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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Bicycle Repairman

Yesterday was the 40th Anniversary of Monty Python's Flying Circus. These guys are great, so for your viewing pleasure, here is a bicycle repair clinic!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Ride with Chris Carmichael on Sep 17

Lance Armstrong’s Coach Makes Exclusive
New England Stop at Belmont Wheelworks
for Group Ride & Book Signing

“The Time-Crunched Cyclist”

Love staying in shape? No time for exercise? Enjoy cycling? Two words for you: Chris Carmichael, who’ll be in town to sign his new book, The Time Crunched Cyclist, and to answer your questions in person about how to fit some reasonable riding into your unreasonable schedule. Carmichael, who coached Lance to seven consecutive Tour de France victories and this year's comeback third place, makes his only New England stop at the Belmont WHEELWORKS on September 17th with a group ride and a Q & A. Says Carmichael, "We’re not 20 anymore. Many of us have families and jobs and can’t commit to 10 or more hours per week on our bikes. For most of us, “your training program is the only thing stopping you from enjoying cycling the way you used to. Why? Because predominant theories in training are still stuck in the 1980s.”

The event will begin with a 2-hour group ride for up to 40 local cyclists led by Carmichael. All riders should be intermediate level or more advanced and be able to maintain a 17 to 19 mph pace. After the ride, the public is invited to a clinic and book signing reception sponsored by GU Energy Labs at the Belmont WHEELWORKS. You have to register for the ride by emailing and all are welcome to the book signing reception later in the evening.


Thursday, September 17th

3:30pm Ride Meeting Time at Belmont Wheelworks
4:00pm Ride Departure
6:30pm-8pm Clinic & refreshments at Belmont Wheelworks following the ride


480 Trapelo Road
Belmont, MA
(617) 489-3577

COST: The ride and in-store appearance are free and open to the public.

The Time-Crunched Cyclist...sounds like he wrote the book for me!!

Friday, September 4, 2009


It has certainly been a while since my last post. Until recently, I had been riding and chronicling my rides using the Daily Mile/Facebook applications as well as posting some basic weekly stats here (both can be viewed over to the right). This was suppose to a riding season of PRs and reaching set goals. Unfortunately, it hasn't exactly evolved in that manner, although last week I did have a "first" worth posting on. I wish this was a good "first" but it's not.

Two Sundays ago I did a 51 mile ride followed by a 20 miler the next day, and then I was off to NJ to work at a project site for a few days. Well by the end of my first day away I was experiencing some discomfort which I immediately attributed to being dehydrated...wrong! Despite efforts to rehydrate, the symptoms grew worse, and last Friday I was diagnosed with prostatitis, otherwise known as a male urinary tract infection! As a result, the doctor suggested that I curtail riding until the symptoms had subsided, which they did a few days ago. But I've been playing it safe and have been grounded for a total of 10 days! I plan on riding today...wish me luck!

It's not entirely clear to the doctor or me what caused could have been the 50 mile ride or the cumulative affects of the riding season...or not related to the riding at all. One thing is for sure, the saddle I've been riding is comfortable and has not caused any numbness in the nether regions nor malfunctioning parts! So go figure! Obviously I'll have to monitor the situation closely.

Monday, July 6, 2009

July 4th Ride

I wanted to do something different over the long holiday weekend so July 4th featured a one-way ride to the family cottage on Buzzard's Bay in Fairhaven. Of course, the ride would have to wait until after the Arnold Mills July 4th Parade (also known as the Horribles Parade). We started bringing the kids to this parade last year with several other's not the Bristol Parade but it's still a pretty good time for a parade with easy to obtain seating! Anyway, I was thinking the parade started at 10 but it didn't start until 11 and we didn't get home until just before 1:00, so I got a real late start on this ride which essentially took a chunk out of the middle of the day. But it was fun anyway. The plan was for the rest of the family to get there before me with my change of clothes.

I figured on 3 hours of riding and ended up at 3 hrs- 3 min despite a wrong turn in Berkley that added about 3 miles to the ride. The ride was actually quite easy given that I essentially had at least a partial tail wind from the west to northwest over most of the distance.

Ride stats: 53.7 miles at 17.6 mph.

The cookout and fireworks afterward seemed more enjoyable this year!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Unexpected Tempo Ride

This was the week I planned to turn it up a few notches with some serious riding, but glitches in the plan hit early. With Friday off from work extending the holiday weekend and my Tues/Thur kid-carting obligations absent for a week, I figured I'd ride every day except Wednesday...including joining the PHAT ride on Tuesday night and the Bikeworks TT on Thursday. Of course Tuesday was a terrific night for riding given the horrible weather we've been experiencing, but as luck would have it, I couldn't leave work early (just on time!) no PHAT ride. Plus when I got home, although there was time for a short ride, I just felt tired and hungry and non no ride at all. And the night before I found out there would be no TT in Rehoboth this week. It's an 8 miler.

Then the rain came and came and came and....well you all know about the lousy weather that never seems to end.

So tonight's ride was unexpected for two reasons:
  1. First, it pretty much rained here all day and hard...and it was raining when I left Boston...and my wife reported very wet roads and huge puddles. So I figured another ride missed due to the crappy weather system that has parked itself in various locations in the Northeast for just about the entire month of June. But after I got home and had a good meal, the roads were clearly drying and I just needed to get out on the bike for a short ride. Damp conditions were not going to stop me.
  2. Secondly, I hate wet rides of any type so I simply resigned myself to a "going through the motions" type of ride. But after the first 5 miles of spinning I unexpectedly picked up the tempo without really trying. That's when I realized how strong my legs were feeling so I picked it up some more to a level I thought I MIGHT be able to sustain for the rest of the ride (by now an 18 mile ride had been decided!).
Lo and behold...I ended up doing 18.25 mostly dry miles in 58 18.9 mph pace! And that's with one decent size hill and a somewhat slow first 5 miles. Now I don't feel bad about there not being a TT on Thursday. Sometimes the best rides are totally unexpected.

Next up: a one-way approx. 50 mile ride to the family cottage in Fairhaven on the 4th...well, that is after Friday's ride.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Longest Day Ride

This blog may start to be known as the blog which features bike ride events that "I never manage to ride"! Earlier in the year I posted about the Harpoon B2B ride that was held last Saturday. That has to be one of the coolest and toughest organized rides offered in the New England area. A couple of testimonials posted on the Sharon Road Club message board (see posts dated 6/21 and 6/22) seem to indicate that it was a great day of riding last Saturday and an all around very successful event. Oh well, there's always next year.

Here's another ride I had my sights set on but won't be able to participate in due to family commitments (the kid's have their karate class graduation this day). It's the Longest Day Ride being held this Thursday night (6/25) and sponsored by Ten Speed Spokes in Newport, RI. The ride covers 46 miles on Aquidneck Island (Newport, Middletown, Portsmouth) and starts promptly at 6:00 pm. A moderately long organized ride at night...and during the weekday too! I've never ridden it nor do I know anyone who has, but it just seems like it would be a unique and fun ride to participate celebrate the time of year that offers us the most sunlight!

So not this year... perhaps next. But I would like to hear from anyone who's participated in the ride. Is it a cycling event worthy of clearing the calendar? And just so my few readers don't think I just talk about organized cycling events, I am registered for and will participate in the NBW's TFCE this September. This will be about my 10th time riding in this fun event.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My First Time Trial

And a disaster it was!

I think time trials (TT) are great. In addition to being my favorite type of cycling competition, I think they are great to participate in as a way to measure your fitness and help attain riding goals like speed. Turns out, there are several TT races held in the local area by clubs and bike shops...and they're open to anyone. I'd been thinking of trying one but my schedule makes it difficult. But there is one that fits my schedule perfectly and also happens to be reasonably close by as well, so earlier in the week I committed to participate in the once per month Saturday morning 12-mile TT held by the Sharon Road Club.

Okay, so now about the disaster. I'll start by giving some advice. Know the TT course before you ride it for the first time. I know the roads in the area reasonably well and had both a map I had downloaded and studied plus written directions handed to me at the race. Despite all that, I missed a turn that resulted in an estimated extra 1.6 miles being added to the 12 mile TT loop. But that's just the BIG mistake I made. Here is a complete list of all the things, that IMO, went wrong...rookie mistakes if you will :

  • Not knowing the course well enough and missing a turn
  • Riding 28 miles the night before
  • Starting out way too fast for the 12 mile distance and at too high a cadence
  • Forgetting to reset my cyclometer
  • Not being able to ride on the drops for long enough distances
  • Forgetting to wear my skin suit and teardrop shape aero helmet (ok...just kidding on those two!)
My official time was 44:19, which for a 13.6 mile distance equates to an average speed of 18.5 mph. My goal for this TT was an average speed with a 19 to me I didn't come close. My goal for this season is to break into the 20s. Despite the disaster, I still had fun and plan on doing this TT routinely as a measure of progress.

The Sharon Road Club TT is held once a month during the riding season at 8:30 on a Saturday morning. More information can be found at the link.

There are a few other regularly held TT events in the area of varying distances. Here are the ones a know about with links for more information.

I'd like to try the Bikeworks TT next if I can manage to free-up a Thursday night.

Anyone know of any other TTs in the area?

Edited to add another local TT:

  • Pat Bell TT - Southboro, MA - Tues nights at 6:30 - 11.7 miles

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just Beat The Rain!

Now that I've got momentum going, I hate to miss a riding opportunity on a potential ride day. At this point in the season, all days are potential ride days except Tuesdays and Thursdays when my children and wife have back to back to back karate and/or kickboxing lessons (once school is over next week I hope to sneak in a Tues/Thur ride here and there). Yesterday was no exception, especially when Wendy reported patches of blue sky and "no threat of rain whatsoever". But she was driving down the highway and I was staring at a radar screen at work. No rain now I told her, but there's a solid line of yellows and reds headed our which point she reminded me how often our hopes are dashed for a good old-fashioned thunderstorm as they fall apart and die crossing Rhode Island. Good point I told her...I'll be on the 5 and plan to squeeze in a short ride.

Of course, by the time I get home the threat of rain is imminent. Not liking to have my hopes dashed yet again, I decide to stay local so I can cut the ride short if need be. There's a 5 mile loop from my house...I call it the basic loop...which I can ride one or more times with add-on loops to get anywhere from 10 to 20 total miles. Figured I'd do 14 miles. That was one cold ride for June...even with a LS jersey and vest on. At mile 12 I decided to stay out longer and predictably at mile 13 rode into a few sprinkles. But basically the rain held off until 10 minutes after I got home at which time a good steady rain developed. Wendy told me that the whole time I was riding the main area of rain was getting closer but that the light green leading edge on the radar didn't move beyond the MA/RI line just to our west. Now that's called just beating the rain!

Ended up cranking out a total of 18.3 cold miles at an average pace of 17.5 mph. Funny how the threat of cold rain makes you go faster.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summary for W/E 14Jun09 - Near Perfect Riding Week

Two weeks ago was yet another low point in my 2009 training schedule (yes, there have been others). It was the 1st week of June and I was only capable of logging a measly 46 miles as result of 2 rides over the weekend. And my average speed for those two rides was a pathetic 15.9 mph. This is NOT what I planned when I decided to blog last year and wrote about my cycling plans for 2009.

What a Difference a Week Makes!!

This past week ended up being a nearly perfect riding week, despite a weather forecast that suggested few opportunities for riding. It would have been a perfect week had it not been for the untimely rain on Sunday morning. I had planned to do my long ride for the week 1st thing Sunday morning, 30-35 miles or more depending on how I was feeling after 2 days of riding. As a result of the rain, I had to settle for a much shorter ride later in the day. I was able to get in after work rides on Monday, Wednesday and early morning ride on Saturday (on the road shortly after 7:30 AM, which is as good as it gets for me!)...and an off-plan late afternoon ride on Sunday. A total of 101 miles for the week at an average speed of 16.8 mph. If I can string a few weeks like this one together I'll be mighty pleased.

The jump in my average speed is noteworthy. I'm pretty sure it's real but I must admit I'm still fleshing this out a bit to make sure. Let me explain further.

Different Bike/Different Cyclometer

All my rides this week were on the Trek 2100. These were my first "real" rides on this bike other than tooling around the neighborhood shortly after I bought it. I bought the bike off of eBay last October from a seller in Hopkinton as I felt the need to have a "back-up" bike once I decided to raise my training up a few notches for 2009. To me the bike was a steal for what I needed. But when I started the longer rides earlier in the Spring I naturally took out the Specialized Roubaix, the only road bike I rode for the last two years. However, two Sundays ago I sent myself into a mild panic when I was preparing to ride and noticed that the outer layer of rubber was peeling off the rear wheel tire on the Roubaix. I had known it was getting near that point but I'm not too good with standard pre-ride checkouts of my bike...usually just hop on and go. I certainly got good use from that was the original that came with the bike and had just under 3,000 miles on it! Anyway,it was time to get the 2100 out of the basement and get it set-up for riding, which is what I did. It came with a Cateye cyclometer and after verifying the correct settings and riding on loops of known mileage, it seems to match very closely the data from the Trek Incite 8i on the Roubaix. I have no reason to believe it's not properly calibrated, but I probably ought to get new batteries for its two main units in case its flaking out on batteries about to go kaput.

2100 vs. Roubaix

I like the Roubaix and test rode several other comparable bikes before I decided to buy it in early 2007. After years of riding an old Trek 1200, the Roubaix had the plushest ride I had ever experienced. The 2100 has a noticeably harsher ride but much better responsiveness to my pedaling. Yes, in just a few rides this past week I've noticed vastly improved accelerations and more power going up hills. At first I thought it was just in my head but I really do believe it's the bike. I know I certainly feel faster on the 2100!

The Dreaded Big Chainring

There's no reason the big chainring should be dreaded except in situations like mine. I've had a chronic problem with my right knee that in the past has kept me off the bike and getting PT. What I've learned over the years is that I need a good base of miles riding exclusively on the small chainring and building up the muscles around the knees each year before I can start to even entertain the thought of using the big gears. If I don't train this way, I end up on the sidelines with a painful knee. So my training has always been based on a high cadence riding style with a focus of building leg speed early in the season. I use 500 miles as a basic rule of thumb for building the base but it also depends on how my knee feels. Having passed the 500 mile mark a week ago and with my knee feeling pretty good, I started using the large chainring sparingly on 2 rides this week...and both those rides resulted in average speeds easily exceeding 17 mph.

So to me, this all adds up to my first "breakthrough" event for 2009. I wish it was all in my legs but I'll take improvement anyway it comes...both stronger legs and a faster bike work fine for me. But I also know my history and I typically don't have such large increases in weekly average speeds so I'll need to keep an eye on the Cateye cyclometer. I'm pretty sure this all adds up to real improvement, but...

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Walking at Lunch - Boston HarborWalk

Working in Boston has it's pros and cons. The biggest con for me is all the time that gets consumed commuting by train. This time of year the commuting time takes away from cycling time. But I'll take it if it means I stay employed.

One of the pros is there is plenty to see and do during free time if you have any. :-)

One thing I haven't done much lately is take a full hour plus lunch to walk around and explore. My office is only a few blocks from the Fort Point Channel water front and I have certainly walked down there many times in the past but not recently (recently being... say, a couple of years). With the weather turning summer-like this week, I had heard some folks talk about walking down by the water. So today I decided to take a long walk to the water and check out some portions of the Boston HarborWalk. I headed over the channel to Fan Pier and walked to the end of the developed walkway. Fan Pier is home to the Moakley Federal Courthouse, which wraps around the western portion of the pier. The rest of the pier is currently under development, but was the site and support zone for the recent Volvo Ocean Race that visited the city for about a month starting back in April.

I had promised some original pictures, obviously bicycling-themed, when I stared this blog last year. That has been too slooooooow in developing for sure, but there's nothing like a walk along the Boston waterfront to get me in a picture taking mood with the new LG enV2 cell phone I got a few months ago.

Here are a few a took today.

View of downtown Boston skyline from Fan Pier.

Sailboats docked at Fan Pier. The red boat in foreground is the type participating in the Volvo Ocean Race.

At the end of the walkway. A view of the famous Anthony's Pier 4 restaurant.

I'm a little concerned about my inability to stick with the general cycling training schedule I thought I'd be able to follow this summer...which means I'm concerned about attaining my weight goal. I'm going to add walking at lunch to my schedule to help burn calories. Stay tuned for more pictures!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Weekly Stats Update

It's about time I posted something.

What's worse than not posting in over 3 weeks? Not riding for two of those weeks! Working out of state is a training schedule least for me I'm afraid to admit. I couldn't even fit a ride in on two consecutive weekends. Last week was a little better.

Weekly stats, as meager they be, are updated in the right side-bar.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Weekly Stats

I've added weekly stats for 2009 under the Daily Mile widget on the right side bar. Hopefully my weekly distances and average speeds will increase while my weight decreases. My target weight is 180's an ambitious goal so we'll see how it goes.

Last week was a disappointment for riding. The week had a lot of promise with the children away for the week, but other things got in the way. I had wanted to de-thatch the lawn for a few years now so last Friday was the day. Of course, I got a late start for numerous reasons, including being on call for a crisis brewing at work and a one hour wait at the RMV to get my license renewed. I had wanted to start in the morning but didn't get going until 2:00 pm. After that the domino effect controlled the rest of the weekend, which meant no ride on Friday and short rides on Sat and Sun. I understand those kinds of weeks are going to happen but it still aggravates me to no end.

Week Ending 4/26/09

  • Sat 4/25 - 18.9 mi - 16.4 mph
  • Sun 4/26 - 22.6 mi - 16.0 mph

This week will be another thin week for riding. I'm heading off later today to a project site in New Jersey where I'll be working for the next few days. Hope I'm back in time and the weather holds for rides on Fri through Sun.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Mid-Week Update - W/E 4/26/09

After riding three days in a row to end last week, the plan was to take a rest day on Monday, ride Tues or Wed, ride Thur or Fri, and then ride the weekend for a total 4 days of cycling. The weather forecast even dove-tailed nicely with this plan, and furthermore, all days were in play this week as the kids were shipped off to Gramps and Grammy's house for the week (school vacation week...bless my parents!). Unfortunately, the timing of the rain conspired to prevent any dry after work rides through Wed, and today, well I guess you could call it one of my lazy-ass days. I just could not motivate myself to pull on the tights and the heavy-weight jersey and face those gusty westerly wind again tonight. It might have actually been easier to do it if the forecast for the next few days wasn't so spectacular...but for today, it was just too easy to wait the extra day for more proper riding conditions...without any layers and hopefully no gusty winds.

April = August

As I'm sure everyone knows by now, we're going to have June-like weather this weekend. That means shorts and short-sleeve jerseys for certain...some of us for the first time at least for the jersey (at least that's the case for me). But remember, even though the calendar says April...the sun strength at this time of year is equivalent to that of August. Don't forget your sunblock folks!...especially if you're going out on a long ride. Karen gave that warning last weekend...and it sort of came the hard way. Seems worth repeating just prior to this first truly made for cycling weekend of 2009.

Enjoy your rides all!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekly Summaries

Picking up where my last post left off, here are my weekly riding stats for the past two weeks:

Week Ending 4/12 (I track my weeks from Mon through Sun)

  • Wed 4/8 - 20.1 mi - 16.3 mph
  • Thur 4/9 - 17.2 mi - 15.6 mph
  • Fri 4/10 - 22.6 mi - 16.1 mph

Total for week of 59.9 miles at a weekly average speed of 16.04 mph.

Week Ending 4/19

  • Mon 4/13 - 18.6 mi - 16.3 mph
  • Wed 4/15 - 16.1 mi - 16.3 mph
  • Fri 4/17 - 25.4 mi - 16.4 mph
  • Sat 4/18 - 19.2 mi - 16.6 mph
  • Sun 4/19 - 17.2 mi - 15.9 mph
Total for week of 96.5 miles at a weekly average speed of 16.31 mph.

I'll be adding weekly stats - total miles, average speed, and my weight - to the right side-bar shortly. Yes, I'll be including my weight so the public can see if I'm full of crap about my goal of getting down to 180 pounds.

These have all been good early season rides...though most were coolish and all were windy (at least they all seemed windy to me....some brutally so). As much as I hate riding in windy conditions, I know the extra effort will start paying off soon. One thing about my rides so far is that I find the average speeds to be remarkably consistent. This is unusual for me. In past years, my average speeds over the first few weeks of riding at similar distances were typically erratic and wide ranging from low 14s to mid 16s mph. The only thing I can attribute this to is my handful of fixie rides over the winter and my attempt at keeping the off-season as short as possible (as lame as that effort was).

I'm still getting use to it, but the new ride schedule with Tuesdays and Thursdays generally reserved as off days (due to family schedules, not by choice) is working out fine. Although I still don't like the idea of riding on Mondays, a day I use to count on as a rest day after long and/or hard rides on the weekends.

Speaking of weekend rides, this Sunday offers a special fund raiser ride event down in the MA South Coast area (Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion, Wareham). The event is to raise money for and awareness of the proposed Mattapoisett bike path, a portion of which has already been completed. Ride distances of 15 to 40 miles are being offered and the registration fee is small ($20). John has more details about this event on his blog. These are my old stomping grounds and the roads are excellent for least they used to be...and loaded with great scenery. I'd like to participate in the 40 miler, but the time commitment for me to get there and back and ride would be approx. 5 hours and I'm afraid the yardwork at home is already starting to pile up. There are many organized rides that I'd like to do later in the year when the yardwork dwindles I'm thinking I should stick to plan and ride a 30 miler or so around here. We'll see.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Music To My Ears and Riding Update

Here I am once again...finding it hard enough to find ride time around all the other commitments of family life while not allowing this blog to wither and die on the vine. I need to find a way to ride AND still have time to blog! As a result of my latest lapse, this post is not exactly the most timely with respect to its main topic...the music.

Yes, the music to my enduring seasonal chorus I look forward to hearing each year as much for the sweet sound as for the emergence of the Spring renewal it represents. This year, I first heard them the night of my daughter's birthday (date of my last post) as the in-laws were leaving. On my next ride 2 days later, I passed a spot in Plainville where the music was deafening...a roadside vernal pool perhaps. I'm talking of course about the spring peepers...also known as pinkletinks on the Vineyard (a fact I just learned). After our long and lingering winter, it's been good to hear them on my rides including my ride tonight...a nice reminder of the fact that warmer weather WILL arrive eventually.

Click on picture to hear the "music".

As for my rides, here's a summary of my mileage and average speeds since my last post:

  • Fri 3/27 - 18.3 mi - 15.7 mph
  • Thur 4/2 - 14.4 mi - 16.0 mph
  • Sat 4/4 - 17.1 mi - 16.0 mph (strong wind)
  • Sun 4/5 - 22.6 mi - 16.0 mph (strong wind)
  • Wed 4/8 - 20.1 mi - 16.3 mph
IMO, not too bad, but not too good either. I like to think of it as the "ramping up" phase. But once I start the training schedule with after work rides I try very hard to keep the momentum going. That means adding miles and riding days. Right now I'm only shooting for 3 to 4 rides per week with the max distance ranging into the 20s. I'd like to get to the point where I'm riding 5 days per week with after work ride distances ranging into the 30s and at least one long weekend ride in the 40-60 mile range. We'll see how it goes, but it's good to know that it will get easier as the temperatures warm up and the daylight hours grow.

Today's ride was a good example of keeping the momentum going. It would have been so easy to bag today's scheduled ride given the cold and wind and snow flurries my wife saw at work. I was really in no mood to ride all day, but I left work like I was going to ride and when I got home the wind had mostly died down. I started feeling better about riding and lo and behold I ended up doing a 20 mile ride and felt great doing it.

I didn't think I would be wearing my PI InsulaTour winter riding jacket again until next Fall, but the 44 deg temperature at ride time demanded it as well as the winter tights. Good call...I was never cold nor overly warm during the entire ride. The InsulaTour jacket has worked out well with temperatures in the 30s to mid-40s. When I wore it once or twice with temperatures in the 20s I found that I couldn't stay warm enough for an entire 12-16 mile ride. The cold too easily penetrated the back of the jacket, especially the back of the sleeves, which by design have no wind break material for breathability/water management.

I was looking at the NBW ride schedule a few weeks ago and noticed that the Triboro ride in my area was scheduled for this coming Sunday. I figured I'd join them for the 35 mile loop and get to know some of the club members. Now of course I realize that Sunday is Easter and I'll be lucky if I get any type of short ride in with all the egg hunts the family is preparing for the kids. Oh's always something!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

First After Work Training Ride

When I planned yesterday to go for a ride today I forgot one very important thing - my daughter's birthday. She turned 7 today. I know that sounds awful but we had a big family party to celebrate her birthday last Saturday and this Saturday she gets another party for her friends (a gymnastics party). Silly me that it had escaped me on Tuesday that we were having yet another birthday cake on her actual birthday with my in-laws coming over (I don't remember having so many B-day parties when I was a kid )-: ). So when I told my wife on Tuesday night that I was riding after work on Wed, it was not exactly met with her approval. All was good though as I managed to leave work a little early and lo and behold - I finally got a bike ride in!! Another shoehorn special!

Glad to get that one done and over with...the first of the season. I kept going back and forth on deciding whether to stick with the fixie or take a road bike out. I went with the fixie and decided to simply ride the flat 4.8 mile loop near my home...that way I could easily bailout after the 2nd lap or shoot for one or two more depending on how I felt. Three laps was just right and gave me a decent workout with all the non-stop pedaling. I was happy with the 16 mph average speed.

As far as how the riding conditions were, all I can say is 50 degrees F never felt so warm and comfy!

Ride Stats (25Mar09)

Bike: Fixie
Distance: 14.4 miles
Time: 54 minutes
Average Speed: 16.0 mph
Next scheduled ride: Friday, 27Mar09
Temperature at start: 51 F (5:18 pm)
Temperature at end: 49 F (6:12 pm)
Gear: silk weight base layer/SportHill Summit LS jersey/PI Zephrr vest on top...and LG tights on the bottom...perfect for the temperature!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Falling Behind the "Firsts"

Here is a list of cycling "firsts" I've been reading about in the blogosphere lately:

I'm very pleased to see that my fellow cycling bloggers are faithfully completing their 2009 cycling "firsts" and moving forward toward meeting their cycling goals. I'm certainly not in competition with anyone for any type of cycling stat or bragging rights (except perhaps myself), but my inability to get on track while others are off and running is starting to weigh on me.

The month of March has been particularly frustrating so far with snow-clogged roads to start the month, followed by a bout with the flu, a need to prioritize the completion of home remodeling projects, lingering effects from being sick, and finally this past weekend, a home full of guests for the weekend (my SIL and her 3 children stayed with us this weekend and on Sat we had a birthday party for my daughter). Then a review of my cycling goals for 2009 reveals that I've already missed one entirely - to start routine "training" rides BEFORE daylight savings time begins on March 8. And now I'm starting to question my ability to commit to early morning rides on the weekends as I wimp out upon sight of the thermometer!

I need to get on track soon...the pressure is of my own making but it's building quickly and I don't like the feeling!

Tomorrow looks like a fine day for my FIRST after work ride of the season. We'll see what happens.

Where in the World is Matt Lauer?

While the cycling community is all a buzz about the Lance Armstrong crash (what a bummer), another cycling incident hits a little closer to home IMO. Apparently Today show host Matt Lauer was out riding over the weekend on Long Island and had to slam on his brakes to avoid hitting a deer...which I guess he did by being thrown over the handlebars...OUCH!! News reports indicate that he was going fast on a downhill stretch when a deer came out of nowhere. He suffered a separated shoulder as a result of the crash. He was wearing a helmet and no head injury is being reported.

That just got me thinking of all the close calls I've had with deer in my area when I've been driving in the car. Just this weekend a friend was telling me about two deer that had darted out in front of her on Route 152 earlier in the week. It completely startled her because they had never seen deer in this particular area before.

Until now, I haven't really heard of any close encounters between deer and least in the local area. But it certainly makes sense given the close calls with cars that cycling accidents with deer are VERY POSSIBLE. I'll sure be thinking about deer on my next few bike rides...especially if they're early morning rides.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Longing for March 1998

Continuing where my last post left off, this past weekend brought less than ideal weather conditions for cycling least to be thought of as truly Spring-like. Saturday was sunny with temperatures barely getting out of the 40s and on Sunday the low 50s did not feel warm with the sun playing peek-a-boo and the wind picking up. I was particularly bummed with the cold early morning temperatures on both days. You can see where I'm going with this...yes, no cycling for Glenn this past weekend (the less than ideal weather is only one of a couple of excuses for not riding; the other is we had house guests visiting for the weekend).

But thinking about the weekend weather jogged my memory of a March about 10 years ago. I remember that at the end of that March we had a heat wave with temperatures touching 90 degrees. As usual, my curiosity got the better of me and proved my memory for trivial weather-weenie facts to be fairly accurate. 1998 was the year.

From the Penn State Weather World website ( I found this.

March 1998 Weather Across the Nation:

"...The month concluded with a spectacular heat wave in the Northeast. Portland, Maine reached 88 degrees, their highest reading ever for March and April. Boston and New York City reached their highest March temperatures. Charlottesville, Virginia hit 90 degrees on three consecutive days. A rare outbreak of tornadoes in southern Minnesota devastated the town of St. Peter. One renegade twister even hit northern Michigan where nearly a half foot of snow was still on the ground."
A quick check of climatological records revealed that temperatures peaked on the 31st at:

Boston - 89
Norwood - 90
Providence - 85
Hartford - 89

How I long for those temperatures. And as soon as we get them, I'll be longing for something 15 degrees cooler!

Friday, March 20, 2009

First Day of Spring

Funny...didn't seem like it with a low 30s air temperature and stiff NE wind hitting me in the face as I waited for the train this morning.

We'll see what the weekend brings.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Return From Hiatus

It's hard to believe that my last blog post was over six weeks ago. It wasn't just sort of happened...per usual! I even got a ride in 3 weeks ago but couldn't get myself to post about it.

So what's been going on in my life since early February? Essentially, I got sucked into the dreaded winter funk...a place I tend to visit each winter but was hoping to avoid this year. Couldn't do it. Despite the snow and lack of riding, January was a good month...even as I found my motivation waning. But in February, laziness took total hold and motivation was lost. It didn't help that near the end of January I suffered a pinched nerve, followed by a 2-week head cold in early February and most recently a bout of the flu. Add to that the stress of dealing with the most severe slow-down I've ever been through at work and you clearly have a good recipe for winter funk!

When I last posted I called out my need for an 8 week training plan to transition to the riding season at a certain fitness level. Sadly, 6 weeks later and that plan has yet to materialize. However, all was not completely lost as we made good progress on the bath remodel project.

Ride Stats (21Feb09 Ride)

Bike: Fixie
Distance: 17.5 miles
Time: about 75 minutes
Average Speed: approx. 14.0 mph
Next scheduled ride: Sunday, 22Feb09 (never happened)
Temperature at start: 38 F
Temperature at end: 35 F
Gear: the winter stuff

So in the final analysis, with Winter finally behind us (I hope I don't regret saying that), I accomplished a whopping total of 2 rides this 2009 winter season. To me that's a HUGE disappointment given my mindset at the end of 2008. On the other hand, riding in the cold in general was a first for me...something I never thought I could motivate myself to do. I guess I can only wonder what might have been accomplished had the winter been warm and snow-less. For example, simply doubling my meager December ride stats (5 rides for 82.2 miles) over the last two months would have been a HUGE success in my book.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Okay...Perhaps a Bit More Than a Nuisance Snow!

How quickly things change. What looked like no more than a nuisance snow a few hours ago has now morphed into a winter storm watch.

Just released by NWS-Taunton:

407 PM EST MON FEB 2 2009


Here is their first crack at forecast snow amounts:

And to think, it reached the low 50's in many areas around here today. What's that ole New England saying..."If you don't like the weather, just wait a minute." So true.

Nuisance Snow

So much for the weekend update.

Tuesday's weather event now looks to be no more than a nuisance snowfall for most of us in southern New England.

This is a forecast map for Tuesday morning (1200Z = 7:00 AM EST). Generally when a low pressure area tracks this far offshore we don't get much snow.

Had my sights set on a Sunday bike ride with temperatures well into the 40s, but a survey of local roads by car revealed huge road-spanning puddles and many areas where the ice was still reaching the travel lane. I shelved the ride and focused on languishing home projects instead. Why can't a day have more hours?

The main project right now is a remodel of the half bath/laundry room. And the most difficult element of this project is the installation of a pocket door to replace the original door that swung into the room. Reversing the swing was not an option.

I took a walk at lunch today and decided that a plan was required to transition myself into the riding season in or near the shape I had hoped to maintain over the winter...but sadly did not over the last two months. My weight is up (pants are tight again) and my blood pressure has been creeping up a bit. The way I see it, I've got 8 weeks to work on some core strength, lose about 5 pounds and incrementally build up some riding miles...whether it be on the trainer or on the road. Eight weeks will bring us to April, and if I have any hope of riding a metric century by then I KNOW I need a plan!!

Friday, January 30, 2009

Our Next Weather Event?

Monday promises to bring a dry, mild day with temperatures in the mid-40s...okay, this is mild only in a relative sense. It might be a perfect day to hit the road on a bike to knock-off one of those February challenge rides, if you have any to check off the ole list (sadly, I don't). It might also be the calm before the storm. Looks like our next low pressure visitor will be whistling Dixie AND meaning a little business. Look at those wound up isobars!

This storm will be coming up the coast from the deep south and laden with moisture. Currently it looks like mostly rain for these parts and a fast mover...starting Monday night and lasting through Tuesday night. BUT, and you know there's always a "but" when it comes to New England weather forecasting, the numerical weather models keep tracking this storm further east with each successive run. So you've heard this a hundred times before and you'll read it here again now, depending upon the track this could be yet another major snow storm for southern New England. Interestingly, the models had the last storm tracking more and more northwest as the forecast period narrowed down and the outcome was snow to rain. What will this storm bring??

I'll update over the weekend.

Sorry about all the weather postings...unfortunately, I've been obsessed with winter storms all my life and since my butt hasn't touched a saddle in 3 weeks...well, you know, gotta write about something!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

January Thaw

I've recently mentioned the January Thaw in several posts. Being the fanatical weather weenie some think I am, and realizing that I have a worldwide audience (well, the potential for a worldwide audience I suppose...although I do know a couple of kind folks from across the pond have ventured onto my blog a few times), makes me feel compelled to provide an explanation of this regional weather phenomenon.

I'll let Keith C. Heidorn, PhD, (THE WEATHER DOCTOR) provide the technical details.

A January Thaw is expected to fall within the third week of January, usually following a strong cold snap, but need not occur every year. In fact, during the very cold winters of the late 1970s, there were no January Thaws in the New England region during 1978 and 1979. (And they could have used a thaw!) There have also been recent mild winters when the Thaw was absent or hardly noticeable...

In prime January Thaw country, the ideal weather pattern characteristic of the Thaw period unfolds in this manner. It begins after a cold air mass from northern or
western regions has slid over the region (A), eventually moving out over the Atlantic Ocean. As that air mass leaves, the Bermuda High strengthens (B,C,D) and becomes positioned over the southern Atlantic Coast or southeastern US
states while a broad low pressure trough moves slowly across northern Ontario and Quebec (B-E). The juxtaposition of the isobar patterns of these two map features (E) places the northeastern US and southeastern Canada border region into a south-southwesterly flow of warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. This air advects over the northern snow and ice fields and begins a thawing.

Often during this time, the upper air wind patterns are in a period of readjustment, and thus surface weather systems stall or creep slowly across the eastern continent's mid-latitude belt. After several days of warmth, the regional weather again comes under the influence of a strengthened polar high (F,G), and cold weather returns.
Technically,the January Thaw is what is known as a weather singularity, which is a weather phenomenon likely to occur with reasonable regularity around a specific approximate calendar date. That date is typically January 23-25...and those of us living in these parts know that we have not observed any type of thaw over the past several days nor do we have any type of thaw in store over the next few days.

If I had known there would be no January Thaw this year, I would have made a greater effort to get on the bike trainer. Yeah, right!!

Monday, January 26, 2009

Enough Already!!

After my last ride a couple of weeks ago (sole ride in 2009 so far) I took a guess that my next ride would occur during the January Thaw. What appears there will be no January Thaw this year and now we're on the verge of another major winter storm.

This just out from the NWS:










I still have a good foot of ice encrusted snow in my backyard and the roads are still too shaky for riding (IMHO based on my survey of local roads as I drove around town last Thur/Fri). How much will we have on the ground after Wednesday and how long will it be staying around?? This is really bumming me out after the last few mild winters sandwiched between seasons of sporadic riding! Oh well.

I'll end this sad (pathetic?) post on a positive note...because there is reason for a bit of optimism. The current extended outlook for temperature presented below is showing above average temperatures across the Northeast starting in the first week of February. This would mean temperatures in the mid to upper 40s. Could it be a February Thaw? Could be, but I don't plan on holding my breath!

Monday, January 12, 2009

Harpoon B2B Ride 2009

Got an email notice over the weekend for the start of the open registration for the 2009 version of the Harpoon Brewery to Brewery bike ride. This is a 148 mile 1-day ride from Harpoon's brewery in Boston, MA to their brewery in Windsor, VT...with beer and food at the end. Now that's my type of ride!

Open registration starts at 7:00 AM on this Thursday, 1/15/09 (2008 alumni registration started last week). Here is the registration link:

2009 Harpoon B2B

Apparently this is another very popular New England area event ride (like the NBW's TFCE). To be honest, I had never heard of this ride until I was told about it during the TFCE last September. The next day I looked it up on the web and immediately signed up for email notices pertaining to the event. This year's B2B ride will be held on Saturday, June 20.

As far as 1-day rides go, the B2B is obviously much more difficult than the TFCE. It's approx 50% longer (148 vs 102 miles) and makes NO claim to be flat...after all, most of the ride is in New Hampshire! They also request that you do not register if you can't maintain a 16 mph average pace over the duration of the route...and they specify a 10 hour time limit for finishing the ride.

This ride is awfully, awfully appealing to me because it obviously would be a lot of fun and most definitely would be a challenge with the 10 hour completion target. I've been thinking about doing it ever since I learned about it...but I think I'm going to pass on it this year. There are a lot of other event rides in the New England area during the upcoming season and if I can prove to myself that I can handle a hilly century ride with ease, then my award for 2010 will be the Harpoon B2B. Of course, as with all challenges, I could be talked into it!!

Images courtesy of The Harpoon Brewery.

Friday, January 9, 2009

First Ride of 2009

Yes! Finally got in the first ride of 2009. Took the 1:50 train out of home by 3:00...and on the bike at 3:30 (I needed to do some stretching after not riding for 3 weeks). Anyway, I'm just glad I was able to get it in during the first full week of the month...not as exciting as riding on New Years Day, but it will have to do and it's now on the tracking sheet!! Who knows, with the weather forecast looking as it does this could be my only ride this month...unless the January Thaw comes on schedule.

It was a nice, relaxing, and reasonably warm ride as I decided to go slow for ice-dodging reasons. Overall, the roads were not too bad today.

Ride Stats

Bike: Fixie
Distance: 16.5 miles
Time: about 70 minutes
Average Speed: approx. 14.0 mph
Next scheduled ride: during the January Thaw
Temperature at start: 27.7 F
Temperature at end: 24.8 F
Gear: Polartec midweight base/Summit jersey/InsulaTour jacket/Zephrr vest on top...Polartec silk weight base/Bell Weather winter tights (circa 1988) on the bottom

Bad Winter?

NOTE: Weather maps updated to most current at 8:00 pm on 1-9-09

With this forecast of snowfall for this weekend....

...and this 8 to 14 day outlook for temperatures... seems like we might be looking at snow on the ground for several more weeks.

Think I'll try to get a ride in this pm

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Looking Back on 2008

Looking back at last year, I'm pretty happy with my level of cycling activity in 2008. Although my annual stats pale in comparison to those posted by many of the bike bloggers I follow, to me they represent a decent achievement and something solid to build upon for 2009. When I started this blog I stated that I had lofty goals for the future and that continues to be the case. However, my past riding history is spotty at best with little to show subsequent to the few good years I've had like this one (Note: I plan to post on my riding history soon...just in case any of you want to be bored silly!). We'll see if I can keep the momentum going in 2009.

With this in mind, the one huge positive development I see going forward is being able to follow the adventures and challenges of other fellow cyclists as they strive to achieve their goals. This has proven to be a tremendous source of inspiration to me. Whether the bike bloggers I read are new to the sport or veterans of the road, whether they are younger or older, female or male, ride to stay fit or train to win the local crit, or whether they prefer hills over flats or singletrack over the pavement, the blog posts they string together allow amazing stories to be told of challenges, achievement, and the love of the sport...along of course with countless tips, ideas, and other bits of useful information. It's nice to feel connected to a community of folks with a common interest and I know it will help motivate me to achieve my goals.

Okay, here are the stats and graphs. First, a table of riding days and miles by month.

I rode 1,641 miles in 2008. Good considering the miles I racked up over the past 5 years or so, but not a PR I'm happy to say (being happy about this IS a relative thing I guess). That mileage was accumulated over a total of 78 rides for an average ride distance of 21 miles. Makes sense as I ride a lot of loops after work in the 18 to 25 mile range. What might not make sense in the table are the percent scheduled and missed day values. Unless you see the spreadsheet I use to track my rides, it might seem like the percent values are a bit high and missing days too low. What I try to do is plan the rides for a season well in advance starting out with 4 rides a week (Tues, Thur, Sat & Sun) for the first month or so and then increasing to 5 and perhaps 6 if I've been at it long enough. I never ride every day as my knees generally need at least one rest day per week (my knees will be the topic of a future post as I'm determined to bore you!). Anyway, the whole schedule is fluid and it certainly gets tweaked from week to week as things come up, but I always designate riding days versus rest days. So in computing the annual summary stats, only scheduled "ride" days get considered. To me, missing 31 scheduled ride days is not a stat to be proud of, even if many of them are due to factors beyond my heavy rain and lightning (a common occurrence in these parts last summer).

The next two graphs show my cycling mileage by month...

Oops, line missing...then by week

Some additional stats are as follows:

First ride of season: May 18
Longest ride: 102 miles (NBW-TFCE)
Shortest ride: 6 miles (1st ride on my fixie)
Fastest ride: 17.7 mph (23 miler loop)
Most miles in a week: 166 miles
Fastest weekly avg speed: 17.0 mph over 145 miles

Days biked: 78 (62 on the Roubaix, 16 on the fixie)
Lazy-ass days: 4 (these were 4 of the 31 missed days with absolutely no good reason for not noted in my riding log!)
Solo rides: 75
Rides with Mark: 2 (Mark is my longtime friend who got me into riding years ago)
Event/Group rides: 1 (NBW-TFCE)

Again, I'm mostly happy with my 2008 accomplishments, but more importantly I certainly know what my shortcomings are that need to be addressed this year. Without going into a lot of detail (like above), in 2009 I'll strive to achieve the following:
  • Continue fixie rides this winter as weather permits
  • Start routine "training" rides BEFORE daylight savings time begins on March 8
  • Increase the length of my rides in general
  • Establish and stick to a routine of riding early in the morning on weekends (a chronic problem with me)
  • Plan on at least one long ride per month (metric century or longer)*
  • Plan on at least 3 event rides in addition to the TFCE
  • Join the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen (NBW) and participate in a few group rides
  • Double the number of ride days
  • Double my yearly mileage (I'm setting a target of 3,500 miles)
  • Eliminate lazy-ass days
  • Ride with Mark at least once per month during the season
  • Drop 30 pounds (I'm setting a target of 180)

*Note: I don't consider the one long ride per month goal to be Trio's Century a Month Challenge because I honestly have no hope of accomplishing that over the rest of this winter. I can say I will try, but I'm just being realistic.

Wow...what a post! Sorry