Sunday, September 28, 2008

Wet Ride With the Early Birds

I knew this was going to be a wet ride this morning but I decided to head out to Manorville for the weekly Early Birds ride anyway, hoping that roads would dry up once we got under way. Only a 30 percent chance of rain was forecast.

Oatmeal, banana, coffee, then out the door for the drive to Manorville. About 15 or so riders showed up, mostly the usual crowd with one or two new faces. The roads did not dry up as I hoped so this turned into a wet, dirty ride. I know 15 people who will be cleaning bikes today! No wind at all, so we were dialed up to 25 mph within the first 1/2 mile and kept a fast but comfortable pace for the whole ride.

But, as anyone could predict, the wet roads led to flat tires. Three flats in the first 30 miles. Flat number 3 was ME, just about 1/2 mile before the deli in Cutchogue. The group was going to bypass the deli stop to make up time lost fixing the previous two flats. John and Chris stayed with me while I repaired the flat on my front tire, but when we proceeded on to the deli we were pleasantly surprised to see that the whole group had waited after all. Thanks guys (and gal)!

The last 20 miles were at a high pace. Over the hill on Rt. 51 I stayed with the lead group of 6 or 7. Turning right onto Rt. 111, we had a slight tailwind and flew up the last big climb. Then, it was 30+ mph down Rt. 111 to the end.

Too bad about the flats but it was nice to play around at these high speeds for a change.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Beat the Rain (Almost!) predicted 80% chance of thundershowers this morning, so I didn't hold out much hope for the Saturday morning Brands ride. When I got up, it was not actually raining but still too dark to get a good look at the roads. I got ready to ride anyway and by 6:45am, the sky was very overcast but didn't look too stormy, so I headed out to Brands on my rain bike to see if any other riders were going to chance the weather.

No one there, so I went out and did the 40 mile route solo. The roads were wet but the rain held off until about six miles to go. It was a light but steady rain for those last 15-20 minutes but a good ride none the less. Nice and warm today so getting wet was not really a problem. I was still in shorts and short sleeve jersey.

Weather looks even worse for tomorrow, so I'm glad I got the ride in today!

Sunday, September 21, 2008

2008 Tour of the Hamptons Ride Report

Did my 5th Tour of the Hamptons ride today. Traditionally, this ride is in mid-August. For some reason it was pushed back to September this year. Frankly, this worked out great weather-wise since we've had a couple of the August rides where 90+ degree temperatures really wear you out.

Fresh off last weekend's Highlander, the legs are fully recovered and probably in good shape from all that climbing. Did the usual early morning pre-work rides all week and a nice warmup yesterday with the Brands crew of about 40 miles. Talking with riders at the Brands ride, it turns out that they had a group of seven or eight who were planning on riding the TOH as well, some doing the century and some doing the 65 mile version. I already had plans to meet the East End group and do the century with them.

So, up at 5:00am for some breakfast, getting the gear together and loaded in the car. On my way by 5:35am for ride to Southampton High School, the starting point of the ride. Got there by 6:45 but registration was a little delayed. Our group's planned start time was 7:30am so there was plenty of time to get ready. The forcasted high was 77F but the morning was cool so I started out with arm warmers and long-fingered gloves. Also was wearing my brand new Brands jersey, in yellow. I stood out a little in the group who were mostly in their East End Team jerseys.

Our group of 15 headed out on time, and with the good weather and a favorable wind, we were up to a cruising speed of about 23mph in no time. The group missed one turn early on and things were broken up for a couple of miles until we pulled everyone back together.

First rest stop after about an hour at mile 23 in Amagansett. Easy ride so far as the route is pretty much dead flat to this point and we had good wind. I grabbed some fig newtons, a bannana, and 1/2 PB&J. Then we mounted up for the loop to Montauk Point. A couple of people faded through Hither Hills. We took it slow through the middle of the town of Montauk and then hit the climbs out to Montauk Point. Some riders dropped off on the climbs and 2 or 3 just cut out the climbs all together. I was with the lead group to the lighthouse and then the loop back west.

At one point, aroung mile 45, on the way back to Amagansett, we saw a road marking indicating a right turn. Myself and 5 others took the turn and kept going. Some riders in the group thought it was the wrong way. The majority decided NOT to take the turn so we were split (for good, as it turned out). Our small group rode for about 5 miles until we hit a DEAD END! So, we backtracked to the turnoff and proceeded back the way the rest of the group had gone. Unfortunately, now we were about 10 miles (approx. 30 minutes) behind.

One more small misdirection and we finally arrived back at the Amagansett rest stop with about 68 miles on the cycle computer. No sign of the big group but there was really no concern as we had a strong group of 6 to share the work for the rest of the ride. More fig newtons, banana, and PB&J for me, plus a bottle refill.

We were now in a difficult section of the route with lots of rolling hills. The work was shared pretty well. It was a tiring effort but mostly nice woods and scenery. I noticed that the route was changed from previous years and avoided the dangerous section on Noyac which is normally plagued with alot of traffic on a road with little or no shoulder.

At the third and last rest stop, we rolled in with 101 miles already, and there we ended up catching the big group last seen at mile 45. It turns out they were delayed by a mechanical issue (broken chain). They were just heading out to leave as we arrived so we were resigned to doing the last 10 miles with out small group. More fig newtons, 1/2 banana and a bottle of water and we set out for the finish.

Some small rollers and then some fast, flat sections around the mansions in Southampton. I finished up back at the ride start with 111 miles, about 5hr 25min riding time. Talked a while with the big group that had just come in before us and I saw Jamie, Paul, and Ann from the Brands ride and talked to the for a few minutes, too.

Finally, packed up and headed home. Everything turned out great, especially so since we had really nice weather even with the late date. This is probably my last organized century for this year. Proabably get caought up with the rest of the Brands group at next Saturday's LBS ride.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Highlander Photo and Grape Pies!

Here is the traditional Miller Hill climb photo for this year:

Photo by AllAgesPhotography.

Tonight, we just finished off a delicious grape pie from Monica's Pies in Naples, NY. The area is noted for their vinyards and grape products. I'd never heard of grape pies before but they always serve a slice at the post-ride meal and the pies from this area are somewhat famous. So, I brought one back to LI on my way home from the ride. Great with a cup of coffee!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Highlander 2008 Ride Report

I rode the Highlander today, the hardest ride I do each year. One hundred miles around Canandaigua Lake (one of the NY Finger Lakes) with a total of 11,000 ft. of climbing and several hills > 20% grade. There is a good summary of the ride at the Highlander website.

I drove up to Corning on Friday night, leaving myself a 1-hour drive to the ride start on Saturday morning.

Up at 4:00am to get ready for the ride, eat some breakfast, and pack up. By 5:00am, I was in the car and started the drive north to Bristol Mountain for the ride start. Got there a little after 6:00am, checked-in, picked up my ride number (#32) and went back to get loaded up. The roads were wet from overnight rain and the skies were cloudy, but I managed to get through the whole ride without getting rained on. Temps were a comfortable 70F but high humidity.

Sorry no photos but I already killed one digital camera in the rain this summer, so I didn't want to chance it with another one. I intended to bring my GPS but it could not lock onto any satellites within 15 minutes due to the heavy cloud cover, so I left it in the car.

I headed out of the lot by 6:55. Within 5 miles, I was in the middle ring. Within 10 miles, I was in the small ring (granny gear). This is probably the only ride where I use every one of the available 27 gears, and the only ride where I need to use the little ring.

Got a rear flat tire at mile 17, which was a bit of a disappointment as I had just put on a new Michelin Krylion Carbon 80 miles ago for the specific reason to avoid a flat due to a worn tire. Alas, the upstate chipseal went through the rubber anyway. I now have had a flat on 3 of the 4 Highlanders I've ridden.

Up Miller Hill, a photographer was taking pictures at the usual spot so after they post them I will try to include a link if I can find one of me (here is the 2007 photo). After that, I made good time riding solo, up the first two "monster" hills Bopple and Gannett.

Rest stops were plentiful and well stocked, just like last year. I was partial to the fig newtons, bananas, home-baked cookies, and watermelon.

At the rest stop at mile 62, I hooked up with a rider named Rob from Buffalo, NY, and we tackled Sliter and Griesa hills together all the way back to Bristol Mountain.

I collected my "goodie" bag with a Highlander calendar, bottle of wine, etc. and ate the included dinner. I drove back to Corning, took a quick shower and continued with the marathon drive back home.

A decent ride, really hard, but satisfying to have finished.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Tempo Rides Before the Highlander

I would have liked to do the Saturday LBS ride but Tropical Storm Hanna put a damper on that. Steady rain Friday night and threatening skies throughout the day kept the other riders away. I checked the radar in the morning and saw some space between the bands of rain for a couple of hours for riding. I stopped by Brands at 7:00am but no other riders were there. I went solo on the Trek for about 35 miles up Round Swamp Rd. and West Hills. Got wet from the road spray but no rain.

Hanna blew out overnight and this morning it was clear and sunny, mostly dry roads, and low humidity. A bit windy but nothing too difficult. Did the usual Brands route and West Hills on the Specialized. Then, back home, cleaned up both bikes.

An easy weekend but I concentrated on easy tempo riding and trying to keep a steady pace on the uphills. Hopefully this will be the key to a successful run at the Highlander next weekend.

Monday, September 01, 2008

Stony Brook Ride Photo

Did a short ride this morning up Round Swamp Rd. and West Hills, then off to the beach this last day of summer vacation. Turned out to be a great day!

Arial sent me this photo taken at the completion of our 70 mile ride yesterday. Check it out!

Ariel, me, Eric, and (the other) Nick, outside of Campus Bikes in Stony Brook.