Monday, September 28, 2009

Gappity Gap Pics

Pics from the Gappity Gap 100k.

The Gappity Gap 100k starts in Sperryville, VA, climbs 5 miles Thorton Gap, Skyline Drive and descends into Luray. After rolling for a few miles, the route climbs Edith Gap and finally Edinburg Gap before turning around and doing the route in reverse.

This route provides a challenge. Both the 100k and 200k versions are available as a permanent, give it a try.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Monday, August 24, 2009

Livestrong Philly

Starting ride at miles from the start to beat the traffic.

I blame Lance mostly. Apparently the organizers of the Livestrong Challenge in Philly received the memo and created a truly challenging route. More than 6,000 participants lined up in staging areas anticipating the start of the days events.

My event began on the way to the ride’s start. Traffic along the route to the event was backed up for miles. I jumped out of the car at the first parking lot we could pull over at, grabbed the bike and rode 4 miles to the start. The traffic delayed the official start time by 30 minutes allowing most of the participants to arrive and get staged.

The first 30 miles of the ride were a crash-fest. Saturday night’s showers left the asphalt wet under some shady patches of road. The wet roads combined with tricky descents and hoards of riders equaled disaster for some. Before the first rest stop, I saw several riders on the side of the road picking up the pieces form wrecks. At one sloping downhill, a rider was lying in the ditch with a dozen riders ‘assisting.’ The ambulance crews were busy throughout the day.

Rounding another corner, I felt a wheel hit my rear wheel followed by the sound of metal on pavement. The rider behind me was paying attention to the course marshals directing traffic instead of the obstacle in her way (me). She wasn't injured physically.

The course was hilly one blogger called the area (p)hilly. Several climbs were measured at 16-19%. Cresting a steep ascent was often met with another before recover. I got a kick out of this and realized the true meaning of Livestrong Challenge. Thanks for the laugh Lance.

Cheer Squad.

Drum and fife at rest stop.

Philly is the City of Brotherly Love. Evidence was everywhere. All of the volunteers along the route were kind and helpful throughout the event. Along all of the steep climbs there were spectators cheering us on. They all seemed to be ringing a cowbell. “I got a fever…” Other friendly people were sitting on their porches offering cool refreshments and children had their lemonade stands ready for weary riders.

There were so many riders that were inspiring. Survivors and friends and family members riding in honor of a cancer patients or those lost. Many of the participants were not avid cyclists. They just had a desire to get on the road and do something challenging. They wore reminders on their jerseys or written on their legs. On the steepest climbs, these banners of courage gave me a lettle extra boost to reach the top.

An inspiring day.

Finished! Good's getting hot.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Kevin, in good spirits, recovering from an accident 3 months ago.

Riding a bicycle in the Tidewater area requires vigilance by both riders and motorists. There have been numerous mishaps this year alone in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. To put it into perspective, there have been 5 accidents on my commute route alone 2 of the fatalities. Three months ago, one of my riding buddies, sustaining a broken C2 vertebrae and arm. The month prior, another buddy, a local racer was hit by a turning car and sustained ankle injuries.

An article about Ghost Rides is found here at 24SevenCities.

The Foto by Wes blog provides advocacy information and general awareness about bicycling in Norfolk.

The Tidewater Bicycle Association's monthly newsletter provides VDOT bicycle laws. This month's letter from the President provides rider's responsibilities and tips for safe bicycling.

The area is not bicycle friendly and despite efforts by the TBA, it will not be any time soon. Recommendations my the TBA have been ignored. The city's answer has been several 'bicycle paths' that haven't figured it out yet. The don't lead anywhere! And they certainly don't lead anywhere where cyclists commute.

TBA's April Newsletter explains the areas issues in depth. The TBA President writes,

Our proposals to reduce certain side-paths from 10-12 ft down to ordinary sidewalk width (5ft) in places where little use was expected and then to reallocate the resultant space to on-road biking have been brushed off. Ditto for suggesting reductions in the generous landscaping being put in during most road expansions. It seems the city is quite willing to trade our lives for a few extra blades of grass.
Riding in the Tidewater requires you to be alert all of the time, take nothing for granted and obey the laws.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Parkway Ride

We headed inland to the Shenandoah Parkway for a training ride. The goal, ride up and down hills. Mission accomplished. The only downside of the day was spending more time in the car getting to and from the parkway than actually riding. We'll have a different plan next time.

About the hills. On one long climb I was slogging along turning a small gear, my heart rate was somewhere above 90%VO2. Whew what a climb. Then I noticed something strange during the hard effort, I actually had a big smile on my face.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Frederick 400k

I write this with a hangover feeling and a little post traumatic stress. The fog of war leaves me putting all the pieces together. Let me start by saying I had a DNF. I did NOT throw in the towel. The towel was thrown at me as we reached the Gettysburg control shortly after it closed. While tremendously disappointing, it is not the end of the world and I'm left with a hunger for more.

We left Frederick as a large pack of riders at 0400. I had no false hopes or aspirations to attempt to hang with the pack. I will ride my ride. I was soon left in the darkness with only my headlight paving the way to the first control.

As finished writing the required information at the first control (information control) I was caught by several riders. We left as a small group heading up Snickers Gap and rode on and off fairly together through West Virginia. We arrived at the control at C&O Bicycles in Hancock MD for some refreshments and a short rest before we headed to Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is where Trouble found me. At a water stop on the outskirts of Chambersburg, PA I had got sick. I took care of business, got some water and we got back on the road. I will NOT quit. I will finish. I figured I would see how I felt when we got to the next town 7 miles up the road. When we arrived, I felt ok and we kept moving. We wound our way through the farms reaching the control at the 18th Century Inn in pretty good shape. Heck, we still had 1.5 hrs in the bank.

At the control, we had some great food. A long table in the middle of the dining room was covered with any kind of chow you could possibly want. Treats, healthy wraps (very good), white chili, fruit, veggies and drinks. We probably hung out too long but we took care of business. When we got ready to leave, I felt like I'd been punched in the stomach but it wasn't that bad. Heck it's only 32 miles to Gettysburg...I can do that!

We headed down the road. We made a wrong turn but only a mile out of the way. On this detour, we saw hundreds of Amish kids playing volleyball at church. They had at least 6 nets set up on the lawn with 10-15 players on a side. They were dressed in their white shirts and black trousers. Horse and carriages were covered and aligned near a shelter belt on the far side of the game field. On the return trip, we noticed the adults in the church having fellowship and the girls were sitting outside the sanctuary in their dresses. Near them were hundreds of bicycles. Everyone waved when we rode by both times. We returned the courtesy.

This detour is also where my troubles really began. I began dozing off on the bike. I figured some caffine would solve the problem and it did for a short time. We reached the climb up Kellers Gap Hollow and through Pine Grove Furnace State Park. The first hills were not a problem and I was excited to get them done and finish the ride.

Pine Grove Road turned out to be the demise of the entire ride. I continued to fall asleep on the bike; more caffine, more Gu. Ride a little farther, doze again. Stop to walk the bike. Fall asleep walking. Ride. Finally I realized that we were in trouble. The control would be closing in 45 minutes and we were still on some dark mountain with no end in sight. The shot of adrenalin was enough to get me going but it was too late.

We arrived in Gettysburg nearly 4.5 hours after leaving the 18th Century Inn control. 4.5 hours to go 30 miles. We arrived after the control closed, the ride ended right there -- DNF.

Sure it was a failure on one hand but it was a fun day on the bicycle riding with great people. I've tried to figure out what to do differently to complete the ride.

I could ride faster! DUH.
Shorter stops at the controls. DUH.
Both of these are great plans but the real mystery is why I got sick, why did it take forever to get through those 30 miles and how in the world can I stay awake on my bicycle. The last one is the most puzzling. A power nap may have done more good than riding at this point.

This ride provided some hard learned lessons and I will keep them (as soon as I figure it out).

Stan -- thanks for hanging with me on Saturday.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A permanent and a malfunction

I received a message last week asking if I was interested in riding his Nottoway 213k Permanent. He mentioned that Kim a strong randonneuse from the beach would be riding and she was bringing some other riders for their first RUSA ride. I couldn’t refuse full day on the bike in the area. Besides it would make for a great training ride.

We gathered at the start of the road and we would start out rolling 5 deep. Disaster struck just 15 miles into the ride. One rider blew out her rear derailleur. An attempt to make it a fixie was made but it did not work and her ride was over. A good Samaritan with a pick up truck offered to shuttle her back to town and her vehicle. The country folk sure are nice in that part of Virginia.

In typical fashion, the wind would start out as a head wind and turn as we did. Most often, the wind in southeastern Virginia switches direction in a complete 360-degree rotation. The route features some small rolling hills and the wind. One of our posse, Pascal, from Belgium said it reminded him of home, with smaller hills.

Enjoy the photos.

Any thoughts on causes of the derailleur malfunction?

Toad at the beach

Last week, we were treated to a free concert at the ocean front by Toad and the Wet Sprocket. I rode down to listen for a while and visit with some friends.

It's what all the locals do.

Monday, May 4, 2009

300k take 2

That's a big hill and we keep getting closer!
It took me 2 tries but I completed a 300k this year; it was a long road and a short story. Last week I “headed down south to the land of the pines” and participated in Alan Johnson’s 300k starting in Morrisville, NC. I rode hard and had fun but in the end my feeble mind got the best of me and I got a DNF. My buddy Jon P. said, “Bro – just finish.” Aye Master Chief! So I cowboyed up and hopped back on the horse for another 300k.

This time it was the DC Randonneur’s Warrenton 300k. Friday evening I registered and completed the bike inspection. While operable headlights and taillights are important, I think they really wanted to get a look at Chuck’s craftsmanship. After the early Saturday morning safety brief we were off into the abyss.

Stanton & George
The ride was truly enjoyable. I rode with some hardy randonneurs like aciene George Winkert. George passed along wisdom whether or not he realized it. Of course I’ve probably heard it a thousand times ‘ride your ride.’ I believe this is the key to successful randonneuring yet it is easy to loose focus. I also rode with Stanton for a while, who is freaking hilarious. Stanton is not in a hurry but finishes his rides. Gentlemen, it was a pleasure.

Old Fence
The merchants at the controls were all courteous and thought we were a few fries short of a happy meal. A few of them had some mean Virginia country jambon sandwiches. I highly recommend.

Information control at Civil War Museum
The crew from DCR that set up the ride, did registration, worked the secret control and stayed until we all safely returned were top notch. The pizza was good too!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tour de Cure

Why is it that spring seems non existent? It is cold, well chilly, then boom, the temperature spikes! We've been dreaming of warmer temperatures in the Tidewater for weeks but getting rain, wind and cool weather. Saturday, the cool weather left us and we were left with the most beautiful day of the year up to this point. (Nearly the same weather pattern as last year!)

I tepidly joined a group of cycling enthusiasts from work for the Tour de Cure charity ride for diabetes. I have gone back and forth on the decision to ride for months. One of our teammates and riding buddy, Kevin, was struck by a car last week on a training ride. He suffered a broken radius, a sprained ankle, multiple abrasions, a dislocated shoulder and a broken C2 vertebra. His recovery is coming along nicely and he is able to walk. I did not want let him down as he was riding vicariously through us. The evening prior to the ride, we met at Kevin's house for some pasta, pizza and camaraderie.

After a 'rendition' of our National Anthem, the ride began. We took our time crossing the line as we didn't want to crash. Our plan was to make it an easy fun ride or so we thought. I decided to get away from some of the teams packed together and lead our group at a brisk pace for the next 10 - 20 miles. The brisk pace was the trend of the day.

Our group would begin to splinter by the time we reached the 65 mile rest area. In the Tidewater area, a south wind in the morning always turns west then northwest as the day progresses. We'd been riding into the wind for most of the day and it wouldn't change. We became two groups all the way to the finish.

Saturday was a great day for a bicycle ride. I gave Kevin a full ride report on the way home and another rider provided status updates at the rest stops. He felt as though he was riding along.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

2009 Morrisville 200k Brevet

The official ACP Brevet 'season' is in full swing. NC RBA Alan Johnson began his series with Satruday morning's 200k. The weather man called for a beautiful day and he wasn't wrong. Around 35 riders headed for a ramble in rural NC.

Overall, I had a great day on the Coho. Although some trouble started within the first 30 miles. Unexplicably, I fell of the pace. A short while later I developed some abdominal pain. For 15 miles, I trudged along in agony. I was caught and passed by several riders. I contemplated turning around and calling it a day. Dean caught up with me and offered some company; there is no way I was going to quit now. I decided I would suck it up until the control which would definately SUCK - big time. Luckily at mile 40, Dean pointed out a port-a-john near a soccer field. This was the day saver or perhaps the season saver?

After our natural break, we were on the road with several riders along our side. Chuck of Coho bicycles caught us and provided entertainment until the control. We paused at the control for a recharge and departed with a posse 5 deep. Chuck, Dean, Keith, Rob D. and I left the Siler City control in good spirits with trailing winds.

Rob and Chuck told some great tales, some of them tall, all the way back to Morrisville. The posse showed true randonneuring spirit slowing when a rider was struggling. We raced to county lines and even one city line. I won a couple sprints although I still reget to inform the group that it was never my intention to earn le malliot vert. At one point I couldn't read my cue sheet, I'd forgotten where we were. I asked Dean where we were. He said, I'm not sure but the county line is right there. I did give it a couple hard pedal strokes and I did win. Fun.

We finished the ride with smiles on our faces and were greeted by Alan with some tomatoe sandwiches and cold beverages. Several riders hung out for an hour or more cheering for the incoming riders.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Nottoway Ramble Permanent – 209K

A small group of randonneurs rode Ron Malinauskas’s Nottoway Ramble 209k Permanent showcasing southeastern Virginia’s landscape. The loop ride begins and ends in the small village of Windsor, VA.

A late start was not a concern as four riders rolled out of Windsor winding towards the first control in Yale. The history in the area is interesting and Ron provided entertainment as the duty historian with tales of from the past. The following is an excerpt from the Yale Daily News:
In 1882, a University alum who was laying tracks for the Atlantic and Danville railroad in Virginia named the local train depot after his alma mater, and the name came to be used for the surrounding area. Today, Yale is an unincorporated area in rural Virginia that does not qualify as a town. It’s a place whose enduring existence stems only from having its own post office...
The Yale Post Office served as our control. We signed a post card and dropped it into the mail, had a few snacks before shoving off to our next destination. Of so I thought. Dean, Ian and I rode for 10 miles before we realized Ron wasn’t with us. I kept thinking he should catch us any moment as we soft-pedaled most of the distance.

We sat at a stop sign for a few minutes waiting for Ron. When he didn’t arrive; worry set in. Did something happen? About this time Ian mentioned that he stayed behind at the Yale post office getting Jim Romer set up for the ride. Jim rode the Tappahannock 200k brevet on Saturday and arrived in Winsdsor just after we took off. Within the next few miles, Jim and Ron caught us.

Along the route we witnessed hundreds of vultures. The American Black Vulture is a social animal and hunts in packs. Though they most often eat dead or lame animals, lately they have been known to attack family pets and small children in Virginia. YIKES.

Rambling through the countryside, lunch in Waverly. The next area is some of the best riding in southeastern Virginia. In the center of this area is the village of Claremont on the James River. The area includes several rolling hills along the river and beautiful scenery on the bluffs. This terrain continues until Surry.

In Surry, Dean and I decided to wait for the other riders at a store. We topped off water, dawned reflective materials and waited. The sun was gone and the temperatures dropped quickly. I remembered that I had some foot warmers in my bag and decided that this would be a good opportunity to test them.

We headed out of Surry with lights and rode the last 30 miles as a group. Ron and I literally blazed the way with Edelux LED lights. Wow, impressive. I’m certain that oncoming traffic thought we were cars. I’m almost certain that the dogs on this stretch were either too cold to chase or to freaked out by the lights.

This is a great route in an otherwise flat area of the country.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Winter Riding

Sure, I'm riding but not outside as much as I would like or should. It is the pre-rando season and time to build base. The miles now will pay off in a few months. Of course I haven't followed this recipe to the letter. I have been doing rides on the trainer with plenty of intervals and trying to get at least 1 long ride 3 - 5 hours outside every weekend. Better than nothing right?

In a few weeks, Feb 7th, a few randonneurs in the area tentatively plan to ride Ron M.'s Nottoway Ramble permanent in the Surry County area of southern VA. Yes, the same area where Michael Vick's home for dog fighting. The area is nice with a few rolling hills perfect for a winter ride.

If you are interested in joining us for a day in the saddle, please let me know.