Monday, December 22, 2008

Weather sucks ...

Well I'm done with my classes for this semester and I did quite well even though things got a little topsy-turvy. My classes didn't leave me a lot of time to ride. Just before Thanksgiving I did manage to squeeze in what appears to be the last long ride this year. As usual we left from Cranbury, we rode out to Cedar Lakes in Browns Mills (my Bikely's route: Cranbury Cedar Lakes (Full) - 71 miles). It was a nice ride though I wouldn't recommend it on a windy day as it is open to the lake (very cold wind!). And in my never ending search for more roads to the NJ Pine Barrens I found some in Old Bridge (my Bikely's route: Old Bridge Pine Barrens - 46 miles)! Although most of the NJ Pine Barrens are in southern NJ, some can be found as far north as Freehold (around the Rt. 537/Turkey Swamp area I believe. The section I recently found was near the intersection of Rt 18 and Rt 9 on Robertsville Rd. It's not much but during the winter when riding a century to the Pine Barrens is prohibitive (and difficult) it is enough to satisfy my need to seek out the Barrens.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

New routes!

Well I got the sudden itch to add some new routes up on A friend of mine (Larry Goldsmith) had suggested riding south of Bordentown, NJ (thanks Larry :-). This was a little problematic as we run out of rural roads and are boxed in by Rt 130. But a little research and the memory of an August Habitat for Humanities Century (in 105+F direct sun) made it a little easier to come up with a route. I now have a route the goes through Bordentown, down to Medford Lakes and back via Tabernacle and Pemberton. I've added a few variations and various distances (though I may not have posted them yet as I want to check them first). I've also added a ride out to Cedar Lakes/Whiting (near Lakehurst) and through the back of Lebanon State Forest. Future plans are for a few rides into PA. This will be a little tougher as they have real hills and I'm not familiar with the area (but I'll work on that). So far I have 124 routes (posted), most are over 60 miles in length, not bad :-).

Sunday, September 14, 2008

The ups and down of cycling

The past few days have been mostly great and I've enjoyed most of the time on the bike. On Thursday (9/11) I commuted into work by bike and I enjoyed the ride in (and home). It was a little somber as I was aware that it was 9/11 and I reflected on my memories of the days before and days after that fateful day (I have a lot of memories though I wasn't affect directly). Today I noted that the cemetery, on Texas Rd., was mostly deserted. One lady stood over a grave. I was a little surprised that there weren't more people there (it was mid morning). After 9/11 there were quite a few burials at that cemetery (and others in the area). I doubt anyone directly affected has forgotten.

That day was a nice ride as I tested out a new rear wheel. My previous one only lasted around 5 - 8K miles. I guessing a bearing went but I haven't had it into the shop yet to find out what's wrong with it. The new wheel is ultra quiet. When I coast there is no noise, it's a little spooky. I also tested out my larger back pack. It worked well except that I packed my lunch in the top compartment and my helmet would hit it and that kept me from picking my head up. I quickly adjusted that and I didn't have the problem anymore. This larger pack allows me to bring my Camelbak bladder, clothes, laptop, towel, toiletries, tools, tubes, tires, and lights. It's heavier than anything I've ridden with on my back but I feel it's not too bad. It's kind of a toss up between this pack and the trailer. With the trailer I have to use the Trek as it's setup for the trailer. With the pack I can choose any of my bikes.

Saturday was a very nice ride. We rode out of GSP120 (behind the Pizza Hut). We rode down to Brielle Cyclery via Manasquan Reservoir (the most scenic route) and the rail-to-trail by Allaire in Manasquan, over to Brielle, then north along the shore, and finally back to Matawan/GSP120, 80 miles in total. It was hot and humid but since we where down the shore we were kept cool by the breeze off the ocean. At one point I pushed the pace as a second group decided to catch and draft but not pass. I stayed on the front for several miles (I don't know why). I ended up being a bit tired after that ride.

Today's ride started out well. I woke up, had a heart rate of only 54 bpm (excellent!). I left on time, arrived at the club ride in Cranbury early (11 miles). Everyone else showed up, we had a big group so we split in 2. I left with the smaller group because they were going south (towards farms). It was supposed to be about 40 miles and it was supposed to be warm again. I managed to get a few miles when my seat broke. The rails at the back of the clamp snapped off (argh!). So I had to ride home with my saddle taped to the remaining rails. It was 15 miles home and I stood a good portion of the way home (my legs are tired). Now I'll have to break out the older Brooks Pro and pop it on or I may try to break in the new B-17. Only problem is I have two centuries coming up in the next two weeks. Not a good time to be breaking in a saddle. Oh well.

This week looks good for at least two commutes. I'll take the Truk (Trek ;-) and trailer if I have to. Besides saving me $5+ a day in fuel I enjoy the rides into work. It'll be getting cooler so I'll have to adjust. I currently have the a 20W light but I may try to build something little better. I'm looking forward to riding in the dark. I rode with my friend last April/May on night time road rides and it was a blast.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bicycle commute, pack review

I've decided that I can get in more of my training miles if i commute to work by bicycle (40 miles round trip). Right now I've got two of my three bikes ready to roll. My current favorite, my Giant TCR3 and my Trek 1100 (with BOB trailer - see my stable). So far I've been able to squeeze in two commutes a week. Yesterday was my first try at one day after another (with a weekend century) and boy am I tired. I need to get my Ti bike setup and ready to roll. It will be my all weather bike. It's a great bike and seems a little faster than the Giant (???). Over the next few weeks I'll working on lighting and wardrobe. So far the commutes have been really nice despite being tired. I've scheduled them for the off hours so I'm not fighting the rest of the auto commuters. This may change next week as it's the first week of school and then things will get nuts. I intend to keep this up until we start to get black ice. We have a lot of natural streams here and they cause lots of problems with various roads. I had one bad meeting with black ice and I'd like to avoid any more.

So for commuting to work I decided that the Camelbak Ventoux (1300+ cu in) wasn't large enough. It can hold my clothes, towel bladder, tools and toiletries but not my laptop. So I went looking for another back pack. I searched the Internet and I asked around at work. Elke (Hi Elke!) suggested I check out I came, I saw and I purchased OGIO Metro (2200 cu in). This is a good pack and I like it very much. It sits still and comfortably on my back even on fast downhills and on sprints (with traffic). It's a good pack when I'm off the bike as well as on the bike. I now use it daily for work. It's not perfect and that's more because of my special commuting requirements. First what I like, it's waterproof, the laptop section is great as are the pockets. Strangely enough I didn't think I'd be able to get my note book (i.e. bound paper), my clothes, some tools, tire and lunch in the main compartment. Well it fit. I put the towel in the laptop compartment with the laptop (more on that in a moment). I put my light kit in the water bottle compartment and the rest of the odds and ends in the other three compartments. The main organizer compartment has my calculator, pens, screw drivers and other work related odds-n-ends. When done the pack is a bit heavy but it rides pretty well anyway. I have no trouble with sway and looking back while riding is no problem as the pack doesn't block my view (as does a framed pack). The front chest strap holds the shoulder straps in place, even with the heavy loads I carry.

The problems are few and that's good. The first one was that the laptop causes the pack to sit flat on my back. I ride a road bike with a very aggressive setup (I lean forward, a lot). That leaves my back arched and the flat pack sat funny until I made adjustments. That adjustment was the towel in with the laptop. The laptop compartment has room for both the laptop and the towel. So far the laptop has stayed dry but I need to do a few more tests and I'm keeping the laptop in a plastic bag anyway (better safe than sorry). The towel allowed me to soften the pack on my back and to cause the pack to be a bit more curved. The next problem is that the pack doesn't have a waist strap. For bike commuting with a large load a waist strap is probably a good idea. Because it doesn't have a strap sometimes the pack sits a little off center which is an odd feeling but not really uncomfortable. It would be nice if the pack sat a little further down my back but with the stiff laptop I'm glad it's not. The last thing is that I can't ride with my Camelbak. I've gotten spoiled by having that tube over my right shoulder. I've switched back to water bottles but I miss the Camelbak. I may attempt to use the older simple bladder sleeve somehow strapped to the Metro. Well see. Overall I give the Metro a 4 out of 5.

Oh the music player pockets, I haven't tested them yet. I normally don't ride with a music player as I don't want anything blocking my hearing. For an hour commute I can live without music.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Bicycle pumps

Over the years I've had several bicycle air pumps. I started out with a really nice Silca pump but wore that out after about 10+ years of use. I've had several Zefal frame pumps which were okay. They were a pain in that to get to 120+ psi you had to pump 120+ times and once you reached 90 psi you really had to work hard. Also to properly pump the tire you had to play games so you didn't break the tube valve stem (which was all too easy). Then my friend introduced me to the Topeak Mighty Morph G Master Blaster (hate the name, love the pump). I've only needed it a few times but it's much easier than using the Zefal 3x frame pump. The other day I flatted, changed out the tube and was busy pumping up the tire. I had been talking to my riding partners when I looked down to see 120 psi on the gauge. I had put a little effort into pumping but I must have only pumped 35 - 40 strokes before I reached that amount. Wow, nice pump! The nice little foot step that folds out worked well in holding the pump steady and the small size fits nicely in my Camelbak (nicknamed the Tardis because I've lost a bunch of stuff in there and it's kind of unbelievable what I've tossed that much in there).

While I'm at it I'd like to tell the story of the good customer support from Topeak on one of my Joe Blow pumps (can't remember the exact name). This is my floor pump and it gets a lot of use. Well the screw in the head came loose (it's about 3 years old) and the head would no longer hold air when the pump valve was closed. Even after I tightened it it would work. I contacted Topeak asking for a rebuild kit, they're sending me a new head. In the mean time I disassembled the head (easy to do), I cleaned it up, and it's now working again pumping my tires to 140 psi. I'll be getting some silicon grease and that should do the trick to keep the seals properly working, I hope. I must say that I really like the Topeak products (I also have another Joe Blow pump that I destroyed through abuse, my fault, oops) and one of their multi-tools. I think I'll be purchasing more Topeak products and recommending them to friends and acquaintances in the future. Good products and good service.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Wild Turkey!

No not the Bourbon, the bird. Today I came across a group of seven wild turkeys! My wife thinks that they are a young brood and that makes sense as they are about two feet tall, thin and they didn't scatter when they finally saw me. It's pretty easy to sneak up on wild animals when riding a bike. I remember riding past a Red Hawk eating a snake (way cool) and about 50 Turkey Vultures feasting on a deer carcase (Ooh, ooh that smell. The smell of death surrounds you.). That was a little spooky.

Two in a row!

Sorry this is a little late ...

For the past few weeks I've been busy with school, work, and home (oh a little bit of weather problems too). So for two weeks no cycling (mind numbing!). Well I finally got back on the bike, first a Wednesday ride (usually about 35 miles). Then a Saturday ride (an easy 79 mile ride :-), then a commute to work. It started out cold (in the 50's) but it was in the warm in the sun, which felt good. The next day another Wednesday night ride. So now I'm getting back into a normal flow. Yesterday, Saturday (8/16), I had to be home by noon for a block party. Otherwise I would have done a century. So we left out of Matawan at 8 am. We were going to go to Sandy Hook (Jersey Shore) but because it was a bit cool we decided to stay inland and went to Manasquann Reservoir. Initially it was supposed to be 50 miles but I was feeling good so I added more (yes, I know, I'd be late to the party, but the ride felt so good!). I ended up with another 70 mile ride. Sunday I decided to a club ride out of Cranbury but I wanted mileage (I was still feeling good). So I commuted by bike to the ride (11 miles), did the club ride (55) and rode home again (11 miles). :-) Another good day.

On Saturday's ride I ran over a tack (that's what the imprint on the tire looked like) and I flatted. I've been running higher pressure tires (140 psi) and wasn't looking forward to pumping them up by hand. I have a Topeak Morph Mountain G mini-pump and before I knew it the tire had reached 130 psi. On on of my other bikes I have a Zefal 3x frame pump and once you reach 90 psi (about 50 pumps) it starts getting really tough to pump. I must have only done about 35 pumps and I was at 130 psi! Wow nice pump. It still wasn't a breeze as there was some effort but no where near the effort of the Zefal pump. Now only if the gauge was a little easier to read. Anyway I'm now off to commute to work. There is a threat of a thunderstorm but I'm still going. With tropical storm Fay just hitting Florida the rest of my week is looking like it may be wet so I'll get my miles when I can. Sort of "smoke 'em if ya got'em" if you will. I'm hoping that I'll still be able to get my century in this Saturday, I've got a few new routes to try and I'm looking forward to getting down to the Pine Barrens again.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Back on the bike!

This weekend (2008/08/09) was a great weekend to be out on the bike! It was a little chilly (for summer and me) at around 65 - 78F but tolerable for me (I like it hot). We rode out of Cranbury to Pemberton. We did a 70 mile ride as I've been off the bike for two weeks with school work and wasn't about to attempt a century. I was listed for 70 - 110 miles (normal for summer) so I was good. I know it's a large range but it gives me the freedom to venture all around the state. We did a new derivation of my Pemberton route called Pemberton - via Mangolia Rd. (69 miles). It was slightly breezy but not nasty. Seems this summer has been pretty breezy, odd. Anyway, I've also created a few new routes, a Cranbury - Batso (125 miles) route and a Cranbury - May's Landing (147 miles) route. The Cranbury to May's Landing will have to wait until next year as I don't think I have enough daylight to complete it right now. The Batso ride I may attempt in September. I also have a Cranbury - Tuckerton (130 miles) route that I haven't been able to try. I had it scheduled for May but we had strong winds (18 mph + gusts) out of the West both times so I rode something with less than 30 miles of head winds. I've also noted that I'm missing a few routes (Mt. Misery), so I'll add those soon. Anyway it feels good to be back on the bike.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Ow, what a ride!

Well, I'll post a short summary of our ride yesterday (2008/6/15 - the Longest Day - 208 miles). A longer version should be posted on my page within the week. We left at 4:48 AM (according to my watch) and arrived at 8:28 PM (again according to my watch). I don't have an average speed as my computer was messed up (I forgot to turn it on) but we're certain it was close to 17 mph as the other teams were reporting this and we left close to when they did and arrive before most of them. There were two reasons for the long length of time. The first was we lost our SAG, the second was the heat and humidity in the Pine Barrens. At our lunch stop the SAG was supposed to meet us in Allentown. He stopped in Kingston at a local deli to get lunch and he didn't see us pass him (we where doing pace lines and flying onto Allentown another 20+ miles ahead). So we ended up waiting in Allentown for 45 minutes for him to arrive. I made the mistake of not giving him my cell phone number and he didn't have mine (oops). So our lunch stop took around an hour instead of 30 minutes. Next we really suffered in the Pine Barrens, actually we began to suffer on Four Mile Rd (just below Browns Mills) and knew we needed more stops. So I modified the route to include another stop in the Pine Barrens. Earlier we added a stop early in the ride so we now had at least 20 extra minutes there. In the Pine Barrens we also hit heat, humidity and wind. It was reported that Woodbine, NJ (southern end of the Pine Barrens) had a high of 89F. I'd guess the middle of the Pine Barrens were higher yet. Add the humidity and the direct sun and we were riding in 100+F adjust heat index. The wind did us no favors as it was quite strong. We all suffered (every team, not just mine). I can honestly say that I think our team could have gone much faster as the last 23 miles were our fastest. We managed to up the pace to 18.4 for the last 23 miles.! I'd hav e to say this ride has caused me to doubt my leadership abilities. I'll have to work on that. More about that later (on my web pages).

Friday, June 13, 2008

On the road again ...

Well it's the day before the Longest Day and the training is done. If we're not ready now we won't be ready tomorrow. ;-) The weather looks good for tomorrow. We'll start out at 4:30 AM and it looks like it will be in the low 60's. When we get to the Pine Barrens we'll be looking at the low 90's. When we get to Cape May it should be in the low 70's with a head wind of 12 mph out of the south. This is to be expected and I don't think I've seen one of these rides where we haven't had a head wind on the lower half.

I've tried to figure out how to access the blog and Facebook via my cell phone but I haven't quite figured that out yet so I'll not worry about it. The cell phone has a camera and I'd like to remember to take pictures but I'm not that good at it (shaky pictures usually). I'll see what I can do. Anyway I'm off for my big ride and I am excited.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Back to back rides, final training for the Longest Day.

This weekend (5/31) my friend Mark and I did back to back rides (one on Saturday (5/31), one on Sunday(6/1)). This was the final preparation for the Longest Day (6/14). The idea is to do a Century followed by a Metric on back to back days, at the pace you wish to keep on the Longest Day. If you can do this then you're ready. Well we're ready! :-)

Because of weather we needed to reverse the two days. Tornadoes were predicted for Saturday so we rode the Metric using this route: Cranbury Griggstown Allentown II and Sunday we did this: BBC Manasquan Reservoir. We rode at 18+ mph avg on Saturday and 17+ on Sunday. Though we did take it a bit easy on Sunday as we knew there was going to be a lot of head winds (typical 16 mph and out of the West).

While I am tired from both rides I have recovered nicely. Oddly enough my naps after the rides was very short and I wasn't as tired as I have been. The single change was that after the rides I continued to drink as if I were still riding. I'm guessing that I was getting dehydrated after the rides and didn't realize it until now (some 10+ years after doing my first long distance ride). My legs held up real well! I still have the strength to ride further and I didn't have any problems with loss of strength as I have on the past 4 rides. This was my primary concern and it seems my last minute changes where exactly what was need to remedy the problems. I'm now confident of at least holding a 17.0 mph avg speed for the 208 miles of the Longest Day.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

... and your little doggy too!

Weather-wise we had an interesting Saturday (5/31). The predictions were for sever thunderstorms, strong winds and heavy rain around noon. While watching the news the night before they showed the radar models for the tri-state (NY-NJ-PA) area and the area I was riding in was going to have the most severe weather. The kind that could spawn tornadoes. So I decided to err on the side of safety and cut the ride back to a Metric (Cranbury - Griggstown - Allentown). This was actually Sandy's and Mark's idea and this turn out to be a good idea. We managed to get back just before noon and while Mark and I did our cool down ride we got rained on. While driving home it came down heavy. When I finally got home I took at look at the weather service and found this:

 Forecast for Trenton, NJ 1114 am EDT Sat may 31 2008 ...Tornado Watch 402 in effect until 5 PM EDT this afternoon... .This afternoon...Mostly cloudy with showers and thunderstorms. Some thunderstorms may produce heavy rainfall...large hail...frequent lightning and damaging winds this afternoon. Highs in the lower 80s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 80 percent. 

I'd say that pretty much sums up the day. While the winds were strong they really didn't give us too much trouble.

Now onto our training. Today was a good day. I've lowered my seat about a millimeter or two and my left leg feels okay. I did push the pace today which Sandy wasn't too happy with. Sorry Sandy, I promise that on the Longest Day we won't keep that pace all day long. We ended up with a low 18.2 mph avg. pace. That's pretty good but not a pace we can keep for the entire Longest Day (we're expecting 17 - 17.5 mph avg). Over all I'm pleased with my progress and tomorrow will give me a clear indication about the condition of my legs. Tomorrow Mark and I will be doing a Century out of the Manasquan reservoir. It's a derivative of my BBC ride (which I'll layout later). Starting that ride out of Cranbury would mean we finish with a 35 mile head wind (we return West and the wind is out of the West). I'll check that so that we don't have to do that but instead end up with a 25 mile tail wind to finish. Hopefully I'll feel just as good tomorrow. If I feel good then I know I'm ready for the Longest Day. At the moment I'm very confident that I won't have any problems on the Longest Day (6/14 - 208 miles, Port Jervis, NY to Cape May Lighthouse, NJ).

Monday, May 26, 2008

That didn't go well!

I decide that Saturday's (5/24) ride would be this:

We had Ed (a fast Tri, training for the Longest Day- LD), Sandy, Mark, Gina and myself. Sandy, Mark and I are on the same LD team so we needed to do some pace line drills. Thos, another member of our team, is up in Massachusetts doing solo training. Gina, well I'll comment on her later (she kicked butt and then some). Well this ride didn't go as well as I'd like. The wind was 16 mph and out of the NNW. This meant that any ride south was guaranteed about 40 miles of head wind on the way home (hmm and I knew this before hand). I didn't want to do a ride out to the shore (on Memorial Day Weekend, dangerously bad idea!) and I needed to practice pace lines so riding out to the hills was not an option.

I decided to attempt to redo the ride through Lebanon State Forest (Mt. Misery) where I managed to get lost the previous time (last month). This time we made out much better, we found the correct unmarked road. The roads through the Forest are not maintained and there were quite a few huge potholes (lack of road) but over all the scenery was spectacular. Ed noted that this was much like a ride he did through Spain. That sounds like a ride I'd like ! to do.

For the first 60 or so miles I let Ed dictate the pace (18.5+ mph) as he is much faster (more than a full mph) than the rest. That was my first big mistake. My second was pushing the big ring and sprinting early in the ride. I just wanted to see if I could do it. Well after we stopped at Nixon's, in Tabernacle (mile 67), I paid for it dearly. My legs stiffened up pretty good after the lunch stop, the head wind made every climb (even small ones) very painful and I lost any strength in my left leg while climbing the NJ TP (Rt I95) over pass outside Hightstown. In short I did a very bad thing! The last 40 miles I was dragged home by my friend Mark who was tired from playing catchup to the pace I let Ed keep (bad ride leader!). Somehow Mark finished with 17.4 mph and I managed 18.0 (there is some doubt about my computer at this moment but the distance was correct within .5% of the mileage, hmm).

But all was lost on this ride. We did a wonderful pace line from Chatsworth to Nixon's Deli in Tabernacle. I wouldn't recommend it for your local club fast pace line but it is enough to make the ride easier. Ed has caught on to doing the pace line though we did have to reel him in a few times as he tends to rocket off the front. The pace line enabled us to breeze through the 10 mile stretch and didn't drain us mentally. Too bad Dave (another Tri in training for the Longest Day) was ill that very day. That was something he needed to learn. Well he has one more weekend of training to get in. As the last ride is going to be Sandy Hook and the pace will be dropped. It's more of an active rest ride.

Now on to Gina! Mark and I call her the queen of our ride and she kept here crown with dignity on this ride. Gina goes to the gym, works with weights, does spin classes, takes care of her two year old son Luke, works full time and gets in a little riding from time to time. She also said that she did a Metric in the area where she lives (the hills of Morris County) and that she maintained 16.6 mph. She to! ld us la st week that she'd be able to join us on this weekend's ride and I told her that if she needed to she could hang off the back drafting. I figured that she hadn't done a century in a while and that various aches, pains and sores would slow her down a bit but I had no doubt she'd be able to keep up. Oh boy was I ever wrong! She stayed up with Ed for most of the ride and finished with Ed's faster group (Mark and I were the slower). Now I think that Sandy has talked Gina into doing, at least, the Century. Gina wants to do the full Double Century. After what I saw on Saturday's ride and knowing Gina I have no doubt that she can do it!

And as for me, well I know have doubts. This is the third week in a row where I had leg trouble. It seems to pick up around mile 80. Mile 80 is not good enough to finish the Longest Day. I know it's not a problem with diet or cramping. What I am going to do is to lower my seat as I raised it up a bit at the beginning of the month. I'm also going to drop the pace on next weeks double century and I'm going to take it easy over the next three weeks (active rest, no really I'll take it easy). Ed and Dave will not be kicking the pace up this time as I've got to figure out how to at least survive the Longest Day ride. The thought of DNF is extremely offensive to me! I'm also going to check my cleats. They're Look Red cleats with float but I think I may need to position them so that my foot doesn't float into the rear stays so much. Right not they have a lot of float but I do find that they work very well. So that's my plan.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Wow, what a ride!

Yesterday (Sat., May 17th 2008) I had planned for a ride down to Tuckerton, NJ from Cranbury, NJ (129 - 131 miles). But the weather service was predicting strong (18 mph) head winds from the west. This was problematic for us as that ride has a 30 mile section was east to west. That ruled that route out. So instead I decided to do the Griggstown/Tabernacle ride (121 miles). This only had a ten mile section between Chatsworth and Tabernacle that is east to west. This was a much better choice.

The ride started out cool at 51F and the roads were wet from rain the night before. After about 40 miles into the ride my legs were feeling comfortable and I was now able to keep up with Ed better (Ed's much faster than I am). As we rode it warmed up nicely and by the time we reached Allentown, NJ I had to get rid of the wind vest and wool sweater. I was down to a long sleeve jersey and shorts. It turned out to be a good choice as I was comfortable for the rest of the ride. After Allentown we road to Browns Mills and we did a good job of riding through Ft Dix. At Browns Mill we stopped so I could fill up my Camelbak. After Browns Mills it was Four Mile Road. On Four Mile Rd. things got a little weird. The wind is supposed to be out of the west but it felt like a headwind. It was actually a cross wind as we could see dust clouds being blown across the road. It turns out that this dust was pollen and not fine sand as I thought it was. We found out when we got to the Ranger's station and found that we were covered in yellow/green pollen. At this point I felt is would be a good idea to wash up a bit. This made me feel better. So we're back on the road and riding towards Chatsworth. Once at Chatsworth we made the right towards Tabernacle. We get exactly what we expected, a nasty 18 mph head wind. Ed and I took turns at the front. When we finished that 10 mile section we were extremely tired. Ed noted that if it had been a a mile or two longer his spirit would have been broken (I agree, that wind was nasty). We really looked forward to Lunch at Nixon's Deli (mile 80). When we arrived we met two young ladies who are also doing the Longest Day. They were out of Forked River and doing 100. They also had just finished the same section as we did. So we sat and talked for a while and eventually Ed and I decided it was time to get lunch. The ladies eventually left, we wished them well, and we ate our sandwiches. Ed noted that we managed to complete this much of the ride at 18.3 mph even with that nasty section, I'm impressed. Ed and I agree to push our luck and keep the pace. So we rode the last 40 miles at that pace. When we finish we were dead tired but thrilled with a completed 121 mile ride at 18.3 mph.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Eating tips for Long rides

First I hope that the folks training for the CJBC's Longest Day have some mileage under there legs. There are only 30 days until the big ride (June 14th). A number of folks are report getting in about 200 mile weeks. That seems to be right on target for the big ride. I'm currently up to 230 miles/week but I'm a little ahead of schedule. I'm pretty sure that I have more than 1500 miles on my legs for the year so far (I haven't really kept a running total). I've already done a back to back 100/50 mile weekend and my legs seem to be fine so far.

A few folks at the last Longest Day meeting were asking about what to eat on the Longest Day. The first thing you need to know (my opinion and I'm not a doctor) is that on a 208 mile ride you will not be able to eat enough food. If you estimate that a near 200 lb rider, riding at around 15.5 mph will burn something like 700+ calories an hour (these are very 'loosey-goosey' numbers). That same rider will be riding for around 13.5 hours and end up burning around 10,000 calories for the day. That's like burning around 2+lbs of fat off your body in one day which would not be a good thing. This is not a day to worry about staying on your weight loss diet, so eat! I'd venture a guess that most cyclists would normally eat around 2500 calories in a single day. So to keep up you'll need to eat about 4 times as much food for the day. I doubt your body will have an easy time keeping up with the digestion needs. This is why it's important to experiment with food on your training rides. To stay even close you need to eat while you ride. So find out what you can tolerate and what you can't tolerate while doing your training rides.

I've discovered that on normal Centuries and Double Metrics (I do these all the time) I can drink my Lemon-Lime Gatorade mixed to about 50% powder/water (I prefer the mix). I can eat pretty much anything but no large quanti! ties. If too much food sits in my stomach for long periods of hard effort I tend to get an upset stomach which will ruin the entire ride. On a Double Century I've found that I can't drink the same drink all day long. I need different flavors and I like to have small amounts of soda at the rest stops (gives a different texture also). And don't forget that sometimes regular water is exactly what you need but don't drink it exclusively as it doesn't replace the lost electrolytes. Oh one last thing, a cyclist (thanks Ed) told me that he find bibs to cause less stomach problems than short because the elastic waist band on shorts restricts your stomach. I haven't tried a bib but this sounds like a good idea.

As for food, I've found that normal mix of gorp (mixed nuts, chocolate candy and dried fruits), bananas, PBnJ, gels and various cycling bars also work well. Again, I want real food during the ride so at lunch I'll order a mustard sub (I have some other things like Turkey, Swiss, Lettuce and Tomatoes with my Mustard) and eat part of it at one stop and finish it off over several stops. Various candy, pastries and cakes may work well for you as well. I enjoy rice/marshmallow bars as it's solid food, plenty of sugar and it tastes good. One thing I really recommend you avoid is heavy foods that may contain heavy creams or grease. Your digestive system may not handle these well on such long rides.

Now here's one thing I haven't heard asked about: Caffeine and these new 'energy' products. If you plan to use caffeinated gels I'd recommend you save them for the lower half of the ride. If you normally have a coffee or tea in the morning continue to do so but during the ride don't go nuts with caffeinated products. I've found that by saving them for the lower half (after Chatsworth or May's Landing) that I get a pick-me-up during the mental doldrums of the Pine Barrens. Use caffeine too much during the day and your body will just get used to it. As for these! new 'wo nder' drinks that only have 4 calories but work for '5 hours', I am more than sceptically about them. Where are they pulling this energy from? I've tried Red Bull but it has little boosting affect on me.

Oh one last thing, Ice Cream and Dairy products. Some cyclists can not handle dairy on long rides (I can). It gives them flatulence (gas, the winds, etc). My friend Mark and myself have found that Ice Cream works well for us on long rides so we'll be using it.

Longest Day Training

This past weekend was cloudy and a bit chilly but better than the previous weekend. The previous weekend was the CJBC's Farmlands ride. I did the Century (103 miles). I just couldn't seem to get my legs to spin. I just wasn't comfortable. So I rode to a 16.5 mph avg. Three weeks previous it was in the low 80's, I did a century and road the a 17+ mph avg. This last weekend was much better, my avg 17.3 mph for 105 miles. I did manage to strain a muscle and I had spin with my right leg to get up over a small steep hill in the back of Monroe. I then rode Sunday, the leg was still mildly sore but working quite well. So it looks like it's not serious damage.

This weekend is going to be an interesting ride. It's my ride down to Tuckerton (down the shore :-). It's a 129 - 131 mile ride. I thought the mileage would have scared off most riders because I listed it as 120 - 140 miles. I had two riders two weeks before the ride. I usually have to wait until the night before to find out how many riders I'll have on my Saturday ride. My usual riders will be riding the Montauk Century on Sunday so they won't be riding with me. The two gentlemen I'll have are tri-athletes. This will interesting as I try to teach them to work together (minor pace lines). They're used to riding alone and no pace lines. I think this will be difficult in the Pine Barrens. One of the two had suggested that they'd just put on their IPOD ear buds but I warned them that this is dangerous. At least I don't have to worry about dragging them around as they are at least a full mph faster than me. The next week will be another 120 or so.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Oh my god, I'm bald!

It was a wonderful weekend for riding in NJ. Saturday's ride (2008/4/12) was a 76 mile flat ride down to Pemberton. The weather was predicted to be rain with thunder storms and low 50's F for a high. Instead we started out with fog and 58F. Within 15 minutes the sun came out. Another 30 minutes and it felt like low 70's. After a short climb in Assunpink Park we removed the excess clothing. Shortly we were on our way enjoying one of the first nice weekend days this year (there have been several really nice weekdays). We diverted from my original route a little bit when one of the riders forgot his Camelbak but had water bottles. That ended up shorting the ride a bit but I didn't realize that until after the ride. Anyway, this meant we had to fill up more often. We soon got into a comfortable pace and were riding and joking like we always do. The miles tend to tick off fast and I was enjoying the sites (wild life and the Pine Barrens in Ft. Dix). We stopped in New Egypt, a busy town, popular with Cyclist. The WaWa is very friendly towards cyclist and they have plenty of goodies (good and bad ;-)). We then stopped in Allentown, I was a little disappointed when they didn't have gallon size water for sale (don't use the tap water). I know of a store that has water just outside Allentown so I'll stop there next time. I instead picked up two small Gatorade, Berry flavored drinks. That lasted the final 11 miles until the end. During the ride there were four of us riding, JD, Sandy, Mark and myself. We each took a turn at the front of the pace line and we were doing quite well. Also the last half had a nice tail wind (I rarely see those). Mark surprised Sandy and myself when 'Sir Issac Newton' (as I like to call him) rocketed over the Rt. 195 over pass on Old York Rd. Sandy and I had trouble catching him and JD. Once we caught on Mark pulled for about four miles (it's how we train for longer rides like the Longest Day). Anyway at this point the corner of one of the thunder storms began to catch us and ! we got a little rain. Apparently we just missed a heavy down pour as the roads were soaked. So only a few rain droplets, very wet road, sun, warmth, sun burn (we didn't apply sun block) and an 18 mph avg for 69 miles. That was a great day. Here's Saturday's route.

Sunday's ride turned out to be almost as nice. It started out sunny in low 50's and windy (from the West). I wasn't leading this ride, Ken Leon was. He had 22 riders for the 16 - 17 mph avg ride. We started out by leaving Cranbury and heading West into the wind. That split the group in two but we soon pulled ourselves back into one group. After a while we started to pull ourselves together but the 'pace line' had a huge problem with yo-yo-ing. I decided I'd spend a bit more time towards the front (although I wasn't on the front too often). There were a few sections where I got on the front but I kept pulling he group apart so I kept it to a minimum. Most of the ride I kept hearing this weird clicking noise. When we reached Clarksburg Deli (Le Chateau to the locals) it became a little more obvious that my tire was bald, the threads were showing through and the tire began to bulge (in several places). I only have around 5K miles on the tire (I got the bike last May). I've never worn out a tire before I tend to buy cheaper heavy tires and replace then when they begin to crack. Well it seemed obvious that the tire had to be replaced right away (I have two spare tires, three spare tubes in my Camelbak). The rest of the ride we a lot more quite. We averaged 16.7 mph for the day. Not a bad two day total. Here's Sunday's route.

Next week, I'll be doing a century on Saturday. I hope we can get to 18 mph but more likely it will be in the 17's. The tail wind on the last 28.9 miles on Saturday's ride really helped with the 18 mph pace. I think I'll be doing the Cranbury - Sooey Rd.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Nice weekend for a ride

Thos (a visiting rider) had a bit of a bad day as he broke his handle bar early on my weekend club ride. Luckily he wasn't leaning on it when he discovered it was 'loose' (broke). He refused to turn around and continued the ride. He still had the left (front) brake but he couldn't shift or use the rear brake. He still managed to keep up (good work Thos) and we averaged a nice 16.8 mph pace over 65 miles. Early on Mark had suggested that we cut the ride back to the 50's because a few of us couldn't ride this last week (it was very windy) but I was determined to hit a metric (hence the extra meandering above). Next week it's going to be about 75 miles so I have several choices:

It will depend on which way the wind blows (literally) but I'm thinking Allenwood. I wanted to do that this weekend but with Easter the local roads would have been too crowded. So I opted for the lesser traveled roads South. I'll probably do Sergentsville in two weeks and only add a little more mileage since it's so much more hilly. Pemberton the week after with more mileage to put it in the mid 80's (I'll post a new route). The reason for the early long mileage is that I'm training for the Longest Day (register here). That and I like long miles. ;-) This year I have a nice 130 - 140 mile ride but I'm not sure how well that will go over. I'll need to discuss that with my riders.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

This year's first commute!

Yesterday was a good day to commute (19 miles one way). It started out at 30F and quickly rose into the low 40's. I think I was slightly over dressed as I would get hot from time to time. The wind would make me a bit cold but the hills would block the wind and I'd heat up nicely. I had forgotten how difficult it was to ride my Truk (Trek) 1100.

The reason for the name Truk is that have a BOB trailer that I tow behind the Trek and the thing handles like a truck. My Trek 1100 hails from 1995. It was my first 'expensive bike' that I picked up at a year end sale. It was the bike I did my first Longest Day with. I didn't like it for the Longest Day as the seat sits flat (I tend to go nose down, a lot).

Anyway, the triple helped with the hills as the trailer really slowed me down a lot. The trailer changes the bike's handling in a big way. When you hit bumps in the road you feel it on all three tires. If you're not ready for it it can cause you to lose your grip. When you hit a small dip the front wheel becomes light as the third wheel dips and the center wheel becomes the pivot point. This can cause you to lose control when going you're going fast so you have to take it easy on the descents. Turns are interesting because as you lean the weight of the trailer wants to straighten you back up. The faster you go the more pronounced the effect. And finally it take a lot longer to slow down and stop because of the added weight. Still the trailer is very useful as a training tool. My legs are still feeling the climbs, 2214 ft total over 40 miles. That's more than most of my centuries (I'm a flatlander, which means I ride in an extremely flat area). I'll have a few more hilly centuries this year and this should help.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rest in peace Sheldon Brown (1944 - 2008)

I just signed up for the rec.bicycles.misc newsgroup, which I haven't read in about two years and there it was: Sheldon Brown 1944 - 2008. There are very few people I've not met that I really appreciate but Sheldon was one of the few I really liked. He introduced me to the Brooks saddles that I have on all my bikes. I remember posting to the newsgroup, complaining about saddles in general. Sheldon told me about the saddles and the amount of work required to break in and maintain the saddle. I've never regretted listening to his words of advice. Sheldon, we'll miss you.

To Sheldon's family, I can only offer you my words of condolence and a tear in his passing. I'm happy to say I met Sheldon Brown and was better for knowing him. The bicycling community has lost a valuable member and he will be missed.

Sheldon's web site.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Back in the saddle again.

Well I'm back in the saddle again. Actually I've been riding on and off since September but I've begun putting in some real miles in January (very odd). I got back on the bike in September so I could ride the Staten Island Bike Club's Pumpkin Patch Pedal. Since I injured my right thigh (a strain injury) pushing too big a gear I decided I'd get back to basics and spin. I completed the entire century in the small ring (39 tooth). I averaged 17.3 mph over the entire ride. For the next few months (October - December) I rode on and off, spinning of course, because of family, school, weather and the holidays. So far January has been very cold when it comes time to ride (twice in the low 20's). Oddly enough we've had a week (Monday - Friday) where it was in the 60's. I took advantage of that weather and rode at lunch time. This made up for the lack of ride time in the colder weather (I'm asthmatic, I'm not supposed to ride below 32F). Finally here we are at the end of January, where we'd normally have snow on the ground (usually a couple of feet). All we've had is rain and cold (any snow melted). Last weekend we rode down to the Griggstown canal and rode over black ice, two of my riders fell. One rider jammed his hand the other road rash on his chin, cheek, knee, elbow, and shoulder. In addition a broken carbon fork, Yikes! This past weekend I decided against riding where the natural springs might pop up (we get a lot of that here in Central New Jersey) and rode out to the farm lands (a short, flat, 40 mile ride). The rider with the worse injuries was back and riding again. It was a nice ride (though it only reach about 26F). I'll start putting up my ride cue sheets again and I'll hopefully have weather information for my rides too as I've just received a new weather station. All I can say is that it feels great to be back on the bike again putting on some miles.