Sunday, May 29, 2011

Slow down and smell the Coffee

My writing muse as been missing in action lately, but I've been on the bike regularly and feeling great, commuting, and bopping around Annapolis and Serverna Park with the club.  I've also enjoyed riding with Bill C while commuting to and from work. This has become a regular partnership to the extent that we can synchronize our schedules.  All good stuff.

The holiday weekend has presented some wonderful riding so far.  After the club ride yesterday broke up, Chris and I set a date to ride again this morning.  We managed to draw Bob C out too and the three of us enjoyed a great Sunday morning.

From the Park N Ride at Jones Station we rode down through Annapolis and out to the Caribou Coffee in Crofton.  It's gonna be a hot day, but at 7:00 it was pleasantly cool and the wind flat calm.  We kept the pace easy and enjoyed watching the world wake up on a lazy Sunday morning.  The horse farms south of Genl's Hwy are especially peaceful this time of day.  At Caribou we enjoyed a cuppa joe and a gnash then returned through Millersville to complete a lap around the River.

25+ riders together in a big pack can be an exciting experience and a lot of fun.  But sometimes a ride with two or three friends can be the perfect way to spend a morning.  I'll stop there before I break out in Kumbay Yah or something.  I enjoyed the company gentlemen, thanks.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday and Tuesday - Catch up post

The weekend was occupied with a camping trip with Cub Scouts.  GREAT fun for all the boys, their dads and a few brave moms who joined us.

But come Monday morning I was feeling the pressure to get an early start at work and drove in.  Got a lot done and got a nice ride in Monday evening.  Out to Sandy Point and down through St. Margarets to the river, then home via Boulters and the Trail.

Today started with a lousy forecast and I almost bagged the bike ride.  But a timely text from Bill C to try and coordinate our commutes got me up and moving. We couldn't synch our schedules and never did see each other.  But two exchanges via text message was enough peer pressure to get me moving.  I'm really glad he did.  The actual weather was much nicer than the forecast I never got wet either direction.  As the forecast cleared the SPP put out word for a Tuesday Pizza ride and I met them at Squizitos for a salad, a slice and a beer.  Thanks Bill for getting me moving.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Sometimes It's good to miss the excitement

Friday's are great. I get to ride in the morning with my friends to Annapolis for breakfast then off to work. Sometimes by bike, sometimes by car, depending on the evening plans.  But the morning is always a good way to kick off the weekend.

This A.M. we had better turnout than usual. Chris hasn't been out on the bike in a while but joined us for the ride to Annapolis, Dave too, Janet and 9 others.

The ride down was at a social pace, we had a great time catching up with one another.  The weather was nice.  Once downtown Dave and I split from the pack to meet Rod, Doug and Doug for breakfast at Chick -n- Ruth's while the rest went to Hard Bean.

Dave recently completed the Boston Marathon and has agreed to be my "coach" as start running a bit to diversify my exercise and try to get my weight trending down again.  So we used the ride home to lay plans for starting my running program.  At Jones Station Rd I broke off to head home for a shower and then drive in to work.

So far nothing really remarkable.  But after my shower I saw a cryptic email from Bryan, who had been out that morning.  "The answer is what goes thump thump thump thump?  Now what is the question?"

A few minutes later Earl responds "What sound does Janet's bike make after breakfast?"

I had just ridden to Annapolis with them but we were apart for the ride home. What on earth were they referring to?

Well Earl settled the matter a few minutes later when he posted his blog.  First I'll spoil a few details for you:  the squirrel didn't make it, and no bikes or riders were hurt during this incident.  Those with a weak stomach should stop here.  Those who choose to continue be warned, the following tale is not for the squeamish.....

Friday the 13th was unlucky for this creature

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

5:46 Ride with SPP

Rode with the bike club this A.M. as I have a social engagement this evening, also with the bike club, that makes commuting to the office by bike tight.  Dan Oldale had also sent an email last night suggesting we split the morning ride.  At 5:45 those looking for a sprint workout would shove off and at 5:46 those of us looking for something less than Warp speed would set out. Well the 5:46 start had 8 riders to 4 with the sprinters.  The sun was up bright and clear, and the morning was cool.  We had a great time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Recovery Ride

After the big day Saturday I took Sunday off from the bike.  This evening after work I got in a quick recovery ride to try and work some of the lactic acid from my legs.  Went out to Sandy Point and down St. Margarets to the river, then home.  Didn't push the pace, just spinning.  It felt good.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Frederick 300K - Wow I did it!

I completed the Frederick 300K Brevet sponsored by DC Rand this Saturday.  That's 187.5 Miles in one day.  Prior to this my longest single day on the bike was 200K.  As the day started I was nervous and excited about breaking new ground and going so much further in one day than I'd ever been before.

I needn't have worried.  Riding the R-12 last year I completed that 200K distance once each month for a year. That provided more than ample experience.  I've also had some great coaching from the other randonneurs in the SPP (Thank you all.) I knew how to keep my pace in check when tempted to keep up with cool kids who ride really fast (just let 'em go), I knew how to eat and drink to keep myself correctly fueled (continuously in small portions), and I new how to dress for the expected weather conditions (wool base layers rule).  These may seem like trivial details but they really are skills one learns along the way.  It also helped that the weather was perfect.

All of that added up to a fantastic day, and one of my major goals for the year completed.

The course was relatively mild interrupted by 3 big climbs.  Click the GPS map below to see the climbing profile and other details.  The two biggest both came in the first 60 miles.  That was another nice feature of the course, the hard work was all front loaded.   In between the big climbs the ride was a tour of farm country, orchards and small towns in the valleys of Pennsylvania.

The biggest climb, Big Flat (no idea where the name comes from), features 1400 feet of climbing over 16 miles, it starts with some foothills and quickly builds to a long steep slog.   It was long and big and it just kept going up, and up.  But there was a reward.  From the summit of Big Flat I barely had to pedal a stroke for the next nine miles to the control in Shippensburg.  That was really something.  The GPS track also shows my max speed was 40 mph.  I had to ride the brakes because I couldn't always see around the next bend.  But I'm sure if I'd let it go I would have seen 50+ mph.  That's just not for me.  I'll keep pushing my limits on longer rides, but I'm not sure I want to chase any land speed records.

The farm country in between these hills was scenic, and the traffic was light.  This is the land of covered bridges, orchards and horse drawn buggies. Also some very nice rolling creeks.   I saw them all along the way. 

From Frederick 300K

From Frederick 300K

From Frederick 300K

From Frederick 300K

Bill Smith took this shot of me shortly after the covered bridge. I look pretty good don't I?

c William Smith Frederick 300K

From Frederick 300K

And cows, lots of cows.  All good rides feature at least one animal story, usually a loose dog chasing the rider(s).  We encountered a loose cow.  She was outside the pen and just staring at me as I rode by and realized no barrier separated us.  I tried to point her out to Nick and Justin who were a few yards back, but she started trotting out in to the road before they noticed what I was saying.  They wound up with a much closer look at her than I got.  She wasn't charging or threatening them and just kept going in front of them.  We stopped and told the family in the farm house about the stray, but the lady of the house didn't seem concerned so we continued on our way.  I hope they corralled her before she tangled with a car on the road.

On big rides the pack always starts to stretch out according to pace. This happened naturally as we approached Thurmont at mile 15 and the first real climbs.  I soon found myself hopscotching with the same few riders. I finished the last third of the ride with Justin and Nick Bull.  Both are veterans of PBP and very experienced riders.  The three of us found a comfortable pace and spent the miles getting to know one another a bit.  Nick is the president of DCRand and invests considerable time and energy helping to make these events work.  I appreciated the company and the chance to meet new folks on the road.  Justin was riding a recumbant bike, and this also provided some interesting conversation as he shared it's quirks and features. I want to thank them both for the company, it made the time and the miles go very quickly.

Before we knew it we were entering Thurmont again, only 15 miles to go.  By then George had caught up with us and our pack was four.  We stopped for one last refill of water when a van pulled up beside me in the parking lot.  Bryan and Clint doubled back on the route to check on me before they drove home. They had finished a couple of hours earlier.  You remember, the cool guys who ride real fast.....  Thanks guys.  One more hour and were passing Ft Detrick and turning in to the Hampton Inn.  I'd made it.

Friday, May 6, 2011

No I haven't retired my bike

A lack of a proper training plan after last weekend's Ocean City ride, and a little poor discipline in the "early to bed, early to rise" department led to almost no miles this week.  But I did get out this morning for Friendly Friday and the ride to Annapolis for breakfast. Gorgeous morning.  It looks like the rainy spring may finally be behind us. 

But the big news is tomorrow.  I'm planning to ride my first 300K brevet tomorrow.  I think the week's rest may actually help. It will be the longest single day of riding I've ever attempted.  The route starts in Frederick, MD and heads north in a big loop through Pennsylvania before returning to the start. One notorious climb up "Big Flat" comes about 1/3 of the way around the course.  We start at 5 am and have a 20 hour time limit to finish by 1 am on Sunday, though I'm hoping for more like 10 - 11 pm Saturday.  Here is more detail

I'm excited and of course experiencing a little bit of nervous energy.  I'll tweet my progress at the control stops, my handle is chespksailor on twitter if you care to follow along.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Ocean City

I finished out the #30daysofbiking challenge in grand style Saturday.  18 riders gathered at the Stevensville Middle School in Stevensville, Md the 12th edition of the SPP ride to Ocean City.  The weather forecast was postcard perfect.  Temps near 50 deg F in the morning would warm to the mid 60s.  The reality started a little overcast but otherwise lived up to it's billing.  It was really great day for a bike ride.

We were all decked out in new outer wear to match the club's kit.  In cool weather the jersey was often covered by vests or jackets.  Now we have vests and jackets in club colors too and they look great.  The cool start was also the perfect conditions to try out the new vest and I'm happy to report it worked quite well.

At the start. See more.... OC 12

Chris Lane and some friends of Jeff Schultz met us at the start to take some picks and wish us well.  Then we had quick briefing on the route, the need to stick together and we were off.  Riding with such a large group is always a lot of fun. New friends to meet, old ones to catch up with, and an incredibly efficient peloton when the angle on the wind isn't optimal.   This route also lends itself so well to a social ride.  Most of the miles are on rural country roads. Traffic is light, the terrain is flat and we can easily ride 3 or more abreast to talk.  It's really a lot of fun that way.  That the wind was pushing us along just added another nice note to the day.

The miles rolled by very quickly and effortlessly.  It seemed like it was no time at all and we were rolling in to the breakfast stop at Dave's Place in Ridgely, MD approximately 1/3 of the way in to the ride.  The origin's of SPP's tradition to include Dave's Place as a regular stop on this ride shift a bit with each telling.  But generally include some variation of looking for shelter and calories when the weather was cold and rainy on an early edition of the ride 5 or 6 years ago.

Dave's Place is a bar in a rural farming town and by it's appearance would be a very unlikely stop for a group of cyclists.  It's not normally open at 10 am when we roll in.  But on that first visit years ago Chip and Clint charmed the owner Mary Ann and she has been opening up to fix us breakfast ever since.  We called ahead with our orders.  On arrival Mary Ann had coffee, fresh baked cookies and brownies, and breakfast sandwiches with each rider's choice of bread, cheese and meat.

Once we're all served, Mary Ann came out to hold court. She's quite a character, gregarious, generous, and entertaining.  She always has a couple of small gifts for us to raffle off.  This year it was a set of lottery scratch off and powerball tix.  Earl, Bryan and I all won the raffle to receive the lottery tix, but unfortunately none of our tix won.  Maybe next year.

Breakfast at Dave's Place. See more... OC 12

After a group picture with Mary Ann we set out again.  At this point three of our group turned back.  This was planned, not due to any problem, the routine lends itself well to that and allows some to participate who might otherwise have to settle for another tour of Anne Arundel County.  So Bennie, Ray and Jeff Scho turned for the start and 15 of us continued on our way.  Freshly fed and with the weather warming slightly, we made a few wardrobe adjustments and pulled any supplies needed from the Bodine's SAG van, then we were off. 

The miles continued to roll quickly.  The last clouds cleared and as the course turned a little more southerly, the tail wind started to push us a little faster.  We were flying across the countryside at 20+ miles per hour and having a great time.  Lunch at the Irish Eyes in Milton, DE was quick and delicious, then we pedaled a few blocks across town to the Dogfish Head Brewery.  They brew a great series of exotic ales, and they are also a sponsor for Randy Mouri's RAAM adventure.   Randy rode with us Saturday. The DFH convenient location along our route, the tasting room with free samples, and the gift shop with great looking jersey's are reason enough for us to visit. Randy's affiliation with company gave it extra significance.

So our time in Milton was rather extensive before we got back on the bike to finish the trip to Ocean City.  Again we picked up our spirited pace and the wind just kept pushing even faster.  The group was also full of a bit of mischief.  As fast as we were moving, one or two of the group wanted to go faster still and the group would break in two as some tried to hold the faster pace while others preferred to keep their heart rate below zone 5. After two or three cycles like this the team took action to hold back the instigators.

Fun and games on the road. See more... OC 12

Such shenanigans continued much of the last leg, until attention shifted to final sprint the barn. As we approached the final turn on to Hwy One in Ocean City six of us started sprinting hard for the finish about 2 miles out.  Earl and I couldn't really hope to hold with the others and just pushed ourselves as best we could.  Just then with a half mile left we had our only close call of the day. An inattentive driver pulling out of a parking lot didn't see us despite white strobes on the front.  Earl recognized his slow drift in to traffic might be dangerous and pointed him to me.  I shouted with my best military command voice to catch his attention and he looked quite startled.   Incident averted.

Then we were done.  Chip and Randy turned around and rode back through the night after about an hour's break in OC with us.   Remember Randy is training for RAAM and this sort of thing is routine for him.  Earl's wife Lori drove my van to OC to meet us.  This allowed Earl, myself and 3 others to head back home for Sunday commitments after a delicious dinner with the crew in O.C.

We had the route in hand that Randy and Chip were following so after dropping Earl's daughter in Salisbury we were able to plot an intercept course and check in with them about 10:30 in the evening.  They reported they were doing well and didn't even accept offers of water or spare calories we still had in our bags.  On those small country roads it was really dark, no light pollution and brilliant stars.  Their LED tail lights were brilliant and we easily spotted them a half mile away.  An email this morning confirmed their safe arrival in Stevensville shortly after 2 am.  Another confirmed that the 8 riders who returned today also had a safe and successful ride.

In addition to the photos, I shot some video but that may take a while to get edited.  Earl also wrote a nice report on the ride. I will add my video and links to other folks' photos as they get them posted and share it with me.

Many thanks to John and Janet Bodine for the SAG van support (they each ride one way and drive one way), and all of the planning for the hotel, dinner etc.  Thanks also to Lori for driving the second van to allow several of us the luxury of a one way ride.  Finally thanks to the other riders, I had a great time.