Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Hiatus. H-I-A-T-U-S. Hiatus.

It's been a while since blogging hath occurred; not for any particularly exciting reasons, but merely due to vast quantities of slack on my part. In no particular order, here's the highlights of the last month.

Dirty Dozen: That was FUN with a capital OOF. I made twelve of the thirteen; Canton is still to be surmounted, however. (I don't feel too bad about the big C; the first time, another rider hit the ground in front of me; the second and third attempts, my cleat popped out of the pedal; and the fourth and final attempt, well, I wimped out. How's THAT for justification?) It was quite an experience; I managed to maintain the "I'm having a great time on this social ride" face for about the first six hills, which was far longer than I'd anticipated. I wasn't fast by any stretch of the imagination (Took 4th on the Liberty Tube sprint, though!), but wasn't exactly trailing the pack either. I'll do it again...good times indeed.

Commuting: Thus far, I've driven to work a whopping two whole times, counting my first day. I've pedaled through some fairly crappy weather; pretty much everything short of a full white-out blizzard or a serious ice storm. I like this commuting thing; although it's only been three months, and there's still a lot of winter ahead, I'm feeling good about it.

Solstice Century: Ended up being a solstice 45-miler, as I was riding the Baron, and started having a bit of knee trouble. I need to spend some time dialing the Baron in a bit more; it's a fun ride, but I haven't yet taken it for a ride of any real length.

2009? Plans for the future year will be forthcoming shortly, once I actually make the time to formalize some. The Endless Mountains 1240K in September will probably be the high point, at least as regards cycling. The arrival of my baby girl in April kinda trumps that overall ;-)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

(Last?) Dirty Dozen training ride

A nice, relatively mellow ride. Simple plan; ride hills until I got sick of them. No minimum, no maximum; the only plan was to start at the beginning and see how far I go.

As a preliminary step, I peeled most of the non-essential stuff off of the P-38. Fenders, kickstand, rack, etc...all gone the way of the dodo. I kept the two bottle cages, and a seat-back bag for sundries like tubes and tools, but that's about it.

Met up with David at Center, and started the run. Center was entirely uneventful. Ravine is still closed, but has enough room for single-file cyclists to meander up the hill. Amusingly enough, there's also a screw jack engaged across the path; I was low enough to not care, but most of the upright folks will need to duck their heads to make it through. I shudder to think of how many of the eager types will stress-test their helmets on the steel bar. On the bright side, the construction changed the appearance of Ravine enough that my usual psychological barrier to climbing that hill was circumvented; it was a "new hill", so not nearly as intimidating.

Berryhill was particularly anticlimactic; it just doesn't seem like a big deal anymore. Logan was rough, as usual, but I made it to the top with only a few cars brushing by within a foot of my elbow. Due to my dislike of heading down Rialto, and David's desire not to go too far out of the way, we skipped Rialto and Suffering-Hellish-Burning in favor of going directly to Sycamore. At that point, it became apparent that, strangely enough, the sun was going to go down in another hour or two, so we chose to do Welsh, then call it a day, as neither of us were clever enough to bring lights.

All in all, not bad. Seven of the thirteen was a reasonable achievement, especially as, while certainly not feeling fresh after Welsh, I wasn't feeling too bad either. If it weren't for lighting concerns, I'm quite confident that BHE and Flowers-Tesla would have been more-or-less a stroll in the park.

I'm still concerned about my ability to do Canton and Boustead at all, as that 30%-ish grade seems to be the magic number where I start to really have problems; however, we'll just have to wait for next Saturday (forecast: rain/snow, high in the mid-30s F...heheheheh!) and see what happens.

Monday, November 17, 2008

New job, commuting, the Dirty Dozen, and suchlike.

As of October 6th, I've been employed at DynaVox, a nice little company on the South Side that makes various and sundry products to assist people with various communication difficulties. It's been a bit of an adjustment, considering that I was with McKesson for darn near a decade, but I'm pretty happy with what I'm doing now.

More importantly, at least from the pedal-powered perspective, is that my new office is a measly 8 miles from my house. That, plus no laptop, means daily commuting is now so simple as to be practically unavoidable. It's quite nice to be able to either commute by bike or work from home five days per week; it's even nicer to realize that I'm filling up the tank on ye olde Subaru about once every six weeks or thereabouts, rather than once a week or more.

Commuting has been a bit of a learning process; for example, it took me a few days to realize that sweat was okay, and that bike shorts in the office, while a bit of a bold fashion statement, would not be grounds for termination or merciless mockery. The highlights of my day now include the befuddled gaze of passers-by when I cruise by on the 'bent, with steaming coffee mug raised to lips and a look of almost indecent contentment on my face; the cheers of approval (or so I choose to interpret them) from the colorful characters hanging out behind the Salvation Army; and the joy of comfortably keeping pace with (or, not infrequently, outpacing) traffic on the Boulevard of the Allies on the way home. Not that I mean to wax overtly rhapsodic or anything; it's just such a pleasant change in my life, and I haven't really grown accustomed to it yet.

I've also been fortunate, in that I've now got a nice bunch of folks in the area for potential lunchtime riding partners, some of whom not only are crazed enough to agree that it's a good idea to ride three or four Dirty Dozen hills over lunch, but are also patient enough to wait for me to haul my flabby carcass up the slopes in their wake. Thanks, Brian, Robbie, Dave, etc...

Speaking of such things, Dirty Dozen training proceeds apace. I'm not sure if I'll be able to take Canton or not, as I've been utterly incapable on the Rocket, and the P-38 barely made it a third of the way at last attempt. Regardless, I'm feeling pretty good about it; been riding the hillz at least twice a week for the last month, and, while I'm still slower than a wide gamut of very slow things, I'm happy with my progress. I'll give it a shot; since points are so far beyond my reach as to reside in the realm of wildest fantasy, there's really no pressure whatsoever. I get to go out, have fun, push myself a wee bit, and hopefully demonstrate that recumbents aren't solely bound to rail-trails and velodromes.

Ah, yes. Almost forgot. Wintry crapola has officially descended, so the commute is becoming more interesting. I threw a set of Schwalbe Marathon Winters on the Rocket; they're heavy, and sound like they're rolling on a perpetual trail of Rice Krispies, but I have this unfounded hope that they'll help keep me moving in a more-or-less controlled fashion when the weather turns to utter frozen shite. Nice tires, from what I can tell on short acquaintance. They handle much like the stock Marathons, with the addition of a bit of buzz from the carbide spikes. Mine are in the 42-406 size, so are quite beefy; like most Schwalbe models, they're available in a ridiculous number of sizes and diameters, including a 35-622 that looks just spiffy for commuters on 700c wheels. If and when I set myself up with an upright all-rounder, I'll probably invest in a set of Marathon Winters for that as well, assuming that these hold up well enough to vaguely justify the ludicrously high price tag.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Lunchtime DD rides: Sycamore, Welsh, Barry-Holt-Eleanor

Quick (ok, not so much) Dirty Dozen hill ride with Brian and Robbie. Aside from an early flat on Brian's part, it went pretty well.

Sycamore was, well, Sycamore. Nothing exciting there. Welsh was short and sweet; 20 seconds of "I feel okay, this is no big deal", followed by 10 seconds of "this sucks", followed by 20 seconds of "I'm gonna puke".

I blew up on Eleanor, up near the top at Primrose; had to pull off to the side to get enough speed to get moving again. 'Saright...I'll just have to redeem myself on Sunday.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Redemption, DD-style

Led another Dirty Dozen training ride today; Rialto, Logan, Suffolk-Hazelton-Burgess, and Sycamore. This time, I failed to fail: although I didn't exactly lead the pack up every hill, I was only dead last on one (Sycamore?!? The EASIEST?!?), and didn't feel like I was going to/wanted to die for more than a minute or two.

Eight riders showed up at the Jail Trail in town; myself, Jim Logan, Guido, Mark and his teenage son (AKA 100 pounds of hill-climbing monster), Don, Brian, and another gentleman whose name I've shamefully forgotten. We cut through town over to 31st St Bridge, then pounded up Rialto as our warm-up hill. Heh. I threw caution to the winds, invoked granny, and just attacked the crap out of that hill. As a result, I was in the first 4 up the hill...kind of a cool feeling not to be last for a change. On the down side, if that hill had been 100 feet longer, I may well have blown myself up, since I was really sucking wind by the top. But hey, it went okay, and I recovered quickly.

From the top of Rialto, we circled around to the top of Logan, then gingerly descended. (As a side note, I've decided to do something about my brakes; I'm just not confident in their ability to stop me when I NEED to stop.) Turning around at the bottom, we began the ascent. I was in my zone, happily pumping along at *mumble* miles per hour, when Guido hit the ground jut ahead of me, less than 100 feet from the top. I could have gone around and kept going, 'cause I HAD that hill, but decided to stop and render assistance as necessary. I feel no guilt over claiming victory on that climb; even if not technically a true DD success, I've beat that hill before, and could have done so again today. Now, I won't try to pretend that taking a break for a few minutes didn't feel really, really nice...

From there, we took Pittview back through Troy Hill, then down to Chestnut and over to East St. A quick glide up East to the left on Suffolk, and "my problems, they were just beginning". Suffolk-Hazellton-Burgess is one of those hills where I almost beat myself before even getting started; I've built it up in my mind so much that defeat seems almost inevitable. Fortunately, I'm a pretty stubborn rider; all that long steady distance this year, if nothing else, has taught me to just keep turning the pedals over. Sometimes at 35 RPM, but still turning them over...

Regardless, I pushed through, and avoided A) stopping, 2) puking and III) rain-of-brimstone-inducing blasphemy. To be fair to myself, I did a LOT better this year than last; last year darn near killed me, while this year was merely pretty frickin' tough. At this rate, I'll be within striking distance of "not sucking" in another decade or so.

Sycamore was not all that much of a much; I didn't put my heart into it, so finished a good 30 seconds behind everyone else. No biggie; Sycamore, much like High St, has become "just another long hill" in my mind.

All in all, I'm pleased. Coming off three weeks of a chest cold, and being a good 30-40 pounds over where I should be, and I can still survive the steeps. Of course, a willingness to go r-e-a-l-l-y slow helps, as does a mountain cassette.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

DD training ride FAIL

[Backdated, 'cause I've been slacking in my postings]

So, due to scheduling pressure and being a frickin' moron, I ended up committing to lead a Dirty Dozen training ride, for the first four hills, the day after riding a 200K populaire. Yeesh. What a maroon.

Long story short, I barely made it up Center, and gratefully handed off ride leader duties to Fred Klehm. The fatigue from the prior day's ride was, surprisingly, not a real factor; the vicious cough and fever, on the other hand, were less than helpful. Regardless of the excuses, the end result was that I wussed out big time.

I feebly wobbled my way up Parker over to Millvale, then hung out at the BP for a while, nursing coffee and waiting for medication to take effect. That was fun. :-(

On a related note, I'm a little disturbed by a recent trend in ride failures; I've bailed on three in the last two weeks, when I normally don't bail under any circumstances short of family emergency. I'm not sure why, but it seems much easier to find reasons not to ride hard right now. Perhaps I'm a little burnt out, after the rando season.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Thrift Drug Classic 200K Populaire

[Backdated, 'cause I've been slacking on my postings.]

Jim Logan, Shane Shin, and myself had a lovely ride in the country today. Starting with an invigorating climb up Sycamore after departing Jim's place in Shaler, we made our way to Carnegie via Temperanceville (AKA the West End), then shot out Noblestown to Sturgeon. A quick spin up Fink/Kelso deposited us on Ye Olde Steubenville Pike; then, Potato Garden over to 151, and Rt 30 out to East Liverpool, OH. 68 brought us all the way back to Evans City, then some back roads over to 3 Degree, Babcock, and Thomson Run back into Shaler.

Fun ride, if a bit well endowed with Scenery (Jim's GPS claimed 10,000'+ of gain); while there were only a couple of tough climbs, very, very little of the route was actually flat.

I started out feeling a bit rocky, as I'd been fighting illness for the last week or so; however, once we got through Carnegie, I was feeling pretty good. Once again, proof of something I know, but keep forgetting: just ride, even when you feel like crap, and you'll often find yourself in a much better place.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Well, bugger. Rando FAIL.

I had planned to scout the route for the Thrift Drug Classic 200K Populaire; after all, since I designed much of the route, it seemed only fair that I make sure it's not an utter deathtrap, and that the cues aren't completely hosed.

So, I set off this morning at about 7:45 or so, enjoying the traditional randonneuring combination of drizzle and high 40s temperature. Did I want to turn around and go home? Hellya! Did that desire fade after the first couple of miles, like it usually does? Uh, no..that's not good.

Also in the big pile of "things that aren't good"; I wasn't feeling the usual snap in the legs. To be fair, what I call "snap", many cyclists would call "lethargy", but still, I was running well under my normal cruising speed. Ah well, I said; no sense worrying about it now, here comes Sycamore.

Sycamore killed me. I stopped twice to hyper-v and try not to puke, when I haven't had to stop once in the last dozen times I've climbed that hill. WTF was up with me? I may be a wimp, but I'm not usually that feeble. Anyway, I made it to the top, and pressed on along Grandview to Greenleaf and down to the West End Circle. Hmmm...I was cruising on the flats at a whopping 10 miles per; that's not a good sign, when I'm only 10 miles into a 125-mile ride. Finally, after a brief jaunt into good old Temperanceville, I decided to pack it in, and pedaled home with my metaphoric tail tucked quite neatly betwixt my slow-moving legs.

I dunno; didn't feel sick per se, and I've only got a little residual congestion from a cold; just didn't have much to give today. After I got home, I poured a couple of cups of coffee down my throat, then spent the rest of the day happily rebuilding the Rocket and framing in walls in the basement; no real problems, no lack of energy.

Definitely feeling a bit of shame; us tough-as-nails rando types are supposed to soldier on, not throw in the proverbial towel at the first sign of trouble. But, given how poorly I was doing, it was probably the right choice, especially since I'm supposed to not only ride the Populaire next Saturday, but also lead a Dirty Dozen training ride the following Sunday morning. That's gonna be interesting...

Monday, September 29, 2008

Weekend round-up, highlights and lowlights

Friday: After work, I popped over to the Ambridge Bike Shop, in order to try out a Surly Cross Check and Long Haul Trucker. They had a 54 cm CC (upper limit for my inseam on that model) and several LHTs, ranging from "just barely fit" at 57 cm to "you're joking, and I'm singing soprano" at 60cm and above.

Gary got the bikes set up and roughly fitted, and I took them each for a short spin along the highways and byways of scenic Ambridge. Interesting, very interesting. I had this preconceived notion that I was going to really dig the Cross Check; I did, but found that the Trucker, with the longer wheel base and (relatively) fat 26" tires, had me riding much more confidently.

I also now far better understand why many people like STIs, rather than down-tube or bar-end shifters. Speaking as a highly inexperienced drop-bar rider, the death grip on the drops made moving the hand all the way to the bar-ends to shift a more intimidating prospect. Doable, but I finally grok why STIs are so nice. I do wonder about interference with handlebar bags and whatnot, but I'm sure such can be overcome.

Saturday: Loaded Owen in the trailer, and went for a spin down to Dancing Goats Crazy Mocha in the South Side Works. It's a nice routine; we do about 10 miles while he reads or watches for trains, then stop for a cup of coffee (me!) and to share a Cookie As Big As Your Head. Chill for a couple of minutes, then back down the river, parallel to the tracks for more trainspotting opportunities, and a nice sweaty grind up the hill to home. I'm just pleased that his tolerance for rides is now well over the 2-hour mark, and can easily approach 3-4 if we have at least one extended break in the middle. He'll be a good little stoke-monkey in a few more years. :-)

Sunday: As further proof that the boy enjoys our rides, he asked to go for another, even with grey skies and spitting rain. Same drill, except that we swung by REI for Heed and Gu packs for next weekend's scouting ride.

Later that day, I accompanied Annie on her Django, in order to scout out her potential commute route. As she lives near the Ohio River Trail, getting from there to downtown and back should be no big deal, except for the #$%^ing casino construction. So, I took her on a tour of the construction, the posted detour, and my preferred variations on said detour. With any luck, she'll be commuting to the office before crap weather sets in.

Commuter thoughts: Hrmph. I'm growing up. Poop.

I've been planning to sell off the Rocket, so as to partially finance the purchase of a decent upright all-rounder for use in crappy winter weather. Thusly, the Surly investigations. However, upon reflection, it looks like it'd make better fiscal sense to at least try to make the Rocket more winter-worthy, and go upright this winter only if the Rocket just doesn't work at all.

So, I'll look into tweaking what I've got, instead of buying new toys and learning new skills. *sigh*

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lefever Hill

I played hooky today.

Well, to be precise, I took my last accrued paid leave day, so I wouldn't have to deal with any weirdness in the final paycheck. My original intent was to work on my basement; heck, still is, but I just couldn't waste a gorgeous day like today.

Out Freeport, then up Little Deer Creek to Lefever Hill. Not the worst hill I've ever climbed, but it certainly left a mark. Picked up Rich Hill to Starr Rd, then back to Little Deer Creek and up to the Red Belt. Rich Hill and Starr are NICE...lots of fun rollers, and a good way to unwind the legs after the Lefever climb.

I had intended to head out to Ambridge for a test ride or two, as I'm eying a Cross Check or LHT as my winter commuting/errand bike; however, it turns out that their Web site is a wee bit outdated with respect to their hours of operation; i.e. they're closed on Wednesdays. Oops.

Ah well; can't call it a wasted day by any stretch of the imagination.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Dirty Dozen Training: Center/Ravine/Berry Hill/High

First Dirty Dozen training ride of the season for me. Jim Logan led the ride out of the K-Mart parking lot in Shaler; he, myself, Scott, Don, and Brian were in attendance.

I botched my shift to the granny on the very first hill (Center), so ended up climbing more than half of it in my middle ring. Coincidentally (or not), this was also the only hill on which I wasn't dead last...perhaps a lesson could be learned by this, but I'm not gonna try right now.

Ravine hurt. A lot. The long grinders always take a toll on me; I need to work on smoothing my pace a bit, and possibly working on the psychological end of things as well as physical conditioning.

Berry Hill was pretty much business as usual; dead stop, into lowest gear to hit the asphalt wall, then exhaustedly pedaling up to Middle Road. The plummet down Middle is always a good way to revive my spirits, though.

High St has lost a lot of its mystique for me. It's a hill, and not to be sneered at, but is really not that big a deal.

Fun, I think. I take comfort in the fact that I felt significantly better afterwards than last year; I was hoping for a bit more snap on the hills than I actually displayed today, but that's something I can only address by actually riding my damn bike in such terrain rather than doing 100+ miles of long steady distance every weekend.

Monday, September 8, 2008

OT: Life happens

Heh...well, it looks like next year's riding season will be particularly interesting, as fitting in training around a new baby is gonna be an organizational challenge.

Yep...we're infanticipating, with the flag set to drop around April 3rd or thereabouts.

Guess this means I need to think about an upright in the near future, so I can do a child seat and a trailer. Or maybe I should investigate the bakfietsen...

Sunday, September 7, 2008

WPW Fally Rally

Smashing success, apparently. I couldn't tell, 'cause I was too busy pushing for my first seven-hour century. Sadly, I ended up at 7:10, but a lot of that was due to encouraging/BSing with other riders and spending w-a-a-y too much time at the rest stops.

The day started with vast quantities of waffles, plus a cream-filled donut and bottle of Gatorade from the Sheetz up on 19 in Perrysville. After a leisurely pedal to North Park, I made the brilliant decision to stand around and freeze for half-an-hour, nicely negating all benefit of pre-warming the muscles before the century ride kicked off at 7.

Not the most formal of starts, nor what you'd call "Massed"; more of a dribble of departing riders. Those of us who gave a rat's patoot about time rapidly sorted ourselves into "five of us" and "everyone else", via the nice relaxing climb up Babcock, which functioned admirably as a Potter-esque Sorting Hat in that regard. We headed out to Valencia, then Mars/Evans City Rd as far as Callery, until bearing off into the hinterlands via Walters Station Rd. Eventually, the group of 5 became a group of two, a group of me, and a group of two, in that order, and in rapidly expanding anti-proximity.

The first 35-mile loop brought us back to North Park, where the plan called for a quick refuel and off onto the metric loop. The metric was the classic fall rally route, with a couple of slight detours due to construction: Franklin Rd out to Evans City, then Harmony, Zelienople, and out to Riverside High School for the first rest stop. Elwood City, River Rd, and a delightful detour on Gillen near the Fox Run golf course, then the usual climb up Bologne Valley/Foster/Glendale and down to Brush Creek Park for the second rest stop. Finally, the always-delightful hammer back to Cranberry along Brush Creek/Glen Eden/Unionville/Graham School, then meandering through Thorn Hill to the Red Belt and back to the park.

Things of note: we had about 100(!) attendees, of which 50(!) were new members. COOL. Also, there were four-count-'em-four recumbents on the ride; myself, John Strait, and Sean Monaghan, as well as a gentleman whose name perpetually eludes me, but who just picked up a nice Giro 20 at Rob's shop.

Good fun. If I hadn't spent so much time messing about at rest stops, I could easily have brought it in around 6:45; this leads me to think interesting thoughts about sub-6 hour centuries.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Pacing trains and training pace

Working from home occasionally is a nice perk, as it allows me to, for example, take a break in the afternoon and go ride.

Yesterday, I hopped on the P-38 for a quick (mostly) flat run; down McClure to Beaver, Blvd of Allies to Jail Trail, out to end of South Side trail and back, with an easy climb up California to replace the shorter, steeper climb up McClure. As I was passing the UPMC sports complex, a train came up behind me, so I decided to pace it if I could. As it turns out, I could, but it was harder than I thought it should be. (Don't get me wrong; it was only a couple of miles at a 25 mph pace, so I'm not trying to beat my chest over my awesome power or anything here.) No HRM or other monitoring device; I'd put the perceived effort at about 95% of maximum. It was a bit disappointing to realize how hard I was working to maintain that pace; I have this unfounded belief that I should be able to do better than that, or at least not have to work so hard to be at that level.

I've spent the last year focusing on randonneuring; the vast majority of my training (if you can call it anything so formal) has been long steady distance, well inside my anaerobic threshold. What little interval training I've done has been unstructured, in the sense of "Ooo, there's a hill short enough that I can probably power over it if I try hard." This has resulted in some good things: I can maintain a steady average pace in the mid-to-upper teens, with a decent load of gear, more-or-less indefinitely, and I can recover rapidly from sustained exertion (multi-mile hills at 5-10% jump to mind). However, I can't sprint worth a damn, hill-climbing is bloody slow, and maintaining a pace over low 20s for any length of time puts me closer to redlining than I think it should.

In hindsight, I think a lot of the problem came about when I replaced my Tuesday and Thursday evening group rides with regular cycle-commuting . I was still getting my miles, but the commuting was more of the same loaded, steady distance riding that I was already doing on weekends. With the group rides, I was actually pushing my limits, as well as getting more practice in areas in which I suck like descents and pacelines.

So, near term, I think I'll try to get more short, fast-paced rides in. I'll still plan on regular (i.e. every couple of weeks) long rides, but the focus will be short and hard. I'm sure the upcoming Dirty Dozen training series will assist in that, although using DD hills for ad-hoc interval training sounds a bit silly. Long-term, I think I'll need to rejoin the regular group rides; I got a lot better, a lot faster, when I was riding with the guys who were significantly better than me.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Arbitrary Meanderings, 09/01/2008

The route

I had intended to meet up with Scott and scout the 65-mile loop of the WPW Fall Rally route; however, due to the usual lack of planning and communication to which I seem to be prone, we never actually met up. So, I decided to take a spur-of-the-moment trip out to Tarentum, since I was already in North Park, so a mere hop+skip+jump up Pierce Mill to the Red Belt.

I'd forgotten what a nice ride the Red Belt from Saxonburg to Tarentum is; not flat, but no real hills, and very rural/low traffic. From there, I popped over to New Ken, then did the Coxcomb Hill climb for the first time this year; I'd also forgotten how nice a climb that is. After cresting the summit, I took unfamilar-to-me Hulton Rd, deciding that it was a nice day to get lost in the Penn Hills. Sadly, I managed to find my way to 380 in good order. ;-)

A quick run down 380 to Larimer, then up Washington/5th to Oakland, and the joyous pleasure of descending Neville/Boundary on fresh pavement. Over to REI to drop off some RBR business cards I'd promised Kim at the shop, then a cup of Goats coffee and a gut bomb of a quesadilla at Qdoba. After ingesting this grease-feast, I was chagrined to watch my average speed drop from 16.8 to 15.4 over the next ten miles on the way home. Chagrined, but, in hindsight, not very surprised.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

OT: Well, at least it's human-powered...

I tried something new last night...signed up for the Beginner Paddle session at Kayak Pittsburgh, run by Venture Outdoors.

MAN that was fun. It's been a while since I did much with my upper body, and it felt really good to, as it were, blow out the dust and cobwebs.

I'm fairly incompetent at this point, but I definitely want to do it again. Probably need to sign up for a VO membership, just to economize on kayak rental fees.

Hmmm...should think about setting up a regular "pedal and paddle" event. Ride a nice 30-40 miler through the North Hills, then grab some kayaks and head up the river for a bit, maybe stop for a picnic lunch somewhere before heading back down to town.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Abortive Strongland scouting attempt

The plan was perfect; leave the house around nine, punch up to the Vandergrift/Apollo area via 380 and sundry back roads, ride the 21-mile course, then back to town via New Kensington and over to Jim's for the Pittsburgh Randonneurs (rando-nerds?) meeting. What could go wrong?

In a departure from my usual style of ride report, let me start with the Lessons Learned, as, well, they kinda paint a picture of the day.

Lessons Learned
  • First and Foremost. Don't eat a big meal at Wendy's, then immediately hop on the bike and pretend you're a road racer. Let's just say my digestive system, metaphorically speaking, sent in some big guys named Guido and Nunzio to explain to me the error of my ways. For about an hour of, shall we say, less than stellar pedaling performance.
  • Listen to your Gut. Okay, this one has nothing to do with the Wendy's-related problem. When the little voice in the back of your head says "Hmm, this is kinda narrow and high-traffic. Seems odd.", there's probably a reason. When it subsequently points out that there's been what, to the bike-racing naïf, seems like an excessive amount of up, PAY ATTENTION. That way, you may avoid going off curse[sic, yet apropos] before even hitting the course proper.
  • Don't be a Hero. Assuming one has more-or-less recovered from digestive mishaps, and one has consequently made it back to town in relatively good order, choosing to climb High St/Seavey Rd as the most direct route after riding a good, hilly metric century is unwise. In fact, I'd go so far as to call it bloody painful, not to mention mildly embarrassing.
So, the upshot of the Wendy's meal debacle, followed by going off-course at the very first opportunity, is that I didn't scout much of the route. After getting back on course, I made it so far as Northmoreland Park (Park Rd), before deciding that I'd best head back to town...slowly. After another 45 minutes, I was feeling okay, so opened up the throttle a bit on the way into New Ken. Crossed the river and picked up Freeport Rd through Springdale, Cheswick, et. all (new pavement, by the way...very nice!). Then, for some reason, decided it'd be a good idea to strike off for yonder ridge, so hung a quick right on Guys Run Rd and up into the hinterlands of Fox Chapel. Eventually ended up bombing down Saxonburg into Etna, then picked up High St as the quickest(!) way over to Millvale. Over to Larry-ville via 40th St, coffee at Dancing Goats Crazy Mocha, then home for a quick shower before wussing out and driving ye olde infernal combustion device over to Jim's place in Shaler.

All in all, it was a nice ride; just wish I'd actually accomplished what I set out to do.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Local bicycle commuter Dan Blumenfeld was today delighted to have his faith in humanity restored

Not only did the courteous and friendly Sergeant Seibert follow through with his plan to observe traffic on 19 to watch for vehicles without passenger mirrors, but my sometime ride partner Scott Reckless this morning took it upon himself to do the same.

No results thus far, but it makes me happy to see tangible evidence that not all people suck.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Local bicycle commuter Dan Blumenfeld was today dismayed to learn that some drivers suck

I got smacked by a car on my commute this morning.

Well, "smacked" may be too severe a term, but "brushed" sounds too light, as the moron du jour's passenger mirror ended up breaking off on me. Not just the glass, but the whole damn thing, and it was most emphatically NOT a folding mirror.

I'm okay...contusion on my left triceps, and a nice gash running from upper arm to lower across the crease of my elbow, but nothing serious. I suspect that the seat frame of the P-38 soaked up a lot of the impact, as post-action forensic analysis reveals rips and scratches in the seat fabric that I didn't put there.

I don't know if the driver was simply oblivious, or attempting to "scare" me by brushing by, but they didn't even waver before, during, or after the impact, so far as I could tell. Classic hit-and-run.

I called 9-1-1; talked to the dispatcher, assured them that it wasn't a medical emergency, and gave them the basic information re: location. They dispatched a very courteous officer, Sergeant Charles Seibert, who took the details (and the broken mirror assembly). An EMS team showed up a few minutes later, toweled off my wound and threw a bandage on it. From there, I continued on my merry way to work, had a hot shower and spent some quality time with antiseptic ointment and gauze pads from the Zee Medical cabinet.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Eastern PA 1000K, or, A Long Weekend's Journey into Accomplishment and Incoherence

Eastern PA 1000K Photos
[Edited to add: links to ride reports]
Tom's Ride Report
Emily's Ride report
Steve's Ride Report

Tom Rosenbauer, with the help of several saintly volunteers, ran the Eastern Pa Randonneurs 1000K brevet Friday, August 1st, through Monday, August 4th. As you may have already guessed, oh insightful reader, I happened to be one of the 19 audacious randonneurs who decided to take a crack at a 621-mile ride with the confidence-inspiring subtitle of "Endless Mountains". At the risk of spoiling the ending, I'll say right off the bat that I survived with no apparent injuries, and was feeling good enough that the mere thought of getting back on the bike does not inspire nausea, or even mild discomfort.

The riders were a well-experienced bunch; almost half of the complement was from the DC Randonneurs crew, with the rest of us a mixed bag from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and even Emily O'Brien down from Massachusetts with her fixed gear. (As a side note, I was delighted to see that Emily brought the fixie, as it gave me competition for the title of "Person with Bike Apparently Least Suited to the Ride.") As far as I know, I was the only first-year rookie in the crowd; that, plus the fact that this was a good 400 kilometers longer than any ride I had previously attempted, was enough to produce a butterfly or three in the stomach. On the bright side, one of the true joys of this sport lies in the almost unfailing kindness and helpfulness of the participants; a constant through my entire first series has been the encouragement and example of the veterans, and I doubt I would have made it this far without that support.

Day 1...
...dawned, if not bright, at least plenty early, as we were up at 3 AM to get dressed, scarf down as much oatmeal, bagel, and pastry as we could manage, and perform any last minute adjustments to the bikes that became necessary. I knew this was going to be a rough day, as the first 120 miles contained almost every featured climb from the entire previous brevet series, and there was another monster to deal with even later in the day, so starting off nice and easily was the order of the day. For about 10 minutes, anyway, until the adrenaline/testosterone cocktail kicked in. Heh.

No surprises, as most of the route out to Barryville was old hat by this point in the year. We punched out to the first controle near Cherryville, then climbed Little Gap (which I'm happy to report is no longer the arduous climb that it used to be!) on our way out to Cherry Valley and the long climb up Fox Gap. As usual, the relatively tight-knit group shattered during the Fox Gap climb, with the mountain goats rapidly fading in the distance while the rest of us mere mortals ground our way up the hill. Shockingly enough, Tom was NOT waiting at the top of the hill with Secret Controle sign, camera, and gallons of water; it turned out that we were going too fast, and simply missed his arrival!

A quick descent down to Portland, then over to Blairstown and the Gourmet Gallery controle via Walnut (always a fun and surprising climb) Rt 616, and Rt 94. There, while my wiser companions decided to stop and have a proper meal, I decided to push on to the next controle before eating heavily. (In hindsight, this may well have contributed to a fairly bad patch a few hours down the road, but I get ahead of myself.) I hyperventilated my way up the Milbrook climb, then slapped it into high gear for the descent into the Delaware Water Gap. After grinding my way up the hill on Old Mine Rd past Old Milbrook Village, the rest of the Gap passed uneventfully (except for the trail of rando paraphernalia I ended up collecting along the way; bottles and reflective anklets were apparently disinclined to remain with their owners that day...). Tom popped in just before the turn in Layton towards Dingman's Ferry, and topped off our supplies of water and bananas.

From Dingman's Ferry, the climb up Raymondskill Falls. Ouch. OUCHouchouCHOUch. It's not that Raymondskill Falls itself was so terrible, although it certainly wasn't good; it was the continued climbing and vicious rollers on Kessel and Sawkill that followed which REALLY hurt. Once I got to Twin Lakes, things calmed a bit, and I even slowed my heart down enough to enjoy a rather humorous hand-made cautionary roadside sign, to wit: "Warning! Slow Down! Dangerous Armed Rednecks ahead!" On the down side, my usual state of razor-sharp mental acuity had degraded to a tendency to stare at clouds and freewheel at 7 MPH; this is not accepted practice in the Manual of Style for randonneurs on a 1000K ride who haven't even hit 250K yet. Fortunately, the controle at Barryville was nigh, and a few thousand calories in both solid and liquid form did wonders for my powers of concentration.

I had a bit of a rough patch after Barryville; well, to be honest, I had about 25 miles of rough patch, possibly due to skipping solid food a few hours back at Blairstown. I had enough energy to be amused by possibly the worst name for a hair styling salon I'd ever seen: "Hairway to Heaven", as well as spend a few minutes communing with a mud-encrusted old turtle making his leisurely way across the Lackawaxen Scenic Drive; however, I couldn't really keep the speed over about 14-16 mph, which is fairly poor performance given that it was dead flat and even had a slight tailwind. Fortunately for me, I encountered Bill Beck before the last big climb of the day on the way to the Dunkin Donuts controle in Carbondale, so had his presence from which to derive some much-needed gumption.

From Carbondale (AKA The City at the Foot Of The Brake-Pad-Eating Cliff), we rode the final segment to the first sleep controle in Halstead. This was a fairly brutal section, due to our fatigue and a preponderance of fairly nasty sawtoothed rollers. On the bright side, the sunset was absolutely fantastic, we encountered a herd of bison in a nearby field, and I actually got use from my arm warmers (albeit by giving them to Crista, but still...). Once we reached the Colonial Brick Inn and Suites, a quick shower, pounds of Tom's fantastic lasagna, and a 3 AM wakeup call were in order.

Day 2...
...began far too early, as I choked down a banana and some oatmeal at 3:30 before wincingly pedaling out of the parking lot at 4. On the bright side, the day's elevation profile was fairly forgiving for the first hundred miles or so today, so we could expect to bank a bit of time this morning.
Another high point was when Denny, a friend from 'BentriderOnline and the RBR rally, rode out on his Giro 26 recumbent to meet me on the way to Sayre. It was nice to have a conversation with someone more-or-less at eye level, and to see a friendly face that I HADN'T already spent 250 miles or so riding with. We checked in at the controle in Sayre, the Dandy Mini Mart, then continued onward. Denny rode with me as far as the confluence of the Susquehanna and Sheshequin rivers, then took a couple of pictures and bid me adieu.

The rest of the journey to the next controle was uneventful; steeply rolling farm roads, primarily, with the odd farm dog and (quite odd) herd of longhorn cattle. The Acorn Exxon market in Canton was everything one could wish, including hot sandwiches made to order and enough tables to seat plenty of fatigued randonneurs.

[NOTE: it is at this point that my note-taking became even more sporadic, and my mental faculties to decline further, so I hope the reader will forgive a certain degree of potential inaccuracy in my recollections. You have been warned.]

From Canton, we began the longest stage of the route; 71 miles to the next controle in Mill Hall. I might also add that the relatively merciful nature of the day's terrain thus far was to undergo a fairly shockingly, almost Jekyll-and-Hyde-esque transformation to some of the most brutal terrain on the ride. Rt 414 beat the snot out of me, and pretty much everyone else as well, due to the unrelenting nature of the wall-curve-precipice-wall-curve-precipice pattern it took. By the time things leveled out (in Liberty, on Blockhouse Rd down to Pine Creek park), I was utterly knackered. Fortunately, Pine Creek was gorgeous, and mostly flat and downhill for the next few miles to Waterville.

In Waterville, we stopped for refreshments at a restaurant in the park, which contained an honest-to-goshen ice cream bar. This was to prove a problem, as I could not resist a refueling choice of vast quantities of ice cream, tamped down with a grilled cheese/bacon/tomato sandwich. I would like to note that this was to prove a poor choice in the immediate future.

From Waterville, the terrain took a rather alarming turn for the "up"; several miles of steady climb up to Haneyville at the top of the ridge. This wasn't so bad, except for the grilled-cheese-and-ice-cream combo trying desperately to claw its way up my throat; the subsequent 15 miles of ridgetop rollers was evil, and resulted in profanity, blasphemy, and detailed fantasies of vengeance being directed towards Tom. And that was just on my part...

Finally, the punishment eased up, and we made it to the Sheetz controle in Mill Hall. At this point, the ride was definitely taking its toll; while no-one seemed too dispirited, everyone was looking more than a little haggard, and there was quite a bit of concern over the last stage before the next overnight controle. At least two more big climbs were in store, plus an additional 15 miles of "traditional Pennsylvania terrain".

I was paused at the top of the big climb, donning my reflective "please don't hit me" apparel, when I was joined by Kelly and Mary on tandem, Andrea, and Greg. We formed an impromptu band, complete with twanging tendons for the strings, groans for percussion, and a bit of sucking air for the wind section, and picked up the pace. After punching through the last series of climbs, we found that Tom had redeemed himself; the approach to the sleepover controle in Lewisburg was via Rt 192, which turned out to be about 20 miles of fast downhill. It was amazing how much we perked up at that point, as we spent much of our time in the high teens and low twenties for the rest of the leg.

The Country Inn and Suites in Lewisburg was a palace, BTW. At that point, it could have been a hog pen for all I cared, but this was a truly nice little hotel.

Day 3...
...began with an utter lack of appetite, and a whopping 3 hours of sleep, so I was pretty much an animate corpse for the first hour or so. The legs to the next two controles, in Millersburg and Pine Grove, were fairly forgettable; I can say this because, well, I've forgotten everything about them. From Pine Grove, we had one more climb and crossing of the Appalachian Trail, then a vigorous ride through Lancaster farmland to the penultimate controle, the post office at Blue Ball. We (Chuck and Crista, Joe, Bill, and myself) stopped midway in the town of Reinholds at a fantastic Victorian railway depot that was converted to a restaurant; although the service was dreadfully slow, the staff was friendly and the food was good, so the lost time was considered well spent. A quick crossing on foot of a bridge under construction (allowing us to avoid a detour with 4 bonus miles!), and we were back on our way to Blue Ball.

In Blue Ball, we dropped our post cards in the mail box, then retraced our steps briefly on the way to Morgantown. One last stop at the Turkey Hill there for supplies, and we embarked on the final leg back to the hostel. Traffic picked up a good bit as darkness fell; lowlights included a set of fools on crotch rockets (AKA street motorcycles) who thought it would be fun to see how closely they could buzz us at some obscene speed. We persevered, however, and fought our way over to Rt 563. A mere 15 miles and one real climb later, and we were turning into the driveway of the hostel, worn down but happy.

At 9:35 PM on Sunday August 3rd, myself, Bill, Chuck, Crista, and Joe finished as a group. Pictures, handshakes, and pizza were distributed indiscriminately, followed by a shower and collapsing into immobile carrion on a bunk upstairs for 8 hours.

Good fun...I'd do it again, and feel pretty confident that I could pull off a 1200K without too much difficulty.

I highly recommend that interested parties take a look at Bill Beck's photos; he takes great pictures, and got quite a few in the course of this ride.

Lessons Learned
There are three opportunities for improvement that I should address.
  • First, climbing; although I'm not a bad climber at this point, it's still one of the most obvious areas on which to work to improve my overall speed.
  • Climbing leads naturally to my next point, which is descending; I'm fine dropping like a stone on a straightaway with good visibility, but I turn into a brake-riding weenie at the first hint of a curve or limited sight line.
  • Finally, I still have a lot of room for improvement at the controles; I spent way too much time dawdling at many of them, and could probably have shaved at least a couple of hours off my overall time (or gotten two more hours of sleep!) with no real difficulty.

I'm quite pleased with how well I held up with regards to overall performance, and I had very little aftereffects beyond tiredness and a bit of soreness/stiffness in the legs. Oh, yeah, and a hint of numbness in the feet, but nothing serious. I think a lot of that well-being is due both to youth and to the recumbent; I recover well, and the bike simply doesn't beat me up when I ride.

1000K teaser

Well, I survived :-)

Detailed ride report to follow, once I sort out pictures, notes, and my widely scattered thoughts.

Vitals: 18/19 finishers. I came in at 9:35 PM on Sunday with Bill, Chuck, Crista, and Joe, for a time of 65:35. Total mileage 622.9, rolling average overall right at 14.0 mph. Climbing claimed to be in the 40,000'+ range, calories burnt were over 35,000.

Couple of photo sets have been posted: one from Bill Beck, and one from George Winkert (who just happened to come by and take a few snapshots near the Gawdforsaken climb to Carbondale.).

Monday, July 28, 2008

East Liverpool

Easy century on Sunday the 27th, as I didn't want to abuse myself too much prior to the Eastern PA 1000K this coming weekend.

Interesting shifts in participants; we started with six, lost two and gained one in the first 30 miles, then split into two groups and gained another rider up in Beaver. All told, the tally included myself, Jim Logan, Phil Stewart, Brian, Heather, Ed, Don, and Al Gaburri, at various points in the ride.

East Liverpool is one of my favorite easy routes; almost all of the climbing (and there ain't much!) is loaded into the first 40 miles; once you hit East Liverpool, the entire latter half of the ride is flat roads paralleling the Ohio River. There's a couple of moderate climbs, with the long slog up 151 chief among them, but, for the most part, it's easy cruising. For the most part; as usual, the return leg along Rt 51 from Monaca resulted in my inner hammerhead surging to the fore. I had it all under control, until Phil (on his tri bike) dropped into the bars and decided to throw down a little, so I had no choice but to provide a demonstration of recumbent aerodynamics. Roughly 5 miles at 25 mph later, we had to slow down for the turn onto the Ambridge bridge, and to let the old guys catch up ;-)

(On a side note, I really should try redlining it on the P-38 and the Baron one of these days; I'm curious as to what I can sustain on a long straightaway if I put my heart into it. I bet I could push high 20s on the Baron for a few miles at least...)

Fun route, decent speed: 90 miles of "official" ride at 16 mph rolling average, plus an extra 11 miles round trip from home to the trail head. And the run to Bellevue to pick up pizza for dinner a couple hours later felt like I was on fresh legs, so I successfully avoided overdoing it.

Monday, July 21, 2008

PA 1000K Preparations

The 1000K is coming up fast; looks like it's going to be exciting. All 16 available slots are taken, with riders coming from Ohio, Pittsburgh, Boston, DC, and of course the NY/NJ/Eastern Pa region. Lots of familiar faces, as well as some new ones.

I've got a lot to do in the interim; I've got my last long ride slated for next Sunday, as well as the usual 2-3 days of commuting for this week. In terms of the bike, the laundry list isn't TOO bad: fabricate new mounting brackets for the SKS rear fender, get the wiring harness for the taillight properly redone, replace the seat mesh (and reinforce the underside of the mesh where it passes close to the power-side idler), and review/repack the contents of the trunk bag (AKA toolbox, spares kit, and bottomless pit of miscellaneous junk).

As this ride involves drop bags, I'll need to pack two for the overnight controles; mostly just clean shorts, spare base layers, and nutritional stuff. Also, I need to grab a new rain jacket, preferably something with removable sleeves.

I want to spend some quality time doing a virtual ride via Bikely; it's been a successful strategy thus far, so I might as well continue it for the year. It's helped a great deal in preventing, ah, navigational eccentricities in the past.

I'm feeling fairly confident at this point, as the Pittsburgh-Erie-Pittsburgh ride two weeks ago helped boost my confidence as regards back-to-back long days. I still feel a bit of trepidation with regards to the third morning; mounting up for the third of three consecutive double centuries will be new territory for me. My plan is to shoot for an early morning departure and a 15-16 hour ride each day; that should garner me sufficient rest, without spending too much time riding fatigued in the dark.

Monday, July 14, 2008

P-E-P (Pittsburgh-Erie-Pittsburgh)

This last weekend, Jim Logan, Scott Reckless, and I took a little two-day jaunt to Erie and back. For Jim and myself, it was a good training opportunity pre-PA 1000K; for Scott, a nice excuse for a ride :-)

The route was a simple there-and-back, primarily based on Adventure Cycling' s Pittsburgh-Erie spur.

Day 1 was brutally hot, but fairly pleasant overall; in hindsight, I wish we hadn't done the plunge into and subsequent climb out of New Castle, as that was a lot of extended climbing in moderate traffic which would have been nice to avoid. Ah, well, c'est la vie. Around that time, we transitioned from riding more-or-less in a group to "rugged individualist" mode, regrouping occasionally at convenience stores and whatnot. Unfortunately, there were a couple of detours of less-than-intuitive nature in Meadville and along Rt 98, resulting in mild consternation, much consultation of Jim's GPS, and the fastest rider (Scott) being the last one to the hotel in Erie. A shower, bowl of overpriced pasta at Applebees, and a viewing of the Simpson's Movie on HBO (not terribly impressive, BTW), and it was off to bed.

Day 2. I'll call it a good training ride. Not fun, other than in the "feelings of achievement via perseverance" sense. Jim, Scott, and I rapidly separated on the long climbs out of Erie; while I can't speak for the other guys, I can say that I spent roughly 9 of the next 11 hours getting rained on, in every form from fine misty drizzle to full-on, barely see through the glasses downpour. Don't get me wrong; I'm not a wimp about riding in the rain, as my poor drivetrain can attest. However, 150 miles of it was distinctly unlovely.

On the bright side, I've managed to eliminate the chain rub on the plastic chain keeper, and the new Terracycle idler set is quite spiffy. The genny-powered, fender-mounted tail light is also nice.

On the down side, although I had the discipline to hose off the bike immediately after the ride, I have not done any of the maintenance that is warranted, so I've got a pile of work to do in the next couple of days with regards to cleaning, lubricating, brake pad replacement, etc.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Creeping Wool

No, this is not a reference to an unwashed jersey crawling away under its own power.

When I started cycling a few years back, I simply couldn't see the point of the lycra and spandex. Why would I ever want to dress up like a tubby superhero? Okay, the padded shorts kinda made sense, but I wouldn't be seen dead without a pair of cotton baggies on top.

Then, the clipless pedals led to cycling shoes. Arm and leg warmers made sense, 'cause they let me ride in greater comfort in varied weather. Wicking fabrics? Hey, whaddaya know, there's a reason for this stuff after all. Then, after the bee/hornet/EPO-enhanced horsefly flew up my baggy shorts on the MS 150, suddenly the idea of exposing my flabby thighs encased in bike shorts seems to make far more sense. Yep, now I'm a superhero.

Even then, with the overwhelming evidence that maybe, just maybe, others may know what they're talking about with regards to clothing, I still maintained my prejudices. Sure, I was a lycra boy now, but at least I wasn't wearing itchy, hot, un-launderable wool, right? Then, just out of curiosity, I tried a wool tee-shirt for a base layer. Huh...again, whaddaya know? It actually works...

To cut the blathering short, let me just say that, on my commute to work today, I realized that the only things on my body that weren't wool were the gloves, the arm warmers, the SPD sandals, and the helmet. And wool arm warmers sound like a really good idea...

It's amazing how one can find oneself doing/using/saying things that seemed quite unlikely a short time in the past.

Monday, June 16, 2008

As if my taste in bicycles wasn't unusual enough...

Deena was "kind" enough to snag a Sun 24" unicycle off Craigslist for my b-day.

I still think she did it 'cause she wants me to have to embarrass myself while she takes up riding a two-wheeler again ;-)

Thanks, sweetheart. I think...

Anyone know how to ride one of these things? (Begins browsing YouTube...)


1) Attended the RBR Rally last weekend; good fun was had by all, except for Jay, who ended up with an enraged rodent (chipmunk or red squirrel, depending on observer) in his lap while on his trike. T-shirts along the lines "I got 'Munked at the Rally" are in the works for next year...

2) Brought home a new toy; Rob has loaned me an Optima Baron to test for suitability as a go-fast bike. (Above picture is image of actual bike, but lacking Aerospokes and the fire-engine-red tailbox I'll be bolting on as well.) It's kitted out nicely, all Ultegra and X-0, dripping with carbon fiber, and a set of Aerospoke wheels. I'm still not sure how well I like the Aerospokes, as they are flippin' heavy, but I must admit they do look snazzy. First impressions, absent real data due to lack of cycle computer: compares well to my P-38 on overall speed, faster on the descents and significant aerodynamic advantage once speeds get into the low 20s, climbs surprisingly well. Funfunfunfun bike; my first experiment with a low racer.

3) Apparently, Deena's gotten me a unicycle for my birthday. Heh. That's gonna be an adventure...I never guessed my first fixie would have less than the usual complement of wheels...

4) I've taken the plunge and signed up for the Eastern PA 1000K. Might as well make my randonneuring rookie year a memorable one...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

2008 PA 1000K is Open for Registration, plus Musings on Purpose

Details here...

...and I'm seriously considering it. Even though it's called the "Endless Mountains" edition.

It's interesting...I was recently asked what I get out of this, other than "lots of climbing and a pat on the back". It's a good question indeed, and I really don't have a good answer, or at least not an inclusive one.

To some extent, it's a chance to prove to myself that I can overcome adversity (albeit self-imposed). It's almost a form of exercise, wherein I'm strengthening my resolve and my willpower, much like physical exercise strengthens my muscles and bones. (The logical comparison between this degree of exercise of my will and, say, muscular bodybuilding to the point of becoming musclebound does not escape me...)

On another level, it ties into fatherhood. I want my son to be able to look at his dad and see someone who's willing to do something different; to see someone who takes joy in life through doing, not merely surviving; and to be UTTERLY appalled by his old man wearing bike shorts and tight jerseys in the presence of his friends. I hope that, even if the specifics of the hobby do not interest him, the willingness and necessity to self-motivate are applied in whatever he chooses to do.

Heck, some of it is simply ego gratification. Whether it be external or internal, the recognition of an achievement shared by very few people in the world is quite intoxicating; and, much like other drugs, you have to take more and more to get the same effect as you become acclimatized. This is readily apparent in my case; even thoughts of RAAM qualification, which would have been laughable a year ago, now seem (almost) reasonable.

I dunno...not really sure if I've answered the question, even to my own satisfaction. Let's sacrifice precision for accuracy:
I do it because I like it, and because I like myself better for doing it.

Update: Heh...and then I read this on Veloquent not 2 minutes after posting my meanderings...

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

PA 600K: Water Gap Edition/"Turkey Hill Edition"

Short version
377 miles, 14.5 mph rolling average, 32:40 elapsed time, two insults, one hurled bottle, Super Randonneur status achieved.


Long Version
On Saturday, June 7th, I clipped in at the unholy hour of 4 AM for the Eastern Pa Randonneurs 600K brevet. Eight of us rolled out at the start; familiar PA faces like Joe Brown, Matt Farrell, and Guy Harris; Rob Welsh, from the 200K; and new companions Dan Barbasch, John Dennis, and Bob Olsen.

I'll confess to a bit of weather-related trepidation; the forecast was calling for highs in the mid-90s F, with humidity somewhere in the "inhalation == blowing your nose backwards" range. (Sadly, the forecast weather materialized exactly as predicted.) I had decided to replace my customary third water bottle with a 70-ounce Camelbak bladder in a bag behind the seat; although the extra weight seemed excessive, the thought of blowing up 200 miles in due to dehydration was less appealing.

The first three segments were comfortably familiar from prior PA brevets; a hop to Cherryville and the first of five Turkey Hill Minit Market controles, followed by the usual climb through Little Gap and run through Cherry Valley to Water Gap and the bakery; then, finally, the Delaware Water Gap park route to Hainesville and Flat's Deli. By this point, Rob Welsh and I had decided to stick together for the rest of the ride, as our paces and personalities seemed compatible; besides, we were the guys riding (or at least owning...Rob brought a tasty Rivendell Rambouillet upright on this one) recumbents and wearing SPD sandals, so just naturally meshed well.

From Hainesville, we briefly retraced our route, then headed to the Dingman's Ferry bridge and a fairly villainous climb up Raymondskill Falls. This climb was notable not merely for the sun, which was in full blowtorch mode, but for the numerous occasions where we *thought* we were done, but were rapidly proven sadly mistaken. Eventually, we made our way across the NY border to Barryville; Tom showed up with magic socks (long cotton socks filled with ice) to drape across our necks in a surprisingly effective cooling technique.

We made our way back down the Delaware Water Gap, this time on the far side via River Rd (a welcome change from Old Mine Rd). A quick stop in Water Gap at the diner, and a chance to say hi to Tom and to Steve Scheetz, then we were on our way towards Bloomsbury and back to the hostel at Quakertown.

After some fantastic lasagna, a shower, 45 minutes of horizontal meditation, and a clean pair of bike shorts (aaaaah, luxury!), we set off again at about 12:30 AM. Heading out Ridge Rd towards Lancaster, we encountered our only true unpleasantness of the ride; a couple of shouted epithets involving the burning hatred we engendered, and a suggestion to acquire a car, were followed by a poorly-aimed bottle hurled from the window. Luckily, no harm was done, and we were quickly off the main roads.

I discovered the joys of severe fatigue on the leg from Gilbertsville to Morgantown that night; only Rob's company kept me moving, especially up a certain Shed Rd (2 miles long, moderate grade, at 3 AM). Once day broke, I was okay, but that feeling of dozing off while pedaling was quite unpleasant.

From Morgantown, we made a fast out-and-back to the post office controle at Blue Ball. A quick meal at the Windmill restaurant, then we set off for the final legs home. We pulled back into the hostel in the early afternoon, the first finishers with a comfortable time of 32 hours and 40 minutes. More lasagna, showers, clean clothes, and handshakes all around wrapped up my first brevet series in sterling fashion.

Once again, thanks go out to all who've enabled me in this obsession hobby. Tom, thanks for some great routes, and as pain-free an introduction to randonneuring as could be hoped. Rob, thanks for the company, the conversation, and for helping a rookie get through his first overnight. Steve, Maile, and Len, thanks for taking on the volunteer duties that let the rest of us play.

Most of all, Deena, my love, thanks for supporting me in this whole cycling thing...I couldn't do it without you.

Lessons Learned
  1. Companionship for the late-night hours is a Good Thing™. Without Rob's encouragement, I would have been a space-blanket-wrapped fetus (or a giant silver burrito, whichever) off the side of the road by 4 AM.
  2. Along the same lines as previous, I need to hold onto enough presence of mind when fatigued to do *something* to combat the dozies; from experiments later in the second day, simply chewing on a peanut butter and cheese cracker helped immensely. My mistake lay in doing nothing but continuing to turn the pedals.
  3. Fatigue aside, there was no appreciable degradation of riding ability after the first 200K or so; this is another Good Thing, and correlates to my observations on the earlier brevets.
  4. I ate fairly lightly on the day preceding the ride; this may well have correlated to feeling significantly more spritely for the first two segments, which was particularly noticeable while climbing Little Gap on Blue Mountain Drive. Not to say that I climbed STRONGLY, but I wasn't nearly as much of a wimp as the last two times.
  5. Mostly due to Rob's good example, I spent much less time at the controles than previously. I'm sure I picked up at least an hour on the first 400K, due solely to greater efficiency in that area.
  6. Camelbak bladder in the seat bag was a good decision. I never ran out of fluids (came close a couple of times!), but also never had to ration myself. Given the weather conditions, this was crucial to my success, if not my very survival.
  7. Rear rack and trunk bag was more convenient than prior jury-rigged seat back bag; however, i think I want to invest in a trunk bag with the small panniers that can be unfolded from the sides.
  8. Lighting: I need to work out better (or at least less disruptive to my night vision) lighting for reading cue sheets. Having the white LED head torch was great for reading cues, but meant that I could barely see my surroundings, eve with the DLumotec and E6 lamps running full blast. I also should experiment with placing the primary LED lamp on the fork.
  9. Once more, I carried a camera and didn't take a single photo. That's just dumb; expensive dead weight is not helpful.
Questions to Ponder
What's next? The PA 1000K at the beginning of August? A 12 or 24 hour race experiment? RAAM qualifier? A domestic 1200K?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Upcoming PA 600K: Turkey Hill Edition

Perhaps "oncoming" would be a better description.

Details here, map and elevation profile here; in short, 373 miles and almost 28,000' of climbing. BWAHAHAHAHA!!!

The legs (usual caveats: not official, use at own risk, subject to change, do not remove under penalty of law, do not operate heavy machinery after following, etc.):
Weisel Hostel(Quakertown, PA) to Turkey Hill (Cherryville, PA)
Turkey Hill (Cherryville, PA) to Village Bakery (Water Gap, PA)
Village Bakery (Water Gap, PA) to Flats Deli (Hainesville, NJ)
Flats Deli (Hainesville, NJ) to River Market (Barryville, NY)
River Market (Barryville, NJ) to Lake Wallenpaupack Cafe (Hawley, PA)
Lake Wallenpaupack Cafe (Hawley, PA) to Water Gap Diner (Water Gap, PA)
Water Gap Diner (Water Gap, PA) to Citgo (Bloomsbury, NJ)
Citgo (Bloomsbury, NJ) to Weisel Hostel (Quakertown, PA) (Sleep control)
Weisel Hostel (Quakertown, PA) to Turkey Hill (Gilbertsville, PA)
Turkey Hill (Gilbertsville, PA) to Turkey Hill (Morgantown, PA)
Turkey Hill (Morgantown, PA) to Post Office (Blue Ball, PA)
Post Office (Blue Ball, PA) to Turkey Hill (Morgantown, PA)
Turkey Hill (Morgantown, PA) to Turkey Hill (Gilbertsville, PA)
Turkey Hill (Gilbertsville, PA) to Weisel Hostel (Quakertown, Pa)

In keeping with my newly institutionalized traditions, I of course made further modifications to the P-38; can't actually be consistent between brevets, now can I? This time, however, it's a low-key mod; I added a Blackburn rear rack, as the repurposed diaper bag I was using for a seat-back bag was just not cutting it. The rack mounting was a bit of a jury-rig, as I didn't take the time to fabricate a proper attachment mechanism for the upper rack supports to the P-38's seat support, but instead just bent and brutalized the existing rack mounting straps. I'll make it good later, I swear. :-)

Weather forecast is concerning me a bit; highs in the mid-90s, and humid, which is weather I've never ridden in for more than 100 miles or so. I'm gonna melt, especially given that the year up to this point has been cooler than usual and I'm utterly un-acclimatized to the heat. Oh, well...just gonna do my best. Come to think of it, the heat will be strong motivation to keep riding through the entire night, so as to avoid the worst of Sunday's heat.

Ah, well. Need to pop out during lunch and grab some Gu packs; aside from that, I'm pretty much packed and ready as far as I can tell. I'd like to get in one last ride before packing up the car tomorrow, but I don't know when/if I'll have the chance.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Eastern Pa 2008 400K

"This bodes poorly" he observed clinically, while writhing on the floor of the Quality Inn's finest suite.

Thus began my day, the morning of the Eastern Pa 400K. I had set the alarm for 3:15 AM, as well as requesting a wake-up call for 3:20. Due to my uncanny powers of self-waking, I bounced out of bed at 3:00 on the dot. Full of vim, vigor, and general enthusiasm, I bent to snag my sandals; then the back spasm hit. And I collapsed like a tree under assault by methamphetamine-crazed beavers. I'm not normally prone to back problems, so this was an unpleasant surprise. Luckily, the spasm eased after a mere couple of minutes, and was reduced to a low-grade ache for the next few hours. I still have no idea why it happened, but devoutly hope this does not become a regular feature in my life.

Once the muscular misery had run its course, I got dressed, checked out of the hotel, and drove over to Tom's house for checkin and breakfast. As usual, oatmeal, bagels, bananas, and granola bars figured heavily into the pre-ride fueling equation. Tom reviewed a couple of minor cue sheet changes, and cautioned us with regards to a couple of the descents and less-well-maintained roads. Then, we set out into the pre-dawn gloom for the first leg to Cherryville.

I followed my new strategy to the letter; start with the fast group and try to keep up through the first controle, then find my own pace at the first real climb up Blue Mountain Drive through Little Gap. This helped me get nicely warmed up, as well as avoid early-morning navigational blunders, before dropping back a bit to a more comfortable pace. That's my story, anyway, and I'm sticking to it.

At this point, I must note that the one and only true irritation of the ride became manifest; somehow, in my tinkerings earlier in the week, I managed to shift the chainline just far enough inward that the return line was rubbing on the plastic chain keeper under load. This became MADDENING, as I could both hear and feel the power loss on every serious climb. I still have not figured out what I changed to produce said effect; however, to give away a bit of the plot, it obviously didn't hamper my performance that much.

From Cherryville, I rode more-or-less solo to Water Gap and the bakery controle, where I found myself tempted by vast quantities of cannoli and chocolate chip cookies. After giving in to temptation in truly epic fashion (no, I will not reveal how much I actually ate; suffice it to say that I, who do not embarrass easily, am embarrassed...), I crossed the Delaware via the I-80 pedestrian bridge, then set off up Old Mine Rd through the Delaware Water Gap. Scenes of natural beauty abounded; deer bounded 'cross my path; and millipedes, in biblical-plague quantities, bound me to a less-than-straight path through the park. To expand on the theme, let me just say that the 'pedes ranged in size from a mere inch to 8-inch monsters as thick as my tire, dripping with fangs, pincers, and a hunger for cyclist flesh.

Tom came out on his bike and accompanied me through a portion of the Gap; for some strange reason, he chose to peel off before the descent to 615 and the associated climb back up to Millbrook Village. I ended up riding with/near Guy Harris for much of the remaining leg to Hainesville; said leg was fraught with anticipation of turning around so that the fairly enthusiastic/vicious headwinds would become assistive tailwinds instead. A quick grilled cheese at the Flat's Deli controle, and Jim Logan, Guy, and myself were back on the road. The first sight to greet our eyes was Old Glory flying proudly and directly along our line of travel, indicating that yes, indeed, we had a nice strong tailwind to speed us along.

I decided to pick up the pace a bit; knowing that the climb up Old Mine to Millbrook would slow me down significantly, I figured that taking advantage of the prevailing winds and smooth new asphalt on 615 would be wise. Of course, the climb up Old Mine was not nearly as dreadful as I recalled, probably due to my choice to forgo all machismo, drop to the granny, and trundle up the hill at a stately and steady pace. Once past Millbrook, the Water Gap is pretty much a gentle descent with a few rollers all the way back to I-80, so I took full advantage of my recumbent's aerodynamic properties. Another crossing of the Delaware, and some coffee and pie a la mode at the Water Gap Diner controle were my reward.

Back through Cherry Valley and up through Wind Gap, I began to notice a bit of fatigue setting in. Not so much physically but mentally, as distinctions between "bear left" and "turn left" became harder to draw; for that matter, distinctions between "left" and "right" were getting fuzzy. Time to break out the big guns; Expresso Love Gu packs with the extra caffeine. Thus fortified, mental acuity sufficient to get me to the farmer's market controle was achieved.

I blush to admit it, but at this point, I've begun to lose track of the thread of events. I recall providing Joe, Jim, and Andrew with a couple of good strong pulls on 519; I also recall some pretty, yet monotonous segments of railway frontage road on the way out to New Hope and the penultimate diner controle. Friendly waitress, tasty muffins, and slightly surreal conversation with assorted fatigue-plagued randonneurs figured into the picture somehow as well. Frankly, all I recall clearly at this point was a strong desire on every one's part to bring it home by midnight. So, we formed up our pack for the final 45-mile push back to Easton; I did my best to lead us astray at one point, but wiser heads prevailed. Several long flat stretches, a few rollers, and a couple of moderate climbs later, and we were back at Tom's house, with an elapsed time of 18:40. I was delighted, in an out-of-focus sort of way, in that my goal for the ride was 20 hours; less than nineteen was fantastic.

Summary: Great weather, great route, good fun, and yet another 100% completion. I'm really curious to see if we can get 100% for the 600K as well.

Accomplishments: First double century, longest ride ever taken, 253.1 miles with rolling average of 15.6 mph.

Lessons Learned:
  • My pre-ride fueling strategy of eating like a pig for a week was a poor one. ESPECIALLY the heavy steakhouse dinner the evening before. While delicacy forbids details, let's just say that my digestive system was the focus of a great deal of my attention for the first half of the ride.
  • I already knew this, but did it anyway. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER perform serious maintenance on the bike without taking it for a shakedown ride BEFORE the primary ride. I got off lightly with 253 miles of rubbing chain; it could have been so much worse.
  • It's probably time to break down and put a rear rack on the P-38. It would make cargo handling significantly simpler, as I could use my existing stock of bags and panniers, rather than jury-rigging a diaper bag as a seat back bag.
  • I did suffer from a bit of hot foot on the balls of my feet for the last 60 miles or so; it was tolerable while pedaling, but clipping in was agony. I don't know if I need to change something, or just deal with it; maybe break down and resort to painkillers if necessary.

Monday, May 19, 2008

400K: To-dos

The 400K is upon me, I've got most of the tinkering complete (including a remount of the fugly light switch from the handlebars to the seat), so just need to pack and be on my way.

I'm taking Friday off work, and will detour through York County on my way eastwards; that way, I'll get to stop in and have lunch with the 'rents, as well as hopefully catch up with an old high school buddy. Leave York by 3 or thereabouts, and check in to the Quality Inn in Easton at a reasonable hour. Consume vast quantities of dinner with an eye towards pasta and other carb-like substances, then sack out early before my 3:30 AM (!) wakeup call. Tom's house, breakfast, check-in, and bike inspection at 4, then ride start at 5 AM.

Looks like a fun route, albeit with a lot of out-and-back sections. Tom was kind enough to yank the Fox Gap and Millbrook climbs; that will help, although I'm stil dreading a repeat of the climb up Old Mine Rd just off NPS 615 in the Water Gap on the return from Hainesville. Ah, well...I did 2 MPH before, and I can do it again...

Here's the Bikely routes (usual caveats: not official, subject to change, not approved by RBA, etc.)
Controle 1 (Easton, Pa) to Controle 2(Cherryville, PA). 31 miles

Controle 2(Cherryville, PA) to Controle 3 (Water Gap, Pa). 33 miles
Controle 3(Water Gap, PA) to Controle 4 (Hainesville, NJ). 30 miles
Controle 4(Hainesville, NJ) to COntrole 5 (Water Gap, PA). 30 miles
Controle 5(Water Gap, Pa) to Controle 6(Martins Creek, PA). 26 miles
Controle 6(Martins Creek, PA) to Controle 7(Bloomsbury, NJ). 25 miles
Controle 7(Bloomsbury, NJ) to Controle 8(New Hope, Pa). 36 miles
Controle 8(New Hope, Pa) to Controle 9(Easton, Pa). 40 miles (looks mostly flat...thanks, Tom!)

It'll be fun. I'm hoping for roughly 20 hours, so I'll get in by 1 AM or so. Shower, eat, nap in Tom's guest room for a few hours, then set off back to the 'Burgh on Sunday.

I am a little concerned about/curious to see how I'll handle the 4-5 hours of riding in darkness while fatigued. That could well slow me down more than a little bit; but, safety trumps speed, so I will quite happily seek out a park bench or a comfy conveneience store aisle if necessary to catch a nap. We'll see...the wild-eyed optimist in me says I'll be fine. :-)

Friday, May 16, 2008

Sputter/Gasp/Splash to Work Day

Unless I utterly misremember, this is the second year in a row where my Bike To Work Day commute has involved precipitation ranging from "stinging" to "torrential" to "biblical".

I need a shell that is actually water resistant; the old cheap one from Nashbar looked and felt more like a wet tee-shirt by the time I arrived at the office. The sleeves did a good job of supporting sloshing puddles around my elbows (Yay, recumbent riding position!); allowing arms to hang straight down and loosening elastic at wrists produced copious quantities of water pouring over my hands.

Wool socks and SPD sandals were a good choice, though. I'm using that combination for most of my cycling at this point, as it seems to Just Work for most applications.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Eastern PA 300K Brevet, Water Gap Edition

Vital Statistics: 191.43 miles, 15.1 mph rolling average, ~15K' climbing, 14:37 time.

Results(1 DNS, 100% completion!)
RBA Ride Report (added 05/13/2008)

The PA Randonneurs 300K brevet was held this past weekend out of the Weisel Hostel in Quakertown. Although the weather forecast was a bit ominous, we enjoyed sunny and partly cloudy skies for much of the day, with temperatures ranging from the high 40s to the low 60s; quite acceptable, really.

As per usual, vast quantities of oatmeal, bagels, and coffee were consumed before heading out to the porch for a brief rider meeting. The RBA, Tom Rosenbauer, cautioned us about a couple of the more exciting descents, and we were off into the morning mist. I was happy to find that my new home-brewed switching system for my lights worked as expected, although I think I'll reposition it under the seat or somewhere else less obtrusive.

The first leg took us through Bethlehem to Cherryville; nicely minimal traffic, due to the early hour. I found myself off to a slow start; not feeling bad, but a little sluggish, and a nagging sore throat that was to prove a near-constant companion for the remainder of the ride.

After a quick stop at the Turkey Hill controle, we set off on the longest leg of the route; 50 miles, including two of the big climbs and Appalachian Trail crossings. First, the climb up Little Gap, ending up with a lovely view of the mist-filled valley below:

Valley seen from top of Little Gap climb, by Blue Mountain Ski resort.

After plummeting down from Little Gap, a series of scenic rural roads led us eastward.
Abandoned house between Little Gap and Fox Gap

From there, we headed up to Rt 191 and the Fox Gap climb; however, Tom had mercy upon us this time, and routed us such that we only did the top half of Fox Gap. Small mercy, that; however, the secret controle at the top, stocked with caffeinated beverages, was a truly welcome sight.
After bombing down the hill to Portland, a quick river crossing led to Columbia (New Jersey), and a surprisingly tough little climb up from Rte 46 starting on Walnut Rd. Eventually, I found myself in Blairstown, where a peanut butter and jelly bar at the Gourmet Gallery controle provided some much-needed sustenance before the looming Millbrook climb.

The aforementioned Millbrook climb on the start of the third leg was a good tough one, but I found myself flagging badly on the subsequent bit from Millbrook Village to Walpack. Definitely hit my low point for the ride in this stretch; creeping angst had set in pretty strongly, as had a tendency to crawl up hills in the sub-4 MPH range, until I hit a lovely stretch of freshly repaved road along NPS 615 through the Water Gap park. The clean asphalt lifted my spirits enough to make the remainder of the cruise to Flat's Deli in Hainesville fairly painless.

I ordered a roast beef sandwich at Flat's; I was not expecting to receive half a cow on a bun, however. Tasty, but I ended up pitching half of it to Rob, who arrived a couple minutes after I did. After a few minutes to allow the vast quantities of beef, cheese, and veggies to find equilibrium, I set off on the return trip through the Water Gap. Got almost a quarter mile, too, before turning around to retrieve the gloves that I'd somehow forgotten on the table...
Delaware Water Gap

The last real climb lay ahead on this fourth leg. By retracing the route through Millbrook Village, I had the delightful task of scaling Old Mine Rd in the other direction; yes, the same descent labeled as scary, dangerous, use caution, etc., would now be the delightful 17% obstacle I needed to surmount in order to get back to Pennsylvania. I didn't actually drop below 2 MPH, but came fairly close to cracking that low-speed barrier; it almost certainly would have been faster for me to walk the bike, but excessive pride prohibits such indulgence. Anyway, once past that little obstacle, the rest of the leg was delightful; smooth rollers all the way down to a Delaware River crossing via I-80's walkway to Water Gap, PA, and the Water Gap Diner. There were other randonneurs (Jud and Rob), and, more importantly, there was PIE A LA MODE. No better way to fuel up for a quick jaunt to the next controle than with cherry pie and vanilla ice cream...

Water Gap to Belvidere was uneventful. I rode with Jud and Rob out of Water Gap, following the river down through Portland and back across to Belvidere and the Pizza Mia shop. We were all anxious to wrap things up, so we kept the controle stop mercifully brief and embarked on the last leg back to the hostel. There was a bit of a climb up to the top of 519, but nothing compared to earlier in the route.

We crossed the river for the last time in Riegelsville, then headed south to follow the border of Nockamixon State Park back to Weisel Hostel. Back in at 7:37 PM, and I had successfully completed my second brevet and longest ride to date. (I will confess to a desire to hop back on the bike and put in an extra 10 miles to make it a double century, but discretion proved to be the better part of valour...)

I grabbed a shower, then loaded up the car and headed home. I had every intention of making it back to da 'Burgh, but decided to play it safe and got a motel in Breezewood for three hours of much-needed sleep.

Lessons learned:
  • There really wasn't much difference for me between this ride and the 200K. As long as the hydration and nutrition were kept up, I didn't notice any deterioration in energy or comfort after about 100 miles or so. I hope this keeps up at least through the 400K, although I suspect my handling of sleep deprivation on the bike will be the next hurdle to overcome.
  • I should strive for a bit more minimalism; I carry a lot of crap, much of which is unnecessary; although a lot of the tools are nice to have, some of the excess bags and spare bits could safely be dispensed with.
  • I confirmed something I'd read, in that simply pedaling through the low points is one of the best ways to handle them. It was nice to find that even feeling utterly drained and demoralized was something from which I could rapidly recover.
  • The HEED seemed to work well, although I ended up carrying at least a half-pound more than I needed.
  • I should give up on the notion of driving home after a brevet without sleep. Highway driving is too monotonous for me to tackle it in a post-ride state.
  • Although not a problem thus far, I could probably have optimized my controle stops well enough to buy an extra 30-45 minutes without much trouble; something of which to be aware for later brevets.