Sunday, July 11, 2010
On Saturday we headed over to the Blue Ridge Parkway. To get up there we rode along the rolling hills on Rock Fish Valley Highway through Nellysford, VA. The goal was to get away from the flatland and ride some hills. We headed up the Reeds Gap and its 15% grades. SHEESH, mission complete.
I took a couple novice flatland rider with me on the trip and we had a great time.
As we approached the climb, I noticed we were a rider short and pulled over at a gas station to wait and refuel the water bottles before the real climbing. 15 minutes later, he came up saying he had a flat. Ryan kept stopping to inflate the tire because he wasn't sure how to replace the tube. No problem, we'll give you a class right here. We got the new tube but it wouldn't hold air. So, he also received a class on patching a tube. A little over an hour later, we headed up the hill.
Ryan was riding well but the steep grades proved to be a little much. He stopped to rest and couldn't get on the bicycle. He almost fell over a couple times and I was concerned for his safety and told him to walk up to a flat area ahead at the Wintergreen Ski Resort. After a short rest we headed they headed up the hill. I took a short detour and chased them up. Then it happened.
We watched as Ryan's momentum slowed with each pedal stroke until he was hardly moving. He unclipped the wrong foot and fell. Laying on the side of the road with his feet and bicycle straight in the air. In between laughing and trying to stop without falling myself, I managed to get a photo of the spectacle.
After the descent, Ryan mentioned he was having shifting problems. I noticed he bent his hanger and derailleur in the fall. It looked like he could make it the 14 miles back to the car. When we pulled out of the parking lot, he fell again. I couldn't believe my eyes. I thought he was the biggest klutz, a member of the Bad News Bears. But that thought left when I realized what really happened.
As he shifted to an easier gear, the angle of the derailleur sent the chain over the cassette and pulled the derailleur into the spokes, stopping him dead in his tracks. His ride was done for the day.
We road back to the car, retrieved Ryan and his dead horse and headed back to the flat land after some BBQ.
Although his first ride in the hills was a chaotic failure, he had a blast and is ready to head back in the near future.
Monday, June 28, 2010
The Tappahannock is one of my favorite rides in VA, partly because of the 2-hour drive from my house and partly because it has just enough climbing to keep it interesting. The majority of the route is on narrow 2 lane roads with little traffic.
The first 75 miles flew by with cooler temperatures (read only 90F), a slight breeze and some cloud cover. What a great way to spend the morning!
Unfortunately after leaving the Tappahannock control, the cloud cover lifted (or burned off), and the oven was on. Kim and Keith caught up to me on the road to Sparta. I hung on for ~4 miles but then started getting chills and thought it best to slow down and ride at a sensible pace marking the beginning of a very long afternoon baking errr..riding. A few miles later I found some shade to relax in, drank some water and ate a little.
Eventually I found myself in Sparta. Sounds exciting right? Sparta is a village marked by a post office/gas station. I think the majority of the population was chillaxing outside. They informed me that Kim and Keith had just left. A toothless (for real) fellow had a bag of ice that Keith left and was about to take it to his cooler. He was kind enough to ask if I wanted it. I left little doubt as to my need at the moment.
I had been thinking about ice socks for the previous ten miles and this gave me the opportunity to give it a try. I filled a tube sock with ice and placed it around my nape under the jersey. Not sure how much this helped the next 20 miles but it was worth it to have something feel cool. Dr. Lim formerly of Garmin now with Lance says it works so why not give it a try.
I was sitting on a bench having a beverage and some nuts outside the 111 mile control when Ron and Tom arrived and talked me into riding the final leg with them. Sure, why not. I felt great until the last 4-5 miles. I drank too much water and felt nauseous but needed to eat to avoid the monster. In the words of Jon Pasch, “Bro, this is not good.” I pushed onward making it to the final control.
What a great way to spend a summer day. Riding a bicycle through the beautiful country side.
I enjoyed the permanent version of this route. The finish is different than the brevet version.
This will be a great October-November route.
Stay tuned, the adventure is not over…not even close!
Tom, Ron and I went to the Waffle House before venturing back home and had some grease to top off our empty fuel tanks. Once on the road I was good until I approached Williamsburg, VA. My automobile became Apollo 11. In indicator told me to check my breaks, next the ABS light went on. A few more miles and the dash lights went out. A few more miles and the headlights, dash, and air were all off. I pulled over and coasted up the exit ramp near Toano, VA. I called for a tow to a service station that would open on Sunday AM and got a hotel down the road.
I was standing out front of the service station when they opened on Sunday AM. They got to work on the vehicle. The battery was dead (ya think?). They told me nothing was wrong with the alternator. Hummm, truthfully I think they didn’t want to replace the bad alternator. Somehow I drove home. The car just spent the day at the dealer getting a new super expensive alternator.
- Car paid off on June 1.
- The title arrived in the mail last week.
- There must be a self-destruct sequence programmed into a chip somewhere in the vehicle. “They” will get their money one way or another.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
We met in the usual place said hi, registered and RBA Al gave a brief to the riders. I started the day feeling strong and hung with the lead pack until Jack Bennett Road a nice little climb that starts with long false flat. I rode most of the way to the next 2 controls solo completing the first 100k feeling great.
I departed Siler City for the short trip to Seagrove with a group of 5 or 6 riders. My legs were still feeling great for about 10—15 miles. After a little pull on Coleridge Road, I lost some horsepower and slowed. Then I slowed some more and maybe even some more. The next 15 miles were a little miserable but mentally I am in the game and knew a rest waited up yonder!
The Seagrove Control came just in time. I refueled my fuel, and topped off the water. The volunteers at the control were a very kind and most importantly they had sun screen. Although as I dawned the lotion, I figured I probably would be jinxing the entire ride with rain.
I tore out of the control on a mission to make up some time. Flying up and down the rolling terrain and zipping around the corners until I mistakenly made a wrong turn onto Trinity Church Road and explored 4 miles of the wrong road. Finally I looked at the odometer and thought, I should be at the corner in Erect. GRRRRR. I’m sure I said a few words that I learned in the Marines and can’t repeat. The bonus miles kinda sapped my motivation and I proceeded to lollygag all the way back to Siler City.
Do you know what that makes me? A lollygagger. (Bull Durham)
To my surprise Ron and Sridhar were sitting in front of the gas station eating some delicious snacks when I arrived. While I was taking care of the logistics at the control, my jinx prediction became a reality with the first of several showers.
Ron, Sridhar and Matt the ROMA RBA rode on and off together until a stop at the Andrews Store. Notable here was the amount of rednecks coming from a nearby concert that kept buzzing our posse. Insert more colorful phraseology here.One stretch of road was lined with fireflies. However, with the lack of visibility and the slippery pavement, the pace became decidedly slow. Ron and I lollygagged to Al’s house sometime before midnight.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
As a side note, Coho bicycles were rolling 5 deep on Saturday. I had the opportunity to check out Jerry’s ride with wood fenders and Wes’s with some serious gold flake. Nice machines gentlemen.
While we prepared bicycles in the parking lot and registered for the brevet, the ride actually starts days prior. It reminds me of a show like the Blue Angles. Their show starts before they arrive at an event. Once the logistics are set up, and the planes arrive. Everything they do when they are at a venue is choreographed. On show day, the real show begins. They march out to their F18s in a ceremony. Each member is introduced as they climb in to the cockpit. The ritual continues one by one. On a cue, number 1 plane taxis followed by the rest. Soon they are in the air performing a masterpiece of precision. The crew and pilots spend hundreds of hours preparing for 10 minutes of flying. A brevet is similar in that weeks of preparation go into a single event.
My preparation for the event in the crucial days prior was horrible and it showed within the first 10 miles as my gas tank emptied. A 24 hour post at work Thursday evening left me drained physically. I had poor nutrition on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. I could have done a little better on the food part. The biggest mistake the morning of the ride was not fully topping off the liver glycogen. It only takes a few hundred calories to do the trick. I think I had only1 Gu. OOPS.
After dropping from the pack, I decided to just ride and make the best of it but I still wasn’t eating and drinking enough. Sometime before the first control in Snow Camp, I started feeling a little achy all over. I came up with a plan that would change the day for the better. 1. Drink more water. 2. Eat more chow. 3. Get some electrolytes in the system. Shortly after leaving the control, I felt like great and rode strong. Of course that is easy with a nice tailwind.
My second mistake occurred at the Siler City control. Once again, I had an exact plan of what I needed to do and started executing upon arrival. I planned to top off water, grab a sandwich for the road, get card signed and depart. I was held up by the lottery players in the gas station. The NC lottery must have some good pay outs because this happened at every several controls on the Fleche as well. Things went as planned, I thought. I headed back to Snow Camp. When I arrived, I realized I left my card in Siler City. OOPS.
I continued with my plan, topped off water etc. Another rider mentioned he saw it sitting on the ice machine in Siler City. I debated returning to get it for a second but thought I should wait to see if Sridhar grabbed it on the way out. He arrived like Saint Nick with the card. SHWEWW.
Another successful ride with some good lessons learned. Thanks to Sridhar for grabbing my card and to Al for a great route, the sandwich and cold ESB at the finish.
Congrats to Mike D and his accomplishment of 100 straight months of at least 100 miles.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
First, we had to recruit team members for the adventure. This proved to be fairly difficult but there seems to be no shortage of the mad itchin’ for adventure. We quickly filled our tentative roster only to have 2 randonneurs back out due to prior engagements. They were promptly replaced and one of these had to back out due to prolonged illness. With that, the team ‘Riders on the Bubble,’ was set with team members Gary, Sara, Maria and me.
Next, Gary liaised with RBA Tony over the route and we received updates on the progress as the route evolved. I must point out Gary with Tony as tutor worked hard on the route and it was evident; the route was great.
Logistics was the next obstacle. We decided to drop vehicles at the finish and car pool back to Gary and Sara’s as the start was less than a mile from their home. This would require a full day driving in the car. My car ride tallied 7 hours. It was worth the trip as I had wonderful hosts and received a full and peaceful night’s rest.
After a quick ride to the starting control, we were almost nearly set for the impending adventure. Wait, no…we weren’t. Gary and Maria had to turn around and get a control card. Good to get Murphy out of the way prior to the event right?
Our route took us out of Apex, NC on the American Tobacco Trail before reaching the first control in New Hill. As we wound our way through the country side, we noticed several cyclists out for a Friday morning ride. It was along this stretch that we noticed the sign for a farmer selling ‘tomatoes.’
The winding route took us to Angier then we bopped to Benson. The temperatures kept rising. We reached the Smithfield control and I was cooked but no time to whine we had more miles to cover before sundown.
Arriving in Mt. Olive, home of the pickle fest, around 1800, I completed the chores were found some shade outside the convenience store to cool off and eat. It was cooler at 85F+ outside than inside the store. Note: chores usually include 1) get control card signed; 2) replenish supplies as required. Today it included cooling down. I ditched my civvies in a dumpster that I thought wouldn’t make too much of a difference when the ride began. This helped rid the bicycle of 2-3 lbs and made the rest of the rout mentally easier. I wolfed down a ham sandwich, a Coke and checked in via Twitter. I received a message from Branson who was doing the virtual eFleche from his desk. He stated the temperatures in Smithfield topped out at 90F.
We reached Kinston in the dark and made our way to Ayden for the next Control. Topping off and carrying some extra water we headed out towards Cape Carteret in the dark. We passed through Cove City, Trenton, and Maysville. The most difficult part of this part of the ride was staying awake and not crashing during the micro-dozing. Finally as the sun was rising, we approached Cape Carteret. I smelled sausage coming from the small restaurants.
We reached the 22 hour control with just enough time to sit and have a cup of coffee and a little food. I mistakenly chose to eat an egg and cheese bagel and when we departed the control I left portions of it out the parking lot and all the way over the intercoastal bridge leading to Emerald Isle.
We were truly on Riders on the Bubble as we headed up the island towards Atlantic Beach. Our pace guaranteed a finish baring any mechanicals. All members of Riders on the Bubble completed the ride. We were greeted by several riders that had completed in the previous hours which added to the motivation of finishing. I think I can speak for all of us by saying we would do it again next year. Thank you to RBA Tony Goodnight for setting up the ride and choosing a great location for the finish.
[I will post pictures later today.]
Sunday, March 21, 2010
Yawn...Stretch...I finally mustered some strength and came out of hibernation along with beautiful spring weather just in time for the Ride Around Massanutten Mountain 200k Brevet. I figured all I needed to worry about was climbing the back side of Edith Gap and it would be about 90 miles of easy cruising. That was almost nearly the case.
We left Matt's house and rolled into Strasburg, weaved around the north side of the mountains and in no time, the slow climb up Scout Camp road to the crest of Edith Gap. The write up on the ROMA website says, "the only major climb of the day." That is only part of the truth. Sure it is the only major climb but it wasn't the most difficult climb. That would come soon enough. We would wind through the valley along the Shenandoah River towards the south side of Massanutten Mountain. The rolling hills in the valley become very steep in a few areas and provided the most difficulty of the ride.
The control at 100k was welcome. I downed a Coke and refilled the water and I was off. Soon the route turned north along the west side. I suddenly felt like a million bucks and peddled with purpose. It was time to have fun with smaller hills and trailing winds. I would be done in no time.
Until...about mile 105. On a descent all the sudden my wheels made a squealing sound like a dolphin. I stopped to assess the situation and didn't see anything wrong. Same thing on the next long descent. The squeal only seems to occur after 25 miles per hour. Eventually the wheel began producing resistance. I rode gingerly to the finish.
Possibly the bearings are shot in the rear wheel?
I'm ready for some more fun!