Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Another Month Completed

Well November is done. I rode on 17 different occasions (round trip to work counts as one), covered 701 miles and lost 3 lbs. The number of rides and weight loss are a little disappointing. 25 rides and 5 or 6lbs lost would be much more satisfying. But it seems there was always a reason to do something else. Cold, rain, fatigue, commitments at work, cub scouts, kids sports, etc. and always a tempting treat or second helping waiting to be consumed. None of this really justified letting the weight loss mission suffer, but there it is. I suppose I can take a moral victory not gaining weight over the Thanksgiving Holiday.

So December's goal: 25 riding days. Tomorrow's forecast (Dec 1st): torrential rain. Looks like I'll be off to a good start.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sandy Point

Out to Sandy Point, St Margarets and back. Just enough to get the heart rate up for a bit.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Around the River

I considered reversing the Wednesday's ride and returning from Lewes to Centreville on the bike this morning, but the forecast was for freezing temps and a strong wind from the west - a head wind. So I opted to wait until we got home and rode a lap around Severn River instead. Still got a nice taste of head wind on the west bound leg on Gen's Hwy. And a nice tail wind coming back down Benfield Blvd.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Over the river and through the woods to Grandmas House

Bob C and I discovered last week we both had family plans to spend Thanksgiving in Lewes, DE with our respective parents. The planning to get the day off Wednesday from work and get our families to the shore while we rode proved more complex for each of us than we first anticipated. This left our final plans in limbo until the last minute, but it all came together nicely. I picked Bob up at his home at 8:30 Wednesday and we drove to Centreville. We left the truck at the Food Lion there and pedaled our way across the shore with a tail wind, bright sun, and the last of the fall leaves. We had a great time solving the worlds problems, making fun of corporate America, and taking in the sights along the way. We met my folks in Milton and had lunch at Irish Eyes.

Just a great day to be on a bike. A westbound trip would have been tougher in that wind, but our eastbound trek was really a treat. Many thanks to Bob for suggesting it and for all the effort we both had to make to get the logistics set with our respective families and offices. The hard part was getting to the start. After that it was a great day.

Boring notes to follow in the clothes and gear I used. These notes are for my benefit, no offense if you stop reading here...

This was my first extended ride with the Showers Pass jacket. I picked up the Elite 2.0 size XL after I finally found one in a shop to try on and confirmed the fit was good with room for base layer(s). The first ride was with temps above 50 a few weeks back and it was too warm. This time with temps in 40s and a stiff wind, it was perfect. I was quite comfortable with the jacket, one thin wool base layer and a jersey. I did open the vents. I'm confident will be a good combination for commuting this winter, adjusting the base layer(s) as the temps fall.

On my 200K brevet last Sunday I wore my Wombat gloves all day. They offer excellent thermal protection with moderate insulation and a vinyl cover that converts them in to mittens when it's really cold. The mitten cover can be removed from the fingers and tucked in a pocket when it warms up. That versatility was perfect for a day that started at 35 deg F and warmed to about 50. But they offer no gel or other ergonomic padding in the palm like typical warm weather gloves. This didn't bother me during the ride, but Monday morning I woke up about 1 am with excruciating pain in my right hand. It was partially numb and partially on fire with a pins and needles sensation. Worse it, didn't clear within a few minutes of motion and flexing like it has in the past. It persisted for a couple of hours. I'm not absolutely certain that the lack of palm padding is the culprit, but the location of the pain makes it a reasonable guess.

So for this ride I made a change. I wore wool DeFeet glove liners with an over-sized pair of padded summer gloves with open fingers over the top of the wool liners. Wow, surprisingly warm, perfectly adequate thermal protection for the conditions, and the padding left me with no hand discomfort during or after the ride. I think this will also be a standard combination for a while. It would offer nothing useful for wet weather protection, and I don't know yet what it's lower limit would be for temperature. But based on yesterday, I'm confident it will do well at least down to the mid 30s in dry weather.

Garmin didn't play nice and it appears the track was corrupt. When I loaded it to GarminConnect I got a perfectly straight line across the shore between start and end points. Here's the planning track I used instead.

Have a happy Thanksgiving Day everyone.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Sailing Down to Solomon's - R-11

After a funeral conflicted with last weekend's Flatbread 200K, I had to get in a 200K permanent this month to stay on track for the R-12 award. I used the old standby: Sailing Down to Solomon's. The route has become routine because it's so close to home. Most of the RUSA permanents accessible in this area require at least an hour's drive from home, and when riding alone would present a significant challenge should I break a rim or otherwise become stranded.

The Solomon's route on the other hand starts 15 minutes from home and at it's furthest reach would be about a 55 mile drive for my wife or son to come to my rescue in case of emergency. The route spends more time in the first half on a major highway than I would normally choose, but it has a wide shoulder which has recently been well marked through a couple of the towns along the way as a bike lane. So riding solo and with a full weekend schedule Saturday making sleep a premium, Solomon's it was.

The days are getting shorter with only about 10.5 hours of useful sunlight, about the same time this should take me. I set out at 6:00 am hoping to get all of night riding in early before sunrise while I was fresh and finish before sunset. It was 35 deg F at the start and after the sun came up it reached the low 50s at mid day.

I've been fighting a head cold all of last week and was a bit concerned. I'd never tried to ride such a distance while dependent on cold medicine to breath. But the SPP is a wealth of knowledge and experience, when I posted the question to our mailing list, the responses generally suggested it was fine to ride with a head cold and OTC cold remedies, but should be avoided if one has a cough or fever. I had neither, so off I went, with a day's supply of meds in my bag. As usual, such advice was spot on and it worked out fine.

I didn't try to push the pace. Instead I watched my heart rate and tried to settle in to a zone of around 60% of max. It was a clear day, the sun was bright the winds were calm. I made brief stops frequently to eat a snack, take the meds when it was time and adjust my wardrobe as it warmed up. Stopping to snack was necessary as I couldn't manipulate the food packages well with long finger gloves. So I'd have to pause to rip open the packaging then resume pedaling while I ate.

The route owner, Crista Borras made one small change since I last rode this route. At the turnaround in Solomons, it now requires a brief tour through the small town of Solomons to an information control. Previously one could turn and head north without actually entering town. The views of the river and the waterfront community were well worth the extra mile or two.

My only extended stop was at Sweet Sue's bake shop in North Beach where I had a chicken ceasar wrap. Otherwise I stayed fueled with the carbs I was carrying and refilled my bottles at every opportunity.

It wasn't my fastest ride by a long shot, but it's always satisfying to finish a long ride like that successfully. There's also a certain satisfaction in pulling it off while riding alone, though given the choice, I'll always prefer to ride with a partner.

I missed my sunset goal by about 10 minutes, but that affirmed my decision to start early. The last few miles in twilight were fine, but if I'd waited for sunrise before I started, I likely would have had an hour or so in the dark to the end and I would not have enjoyed that.

Only one more ride to finish the RUSA R-12 series. I'm looking forward to having this one crossed off of my bucket list.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Friday Breakfast Ride

Good ride this morning with the SPP. 6 of us set out from the Rusty Bridge and picked up 4 more before we hit the end of the trail. 7 made it to Chick N Ruth's for breakfast. Then back home, no commute to work today. I'm fighting a cold and still planning to ride a 200K permanent route this Sunday so I took it easy. That's still 27 miles and plenty of exercise.

I've been tallying my calories every day and while I was over Wed and Thursday for the individual days, I'm still below my net calorie goal for the week.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

No Ride Wednesday

Didn't ride Wednesday. I had to drive to Richmond, VA and back for the day to meet with a customer. I'm also feeling my first cold of the season coming on. Despite a day off the bike and a day on the road tempted by fast food, I didn't do too badly. Slightly over the daily quota of 2283 net calories but I'm still under for the week.

Food stats on the left are up to date through Wed evening.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Rode to work this A.M. in full rain gear: jacket, pants, and overshoes. Gross. I was hot and tired when I got to the office. There was a slow steady drizzle the whole way with temp just above 50 deg F.

For the ride home I shed the rain pants as temps were now closer to 60. More comfortable, but still a steady drizzle most of the way.

I don't really understand why my speed both ways so much slower than normal, but my heart rate was at or above the average from yesterday the whole way. The rain pants add a bit of friction sliding along the legs with each stroke. But I didn't wear them on the way home and I still felt slower than molasses. Other than the wet weather, both trips were uneventful.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Work then home - split tire

A little grey and overcast this morning for the ride in, but the temps was pleasant in the upper 40s. Everything was fine until I heard a hisss coming from the front wheel just as I turned out of the cross over trail on to Stewart Ave near the State Highway barns.

The bead was separating from the sidewall on the left side of my front tire. The tire only has about 400 miles on it. Very frustrating. What's more, I wasn't sure how I was going to repair it. Just as I was contemplating my fate, Bill Cunningham with the SPP rolled up on his way to Northrup Grumman. And he had a tire boot in his kit. I was saved! The boot is a tough vinyl patch with a supper adhesive for patching a torn or split sidewall long enough to get you home.

It worked. I made it to the office and back home again. I had already concluded I didn't care for these tires as the tread seemed to have terrible grip on wet pavement. The whole reason I'd gone to a fatter tire for the winter commute was for better grip and a little more forgiving of road obstacles. This set was neither and I had a new set of Continental Touring Plus tires waiting at home to go on the bike. So once home I went straight to BD for a set of those tire boots to include in my own kit and a couple fresh fat tubes to go with touring tires.

A quick test ride confirmed I had the new touring tires mounted without any unusual bumps or wobbles before I put the bike away for the night.

I owe Bill breakfast at the next weekend opportunity.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Quick Saturday Workout

Squeezed in a quick 20 miles between the funeral and heading to the shore to celebrate with the finishers of the Flatbread 200K. What a great event. 73 riders set a new record for a DC Area Brevet. SPP's Chip Adams and Chris Lane orchestrated the whole thing. 14 riders from SPP all finished in the first third of the pack and eventually all 73 riders finished successfully, the last with still an hour and half left on the time limit.

Sorry I missed it, but paying respects to Charlie's legacy and being there for his family was the right choice. I met Charlie Bare when I was but 14 years old as a Boy Scout and he was one of our troop committee members, working behind the scenes to raise funds, help with transportation and pitch in a thousand ways that us kids never understood. He would keep this up for 30 years! Long after his own sons had grown and graduated from the program. Well done sir and rest in peace.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Breakfast then to work

Saw the first real frost of the season on the grass this morning riding from Annapolis to the office after breakfast. 8 of us had ridden from the RB at 5:45 to Annapolis for breakfast. There I also met the usual Friday gang of old high school friends for a great morning visit.

After we ate I set out for the office near BWI and Earl came along as well. The sunrise over the Bay was absolutely gorgeous. Any portion of grass along the trail in shadow had frost on it. It was cold, clear and still. It was a shame to contemplate a day in the office at the end of the ride.

The trip home was also nice, with a sunset to match the morning sunrise. Wish I could spend 4 hours a day on the bike every day of the week.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

A Quick Morning Workout and a Sad Loss

Cub Scouts tonight makes the evening logistics of shuttling myself and my son to and fro too complicated to support a round trip bike commute to work. So I rode this morning with the SPP 5:45ers. Dan and Clint were on the tandem getting a little practice in for the Flatbread 200K this weekend. Dave, Clif, Evan and me rounded out our merry band. The south end of the trail is still closed for repair so at Glen Oban we turned in to the community and rode around the loop road. Hadn't been down there in a while. Nice homes with big lots, all well manicured lawns.

I learned yesterday I will have to miss the Flatbread 200K on Saturday. Mr. Charlie Bare, age 71 succumbed to a long battle with cancer. His son's Andrew and David, were in the same Boy Scout troop as my brothers and I and many of my closest friends. It's remarkable that so many of us are still close all of these years later, I consider myself quite lucky to know these men. His years as an adult volunteer with the Boy Scouts were of great service to all of us and his departure is a sad loss, but the angels' great reward. I'll be attending his memorial Saturday morning in Annapolis.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Nice Weather

I love the fall weather for riding. Even with the early dark hours in the evening, it was very pleasant riding both ways to day.

I've been doing a decent job with the food this week. Not great, but respectable.

Monday, November 8, 2010

A new week, let's try this again

Last week was a disaster for the weight loss. After two big days on the bike last weekend I was pleasantly surprised Monday that the appetite seemed under control. But by Wednesday the mouth lost all self control and ran wild all week. Up 3lbs!!

Today I'm bringing it back in line. I'll be testing out a recovery shake after the Flatbread 200K this weekend. Weather forecast looks great for another long ride on the shore.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Saturday with SPP

A good morning with the bike club. 6 of us set out from the Ranger Station at 6 am to ride the Solley Rd loop. At 19 mph in the dark the pace line struck a nasty pothole on Ft. Smallwood Rd. My steel bottle flew out of the cage, I was in the drops at the time and my bars actually rocked slightly forward with the sudden down ward pressure on the end of the bar. Cliff in front of me also lost some bottles and accessories. All of the noise and the sudden jolt, I thought the bike was coming apart beneath me. Once we pulled over and the dust settled.. no riders went down, no apparent mechanical damage to any bikes or rims, but it cost Clif two tubes and one for me.

After replacing the tubes and gathering ourselves, we had to cut the route a little short to make it to the Rusty Bridge by 7:30 to meet the rest of the club for the breakfast ride to Annapolis. Despite the close scare and the abbreviated route, it was a good workout and a fun ride in the early chill. Another 10 or so riders were waiting to meet us at the Rusty Bridge. Always lots of fun to visit with folks, share stories from last week's OC ride and generally catch up.

After breakfast the Italian place I returned home with Clint while much of the rest of the group was planning to head out to Crownsville and enjoy the sunny day.

The rest of the day includes overlapping football games for Zach and Erik, the Cub Scouts Rain Gutter Regatta, Navy football vs ECU on TV and dinner out at friends' house with Tivy tonight. A typical busy weekend.... love it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Friday Breakfast ride then Work

Only 4 of us met at the Rusty Bridge for the breakfast ride. Temps in the 40s and a light drizzle weren't the most inviting conditions for the start, but the forecast suggested the rain would pass by the time we finished breakfast, and it it did.

But the time we reached Annapolis Dave had opted to not accompany us across the river and we picked up Jeff, Dan, Chip and Bryan. So 7 of us rode in to Chick N Ruths were we met Charlie and Doug for some good morning grub. From there I made the Friday check all the way to the office near BWI.

It was my first run with the new Showers Pass Elite 2 jacket. I'd had my eye on this one for a while, read several great reviews and got a thumbs up from Chris when he wore his for a portion of the OC ride. This wasn't too tough a test, the rain was light and cleared early, but another factor was how well it vents to avoid overheating and let's moisture wick out. My first impressions are very good.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

An unenventful commute

Nothing really to report about the ride to work. It was cold in the morning, just above freezing. I broke out the wind pants again and the winter boots for the first time this season. Coming home it was warmer and had to lug most of the layers in the bag.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

OC11 - Ride to Ocean City and back

I rode this past weekend with the SPP round trip from Stevensville, MD to Ocean City, MD on Saturday. Then back again on Sunday. A round trip of just over 230 miles. I intentionally waited a couple of days to blog this one so I could get a better perspective.

I've been looking forward to this for a year. I participated only on the Eastbound leg to OC last year and had a great time. This year I was very much looking forward to making the round trip. Saturday was a great ride. The temps started in the upper 40's as predicted and quickly warmed. The wind was mostly on our beam and not a significant factor until the last 3 miles on Highway 1 in Ocean City. The sun was bright and the company was fantastic, there was nothing not to love about this leg. 17 riders set out. 2 had planned all along to turn back after the breakfast stop at Dave's Place about 37 miles in, so they could keep part of the weekend available for their families. The remaining 15 of us continued on to Ocean City and had great stops at Dave's Place in Ridgley, at Irish Eyes in Milton, the Dogfish Head Brewery in Milton, Dairy Queen in Middleboro and finally to the finish in Ocean City. You couldn't hope to find a more fun group to spend the day with.

Saturday evening in O.C. we enjoyed a happy hour and Italian dinner to toast our great day. It was fun and I had a great time.

But Sunday was a lot tougher. I didn't feel hung over, but I suspect one or two too many servings of wine and beer set me back a touch before I even got out of bed. My job intruded as I was getting myself sorted for the day and I had to get online and solve a problem before heading out. Thank goodness Chris brought his laptop. If I'd had to try to talk the data center staff through it over the phone it would have been much worse. I was a few minutes late to breakfast, and the service was slow. The forecast was for a stiff headwind all day. Then we got held up as soon as we clipped in when the keys were accidentally locked in the SAG van. None of these were really a big deal. The day was clear, the temps were mild and this was the same group of great friends I rode in with. Yet for some reason my water bottle was half empty Sunday morning and I couldn't figure out why.

Our peloton now numbered 12 as Jim, Fran and Neil met their wives in O.C. and took Sunday for some time to themselves. For the first 8 miles due North the wind was on our beam, but we knew we had to turn left in to the teeth of that breeze. For those not familiar with the terrain, the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Delaware is very FLAT terrain. Much of it is cleared for farmland, some still forested and dotted with small towns. On a windy day, there's really nothing to break it up. We had to head North-West to get home and the wind was out of the North-West at 15+ miles an hour nearly the whole day.

The occasional break of trees would provide some shelter, and the odd turn would head slightly South-West or North-East until we connected to the next country lane going our way. But these breaks were short and provided only a tease before we were back in the open plodding in to the wind. By the time we got to lunch 55 miles in to the day, I seriously considered climbing in to the SAG van and quitting the ride. I was tired and didn't feel right. But I decided it would be better to eat first, then ride a little to see if I felt better before making that call. I'm glad I did.

I didn't eat and drink enough that first 50 miles. To conserve energy in the wind, we rode in a tight line most of the way and still managed a respectable 17 mph average rolling speed. The stronger riders graciously shouldered a disproportionate share of time in the lead. But with gusty winds riding in close quarters at a brisk pace, letting go of the bars even with one hand to take a gel, a drink or fig newton was harder than usual. So I didn't take in as much fuel as I needed. I'm glad I put off my decision to drop. As we were suiting up after lunch I could feel my rear tire was soft. I opted to pump it up without changing the tube since it hadn't gone completely flat and likely wasn't a complete puncture, but I was still thinking my day may need to end short of the finish.

5 or 10 miles in to this next leg things started looking up. As I digested my lunch I started feeling much better. The wind was still tough but it was becoming clear it was not going to get the best of me. I took a brief turn at the front, once. I forced myself to eat my snacks and drink more regularly. I learned, AGAIN, that proper fueling is THE key to success on a long ride. Training and fitness, proper equipment, navigation, and other factors are important. But they can all be addressed within the limits of Murphy's Law before the ride. Your eating PLAN can also be set ahead of time, but you have to discipline yourself to stick to it while you're riding.

Fully half of us were setting new two day personal records for distance on this ride. I wasn't the only one feeling stretched a little too far and each of us worked through it in different ways at a different pace. But we stuck together as a team and the miles kept ticking off. Stronger riders literally took position to the left of those who needed a hand, reached out with their right hand on the small of our back and gave us a brief push we needed to close a gap and tighten up the line. The miles were clicking by. As we approached Centerville with just over 20 miles left we finally detected a slight drop in the wind speed.

We pulled in to Stevensville Middle School before dark about 5:45 in the evening. We popped a celebratory beer in the parking lot and the group started to break up to return home tired and happy. 7 of us extended the evening with dinner at Rams Head before driving over the Bay Bridge to return home.

I'm really glad I didn't pull the plug at lunch Sunday. In January I rode a 200K ride in subfreezing temperatures. That is still the toughest ride I've ever completed, but Sunday's head wind is a very close second. At 230 miles, the weekend represents a two day personal record for me and at least half of the group who rode both days. But we did it, and it proved a very effective team.

I can't say enough about the people I was with. John and Janet Bodine each rode one way, and drove their van one way to provide SAG support. They also hosted the Happy Hour Saturday night in their suite at the hotel. Thank you. Clint and Chip provided leadership as always, thank you. Dan, Ben and Jeff took the brunt of the head winds at the front of the pack on Sunday, thank you. Earl has been riding less than a year, and completed 3 century rides this month.. Wow! Randy is preparing to compete as a solo rider in RAAM next year. Talk about an epic ride! I'm looking forward to watching that contest and to watching his finish in Annapolis. Each of us has our story, and they're all fascinating.

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading along and tolerating my "it's all about me" narrative. Others have documented the day quite well, and addressed details I've omitted. To learn about pole dancing, Halloween costumes, riding the whole way on a fixed gear bike and other interesting bits, I recommend Earl's blog and Clint's pictures and video.

At The Start