In my opinion, there are few places more delightful than Wisconsin in fall and at the end of September we are quickly approaching peak coloration in the forests. This last week, mid-day highs still resembled August temperatures, but the cool evenings greatly reduce humidity and made for comfortable conditions. I broke out my down jacket for the chilly mornings and switched to shorts and flip-flops during the day. Mike’s Mix is always busy this time of year, as we are either sponsoring events, participating, or as in the case of the last couple weekends, both.
This last Saturday was the 8th annual Boulder Bash at Governor Dodge State Park, a climbing competition that is put on by the Wisconsin Climbing Association (WCA). The WCA is a budding organization with a mission to improve access and help define climbers as a user group in Wisconsin. Mike’s Mix is proud to support their efforts in any way we can.
For the last six months I have taken a step away from climbing. Two slow healing injuries, one to a finger tendon the other a bad ankle sprain, has made it prudent to avoid the activity that is closest to my heart. Currently these injuries are about 95% healed and it felt great to be pulling, somewhat carefully, on the rock again. I think anyone who has to take a break from their passion fears the extent a long hiatus from training will have on their skill set. I have certainly experienced these concerns the last few months and was relieved to find that although I wasn’t as strong as I once was, I felt my fitness was only a few small steps away from where I want it. Additionally, my enthusiasm and passion for climbing have benefited greatly from this break. Another benefit of this lay off is that I have had the pleasure revisiting other activities that have been neglected the past several years. Last weekend I was able to pull off a win at a kayak race on the Kickapoo River and am feeling confident going into the Dam Challenge triathlon on the Kickapoo this coming weekend.
Melissa, our daughter Audrey and I all competed in the Boulder Bash competition and we had wonderful time. Our friends George and Josh from Milwaukee joined the Mike’s Mix team and we came away with a 3rd place finish. There was great camaraderie and it was a real pleasure to visit Governor Dodge State Park again. I had forgotten how good some of the rock climbing in the park was and was also surprised to see that there are probably some very good, difficult lines waiting to be put up.
I moved to Mazomanie in 2007 and quickly realized that the small rural town lacked the outdoor community that I was surrounded by in Madison. This was both disappointing and surprising to me as the area is situated within some of the best outdoor activities in the Midwest including; biking, paddling, climbing, skiing, fishing and hunting. I was lucky enough to meet Mark Schroeder shortly after moving as he had just opened Pro-cycle in Mazomanie, a small but complete bike shop that hosted frequent group training rides. Mark is definitely my kind of people and his passion for cycling is contagious. Mark’s rides definitely made me a better cyclist but more importantly they opened my eyes to the absolutely incomparable experience of riding the endless steep, winding hills of Wisconsin’s driftless region. For those of you unfamiliar with the area, the “driftless region” is a small area in south western Wisconsin remarkably untouched by the last several ice ages and the remnants of ancient eroded mountains characterizes the region. It is so conducive for road cycling that the Chicago Olympics strongly considered the area for the road biking competitions. Mark’s shop was always a place that I could go and hang out with like-minded people. Unfortunately, the recession was not kind to the business district in Mazomanie and after a couple years of gracing my new town, Mark and Pro-cycle left Mazomanie. Mark and I have stayed in touch over the years and this weekend Mark came back for a visit. Mark has been a supportive part of Mike’s Mix from the beginning and we reminisced about the early days of Mike’s Mix, when I introduced my newly formed products to the group riders at his events. Today, Mike’s Mix owns the building that use to house Pro-cycle and as we walked through the pallets of empty containers, bags of raw ingredients and rows of finished product that was once housed Mark’s display room, training facility and office I wondered about the mixed emotions that Mark might be experiencing.
What once had manifested as Mark’s dream was now my own, but if Mark experienced any melancholy it certainly didn’t subdue his excitement, good will and support of my venture. After a few hours Mark and his beautiful partner Marge were on their way again. As they left I was very grateful for their visit and continued friendship but couldn’t help wondering where life would find us another 5 years down the highway of life, which at least for me, seems to closely resemble the twisting roads that Mark and I use to ride together filled with uphills, downhills, beauty and surprises.
Next weekend, the Dam Challenge, where Melissa and I will face some pretty stiff competition. However, we are excited for the challenge and will get to catch up with Mike’s Mix ambassador Dan Goltz and a few others from team Driftless Endurance.