Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Hat Trick!!

That's right, I got 3 Flats in the course of one day commuting to work and back! To be fair, the first one cut the tire and the second two were due to inadequate repair of the tire until I finally made it to Bike Doctor for a new tire. Not sure what I hit this morning on the way in, but I was on the BWI trail about 4 miles from the office when I sliced a quarter inch out of the side of the tire. I heard the clank of metal and was instantly on the rim.

I cut a section of the old tube and lay it in beside the new tube to try to offer a little reinforcement. That got me to the office but I could see a bubble forming from the side of the cut.

I thought if I rode gently I might make it home. FAIL! I made it three miles and installed my last tube. This time I reinforced with a dollar bill AND a strip of inner tube. It looked good, no bubble. 3 more miles.

I'm out of tubes now and break out the patch kit. Patch the tube, patch the inside of the tire and another dollar bill for good measure. I figured if this failed I'd call for the SAG van and accept the ride of shame. Fortunately that held the last 10 miles or so to Bike Doctor and home.

If there was a silver lining it was the many offers of help on the trail. It was beautiful afternoon and there were a LOT of bikers riding the BWI loop. Many of them asked if I was okay or offered to assist. Fortunately I had what I needed to be self sufficient, even if I wasn't bright enough to recognize when to use it until my repairs kept failing.

At BD Arnold I picked up a new tire, 3 tubes and ordered a new seat post. Hopefully the seat post will make it before the next permanent ride Saturday night. BD thinks it will be in Thursday. The old one has a tough time adjusting the angle fore and aft and I've just loss patience messing with it.

Here's a shot of the that bubble I shouldn't have trusted. I took this at the office before setting out for home. I'm glad I wasn't riding with the SPP and didn't hold anyone else up. On the other hand if I had I probably would have gotten a little schooling on tire repair instead of figuring it out the hard way.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Sad News - Area Cyclist Killed by Drunk Driver

I didn't have the pleasure of meeting or riding with Stan Miller personally. But news of his death shook many of our common acquaintances considerably. I've also ridden recently in same area where this tragic accident occurred. It offers a wide shoulder and is frequently used by cyclists.

Stan was killed Friday evening by a driver suspected of DUI while he was riding on the shoulder on Rt. 27 in Germantown. He was a frequent participant in Randoneurring events in the area and by all accounts a wonderful riding partner and generous fellow. That his death occurred under such selfish, tragic circumstances has made many of his friends and family understandably angry.



Friday, June 25, 2010

A little cooler this morning

This morning's Friday breakfast ride was very well attended, 13 riders at 5:45 in the morning. The sun is up at that hour, though some of us rode in a few minutes of pre-dawn light to the rendezvous. This morning was a few deg cooler than the last few days this week. The group split up at breakfast. Those of use went to Chick N Ruth's enjoyed a nice visit but service seems to be getting slower there. Thinking we may need to consider a new venue.

I forgot to turn on the darned computer gadget when I left breakfast so the chart below is missing the last 7 miles or so.

I'll be riding at the beach this weekend. While my wife and teenage son are out of town I'm taking the younger kids to the DE shore for the weekend. I'm looking forward to the change in scenery.

Finally, I saw this video on local club mailing list. It's just too much fun not share. Kids, please don't try this at home, or, well, at least don't blame me if your experience doesn't match the video.

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Met Chris for the ride in both ways. He's had some time off of the bike and work while he volunteered for RAAM. He wrote about it here. Sounds like it was quite an experience supporting the riders at the finish.

The ride to work and home was pretty uneventful except for the weather. It's been very hot and humid the last couple of days. We had a little push from a tailwind on the way home this afternoon, which helped a little, but only a little. Tomorrow is Friday breakfast, then I'm off to the beach with little ones 3 - 6. Wife and number 2 are off building homes with Habitat for Humanity and Number 1 has her own weekend plans.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

To Work To Work I Go

Muggy ride both ways this morning. I had no zip or pep this morning, not sure why. Normally after a couple of days off the bike, I feel quite peppy.

The ride home was definitely better. I opted to loop around the south side of the airport and add a couple of bonus miles for the return leg.

Garmin offered me an update to firmware v3.2 when I plugged the gadget in to GarminConnect web site. The release notes say it improves the accuracy of the Ascent/Descent reporting. Let's hope so. Mine always seems to read higher than other riders on the same route when I have someone to compare to.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A great day with family

Much of the extended family gathered at my Aunt and Uncle's house in Gaithersburg yesterday for a pool party and picnic. Aunt Barbara and Uncle Dave typically invite us all over for the day once each year as summer warms up for a great day playing in the pool, softball, games and all around family fun. This year was another smash hit.

I arrived early with my bike so Dave and I could start with a ride to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain and back. The entire route is only modestly hilly but Sugarloaf mountain itself offers 500 feet of switchbacks in about 1 mile. The reward is a great view across the Potomac River towards Virginia. We set out from Dave's house at 8 am the temps in the mid 70s and warming but the real heat didn't settle in until after we were done and the party started. By then then we were all in the pool and didn't care.

Once the whole gang arrived at about 1 pm a wonderful day of shrieking kids and organized chaos ensued. Plenty of pool play, an egg toss, softball with an oversized Chicago style ball and water balloon fights filled the day. A highlight was my kids attacking their grandfather (my dad) with water balloons. It was also wonderful to see cousin Laura Dean up from Raleigh, NC. She was in Washington, DC for business and then came out to stay with my folks in Annapolis for the weekend. They managed to keep her presence a surprise until she showed up at the party. A pleasant surprise indeed.

Here's the ride map from Dave's and my morning jaunt.

Friday, June 18, 2010

A Great Day for Riding

Wow, what a nice day to be out on a bike! Started out from home just before sunrise to meet the 5:45 riders. It actually felt a little cool, temp about 60 with low humidity. I loaded up the pannier and carried it along so I could ride straight from breakfast in Annapolis to work.

Clint and Sherri were there on the their tandem. Earl, Dave P, Evan, Chip and me rounded out the group. When I shared my plan to go from Annapolis all the way to work near BWI, Earl volunteered to accompany me. He had planned to keep riding after breakfast anyway, his plan was to ride 100 miles on the day! It would be his first century ride.

The ride to Annapolis was a steady pace just under 17 mph and it felt great. The group split once we got downtown. Earl and I continued to Chick N Ruth's where we met my other friends Rodney, Keith and Dave for breakfast. The rest of the riders opted for the Big Bean and a slightly lighter breakfast.

We enjoyed a nice breakfast and then it was time for Earl and I to head back out. We had a great ride to the Airport loop. At Andover road we parted company Earl continued around the Airport loop and I split off towards my office. Earl later confirmed by email that he hit his 100 mile goal. I'm sure he'll write about it on his blog.

The evening ride was still sporting great weather, clear, humidity less than 50% and temps in the low 80's. It was a good day on the bike.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I lost a friend today and other eventful activities.

It was a very eventful day today. This morning's ride to work I had no zip. It took a lot of will power just to get my a$$ on to the bike saddle.

I hit the RB just as the SPP 5:45ers were mustering for the morning ride. It was nice to stop and say hi before I continued north while they went zipping south. Passing through Glen Burnie I ran in to Brandon Hoyt, one of my partners on the Gettysburgh ride earlier this month. He was on his commute to Ft Meade. We rode together for a couple of miles down the connector until we had to go different directions around the BWI loop. It was good to see him too.

At work we finally brought some order to our runaway project. Nice to see light at the end of that tunnel.

Between phone calls and project reports I also checked in on the progress of the RAAM. You can follow it here: http://www.raceacrossamerica.org I was disappointed earlier this week when Team4Mil had to drop out after their support vehicle ran off the road and overturned with 4 riders on board. But today the excitement was solo rider Rick Carpenter. He reached the Missippi River control point today apparently with only minutes to spare before being disqualified. Amazing story all reported here http://rexcarpenter.com/

Finally I learned this evening that an old friend had passed away. CDR Jeffrey Whetman, USNR, USNA c/o 1990 died last fall of melanoma. We were roommates our youngster (sophomore) year at the US Naval Academy. Jeff started with me at the US Naval Academy with the c/o 1988 and we made quite the odd couple together our youngster year. Free from being plebes the sophomores have little supervisory responsibility and enjoy a year of just being students before taking on bigger leadership roles. I was a bit of a rebel always trying to see what I could get away with while Jeff was the strait arrow.

Jeff left the academy at the end of our sophomore year to spend two years on a church mission with LDS. There were no guarantees the Academy would let him back in. But he went anyway to perform a duty to his church and confident that things would work out. They did. He was accepted for re-admission to the Academy and eventually served as a regimental commander his 1st class year.

We held swords at each others' weddings but gradually lost touch over the years. I learned this evening from another classmate that Jeff died last October in Orlando. He left a wife and 3 children. RIP old friend.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

To Work and Back - Part 5

For the first time since I started riding last year, I commuted to work 5 days in a row by bike. Of course I didn't expect to reach that milestone over a weekend! But it's nice to have miles pile up with the consistent riding.

Chris and I connected to ride together both ways. It was a nice change to ride with company. That's why the route shows I came around the south side of the airport and thus completed the full lap.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Commute to Work - this is getting boring

Back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, it's getting boring to ride it, so reading about it must be really dull.

The only thing out of ordinary was I forgot to start the GPS when I left the office to come home this evening.

Tomorrow however, will mark a milestone of sorts.... 5 straight days commuting by bike to work. Of course I never thought the first time that happened would include a weekend.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Working on Saturday!! Ugggh!

Hate to say it but today's ride was my normal commute to work. More of the same planned for tomorrow. But it was a productive day of catch up on the big project. We should be just about out of the woods this week.

The riding was fun, both ways. I made very good time towards the office again today. I also beat the T-storms scheduled for this evening when I rode home. The weather.com short term forecast is very helpful timing my trip and maximizing productivity at the office.

The weight loss is finally starting to happen as well. It looks like I've finally found the south side of 230 lbs!! That's been a long time coming. I shamelessly copied the weight loss tracker above from fellow blogger and biker Clive Chapman. No points for originality but it illustrates the progress better than raw numbers.

Abby Sunderland has been rescued.

Image courtesy of the LAtimes.com

Abby has been rescued.

Abby was picked up by a French fishing boat with the Australians providing air support to guide the rescue vessel to her location. When they got close the fishing vessel Ile De La Reunion sent a small boat across to retrieve Abby from her broken sailboat.

All reports are she is doing well. It's not clear how she'll get home. The Ile De La Reunion will want to get back to fishing and a 2000 mile side trip to drop her in Australia would be very expensive. Now that she's out of harms way, that seems unlikely. A transfer to a freighter or other vessel already transiting through the are is more likely but those details are still being worked out. I'm sure her family must be thrilled.

It's good to see a happy ending here. To the Australian and French professionals involved... "BZ"!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Zippy Commute to Work

I was frustrated that I didn't get any riding in Wed and Thu this week. But today's numbers suggest the time off may have been good for me. I had a 16 mph average speed on the way TO work this morning (see lap 1 if click the map below to see the full spread on Garmin Connect). I've never done much better than the low 15's before. Always bog down on the climb along Aviation and Andover Roads at the end. Today I felt great on that climb and just kept pushing right on up.

The ride home was nice too.

The weight numbers continue to look good. All is well except the office. Too much work, too many tight deadlines.... ugh.

Update: Abby Sunderland Alive and Well!

Teen sailor Abby Sunderland was spotted by a Qantas Airlines jet sent from Perth Australia to look for her. You can read about it here..

The boat was tossed about pretty badly and has suffered a broken mast, knocking out her long range radio and satellite phone. But her short range VHF was working and she could communicate with the Qantas crew. She's not hurt and the boat is seaworthy though it can't sail with the busted rig. Rescue ships should reach her Saturday and all signs are she should be able to hang on 'til then if the weather doesn't turn any worse on her.

I still question why a child of 16 was alone in the Southern Ocean with the Southern Hemisphere's winter just around the corner. But so glad to hear she's alive and apparently as well as can be under the circumstances.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Misc Thoughts

Thoughts and prayers go out for Abby Sunderland age 16 of California attempting a solo circumnavigation by sailboat. Her EPIRB was activated manually in southern Indian Ocean over 2000 miles from any known help. A search is underway.
more detail here

I congratulated Jessica Watson of Australia several weeks ago. Jessica is about the same age as Abby and and completed her trip successfully. But I noted at the time that I agreed with the sanctioning bodies who stopped recognizing "youngest" person categories for such trips out of fear they would encourage ever younger children to attempt such a journey.

If Abby is found alive it will be a testament to her seamanship and perhaps divine guidance of those looking for her. Our world depends on the sea lanes for commerce and sustenance. Thousands of years of law and tradition demand that all possible effort be made to find and assist her or anyone in trouble at sea. I wouldn't have it any other way. Tonight I will join her family and other mariners around the world and will recite the The Navy Hymn "Oh hear us when we cry to thee, for those in peril on the sea!" for Abby's safety.

But inevitably where will be a critique of the risk to the searchers and expense in public funds to several nations involved in looking for her. Don't look for me among those defending the wisdom of making the voyage in the first place.

On a much happier note... friend Chris Lane reports he has completed his R-6 ride successfully from Princeton to Belmar, NJ and back. Due to schedule conflicts he couldn't join us Sunday when I did my 6th ride so he set out on his own today. Weather.com says he should have had great weather and his brief texts from a couple of stops along the way indicated it was smooth sailing. I look forward to seeing his ride report, probably some time tomorrow. We're both half way to our R-12 awards and remarkably even in our informal competition for most miles ridden this year.

Work has kept me off the bike the last couple of days. The project is not done yet and I will have to skip the usual breakfast in Annapolis tomorrow but plan to bike in rather than drive to keep plugging away at it.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Commute to Work

It was a good day for biking. I woke up this morning and liked the numbers I saw on the scale. Hopefully we can keep some momentum going there and get under the 230 level this month.

I met Chris for the ride in this morning. GREAT weather out for riding: cool, clear and low humidity. Where was that weather during all of the randoneuring rides this weekend?

I couldn't break out early enough to ride home with Chris so that was a solo effort. Darn nice weather in the P.M. too.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Gettysburg Gallop 200K

I rode yesterday with Brandon Hoyt, Gardner Duvall, Theresa Furnari, and Janet Bodine, all friends with the SPP, from Rockville, MD to Gettysburg, PA and back. A total distance of 203K or 126 Miles. This is the 6th ride in my goal to complete a 200K ride (or longer) at least once each month this year and earn my R-12 award from Randonneurs USA. I'm halfway there!!

The trek started at 7 am sharp with temps in the mid 70s and humidity 80%. It was warm and muggy, and the forecast said it would get worse before a chance of T-storms in the afternoon. Welcome to summer time in the mid-Atlantic. We also learned just before starting that another friend, Clif, had to withdraw from a 600K ride (yes you read that right, 3x as far) on Saturday due to acute dehydration. 3 liters of fluid by I.V. and the E.R. sent him home to rest. So we resolved to be diligent about keeping ourselves properly watered and set out.

Shortly after starting the cloud cover moved in. But no rain. We settled in to a steady pace and made really good time towards Gettysburg. Because the route is almost a straight line to Gettysburg there was only one required control stop in the middle of the route at a convenience store in Mt. Airy at mile 25. Mt. Airy is also aptly named as it marks the high point in elevation for the entire ride. From there it's a net drop in elevation over the next 38 miles to Gettysburg. The wind also filled in from behind and the miles just rolled by.

The course is almost entirely rural and we encountered no significant traffic. The vistas across some of the farm land were really spectacular and in several areas you could smell the wild flowers in bloom. The route also passed a large sand and gravel mine. Quite a contrast to see the big industrial mining operation in the middle of the farm country. But I guess we need the building material for roads and other concrete structures from somewhere.

The last few miles before lunch pass through the Gettysburg National Military Park. That was a real treat. We didn't stop with the tourists to read the monuments and plaques, but we did slow a bit to take it in as we climbed right up the back of "Little Round Top" and past many of the other markers honoring individuals and units who fought that terrible battle. I plan to go back and take a proper tour around the park with the kids some time. It's a part of history they should understand a little better. I expect I'll learn from it too.

We ate lunch outside at a very nice Irish restaurant and pub in downtown Gettysburg. It was nice to take a break from the bike and the weather was actually cooling down a bit so it was a very pleasant lunch.

Then it was time to go. Cooling down was now turning in to dark clouds, a gusty breeze and some light rain. It was still pleasant to be out but looked threatening as we headed back through the National Park. The road surface got a little wet, the wind blew in our face about 15 mph when were out in the open, and then.... that was it. The T-storms must have blown around us, the wet road and the wind were mildly annoying for next 20 miles or so and then it was over. The temps were cooler, the humidity was dropping and all we had to do was climb back up Mt. Airy.

Brandon and I managed to flat at exactly the same time around mile 80. Not sure how that happened, neither of us found a sharpie in the tire. We took care of business in a private driveway to stay out of the travel lane. Then we were back on our way.

My legs weren't as strong as I would have liked on this stretch. I stuck to the mantra, eat a little, drink a little, keep pedaling. We made a quick stop in Unionville to refill the water bottles and then confronted the hills up to Mt. Airy. My legs didn't have any zip left and I felt like this second trip over the hump was a bit of a grind. I keep eating and drinking and finally we were at the top. Then another two miles to the control, the same store we hit on the way north.

At mile 111 we stopped because Theresa was feeling left out and wanted a turn changing a tire. After that it was a relatively easy ride back to the finish. Total time 11 hours. I lost the last 15 miles on the Garmin due to operator error. I stopped the timer for the flat and forgot to restart it. But it followed the same route in reverse that we used northbound and our pace was about the same we'd made to that point for the entire the southbound leg.

Many thanks to my riding friends, one couldn't ask for a more supportive group to share the day with.

I also want to offer congratulations to Clint Provenza, Chip Adams and all of the others who rode the DC Rand 600K on Saturday 6/5 - Sunday 6/6. What an accomplishment! Clif filled us in on his challenges by email. He had to pull out about halfway through due to dehydration but he bounced back quickly after the I.V. treatment. 12 riders out of 44 at the start did not complete the ride. It's a tough, tough endurance test which takes not only incredible stamina and fitness, but careful management of your body's fuel and water demands while you push so hard for 30 - 40 hours of continuous riding.

One thing I've come to really admire about randonneurs is that there are no failures. Most rides you finish, and some you don't, but they are all an opportunity to learn something so you can be better prepared next time. Most riders are also eager to share those lessons learned from the finishes AND from the rides that come up a few miles short. I'm looking forward to reading about the lessons learned from the 600K as the particiapants recover and publish their thoughts on the day. I'm sure there will be some entertaining stories and a few gems of wisdom.

So what did I learn this weekend...? I felt great a few weeks back after a very fast 200K to Solomons Island. I was ready to just keep pedaling and go for 300K! Well Sunday I was reminded that Solomons is a very flat route. Mt. Airy is not exactly an epic climb, but the second time up my legs were really burning. I learned I still have plenty more training to do....

LATE ADDITION: Brandon put up a nice slideshow of our day.

Here's the GPS summary from Sunday.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Saturday Ride to Annapolis

Met five others from the SPP for a ride to Annapolis for a bagel and coffee. Attendance was a little down from normal Saturday morning rides. Several regulars are off to ride a 600K event with DC Rand, and others had guests or plans that kept them home.

We had an uneventful ride and took it at an easy pace. I was glad not to feel anyone wanted to push it today as I have the 200K tomorrow and a lot to accomplish this afternoon before I can go.

Also caught son Erik's (age 6) baseball game after the ride. He got 3 hits off of the coach pitches and didn't have to use the T at all!! Great job Erik!

Ride details below....

Late addition..... I forgot to note that I tried the "ice sock" this morning. Stuff a bunch of ice cubes in a long sock, tie it closed, and drape it over your neck under your jersey on a hot day to help stay cool. The melting water runs down your back.

Very refreshing. In dry heat with low humidity it would be ideal. With our muggy summer weather, the damp jersey never really dries. I will take a sock along tomorrow and probably use it when the heat of the day hits it's worst which will also probably coincide with the last couple of hours of the ride.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Friday Breakfast Ride

Got up a few minutes early to remount the rear wheel after BD Arnold replaced a broken spoke and trued it up. They did a nice job as usual. Then I met with the SPP for a ride to Annapolis before work. Nice morning especially after the clouds cleared and the sun came out.

Here's wishing the best of luck to Clint, Chip, Clif and all of the DC Rand riders on the 600K brevet this weekend in Warrenton, VA.

This morning's ride details:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Commute To Work - Recovery Pace

After yesterday's blistering pace to Deale and back my legs felt heavy and sore this morning. It would have been easy to bag it. But I'd already made a date to meet Chris for the ride in. I'm glad I did. No rabbit pace today, just a nice recovery ride and I definitely feel better.

By day's end the decision to ride this morning was definitely the right one. The legs felt fine. I still didn't try to hammer home and probably won't at all this week with a 200K permanent planned for Sunday.

The afternoon forecast was threatening but the storms came and went by 4:30. When I got on the bike after 6 the sun was out, the humidity was up and the pavement was dry where it got direct sunlight.

Popped a spoke on the rear wheel somewhere on the ride. Crap now that's one more thing to worry about before the 200K on Sunday.

Here's the afternoon track.