Thursday, December 16, 2010

I could use some Global Warming.

We have been stuck in a deep freeze of late, and it is beginning to get on my nerves. There is a forecast for snow this afternoon, which could make Mike's 200k tomorrow a bit more...ah...dare I say... 'epic'!

I looked back at my 2009 training log and I did a so so job of recording the temps on the days that I rode, and I recorded 22 degrees as the coldest day that I rode. Given the temps of the past couple weeks, 22 degrees would seem like a heat wave.

I mentioned Mike's 200k tomorrow. Mike, Clint and Earl will be riding the Sailing Down to Solomons 200k tomorrow. This will be the completion of Mike's R12 award. Clint is one of the founding fathers of the Severna Park Peloton, and does a great job of brain washing... ah... I mean... recruiting SPP members to ride in these long rides. Clint is SUPER supportive of everyone in the group. His latest victim.. I mean... recruit is Earl, who on this ride will be doing his first 200k.Bonne Route!

If you noticed, I changed the background of my blog. The obvious reason for the change was the forecast for snow, but after I changed it I noticed the sign on the right hand side of the page. Even though it is German it pretty much sums it up for me.... "Workin' .....DAMN."

Saturday, December 11, 2010

December 200K - Nottoway Ramble

Yesterday, I completed my 12th 200k in as many months, qualifying me for my R12 award from Randonneurs USA ( This is a goal that I set back in February, and I cannot explain how happy I am that I have achieved it. I will post a blog entry at a later date to reflect on that achievement. For now, let me talk about the Nottoway Ramble because there is MUCH to cover.

There were a few requirements that I was looking for when I was choosing my ride for December. I wanted to ride on a dry day that was as warm as possible. Well, for those of you that have been awake for the month of December you know that pretty much the whole country has been experiencing a cold spell, and a 200k in San Tropez was not only beyond my budget, but probably would not count towards my R12. So, after days of watching's 10 day forecast I saw that Friday was going actually break into the 40's so I targeted that day. This weekend is my weekend with Emily so after re-arranging the travel plans that were already in place, I was able to make it work.

I requested to ride this perm from the owner (Ron Malinauskas) and we managed to get all the requisite paperwork done via email. He provided great support for me by way of recommending a hotel, directions from the hotel to the start, information about where to park, recommendations for lunch and map images of the route. In addition to all this, his cue sheet was excellent. It was detailed and the cue's were extremely accurate.

So after a night in the hotel (which was nice) I headed out to the start. The temp was a balmy 24 degree's, but I knew that it would warm up into the high 40's so I was not too discouraged. I was layered pretty well with my Shower Pass jacket, a couple Under Armour layers and the moisture control system. As I started out, I was bit chilly, but soon I was toasty warm pedaling  to the first control.

The first control was The General Store in Yale, VA. Well, I would be willing to bet that it was the ONLY store in Yale, VA. It was definitely a step back in time. The woman that was behind the counter was very kind and very southern. I asked for an egg sandwich on and english muffin and she said they didn't have english muffins just biscuits and toast. OH YEAH, I forgot... I am in the south, so it is biscuits with everything. I got my egg sandwich on a biscuit, sat down at the dinning room table that was in from of the store and enjoyed the warmth. After about 30 minutes there I jumped back on the bike and headed to the next control.

As I pedaled away from the store, I did a quick mental inventory of how I felt. I was fed, I had water AND some hot coffee in my insulated bottle (thanks Dave) I had been diligent up to that point in regards to my e-caps, my back, legs and toucas felt fine... so far so good.

The next control was an information control at mile 58+. I made it the information control, gathered the information, enjoyed a Snickers bar and some coffee and headed to Waverly. The route owner had mentioned am Italian place in Waverly where he likes to stop for lunch. I wasn't really hungry at the time that I arrived there, but I did need some water so I bought a bottle of water from that place and headed on my way. Again, a mental inventory showed that I was in a good place.

The ride from Waverly to the 2nd control, again was uneventful. I did notice that most of the roads that I was on were tar and chip and seemed to rattle quite a bit. I did notice that my shoulders were getting a bit sore, and I attributed that to both lack of riding prior to this ride and the vibration of the road surface taking its toll. I arrived at the 3rd control, which is at mile 82+. It was a small store that was operated by a woman that did not speak very good english. It was about lunch time so I asked if they sold sandwich and all they had were frozen sandwiches that could be microwaved. I chose the philly cheese steak sandwich and added some chips and a coke. I lingered at the store for a good while, struck up a conversation with the ice cream delivery man who happened to be from Salisbury Beach, MA originally so we talked Patriots, Red Sox and Celtics for a while.

Before heading out to the next control I made a slight wardrobe adjustment. Knowing that the difference in temperature would be about 25 degrees, I knew that as the ride wore on I would be sweaty and my layers would not be able to keep up with wicking the moisture away from my body. So I brought along fresh moisture control system and an additional Under Armour base layer (all packed in a zip loc bag, in the pocket of my Shower pass jacket) After making the adjustment, I felt warm and dry, almost like this was the start of the ride. Mental inventory.... getting fatigued and ready to be done, but feeling good.

Well, that feeling changed rather quickly as I was headed to the next control. At about mile 85+ I see up ahead a dog that was laying on its front porch decides that it wants to take a run at me. The front yard that he is in is not the big, so by the time I get to his house, he is already in the road waiting for me and barking. Well, I accelerate to try to out run him and he is barking a way that you just know if he gets a chance... he would like nothing more than take a bite out of you. I manage to get past him and then I have a decision to make... the road bears right or goes straight...I can't slow up and look at the cue sheet or I will be minus one ankle... I chose to go straight... I chose poorly. After making the decision to go straight there was a speed bump in the road that I managed to bunny hop, but in doing so one of my snickers bars came out of my bento box. CRAP... I have lost chocolate. The dog did not chase me too long, but it was like he knew I would be back. He didn't meander back to his yard, he laid down by the sign at the intersection waiting for me. So, after stopping and thinking this through (here I am trying to out smart a f*%#in dog) the plan was to ride back to the intersection on the extreme far right hand side of the road and head back from where I came and then after the dog settles down again, ride past him again and bear right this time like I was suppose to. Well, things worked out better than I expected... kind of... I headed up the road, and the dog figured this time he would lead me a little bit more, which allowed me to slow enough to take the left hand turn that I need to take to put me on the road I needed to be on. I pedaled pretty fast, and was pretty proud of the way that worked out. I didn't hear any barking, a quick look over my left shoulder I could see the dog. Well, that was because he was in my blind spot just over my right shoulder... and when he finally barked, it scared the crap out of me and I about fell off my bike. I looked to my right and there was Cujo. At that point the dog looked HUGE. I could have sworn that I was looking eye to eye with him. I accelerated a little bit and he gave up the chase. Mental inventory... Not as good as it was before.

Over the next 20 miles or so, there were SEVERAL dog encounters. With the first encounter still fresh in my mind, I was VERY aware of any barking that I heard. In this area, the majority of the houses are farm houses with really long driveways. With me watching for ANY movement heading towards the road, I was pretty much able to pick up my speed as soon and I saw the dogs head my way, and none of them go very close.

However, there was one dog that almost put me over the edge. At just about mile 100 I saw a truck coming down a real long driveway heading to the road I am on, with a dog running along the drivers side. A wonderful... this guy is bringing the dog to the road, so much for my head start. As the truck turned on the road headed towards me, the dog was still chasing but now along the passengers side on the side of the road. Well, I tried to position myself so the truck would be between me and the dog and maybe the dog would miss me entirely. HA HA HA... you think that would happen? Not a chance. The dog saw me... went to all stop turned around and began the chase. This dog was fast and just would not stop chasing. I looked back one time and saw that the gap had opened a bit and I figured he has begun to give up, so I slowed a bit... he kept right on coming and was getting closer. I was winded and felt the twinge in my thigh of an impending cramp... I can't very well stop and chew and ecap at this point, so I slowed down and just figured if he catches up to me, I deal with it when it happens. I had my water bottle in hand if I needed it. After slowing up a little I looked back and saw that his tongue was hanging out of his mouth and that he had slowed a bit too, so I pushed for one last time and was able to discourage him enough to quit chasing. Now, because of the first incident with Cujo, I had become acutely aware of my next cue on the cue sheet. I knew that at mile 104.4 I had to take a left. I know that this encounter started at about 100+ mile mark and it couldn't have been too much more than a mile before the next cue, so I figure that this dog chased me for nearly 3 miles... which doesn't seem like much, that is unless your the one being chased. I made the left hand turn at mile 104.4 and did another mental inventory ... really BAD! I have ridden with riders who do not want to dogs to chase them because they are afraid they will get hit. I yelled "STAY" and "NO" and "GO HOME" like they do... to no avail. I have even seen riders almost get hit themselves to try to prevent a chasing dog from getting hit. I am not proud to say it, but at about mile 102 I was praying for a car to come along and either hit the dog or hit me.

To make my mental state even worse leading up to the marathon with the dog, my Garmin was showing "Low Batteries". I know why this happened, and I am pretty ticked at myself for letting it happen. I used the back light in the morning at the start of the ride while it was dark, and my intention was to stop when it was light to turn that off so each time I hit the joystick on the Garmin to change displays it wouldn't use the back light. Well, as I was riding, with the big gloves on, I was able to turn the headlight to flashing and the helmet light off, but the gloves are too bulky for configuring the light on the Garmin. So it finally died very close to the end (mile 116 according to the Garmin file). It tried to turn it on along the way to mark the points along the way, similar to what I did in July, and at a couple spots that worked, however the spot that I wanted it to work the most (the final information control), I turned on the power, but forgot to turn on the timer, so it did not register that. I did get the last few hundred yards to register the time that I finished.

So, yes, I finished. The R12 is complete and I now can take a month or 2 off from these 200k rides. After the 130 + mile ride I met Amanda and Emily at Chik-fil-A in Virginia Beach. We got our meals to go and Emily and I headed back up to Maryland. We got home just after midnight. That made for a very long day.

Garmin details:

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


In a word, that pretty much sums it up. I have neglected my bikes, my blogging and watching what I eat. If I neglected my job as much as I have neglected the things listed above, I would be without a job. If neglected a pet in this way, I am sure I would be visited by the SPCA, and if I neglected my relationships on the same level as the other things I have neglected, I would be a very lonely person.

So, now that I am aware of the neglect, and have confessed it here on the blog, I am working on a plan to pay sufficient attention to my riding, blogging and eating. I did ride on Sunday with Mike. We did a lap around river, which amounted to 30 miles. This is the first time we had ridden together in a while. As we started out I asked him if he wanted to hear the list of excuses I was using to stay off the bike, or if he wanted to hear the truth. He knew what the truth was. I have been lazy. Sure, I could blame it on work because I am very busy at work getting ready to do a datacenter virtualization project. I could blame the cold weather, because it has been unseasonable cold over the past couple weeks, but that is why I have Under Armour cold gear. On Sunday, when Mike and I rode, it was in the 30's and VERY windy, yet I was sweating when I got home, and did not feel cold during the ride. So, bottom line... I have been neglectful.

Moving on, the ride on Sunday was a struggle. I started from the house, which means that I get to climb UP Deep Creek Ave to start the ride. My legs and lungs were hurting and I had only ridden four tenths of a mile. As I was riding to meet Mike, the headwind was strong enough that I had to pedal down hill to maintain speed. That is VERY frustrating. I was telling myself that I did not want to ride around the river, I would propose to Mike that we just do an abbreviated ride due to the wind. Well, before I could mention my plan to Mike, he had already planned which direction we should go around the river to optimize the wind direction with the hills that we would face. OK, so I just shut my mouth and went along for the ride. This is the reason that it is always better to ride WITH someone. I had already talked myself out of riding around the river, but I did not want to be the "lightweight" who couldn't handle the wind. I am glad that I rode around the river.

Looking ahead, I have scheduled my 12th 200k for Friday December 10th. I will be riding in Windsor, VA which I hope will prove to be just a degree or two warmer than here in Maryland. There will be a ride report following that ride, and I am sure I will do an entry to re-cap my  twelve 200k's. So, stay tuned.

Below is my Garmin info from Sunday's ride. You will notice that the heart rate looks a little funky. I think that my heart rate monitor needs a new battery OR I need a new heart. As we were climbing the hill on Veteran's Highway I looked down and saw that my heart rate reading in my Garmin read 0.0. When we crested the hill (and I could breath again) I told Mike that either my heart rate monitor was malfunctioning, or my heart stopped on the hill. SInce I was still pedalling, I assume it was just the battery on my monitor.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Flatbread 200k

On November 6th, I set out with fellow SPP member Chip Adams to ride the "check out" ride for the Flatbread 200k brevet that would take place on November 13th.

Just for clarification, a "brevet" is a scheduled ride, and is only available to be ridden on the date and time scheduled, where as a "permanent" route, is a ride that a rider can make arrangements with the route owner to ride at any time. A "check out" ride follows the route of the brevet to ensure accuracy of the cue sheet, the conditions of the roads and to work around any unforeseen obstacles. The "check out" ride is typically done a week in advance to allow the organizer to make any changes that need to made before the actual brevet.

At 7:20, Chip and I rolled out under partly cloudy skies and cool temperatures and a bit of wind. I was nervous about this ride, as I am about most of them, because I would be riding with Chip knowing that would be the pacesetter, and it would be considerably slower than what Chip normally would be at. The Flatbread 200k is a popular ride with SPP but I had never ridden the course, so my eyes on the cue sheet would help to find any discrepancies or vague instructions that may get the riders off course.

The first control, was an information control at a wooden bridge at the 8 mile mark. As we made the right turn on to the road that the bridge was on, we saw the big sign "Bridge Closed". This is why there is a "check out" ride. The bridge was just a 1/10 of a mile down the road, so we rode down to check it out. On the near side of the bridge, there were 2 jersey barriers, but there was enough of a gap between them for cyclists to get their bike through. The top of the wooden bridge was fully intact and the timbers were in good shape, so the bridge was safe to cross. The real obstacle was on the other side of the bridge. On that side there were 2 jersey barriers that were right up next to each other, allowing for no chance of a bike going between them. Chip and I contemplated the situation for a while (Chip knows the area very well, so he did a lot of contemplating... I enjoyed the scenery) and then lifted our bikes over the barriers, and continued on the route. I know this weighed on Chip's mind for a while, knowing that to avoid the bridge would require an extensive course redesign.

We pressed on to a coffee shop in Milford called Dolce. This coffee shop served as a control during last years Flatbread, but was not an "official" control this year. I found out that Chip like a good coffee shop, and I have to say that this was a VERY good one. We ordered our coffee and goodies, and sat in the coffee shop to enjoy them. After a nice break, we continued on the route.

The next stop was a convenience store in Slaughter Beach. I found out that part of the "check out" ride was to let the control points know that there would be about 40 - 50 cyclist coming into their establishment asking the clerks to sign their control cards and probably wanting to use the rest room, purchase water, Gatorade and so on. After we did that, we crossed the street to check out the view of the beach. Apparently, Slaughter Beach is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Delaware Bay meet. It was pretty, but a little windy and cool.

The next control was in Milton, at Bodies Market. The previous control had no public restrooms, so fortunately, Milton was just 11 miles up the road. As we arrived at the Market, Chip went in to get his control card signed and I stayed with the bikes. This was the first place that I did not feel real comfortable leaving the bikes unattended. I later went in, got my control card signed and asked to use the rest room. The rest room was in the coin operated laundry next door, and was not much of a rest room. I am a guy, so my standards for rest rooms are not all that high. I knew however, that there would be ladies riding the brevet, so I let Chip know that the rest rooms were not that great. We tossed around the possibility of finding another control. As I wheeled my bike off the sidewalk, I felt that unmistakable feeling of a mushy tire. I had a flat. That sealed the deal, we considered that a bad omen. After changing the flat, we set out to find another control.

We slowly tooled around Milton and found a nice espresso bar. We went in, Chip talked to the person behind the counter, I checked out the facilities and we were both happy with the choice to change the control to the espresso bar.

The next control was a gas station in Bridgeville. Now the weekend prior to the "check out" ride, SPP did an Ocean City ride from Stevensville, MD to Ocean City and back over the course of the weekend. On the return trip on Sunday, we stopped at a place called Jimmy's, which just happened to be in Bridgeville. Now I make it a rule on the 200k's to NOT do many bonus miles, but I happily added 3 bonus miles for lunch at Jimmy's. Having been there just the weekend before, we knew what we wanted so menu's and time to think about what to get was not needed. Our waitress came, took our orders, delivered our food. We ate, paid the check and we were on the road again in just over a half an hour.

The next leg was the finally leg, but was 40 miles to the end. It was also the part of the ride that would present the worst of the wind. We each took turns riding in front to block the wind, but I was behind Chip a lot more than he was behind me.

We finished the ride in just under 11 hours and just before dark. Chip annotated the changes that needed to be made to the cue sheet and we called it a day. I made arrangements to help Chip the following Saturday with getting riders checked in and just anywhere that I could be of help.

On November 13th, I met Chip and Chris (another Chris) and Bill Beck at the brevet starting point at 5:45 a.m. Bill told us there were about 46 riders that had pre-registered online and other would be registering at the start. As it turned out, there were 71 riders at that started the brevet, which is one of the most highly attended brevets in this area.

Just after the riders started, I hoped in the car and headed to the bridge that was out. On the check out ride, Chip and I had decided that one of us would be at the bridge when the riders got there and provide assistance getting the bikes over the barrier. I know that this was especially helpful to those riding a tandem. Trying to lift a tandem over the barrier without any help would not positively add to the riding experience.

Of the 71 riders, 12 were from Severna Park Peloton. Clint and Dan, two very strong riders from SPP joined forces on a tandem along with Randy, Matt and Dave set a course record,  finishing in 6 hours 48 minutes. All of the 71 riders who started finished with in the time limit and enjoyed pizza and soda from Good Guys Sports Bar, which was the final control.

It was a beautiful day, and a well planned event and I look forward to doing  it again next year.

Here is a link to some photo's
Flatbread Photo's

My garmin info from the "check out" ride

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Sailing Down to Solomons - October's 200k

Ok... I know I am severly delinquent in blogging. The past month has included travel to New York, Chicago, Virginia Beach and a crazy time with our new laptops. Trying to juggle work, travel and family has taken my full attention... and the blogging has suffered. Things have settled down to a dull roar now, so I am hopeful to keep this up to date.

On Sunday morning I rode The Sailing Down to Solomons perm for my October 200k. This was the third time I had ridden this particular route, but my first time riding it solo. I asked Crista (the route owner) for a 6:00 a.m. start time, and as usual she accomodated me by handling all the paperwork via email. (That may not sound like a big deal, but some route owners will NOT provide the "goodies" via email for some reason).

Bike preperations were done on Saturday. Chain cleaned, lubed etc. Clothes were laid out. Nutrition 'stuff' was ready to go. I had also made arrangements to implement the controversial moisture control program on this ride. Let's just say that I was "poised' to keep myself dry, but the sucess of the ride did not fully "depend" on it.

The ride down to Solomons was fairly uneventful. I set a comfortable pace (for me) and was planning on the ride taking me 12 hours. I had advertised in an email to SPP, that if anyone wanted to join me... it would be a leisurely paced ride. At about mile 37 or so, I stopped at a Wawa and grabbed some water to top off my camel back and pick up something to nibble on.

After the Wawa stop, I pedeled to the turnaround control in Solomons. For those of you that have ridden this ride before, the route has changed slightly, and the cue sheet brings you into Solomons right down to the water for an information control. The route owner had mentioned that it added something to the ride, and I have to agree. It is a quaint little place that I am glad I rode through. After collecting the information that I needed for the control card I stopped at Woodburn's Market for a cup of coffee and a piece of coffee cake. I actually sat down outside the market and enjoyed my coffee, watching people go in and out of the store.

Just a few more miles from the market and I would be at the halfway point. I was ahead of my 12 hour schedule even with the 2 stops, so I figured I was doing fine. I rode to a little store that is at the 80 mile point. I grabbed a package of cheese and crackers (they diudn't have any Klondyke Bars) and a coke and sat on the picnic tables in the front of the store. After enjoying my gedunk there, I headed to to the next control. An SPP favorite, Sweet Sue's in North Beach.

At Sweet Sue's I ordered a Chicken Caesar wrap, which was made exactly how I ordered it. I sat at one of the tables outside Sweet Sue's enjoying the beautiful day and watching all the people that were doing the same. I think I spent about 40 minutes at Sweet Sues before heading to the next information control and ultimately to the final control in Crofton.

I have to admit that this ride is not my favorite. There is the traffic on Rte 2/4 that you have to contend with (which is really not THAT big of an issue, because the shoulder is wide enough it's like you have your own lane). Mostly though,it is the last 30 miles or so of this ride that make it not one of my favorites. The route takes you through the back roads of Calvert and Anne Arundel counties.These roads are a seemingly never ending line of little uphills and little downhills. Don't get me wrong, I prefer small uphills to big uphills, but it is very difficult to get into any cadence rhythm over these miles and they just seem to drag on.

I shouldn't complain. Sailing Down to Solomons is a staple for most of us that are working on getting our R-12 awards. Driving 20 minutes to the start as opposed to 2 1/2 hours is a HUGE benefit. That equates to two more hours of sleep.

After the ride, Mike and I met at Gina's Cantina for a root beer to celebrate the completion of 10 - 200k rides. It was nice to have someone there to celebrate with at the end. If everything stays on track, three of us (Dan, Mike and myself) will complete our R-12's in December. Due to scheduling conflicts, it doesn't look like we will all be riding the same route, but I am quite sure we will all share a root beer at some point to celebrate.

Lesson learned...

#1 - Ok, this is the leson learned you are all waiting to hear about. Moisture control. Incontinence pads. They work, and they work REALLY well. I only used 2 and I put them both on my stomach. The sticky back keeps them in place stuck to your base layer. For those of you who know me,  know that I sweat a lot. Typically I sweat through my jersey and wind vest by the end of the ride. On this ride, my shoudlers and chest sweated through, but my stomach was dry. On my wind vest, on my jersey and on my base layer. All of the sweat was absorbed by the pads. I definately see the benefit of using them to keep yourself dry and warm in the colder weather. . Say what you want...but they work and I will use them again.

#2 - Ride your ride. I find that these rides are much more enjoyable when I ride within myself. I told Mike that I am not good at these long ride, I am slow. He assured me that those are two differnt things. I can be good at these ride and be slow at them. My hat is off to people who can do these ride in less than 7 or 8 or even less than 9 hours. I am just not one of those people.

#3 - If you want great weather for a week or so, order a winter cycling jacket. I recieved my Shower Pass Elite 2.0 on Saturday, and will probably not get a chance to try it out for another week or so because the tropics have somehow come to Maryland.
Big ride this weekend. Stay tuned... I promise to blog about it.
Here is the Garmin info:

Monday, September 27, 2010

Eastern Shore Reversed...again.

For those of you wondering if I am still alive... I assure you I am. Here is the report from my Spetember 200k.

As some of you may remeber, last month for my 200k I did the Eastern Shore reversed route. Let's just say that the flats were more challenging than I expected. So this month I was determind to exact my revenge.

I planned to leave at 4:00 a.m on Sunday morning for a 7:00 a.m. start in Wallops Island. I was a little nervous that this route may get the best of me again due to poor preperation on my part. I spent the day Saturday in Cambridge taking pictures and cheering on our SPP particpants in the Chesapeake Man triathlon, and arrived home later than I had planned. Which meant that preperations for the 200k would be hurried. A quick look at weather. com showed a high of 71 for the day, 30% chance of showers and 12 - 15 mph winds out of the N/NE. I managed to get the bike in the car, floor pump, lube, clothes, helmet, sport beans, ecaps and gu chomps. I threw in my wind vest, rain jacket and arm warmers in as well and would make the decision on what to wear when I got there.

Sunday morning rolled around and I was out the door at 4:00 a.m. As I traveled down to Wallops Island on Route 50 I am noticing that all the flags are straight out from the wind, and although I do not have real good spacial awareness, I knew from the direction that I was driving in, that I would have that wind directly in my face for the last half of the ride, something that I didn't have to deal with too much last month. I thought to myself that this could be bad.

I arrived at the starting point with enough time to check weather. com again, just to get the finally idea of waht to expect. It showed that the temp would reach a high of 73 and that between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. it would be partly cloudy. After 12, it would be cloudy and the showers were forecast for 3 p.m. and later. With the chance of getting caught in rain, I rolled up my rain jacket and put it in the pocket of my wind vest. As a last minute decision I put my arm warmers on, knowing that if I got overheated I could easily roll them down or peel them off and store them very easily.

I got my right of passage recipt at 7:06 and I dwadled around with last minute preps and rolled out at 7:23. I had a GREAT tailwind as I started, I thought to myself that is most people experience headwinds no matter which direction they ride on the Eastern Shore, then there has to be someone who is experiencing tailwinds if they are riding in the opposite direction of the first guy, right. Well, I hoped to be that guy that was blessed with tailwinds both ways. Now, knowing that I am not THAT lucky, I did have a plan for this ride. I was going to do my best to keep my cadence down in the 75 - 80 range, which would save me 10 - 15 revolutions per minute, over a 10 hour ride would save me 6,000 to 7,500 revolutions. I figured my legs would thank me for that when I was fighting the headwinds to get back to the car.

I made it to the first control, which is an information control, feeling great. The next control is at mile 23 ish and I made it there feeling great also. Nothing much to say about the controls... you go in, buy what you need, ask the clerk to initial your card, they look at you funny, then they survey the card like it was some legally binding document that you were asking them to initial. They finally initial it and you are on your way.

It is about 40 miles from this control to the next control so I made sure that the camel back, and water bottles were filled and away I went. I am feeling great, ecaps every half hour, chomps and sport beans every hour, drinking water to stay hydrated AND I have a tailwaind. I could very easily have deviated from the plan and cranked up the cadence to 90 and gotten to the halfway point a little faster than I did, but I knew that on the way back I would need to dip into the suitcase of pain, and I wanted my legs to be as fresh as possible, so I took it easy to the halfway point.

I reached the halway control in 4 hours and 40 minutes. I got a random bag of pretzels, a coke (thanks again for that discovery Chip) and enjoyed that for 20 minutes and left that control at 12:23, 5 hours from when I started.

As I headed back, looking at my heading on my Garmin, it was NE. I no longer had a tailwind. It was a direct headwind and it wasn't as bad as I thought at first. I did my best to get into a good aero-dynamic position to lessen my profile in the wind. For those of you that know me, I am about as aero-dynamic as a brick, and even though I was in the drops, I felt like I was holding a piece of plywood into the wind. 75 rpm... that was what I kept saying to myself.

The route from the 2nd control to the halway control use about the same route. Seaside Rd. Stay on Seaside Rd forever. (which makes it a little more embarising that last month I missed a turn and did bonus miles.) Well, this time as I was headed out to the halfway control, I made it a point to find a landmark at that turn, so that on the way back, I wouldn't miss it again. A blue rubber pool. Left at the blue rubber pool. That was all I had to remeber.

As I pedaled back towards the next control, the headwind seemed to get stronger... or was I getting more tired? I passed the spot where I needed to take a break last month. Wow, that came up pretty quickly... only a couple more miles to the blue rubber pool. It was amazing to me, how much quicker the landmarks were coming up this time. I guess being hydrated and eating on the bike will do that for ya, huh? Well there it was... the blue rubber pool. I remember how I felt last month when I got to that pool and how much different I felt this time. I rolled into the control and spotted my ice cream freezer again. I bought my Klondike bar and coke and enjoyed them outside the control.

Up to this point there had been no rain, but looking at the sky I knew that it would be raining soon. I finished my ice cream and coke, filled the water bottles and headed to the finish. It was at mile 106 that I felt like the wind had really gotten stronger, or that I was just done and it was just me being more tired. In either case, it was a struggle to push through it. It was a race agianst the rain. Having to push through this wind was bad enough, having to do it with rain whacking you in the face would really suck. I was detrermined to beat the rain.

About a mile from the finish, it started misting, and looking of into the distance I could see the rain was coming. I pulled into the Royal Farns parking lot, which is the finish and got the bike into the car and the sky opened up and it downpoured. I later realized that by bringing my rain jacket I pretty much gaurenteed that it would not rain. Had I left it at the car... it would have rained the whole day. I was glad I missed the rain, and I was glad to be done. Garmin showed ellapsed time as 9:58 minutes, but because I didn't start right at 7:00 a.m. my recorded time will be at the 10.5 hour mark. Who cares, the point is I did not let the course get the best of me this time.... even though it tried to beat me down with the wind, I was prepared and I finished my 200k for September.

A couple of notable things to mention... riding this route solo allowed me to ride my ride. It would have been tempting to rush to the halfway point with the tailwind and had I been with someone who wanted to do that I probably would have followed. I remember riding in Ashland in January... Mike and I passed a guy that seemed to be going very slowly. Mike asked me "Does he know something that we don't"? Aparently he did, because I also remember that he was sitting in Ashland Tea and Coffee shop when we arrived. Fast is not always better, at least not for me.

Arm warmers.... I think that they were the best choice I made all day. It was cool enough to wear them most of morning and when it got warmee I just rolled them down to my wrists. As I headed back, and the weather got worse, there were sections of cooler spots and I could pull them up or roll them down as I needed.

I made a mental note on the last few miles, that I did not come in contact with one driver that was in any way rude or obviously perturbed by my presence on the roads. I was not crowded by any cars and many of the oncoming drivers were nice enough to wave.

Monday, September 6, 2010

The Wall, Bay Ridge and Around the River

On Saturday I got up early and took a short ride just to stretch my legs a bit. It had been a week since I had ridden, and both Emily and Bev expressed their desire for me to take a bike ride. I guess I was getting a little "cranky".

I would have to agree with them. A week off the bike is too long and with work getting very busy, and dealing with incompetent, ineffective, poor planning vendors (can you feel the stress in my words) is not making my job any easier. After my Saturday ride, Emily noted a marked improvement in my attitude... I guess it really does help.

On Sunday, I set out alone to take a nice long ride to... I didn't know. All I knew was that I needed time on the bike, and time to think. I also knew that I was going to do "the wall". I did that and felt pretty good doing it. It is .25 miles, I am not sure of the grade but the last half of it is very steep. I was standing to pedal, not really to get any extra momentum, but because it felt like if I leaned back on the seat I would have tipped backwards. I hit the lap counter on the Garmin and I averaged 8.8 mph up the wall.

On my way to the wall I say Clif go by, one of the SPP riders that I have ridden with quite a bit. He looked like he was on a mission as well, so we exchanged greetings and headed in opposite directions.

After the wall, I headed into Annapolis. Feeling invigorated by having conquered the wall I did a few more of the more fun hills on the way into Annapolis. Once in Annapolis, I made a quick sweep of the coffee shops, but did not see any bikes that I recognized, so I continued out to Bay Ridge.

I rode out to Thomas Point Park and enjoyed a nice snack and water break over looking the Bay and Thomas Point Lighthouse. There were quite a few fisherman on the point trying their luck. I made a mental note of what a nice spot that would be to get a picture of the lighthouse at sunrise. The park opens at 8:00, so it would have to be a clandestine operation. I guess I could try to get permission... but as I always say, It's easier to get forgiveness then it is to get permission.

After Bay Ridge I headed back to City Dock, headed up Main St. and decided that my legs were feeling good enough to go home the long way, around the Severn River. I stopped at Naval Bagels on Taylor Ave and enjoyed an onion bagel with garlic cream cheese (I really want to be anti social) and a cup of coffee. That was my last stop before reaching home.

Bev was on her way to church. I had church on my bicycle. If you have never done it, try riding (or walking) at sunrise, and see the beautiful clouds, water, sunrise, deer, squirels, rabbits foxes etc and see if you do not become more keenly aware of God's presence.

While bev was at church, I did my best to destroy some of God's creation. We have some trees on the side of the yard that have been over taken by grapevines. It had gotten so bad that the trunk of the grapevine was as large ar the trunk of the trees (about 1.5 to 2 inches around)  So I spent the day pulling, tugging, ripping, hanging from, and damn near swinging from these vines until I was able to get as many of them out of the tree as I could. I know when I was done, I stood back and admired my work. It was very quiet and very still and I was pretty sure I heard the trees say Thank You. I checked them out this morning and they already look better.

I am off to New York for work this week. I have my bike in the car. It will be nice to ride in a different area and check out different places. I will keep you posted.

Here is the Garmin info from yesterdays ride:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A little about nothing

Just a couple pictures I came across that I wanted to share.

This is the sign at the top of Crawford Notch that we climbed during the New England Classic. I was more interested in the sign behind it. 13% grade for 3/4 mile.

Another is one that I found on the website of the owner of the Permanent that I did on Saturday. (Ride report to follow, I promise). For those who are not aware, randonnuering is an endurance cycling sport. You can get the details

Have a great day.

Monday, August 23, 2010

OK... so I am a little over-due

I apologize for my delinquency in regards to keeping the blog up to date. I could go through the long list of reasons (read excuses) why I have not had time to do a blog, but I won't bore you with that. Suffice it to say that I will try to do better moving forward.

The month of July was just a crazy month in regards to riding the bike. There was that whole New England Classic thing. Thank you to everyone that supported me on that ride. I do not only mean financial support, although that was especially nice, but also in regards to words or encouragment before the ride, comments on the blog during the ride, and congratulations after the ride. I did meet my fundraising goal, and for some unknown reason, I have plans of doing the ride again next year. Please send me all your good fundraising ideas now so I can start earlier than I did this year.

If you are keeping track of the training log, you will see a rather large drop off in total miles for the month of August. Again, I could give you the list of excuses... but you don't want to hear them, so I am considering August a recovery month. I still have a 200k to do this month to keep the R-12 alive. That will be 8 of them, and we are planning for a 300k (atually about 325K ride in September from Port Jervis, NY to Cape May, NJ. If anyone is interested, we are in need of a driver to help us with the Logistics of this ride.

Back to work.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Over to Dover

On Tuesday I took a "personal" day from work to ride my 200k for July. This would be the 7th 200k I have ridden this year and in each of the previous 6 I have learned something. Well, the 7th on would not disappoint me. I learned a lot during this ride.

Over to Dover is a 204k permanent that is described as "A gentle ride north through picturesque farmland and over old stone bridges with one BIG hill just before lunch". Since it is a popular perm with others that I ride with, I coordinated all the paperwork with the owner, and set out at 6:30 in the morning.

I had a very lackadaisical attitude towards this ride. I have done a lot of riding this month, and this ride would put me over 1,000 miles for July. My legs are feeling the effects of that, and like I told one of the SPP riders on Saturday, "I have 13.5 hours to do the ride, I may just take that long."

The first "mistake" I made on this ride was to plan it the morning after flying my daughter home to Virginia Beach. The flight was suppose to depart at 7:15, but did not leave until 8:30, which meant that I did not get home from the airport until 9:00 to start getting things together for the ride. I scrambled around, got the bike in the car, got the food and snacks that I needed together, plugged the Garmin into the laptop to charge, clothes to ride in and change into after the ride all ready to go for the morning and then I was in bed.

The morning of the ride came, I left the house, arrived at the Roy Rogers in Frederick with a few minutes to spare. So far so good. Figuring that I had plenty of time for this ride, I went into the Roy Rogers, which is the first control, ordered some breakfast potatoes (carbs are good, right?) so I could use that reciept for mt right of passage. It was 6:32. I got my control card signed and made my way back to the car, where I then took the bike out, put the rack pack on the bike, got the cycling shoes on, reflective gear, healmet, gloves, glasses etc. I did not leave the parking lot until about 6:50. 20 minutes wasted.

The ride started out great... the first few miles were very scenic and the roads had virtually no traffic on them. The air was cool, and after the past few weeks of hazy hot and humid weather, I enjoyed being just a little chilly as I rode. The terrain was hillier than I expected, but it wasn't hard to climb hill, but more of annoying undulations that prevented me from getting into any kind of pedaling rhythm.

At about mile 29 or so, my Garmin beeped. Low Batteries!!! Oh Crap (that is not what I REALLY said, but my Mom reads this blog, so I will not repeat what I really said) I plugged that in last night so it would charge. It was dead the other morning when I rode also... maybe the battery is bad? Why is it doing this? Well, I had another hundred miles to try to figure out in my head why the Garmin didn't cahrge. That didn't change the fact that it, at some point in the not too distant future, was going to die.

Now, some people use the Garmin to navigate during these perms, I am not one of those people. I had my cue sheet on my handle bars with my new cue sheet holder, so I knew that I would be able to finish with no problem. The Garmin finally went belly up around mile 42 or so, just before the second control stop. As I was pondering the "Why" of the dead battery, I am 99% sure that I determined the cause. At work we just got new laptops, and if you know anything about changing laptops or desktops you know that try as you may, you never get the new one "exactly" the same as the old one. You forget that you set the screen resolution from this to that because of this one program that runs better with that resolution. Or, you forget to prevent your laptop from hibernating so it can charge your Garmin overnight! Yeah, I think that is what did it, and the bad part is, that I heard the Garmin beep when the laptop hibernated, and I didn't give it a second thought.

My next thought was how to get the Garmin charged while on the ride. Maybe I would see a Staples, or even better a small computer repair shop that might have the proper cable to charge it for 1/2 hour. For those of you who have ridden this ride... you can stop laughing now. For those of you who have never been from Frederick, MD to Dover, PA... let me just say it is RRRRRRRRural. I gave up those thought when I asked at the first control if there was a computer repair shop anywhere near by and the lady told me there was a Verizon store on my way to Gettysburg. I would have to live without the Garmin... how bad could it be.

Have you ever heard the old expression, "You don't really miss something until it's gone"? Well, I realized that I rely on the Garmin a lot more that I realized. For me, the biggest thing that I missed about the Garin was not seeing the time. Doesn't sound like a big deal, but I have found that taking 1 e-cap every half hour, is critical to keep me hydrated and from not cramping up on the bike. In the heat of the day, I sometimes bump that up to every 20 minutes, but without having the Garmin on in front of me, I lost track of time... missed a few ecaps here and there, and I felt the effects. That feeling was cumulative and by the end of the ride, I was not feeling that great.

The Garmin is critical for measuring distance between turns also. Fortunately, most of the turns were at stop signs or at "T" intersections so they were easy to spot. There was one spot where I turned right and climbed a hill. I was suppose to take a right in .3 miles, but I was so glad to be at the top of the hill, and my mind was somewhere else I cruised right past the turn, down the other side of the hill and THEN realized I missed my turn. I had to turn around and climb the hill I just came down to make the turn. These are called "bonus" miles, and I try to avoid them at all costs. That happened to me one other spot, but I think over all, the bonus miles probably did not add up to more than 2 miles. Not that bad.

There were other challenges that I had to deal with. The hills. Like I said before, the hills were not too bad, but they were more of an annoyance. The "one big hill" that is advertised before lunch was formidable and was no fun climbing. and climbing it the other way after lunch was not as bad. Plus you had the nice "screaming" downhill to enjoy.

I also learned that when you ride on fresh asphalt (when I say fresh I mean, I passed the roller truck that was rolling over the top of it) your tires pick up a certain amount of stickiness, which is wonderful for helping glass stick to them and puncture your tubes. You guessed it, that is what happened to me. I came off the asphalt, and within a mile I had not just one flat, but BOTH tires were flat. I guess if I had to find the positive in this situation it would be that there was a nice shade tree with grass underneath it to sit down and change my tire under.

As with everything that I did with this ride, I took my time changing the tires. At all of the controls I sat and people watched for a little while and at lunch I lingered a little too long probably, but the little whole in the wall restaurant was a nice place to rest. I rode slow because I was in no rush. I had no reason to have to ride fast. There was no impending bad weather. There was no traffic on the road, as a matter of fact I drafed a tractor for the entire length of Possum Hollow Rd. I was not riding with anyone else that I was holding up. I just rode at my own pace.

Despite the minor issues that I had on the ride, I did thoroughly enjoy it. It seems also with each ride I have my faith in humanity restored just a bit. As I pulled into the parking lot at the final control I was walking my bike past my car and I noticed that the hazard light were flashing. Oh great, did the alarm go off and the lights kept flashing? How long have they been on? I finished up in the restaurant and came out and tried to start the car.... nothing! Ok, so I opened the hood in hopes that someone would maybe stop and see if I needed assistance. Heck, about 20 miles from the finish I dropped my water bottle... stopped, got off the bike and the only car I had seen in a few miles stopped and asked if I needed help. I guess I looked like I needed help. So no more than a couple minutes after I put my hood up, a truck with a towing trailer pulled up to tow the car right next to me. He gave me a jump and did not charge me anything for it. After telling him how many miles I had ridden he told me it was his pleasure. See that, there are good people in this world.

Not sure what I am going to do for the August 200k. I know that I am going to rest ly legs now for a while.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Back into the swing of things

So I am back into the daily routine, if you can call it that. My body is wreck from the ride, lack of sleep and trying to re-acclimate myself to getting up early to ride... and going to work.

I have felt very tired this past week, and I am sure it is a combination of many factors conspiring to make me feel that way. The check has come due for what I put my body through last week. I trained for that ride, and I am thankful for every mile that I rode in preparation for the ride. It paid off, but I had never done that many miles in such a short period of time. So, I mortgaged some energy last week and I am making the payments this week. Not to mention the fact that I think I only got 3 "good" nights sleep during the week. I swear that on 2 of the nights I got more dehydrated laying in bed than I did on that days ride. Then, after the ride, I think that driving straight home was not the wisest choice. I was fine while I was driving, but that made for a very long day. Saturday was the party at Eddie & Tracy's which we did not get home from until midnight.

I have done some riding.... a couple of "wild" days with the peloton. Man they go fast. Monday was not so bad, because it was mosey Monday, but Wednesday was wicked (which is why we call it "Wicked Wednesday") I tried to keep up as much as I could, but Chip was shot of a canon and all I saw was the blinky blinky of their tail lights. We had a new rider with us, so Clint stayed back with him and I hung out somewhere in the middle.

I have missed having Mike to ride to work with. It is lonely riding alone, but more importantly, it is WAY too easy to turn the alarm off and sleep in a little longer when there is no one is expecting to meet you to ride into work together. Next week I will probably be riding with the peloton for most days. Our annual meetings at work are being held in Oregon, so I will adjust my hours just a bit to accommodate those extra users in a different time zone.

Emily is here this week, and she is doing her Phys. Ed class over the summer, so I know that her and I will be either walking/jogging or bicycle riding over the weekend. It is suppose to be 8,000 degrees this weekend, so I am hoping that I can pry her out of bed and get her out there early.

Enjoy the weekend... those of you in the heat... stay cool and stay hydrated!

Garmin data from Wicked Wednesday

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Day 7... the push to the finish

The final day! The push to the finish. I laid in bed on Friday morning visualizing what it would be like to pull into the parking lot at Chomerics in Woburn, where this whole things started.

I got up and took a quick shower (even after taking a shower last night and knowing that I am going to do nothing but sweat all day, I still need a shower in the morning. It is part of the wake up process.) put on my bike shorts and a tee-shirt and brought my laptop case and fan down to the gear truck. There was a definitively different "buzz" around the truck this morning. Everyone was anticipating the return to home and normalcy. Riders who had, for whatever reason, that had stop riding throughout the week were back in bike gear ready to ride the final day. The riders who were normally barely awake on the other 6 days were bright eyed and bushy tailed, ready to go. Breakfast seemed to rival one of the competitive eating  contests. Not so much the amount of food eaten, but the speed at which everyone seemed to plow through their food. Then it was back to the room, get the rest of your gear on the gear truck, get your bike ready to go, and start pedaling.

If you look at the elevation profile in the Garmin details below, you will see that at the beginning of the day, there were still a few climbs that we had to do before heading down to Woburn. These started almost immediately, and they were those l o n g never ending uphills, that are not very steep, just never seem to end. The five of us put our heads down, got into a good pedaling rhythm and made our way over the top. after about 3 or 4 of these climbs came the fruit of our labor... the best downhill of the ride. The road had been newly surfaced, the downhill was more gradual that the ones in the mountains, the road serpentined slightly,  and there was very little traffic. Before I knew it, we were at the first rest stop.

The rest stops on the last day were different as well. There was no sitting down and lounging. You got in, got what you needed, got rid of what you didn't need and then hit the road again. I made a quick pit stop, ate some watermelon and some granola, filled the water bottles, drank some gatorade and away we went.

The second rest stop was more of the same...get in get out and be done. There was a route change from previous years just ahead, so the volunteers did their best to get our attention and let us know to pay attention to the road markings. The next rest stop was different this year also... it stopped at an ice cream stand. So my ride between rest stop two and three was, for the most part, an ongoing conversation with myslef on the pro's and con's of getting a milk shake at the last rest stop. It has taken me months to tweak my eating habits while doing long rides on the bike. I have tried liquid protein, Gu gels, sport beans and the like, and I finally have it down well enough that I do not dehydrate of bonk while I am riding. Do I really want to mess with that formula at the last rest stop before the end of this big ride?

As we pulled into the parking lot of the third checkpoint, the volunteers had set up tents to the right, to provide us with shade during the stop, and the ice cream stand was to the left. As we pulled in, Rolland, Mike, Joe, Steve and Barb all headed to the right, but for some reason my bike just wouldn't turn that way. It headed right to the ice cream stand. I ordered my coffee milk shake and enjoyed it under the shade of the tents. It was alright, but it was not like Storm Bros. here in Annapolis, but it was OK.

We had 17 miles to go to the finish, and I figured that Rolland would start smelling home cooking and really start spinning the wheels to get back, especially on the flat terrain. Surprisingly, we kept a very comfortable pace and we all stayed together reasonably well, and before I knew it we were making the right onto Dragon Ct. Another 500 yards or so, and we would be done. We rode side by side, because Dragon Ct. Is basically a driveway into an industrial park area, congratulated each other and i thanked Rolland for being a great diesel engine. We crossed into the Chomerics parking lot to cow bells, applause, whistles and cheers.

 As we were cooling down, we began gathering our stuff off of the gear truck, packing bikes into the cars, taking pictures and changing out of sweaty bike clothes into drier more comfortable clothes. As I was walking around doing this, I had just about each one of the volunteers come up to me, congratulate me for finishing the ride, and thanking me for the money that I raised to help to find a cure to diabetes. I also had several of the riders, who I had not ridden with but knew that this was my first year riding, approach me, congratulate me and ask me if I would be back to do the ride again next year.

That is not really a question that I could answer only minutes after finishing the ride this year. According to the Garmin data, I rode 569 miles, climed 23,000 + feet through 4 states over the course of 7 days. That was not easy, but I have to say that the hardest part was raising the money. That seemed to be the consensus with all of the riders that i spoke to. My donors were awesome, and gave above and beyond what I EVER would have expected them to give. Friends, family, co-workers and even former in-laws all chipped in to help me reach my goal. I could not expect them to do that every year, so if I do decide to ride again, the fund raising will be approached in an entirely different manner.

I left the parking lot in Woburn with a feeling of accomplishment. I headed back to Maryland and arrived home at around 1:00 a.m. on Saturday morning. When I pulled into the garage I was greeted by this banner that Courtney, Bev and Donna made for me. I am so loved.

Garmin data below

Friday, July 16, 2010

Mission Accomplished

I finished the New England Classic today. 7 days, 4 states, 550 + miles.

I am driving back to Maryland tonight, so this is a VERY brief blog entry. I promise a full report of the last day of riding tomorrow, and a wrap up blog with an overall ride report before the weekend is over.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The last day of climbing

Well, today was the last day of climbing, and I must was tough. The first part of the ride was downhill, but from mile 50 or so, it was up hill.

The original fearless fivesome left Killington a little after 7:30 this morning. The downhills were amazing and the morning fog over the mountain lakes made for a very pretty ride. It was 24 miles to the first rest stop; at Sweet Ssurrender Bakery. I did not partake of any of the sweet's that they had to offer, but I did walk through, and the smell of the bakery was incredible. Instead, I filled my water bottles with wath water and gatorade (we had blue gatorade today) enjoyed some watermelon, Cheez-its and a box of raisins. I have found that junk food, as long a s it is salty, works pretty well for me on the long rides.

I left ahead of the Rolland train and positioned myself on the street ahead of them in hopes to snap a picture of the locomotive on the move. In the front is Rolland, of course, then Joe, followed by Mike, Steve (who is a rider that we picked up along the way, and Barb. For those of you who have never had the pleasure of riding in a paceline, I can't even begin to explain how much of a help it is. These guys are a fun group to ride with, and some of the conversations that we had in the pace line were really quite entertaining.

We pacelined ourselves to the Vermont Country store, where the downhills ended and the last bit of substantial climbing began. The difference between this day of climbing and Tuesday and Wednesdays climbing was that today there were no steep climbs, just some very very long long uphills. The grade was 3 - 4 % of an incline, but they seemed to go on forever. I found that the best way to handle it was to put the person in front of me's rear wheel about 4 inches from my front tire and stare directly at their tire. In doing this, I had to put a lot of trust in the person in front of me that they would not lead me over a pot hole or through loose gravel or any other road hazards. I only did this when Rolland, Joe or Barb were directly in front of me. We all managed those climbs and arrived at the 3rd rest stop, which happened to be at a local bike shop.

The first order of business was to go into the bike shop and get an update on the Tour de France. It appears that there was a little head butting going on on the sprint in. I have not heard what the ramifications of that were, but I did see it and I am sure there will be some punishment. After checking that out and using the facilities I went out and asked Eric if he would lube my chain, as it was getting a little squeeky. Eric is one of the mechanics that volunteers his time and talents to make sure that the riders bikes get the TLC that they need. He is an awesome guy who obviously has a passion for fixing problems on the bikes. After I climbed Crawford Notch on Tuesday I pulled into the rest stop and told him that my bike had a big problem. His got all excited waiting to diagnose a problem. He was disappointed when I told him that every time I went up a hill, it was hard to pedal. He laughed, but I could tell that he really loves solving mechanical problems on a bicycle. Anyway, we all rolled out of rest stop 3 with only about 10 miles to go to the end for the day. They were 10 very gard fought miles, but we all made it to the finish around 3:30 this afternoon. It is such a good feeling to finish up for the day, and tomorrow I will know what it feels like to finish up for the week.

I will do another post tomorrow sometime, but that is all that I will write tonight. We had dinner and then an awards "get together" and then some raffles off the gear truck. It is late, my roomate is already in bed and I don't want to keep the computer on any longer.

Tomorrow is about 75 miles, mostly down hill back to our cars in Woburn, MA. Dependong on how I feel, I will head to Maryland directly from there. Consequently, the Friday blog entry will be brief, but I plan on doing a complete summary entry over the weekend. Thanks for reading, and keep checking back.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

New England Classic Day 5

So this was suppose to be an easy day. Only 65 miles, right? Well, there was that little matter of the climb up to Killington ski area. Who had the bright idea to put ski resorts up in the mountains?

We left Montpelier at 8:15 in a large group of 15 riders. The majority of them I had not ridden with for very long so I managed to make my way to the back of the pack These were very fine roders, but I did not care for the amount of yelling that was going on. Each time a car was behind us, the call of "Car back" would be passed from me, and usually it can jump 1 or 2 riders before another rider will make that call further up the line. These people each had to yell it, and they yelled it like they were yelling at their kids. They also were yelling out obstacles (such as pot holes) in the road as opposed to pointing to them, which is what I am accustomed to. I kept my distance and rode with this group for 24 miles to the first rest stop.

At the first rest stop I made the decision to wait there for Rolland and I planned to ride with him the rest of the day. I am happy to report that Mike is doing better and he was able to complete the ride today. (That is him and his Dad, Rolland, in the picture)  I was counting on Rolland to cut the pace back just a tad for Mike's sake. Out of the first rest stop, Rolland, Mike, Joe, Barb and myself formed our group again and headed to the second rest stop.

There were some hills today, and because of the beating that my legs had taken yesterday, I really struggled to stay with the group. I would drop off the back of the group on the hills, and then catch up on the downhills. I knew that on the final climb it would be each man for himself, so I was happy to be attached to the group up to the 2nd rest area. There was an impromptu rest area set up at mile 40 that I was really looking forward to stopping at to rest the legs for a couple minutes... but Rolland had other ideas. We rolled right past headed to rest area 2.

Rest stop 2 is only about 10 miles from the end of the ride for the day. While riding I was seeing the signs to Killington. I knew we were close, but I also know that we had a 5 or 6 mile climb to get there, and the climb was substantial... about 1000 feet. At the rest stop we got our water bottles filled up, ate some food, but not too much, and the 5 of us headed out. We had already determined that this part of the ride was every man for himself, so I set off at a very slow pace and before I knew it the climb began. At first it was steps. A small steep climb and then it levels off a bit, then another, and another. Finally as I was getting closer to the hill became a steady steep incline. I rode until my thighs were on fire, and my halo headband was drenched in sweat (It was VERY humid today). The was a left turn that had to be negotiated on a hill after climbing 4 miles, so I decided that at that left turn I would stop and swap my headband.

At the left hand turn I stopped before taking the turn, leaned my bike up against the guard rail, took off my helmet, headband and gloves. I used some of my water to pour over my head to cool me down. I drank one of my bottle of water, had my last pack of sports beans for the day and took a deep breath. In the time that it took to do all that, my legs had stopped burning and I was breathing normally again. It was only about 2 minutes, but it was just enough to give the break that I needed. I put the dry (sorta) head band back on my head, put the goves and helmet on and I was back on the bike attacking the last part of the hills.

I made it in to the lodge by 1:30, put the bike up, showered and headed down the driveway to the Grist Mill for lunch. It seems that everybody had that idea, because most of the riders that were already in were at the Grist Mill also.  They are a motley looking crew, but a fun group of people to ride with. I enjoyed a cheeseburger with bacon and some onion rings. I had just about all the fruit and cheese its that I could take... I needed real food for lunch.

At the Summit Lodge I was able to get in line for the one washer and dryer that was available for us to use and I managed to get all my laundry washed and dried. I am pretty excited about that because if I had to hand wash anything in the bathroom sink tonight, because of the humidity, there is no way it would be dry by the time we leave to ride in the morning.

After getting laundry done, I had dinner, got this blog written and then it is off to bed for a good nights sleep. Tomorrow I think we go just under 90 miles to Ringe, NH. There are some climbs, but nothing as substantial as yesterday and today. I think I am out of the woods, and barring some physical ailment, I fully expect to finish all 7 days of riding. I am hoping that my legs have a little more strength in them than they did today. I'll let you know tomorrow night.

Garmin data:

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

I MADE IT ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! !

Well, Tuesday is behind me, and I have to say that I am feeling better today than I did at the end of yesterdays ride.

At dinner on Monday night, the fearless fivesome had made arrangements to leave at 7:30 to begin the longest and toughest day of the trip. Morning came, we got breakfast, put our bags on the truck, gpt our tires filled with air and our water bottles filled with water, and I looked around at 7:05 and the other members of the group had left. Joe and Barbara had left with a big group at around 7:00 and I saw Rolland and Mike heading down the driveway and turning left onto Rte. 302. I made a mental note to give them all a piece of my mind (if I had any left at the end of THIS day) at dinner.

I headed out alone. I know some of you are thinking "Awww, that's so sad" but in actuality, I rather enjoy riding by myself sometimes. There is no pressure to keep up, or worry about gping too fast... OK, I have never had that worry, but you get my point. Anyway, I headed towards the first climb of the day. It would put me on the other side of the White Mountains at a place called Crawford's Notch. This climb was the topic of conversation at dinner the night before. There were tales of how steep this climb was, and that it was like climbing a wall and so on. Well, although it was not a "wall" it was certainly one difficult task to carry my butt over the top. My plan going onto the mountains was to ride until the legs and lungs were on fire, stop, take a breath, drink some water, eat som Sports Beans, get back on the bike and get back to pedaling. I did that on Crawford's Notch and I made it over just fine. The downhill from there was AWESOME. If you look at the Garmin data (click the details button) you will see that my max speed was 41.5 and that happened on that downhill.

A few miles down (and I do mean down) the road, was the first rest stop. Everyone's spirits were pretty high having just crested one of the two big climbs for the day. I saw Barb and Rolland and Mike. Mike was not looking to good. The Tour de Cure jerseys that they gave out this year were green, and Mike's face was very close to that color. Barb, Mark and I set out from that rest stop and left Rolland and Mike to wait it out to see if Mike was going to be OK.

The three of us hit a considerable head wind as we headed to rest stop #2, so we each took turns leading the group to give the other two a break from the wind. The up coming rest stop was at mile 52, and just about mile 48 or so, here comes Rolland and Mike chugging along. We formed the fearless fivesome again and rolled into the rest stop in great form. Mike seemed to be fine and enjoyed a BLT at The Brick Store at rest stop 2. Apparently, this place cures their own bacon and it is to die for. Rolland claims to have dreams about it year round. There was an Ice Cream shop next to the brick store and Barbara got herself and ice cream cone from there. I am not sure how these people can do these rides and just grab some 'random' snack and jump on their bike and ride off.

Leaving Rest stop 2 we had a rather large group, because Rolland has become famous for the way that he leads the pack. Everybody bought their tickets for the Rolland train, and we were gone. Now, as far as trains go, Rolland would be considered the engine, and I would fill the role of caboose. It is not that I can't keep up, it is like I said in a previous blog, I have only ridden with these riders for a few days now, and now there were riders in the group that I had never ridden with, so being at the back of the pack, I have the opportunity to evade any silliness that may occur. Well, as we were chugging up an incline I saw Mike slow down suddenly and move all the way over to the right. As I went past I looked at both of his tires to see if he had a flat, which is typically what would cause someone to pull off so suddenly. Both tires looked fine so I looked back and Mike was getting sick on the side of the road. We made enough noise to get Rollands attention at the front of the line, and we all turned around to render assitance... well actually to just stand around and wathc Mike throw up and make jokes. I mean, how much assistance can you really render at that point? The SAG van came and picked up Mike and his bike and transported them to the next rest area, which was only about 6 miles up the road. Turns out he has been battling some GI issues over the past week, and his Dad guessed that with the amount of exercise that he is doing it just all came up at that time. I saw Mike tonight at dinner and he seems fine. For those of you concerned about the care that we would recieve should something bad happen to us on the road I want to assure you that Mike was in better care with the group that was there then if he had been taken out of an ambulance. In the group standing around cracking jokes at poor Mikes expense were a orthopedic doctor, and eye doctor and an emergancy room pediatrician. We are in good hands.

Coming out of rest stop three Mike had decided to pack it in for the day. He was still not feeling well and thought it best take the rest of the day off. So, after taking care of business at the rest stop, Joe, Barb, Mark, Rolland and myself headed out to the other big climb of the day. This was a 6 mile uphill, steep in some places, but for the most part it was just a constant UP. I made it up about halfway, and I stopped. Changed the headband, ate some sport beans, drank some water and then finished the climb. Folled by another amazing downhill. Unfortunately, the roads for this downhill were not as nice as the ones coming down from Crawford's Notch, so the speed suffered a little.

At the final rest stop, which was only about 9 miles fom the ending point, we all regrouped and rode into Montpelier, VT. I was SO excited to finish Tuesday!!!! I felt stronger at the end of this ride today than I did at the end of yesterday's ride.

I was just listening to my room mate talking to his grandmother on his cell phone telling her that tomorrow is a short day, only about 70 miles? I thought to myself, "When did 70 miles on a bicycle become a "short" day." All things are reletive I guess. He was right, tomorrow is about a 70 mile ride, with a fairly steep 5 mile hill into Killington, VT. It is my understanding tha the downhills out of Killington on Thursday morning are spectacular. I'll let you know.

Just a quick note, Thank you to everybody that is reading this blog and leaving comments. It is my little slice of hime while I am away. It was also a great motivator to me during the ride today. My biggest fear was having to do a blog entry tonight explaining what went wrong that prevented me from finiahing. It means a lot to me that these words are being read. Thank you.

In response to Robert Frost's poem yesterday... I have travelled many miles today, my butt is going to bed! Good night!

I just posted the Garmin data for yesterdays blog, and here is the Garmin data for today. The elevation gain on the Garmin's is suspect at best, and two other bike computers came up with closer to 7500 feet. Suffice it to say, It was a LOT!

Monday, July 12, 2010

New England Classic Day 3

Today we began our trek westward, from the seacoast of Maine to the White Mountains of New Hampshire.

I left the University of New England around 7:25 with a large group. Now that I we all have been riding together for a few days, I know that the group was made up of UPS Bob's team of riders as well as Rolland, his som and myself. As we rode away from the coast, the hills began.

We reached the first rest stop, filled water bottles, ate some banana's and put some Gu packets in our pockets and some of us were ready to roll. Others waited behind for a few riders that had flats to catch up. The fearless five-some of Rolland, his son (Mike), Barbara, Joe (the number one fundraiser that I mentioneed in yesterdays entry) and myself set out together. Rolland led the pace line out, and never looked back. I would compare Rolland to a diesel locomotive. He rode in front and we all hooked ourselves up to him. At one point Joe got in front for a few minutes, and apparently Rolland did not like to follw, so he passed Joe and got on the front of the train again.

For those of you reading this who may not know, if you can ride directly behind somebody then you are able to conserve a LOT of energy by not having to push your body through the wind. The person in front of you has moved the air for you and you are basically riding in theor slipstream. So, when you find someone like Rolland who is the happiest when he is on the front of the pace line... you just ride and at the end of the day give him a good hardy hand shake and say Thank You.

So, the five of us stuck together for the majority of the day. We rode through some woods and around mountain lakes. It was a very scenic ride, and I would have taken pictures, but that would have meant stopping and losing the benefit of riding with the group. Just take my word for it, it was very scenic. At an impromptu rest stop, about 13 miles from the finish line, there was this nice covered bridge. I am guessing that it is only used for pedestrian traffic now, but I am sure it was the main thoroughfare at one point in time.

Just after the covered bridge, Rolland and Mike went off the course to stop at a bike shop in North Conway, NH. That left just Barb, Joe and myself to finish together. Looking at the profile for the day, I knew there was a rather larger up hill just at the end of the ride, and Barb having done this ride before said that when you see the rock ledge, you are just about there She said it was steep but short, so you just put your head down and go for it. So I looked at my Garmin, noticed that we were almost at the 80 mile point, which was the total miles for the day, I looked up and saw a rock ledge and then I saw an incline that curved around some trees. Ok, put your head down and go for it. I did that and before I knew it, I was at the top. In my mind I was thinking... "That wasn't really that bad." Barb whizzed by me and said "That's it Chris, we're done. Just a couple loopies form here to the hotel." GREAT! I put the bike in a higher gear and pedaled hard to catch up to her so that we could catch up with Joe and we could all arrive together. Well, I saw another rock ledge, and ANOTHER incline, which was longer and steeper than the previous one. Seems that Barb's mempry is not all that good. So now I am in the wrong gear and out of breath. With 79 miles in my legs, I managed to make it up the incline, but I was D - O - N - E done. To make matters worse, on the downhill that followed, there was a headwind and we were struggling to reach 16 mph going down hill. It was a long day but I made it, with NO flats!.

Tomorrow is "The Day". Over 100 miles with LOTS of climbing. My plan is to not be so concerned with hanging with a certain group. I know that riders will be spread out the route tomorrow and I know that not all of them will be making it over both climbs. There is a very good possibility that I may not make it over both climbs, but I am determined to give it all that I have and like I have said before, I will stop to catch my breath and restore power to my legs and start pedaling again. In the words of Robert Frost;

"The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
but I have promises to keep,
and miles to go before I sleep,
and miles to go before I sleep"

(from Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, which Frost wrote as he was travelling from New Hampshire to Vermont, which is what I'll be doing tomorrow.)

*** Garmin data just posted! Sorry I forgot last night.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

New England Classic Day 2

Day 2 is in the books. 72.8 miles. It was a much better day today, although at the beginning of the ride, I thought it was going to be "more of the same."

The departure from University of New Hampshire was at 7:30, but it was not a "mass" start. As people were ready to roll, they set out for the days ride. I did not know that, so I hung around the start waiting for someone to gather the troops and say "GO"! So, once I found out that I could leave when I was ready.... I left. I set out alone, figuring that the faster groups would catch me, or I could latch onto a slower group that was ahead of me.

I was able to catch up with a couple of riders that were going a pace that I would be comfortable. One of the guys in that group was wearing bib # 1, so I asked what he had done to earn that number. Turns out that he was the top find-raiser for the ride. We turned on to a road that was too busy for us to ride side by side and chit chat, so I let him lead and absorb the blunt of the head wind. After a couple miles of that, I was feeling guilty so I took the lead, and within a mile (mile 9 of the day) I had a flat. Now I have ridden with the Severna Park Peloton for alomost a year now, and in that time I have had two (2) flats that entire time, and that was at the same time due to a very large pot hole. Now I have had 2 flats in two days. Fortunately, this one was on the front tire, which is just a tad bit easier to change. I am hoping that the puncture fairy goes and visits somebody else for the rest of the week.

With the tire changed, I was back on the road. Fortunately, the first rest stop was only a couple miles down the road, and becasue of the "leave when you are ready" policy, There was a better selection of groups to ride with. Unfortunatey, no one was ready to leave when I was, so I set out on my own again. In my mind I was figuring that I am destined to ride this ride alone.

I did catch up to a group of rider that were not with the ADA ride, but rather they were with a tour group that was riding from Boston to Montreal. For those who remeber, there used to be a ride called BMB, which was done by randonneurs that went from Boston to Montreal and back to Bostom. It was a 1200k event, and can still be ridden as a permanent. In any event, their rest stop was at the same place as our was so I rode with them for the final few miles before the stop.

The second rest stop was at Nubble Light in York Beach, ME. It is one of the most photographed lighthouses in the US, if not the world. I am sure you have all seen it in a photo at least once.
Because it was such a great spot for a rest stop, a lot of people were hanging out there, enjoying the lighthouse and ocean views. I enjoyed some snacks, refilled the bottles and I was able to join the group of riders that I had dinner with the night before. There were about 8 of us, and we had a pretty good pace line going with all of us taking a turn at the front. We passed the Bush homestead in Kennebunkport. The houses in that surrounding area are beautiful. The Bush house is still quite a tourist attraction, with quite a few cars parked along the side of the road, allowing the occupants to get out and take pictures.

I was able to hang with the same group of riders through rest stop 3 and to the end of the days ride. Riding with the Severna Park Peloton, I have become accustomed to riding in a paceline, with my front wheel inches from the rear wheel of the rider in front of me. On some level, you put your trust in the rider in front of you, that they weill not do anything drastic, like stop pedaling. This group was made up of people that are used to riding in a pace line like that, and I was able to reach that comfort level while riding behind them.

So, the fun begins tomorrow. I have not looked at the profile, but if my memory serves correctly, it is a gradual uphill from The University of New England, where we are staying tonight, to our destination tomorrow night, Attitash Ski resort. There is quite an climb up to the resort at the end of the day, and with 50 or 60 miles of gradual climbing in the legs, I will become a hill slug, and as slowly as I need to, get my fatt butt to the top.

The two day riders have all gone home now, so we are down to only about 40 riders. It is a group of only a few first timers, and some of the riders have been doing it for over 10 years now. They all say how bad the hills are, and how much they suffer up them, but if they are that bad, why do they keep coming back? There must be something that keeps their interest. I guess I will find out, won't I.

Time for bed... I will need the rest for what lies ahead. Thank all of you for your prayers and support during the ride. I am helping to make a difference for those that suffer with diabetes, and I am enjoying myself, but I am anxious to get home to be with all of you. Continue to think about me, especially as I "reach new heights" in the mountains of New Hampshire.

Garmin data below:

Saturday, July 10, 2010

New England Classic DAY 1

The first day of the New England Classic is complete, and I have never enjoyed such a horrible day of riding so much.

My strategy was to ride at a VERY comfortable pace these first two days so that I don't wear my legs out on the flats and have nothing left for the climbing on days 4 - 6. I was going to find a group of riders, even if it was the pre-schoolers on their tri-cycles, that I could keep a comfortable pace with.

As all 150 + riders left the parking lot at the same time, I hung in the back and was one of the last ones out. I did not want to get tangled up in a big group and end up running into someone. So as the line of riders stretched out over the road, I moved up the line and settled in with a group of 4 guys, and up until mile 15 all was well. Then I hit a pot hole that flatted my rear tire. This was a huge pot hole and I could hear that my rim hit it as well. I thought I would either have to buy a nes rim or this could be it... ride over.

I pulled off the side of the road, under the shade of a nice big oak tree, and removed my rear wheel. I first checked out the rim to make sure there was no damage, because there is really no sense changing the tire if the rim is messed up, right. I have to say, that all the hype about the Mavic Ksyrium Elite rims being bomb-proof is true. I spun the wheel and it was barely out of true. No dents, or ripples. I was very surprised. I changed the tire without incident and was back on the road.

I was determined to not push the pace too hard to try and catch up, I was going to ride a steady pace and try to cut some time at the first 2 rest stops. When I got to the first rest stop, i refilled the water bottles, grabbed some granola, Raw Rev snacks, a banana and was ready to hit the road. At the time I was ready to go, no other groups were leaving, so I could wait around or set out on my own again. I decided to set out on my own, and out of the parking lot I took a wrong turn. It rode 3 miles before I realized it. So I turned around and headed back, and as I was passing the first rest area again, they were closing it down, which meant that I was last. I was at the back of the pack. Well, isn't that a great way to start of a ride that I am already anxious about. I kept a fairly steady pace and began passing the slower riders one by one.

Around mile 45 or so, there were 3 woman on the side of the road, with one of them obviously having a flat. I was riding with 3 other guys at the time and as is customary, we all asked if they had what they needed. They said they did, but they didn't know how to change a flat. The other guys either didn't hear them, or didn't want to ruin their record breaking times and kept on pedalling. I stopped and changed the tire for them and I didn't feel to bad about doing it, because it was this group of ladies that I asked to take the picture of the jersey above.

Flat tire changed, it was back to riding. I made it, uneventfully to rest stop 2, where i did more of what I did at rest stop one. Filled the water bottles, grabbed some snacks and hit the road again. Now on the way to rest stop 3, the weather took a turn for the worse. It started raining, but not too hard. At first, it actually felt kinda nice, but as it continued to rain and as the feet started to get wet, it was not so nice. As I crested a small hill I realized that I was at the ocean.
 This ia Rye Beach, NH. The picture does not do a very good job of showing the true weather conditions. It was raining pretty hard when I took the picture, and the clouds looked very ominous.

The rain continued as I rode along Route 1-A, and I was getting a little concerned because now that I was right on the water, soaking wet, with the cool ocean winds hitting me, I was getting cold. If the rain made the temperature drop for the rest of the ride, I would be in deep trouble, but as I turned west, away from the ocean, there was a noticeable rise in the air temp.

Rest stop 3 had a tent to stand under, which was nice to get out of the rain. I filled up on watermelon and a banana, filled the bottle and I was off again... headed for The University of New Hampshire in Durham, NH.

Once I arrived there, I checked in, so they would know that #29 was off the roads, put my bike in the large room that is housing all the bikes, got my room assignment, grabbed my bags and headed to my room.

I took off the wet clothes, showered and walked to the dining hall, where I enjoyed some real food. I had pasta and marinara sauce with some sauted Italian chicken breast and a wonderful salad and some bread sticks. After riding all day it was exactly what I needed.

So, the first day is done and I am happy that I completed it. I was afraid that what they were calling "flat" would be more hills than I was able to do. There was one hill that was a little steep, but even I would consider this first day to be very flat.

Tomorrow we head out to Biddeford, ME by way of Nubble Light. I will stop and take pictures there, even though it is surposse to rain all day tomorrow. Tomorrow is about 20 miles shorter than today, so I am hoping to settle in to a nice pace and make better time than I did today.

As a side note, I took this picture as I was riding down Rye Beach, and I thought it was cute. Now I just need to find 2 boats named Mr. Nolan and Mr. Devin.

Garmin data is below the picture. See you tomrrow!