Sunday, August 31, 2008

NBW-129: Diamond Hill One

Good Turnout

I don't know how many riders turned up, but there seemed to be quite a lot. I told a fellow Tuesday evening rider, Scott, about this ride. As I drove in I saw him riding in.

Scott's First NBW Ride
Scott's First NBW Ride, originally uploaded by Martinator.

I know Scott from the Phat Tuesday rides. This is his first year riding and he is kicking butt.

Monica Sends us Off

Monica Giving the Pre-ride Talk
Monica Giving the Pre-ride Talk, originally uploaded by Martinator.

Monica giving the pre-ride speech.

Start by Climbing out of the valley

The first 3.7 miles of this ride was a couple of climbs that took us from the park (@ 221") to the top of a hill near the Big Apple (@ 473"). It had the effect of stretching out the large group into many smaller groups rather early. This was good as it was a lot harder to wind up with the wrong group of riders (either too fast or too slow).

Familiar Territory

I live just north of the ride start in Franklin, MA. I have already biked on just about every road on the route at one point or another (with the exception of the rotary in Norfolk, I typically avoid that). I didn't take any pictures along the route. It was all pretty familiar to me so nothing really jumped out as picture worthy like the incredible views from the Hill and Gully Ride a few weeks ago or the South Shore Century I did in May of 2007.

Wrong Turn

I was with a group on Miller and I guess the arrow was either hard to see or just plain not there. Miller is a weird street. There is a really bad intersection on Miller where you have to make a left to stay on Miller, yet the right of way bears right onto Green. This is newly paved and the intersection is ambiguous to begin with. Well, everybody I was with turned right. I said "Um, I think we were supposed to go left back there." The group stopped at Chestnut Street (where there were return arrows for the ride back.) I turned around and headed back and people followed me. Then we were back on track.

Overall the ride was very scenic, though traffic was somewhat heavy at times. I was able to hang with a group of riders until we made a right off of Rt 27 onto South St. in Medfield at about the 35 mile point. Then it was a solo ride. I felt pretty good at the end. Hopefully I'm in good enough shape for the TCFE this upcoming weekend.

Social Tent

It was nice having a Social Tent at the end of the ride. The new shirts look real nice. The hot dogs tasted really good after a 50 mile ride :-) I finally got a chance to meet Monica Foulkes after emailing her back and forth. We talked about the website and what potential improvements/enhancements could be implemented. We'll probably talk more as the days get shorter and the weather gets more wintery.

Monica , originally uploaded by Martinator.

Monica holding court at the Social Tent post ride.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Phat Days are Numbered...

August Ends

As August comes to a close the days are getting shorter, the air is cooler and drier, and school starts. I may be able to sneak in one more Tuesday Evening ride next week, but after that I will be picking up my daughter from CCD.

New Seat Position

Riding with the new seat position felt more natural. I guess "not really noticing" the new position after the first 10 feet is a good sign. Though in the last mile I did feel some strain in my knees. I may need to raise the seat a notch or make it more horizontal.

Out of Gas

It felt like I ran out of gas on the first half of the ride. I haven't been riding much this month and I wonder if I have plateaued or regressed. I am doing the TFCE Century on September 7th so I hope I am in good enough shape for it. This Sunday I will be riding 50 miles on the NBW clubs Diamond Hill One ride. That should give me an idea how I will fare on the century ride.

No Motionbased Data

The batteries died on my GPS unit so I do not have any map data. However I was able to get basic data like start time, end time and total moving time and get some stats that way. So for this ride I averaged 18.1 MPH overall, 18.9 in the first half, 17.1 in the second half.

Not bad for feeling like crap.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bike Shop Day


Saturday I took the family on a Whale Watching Cruise out of Boston. It was fun. I forgot to apply sunscreen and when I got back, my face was, and still is, sunburned. So as a result, I didn't feel very much like going for a ride on Sunday.

Bike Shop: Schwinn

So instead of going for a ride, I decided to tinker with my bikes. I broke out the bike stand in my (shady) driveway and threw on my 1982 Schwinn Varsity. Back in the spring I had thrown on some new tires. I took it out for the test ride and the chain snapped. So on Sunday, I decided to see if I could fix the chain instead of getting a new one. I had a chain tool as part of my Topeak Bike Tool and I figured I should learn how to use it. Better to learn that in my driveway than out on the road.

Cleaning the Chain
Schwinn Chain
Nice and clean.
Chain Tool Clip
Almost back on.

I had the chain in a zip lock bag. So, before doing anything, I poured some chain cleaner in it an shook it. The chain got real clean.

Fixing the Chain

Getting the bad link off was real easy with the tool. Reconnecting the chain once on the bike, not so easy. The difficult part was trying to line up the "peg" with where I wanted the peg to go. I was determined to do this with only the tool I has in hand. What I did was use some of the pieces of the links I had taken off to help with lining up the "peg". Once I figured out how to do that, the rest was easy. Now I have a Schwinn that I can pedal but can't stop reliably (the brakes still suck).

Bike Shop: Specialized Seat Position Experimentation

Old Seat Position
New Seat Position and Height

On the last Phat Tuesday ride, someone had commented that my seat may be too high as my hips were rocking. Someone at work had also mentioned that my seat was angled too far forward and should either be neutral (parallel to ground) or angled back. so the first thing I did was to level out the seat. Easy enough. Then I measured the height and lowered the seat to minimum recommended height for my inseam (see the frame size calculator in left column). I threw on my bike shoes and took a spin in the neighborhood behind me.

Wow! What a difference! Sitting felt a little awkward at first but it was definitely much more comfortable. I felt like I could pedal with much less effort. I may not need to swap out my 11-23 rear cassette for a 12-25/27 cassette for those tough climbs after all. We'll see on the next ride...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Two Week Hiatus

It had been 2 weeks since I last rode and I think I felt it. I didn't feel 100% today. The first half of the ride I averaged somewhere in the mid 17 mph range. I accidentally wound up with the fast group and then got dropped. There really wasn't a B group(Maybe there was, but I wasn't in it) so I was alone for the better part of the first half. So I guess 17-something isn't bad for riding solo.

Taking it Easy

When I got to the halfway point, a "B" group of riders was there. Then a third group rolled in. Once we rolled out, I stuck with the third group of riders because I didn't want to struggle and try and keep up. Tim Brightman and Fred Paine were in the group I rode with for the second half. It was much more relaxed. The key sign of a relaxed group of riders is the fact that conversations are taking place during the ride :-)

The pace wasn't fast, but it also wasn't slow. I did notice though, that with the slower pace that I had much more energy for the climb up Mount St.

Seat Too High?

At the end of the ride Fred had commented that he noticed that I "rock back and forth" when I pedal. He though that my seat might be too high. Hmmmm. I had been raising my seat incrementally because my knees had been bothering me at the beginning of the season (Pateller Tendonitis). Now it turns out that I may have raised it too much. My manager at work had also noted in the past that my seat was angled forward and probably should be either neutral or angled back. Maybe I should actually get my bike professionally fitted?

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


Thread, originally uploaded by Martinator.

I think it may be time to replace this tire...


Post PMC

For the core riders of the group, this was going to be a light, easy recovery ride. Well, I heard that last year and it was a pretty fast recovery ride back then. This year I thing they meant it though.

Nice Line

As always there was a fast group of riders. It was smaller this time. I stayed with Ed and a number of other familiar faces. There were about 10 or so of us and we rode together in a nice leisurely, pace line. Well, even though it felt leisurely, we still averaged 19 mph at the halfway point.

The line worked well together. People took turns pulling. the line didn't accelerate rapidly when the leader pulled off the front. There were also very few attacks.

We continued to hold the line together all the way to Mount St., which breaks apart any pace line.

Overall I averaged 18.4 mph. Which isn't too different when I am working harder trying to find/catch groups in the past and wind up in "No Man's Land". However is was much less work and much more fun :-)

Monday, August 4, 2008

Hill and Gully Rider

Last Minute Decision...

Went to bed in one frame of mind...

Saturday night I was beat and went to bed figuring I wanted to ride a long distance on Sunday, but didn't want to have to trek out to West Gloucester, RI. I also thought that I probably wouldn't do a distance ride because I would futz around and stall too much to take advantage of the day.

...Woke Up (sort of) Motivated.

At 8:00 AM, Sunday morning the reminder I had set for this ride buzzed and woke me up. Hmmm, I can still make it. I figured I was more likely to get a good distance ride in if I did it with a group. I checked Google Maps and determined I was 1 hour and 5 minutes from the starting point. I better get moving. I just went though the motions of getting ready because I knew if I thought about it, I would find excuses not to head out.

No Time for Breakfast!

I didn't have time for breakfast. I also knew I couldn't afford to ride the 50 or 70 miles route on an empty stomach. So I hit the Dunkin Donuts drive through and ordered two breakfast sandwiches and a coffee. I got to the starting point in plenty of time.

Quick Start, Too Quick...

The lead group was running at a 19.5 mph pace after the first half hour. Too fast for me.

The Fast Group
The Fast Group, originally uploaded by Martinator.

This is the last I saw of them. They were averaging 19.5 mph at this point. There was no way I was going to be able to maintain this pace for this ride.

Alone with the Scenery

Horses, originally uploaded by Martinator.

So after I got dropped I was alone. Time to relax and take in the scenery.

Flat Tire

Russel's Flat
Russel, originally uploaded by Martinator.

Russel was fixing a flat in the shade right after the turn onto Lake street on the outskirts of downtown Webster. I stopped and offered him the use of my pump.

Local Rider

George from Charlton
George, originally uploaded by Martinator.

This is George. He isn't a club member and wasn't part of the ride. He lives in Charlton and was just out for a local ride. We rode together for a while until our paths diverged.

Dresser Hill Road

Nice View
Nice View, originally uploaded by Martinator.

This is the view from the top of Dresser Hill Road (Rt. 31). The picture doesn't do it justice.

Clam Shack @ Food Stop #1

Food Stop #1
Food Stop #1, originally uploaded by Martinator.

A Clam Shack this far inland at mile 25 and at an elevation of 830 ft seemed out of place for some reason.

Regroup and Refuel
Regroup and Refuel, originally uploaded by Martinator.

I regrouped with a couple of other club riders here. That is Mark in the bright shirt getting some frozen yogurt.

70 Miles

Mark and Dave
Mark and Dave, originally uploaded by Martinator.

I rode with Mark and Dave for the remainder of the 70 mile route. I would not have done the 70 mile option if I was alone. I'm glad I hooked up with these guys for this ride.

Another Stop

Second Stop
Second Stop, originally uploaded by Martinator.

Mark was getting tired and told us to not let him hold us back. Dave said what I was thinking "It is better if we stay in a group." Luckily, we were right near one of the marked food stops on the map. So we decided to take 5 and hang out in the shade for a bit. We also bought some bizarre disgusting tasting Snapple Antioxidant Water (Grape Pomegranate). I emptied my water bottles into my Camelback and then filled them up with this odd tasting drink.

Dave, Climbing, and Cadence

Dave in the Shade
Dave in the Shade, originally uploaded by Martinator.

Dave is the master of the cadence. I watched how he rode and tried to match his cadence as best I could. Even if it meant dropping back a bit. I am pretty sure that if I didn't have his cadence as a guide, I would have burnt myself out. Thanks Dave.

We Saw Santa on a Harley...

Motorcycle Toy Drive
Motorcycle Toy Drive, originally uploaded by Martinator.

As we were approaching the 395 overpass, we saw a car stop in the intersection in front of us. He was blocking the road to allow about a few hundred motorcycles pass through led by a Santa Clause on a Harley. This shot doesn't do it justice.

...and a person get hit by a car!

As the motorcycle procession was making a left onto the on ramp to 395 North, there was a Ride Support Staff member blocking traffic to allow them to make the left turn. She was also taking pictures of the procession. I was riding up to her (I was on the left side for the road at this point looking for an opportunity to cross back over) when the car that was stopped behind inexplicably started driving forward. The car clipped the staff member in the hip with her car. Unbelievable! She didn't get knocked down but she did get knocked aside and was limping. The car eventually pulled over and a lady probably in her 60's got out and said "I think my brake released". This is BS as brakes simply don't do that.

A Good Ride

It was hilly and not easy. I made sure to stay hydrated and take a shot of GU every 45 minutes. I also was more aware of my cadence thanks to Dave. I never once came close to cramping up. At mile 50 though, my thoughts turned to food...


On my way home I ordered a pizza and ate the entire thing. Note, this wasn't an individual size pizza, this was a regular size pizza. Mmmmmmm...

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Checking out the PMC...


Today was the Pan Mass Challenge. I rode over to check it out. I headed out and hooked up with it right near the Bellingham/Mendon border. Then I tagged along until the Franklin water stop, where friend/neighbor/fellow-rider Ed was volunteering.

Celebrity Run In

While I was wandering around looking for Ed I saw somebody else I recognized. I listen to the Hillman Morning Show on WAAF and I know that "LB" does the PMC. I saw this guy that looked a lot like LB, so I followed him to his bike and saw by the name on the PMC reg tag that it was indeed LB. I said hi and stuff, and he areed to pose for a quick picture with me :-)

LB, originally uploaded by Martinator.

Lyndon Byers from WAAF's Hillman Morning Show. And me :-)

Where's Ed

I wandered around some more looking for Ed before I gave up. I saw his car, but no Ed. There were a few hundred people here and I guessed I just wouldn't be able to find him in the crowd.

Lots, and lots of riders...
Franklin PMC Waterstop, originally uploaded by Martinator.

The Crowd at the Franklin PMC Water Stop

So I headed out to ride some more before turning back home. Then, right in front of me I see Ed directing traffic.

Ed Directing PMC Traffic
Ed Directing PMC Traffic, originally uploaded by Martinator.

He was very busy and there were no opportunities to chat. I didn't want to be a distraction so after a while I headed out.

The weather was perfect for riding this morning and I'm glad I got to see the PMC up close. Maybe next year I'll register and do the entire thing.