Anybody out there getting itchy for spring? Maybe that’s what drove nearly 60 Lake and Harlem cyclists to our annual bash at Molly Malone’s two weeks ago. In addition to the usual awards, we featured a new one: biggest loser.

Cyclists are no different than anyone else. We put on weight in the off-season. To combat that, we started weekly e-mail check-ins last October. Using public shaming as a motivator, we sent around an e-mail to the whole cycling group stating how much each Weight Off participant had lost or gained that week.

Collectively, our losers lost more than 50 pounds. In fact, the now very svelte racer, Scott Knoepke, took the cake but didn’t eat it by losing 20 pounds over the winter.

I was hoping to lose 10 before spring training begins in earnest. So far I’m short.

Speaking of goals, I used to cringe each spring when Rom Tamondong would cycle next to me and ask, “So, what are your goals this year?” I mostly admitted that I had none, other than hanging on at the back of our group rides.

Getting into triathlons changed that for me. Now, I even have an “A” race. I’m going back to Ironman Wisconsin this September. I will have good company from many Oak Parkers. Karen Steward Nolan, Eligio Pimentel, John Ryan, Mike Stec, Matt Sullivan and Robert Towler are all signed up.

So, that means peaking in September but the base needs to start now. I’ll dust off my running cobwebs at the Shamrock Shuffle in March and will probably run Oak Park’s Race That’s Good For Life in April.

By the end of April, things will get fun with our annual RGR – our ninth annual bike ride from Rockford to Galena (100 miles with hills) on Saturday and back (80 miles with hills) on Sunday. Some of us will add more fun by riding the 100 miles from Oak Park to Rockford the Friday before.

Me and a bunch of Oak Park triathletes will kick off the tri season at Leon’s World’s Fastest Triathlon in Hammond, Ind. in early June. This Olympic distance race is small and old school. There are even empty beer kegs bobbing in the water to separate the outgoing swimmers from the incoming.

Later in June we may do another Oly – Big Foot on the shores of Lake Geneva, Wis. The twist here is the trail run which last year looked more like a mud wrestling mash pit because of heavy rain.

In July we will begin to get serious by doing Ironman 70.3 Racine, a half Ironman along Lake Michigan with a course that is flat and fast (for those who go fast).

Maybe we’ll even throw in a 200K Dairyland Dare or the ever favorite Horribly Hilly Hundreds bike ride in the bucolic hills of southwest Wisconsin.

Then there will be the final tune-up amidst the mayhem of the Olympic distance Chicago Triathlon in August. With over 8,000 participants, it’s the largest triathlon in the world. Crazy but fun. What about you? What’s your favorite race this coming year?

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