Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spinning (Steel) Wheels

Planned on a 7:00 AM start but mother nature had other ideas. Rain showers moved through so I delayed until 8:00 AM. Started out in a light rain on the rain/commuter bike, my 2nd hand late 80's steel Trek 520 touring bike. In the rain for about 45 minutes, up to the LIE, with a slight headwind. Made the right turn onto the LIE South Service road into a crosswind. By this time I was feeling the weight of the bike and had to start spinning some lower gears, especially when climbing. Although, the Shimano Biopace chainrings are nice when climbing out of the saddle!

Was thinking of shortening the ride to 40 miles, but a patch of blue sky and the tailwind after the turnaround at mile 20 encouraged me to go for the full 50 miles. Recovered a bit heading west on the North Service road, then headed up into West Hills, keeping a high cadence.

Heading back south on Round Swamp Rd. past the Bethpage golf course, the sun started shining and it was a nice ride home. Grit my teeth a little into the wind last few miles. Glad I did the full ride, tougher than usual on the old bike. Now need to clean it up, the drive train sounded like a cement mixer the last 10 miles, not a drop of lube left after 3 hours in the wet.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Awesome Early Bird Ride

I decided to ride with the EB's out of Manorville today, wondering if all these base miles are actually adding up to something. In a word, YES! Had a great, fast ride, and felt strong for the whole route. It was also an interesting ride with respect to the group dynamics.

Oatmeal and coffee for breakfast, then loaded the car for the ride out to Manorville. Got there by 7:45 AM for the 8:00 AM start. We had 20 riders by the time we rolled out. It was nice catching up with the gang for the first few miles: Pyzahl, John & Robin, John Y., Fintan, Gary, Karl, etc.

Seven or eight miles in, someone lost a bottle. There were lots of shouts for the group to slow-up so he could retrieve the bottle then rejoin the group. But, the front group had a head of steam going and did not slow down. The back group that I was in, waited until the rider rejoined and then headed in pursuit of the front group. I initiated a chase but no one else wanted to try to bridge. In the end, it was futile.

Now on my own, I caught up to Fintan who also had lost his bottle and was unable to catch back on the front group. He and I rode together to the climb at the Northville tanks, just as the second group was about to make contact from behind. We had a good pace up the climb and were joined by Gary. The three of us had a pretty good gap on the group behind and worked hard together figuring that we would regroup with the front riders at the usual spot.

When we got to the regroup point, we were greeted by an empty parking lot. The front group decided to keep going and bypassed it. We three decided to wait for the group behind to catch up. Once we were back together, we headed out to the Cutchogue deli stop, the next point that we might have any chance to get back with the front group.

At the deli, just a couple of riders who bypassed the tanks in the hope of catching the front group at the deli, but were unsuccessful. We stopped so some riders could refill water bottles and grab a power bar. At this point we found that Robin had a shredded rear derailleur cable and could not shift out of the smallest cog. Luckily, she had a hex key and a couple of us proceeded to adjust the cable to a better gear in the back. At least she would have two gears to use by shifting the front ring.

After the deli, we would now be heading into the wind. We kept an easier pace, 19-20 MPH so no one would get dropped off the back and have to ride alone into the wind. The last major obstacles were Rt. 51 and Rt. 111. No major attacks in our group but everyone rode strong. I think we must have finished with a ride average over 20 MPH for the 54 miles, thanks to the tailwind for the first part of the ride.

For my part, I took some long, strong pulls. Felt really good today, and I'm pretty sure I could have stayed with the front group if we didn't have that early split. Kind of strange they didn't stop but I guess its hard to stop a fast moving train. All-in-all it was a great ride for me and I realized how much I miss the sensation of riding in a fast-moving group. I need to get out to this ride more often this season.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Great Early Ride, Numb Feet Aside

Had to make it an early ride today so that I could take Tina to her soccer tournament this morning (they won 2-0!). Got up at the same time I usually do for my pre-work morning ride and got out the door by 5:30 AM. Below freezing, 28F, but no wind. Flicked on my headlight and taillight and got under way for a 50 mile ride along the Brands route and West Hills.

Some issues with my headlight, I've noticed that the rechargeable battery performance really drops off when the temperature is below 35F. After 15 minutes, the red "low-battery" light was on and the light dropped to low power. About 30 minutes in, I set it for medium power and I had no problems for the rest of the ride.

Sun was starting to come up at the 20-mile turnaround on the LIE service rode. I felt really strong today, especially when riding out of the saddle. Did a lot of extended climbing standing on the pedals. No water after mile 30, water bottle frozen! Finished with an 18 MPH average for the ride (total time, not just riding time).

Back by 8:30 AM, time to put the bike away, shower, eat some yogurt & granola, update my ride journal and head to the soccer game.

On the bike racing scene, a dramatic finish at Milan-San Remo! Here is a video of the last kilometer (anyone understand Flemish?).

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Pre-Dawn Ride

Family gathering at the house today for brunch, so I went out pre-dawn at 6:00 AM for the ususal 50-miler, solo. Headlight and taillight for the first 90 minutes. Pretty good ride, a little warmer, a little less wind. Another 50 in the bank!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Couldn't Decide on Today's Ride

Checking the weather on Friday night, I new today would be pretty good for a ride, cold in the morning but supposed to warm up. No threat of rain, light wind. Hard to choose through my ride options:

- Meet up with Percy in Rocky Point for his usual Sunday 55 mile "Easy A Pace"
- Meet Mike W. and Harvey at Brands at 8:30 for bit easier pace
- Get thrashed at the Triangle Ride
- Usual solo ride, 50 miles, Brands Route and West Hills

Woke up this morning and took the path of least resistance, did my usual solo ride. Out at 7:00 AM, temp right at 32F. Legs felt a little blocked but that is not unusual for a Saturday morning. Sun finally started to appear about 20 miles in. At mile 35, I made the turnaround at Rt. 25 and was joined by another rider. With not much more than a "good morning", we headed South and traded pulls down to the LIE. Marcel said he was heading to Wantagh, me too! It seems we are neighbors, only a couple of block from each other! Passed Mike W. and Harvey (and Bob?) on Round Swamp as they were heading North.

Marcel took the direct route home, I detoured slightly to get my 50 miles. Marcel invited me to join him for the Triangle Ride tomorrow but I realize I'm going to have to pass since tomorrow is the girls' family birthday brunch and I need to be home early. Maybe I can meet up with him next Sunday.

Still planning on a ride tomorrow morning but its going to be a pre-dawn affair, with lights, etc.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Vitamin S

Cleaning the sand and salt off the bike.

They guys at Rapha talk about their rides out west as having plenty of "Vitamin G", meaning the gravel surface on the seldom used back roads they seek out. My ride today had plenty of "Vitamin S", meaning sand, salt, snowmelt, and SUN! The weather cooperated and it was a realatively warm morning, around 45F when I started at 7:15 AM, up to about 55F when I got home, 3 hours later. As I update this blog, its nearly 70F!

Did 50 miles on the Brands route and West Hills. Tried to hook up with Mike W. this morning but I left a little earlier than I anticipated and I think he left a little later than planned, so we ended up missing each other. I was riding solo but I saw a lot of other roadies out. A couple of small groups were heading North on Round Swamp Rd., probably heading to the Triangle ride. On the LIE North service road, I ran into Atila from the Early Birds, who was on his way to a group ride leaving from St. Matthews church. I should have checked the SBRA ride schedule!

Due to the first three S's, the bike was in need of a major cleaning when I got home.