Alex Piotrowski

Imago - Meditatio - Actio

What's New:

Fall 2015

K-Hound Acheived sans PBP

Qualified for my K-hound the old-fashioned way, yesterday: 10,000km of domestic randonneuring events within the calendar year.

11/15/2015

Summer 2015

Discovered Strava's Paris‑Brest‑Paris (PBP) review

Found a link to Strava's review of PBP, complete with professional photography, writing, and editing. A photo of me wearing my helmet and wool RUSA jersey even made the cut!

09/07/2015

Completed Paris‑Brest‑Paris (PBP)

On August 20, 2015 at 6:23 AM Paris time, I finished PBP with a total time of 84 hours and 21 minutes. I didn't set any time records, but my only intention was to finish within the 90 hour limit. Now that I've finished, my name will be entered in the "Grand Livre" with the Heartland Bicycle Club.

09/07/2015

Third Super Randonneur series of the season

Finishing the Rochester Hills and Trails 600K meant finishing a third SR series of the season. What a great way to kick off the summer!

07/05/2015

Spring 2015

Second Super Randonneur series of the year

Having completed the GLR 600K I've finished my second Super Randonneur (SR) series of 2015.

06/15/2015

Brevet Week Completed

Quad Cities Randonneurs hosted “Brevet Week” out of West Union, IA. Brevet Week provided the chance to complete an entire Super Randonneur series in the course of one week. I am proud to report that I completed the entire series.

With a series under my belt this year, I have completed what I need to qualify for PBP!

06/15/2015

Natural R12 Earned

R12 badge

The calendar hasn't quite caught up yet, but spring is in the air. Over the weekend, I rode to Madison and back , making March 2015 the twelfth consecutive month that I've completed certified 200Ks. I've reached the end of the journey to my first R12, and am proud to say that I didn't have to venture south of the Cheddar Curtain to do it. Then again, this year the weather cooperated.

I must admit, this wouldn't have happened without the RUSA permanents program. The ability to take advantage of the most favorable conditions during the winter months was an important advantage toward reaching my goal.

06/15/2015

Winter 2014/2015

February's 200K finished

Eleven months down on the R12 journey, just one to go!

02/10/2015

Farewell 2014, Welcome 2015!

2014 proved to be a very successful year on the bicycle. Accomplishments for the year include:

I started the new year by riding my Central Wisconsin Sampler permanent again, so I'm still in it for the R12. May the good fortune continue through 2015!

01/19/2015

December's 200K completed

I pulled off my 200K for December so I'm still in the running for an R12. It was much slower going with a layer of snow on the ground, but I still managed to complete it on time!

12-03-2014

Breaking out the studded tires

snow covered road

Commute of the first snowfall that "stuck"

It might not officially be winter yet according to the calendar, but that doesn't change the reality of the situation. Despite hearing the forecasts for snow last night, I wasn't quite willing to accept that as fact until I woke up to see it with my own eyes this morning. When I did, I was glad I had gotten Nightmare and her studded tires ready the week before.

Later in the day the snow turned to rain and melted the accumulation, but that only made the roads worse as the temperatures again dropped below freezing. There's more snow in the forecast, also, so it was time to accept that the Wisconsin winter season had arrived.

The first snowfall came quicker than I was expecting, but now that it has, I stand prepared. Nightmare's has been geared up to handle commuting through the heavier conditions, and now the X-Dresser is geared up with the Hakkepiilita A10's in hopes of continuing the randonneuring through the winter.

11/10/2014

Permanent Populaire Route Taste of Granite RUSA approved

My first populaire is ready right in time for winter.

11/10/2014

Fall 2014

Keeping the Streak Alive

Though not riding nearly as much as even a few weeks ago, I haven't thrown in the towel on distance riding yet. In fact, I started off November riding my Central Wisconsin Sampler permanent, so my streak is alive for at least one more month. I've also plotted and pre-ridden two populaire routes in preparation for shorter days: the Taste of Granite and the Graveyard Crawl.

11/05/2014

End of the National Bike Challenge

September 30th brought the end of the National Bike Challenge for 2014. During the 5 month challenge period, I managed to hit the 10,000 mile mark, even if only barely. Hitting this goal meant setting a new personal record and was a nice way to celebrate the end of a successful summer.

10/09/2014

Changing of the Seasons

Fall Colors in Adams County

With the passing of the equinox, autumn is officially upon us. The colors on the trees are turning. The days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer. The temperatures are getting cooler as well, if not downright cold at times.

Nonetheless, Fall is still my favorite season. Although my mileage will decrease, it is a wonderful time to slow down and to take in the beauty of changing trees, celebrate the harvest, and to revel in the mayhem of all Hallow's Eve. It's still good for lots of nice bike riding, too. In fact, I prefer having to bundle up a bit in cooler temperatures to overheating and turning red from the burning sun. It's also the best time for camping; the cooler temperatures help drive away the mosquitos as well as other undesirables. With all the randonneuring this year, I've hardly been bikepacking at all! Perhaps that will change now that the fall season is upon us.

10/07/2014

Summer 2014

Bicycle Vacation to Pacific Northwest for 1000K Brevet

View from the rear window of the Amtrak to Seattle

Following the Minnesota Randonneur's Tour d'Twin Cities, I headed west abord the Amtrak's Empire Builder line from Saint Paul to Seattle to ride the Volcanic Ark 1000K hosted by the Seattle Randonneurs. I had ridden the trains before in Europe and in Japan, but the Amtrak would be a new experience for me. While I didn't expect the experience to be favorable to Europe or Japan, I must admit the Amtrak did, for the most part, exceed my expectations.

First, transporting my bike was easy. The $10 fee for checking a bike was more than reasonable. I did get lucky and saved a few dollars since I was able to reuse bike boxes that had been left behind by previous passengers, but even if I would have had to purchase the price would have been trivial in order to bring my bike.

It felt great to return to Washington in September after leaving nine years before to return to Stevens Point. After getting off the train and reassembling Pegasus, I rode directly onto the Washington State Ferry crossed the sound to Bremerton, where I had been stationed leading up to my discharge from the Navy. After crossing the sound, I took the next ferry across Sinclar Inlet until meeting Greg, the friend with whom I had spent the majority of my free time during the Bremerton years. Together, we spent countless hours tacking and jibing up and down Sinclair Inlet and around the Puget Sound.

On the ride into Federal Way, Pegasus insisted we stop for breakfast when seeing a retaurant bearing his name

After a dark and stormy night, an early morning bike ride (for me), a half day's work (for Greg), and a relatively short drive to the marina, the two of us were out on the inlet once more. This time, though, Greg had graduated from the 25' Catmandu to a new vessel, the 36' Vindicator. Though the wind was relatively calm, we still sailed up and down the inlet past the Naval Station as far as Dyes inlet before it was time to turn around. Before docking, we motored past Suldan's, the marina where we first met, for old time's sake. Before long it was time to catch the next ferry back to the Seattle side, return to Federal Way, and eat a hearty Italian meal in preparation of the ride that was coming ahead.

Since the ride will be detailed elsewhere, I won't go into detail here, but let it suffice to say the Volcanic Arc 1000K was a successful 1000K brevet, and the crowning acheivement of a first year of randonneuring that took me further than I had dreamed of going at the start.

My breakfast stop in Eugene. With a face like that, how couldn't you stop for breakfast or lunch?

Following the ride, I made a point of taking a day to explore bike friendly Eugene, OR. I found the city very accomodating by bicycle. After reading the Search for Neverland article in issue #28 of Bicycle Times, I had to make my stop at Voodoo Donuts and have a maple bacon long john for myself. While in Eugene, my helmet also had a chance to make the voyage back home to its point of origin, Arriving by Bike, an interesting bicycle shop with the right selection of functional gear for the practical everyday rider. Later in the day, after getting everything in order for the next day's train ride, I went for a nice ride on the Ruth Bascom Trail System along the Willamette River. The day had been well spent. Eugene left a lasting impression.

After getting off the train in Saint Paul, I also took time to visit a new friend from this year instead of rushing directly back home; I would be home and back in the routine of everyday soon enough. Mille fois merci pour les croissants de la Patisserie 46!

Despite my desires to the contrary, the time had come for this fantasy existance to come to an end. It had certainly been an excellent vacation!

10/06/2014

Second "Super Randonneur" Series Completed

With the completion of the Tour D'Twin Cities on Sunday, Sept 14, 2014, I completed my second SR Series.

10/06/2014

R.I.P. Larry "the Legend" Skalak (Nov 11, 1952 - Sept 3, 2014)

I was saddened to hear that GRABAAWR companion "Flat Pedal" Larry died of a heart attack on September 3, 2014, the first day of his Western Express tour from San Fransisco, CA to Boulder, CO.

I first met Larry and his nephew Earnie at Bev & Tom's just outside of Merrill when stopping for a bratwurst on the second day of the GRABAAWR in 2013. I learned that the previous year he had logged more than 20,000 miles, including both the Northern Tier and Southern Tier routes from the Adventure Cycling Association. While on the GRABAAWR, Larry and Earnie both made a point of completing 100 miles each day while on the tour. It was never just a matter of logging miles, though. There always was a destination. I had the pleasure of joining them on several "supplemental mileage" rides during the GRABAAWR, both this year and last.

One of the most notable memories was a trip to the Fur Fin & Feather in southern Adams County in 2013. It was there I noticed what I thought to be an interesting pair of bike sandals. When I asked him about them, I discovered that they weren't bike shoes at all, but just the footware that he found the most comfortable. First, Larry was about as pratical a guy as you'll ever meet, and carrying around an extra pair of highly specialized bulky footware didn't jive with his style. Aside from that, though, he had seen too many accidents that resulted directly from riders fumbling with their clipless pedals.

While I try to take comfort that he passed living his life to the fullest and doing something that he loved, at only 61 it seems too early. Larry, I'm glad to have had the chance to get to know you. You will be missed.

10/06/2014

Permanent Route for Stevens Point - Madison RUSA approved

My second permanent route is now official.

9/03/2014

Permanent Route for the Central Wisconsin Sampler RUSA approved

Today I received confirmation that my first RUSA permanent route has been approved. I'm proud to be able to offer a route of my own to the RUSA database and to make my own contribution to the community. My intent is that this is only the first route of several to provide an opportunity for endurance riding based from Central Wisconsin.

8/05/2014

The Randonneuring Continues

As I suspected earlier, my appetite for the long rides wouldn't end with the end of the GLR season. I Made it to Minnesota for my first ride with the Minnesota Randonneurs. Their schedule is nice and full so I have opportunities to satisfy my craving. Some of the rides they host are even fairly close to home. I certainly enjoyed my first experience, and look forward to more with this group!

7/13/2014

Grand Kickoff

Summer is here, and what better way to kick it off than with a bike trip? The solstice was the staging and prep day for the GRABAAWR, an annual week long bike tour along the Wisconsin River. With this tour I definately got my summer riding kicked off right with 5 consecutive century days and a new personal record of 863 miles in a 7 day period. I must admit, though, I did skip out early, finishing the tour a day ahead in order to participate in the last GLR brevet of the season.

7/05/2014

Spring 2014

"Super Randonneur" Series Completed

With completing the Great Lakes Randonneurs 600K course on Sunday, I've now completed a Super Randonneur series. I'm finding I really enjoy the randonneuring philosophy. Though the GLR series is nearly over, the Minnesota Randonneurs still have a summer full of scheduled brevets. How far will I go? Is an R12 in the works? Could Paris-Brest-Paris be in my sights for next year? Time to start considering!

6/18/2014

Back in Action!

Although it is still technically spring for roughly another month, it doesn't get much better than this for biking! Aside from the occasional thunderstorm, the weather has been outstanding. I've already been racking up the miles, and we haven't even gotten into June. The randonneurring bug has bitten me, so I won't be surprised if some of the goals I made earlier in the season are replaced with others. I'm far enough in now that completing my first Super Randonneur series this year is on the top of the list.

5/30/2014

Slow Start

The 50 degree barrier has finally been broken and most of the snow has melted! Off with the Hakkepeliittas and back to Gatorskins! With the nicer weather, it is good to get in some longer rides again.

I'm looking forward to another great bicycle season. I'm eager to repeat some of last year's highlights: Heartland Club precision cycling, Monday Night & Full Moon rides, weekend bikepacking trips, and even another GRABAAWR. I've set a two new goals for this year as well: Riding brevets with the Great Lakes Randonneurs and taking a self sustained tour to Michigan and back.

4/20/2014

Winter 2013/2013

In addition to trusty Nightmare, I've added a cyclocross bike to the stable, which I've also outfitted with studded road tires and a dynamo lighting system as another winter option.

Between the two, I'm riding through the season, but now the focus is primarily transportation with less emphasis on fitness and pure recreation; nonetheless, I still enjoy a good ride just for the sake of riding.

I guess there's a time for everything - even an off season.

11/25/2013