Sunday, October 26, 2008

Two 50-milers This Warm Weekend

Got in two good 50-mile rides this weekend as things warmed up, compared to this past week. All week long my morning rides were down in the low 40F's. Temperatures were at least 10-15 degrees warmer for the weekend.

On Saturday, I headed out at 6:30AM for a Brands route and West Hills ride. Still dark at that hour of the morning so I brought the light for the first hour of riding until the sun came up. Rain was forecast for the day but not likely until after 10:00AM. Nevertheless, about one mile into my ride, some light drizzle started and continued for the first 10 miles of the ride, just about until I reached the LIE. If the rain got any heavier, I was planning to turn back at this point. But it stopped and I continued on for the rest of the ride, albeit on wet roads.

Back home, I cleaned up the bike (it was due anyway) and relubed the chain. Getting ready for what was supposed to be a nice Sunday. There were heavey rain and winds overnight and I started to have some doubts about Sunday. Around 10:00PM, checking e-mail and watching some of the delayed World Series game 3, an e-mail popped up from Mike W. with an FYI that the Brands ride would be continuing on Sunday (instead of Saturday) and with a later start time (8:30AM). Great!

So, this morning, headed out for 15 warmup miles on the Jones Beach path (full of leaves and sticks from last night's storm) then cruised into the Brands lot at 8:30AM. We started of with a total of 9 riders but various groups broke off here and there for different reasons. Ed was staying with a new rider and quickly went out the back. Ariel, Jamie, and Scott(?) had ridden to the ride start from Babylon, so they left for home at Deer Park Ave. That left Mike, Paul, James, and I as a group of four for the last 25 miles or so. We kept an easy but steady pace, most of the time ;-}, regrouping for a few minutes with Ed and the new rider, before speeding up to the finish at Brands. Nice ride and a sunny, autumn day.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Winter is Approaching

Another cold morning today, and even a bit windier than yesterday. Dug out the windproof tights, vest, hat, and neoprene gloves. I delayed my ride start to 7:30AM, hoping for some sun. Did the same Brands route again (Round Swamp Rd. - LIE Service Road - Round Swamp Rd.). This time I was riding solo.

I was riding against the wind on the way out. At mile 15.25, in the middle of a short, steep hill, I flatted in the rear after running over some piece of metal on the road. Made a quick repair and continued the short climb. Turnaround at mile 20 and got some more favorable winds for the return trip.

Back home, I usually would just toss the damaged tube but this one only had a couple of hundred miles on it (just replaced a month ago when I flatted on the Highlander ride). So, I took the time to patch it and put it back on the bike. We'll see if its still holding air by tomorrow morning!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Last Brands Saturday AM Ride for the Season

Nine of us showed up at Brands this morning for the last Saturday morning ride of the season. Everyone in good spirits and bundled up against the 42F temperature and wind. We set out all together, a few minutes after 7:00AM. Together until Round Swamp Rd. I went to the front and kept a moderate but steady pace, trying to get warm. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the LIE, my little group was down to three. I thought it was a fairly moderate pace but I think a lot of riders' efforts were muted by the cold temperatures and wind. For me, I felt that the fastest way to warm up would be to push a little harder. After a couple of hills, we lost James, and it was just Patrick and I for the next 30 miles.

We really did not push the pace, probably averaging out 18 mph eastbound and about 20 mph when we turned back around. It was really kind of cool, trading pulls for 30 miles with barely a word needing to be spoken. Just enough pace and hills to keep it interesting. A well deserved handshake at the end, back at the Brands lot. Good ride!

Monday, October 13, 2008

New Headlight - DiNotte 200L-AA-S

Put a new chain on the Specialized (SRAM PC 991) after yesterday's ride. It was due after 2,700 miles on the old chain. After removing the old chain and laying it side-by-side with the new chain, it was easy to see that the old one was stretched at least 1/4 inch. I put the new one on, made a slight adjustment to the rear deraileur with the barrel adjuster and it was good to go.

I got up early today to try out my new headlight. Four laps on the Jones Beach bike path, 25 miles or so, for about 1 hr and 20 min. There are no street lights along the path so it important to have a good, bright, reliable light for these dark morning rides.

I replaced my defunct NiteHawk 10 watt halogen with a new DiNotte 200L-AA-S led.

On the left is the old halogen and the big, heavy, SLA (sealed lead acid) battery. On the right, the DiNotte led batteries and battery pack.

The new light seems to be at least as bright as the old one. The difference in weight is tremendous! The whole DiNotte package (light and batteries is only 200 grams) is probably only about 20% of the weight of the battery alone from the old system. It worked great on this ride and the light was strong for the whole 80 minute ride. It seems to be well-made, the aluminum body also acts as a heat sink for the light.

Benefits of the new light:
light weight
easy mounting and easy to move between bikes
easy-to-find AA rechargeable batteries
handlebar and helmet mounts (included)
three beam intensities
2+ hour runtime
backlit power switch
waterproof light unit

Here is the light (turned on) and battery pack mounted on my handlebars. Only 200 grams so hardly noticeable. Check out the cool blue backlight on the power switch!

The light mounts with a silicone rubber O-ring stretched from a groove on the back of the light, around the bars, and then looped back over the front of the light. Benefits of this mounting system are that it can be installed and removed without tools and it works great even over cables and oddly shaped bars.

O-ring mounting system.

So, after one ride, I'm really happy with the DiNotte. It was a little pricey but its gotten great reviews online and really fit all of my criteria for a new light. I would say the only concern so far is with the longevity of the rubber O-ring mount. Two are supplied with the light. I'll see how they hold up after a winter of riding.

On a different note, I found this little video clip of the Highlander. I think it was done the year before I started doing the ride but it gives a little idea of what the ride is like. Check it out!

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Great Fall Cycling Weather This Weekend

Two cool but sunny riding days this weekend, and, best of all, DRY for a change!

On Saturday I met up with the Brands group for a 40 mile ride on the usual route up Round Swamp Rd., LIE service road, then back to the shop. Eleven riders all together at the start but we split up into two groups by the end. We were missing our "leader", Jamie, as he had a minor run-in with car the day prior. I met up with him after the ride and he is doing okay, considering being hit by a car! The car clipped his rear wheel and he went down, resulting in some road rash on his knee. His rear wheel and chain stay are a bit messed up but he was bring the bike in to the shop to be repaired. Looks like next Saturday may be the last LBS ride of the season, due to darkness.

This morning I headed out on a solo ride, same route as yesterday plus a loop through West Hills. Again, perfect fall weather, just needed a long-sleeve base layer. Skipped the Early Birds again but kind of a busy day, so I needed to get home early.

Bike-wise, I need to replace my chain today, about 2,700 miles on the current chain and it is starting to make some noise. Also got my new light so I may give it a try tomorrow morning. Stay tuned for a review!

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Sunday Soaker

The weekend started on a promising note with a nice ride with the Brands group on Saturday. It was a cool start at around 48F, but there was no threat of rain and a light wind. About 10 of us started out on a shortened route so that the LBS guys could get back early for a busy sale day at the shop. Just straight up Round Swamp Rd. to Rt. 25 and back.

Four of us peeled off to do the LIE service road rollers that are part of the usual Brands route. Then I went for a solo loop through West Hills. It turned out to be a great riding day.

Today (Sunday) I was really looking forward to doing the Early Birds, but when I got up at 5:30AM the roads were wet from overnight rain. I check a couple of online radar maps and forecasts and things didn't look to promising. I decided that I would just stay close to home and do a solo ride.

I headed out at 7:45AM on the Trek, just overcast skies and wet roads. Drizzle started almost immediately, then the heavy rain hit just 3 or 4 miles in. I though a few times about turning back but I didn't want to waste a weekend ride. Besides, I was already soaked through, so I figured I'd stay reasonably warm as long as I kept riding.

I ended up doing the Brands route and West Hills, solo, on the Trek. First hour was in steady rain, very heavy at times. Then the rain blew out after about 20 miles, just at the turnaround point on the LIE. Probably would have ended up with the same result with the EB's but by doing the solo ride I avoided the long trip home and got to use the rain bike instead of the Specialized.

A little bummed not to do the EB's but glad to have pushed through the rain and get the miles. Hopefully better luck next weekend.