Wisconsin Ironman Loop Ride

The Ride

Let me start out by saying that I did not bike the the whole 180km of an usual Ironman bike segment. This ride covered a much smaller loop that is part of the Wisconsin Ironman official course. During an Ironman, athletes will first pedal their way out of Madison towards Verona, where they go around this 60km loop twice. After they are done with the second lap, they make their way back to Madison to run the last part of the race…. a marathon.

I’m not quite Ironman material, so I stuck with doing the 60km loop this past weekend. The loop itself is very well known and you run across (or get passed by, in my case) by tons of other cyclists. The whole thing is a single Strava segment with many shorter segments along the way.

I met up with a friend, and we drove out to Verona to get started. Bikes off the car rack and riding we go. I started my GPS, and it was kind enough to tell me that I had forgotten to wear my heart rate monitor. I always try to wear a HR strap so later on I can calculate the stress level for the ride. By the end of this ride I would find out I didn’t need a HR strap to tell me it was the hardest bike ride I have ever done.

The loop starts out a bit lumpy with short hills to climb but not too hard. Around the 15km mark, things get harder, and you hit the first real longer climb. Keep in mind that I’m not really talking about the Dolomites, this is probably an easy climb anywhere else in the world. Also keep in mind that my physical conditioning is not quite world class…. yet. Once you get over the first long hill, things get flat again, which really makes you think that harder part is over.

This was a hot spring day in the Midwest, and we were running out of water around the 40km mark. Conveniently enough, we were riding by Cross Plains and decided to stop to get some water. I’m afraid I wouldn’t be able to finish the course without a 10 min break. I took some time to eat a granola bar, thinking this would give an energy boost, and I would sail for the next 20km. I was so naïve. Right after we left Cross Plains, we started on a slow climb again. I was running out of energy and started doubting whether I would be able to finish the loop. That’s when I started thinking about the logistics challenges of stopping 20km from where we had parked the car. Would I just sit by the side of the road and wait for my friend to get the car? That’s lame. I kept on pedaling.

My legs started to really hurt around the 50km mark, only 10km after the rest stop. I knew that was not a good sign. During the last climb, I had to unclip, put my foot on the ground, and drink some water while gasping for oxygen.

After that, it was all mostly downhill and pretty easy. I was happy I completed my longest bike ride of the year, and the hardest bike ride I have ever done.

The Reward

While I was having my hardest day on the saddle, Mrs. Troubles was out and about shopping and running errands. She was kind enough to come home with a Ommegang Brewery Hennepin. The Hennepin is a Belgium style Farmhouse Saison. The thing is, I have a love-hate relationship with Belgium style beers. I either find them refreshing or… disgusting. Luckily, the Hennepin turned out to be on the refreshing side of things.

The cork top is a nice feature, it just makes it look classy. I reached in the pantry to grab some salty crackers and set off to the deck to take some pictures.

I grabbed my Lagunitas mason jar and poured a glass of this golden hazy beauty. I really like the way it looks in the glass, there’s a little bit of fizziness going on, but not like the “champagne-like effervescence” Ommegang claims on the label. To their credit, the head is bubbly and retains well. The aroma is citrusy but not very strong and has some spiciness to it.

The somewhat high ABV (7.7%) is masked by the sweet flavors, with orange peel being the most predominant taste. I have mentioned before that I’m not a big fan of floral/sweet beers, but this brew did not upset me. The sweetness is well balanced with a bitter finish, making this brew a perfect summertime favorite. I can see myself having another glass on the Hennepin after another hot day on the saddle.

This time, I had something extra besides the usual salty cracker/chips: chicken pot stickers!

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