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!

Friday, July 9, 2010

And so it begins....

This is it! I have trained for months for THIS ride, and it is finally here. I have done all the training I could do...I have put in the miles and now I am ready to enjoy 7 days and 550 miles on the roads of New England.

I am going to keep this entry short, because I still have some last minute preps to do before bed. I hope to do a blog entry every night of the ride and I hope that you all will enjoy following along with me during the ride.

I want to take the time to thank everyone who donated to this ride. Not only financially, but with your words of encouragement and support for me along the way. I have 3 jerseys that have been signed by friends and family that will keep me motivated along the route. I am humbled by the generosity that you all have shown. Thank you!

Now down to some business before I end this post. On Thursday night Beverly and I went to dinner at O'Laughlins, and with us we carried the container with all the raffles tickets in them. (Remember for each $10 donated you got a raffle ticket put in a container.) We asked our waiter (an impartial party to the raffle) to draw a name each time he came to the table. He did that, and the results are listed below.

HP 2140 Netbook - Sylvia Flewellyn
Memorex 250 GB External Hard dribe - Jeanne Salley
$40 O'Laughlins Gift Card - Charlie and Betty Gartlemen
$25 Deep Creek Restaraunt Gift card - Greg Matson
The Rover's CD and T-shirt - Tiffany Smith

Conratulations to all the winners. Thank you again for your doantions and your support.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Happy New Year!

Working for an agency that is so closely tied to State Government, our fiscal year begins on July 1st. Making today, New Years Day.

My New Years celebration started with a very cool ride to meet Mike in Severna Park who joined me for the rest of the commute to BWI. It was nice to have someone to ride with on the commute. Others in SPP have mentioned that they would like to join us, but I think that only one other person has, and I believe that was only once. Truth be told, there are a lot of mornings that I probably would have dolled over and gotten that extra hour of sleep if I hadn't told Mike that I was riding in the morning.

I am looking forward to a nice cool ride home this afternoon. I am planning (should I say hoping) to leave a little early to get home in time to get to the bike shop and pick up the Roubaix. She should be in great shape, rockin' a new rear cassette and chain.