Thursday, December 31, 2009

Banner Year

For the first time evah, I managed to ride for more miles than I drove my car. ~8150 cycling miles (and that number is low, as I don't get obsessive about logging all of my miscellaneous lunchtime and errand rides) versus ~6600 miles added to the odometer on the Impreza. W00t!

Replacing the Cranberry "drive 50 miles three to five times per week" commute with the South Side "ride 20 miles every day" commute helped a bit in that respect, methinks.

Ah well. Time to bask in a sense of accomplishment. And to attempt to get stoked for the Icycle Bicycle tomorrow morning...

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Obligatory end-of-year post

As 2009 winds down (wonder how many times THAT phrase has been written in the last week?), I find myself reflecting on past, present, and future. Then, after a few moments, the uncontrollable screaming stops, and I ease into a phase of gentle hyperventilation whilst I ponder.

The good

Hmm...let's see. Beautiful baby girl Elaine tops that list; although I hate to admit it, all of my cycling accomplishments kinda pale in comparison.
Putting the family aside (this IS a blog about my obsessive cycling, after all!), there's a lot of things for which I am thankful.
  • Crush the Commonwealth was a great deal of fun. In some ways, I felt almost like a sandbagger, as, well, most of the participants did not have anywhere near the distance cycling experience that I did. On the opposite paw, there were other randonneurs, MTB enduro guys, and even Real Racer types there too, so I don't feel too bad. And I fully intend to come back next year for Philly-->Pittsburgh to defend my title...
  • Venturing into the world of the upright bike has been pleasant. I've been commuting on the Bianchi for six months now (and faux-singlespeed for three), including some recent rides in truly delightful wintry conditions. I still wouldn't choose anything but a decent 'bent for rides over, say, 50 miles, but I'm glad to have other options in my skillzet.
  • The Endless Mountains 1240 was an awesome experience. Most rational people would say that such a cycling endeavor makes no sense; heck, I'd tend to agree. Almost by definition, those of us who enjoy long-distance unsupported cycling are pretty far outside the realm of the norm, even by the definition of the "normal" cyclist. But that's okay, methinks. (It's also nice to push myself that much farther beyond my prior limits, and to realize that I still have more to give if I so choose.)

The bad
  • I've been doing a poor job as Webmaster of the Western PA Wheelmen...haven't put the energy or attention into it that I should. For next year, I intend to open up the content management portion of the role a bit to others, so I can focus on techie crap while the other club officers publish amusing photos of cats on bikes or suchlike to the front page.

The ugly
  • Amazingly enough, the Endless Mountains 1240 crops up here too. ;-) Never has a ride shaken my desire to continue randonneuring and ultracycling like that one did. In retrospect, I think it made me a stronger cyclist, as the bar for "how much can you really take" has been raised a significant amount. The bar for "how much do you WANT to take" has actually lowered a bit; pain for pain's sake just doesn't much appeal.
  • Missing the Dirty Dozen hurt...of course, considering that I missed more than half of my own training rides for one reason or another, it's probably a good thing that I didn't make it out.
  • I'm already feeling the mantle of fat, out-of-shape wintry pig falling upon my shoulders...if I wish to have any hope whatsoever of doing well in 12-hour racing next year, I need to not let myself slide into corpulent sloth.
The future
  • A pretty piece of flèche. I have yet to do a proper flèche; as my RBA Jim Logan needs one to complete his R-5000, I think it'd be a good year to do my first one. As it happens, my parents' farm would be a fine starting point for routes to either DC or Eastern PA, so we'll likely be participating in one of those regions' flèches.
  • Calvin's Challenge is May 1st. While I'm trying to keep my expectations reasonable ("Don't die. Don't bail out early. Only have good hallucinations"), I do still have some feeble hopes of a decent first race. If I can break 240 miles, I'll be ecstatic; 220 miles would make me happy, and I'll be content so long as I break 200. This race is important to me, as it's my first toe-dip into the murky waters of competitive ultracycling; if it goes well, I'll contemplate more serious races such as Sebring or the AD540 or suchlike.
  • The Pittsburgh Randonneurs club is still in its infancy, and will need a good bit of TLC in the near term. I'm delighted to have a rando organization in my back yard, as it means much less obligatory travel in order to get in a full brevet series. Next year, we'll be offering numerous 200Ks, as well as a 300 and 400 in July.
  • Paris-Brest-Paris 2011 is on the horizon. I intend to follow a scientific and rigorous program of preparation consisting of A) riding lots of brevets in 2010, and B) that's it.
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, and best wishes to y'all. I mean yunz. Or yinz. Whatever.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Winter's Here

And about darn time, sez I.

After a leisurely breakfast, I rode over to the Union Project for I Made It. Of course, being an utter doofus, I neglected to bring the key for my U-lock, so ended up sharing a chain with a gentleman named Rob. Convenient? No, but far better than relying on the combination-locked cable I keep in my bag for emergency locking purposes; said cable lock could probably be cut with a set of nail clippers in a minute flat, much less real tools.

Anyway, my theft-prophylaxis maunderings aside, it was grey, cold, windy, and flurrying snow all afternoon. I loved it. Aside from slightly chilled toes (road spray soaked through the shoes), I pretty much nailed the wardrobe requirements for comfort on and off the bike; never got too hot, or too cold, even if some of the combinations were of dubious quality, vis-a-vis that whole fashion thing.

I'm still rolling on the Vittoria Randonneurs; they did fine in this weather, but I'm starting to think it may be time to break out the 'cross tires, if not bite the bullet and go right to the studs. I also really need to put a darn mudflap on the front fender, to cut back the tire spray on my feet. Note that I've been planning to do that mudflap since I got the Bianchi; I'm starting to feel like the proverbial deep-woods Appalachian denizen with a hole in his roof: "When it ain't rainin', the roof don' leak; when it's rainin', I cain't fix it nohow."

Upcoming plans for the winter: I need to tear down and rebuild the P-38, as it's in pretty sad shape after a hard season of rando abuse. The old Rocket needs to be componentized , cleaned, and stored, until I get around to rebuilding it as some form of urban assault 'bent. I need to start thinking about some form of half-arsed training plan(should work with Mayhew), as I still intend to take a serious crack at a 12-hour race next spring. Oh, yeah, and I need to nail down routes for the Pittsburgh Randonneurs brevet series. And get around to some long-overdue WPW website work. And...

Monday, October 26, 2009

Length isn't Everything

This weekend, I got back on the 'bent for the first time since the EM1240; I was leading a Dirty Dozen scouting ride, specifically over Sycamore, Welsh Way, Barry-Holt-Eleanor, and Flowers-Tesla.

The first good thing I realized was that, although I'd been off the bike for everything other than commuting for the last few weeks, my legs were in far better shape than I expected. Don't get me wrong, I still climb like a depressed tortoise; but I was a depressed tortoise who wasn't in great pain, even on the last bit of Eleanor. I'm not sure exactly what the difference may be between now and last year; I've got a few more miles in my legs, but I suspect that riding the Bianchi in faux-singlespeed mode for the last couple of months has done good things for my body.

The second good thing I realized, even more importantly, was that I did a measly 28 miles, and had a really good time. I've been doing distance stuff for so long that, well, anything under 100K just doesn't seem like a Real Ride™. It was amazingly refreshing to go out and ride for a couple of hours, have a great time, then go home and have an entire day to spend with family and friends.

I must be getting soft in my old age.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Endless Mountains 1240K, 2009, the uncut version

Photo by Bill Beck, morning of Day 2, Hallstead. The last time I look anywhere near this perky...


One becomes tempted, after a ride of this magnitude, to fancy oneself some form of Icelandic bard or other crafter of epic prose. Much as I'd like to deliver my Endless Mountains 1240 ride report in saga form, I fear that my readers (yes, all three of you) would rapidly lose patience with endless variations on a theme of
Grey was the morn,
And dismal the skies,
As the winter-wulf howled from the West.
Out rode Bill, leader and scribe, garbed all in wool to his eyes.
Followed he was, by numbers dwindling, of comrades weary and vexed.
Etc., etc. So, I shall resist such temptation, and instead blather on in more modern style.

Pictures, Results, etc.

Bill's Photos and Music Video(!)
Maile's Photos
George's Photos
Christine's Photos
EM1240K Blog
Rob Welsh's Ride Report

Day 1: An old familiar friend (This hill AGAIN?)
'Twas the usual drill for the morning of a long brevet; eyes popped open a few minutes before the alarm (okay, they popped open every hour or so all night long, but who's counting?), last-minute bike inspection ("Pedals? Check! Do they spin? Check!"), and down to the hotel lobby to scarf food and chat with other riders. Tom gave us the traditional pep talk, and we were off in a blaze of glory and tail-lights.

The first day's course was more-or-less identical to that of the 1000K from last year, so I had a pretty good idea what to expect: a half-dozen long, tough climbs, interspersed with plenty of shorter ones, plus a lot of rollers to keep things interesting. I figured I'd follow my now-standard protocol, wherein I'd try to ride with the fast group as far as the first controle, then fade back on the climb over Blue Mountain and find my own pace. Sadly, the testosterone poisoning kicked in, and I was foolish enough to nearly burn myself out by keeping pace all the way to the beginning of the Fox Gap climb. I did maintain enough presence of mind to slow down for the 2-mile 1200'+ climb, so was merely hurting at the top, rather than utterly blown. Surprise, surprise, there was a "secret" controle at the summit; probably the worst-kept secret in the history of secret controles, at least if one has ever ridden any of Tom's brevets before. From there, we dropped back down to a crossing of the river in Portland, then over the ridge to the next control in Blairstown, and the next major climb in the form of Milbrook Rd. I like to call this stretch "the demoralizer", as it is a seemingly endless climb, with a fairly evil false summit, followed by a drop to Old Mine Rd and an immediate granny-gear-grind up that next hill. Once past that obstacle, however, the 10 mile passage through the Delaware Water Gap is quite lovely.

I popped into the corner store at Layton to stock up before the drop to Dingman's Ferry, as I knew the Raymondskill Falls climb was imminent.I also remembered how much fun the bits immediately following Raymondskill were, so took it nice and easy all the way to the next controle at Barryville, in the great state of Gnu Yahk. A quick sandwich, and some goofing around in front of George's camera, and it was off on the next leg. This included the Dreaded Carbondale Climb (AKA Mt Salem), which took us to the highest point on the course for the day, followed by a screaming (or at least occasionally yelping), brake-pad-eating descent into downtown Carbondale and the Dunkin Donuts controle. Then, of course, we got to climb OUT of the valley, on our way to a fairly nasty set of rollers and the first sleep controle at Hallstead. I got in just before 9 PM, so enjoyed a luxurious 4.5 hours of sleep.

Day 2: The gathering storm (Knees, mechanicals, and morale)
Bill, Rob, and myself departed Hallstead bright and early at 4 AM. I was feeling ok as we were rolling out, although the sporadic rain was a bit annoying. Soon, however, I noticed that both knees were starting to twinge a bit, then more than a bit. I pulled over into a gas station, took some Aleve, and put on my spare knee warmers under my tights; that seemed to help somewhat. I was more than a bit concerned, however, as knee troubles at mile 220 of 776 is generally a Bad Sign.

Shortly thereafter, I felt the rear end go all catywumpus. Called out "flat" and bid Rob and Bill a fond adieu for the duration, then pulled over to deal with the problem. A bit of forensic work, and , a-HA! A glass shard! I pulled the shard, glued down the patch, re inflated the tube, got back on the road, and ffffffffttttt in less than 5 minutes. Profanity ensued. More forensics determined that there had been two glass fragments in close proximity; the one I had removed was probably not the first culprit, but the one I hadn't seen most assuredly was. Pluck/patch/inflate/replace/back on the road. 10 minutes later, "Gee, the handling is getting sloppy back there." Off the bike, inspect tire, find mushiness of great degree. More profanity ensued, at slightly greater length and significantly higher volume. Forensics ensued, and detected no immediate leaks, so I broke down and threw in a new tube. Inflate/replace/back on the road, to the same sinking mushy feeling in less than 10 minutes. Yet more profanity, this time in a continuous low-voiced stream even before the bike had come to a complete halt. Forensics ensued...briefly. I had neglected to screw the Presta valve cap back down, and it appears to have stuck in a slow-leak open position. That, at least, was an easy fix.

Finally, I was back on the road to Sayre. The knee pain and flats, plus rain, had done a number on my morale and my performance; while this was a lovely flat stretch, and a great opportunity to make up some time, I was deeply enough in a funk that I simply couldn't bring my speed up over the high teens. Then, probably due to the rain and road dirt, the rear brake started rubbing badly, and I darn near chucked the bike off an overpass in disgust. I was NOT a happy camper by the time I limped into Sayre, so I stopped at the first convenience store I found to console myself with food. Utterly by accident, this was exactly the right thing to do, as my mood improved dramatically within 5 minutes of shoving a couple of breakfast sandwiches into my gaping maw. In hindsight, I realize that part of my mood was probably due to insufficient solid food; contrary to the experiences of many, I tend to ride much more happily with a well-lined stomach. I had successfully experimented with mostly liquid on-bike nutrition on several 150-milers over the summer, so had assumed that it would work well on longer rides. Live and learn, I suppose.

From Sayre, I maintained a steady pace through Towanda and a few climbs to the controle at Dushore. I wasn't feeling great either physically or mentally, but had gotten back to a state of equilibrium that I could maintain indefinitely with sufficient care. This was good, as the bit from Dushore to Canton was a fine test of that equilibrium; Rte 154 is a very exciting road on which to cycle, with its' 20%+ climbs and its' screaming blind-curve technical descents. Regardless, the trip to Canton was made without serious damage to my Zen-like state of serenity.

In Canton, I made sure to eat a bit more solid food, as my memories of the next stretch indicated that it was going to be about 15 miles of really rough rollers and climbs. before getting to Liberty and the long descent into Little Pine Creek. Surprisingly, I was feeling pretty strong at this point, and powered through this stretch with nary a moment's dismay. Heh...except for the dogs. I almost forgot the dogs. There was a little pack of three farm dogs hanging out by the road, obviously interested in harassing passing cyclists. Two were apparently merely bored, and looking for something to chase; the third, who appeared to be a mix of Greyhound, Rottweiler, and (in my fearful state) Brontosaurus, was a little more intent on putting teeth to lycra. I wasn't TOO concerned, as they accosted me at the top of a decent valley, and there isn't a dog alive who can keep up with a fat guy on a 'bent _starting_ a descent at 20 miles per hour. Then I hit the other side of the valley, maybe a quarter-mile away, glanced in my mirror, and realized that Rover the Bionic Dog was only 50 feet back and had achieved missile lock. When Pennsylvania's answer to the Hound of the Baskervilles had taken the first snap at my left thigh, I discovered that yes, recumbents can climb hills at speed. The only parts of my body touching the bike were hands on bars, feet on pedals, and shoulders pushed into seat, which, while not sustainable, is a lovely way to put a bit of extra grunt into climbing a 15% slope in the big ring. Finally, after a couple more snaps, Fido dropped back, or maybe his batteries ran down or something.

The rest of the day was uneventful; hard as blazes, but in that very familiar "ho-hum, a 5-mile steady climb followed by 12 miles of sawtooth rollers" sort of way. Rolling into the Lamar controle at just before midnight, I was tired, but still feeling good about the ride. Little did I know...

Day 3: OMFG. Hardest day on the bike I've ever had, bar none. (Fog, rain, abandon?, exhaustion, treehouse)

Lemme just say that, in hindsight, there was no one thing that made this day really tough. The combination of a lot of things led me closer to abandoning a ride than I've ever gone before; sheer stubbornness was the only thing that got me through this (27-bloody-hour) day of riding.

I departed the Lamar controle just before 5 AM, after a whopping 2.5 hours of sleep. A chilly fog had set in, making early morning navigation spectacularly difficult; fortunately, the route was not too complex at this point, so dull wits and fogged eyes were up to the task. I winced when I read the cue to turn on a Long Run Rd, however, as the combination of the words Run (usually denoting a valley with a stream cutting down through it) and Long (usually denoting, well...) bodes poorly. Boy did it ever.

After an icy-cold descent on the far side of the ridge, plus a nice game of leapfrog with John and Dan Fuoco on the way to the Loganton post office controle, we found ourselves rolling towards Boalsburg. Then the rain set in. For the first time.

Much of the day was a blur; it was chilly, and hilly, and I'd already punched out 500 miles in the last 2.5 days. I spent much of the rest of the day riding with John and Dan, who were quite congenial company; we had all pretty much hit the same state of disconnection from reality, which manifested itself mainly in slow, steady-paced riding (or "dieseling", as my friend Rob likes to call it). We made it through the next controles without incident, then added Craig Martek to our merry band, just as the REAL rain set in. For bloody hours.

After several of us started feeling hypothermia settling in, we set up camp at a Sunoco in a feeble attempt to dry off and warm up. We're talking catastrophically soaked to the bone, uncontrollable shivering, no dry garment amongst us, just about ready to throw in the towel. Actually, the prospect of abandoning was discussed very seriously; finally, we decided to ride to the next controle, a 24-hour Dennys, where we could stay as long as we needed, and where several EM1240 volunteers were waiting.

The rain had mostly slackened off when we reached Dennys, and it was *only* another 60 miles to the overnight controle, and *only* midnight or so, so pushing on seemed like the done thing. I'm glad we did, but that ride through the night was naught but a haze of fatigue for me. I ended up having to pull over twice for catnaps, as I was no longer capable of keeping the bike in a straight line. The first time, John and i found a wooden picnic table so long as to allow us both to sleep comfortably; the second time, John rode on, while I curled up in a kid's tree house structure on a lot full of Amish-built sheds and outbuildings. Less than refreshed, but at least less dangerous, I limped my slow and sorry way to the final overnight controle at Pine Grove. I arrived at 7 AM, as dawn was breaking, 27 hours after leaving Lamar. Shattered, utterly shattered.

Day 4: Homestretch
After a whopping 90 minutes of sleep, I dragged my sorry carcass out of the room and down to the lobby. Peering blearily around, I noticed vaguely food-shaped objects arrayed on a counter, and concluded that I should consume some of them. I'm pretty sure I did, but, to my dying day, I will never recall what they were. While absentmindedly shoveling food into my face, I had the chance to chat with Steve Scheetz, whom I hadn't seen since the PA 1000K last year. I think we talked about the upcoming route, although it could have just as easily been a conversation on the relative merits of death metal versus grindcore for all I recall. I think I've successfully conveyed the idea that I was less than mentally acute at this point, so will cease beating that particular drum.

Signed out with the volunteers, handed over my room key, and I was on my way. Rolled out the door and was struck full between the eyes by an unfamiliar sight, blinding sunlight. Although painful to my solar-deprived retinae(sp?), that worked better to produce awareness than a cup of coffee poured down the front of my chamois. Ah, light. Warmth. Not wearing tights, knee warmers, and base layer for the first time in days...what luxury!

Buoyed by the delightful weather, I made good time on the way to the one and only intermediate controle of the day, a Sheetz in New Holland. Pedaling through the gentle rollers of Lancaster County in the morning sun was exactly what I needed, and I maintained a reasonable pace for the next few hours.

As I approached the homestretch, however, the knee pain with which I'd been struggling all ride started flaring up badly. At Morgantown, as I left Amish country behind, the left knee started grumbling; by the time I headed into the approach to Harmonyville and made the mistake of powering up a particularly steep incline just after a metal-grate bridge, it was in full-fledged revolt, with only 25 miles to go! I had a good eight hours before the time cutoff, so I popped a couple of Aleve and dialed way back on the effort.

Fortunately, the rest of the route back was fairly familiar, from previous brevets in the 2008 PA series. I had hoped to make it back before dark, but ended up slowing a great deal by the time I hit Swamp Creek Road, so it and the last few miles of back-roads navigation was done in darkness. Regardless, I pulled into the hotel lobby at 8:10 PM, the eighth finisher, less than 5 hours behind first finisher and all-around-good-guy Randy Mouri.

Lessons Learned

Happily, I can say that there were very few negative lessons on this ride. At the risk of tooting my own horn, I've done this enough now, and trained well enough over the past few months, that I really didn't do too much that was wrong.

That said, I did a poor job of sticking to my plan on the first day. I should have eased off after the Blue Mountain climb as planned, rather than trying to hang with the fast group through Fox Gap. I also should have been a bit more careful about solid food intake; until the morning of Day 2 in Sayre, I was mostly running on gels, beans, Heed, and Perpetuem, and I think my system gets unhappy and weaker than it should be with more than 150 miles or so of such a diet.

In the future, I think I want to try a more minimalist approach; I carry a lot of stuff, and it'd be nice to see if I can simplify and trim the load down by 5-10 pounds. For that matter, trimming 20-30 pounds off ME would be a fine idea for future endeavors.


This was a tough ride for me, but not for the obvious reasons. I expected a hard route, and I expected mechanical problems and sleep deprivation and suchlike; heck, I even expected to go through at least one long physical and/or emotional bad patch every day. I thought the weather might be poor in spots, even if I didn't quite realize how poor. But what I didn't expect, because it's never happened to me before, was that I really didn't have fun for much of the ride. For whatever reason, my heart wasn't in it, so I had to substitute sheer stubbornness (and end-goal Ben & Jerry's visualization games! Thanks, Maile!) for actual desire to be riding.

Do I feel a sense of accomplishment, and of pride? Yeah, I do, and I'm glad I didn't give up. Also, I'm willing to wager that, given a few weeks for the sharp edges of memory to be softened into nostalgia, I'll be eager to do such things again. Now, though, the thought of a multi-day brevet is less than appealing; I think I need to be done with such things for a few months. Fortunately, this aversion does not extend to fast day rides and 12-hour races and such...I'm still excited about the idea of training for and riding in Calvin's Challenge next year.

All in all, it was worthwhile. I can't thank Tom, or the Helpful Horde of volunteers, enough for their efforts; their example leads me to believe that I need to do a bit more for the sport than brevet route design and bicycle inspection duties. Anyway, thanks again to Tom and the couldn't have done more to make my first 1200 a good one.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Endless Mountains 1240k, 2009 (short version)

"Needless Mountains"
"Endless Misery"
"I did the EM1240, and all I got was this lousy head cold?!?"
"The hardest ride I've ever done, by far. " Yeah, that one works.

Here's the short version, as I'll need time to collect my shattered thoughts before typing up the long(er)-winded version. I started with the first group at 4 AM on Wednesday, and finished up solo a bit after 8 PM on Saturday. 780 miles (counting the odd detour), 3 flats (two due to glass, one to my own idiocy, ALL within 30 minutes of each other), no injuries beyond minor contact point abrasions, and a grand total of 88:10 from start to finish.

The route was just about as hard as I expected; the weather was far, far worse (as the ~50% DNF list can attest); and the staffing and organization was unparalleled in my experience. Heck, of all the things to say about this event, probably the single most important is to thank the teeming throngs of volunteers who made the intolerable bearable, and who were bound and determined to make sure that no rider had to think about anything other than turning the pedals over. You guys rocked.

More later.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Car(nage) up!

(Here in sunny southwestern PA, the phrase "car up" is frequently heard on club rides to indicate oncoming motor vehicles. This is me trying and failing to come up with a clever title that indicates approaching mayhem.)

The Endless Mountains 1240K is only a couple of weeks away. I think this means I'm supposed to begin spazzing, oh, any old time now. I've bought lots of consumable stuff, I've made lists of this and that and things to do and things to pack and travel schedules and detailed plans to make plans and, oops, haven't really ridden as much as I probably should have and I haven't kept up with my schedule or checked everything off my lists. And ya know what? I'm actually feeling good about this ride, mostly in spite of the preparatory rushings-about. I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.

Cameos from Mssr. Franken aside, I realized recently that I've long since gotten past the point of "can I do this?". I can do this. I won't be anywhere near the fastest, but so what? I get to ride my bike for four days through some gorgeous country, probably with the trees donning their autumnal colours; I get to chat with old friends and new; I get to push my body to perform as hard as I want to, but with the understanding that I don't have to push that hard to complete.

I've decided that I'm not going for a fast time on this. Per my experience with this year's 600K, planning to maximize sleep and enjoyment, rather than maximize clock time, seems like the way to go. (Besides, following that strategy resulted in a time only a couple of hours slower than my "fast 600" the year before, so why not?) Will I try to hang with the fast folks? Sure, sometimes, when the mood takes me; it's not like I'll be shooting for my Cyclos Escargots award. However, I don't want to get all wound up in time concerns, at least not for my first grand randonnee. Let's finish strong and finish smiling...

It looks like we've got 50+ riders at this point, and the latest route (and map/profile) has been posted. Tom (PA Randonneurs RBA) has set up a blog for ride progress updates: watch here to see the gruesome details in real(-ish) time, or check the summary board here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

It's been a while...

Although I usually despise the "sorry I haven't posted" post, it has been over a month. So, here's the obligatory feeble excuse. (In other words, if I have severely limited time, I'd rather ride than write about riding...imagine that!)

I've been a bit buried in work recently. We're on the verge of releasing this, so of course all is chaos in the realm of software/hardware integration. :-) It's going to be a really great product, methinks, and I'm proud to be working on it. I'll be even prouder when it goes out the door...

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Random brain dribblings, anyway.

I'm starting to feel this weird, OCD-ish need to plan for next year. Yeah, I know, it's only bloody July, and I still have a few things queued up for this year (scouting brevet routes for next year, a populaire, a "gentlemen's race", a RUSA 200K, the Dirty Dozen, and, oh by the way, a 1240K ride in the Endless Mountains), but there's this irrational feeling of *I* *MUST* *PLAN*.

The obvious rides, of course, are those of the Pittsburgh Randonneurs series. If I intend to do PBP in 2011, I'll maximize my chances of admission by doing a full series in 2010. I'd like to do a brevet in Eastern PA and in DC as well as the Pittsburgh ones, just for keeping in touch with the respective locals; perhaps combining said brevets with family vacations would not go amiss.

Crush the Commonwealth was a lot of fun this year, and, now that I've got a record to defend, I'd feel like all kinds of wuss if I didn't come back for the harder ride, East to West.

I'd like to try another 1200, perhaps the Shenandoah, if it can be arranged. That one isn't as important to me, however, and could be discarded if time/money/vacation days grow short.

D2R2 has some appeal; every since Brian alerted me to its existence, the thought of challenging that route on the P-38 has been rolling around in my head. It'd be utter lunacy, of course, but what's wrong with a bit of lunacy now and then?

I'm becoming more and more interested in the ultracycling/racing side of the sport as well. Still not to the point where solo RAAM seems like a good idea, but Calvin's Challenge and/or a cross-state record attempt could be a lot of fun. This area of focus would be the biggest thing for which I'd have to plan, as it would involve actual fitness (time to drop 20-25 pounds), training (no, riding to and from work doesn't count, at least not the way I do it now), and maybe even some honest-to-Betsy coaching, as well as thinking seriously about an actual ultra race bike like this or this. Or this, but now we're in the realm of wildest fantasy, and I need to be good enough to EARN a bike like that, not just buy one.

I dunno...will need to mull over what's most important, as there's no way I can do all of this stuff next year.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Digging KOAL with the Wheelmen

KOAL == King Of All Loops. (Don't ask, not my idea, had nothing to do with it, NOT thinking of doing a route called "King's Mother" in response...)

The day started off terrifyingly chilly, considering that it's the first week in frickin' July. Not a bad thing; it was kinda novel to break out the arm warmers for the first time in weeks, at least for the morning ride to North Park.

There, a good few dozen riders had gathered; a dozen or so on the "fast ride" of the 70-mile loop, another dozen on the "slow ride", and a whole bunch on the 45-miler. I made the mistake of trying to hang with the likes of Chris and Mark; darn good fun, but it's a much better idea to get my head handed to me on a 35-mile training ride than a 70-mile road ride. Oops.

Fun ride, all things considered. Here's the route, preserved for posterity.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

A new friend

Yes, it's true. I have an upright. :-)

I purchased a lovely used Bianchi Castro Valley from Joe last weekend, and have put about 110 miles on it during my commute this week thus far. Reasonable gearing (8 speeds, sufficient for me to get up to a decent speed on the flats, and to crawl up McClure at a snail's pace); dynamo hub paired with an IQ Fly (astoundingly nice headlight, compared to the DLumotec I've been using on the P-38), and a Shimano bar-end shifter paired with a Paul's Thumbie mount on Nitto Promenade bars. Oh, yeah, and XTR brakes with which I've already fallen in love. Some dings, some rust, but hey, it's a commuter.

So, why? Why, I hear you ask? Well, there are various reasons. First and foremost, the RANS Rocket on which I commute is in dire need of some love. The seat's about shot, the drivetrain is in less-than-stellar shape, and the frame could use a bit of paint or powder to prevent a terminal case of corrosion. I have a plan for a rebuild, but it's going to take a while to gather all the needed bits. It made sense to drop a few bucks on a machine that I could use ASAP, rather than rush the Rocket rebuild. Secondly, I've been wanting a decent upright for a while. Never having ridden one to any great extent, it seemed like a fun break from the 'bents, as well as an easy way to make use of accessories for the kiddies like Trail-a-bikes that are significantly harder to get working with the 'bents. That said, I have no intentions of leaving the recumbent fold...I'm merely expanding my horizons...

It's been an interesting week, full of discovery, adventure, and (a new experience) saddle discomfort. Things I like: the height, and ability to stand tall on the pedals to see from a more altitudinous vantage point; the handling, as it seems to work well with my drunken-monkey pedaling style; the ability to stand and power on the cranks for short periods is all kinds of spiffy. Things I dislike: the height, as it feels like I'm on a frickin' circus bike; the saddle, as my nether parts are not exactly inured to such pressures; and, although it may sound odd, the fact that most people could just hop on and ride off.

I'm already thinking about some changes: Joe supplied the bike with lots of extra bits, including the original drop bars, and experimentation has shown me that I feel more comfortable bent over a bit farther than the Promenades and current riser encourage. I'd have to drop a few bucks on some Tektro levers capable of pulling my XTR brakes, but that's a fairly trivial expense. Also, although I'm not going to jump the gun for at least a couple of hundred more miles, I may well invest in a Brooks saddle.

My lack of mad skillz must be addressed forthwith. I need to work on a couple of major areas, including one-handed operation (gotta be able to carry the coffee cup), slow-speed (okay, all-speed) turns, bunny hops and curb climbing, and graceful mounts and dismounts (it ain't pretty, believe you me!). Most of this will come with practice; it's just very odd to be a confident and moderately fit commuter, with minimal handling skills on the bike in use. I'm liking it, has really added a lot of joy to turning over the pedals this week. Not that cycling is tedious, but it's nice to shake things up once in a while.

An old friend

(This post was almost entitled "Riding an Old Friend", but careful reflection convinced me otherwise.)

I was feeling mellow, uncreative, and unambitious today, so I skipped the LHORBA Mt. Davis Century (just didn't feel like getting up at 4:30 AM), and did a variation on one of my old favorite loops. I chose to add Charles St, mostly because I was halfway down Brighton by the time I decided where I was going, and Chuck St is a nice way to warm up the legs.

I haven't ridden Rochester in quite a while, and Nicholson-Roosevelt has been neglected since I stopped commuting home from Cranberry. It was nice to revisit climbs that used to bring me to the brink of tears, and find that they really weren't that big a deal anymore.

It was also interesting to get all kitted up and go out for less than three hours. I've been so enmeshed in this all-day/multi-day rando lifestyle that I'm starting to forget that it's entirely possible to have a very nice ride without crossing a state line or needing to eat my body weight in gels and bananas.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

DC Randonneurs Frederick 600K

On Saturday, June 13th, and Sunday, June 14th, I enjoyed the 600K brevet out of Frederick, Maryland, offered by the DC Randonneurs. Although I missed their 200K (darn inconvenient childbirth thing!), I had previously ridden their 300K out of Warrenton, and the 400K also out of Frederick, so wrapping up the series with their 600 seemed logical. Well worth the drive.

Bill Beck's Photos
Maile Neel's Photos
Ed Felker's Photos and Ride Report

Short Version
375+ miles, rolling average of 16.2 mph, zero mechanicals, minimal profanity, lots and lots and lots of fun. Big thanks to Bill for running the show, Lynne for designing a rockin'-cool route, and the rest of the volunteers who made it happen.

Personal best: more than 6 hours of downtime in the middle of a 600K. That felt gr-r-r-r-ATE.

Long Version
Being the altruistic sort that I am, getting up an hour early to help out with bike inspection seemed like a perfectly reasonable idea. Of course, when the alarm(okay, alarms: wakeup call, cell phone, travel clock, and shock collar) went off at 2:15 AM, the wisdom of this course seemed somehow to pale a bit. Regardless, I poured myself out of bed, chugged the Starbucks FrappachinaMochaCaffeBeverage that I'd cleverly purchased the night before, prepped the bike, and staggered out into the night. "So late that it's early" is something that I've never quite mastered, but can usually fake pretty well.
Bike inspection was fun; it was a great opportunity to meet athletic people and check out their racks, so to speak. As always, the variety of bikes on the brevet delighted me; everything from weak-at-the-knees titanium Indy Fab glory to heavy steel tourers; from high-end folding Bike Fridays to recumbents laden with bags, bells, and gizmos.
A few encouraging words from RBA Bill Beck, and we were off. Significant portions of the 65 miles to the first control were familiar from the 400K two weeks prior, although reversed. It was particularly pleasant to do the gradual climb up Shippensburg, then plummet down PA233, rather than the rather painful climb along the reverse course.
We in the lead group were making pretty good time; darn near 17 mph average, which put us at the first controle, the Kings Gap Store, before its opening time at 7 AM. After a few minutes sitting and enjoying the culinary delights of Energy Beans and peanut butter crackers, it was time to get back on the road.
I was feeling pretty perky, so ended up going off the front after a bit. Eventually, the Chuck and Crista Tandem-driven Express Train appeared in my rear mirror, so a fun game of rabbit and greyhound was on. They eventually reeled me in, but I'm happy to say it took 'em quite a while ;-)
At the next control, it became apparent that a proper refueling stop was in order. The Main St Cafe in Mercersburg provided wedgies, sandwiches, ice-cold Pepsi in massive quantity, and a nigh-endless stream of pitchers of ice water. Upon leaving the controle, we were trapped on the wrong side of the street for almost 15 minutes by a mammoth motorcycle rally of some form, complete with police escorts, traffic marshals, matching tee-shirts, and a few half-wits who felt it was the height of comedy to make pedaling motions with their legs at us.
From Mercersburg, we proceeded on. The heat of the day was growing a bit oppressive, so a stop at the Battleview Market in Gettysburg for hydration and ice cream seemed in order. Our path then led across the Potomac and into Shepherdstown, West Virginia, en route to a miserably hot climb up Snickers Gap on Route 7, and the controle at the Pine Grove Restaurant. The pain of the climb was soon forgotten, as vast quantities of pulled pork barbeque were supplied. After a wholly inadequate digestion time, we set off on the final 50-mile leg back to the hotel. Arriving before dark was a delight, as no 400K in my experience had ever ended so quickly. Deciding not to depart until 4 AM the next day was equally delightful; it was quite liberating to decide that setting a personal best for time was simply not that important on this ride.
Sadly, I slept like crap; however, I still departed the next morning feeling far, far better than I would have otherwise. This was to prove crucial to my well-being, as, well, the climbing on the 200K loop was a lot more vigorous than that on the 400K. I believe the phrase "200' rollers" was used, and the description was pretty darned apt. The Pigeon Hills region of York County was beautiful, and Scenic, and ground me into the dirt in short order. Thankfully, Chip, Chuck, and Crista were less beaten down than I, and I managed to cling for dear life to their collective wheel. Ok, to be honest, I barely managed to keep them in sight for much of that stretch, but having them to focus on kept me going much better than I would have on my own.
We finally arrived back at the hotel in early afternoon, to be greeted with a lovely picnic by the pool. A liter of caffeinated beverage and a hot shower later, and I was feeling human enough to socialize for a bit. Then, somehow, I managed to pass out face down on the bed in my room, and completely missed out on the post-ride group dinner. Ah, well...guess I just need to head back down for another brevet, and another opportunity to chill with the DC folks. Darn!

Lessons Learned
  1. Taking an extra 2 hours of total elapsed time in exchange for 6 hours of extra downtime 'twixt the 400 and 200K loops is so very, very worth it.
  2. The combination of Heed, Perpetuem, and Jelly Belly Extreme Sport Beans (no, I'm not kidding), plus real-ish food every few hours, works very well for me. No problems with digestion, cramping, weakness, or dehydration to report; also, as a pleasant change from all of my long rides this year, no real lull or down period.
  3. NOT having to deal with one or more flats on a ride makes me a much happier man.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Dirty Dozen hills are more fun after a metric...

...That was the theory, anyway. The astute reader, possessing even the most cursory knowledge of Pittsburgh's Dirty Dozen, can probably guess how that turned out.

Myself, Scott, and Alan rode out from the Vault at the positively luxurious hour of 7:30 AM. We headed out along California through Bellevue, Avalon, and Emsworth (changing street names every three blocks or so), then picked up Rt 65 to Sewickley. I suppose we could have done the traditional route via McKees Rocks, Neville Island, and Coraopolis, but the McKees Rocks Bridge is closing in a few days anyway, so we might as well get used to alternate routes to that part of the world.

In Ambridge, we picked up the Red Belt and pushed our way out to Tarentum, then back towards town via Freeport Rd. Nice ride; average speed over 17 mph for the first 60 miles, which is a darn good pace for me (I tend more towards the "let's do 14-15 for the next 200 miles" school of ride pacing.) In Aspinwall, we hung the ralph on Center. I rapidly discovered that, yes Virginia, riding a spirited 65 miles first makes Center hurt a Whole Lot Worse than usual. I took it with my usual utter lack of aplomb, dropping into my bottom gear and creeping up the hill in nicely gastropodial (sic?) fashion. The usual *ahem* rollers *ahem* on the way to the plummet into Sharpsburg were also a bit painful...

In Sharpsburg, we paused to rehydrate at the Quicky-Mart clone on 4th. We ended up spending a few minutes assisting a gentleman named Dean, whose mountain bike was decidedly squishy in the rear-tire regions. Dean lacked tools and expertise, so we took the opportunity to dispense patch kits and tire-changing wisdom in roughly equal measure. Then, off to Ravine for another joyous ascent. Scott and Alan rapidly became dots on the hill in my star-spangled peripheral vision; I, on the other hand, decided to shoot for bare survival and a more *ahem* leisurely *ahem* cadence.

Appropriately enough, I chose to bury my plans for two more hills when I reached the cemetary at the top of the climb. It was hurting enough that, frankly, I doubted my ability to complete Berryhill and High without potentially doing damage to myself that would affect the impending 600K this coming weekend. Alan and Scott, strangely enough, didn't seem to mind the idea of skipping the last two hills in the least.

Scott set off for home; I took Alan down to at least see Berryhill and High, on the way back to town to meet the family for the Three Rivers Arts Festival.

Monday, May 25, 2009

I was Just Riding Along, when...

...this happened.

This is the boom tube of my P-38, the extendable bit in the front which houses bottom bracket, cranks, front derailleur, and, oh, all manner of other useful bike-related widgets.

The large crack, which occupies roughly 3/4 of the circumference, is not a standard feature.

I was out for a nice Red Belt ride today; headed out to Ambridge via the usual Neville Island-->Sewickley-->Beaver St route, then up the Belt. Nothing terribly crazed planned for the day; I figured I'd see how I was feeling by the time I hit Saxonburg Blvd, then decide whether to head back to town or continue out to Tarentum before returning. Mostly, just a chance to stretch my legs, shake down the new Marathon Racers I'd installed last night, and enjoy some truly fantastic weather. Plan went off without a hitch, until about three miles short of Culmersville...

I'd noticed a subtle waver in the big chainring, and was wondering if I'd somehow managed to bend it, when it suddenly ceased being subtle. With a sickeningly smooshy feel of bending metal, the bottom bracket shell went sideways, and the big ring had locked itself against the side of the boom; the chain was stationary, and I was involuntarily freewheeling in a mild state of bemusement. Fortunately, this was on the flat, and no traffic nearby, so it was merely a matter of a quick stop and a rummage through my store of lesser-used profanity.

Called home and begged for help; second time this year, which is a bit unusual for me, and I sincerely hope it doesn't become a trend. Started hiking towards Culmerville, and actually quite enjoyed the stroll in the sun. Met Deena and the kids at Popeye's convenience store, and headed home.

It will be interesting to see if I can arrange a replacement or repair in the next few days, as I'm scheduled to ride the DC Randonneurs 400K this weekend. I really, really hope I don't have to try to use my commuter (AKA the RANS Rocket, AKA the less-than-well-maintained beater, AKA the seat is falling apart) for that ride. We'll see what happens.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Crush the Commonwealth 2009

Edited to Add:
Fxdwhl's Photos, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday reports
dhd's ride report

Eric's results list

Short Version

Started 5:20 AM on Friday the 8th of May at Point State Park, with somewhere between 20 and 30 other riders. 390-ish miles and 35:64 later, I was first finisher at the Liberty Bell, and had well and truly shattered the previous record in the mid-40s. Rolling average was 14.5, time on bike was approximately 27.5 hours. One extended stop (4 hours) in Chambersburg, a couple of half-hour stops for meals, and probably a dozen 10-15 minute stops for fluid (either intake, output, or both) and quick refreshments.

Awesome ride. Hurt a bit, but awesome.

Long Version
My sweet, wonderful, endearing, noise-monkey of a daughter managed to restrict my sleep to roughly 3 hours before the ride began (for the nth night in a row), so I will confess to feeling a bit behind the proverbial eight-ball before the ride began. Being the stalwart rando-nerd that I am, I got up, indulged in a heavily buttered bowl of oatmeal and pint glass of sugared, lemony Lapsang Souchong, then staggered out to the garage to mount up. Last minute check: triply redundant lighting systems, enough spare layers to keep me warm down to below freezing, spare parts up to and including brake and gear cables, and about 3000 calories of bars, gels, beans, and energy drink mixes. fleet-footed steed felt more like a cart horse at this point, but I decided to pretend that I was just tired, rather than suffering from advanced Kitchen Sink Syndrome.

Headed down to the Point; was one of the first arrivals, but for Ben from DC. Amusingly enough, I was wearing the DC Randonneurs jersey that I'd earned during the 300K the prior weekend; Ben apparently rides with them on a regular basis, so was more than slightly surprised to see the club colors at 5 AM in Pittsburgh. We were shortly joined by Jeremy, down from Chicago. (Apparently there were two Jeremys from Chi-town, but I only met one, so I'll not assign them nicknames or numbers or anything like that.) As it turned out, Ben, Jeremy, and I were to spend much of the first day together.

More riders poured in over the next few minutes; at least a couple of dozen were milling around by the time we departed at 5:20. A quick jaunt over to PPG Place to pick up potential stragglers, and we were off on the neutral roll to McKeesport. It became rapidly apparent that we had riders with a wide range of average speeds, so Ted and I made the executive decision (i.e. "We're in front, so we decide") to stop at the gas station in McKeesport to regroup. From there, we headed to the trail, then did a final "social regroup" at the Boston trail head. Quite a few of the faster folks in the front were champing at the bit by this point, so the social stop rapidly unraveled, and the process of sorting ourselves into small, vaguely compatible riding groups began. Myself, Ben, Jeremy, Wes, Tony, Ted, Ken, and David went off the front; then the group further splintered into Ben, Jeremy, and me in the lead.

The less said about the trail, the better. That said, I'll now talk about how much I dislike that many miles of limestone: I dislike it lots and lots. To be fair, it was in better shape than I had expected and feared; the previous week's worth of rain had merely turned some spots into wheel-sucking phlegm, rather than the entire trail. Still, after the first 50 miles of trail, I was really quite ready to be done. Shame I still had 40 miles to go until getting off at Rockwood...

We stopped for a quick bite at the convenience store in Rockwood, then headed off for the first of many climbs into Somerset, followed by Bedford, a stop at Sheetz, and Breezewood. We were making good time, and were fortunate enough to find the approach to the abandoned turnpike before daylight had faded. Good thing, too, as it was hard enough for me to spot in the light. The turnpike and tunnels were truly cool; sadly, however, I discovered my tires' propensity for pinch flats on the other side of said tunnels, where the pavement had degraded into naught but gravel-filled potholes and islands of sharp-edged asphalt. Two flats inside of 20 minutes does not a happy Dan make.

From there, we rejoined Bike Route S towards Cowan's Gap and Chambersburg. By the time we climbed the Gap, Ben was starting to find the idea of pitching his tent very, very appealing, so we bid him adieu at the state park campground area. Jeremy and I pushed on towards Chambersburg, with an eye towards a 1 AM arrival. Unfortunately for me (and for Jeremy, as he was waiting for me), the fatigue started setting in hard. We made it into Chambersburg around 1:30, and decided that it was time for a proper sit-down meal. The Waffle House was a lovely choice, as the staff was friendly, the portions were reasonable, and the prices were no more extravagant than one would expect. At this point, discretion became the better part of valor, and plans to push on to York before sleeping were overthrown in favor of the Days Inn one block over.

Checked into the hotel at 3, and were up and out the door by 5:30, for a total Chambersburg break time of four hours. Fortunately, once the legs had warmed back up, the ride began to trend much more in the downhill sort of way. In fact, once we'd started well on the way to York, I was feeling so good that speeds in the high teens and low 20s over the country rollers became the norm. I said my farewells to Jeremy, explaining that I wanted to take advantage of my burst of energy while it lasted; this was basically a semi-polite way of saying "It's a race, I'm feeling pretty good at the moment, and I'm outa here!"

While I intended to make the most of the perky period, I was a bit surprised to see how long it lasted...I was maintaining the same good speeds pretty much all of the way into Lancaster, and didn't really slow down until the last 20 miles of the approach to Phoenixville, Valley Forge and the trail head. I was hoping to make up some time while bombing down the trail; sadly, my tank was almost dry, and I could only maintain decent speed when I was chasing some guy on a tri bike. Then, once I reached the portion of the trail where it transitioned from pavement to towpath, I spent way too much time dithering on whether or not I should keep going, and where, and how, and all sorts of interesting mental vacillations. Finally continued on, and found myself smack-dab in the middle of a seething mass of humanity in honor of some rowing regatta. Average speed dropped to about 2-3 mph, and I found my normal love for all people giving away to vein-popping antipathy. Finally broke free of the press, with a good 20 minutes before my goal of 36 hours, and only 3 miles to go to the art museum. Then one of my patches from the prior night's flats gave way. I emitted copious quantities of profanity, then patched the patch, and continued on my way with a bit less time margin than I'd hoped.

Finally made it into town, and realized that I was simply not capable of reading the directions to the Bell. I knew it was Market and Something, so asked a native on Market which way I should go. Said native gleefully sent me in entirely the wrong direction, and I managed to make it all the way to 52nd before realizing that something was rotten in Denmark. Turned about, realized I'd utterly blown my 5 PM arrival time, and pedaled in slightly dejected, yet content fashion back down Market. Found the Bell, and called Eric, only to find that I'd forgotten about the 20 minutes of delayed start, and that I had managed to beat the 36 hour mark by a whopping 4 minutes. Go me!

Deena, the kids, and Uncle Micah met me at the Bell. We loaded up the car, headed to the hotel, had a lovely dinner at a local diner, and I fell face-down on the bed for about 9 hours. MAN that felt good.

I will happily do this ride again; I'm curious to see how much worse westbound from Philly will be. Of course, I seem to recall Eric making some mention of C-T-C EXTREME, with a there-and-back route, if anyone broke 36 hours. *AHEM*

Lessons Learned
  1. Schwalbe Durano tires (formerly Stelvios) are very nice, fast, smooth-rolling tires that work great on pavement and even on packed limestone. Sadly, they pretty much have the strength and resistance of feta cheese when it comes to warding off pinch flats on abandoned sections of the PA Turnpike. Also, the sidewalls are so thin that even a few feet of rolling on flats abraded them to the point where threads were coming through. I like 'em, and will probably use them for fast road rides, but I think I'll need to investigate other options for future rando and mixed-surface stuff.
  2. Bring two tubes for each tire size you carry. I carried only one of each. Patching pinch flats in the dark falls under the heading of royal suckage.
  3. I still need to find some techniques to better handle fatigue (other than the obvious, "Lie down and close your eyes for a while" option), as it hit me pretty hard on Friday night. Caffeine doesn't do jack, mostly because I use it too much on a daily basis already; chewing gum was better than nothing, but didn't have a great effect; reciting/singing/chanting to myself made the dozies worse.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

CTC Prep Complete

I'm more-or-less ready, and it's only a bit after 10 PM. I might even get a solid 4 hours of sleep, assuming the babe cuts her usual projectile vomiting short for the evening.

I'm curious to see what I've forgotten tomorrow; probably something that would have been really useful at 3 AM, in a rainstorm, in a ditch, somewhere in Lancaster. Should be an adventure.

Anyway, I'm off. (In more ways than one.)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

DC Randonneurs Warrenton 300K

Cue Sheet

Bill Beck's Photos
Ed Felker's Photos and Ride Report
Maile's Photos

Short Version
191.04 miles, 16.6 rolling average, 13:08 total elapsed time. Great route, well run, and the weather even played far more nicely than predicted.

Long Version
I'll mercifully gloss over the hell-on-earth that was my 8 hour+ drive from Pittsburgh to the ride start, and focus on the good stuff.

This was my first ride with the DC Randonneurs, at least at one of their rides. I had ridden with many of them in last year's Eastern PA series, so was confident that the hospitality would be warm and the route interesting; I was not in any way disappointed on either count. Maile and Lane put together a great brevet, and I enjoyed myself wholeheartedly.

As per usual, my eyes popped open 5 minutes before the alarm went off the morning of the ride. The usual morning ablutions, and a couple cups of coffee later, and I was more-or-less ready to face the prospect of almost 200 miles in utterly unfamiliar territory. Maile had set out a nice spread with bagels, fruit, and assorted sundries; Lane, the other organizer, was mysteriously absent. *cough*secret controle*cough* I signed in, including my age (32), which provoked cries of "He's just a baby! He still has milk on his breath!" and suchlike vile calumnies. That's okay; I was taught to respect my elders, so took the abuse with a patient smile, and didn't ONCE utter the words "codger" or "crone". ;-)

As the group assembled outside, I was happy to see another recumbent rider: Jim Lehman(apologies if I've misspelt your name, Jim!) was there with a lovely Tour Easy, decked out with all the trimmings. A couple of tandems (including familiar faces Ed and Mary) and a bunch of traditional damond frames rounded out the complement of roughly 30 riders. After a few cautionary words from Maile ("Don't even HINT about using a bathroom at the Aroda store!") and we were off.

It was a strong start; Ed and Mary got things off on the right foot with a strong pull of the group through the not-so-secret controle and to the beginning of the rollers; then, the usual dissolution of the group occurred, and we ended up with half-a-dozen riders in the fast group kicking up our heels on the way to the climb up Old Rag and the first controle at the Syria Mercantile. Mark, Rudy, Lisa, Bill, Q, Patrick, and myself kept up a fairly fast pace; we arrived at the store with an average over 17 mph, which was pretty good for almost 100K before the first stop. (Actually, there was one brief stop; Q's tailight had ceased to work As A Tailight Should, so I pulled my tertiary tail light off the back of my helmet and gave it to him, so as to avoid a DQ on his part.)

From the first controle, we fragmented a bit more, although the fast group was never more than about 30 minutes apart at any given time. Bill ended up with a flat just out of the controle; Patrick and I played leapfrog for pretty much the next 200 km, usually a few minutes behind Rudy, Mark, Lisa, and Q.

In a lot of ways, it was an uneventful ride; no mechanicals, no unfortunate wildlife interactions, no assertions by the undereducated and over-horsepowered that I belonged off the road, etc. In a lot of other ways, it was an almost perfect ride; the weather was pleasant, the roads were smooth, and I had congenial company and peaceful solitude in equal measures.

I doff my chapeau to Maile, Lane, and the other volunteers for a lovely event. I can't imagine a better introduction to riding with the DC Randonneurs, and I'm looking forward to the 400 and 600 with great anticipation.

Lessons Learned
  1. CHECK YOUR BREVET CARD. I did the entire ride as Mark Vinette, and he as Dan Blumenfeld; apparently, from the moment we collected our cards, we had the wrong ones. Oops. Thankfully, Maile and Bill were willing and able to correct the goof, or I would have racked up my first DQ due to a totally preventable mistake at the ride start.
  2. One should make a point of arranging cue sheet holders and lights to read said cue sheets BEFORE starting the ride. Thanks go out to Ed for the spare binder clip (even though I ended up tucking the sheet inside my über-cool reflective vest for the duration...)
  3. I had experimented with on-bike nutrition for this ride. Heed, Endurolytes, Gu packs, and some peanut butter crackers sounded remarkably like a balanced diet, rich in the vitamins and nutrients that a growing randonneur needs. It worked quite well...for the first 100 miles or so. Over the next ten miles or so, I found myself engaged in a slow and surreptitious border crossing into the Kingdom Of Bonk, and, by the end of the first 200K, I was in less than stellar shape. Fortunately, I never bonked completely, and a club sandwich dripping with bacon and mayo was just the ticket to perk me up for the last 50 miles or so. It's amazing how carnivorous I become after the first 8000 calories burnt...
  4. Virginia horse country is purty, and lots of fun in which to ride. :-)
  5. For the first time, I neglected to do a "virtual ride" in advance by mapping the route online; while it worked out okay this time, I think that was due more to the quality of the cue sheet. I was definitely feeling a bit uncomfortable at times, as I really had no idea where I was in relation to anything else.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Prepping for Warrenton

Gee, it'd be nice if I could bring myself to prep bike and gear earlier than late the night before I leave to drive across multiple states.

The plan: Owen to Camp Grandma, then down to Virginia and the Hampton Inn in Warrenton. 300K departs Saturday morning at 5 AM. Crash in Warrenton Saturday night, then pick up Owen and return to da 'Burgh on Sunday. Should be fun. :-)

Heh...and Chuck-n-Crista, of the DC Randonneurs, have kindly scheduled a Sunday century to depart from Warrenton, "really convenient for
randonneurs who stay over in Warrenton Saturday night after the brevet!" I'm tempted, sorry to say...

Monday, April 20, 2009

Monday morning commuting blues

April is the cruelest month, indeed. :-(

I can contentedly ride in ice at 30 degrees, or in squeaky powder at 6 degrees; why, oh why, does blattering cold rain at 45 degrees cause me such angst?

To be honest, a big part of the problem is my outer layer. I've got one of those nominally waterproof/windproof shells with the zip-off sleeves; works great for dry or misty weather, even a slight drizzle, but turns into safety-yellow sodden cling wrap in steady rain. Something about the wet plastic sticking to me, with pools of water retained and sloshing in the folds of fabric under my elbows, drives me to the edge of road rage. I think that repeated washings have worn away much of the water resistant goodness...unfortunately, given the amount of (and corrosive nature of) my sweat, it ain't like I can just hit the interior with Febreze once in a while and call it good.

Ah well. Beats driving in rush hour traffic.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Inaugural Pittsburgh Brevet: Thrift Drug 200K, 04/11/2009

First off, let me just say, from the "I hate driving AT ALL to ride, much less across the state" perspective: W00T! to local brevets.

Results, including group photo that really shows the glamourous rando lifestyle in its best light ;-)

Short version: 10:45, 125 miles, 4(!) mechanicals, headwinds and crosswinds for ~ 75% of the ride.

Long Version:
So, I got up early on Saturday, shoveled down some oatmeal and Earl Grey, and staggered out to the garage for a 6 AM departure. What's that, you say? Doesn't the ride begin at 7? Well, yes, but I'm being an (arguably) utter dumbarse and doing the ride-to-the-ride bit. No big deal: after all, I was a good do-bee the night before; packed everything, lubed the pivoting bits on brakes and derailleurs, cleaned and lubed the chain, etc. (Foreshadowing: see anything missing from this list o' prep?) A quick 10 miles to Jim's place in Shaler, marred only with a bit of early-ride knee tenderness, and I was meeting and greeting with the other hardy souls.

Bit of a mixed bag, as brevets tend to be: Jim Logan (our local Pittsburgh Randonneurs RBA), Matt Settle (RBA of ROMA), David (veteran of BMB, Cascades 1200, etc.), and myself all had prior brevets under our belt. Alan, Shane, and Jon, all first-time riders, had been participating in some of our prior distance rides; Dale, of the Mt Lebanon Caffeine and Cycling Club ("Mostly Old Guys in Tight Pants"), and George, of the Susquehanna Valley Velo Club rounded out our merry band.

We rode as a group for the first ten miles or so, in order that out-of-towners not get too horribly lost in dahntahn Pittsburgh. Made the climb up Sycamore (Alan charging to the lead), paused briefly for photos and info controle at top of Mt Washington, and we were off! Alan, Dale, and myself were feeling frisky, so we rapidly left the group behind. We set a nice, moderate pace through Carnegie and out to Sturgeon, then climbed up to Potato Garden Road. At this point, the near-continuous headwinds and crosswinds were starting to wear a bit, but we continued more-or-less undaunted down to the Buckboard Station for refreshments and our first manned control. A bit of dawdling, and Jim and Shane caught up with us as we were departing.

The nice gentle climb up 151 was acompanied by the first mechanical; Dale's tire blew, so I did the noble (hah!) thing and played workstand for his Softride whilst he did the inflation thing. Jim and Shane passed us by at that point, after making sure we were okay and taking a couple of incriminating photos.

From there, the delightful passage on Rt 30 down to Chester, Chaney's Sunoco, and the Worlds Largest Teapot was uneventful. The long descent into Chester did provide a graphic demonstration of the force of the wind, however; my usual coastdown speed on that hill is right around 40 mph or thereabouts; I was doing 32 this time. Have I mentioned the headwinds? If they were hurting me that badly, I shudder to think of my upright brethren...

Burning along Rt 68 on the flat bit of the route, I suffered my first mechanical, an delightful insta-flat. Taking a look at the tire, I was appalled (and more than a little embarassed) to see just how worn the casing had become; that tire was ready for the trash, not for an additional 70 miles. Okay, these things happen; swap out for a fresh tube, start inflating, then start swearing. The fresh tube wasn't holding air either! Upon inspection, the nominally new tube had a thin patch worn through on the side; logic would indicate that, at some point, I had changed out this tube, folded it away neatly, and utterly forgot to patch or replace it. In hindsight, that was probably sometime early last year, as it's been a long time since I had to change a tube. Anyway, I threw on a patch, and (with sinking heart, but buoyed by Alan's gift of a spare folding 23c tire "just in case") I continued on my way.

Headwinds. Crosswinds. Headwinds. Cars with cameras pointed at me, preumably due to novelty value or as evidence for later prosecution. More winds. Lots of winds. I thought that stretch of 68 was supposed to be a nice, fast, easy one...must remember to apologize to other riders for this route choise. On second thought, maybe I should avoid them for a while...

The rest of the ride was fairly uneventful. Due to my flat, plus a couple stops to push some air into the slowly deflating tire, and, eventually, to throw a tantrum and replace it with Alan's spare, I was riding solo for the latter half of the ride. I'd given up on my hopes for a sub-10 hour time, and had replaced them with a goal of feeling strong at the end of the ride. As it turned out, I was the second rider in after Jim, and was feeling a lot better than on the identical ride last week. The 300K in three weeks is not looking too daunting at this point. CTC, on the other hand...

Lessons Learned:
  1. CHECK YOUR FRICKIN' TIRES. That about covers it.
  2. I did a better job of hydration and nutrition this time around. Still had a couple of unnecessary stops for fluids (time to dig out the Camelbak, methinks), but I believe paying better attention to such things helped my overall ride significantly.
I'm out...time to deal with colicky infant. My tolerance for adversity gained through randonneuring is coming in handy as a parent...

Sunday, April 5, 2009

(Not baby-related) Thrift Drug 200K Scouting Ride

The route

Short Version
  1. The route designer should be strung up by his pawls. Oh, wait...
  2. Didja know there's a big difference between riding, say, 105 miles, and 150 miles?
  3. The only person to harass me was a soccer mom. The rednecks, frat boys, and bikers (of the Hells Angels style, that is) all thought I was a righteous dude with legs like rocks (direct quote from aforementioned bikers.)

Long version
Left the house bright and early to do an official Volunteer Ride™. I'd agreed to pre-ride the route for next weekend's Thrift Drug 200K, the first official brevet in our region; the idea of riding 10-ish miles, then riding 126 miles, then riding 10-ish more miles, two weekends in a row, seemed like such a good one.

Made it to Jim's house in timely fashion (ok, only 10 minutes late for the start), grabbed packet with brevet card and materials for the controle stores, and was off. Bombed back into town, climbed Sycamore, and made it to the top at the exact cutoff time for the information controle. Realized that, given how close Sycamore was to the start, it's only 44 minutes to get from Jim's house in Shaler to the top of Mt Washington; this sounds like a good way to DQ riders mighty early :-(

Down Greenleaf to the Circle, then up Noblestown through Carnegie, Oakdale, and down to Sturgeon for a postcard controle at the post office. Amazing how well hidden a small-town US Post Office can be.

Up Finks (Run) Rd to Steubenville Pike, then over to Potato Garden Rd. As happens every time I ride Potato Garden by myself, I encountered a blue heron...starting to feel frighteningly totemic. This time, Mssr. Long-Legs was fishing rather than flying, but honored my passing with a piercing stare from his beady birdy eye.

151 to the first manned controle (th Buck Board Station), then up to Rt 30 all the way into Chester, WV, and the second manned controle. (Incidentally, no sooner had I crossed the West Virginia Border than I saw three-count-'em-three roadkill deer in the space of 50 feet. Huh?) Across the Ohio River to East Liverpool, OH, and began the long trip on Rt 68.

Okay, here's the "kill the route designer" part. 68 is relatively pleasant up through Rochester, but gets a little suckful from there to Zelienople. It really, really, really wears on ya after the first 20 miles or so. For future reference, I need to make sure that any routes I design at least take the riders OFF the same frickin' road for a break every 10-15 miles.

Anyway, all 30/40/felt like 60 miles of 68 passed relatively uneventfully. Stopped in Evans City for a bite to eat, then headed up the hill to Browsndale Rd. And then all the strength left my legs. It wasn't a full-on bonk, but was definitely a close cousin. I still had my spin, but had no power whatsoever; any grades over about 5% had me crying for my mommy and groping for my granny. [Edited to add: That didn't sound quite right, but you know what I mean.] And I still had 40 miles to go...oy vey.

Gulped some gels, swallowed some voodoo electrolyte pills, and drained one of my bottles of Heed, then kept on plugging away. I never bonked completely, but never really felt particularly good. That was less than fun; while I'd been on track for a sub-10 hour time for the 200K, this slowed me down a lot. I ended up crawling back to Jim's in something like 10:40; not bad, but that's a significant time hit for the last 30 miles of a ride.

Lessons Learned, Pithy Observations, Etc.
  • I'm glad I'm training out the pain now, rather than waiting for the 300K or CTC.
  • Once more, proof positive that it does get better (or at least not always worse) if you just keep turning over the pedals.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

New stoker-to-be

Our daughter, Elaine Margaret, entered the world this morning at 9:59 AM. Deena did great, the baby girl is beautiful, and I'm about to fall over from fatigue.

That is all. :-)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

North Park Tuesday

After work, I Lycra'd up and ventured out to North Park again for the Wheelmen development ride led by Cap'n Fred Klehm. That was Fun with a capital "F-You, winter conditioning loss!"

Lots of folks; 17 or 18 riders, including another guy with fenders (and riding single speed...dude was an animal...). This time, we revisited the classic Tuesday night Unfriendly Bastards route: Pierce Mill, 910, Emmet. English, Wallace, Swinderman, Bradford, Neely School, Mingo, State Gamelands, Red Belt, Hoenig, Mary Reed, etc.

I was feeling pretty good for most of the ride; it was familiar, so I knew when to chill a bit and when to power through the rollers. The only surprise was when we hung a right off Knob onto Tech 21 in Warrendale; that climb darn near killed me. I hit it too hard initially, and dropped from lead to 12th position in about 1/4 mile. Oops...way to perpetuate ye olde recumbents-can't-climb stereotypes...

All in all, I'm pleased. Was right up near redline for much of the ride, but never crossed over into the puking on the shoulder zone. Good workout, felt great afterwards, and the ride-end stats were decent.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

That's not recovery

Note to self: after a hilly century the previous day, and a light-to-moderate-intensity 35-miler in the late morning, do not plan to haul one's 42-pound child in a 20-pound trailer behind one's fully-loaded 45-pound commuter under one's fat-arse 200+ pounds up McClure Ave without feeling it in one's knees just a wee frickin' bit.

Weekend update

Scouting for the backbone route of next year's brevet series. Jim and I started in Meadowlands, cruised down to Monongahela via Mingo Creek Park, then crossed the Mon and headed up the hill to Rehoboth (Church) Rd. Over to Perryopolis, then some back roads to just past Vanderbilt (about 10 miles short of Ohiopyle), and back via more-or-less the same route. Nice route...challenging, due more to continuous elevation change than to any set of notable climbs.
Turkey Hollow-->Indian/Iron Hill Rd up from 906 to get up to Finley Rd and Rehoboth. Much preferable to Tyrol Rd up from Monessen.
Middle segment of Maplewood Rd. "Unimproved" does not do it justice: dirt lovers with cross tires would be in heaven, so long as the brambles and nearly impassable hard-packed ruts do not offend. Would be dangerous in the rain, and deadly in darkness. In dry daylight, was loads of fun.

Riding around town for "recovery ride". Briefly lost my mind and decided that climbing Sycamore fell under the heading of recovery; cured myself of that delusion about half-way up, but was suffering too much to turn around and give up. Also almost killed myself bombing down Pius, as there were either recent street repairs with a poor level of fit and finish, or someone was building a 1:5 scale-model replica of WW1 trench warfare across 75% of the street. Spun up through Junction Hollow to CMU and Schenley, then over to Greenfield via Pocusset and back to town for more aimless riding.
Spring has sprung. Saw more cyclists just today than I've seen in aggregate since January.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I caved in, plus weekend plans

Yep. The 70-degree weather during yesterday's commute did me in. Despite my vows and fervent oaths to make it to the end of March, I couldn't bear to leave the studded tires on any more. Off with the Marathon Winters, on with the gently used folding Marathon Racers.

And, as a shout-out to all my commuting buddies, I'm sorry...expect ice storms shortly.

On a different note, we just hit 38 weeks of pregnancy, so I'm expecting that this weekend may be my last one with long rides for a while. I'm planning to scout a route from Meadow Lands to Ohiopyle with Jim this Saturday, then do some town-area riding on Sunday (Red Belt is sounding tempting). As I'm not a complete idiot, I've got a friend standing by to provide on-call taxi service on Saturday if, for some strange reason, I need to come back to town in a hurry. Sunday, and for the foreseeable future until spawning officially commences, I'll be sticking to an hour or so from town. Loops, loops, loops...

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tuesday Ride

Worked from home, so I took advantage of the opportunity to swing out to North Park for the 5:30 Wheelmen club ride. This is billed as a development ride, so the basic idea is "no-drop, but plan to work hard in order to improve".

Good turnout; a dozen riders, most of whom I'd met before, ranging from "solid" to "You're a high school freshman, and your cadence is 180?" I did take some pride in being the only guy with fenders, a rack, lights, and a dynamo hub, though.

The route was fun...out Pearce Mill, then up Logan to Babcock, out the Red Belt to Ridge, and back to Mars, then return via Babcock. One accident on the outskirts of Mars...John caught a wheel on the shoulder on a fast descending curve, and took a pretty good tumble; fortunately, Drew and myself (the next two riders) weren't in tight formation behind him, so managed to avoid a three-man pileup. After making sure that John and bike-de-John were functional, we made our way back up Babcock at a more sedate pace. Heh...except for the half-dozen of us that decided the rest of the way into the park from the Red Belt should be, let us say, vigorous. Drew, Jay, Dave, Jim, Chris, and myself had all kinds of good fun getting the heart rate up for the last few miles.

I was a good workout, felt great afterwards, and didn't completely suck nor slow down the group. Still need work on fast descents (especially blind curving ones) and climbing, but I'm not as bad off as I was afraid. Guess that daily commute, even if less-than-vigorous, helped prevent some winter loss of fitness.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekend update

Got up a bit early (okay, 5 AM), had leisurely breakfast, and rode over to Jim's house in Shaler for a 7 AM start on a Slippery-Rock-and-back century. Primary purpose was to scout a portion of the route for July's Pittsburgh-Erie-Pittsburgh 2-day ride; secondary was to shake down the newly rebuilt P-38. Oh, yeah, and to get in an extra century for March; gotta get back on track after missing January, eh?

Fun route: Babcock/Thompsons Run/Duncan, then through North Park back to Babcock. Mars, Evans City, then north via 528 through Prospect to West Liberty Rd and Slippery Rock. One good low-gear climb in Evans City (side-street way up to 528; Elizabeth St, if I recall correctly), and a few nice long grinders, but also plenty of opportunities to just let 'er rip.

P-38 held up well; probably need a bit of rear-wheel lovin' with a spoke wrench, but everything else seemed solid. Most of the random creaks, squeaks, and groans (except mine, of course) are gone; amazing what happens when one tightens and Loctites screws appropriately, as well as trimming off excess metal bits wherever possible.

After a barrage of house cleaning and handyman projects, I took some time to address the seat problem on the Rocket. Forensic analysis indicates that one of the two bolts holding the seat pan to the seat frame had gone walkabout quite a long time ago; in hindsight, that may account for the seat creak I'd been failing to deal with for the last six months. The lone remaining bolt finally work-hardened and snapped last Thursday while I was cranking around a corner.

So, I ran to ye olde corner hardware store and grabbed a couple of bolt extractors, spent 20 minutes(!) carefully drilling into the recessed stump of the broken bolt, then extracted said bolt with a minimum of drama and damage to the socket threads. New used hardware, a few minutes spent tinkering with the rear brake, and a few minutes tightening the rear axle when I noticed that there was at least an eighth of an inch(!) of side-to-side play in the hub; then the Rocket was ready for action once more.

Packed a picnic dinner (PB&J, bananas, and juice...what more can man and boy want?) for meself and me best boy, then hitched up his trailer to the Rocket and plummeted down to the river. Dinner on the benches by the Science Center, some train and tugboat watching, then hauling his heavy butt back up McClure to get home; a fine way to end the day.

Friday, March 13, 2009

P-38 Rebuild

After my chain-breaking debacle last weekend, I came down with a bad case of itchy hex wrench, and tore the P-38 most of the way down to bare frame. Ordered a new (11'!) chain and cassette from Hostel Shoppe; as per usual, it showed up two days after I ordered, without paying for expedited shipping.

Took the opportunity to rework rear fender mounts; I didn't manage to eliminate tire rub on sharp turns, but it's definitely less of a pain in my posterior than before.

Mounted and wired the SON dynamo wheel, an old DLumotec LED headlight, and a Busch&Müller Seculite Plus wired taillight. Took my time on the connectors this time around, and the taillight works without a hitch. (Unlike last year, when I rushed the job and ended up with a heavy, ludicrously overpriced fender-mounted rear reflector on the Pa 1000K...) I made heavy use of the spiral wrap used to bundle electrical cables to anchor the wires, as well as some velcro tie-wraps; in fact, the only place I had to use zip-ties was on the sensor mount for the cyclocomputer. All else is nicely secured in easy-to-modify fashion.

Also threw on the rear rack, and dug out much of the rando luggage. *sigh* It was nice when the bike ONLY weighed 26 pounds. Loaded for rando, it's gotta be near 40.

Rode it to work today, as the Rocket's seat is less-than-happy right now; looks like the P-38 will be okay for the scouting ride to Grove City tomorrow.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The long and the short of today's ride.

"Long" refers to the long arm of the law; "short" refers to the duration of ride before unrecoverable mechanical failure.


If you couldn't guess, today's ride was not the best I've ever had. Originally planned to do some exploring in the North Hills, then saw a Ken Cushey (Mr. "Hills Are My Friends" himself) ride posting for 11 AM out of Cecil. Looking at the clock, I figured I'd have just enough time to hop on the bike and make it out for the ride start, so aborted the North Hills plan and set off for Bridgeville and parts south.

Something was in the air today...lots more impatient drivers, and LOTS more drivers who seemed incensed that I had the effrontery to be on their roads. Apparently, in the 2-mile stretch of Route 50 up from Main St in Carnegie, two motorists called 9-frickin'-1-1 to complain about some guy on a weird bike who was "riding in the middle of the lane" (true, at some points), "signaling cars to pass without giving them enough room" (uh, what? I've signaled you to pass...if you don't feel there's enough room, that's on your head), and "running red lights" (not, in point of fact, true). A very polite officer signaled me over at the Wal-mart, and gave me a quick warning about following the rules; no harm, no foul, but it kinda shot my mood for the rest of the ride.

From there, I headed over on Thoms Run to Prestley, then back over to 50 through Bridgeville. Millers Run to Presto-Sygan, then a left up the hill where the road was closed, then falling over sideways on the hill because my chain suddenly dropped. Brief profanity, brush myself off, get road grime all over my new cheapie gloves as I reset the chain, then repeat the exact same thing 6 feet up the road. WTF?

A close inspection seemed warranted. Turns out that I'd somehow blown a sideplate on one of my chain links; under any form of load, when that link hit the chainring, *pop* goes the drivetrain. Also turns out that, for some moronic reason (probably related to "I never use this"), I'd neglected to pack both my quick link and my chain tool when I stocked the tool bag. More profanity ensued, mostly self-directed this time. Ended up calling Deena for a ride, as I just didn't A)feel good about making it up to TRM when I couldn't apply any power or B) feel good about hitting up a hardware store for a hammer and punch to do some impromptu chain surgery. Bugger.

So, I've now doubled the number of times I've had to call for a bailout. Not bad in 4 years, but still, a ding to my pride.

On the bright side, I now have no reason to delay the spring teardown and rebuild, while I wait for a new 11' length of chain to arrive. So, the P-38 is in fragments in the basement, and most of the complicated bits have been degreased, cleaned, and lubed. I'll go ahead and get the fenders mounted (I want to fab some different mounts, as I was getting a bit of wheel rub when cranking hard on curves.), the rear rack installed, and see about hooking up the dynamo and lights. Might as well complete the transformation from relatively light and agile road machine to unstoppable juggernaut of randonneuring fury now, rather than next month.