representatives from O’so Brewery, Capital Brewery, local chefs and cheese experts. And of course, we’ll have great live music.”
In addition, Kyle Cherek, host of the popular television show Wisconsin Foodie, will be at the festival to talk about the show and his culinary adventures across the state.
“When John told me about this, I jumped at the opportunity,” Cherek said. “I love Door County. I love beer. It crosses socio-economic demographics so it engages so many people.”
Tickets for the festival will be available soon, and Ride for Nature participants will receive a $10 discount on admission to the festival. In the meantime you can learn more about the first-of-its-kind festival at www.doorcountybeer.com, or you can “Like” the Door County Beer Festival on Facebook. Follow @doorcountybeer on Twitter to keep up on the latest additions to the festival activities.
RFN Route Director takes a training vacation
By Allison Vroman
“Ride. Eat. Sleep. Repeat.”
For people who know Freddie Bexell, the Ride for Nature route director, they might think this is just his “To Do” list for any given day.
Of course, like most others who live in Door County, the ubiquitous “Work.” would be sandwiched somewhere in the middle, but from Feb. 18 – 26 Bexell will take a vacation from his job as the kitchen manager at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant and head to Solvang, California where those four words – Trek Travel’s Ride Camp mantra – will define his week.
“I wanted to do something different this winter, something challenging,” said Bexell. “I found this trip and thought it was a perfect way to escape the Wisconsin winter. Plus, I’m too busy in the summer to fit this kind of riding into my schedule.”
The intensive, seven-day trip is all-inclusive, with accommodations at the Hadsten House Inn boutique hotel in the heart of Solvang, breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as two guides, a support vehicle during rides, and the use of a Trek Madone 5.2 road bike. The European-style concept provides all of the essentials, allowing riders to enjoy an affordable bike vacation.
“Other Trek Travel trips enhance the culture more and include more activities,” said Kari Kruckow, trip consultant for Trek Travel, “whereas the Ride Camps just focus on riding and getting you ready for whatever that next thing may be for you, whether riding for the season, a marathon, or an Avid trip with us. The point is [for riders] to return from the trip better than they started.”
Trek Travel offers its Ride Camps in the spring and fall in Solvang and Mallorca, Spain – both popular locations for professional cyclists to train. Bexell, originally from Osterbymo, Sweden, has visited Solvang before.
“It’s a Danish community, and being from Sweden, Solvang kind of reminds me of home,” said Bexell. “The surrounding area – the nature of it – is beautiful. It’s a small little town with very friendly people and nice quiet back roads.”
Another aspect of the trip that he is looking forward to is the varied terrain, including the challenge of powering up mountain passes.
“I’m hoping to improve my climbing – even though I know you can’t improve that much in just a week – but we obviously don’t have that type of climbing in Door County,” said Bexell.
“Solvang specifically offers a lot of great climbing,” Kruckow said. “Each day we add on more mileage and elevation. The first day is 20 to 30 miles, 1,800 feet in elevation, and by the longest day, they’re doing about 75 to 90 miles and climbing about 10,000 feet.”
A few highlights include an out-and-back trip to Jalama Beach along the Pacific Ocean, as well as an undulating ride through Drum Canyon to Cat Canyon to Foxen Canyon, offering up killer views of Santa Ynez County. The pinnacle of the trip is the classic ascent of Mount Figueroa, known as “The Fig,” followed by a 16-mile descent.
Bexell has used the power-based, indoor cycling classes that he instructs six days a week at Nor Door Sport & Cyclery as his training to get ready for Ride Camp, but he’s looking forward to the role reversal, having guides tell him what to do.
“It’s nice to not have to do the research about where to go to ride,” he said. “It’s going to be really nice to have someone who can show me where to go and tell me ‘This is a great road.’ Someone who can tell me ‘We’re going to ride X amount of miles today.’”
“I’m really looking forward to the opportunity to just focus on riding,” Bexell continued. And, for those who know him, they certainly wouldn’t be surprised to learn if he modified Trek’s mantra just a bit, something a little more like: “Ride. Eat. Ride. Sleep. Repeat.”
If you want to take a destination biking trip to Door County and have someone else worry about the planning, check back soon at www.ridefornature.com to find the routes Bexell has designed for this year’s Ride for Nature. And be warned, they might have more climbing in them than previous years!
Nov. 14, 2011
Bob Dickson, like many folks in Door County leads a busy life. Between his work as owner of The Shallows Resort and his participation on various boards – including the Egg Harbor Village Board and the Door County Silent Sports Alliance – his free time to bike is limited. So, as the summer passed and the pace of life slowed just a bit, he revelled in the opportunity to hit the trails in Peninsula State Park this fall. That is, until a crash left him with a few broken bones. Read more>>
Sept. 30, 2011
Kids at St. Peter's Lutheran School learned the rules of the road when it comes to bike safety thanks to Community Service Officer Brenden Pizzala of the Sturgeon Bay Police Department, in conjunction with the Wisconsin DOT Bureau of Transportation Safety. Read more>>
July 22, 2011
In a weekend with sweltering heat, thousands of participants took on the 7th annual Door County Triathlon sprint and Half Iron courses. Read more>>
July 13, 2011
Each of the athletes attempting the Door County Triathlon's grueling Half Iron course will have their personal challenges. Most of them will find at least one opprotunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the peninsula while toiling through the 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike ride, and 13.1-mile run; however, 56-year-old Rod Maccoux of Green Bay will take on the challenge without seeing a single glimpse of the shore or the bluffs. He has been blind since birth. Read more>>
June 8, 2011
John Zacek has found a way to keep fit during the "off-season" with indoor cycling classes at Nor Door Sport & Cyclery. Fit enough to take on four centuries this summer, as well as to finish off his cross-country biking expedition. Read more>>
May 12, 2011
The Door County Silent Sports Alliance will bring in a panel of experts to discuss the economic impact that silent sports, biking especially, can have on a community for their third annual Door County Bike Summit on May 20-21. Read more>>
April 15, 2011
For the last 28 years, Nor Door Sport & Cyclery has operated a store in Fish Creek, and this year, they will expand their services to Sturgeon Bay. With both bridges re-opened to traffic, owner Brian "Stretch" Merkel decided on a store front on the West Side. Read more>>
Feb. 22, 2011
After completing the 50-mile ride in the Door County Century, Myles Dannhausen Jr. had a few humbling moments. Especially when 8-year-old Brandon Stillman sat across from him, looking fresh and spry. Read more>>
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