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Friday, January 29, 2010

Registration for 2010 Harpoon B2B

I admit it...the last two weeks have been depressing for me.

After my accident, I had a feeling that by the time I was all healed a second wave of bitterly cold winter would have its grip on New England. So here I sit today...about 90% healed...and the temperature outside is barely in the 20s with the 5-day forecast showing daily high temperatures barley in the 30s. Bummer, I just knew that would happen.

But what really is a bummer was trying to register for the extremely popular 2010 Harpoon B2B bike ride. I posted about this event last year (didn't ride it...just wrote about wanting to). The open registration was on Tuesday, 1/19, and the word on the street is that the open slots filled up in 3 minutes. Yes, I wrote that correctly...3 freakin minutes! Needless to say, I was not able to register.

The main problem with registering for this ride is that alumni get to register first for a whole week leading up to the start of the open registration. So basically, if you haven't participated in the ride in the past, you're pretty much locked out (although I do understand that registrations are transferable). Seems to me that this event is truly an exclusive club.

Here's an uplifting thought...a seed of an idea perhaps. Why not start another brewery to brewery (B2B) ride right here in Southeastern Massachusetts area. A friend of a friend of a blogger type ride! After all, there are three fine craft breweries all within a day's ride of each other in this area. I'm sure they wouldn't mind the publicity...and we all like good beer, right?

For reference purposes, the 3 micro-breweries are:

Coastal Extreme Brewing Company - Middletown, RI
Just Beer Brewing Company (formerly Buzzard's Bay Brewing Co.) - Westport, MA
Mayflower Brewing Company - Plymouth, MA

Hmm, a Mayflower Porter sounds good right about now!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Bad Karma?

Saturday was a beautiful mid-winter day...temps in the wind. Perfect day for my first ride of 2010, so I set out on my fixie for what would be about an 18 mile ride. Oh how I wish the ride had been as perfect as the day!

What happened? No more than 2.5 miles into this ride I had words with a motorist as I carefully (I thought) entered a T intersection to make a left hand turn. I had come to a complete stop and proceeded when I thought it was safe to go. Apparently I did not see an oncoming car to the right who came to a stop despite my avoidance maneuver and felt the need to call me out. The incident did not escalate beyond the initial exchange of words, but as I pedaled away I couldn't help but think that the whole incident could have been avoided if I had been more careful. It really bothered me that I had allowed myself to lose my temper on this very first ride of 2010. Did I give myself bad karma? You tell me.

A few miles later I'm on a slight downhill stretch of road trying to keep my cadence under control and then, crack...thunk!! My natural inclination was to stop pedaling but on a fixed gear bike that means you get lifted off the seat. Guess what? No seat! The saddle had snapped off the seat post!!!!! Luckily for me there was no traffic passing by when this occurred and I was able to ditch my bike into the snow on a nearby front lawn.

I feel real lucky to walk away from this accident mostly unscathed except for a deep contusion on my inner thigh where I initially landed on the broken seat post. It could have been a LOT less than an inch if you know what I mean!

Now I have a new cycling goal for 2010...try to maximize good karma! I want to have a large reservoir of good karma in reserve for the rest of my cycling days!!

The bike, post accident:

The saddle with broken post:

The bib knickers with punture hole:

Friday, January 15, 2010

Looking Back on 2009

In thinking about 2009 only one word comes to mind - DISAPPOINTING.

First, the the cycling season started off slow given a combination of bad weather, work commitments involving travel away from the area, and of course my darn daily commute into Boston. Heading into summer things started turning around as I got into a nice training groove. Then a minor bump in the road - I started a home improvement project that evolved (don't they always?). That ate into my riding time...especially on Saturday mornings, which was the only time my expert help (FIL) was available to assist! Finally, my cycling for the year came to a screeching halt around Labor Day as I fought through a couple of health issues that conspired to keep me off the saddle. And off the saddle I needed to be as, shall I say, saddle interface issues seemed the likely cause of the health problems. Despite all this, I still wanted to ride in the NBW's TFCE century ride on September 13 and had my doctor's clearance to do so. Unfortunately, with a minor flare-up of symptoms the day before the ride I couldn't face 100 miles in the saddle and decided it was simply time to heal. So essentially just as I was peaking, I stopped riding! Very disappointing to say the least!

As far a specific goals I set, another word comes to mind concerning my ability to attain these goals - PATHETIC! Not being able to double my 2008 miles does not bother me terribly as this was a lofty and probably unwise goal to set. The same thing can be said about trying to double my number of riding days. More bothersome to me was my continuing inability to establish an early morning riding routine, not being able to lose weight, not finding time to ride with friends, and not joining the NBW. The only goal I met was to increase the average length of my rides. On this goal I was able to increase my average ride distance from 21 miles in 2008 to 25 miles in 2009. This of course is a direct reflection of riding slightly more miles in 2009 in slightly LESS days (71 in 2009 vs. 78 in 2008).

The following are tabular and graphical depictions of my 2009 riding season.

Ride days and miles summary table:

Missed days are based on a "loose" training schedule, NOT all days that are available to ride. Clearly, doubling the number of days I ride appears to be an attainable goal.

Miles by month:

Miles by week:

I need to think more about specific "training" goals for 2010, but at a minimum, I consider all of my goals for 2009 to be the general goals I'll be shooting for again this year. However, losing weight needs to be my top priority.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Bike Noob had an interesting post on Tuesday: Bikewise – A Potentially Valuable Resource

This morning, thanks to a link from An Old Guy on Two Wheels, I came across a web site called Bikewise. This isn’t your usual biking advocacy, biking avocation site. It’s all about cataloging bike crashes, hazards, and thefts to make biking safer. According to the site, “It’s estimated that 75% or more of all crashes go unreported. We believe that by gathering detailed information on how and why crashes happen, we’ll be able to ride smarter.”

Bikewise is based in the Seattle area, but accepts crash reports from all over the country. The biker submitting the report is asked to include information about the circumstances of the crash, road and weather conditions, and perhaps most importantly, lessons learned from the crash.

I agree that collecting data on how and why crashes happen will lead to smarter riding.

I work for a large A&E firm with a large construction division. In my own work over half my projects are related to hazardous waste sites while the remainder are typically in an industrial setting. Several years ago our CEO decided to make safety the company's top priority. The goal: to lead our industry in safety. They implemented a series of mandatory training programs and required monthly safety reporting along with project financials. An expansive incident reporting system was rolled out, and quite frankly, they beat us over the head with safety information on almost a daily basis. At the time, many of us were non-believers. We had to be brought along kicking and dragging our feet. But you know what? The collection of data on safety incidents and near misses, and the formal development of lessons learned, has lead to a safety ethic that I do believe is tops in our industry. The last few years we have ranked higher in safety than most of our has saved us money by driving our insurance rates down...and it has DIRECTLY resulted in the company winning several major new corporate contracts. Most of all, we now work smarter and safer than we ever have before. The KEY to making this happen, beyond the CEO's mandate, was the collection and analysis of data on all the types of incidents that were occurring. It worked!

Folks can see an example of how the site works by reading Bike Noob's post. Or you can go directly to the Bikewise website.

One more thought. The safety program and reporting of incidents where I work was not voluntary...the Bikewise approach obviously is. Our own personal cycling crash incidents do not occur frequently so participating on Bikewise is not a time-consuming endeavor. But it's a smart one that could pay dividends in the future once enough data is collected.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Casualties of the Economy?

Recently I was surprised to learn of two local bicycling-related establishments that went out of business presumably due to bad economic times. Well, one is loosely cycling-related and still has its doors open but DID stop making its namesake product.

Buzzard’s Bay Brewing Company – Westport, MA

I wanted to pick-up some of their excellent craft-brewed lager beer to bring to my brother-in-law in NJ in a couple of weeks, and when I went to their website to refresh my memory on where the beer is sold I learned they stopped brewing the beers under the Buzzard’s Bay label! That really shocked me…their brews were award winning. Apparently they slipped from brewing 5,000 barrels a year in 2002 to ONLY 100 barrels in 2009. That’s the bad news. The good news is the brewery is still open with a shift in approach to being a contract brewer plus focusing on a new line of small batch American inspired ales made with all domestic ingredients. The new brew will be sold under the label Just Beer. Moby D and John Beere are their first two offerings. I might have to post a review after I try them.

Village Bicycle – Westport, MA

Although I did not frequent this bike shop, this was another shocker for me. Jim Lebelle seemed to have his finger on the pulse of current cycling and lifestyle trends. In addition to the standard bike shop fare, he was offering nutritional products along with diet/fitness plans and last winter had started-up an indoor cycling training center. He ran what I call a progressive bike shop… listening to his customers …bringing in new products...renting bikes…organizing routine shop rides and special events. I have no details on what factors conspired to do him in…presumably it was related to the recession. I only saw online that he posted a closure notice on the store website on Christmas Eve.

That’s the second LBS that I know of in as many years to close its doors. The other one was Epicycle here in North Attleboro (former sister store to East Providence Cycle). Sad.

My blog postings should increase now that I’ve healed and have my mind set on an early start to the 2010 cycling season.