Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Ride to Work... In the Dark

Dark but Warm

I got up early, around 5:00 AM. It was dark. Sunrise wasn't going to happen until about 6:30. Normally I would have left at about 5:30, but I decided to wait until 6:00. The first 20 minutes or so it was DARK. I did have lights, but my headlight was minimal. After about 20 minutes or so, it started to get lighter pretty fast. It was warm this morning. About 60° when I headed out. I almost considered wearing my shorts instead of my long bike pants.

The ride was average and uneventful. Uneventful is good when commuting by bike. Though I think this may be my last bike commute of the year. The days are getting shorter and heading out in the morning is really dark and kind of hairy.


Somewhere along this rise I broke 1300 miles for the year (1304.07). The most I have ridden in a year is 1349.23 back in 2006. A couple of good weekend rides should put me over that mark :-)

Monday, September 29, 2008

Bike Home From Work

It's been a while

I the last time I biked to/from work was way back in July. Work has been crazy and my hours haven't been predicable enough to commit to a bike commuting schedule. But now the days are getting shorter and cooler, and I want to get more riding in where I can. With pick up duties during the week, Monday is really the only day I can bike home from work. Maybe Fridays if I bike to and from work on those days.

Felt Fast Surprisingly...

I didn't set out to ride a quick pace home. It just turned out that way. I rode home, 25 miles, in just under an hour and a half averaging 16.8 mph.


The only part where I really had to slow down was where the road I was on approached Route 9. It is a bottleneck traffic wise and tonight I had to pass about a mile or so of cars before I got to the light. I had to pass them on the left because they left no room on the shoulder side of the road. I think traffic was extra heavy tonight because of the Jewish Holiday tomorrow. Just a guess.

It felt good passing all those cars.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

New Cleats

About Time...

I think it may have been at least three years since I have replaced my cleats. I didn't really know how bad they were until I saw what new one looked like at REI

Right Cleat. Pretty worn.

Left Cleat. Just as bad.

New Cleats. Yes, my current cleats used to look like this.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sunday Morning Ride with Mike in NJ

Sunday Morning Ride with Mike

So after taking Catherine to Soccer practice on Saturday, the family headed down to NJ so my wife and Catherine could attend a baby shower. We spent Saturday night at our friend's house.

Mike, who we were staying with, is also a cyclist. In fact his job is to design bike routes, Safe Routes to School, and other mixed transportation type stuff. So he planned a nice 25 mile ride for us for Sunday Morning.

The ride took us south along one ridge, east across a valley, north along the far side of a parallel ridge, back west across the valley, and south again.

Mike ready to head out.

South Mountain Reservation

We headed due south to the South Mountain Reservation, where they close the road on Sunday mornings for runners and cyclists to use.

From the Wikipedia article on South Mountain Reservation

The roadway on Crest Drive has been closed to vehicular traffic at the old deer paddock so that you may enjoy a leisurely walk down to Washington Rock. This is the Park System's bona fide Revolutionary War historic site, dating back to the late 1700's when Beacon Signal Station 9 was located here—one of 23 beacons built by General Washington to observe British troop movements quartered on Staten Island and New York City.

It was from this outlook that, on June 23, 1780, Essex County and Newark Militia were first warned that the British had launched an attack westward toward "the Gap," (Hobart Gap), a natural pathway to Washington's troops encamped at Morris Town. In a pincer movement designed to gain access to the Gap, Hessian troops fought bitterly along Vaux Hall Road, with the British advanced along Galloping Hill Road, until they were repelled, the Hessians at the base of the mountain and the British in Millburn—called Millville in those days. Washington Rock served again as a lookout for the Army when reactivated during the War of 1812.

Riding through Cedar Grove, NJ.

Riding through a somewhat recently abandoned Essex County Hospital Center (Mental Institution). Apparently some of the building still contain patient records.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tower Hill (Chilly)

39° Seriously!

I woke up early Saturday morning looking to get a ride in. I looked at the Thermometer and it read 39° at just a little after 6:00 AM. I had some coffee and a Clif bar and waited until it at least got above 40°

Breakfast #1

Full Winter Gear

I dressed in my full winter gear. Winter riding gloves, Pearl Izumi Kodiak shirt, shoe covers, feather weight thermals, and head and neck coverings. Wasn't it only two weeks ago that it was hot?

Layered and toasty :-)

I had dressed just right for the time and temperature.

Tower Hill

It had been a while since I had ridden Tower Hill. In fact it had been a while since I did any sort of solo ride. I had either been doing club rides, Phat Tuesday evening rides, and such. So it was good to get out for a solo rode for a change.

I had recently just gotten over a bad cold that had torn through our household. so I spent about the first 10 miles or so clearing out my sinuses. Nothing clears out sinuses better than a good ride in chilly weather.

My sinuses were cleared out by the time I got to Tower Hill Road. The foot of the hill is a pretty steep grade. After that though, it is a "rolling climb" through the woods.

I got 27 miles in and got home just in time for (2nd) breakfast. After that I took Catherine to soccer and then we all jumped in the van and headed to NJ.

Monday, September 8, 2008

NBW: The Flatest Century in the East...

Hannah's One Night Stand

Tropical Storm Hannah had been threatening to wash out the TCFE. Luckily, it was a one night stand. I drove down 495 and Rt 24 under heave cloud cover. I parked my car at UMASS Dartmouth with half the sky dark clouds and half clear blue skies. As I was getting my gear together I could see the long line of dark clouds disappearing north. Nice.

Pre Ride

Registration went smoothly. On my way to reg I noticed a mechanic's tent. My rear wheel wasn't perfectly true. So I figured I would take advantage of the volunteer mechanics and have them check it out.

Some fine tuning of the rear wheel before heading out. It was ever-so-slightly out of true.

I made sure I was loaded up on Clif Bars and Gu. CamelBack and Water bottles filled with Camelbak Elixir electrolyte enhanced water.

Ever since I've started using the Elixir I haven't had to worry about cramping. I first used it on the Hill and Gully ride and I never cramped up. I swear by the stuff now.

I took care of a few other pre-long-ride rituals and headed out.

First Leg

Now I knew some people who were doing this ride. I just never made plans to meet up with them. So the tricky part of showing up to a century ride by ones self is to pick the right group of riders to ride along with. Now with the TFCE that is no mass start. You just show up, register, and head out at your leisure. I trolled around the parking lot for a bit looking for a promising group before I decided to just head out. Upon exiting the parking lot I saw Monica Foulkes taking pictures. I stopped and chatted with her for a bit (00:02:37 to be precise) as a group of riders passed by.

I headed out made an effort to catch that group as I didn't see another group rolling out anytime soon. I caught up with them on the other side of route 6. I figured "If I could catch them, I can hang with them." they weren't going too fast or too slow.

I wasn't sure who the people in this group were, but they were riding at just the right pace for me. (FYI - The gentleman in the white shirt really needs to invest in a new pair of bike shorts.)

I didn't know how lucky I was to catch up with this group. It turns out that this group was being pulled by Gil Peel and consisted mostly of the people who actually arrowed the route. What dumb luck on my part!

TFCE Ride Stats
Leg Distance Moving Time Avg Mph
Leg 1 30.60 1:51:04 16.5

Food Stop #1 - Hixville Fire Department

At the first rest stop I grabbed a PB&J, visited to the Facilities, chatted with some of the riders I was with. I also ran into Scott who I know from the Phat Tuesday rides. We chatted for a bit, then he took off. I looked around for the group I was with, and they were gone. I double checked to be sure. Then I headed out to see if I could catch them...

Rest Stop Duration: 0:12:41

Second Leg

So here I am, riding solo trying to catch a group of riders that was averaging ~16.5 mph in the first leg and my batteries die in my GPS unit. Ugh! So much for a clean track of this route. I ride on hoping I can get some fresh batteries. I catch up to rider after rider, group after group... nope, not them. Then a group buzzes past me! I jump on. I hang on for a while letting them pull me along.

Eventually they drop me, but I press on. I get to Rest Stop #2 and there is a store there where I can buy batteries.

TFCE Ride Stats
Leg Distance Moving Time Avg Mph
Leg 2 16.99 1:05:14 15.6

Food Stop #2 - Tiverton Four Corners

I check-in, buy some fresh batteries and a bottle of Gatorade, and I rejoin the group here (they've been here a little bit longer than me), I learn everybodies names, and then promptly forget them as I am very bad with names.

somebody says that they think we might get more rain, I promptly check the radar. No rain in sight :-)

This was a very short rest stop for me.

Rest Stop Duration: 0:03:56

Third Leg

I hung with group for a little bit. But I think the combination of trying to catch the group plus the 3 minute rest stop might have been costly. I got dropped by group about 6-8 miles somewhere along Route 77. They weren't going that much faster than me, however they were ever so slowly disappearing in from of me.

Gil Peel. This is a picture of Gil that I took before I got dropped.

This is me. Alone. On Howland St.

Hannah's aftermath: Big, crashing waves all along the coastline. it was difficult to get this picture as the dune between the road and the beach was ~ 6" high.

Me by a calm inlet.

TFCE Ride Stats
Leg Distance Moving Time Avg Mph
Leg 3 23.42 1:28:35 15.9

15.9 mph - Not too bad for getting dropped and beginning to feel tired.

Food Stop #3 - Adamsville Baseball Field

Paula at the Check-in Table

I walk up to the check-in table, give my number, and Paula immediately tells me that she is selling the recumbent the she bought from my friend in May 2007. Here is a picture of Paula on that bike from the Uxbridge Animal Farm Ride 2007.

I caught up with the group again. They were getting ready to head out. I decided not to rejoin them and take a more leisurely break. It turned out to be almost a half hour.

Lots of water. I refilled my CamelBack here and added some of the Elixir tabs I had brought along.

The "mood" at this final rest stop was a lot less "rushed". I could sense how tired people were starting to feel.

Rest Stop Duration: 0:27:25

Fourth Leg

The last thirty miles I ground it out and enjoyed the scenery. I didn't know there were so many vineyards and farms down here.


Apponagansett Bay is filled with pleasure craft.

This is me and Apponagansett Bay.

Waiting for the bridge. 0:03:49

A first. I never had to wait for a bridge while riding before. A bunch of us were, well, bunched up waiting for the bridge to open. The bridge keeper, (I think that is what he is called), waved us through the gates once the bridge was realigned and made the cars wait until we were all across. That was nice of him.

Last draft, then last drop. This rider dropped me on the last climb to UMASS with less that a mile to go.


I had packed a couple of Yogurt Smoothies in a cooler with a ton of ice packs in my car. They were still very cold. They both made for a good recovery snack (20g Protien total).

TFCE Ride Stats
Leg Distance Moving Time Avg Mph
Leg 4 31.52 2:05:10 15.1

My TFCE Stats

Weight before leaving home in the morning: 179.5 lbs.

  • I went through about ~100+ oz. of Elixir supplemented water.
  • 1 16 oz bottle of Gatorade at Tiverton Four Corners
  • 1.5 PBJ Sandwiches
  • 1 banana
  • 1 Blueberry Clif Bar
  • A bunch of Gu
  • and countless no-hands adjustments of the chamois ("What's that guy doing?")

Weight upon arriving back home in the afternoon: 180.0 lbs. (I guess I hydrated appropriately)

TFCE Ride Stats
Leg Distance Moving Time Avg Mph
Leg 1 30.60 1:51:04 16.5
Leg 2 16.99 1:05:14 15.6
Leg 3 23.42 1:28:35 15.9
Leg 4 31.52 2:05:10 15.1
Total 102.53 6:30.03 15.8

Home Sweet Home

A freshly baked Blueberry Pie made by my wife with fresh blueberries from a local farm was waiting for me once I got home :-)

Friday, September 5, 2008

Catherine Loses the Training Wheels

Catherine Loses the Training Wheels
Catherine , originally uploaded by Martinator.

Last Saturday I took Catherine, (6 and a half), to the local park (Dacey Field) where there is a large, gently sloping parking lot. My friend Mike suggested that I lower her seat so she can sit with both feet flat on the ground, and remove the pedals.

Earlier this summer I tried to teach her to ride without training wheels with little success.

Removing the pedals was something new to try. I took her to the top of the parking lot and told her to see how far she could go without touching her feet to the ground. On her third trip down the parking lot she went the entire distance. I'm guessing a 100 yards or so. When I caught up with her she said "Let's put the pedals back on!" So I did.

She did great! She had a little trouble starting on a level area and she also tried to start going up hill (which was met with much frustration).

She has steadily improved this week to the point where she is confident starting from a level position, pedaling uphill, and even braking appropriately.

With each new ride I have been raising her seat a half inch at a time until it is at a proper position for her height. She hasn't noticed so far :-)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Last Phat Ride for Me

Forgot My GPS

So the ride starts at 5:45 instead of 6:00, no problem. I arrive way too early as usual around 5:00. I make a phone call and start to get my bike together. At ~5:10 I realized I had left my Garmin eTrex Legend GPS at home. Hmmmmm, there is just enough time to shoot home, grab it, and get back. Barely enough time. Joe, another early bird says: "Forget about it. Enjoy the freedom." Timing would be too tight anyway and I decide to fore go it.

So as I continue to prep for the ride I realize that "Hey, maybe I could use my car's GPS device..." It is a Garmin nĂ¼vi 750. I know for a fact it keeps a log file in GPX format. I have also experimented uploading that GPX log file to Motionbased.com. So I take it off the dashboard, clear the log file, and pop it into my back pocket. It did the job :-)

Fast Start

Ed, Joe, Scott, a few others and myself rolled out first. These are riders I usually can keep up with. So it was a unique experience being in a lead group that I could hang on to. Or, at least that is what I thought. They were moving rather quickly and I got dropped at about mile 7 on the climb to Adams Farm on Burnt Swamp road.

Buh Bye...

Everybody regrouped at the halfway point and the second half was more sane than the first half. We were all moving along nicely and very civilized when Maryellen wrecked.

The Wreck

Maryellen Wrecks
Maryellen, originally uploaded by Martinator.

As we were approaching the stop sign on Cherry street where it meets up with RT 121, Maryellen was at the back of the group and wasn't able to stop in time. She couldn't avoid the rider in front of her and lost her balance. A guy in a pickup truck that was behind us offered to take her bike and other's bikes back to Remmington-Jefferson. Somebody called 911 and the police and Paramedics were there rather quickly.

Maryellen Update from Bill Snapper

Hello All,

As you all know Maryellen was involved in a bike crash last night. She was banged up and bruised and has a broken wrist. I have not talked to her since she was brought into the hospital as she was in x-ray when I got there.

Bob Reed made sure she got home last night. Stephen Greco stayed at the hospital while I took Bob back to Franklin to get his car. Paul Metcalf took care of getting Maryellen's car and bike back to her home. Kevin and Debbie Robbins showed up at the hospital to see what they could do to help out when they heard.

This is a great community of people and last night was just one example of how everyone worked together to help out one of their friends. I'm proud to be part of this group.

I'm sorry I was not able to send this note to all that were there last night at the ride as I just didn't know who was there. If people signed up for the ride on the site sending out a note like this would have been so much easier. Please forward this to anyone you know that was at the ride that wants to know how Maryellen is. I'll send out an update later after I talk with Maryellen.