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.