Saturday, January 30, 2010

SNOW!!

8 riders set out from the RB at 7:30, temp about 20 deg F for the bagel ride to Annapolis. We picked up 2 more along the way and enjoyed a nice ride in to Annapolis. Bill Willis gets the prize for the most creative break down. His bars snapped right at the stem. The right side was just hanging by the brake and shifter cables, the left side still securely attached to the stem. Remarkably he stayed on the bike and made it to the coffee shop safely steering with just the left side.

We enjoyed a great breakfast at the Italian coffee shop near the end of city dock (terrible, I can't recall the name). Bill made it another 1/2 mile before concluding something had to be done with the floppy right bar. A couple of zip ties from my repair kit lashed the broken end of the right bar to the left bar and got Bill back home. No one had a camera handy, but I told Bill he owes me a picture for the zip ties.

About the same time we were getting under way from the repair stop, the snow started to get serious. It was beautiful riding in the falling snow as we crossed Severn River and came up the hill past the War Memorial, to Boulters Way and back on to the trail. The accumulation was light enough that traction wasn't an issue yet, but everyone was ready to head straight for home as it continued to build up. When I got home my beard was full of ice and snow, much to Erik's delight (my 6 year old son).

These short daily rides are always a blast with the bike club. In the last 2 days I've seen a beautiful moon set, a nice sunrise, ridden in the snow and enjoyed breakfast with friends, twice.

Addendum:


Bill provided this photo after the ride. It shows the jury rigged repair with the tie wraps. I'm still amazed, and so glad for Bill, that he stayed on the bike when these failed and wasn't hurt.



Friday, January 29, 2010

Beautiful Moonset!

Met Bryan, Chip and Cliff at the RB at 5:45. We rode to downtown Annapolis for breakfast. On the way over the Naval Academy Bridge we were treated to a beautiful full moon about to set over the river. Once downtown Cliff opted to skip breakfast and left to start his day. Bryan, Chip and I enjoyed breakfast at Chick n Ruth's Deli with Charlie and Doug. After breakfast, on the ride back, the sunrise over the Bay was just as spectacular as the moon set on the way in to town. It was a great way to start the day.


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Surly is Back

Back on the Surly!! I got the Surly back from BD Arnold with a new wheel, freshly tuned up, and pretty clean. As usual the guys at BD did a good job. It felt good to get back on the new bike. My legs felt good during and after the ride.

Four of us out from the RB: Bryan, Chip, Clint and me. It was nice to ride the trail route again. We passed Doug C going north while we were southbound just before the U Turn at the south end of the trail. Dan and Jim caught us at the U turn and had apparently been chasing us the whole way.

On the return leg we saw Doug C stopped at Glen Oban. He had apparently tangled with one of the posts. His front fork was bent. Dan lives on the trail and escorted Doug to his house then provided a ride home in his truck. Doug reports via email a sore shoulder but otherwise he is unhurt.

Our collective accident rate among the SPP members, including my recent tangle with a car, seems high to me. I’m not sure if there are statistics on the number of injury accidents per 100,000 miles pedaled. Nor am I even sure if that’s the right way to measure an accident rate. But I’d be interested to see how SPP compares to the national average. I can’t pinpoint any practice or behavior we have as a group that might be causing this. But it still strikes me that we have more incidents than we should for the size of group and number of miles ridden.

Fortunately it looks like we also have a knack for dodging the really serious injuries and so far everyone's bruises have been fairly quick to heal or appear that they will be.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Trail Ride to Glen Burnie

Rode the same route as yesterday. Took the the B & A trail from home to Glen Burnie then back again to Old County Rd. On the trail again to the south end and then back home. Saw the SPP Sunday 09:00 riders and also ran in to Doug C again.

I was able to push a little today for speed. It felt good.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Really Nice Day

Rode the B & A Trail from home to Glen Burnie then back south to Old Country Rd and back on the trail to the south end. A nice sunny day and the trail was clean and dry. Saw my son Justin's friend Fred, Dangerous Dan and Doug C at various points along the way. A lot of others were also out enjoying the day.

Got a new helmet mirror and this was good day to figure out how to adjust it and to sweep my head to see behind me. Previously I've only used a handlebar mounted mirror on the hybrid. With the bar end shifters, a handle bar mount is less practical on the Surly. It will take a little getting used to but I think it will help me see the cars before they sneak up on me next time.

The right leg continues to mend. It felt much stronger today than it did on Thursday, though I'm still aware of it when trying to push for speed or climbing.

There is some utility work going on along the trail. It looks BGE is replacing old gas lines. The county has also closed a small section just behind the old Luckies market at Jumpers Hole Rd.

BD Arnold reports the new rim arrived Friday and the Surly should be ready by Monday.



The trail work at Jumpers Hole


Thursday, January 21, 2010

Back in the Saddle

Rode the Jamis from home to the RB via the trail. The Surly LHT still sits at BD Arnold waiting for a rear rim. I got to the RB in time to see the 5:45 crew off on their morning ride, then turned and came home.

The trail is finally clear. Stayed on it all the way from Jones Station Rd to RB and back. A few spots where the runoff puddles and is susceptible to freezing at night but nothing you can't coast over.

It felt very good to just spin a little. I have no power yet. Any effort to push for speed or power up a hill and my right leg objected. But I'm glad to find I could spin gently without pain, and could clip in and out with out a problem.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

CRASH!!

I was riding my bike home to Severna Park from Annapolis this morning after breakfast with friends. Uncertain about ice conditions on the B & A bike trail, I opted to stay on Ritchie Hwy past Arnold Rd. While changing lanes in preparation to turn left at B & A Blvd, I was struck from behind by a car.

AAFD was on the scene in just a couple of minutes. They were thorough, professional and their competence was reassuring. The ER kicked me loose a few hours later after determining nothing was broken. The bruise on my right leg hurts like hell, but otherwise I'm extremely lucky.

Many thanks to friends Dave Mumford and Craig Lindsey who stopped to lend support. Dave collected the bike parts and followed me to the hospital. Then stayed until Tivy and Taylor arrived to collect me.

The crew of AA Ambulance number 17 and the AAMC ER staff were wonderful.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

SPP 05:45

SPP 05:45 Morning Ride - 8 of us mustered at the RB for the morning ride. Good to get back on the bike. Three days off after the brevet was one too many.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Tappahannock 200K

I completed the Tappahannock 200K brevet Saturday. Temp at the start: 16 deg F. High during the day: 36 deg F. Total elapsed time: 11hrs 57 min. It was my first time participating in an organized randonneuring event, in this case a brevet of 200K distance. It was organized by the DC Randonneurs and sanctioned by Randonneurs USA. This course is billed as one of the easier brevet events in the DC area as the sum of all of the hills climbed is less than many of the other similar events held each year. But "easy" is a relative term. The sport of randonneuring is by definition about endurance and long distances, and I found the day to be one of the most physically challenging things I've ever attempted. I had a lot of fun and felt great about successfully finishing under the time limit of 13.5 hours.

The area between Ashland, VA and Tappahonnock, VA has some beautiful countryside. With the recent snow still dusting most of the farm land and the bright, sunny day, the views were spectacular. The route was almost completely on rural back roads with light traffic. If it wasn't rolling past a farm, it was running through dense woods or crossing bridges over many small creeks and one or two larger rivers. Here are some pictures taken by Clint P

The start was at 7:00 am sharp at Ashland Coffee and Tea in downtown Ashland, VA. The coffee shop graciously allowed everyone to park in their lot for the day while we were riding and provided a great place to warm up after the ride was finished. 31 riders set out for the day's adventure. This included two couples riding tandem bikes. 14 of these were from our own Severna Park Peloton, quite a turnout. 28 of 31 finished successfully, including one rider who finished with 2 min to spare!

After the start, the group naturally began to break up in to smaller groups by rider ability and the pace they are comfortable maintaining. Rather than the entire group riding at the pace of the slowest rider, this lets everyone enjoy the day at a pace he or she is comfortable with. Chris Lane and I had agreed prior to the ride that we would stick together for the whole event. Some of the pairing and partnering that occurs is spontaneous, some is planned as in our case. As the day progressed this proved to be a very wise decision for both of us.

The temperature at the start was about 16 or 17 degrees and at 7am, the sunrise would not occur for almost another half hour. The first challenge Chris and I encountered was our frozen water bottles. We had added a bit of anti-freeze (a capful of bourbon) prior to the start. I'd tested this approach riding around Severna Park in the mid 20s and it worked quite well. But it was another 10 deg colder at the start this time and we didn't use enough. A gas station / country store at approx 20 miles let us thaw out the bottles and refill with warm water. The sun was up by then, the day was warming a bit so this got us through to the first control point at mile 45.

The first control at the Courthouse Market in King and Queen's Courthouse, VA gave us a chance to grab a snack, adjust our clothing, refill the water bottles, etc. I also had a cup of hot chocolate. The controls are required stops around the course where you have to stop and get your control card signed and the time noted. Some courses use what's called an information control, a trivia question you have to answer by stopping to read a historical marker or similar bit of information you could only get by actually being there and seeing it for yourself. This course originally included one information control, but the route was changed at the 11th hour to contend with a bridge closed for construction and a section of unpaved road deemed unsafe for a bike in frozen conditions, so the information control was eliminated. Despite our best intentions, our "quick" control stop lasted over 20 minutes. Then we were back on the bikes, 28 miles to the next control... and lunch!

The first 45 miles of the route were heading East from Ashland. After the first control, it turned North towards Tappahannock. It was around mile 48 that we discovered the wind was blowing from the North-West. Up to this point it had been at our back when we were in the open areas. We were feeling really good about our 15+ mph average pace and hoping to finish before dark. NOT!!! The NW breeze would now work against us for the Northerly and Westerly legs of the course, which also were the most hilly sections. This is where it became more challenging. Chris and I took turns leading and following each other in to the wind. The lead biker takes the brunt of the wind while the following biker enjoys a slight wind break and works a little less strenuously. The other challenge we saw on this leg was frequent short sections of road still covered in snow and ice. Most were passable if you coasted over them and avoided any sudden braking or turning, but you had to pay attention to see them coming or risk a fall. One or two icy spots on steep, up hill slopes required us to get off and walk the bike across the ice.

At the second control, Java Jack's in Tappahannock, mile 73, we were pleasantly surprised to find Janet, Bill, Theresa and Gardner (all SPP members) just sitting down to lunch. We thought they would have quite a bit longer lead on us, but they weren't immune to the wind either and had also stopped to fix a flat. So the six of us ate lunch together. The food, and the warm restaurant were wonderful. But we were all a little anxious for the service to speed up so we could get going again.

Mounting up we discovered Bill had a flat, and I found that the spare gloves I'd brought along were no longer in my bag!! It appears I left the top of the bag unzipped leaving the first control and they must have fallen out somewhere along the ride. This was a real bummer. Now I had to wear the lobster claw mittens the rest of the ride. They are great mittens and had kept my hands and fingers warm even in the very cold early morning temps before sunrise. But after 75 miles they were quite clammy inside with perspiration, ugh. A few more minutes to fix the flat and the six of us set out together.

The westerly leg from Tappahannock continued to be breezy and hilly towards the third control at the Sparta FastMart convenience store in Sparta, VA at mile 97. The six of us leaving from Java Jack's together stayed in loose contact through the next two controls, bunching more tightly in some sections to take turns in to the wind and spreading out over a bit at other times. It helped that we could all keep tabs on each other in the event of a break down or other problem, though fortunately nothing like that occurred.

It was these last few legs of the course where Chris' and my decision to ride together proved most important. We've both been biking less than a year. We
both started biking to loose excess weight and we're both still working on that goal. This was a big, big effort for both of us. It was the longest ride either of us had attempted up to that time. We were tired, hungry and it was very cold outside. We still had 55 miles to go. During these last 55 miles we alternately took turns leading in to the wind, reminding each other to eat and drink, and otherwise providing much needed moral support as the effects of cold and fatigue grew. It proved to be an effective partnership. I look forwarding to teaming up again on another adventure.

After the Sparta FastMart the route turned south, finally the wind was aft of the beam!! But the intermittent snowy and icy patches continued to require careful attention to the road ahead as the last hour of daylight faded. We arrived at the last control point, Dick's Country Store at mile 114 just after sunset. Only 14 miles left to go!! We agreed to keep the last stop as quick as possible. Get the card signed, a quick sip and a bite of snack bar and get going. Fortunately this leg was flat and the roads were clear, no more snowy patches. The wind had died completely at sunset but the temp started dropping back below freezing.

Traffic picked up on VA Hwy 54 as we approached Ashland and the finish. We reached the city limits and could start to see traffic lights and other signs of civilization. Next we heard the train whistle and knew we were very close, maybe 2 miles out. Then we could see the finish. But..... the RR crossing lights started flashing and the arms came down. 100 yds from the finish we had to wait 5 more minutes while Amtrak stopped to let passengers on and off the train! Then we finally rode in to the coffee shop to the victorious applause of our friends in the SPP and other riders from DC Rand.

It was a day of firsts and new accomplishments:
  • It was my longest ride to date - 128 miles.
  • It was my coldest ride to date.
  • The first time I saw the sunrise AND the sunset from my bike on the same day.
  • Congratulations to Janet B who finished her R-12 award, completing her 12th brevet in 12 consecutive months.
  • Congrats also to Dan Oldale who was riding his first brevet as well. He was the first of the whole group of 28 to finish!

It was a very good day.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

SPP 05:45

9 riders at 5:45 in the morning, 25 deg F. What a fun group. Still sticking to the roads due to ice on the trail.

Quote of the day: You know something has changed in your life when you check the thermometer at 4:30 in the morning and it reads 28 degrees and you think to your self 'hey, that's not too bad.', Dangerous Dan

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

SPP 05:45

Six of us mustered for the morning ride today. Bryan would have made seven but his lights started giving him trouble just as we left the RB. Cold this morning, about 25 deg F with light snow flurries.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Saturday Bagel Ride

5 of us set out from the RB at 7:30: Dave P, Bob C, Janet B, Brandon H and Me. Dave rode an abbreviated route to get home on time and the rest of rode out College Parkway to Cape St Clair then St. Margret's to Annapolis.

We enjoyed an extended coffee break at the Italian Cafe near Hell's Kitchen and then came home.

It was very windy. Riding over the Naval Academy bridge towards Annapolis the wind pushed us around quite a bit coming from the right and to our front (WNW). Returning home the wind was still howling but it offered a bit of a push up and over the bridge. Another great ride with good company.

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Year's Day Bagel Ride

8 of the SPP set out from the RB to kick off the new year. Still some lingering ice on the trail so we headed over to Ritchie Hwy. A quick stop to harass Bob C for not riding (something about teenage guests for New Years up until 5 am), then on to Annapolis.

Recruited Jim as a prospective new member at the Hard Bean. Then out Generals Hwy before returning to Severna Park.

A great first ride for the year.

Clint took a few photos in Annapolis.