Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Can we bottle this weather

58 deg F this morning when I left the house.  Mid 70s for the ride home.  Clear, calm, if I could only skip the 8 hour stop at the office in the middle of the ride it would be perfect.  Met the SPP for Tuesday Pizza night. 

Monday, August 29, 2011

Traffic Lights Still Out

I'll never swear or curse at a traffic light again.  As impatient as I may get waiting for them to change, living without them is downright hazardous.  Two days after the big storm, major lights are still out on Dorsey Rd, Rt 3 and Rt 2 along my commute home.

Let's be careful out there and look out for one another until the utility crews can get us all back on the grid.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Community Service Ride

I met several other SPPers for a post hurricane ride to see to community and how much damage was sustained.  Fortunately Irene spared us her worst.  There are many down trees and the resulting power outages, including my own home, will linger for days.  But overall it wasn't really that destructive in our area.

We stopped and cleared what we could from the trail where we encountered fallen trees or limbs blocking the path.  One in particular between Severn and Boulters was too big for us to muster without a chain saw to break it up first.  Another across Boulters Way dragged some power lines down to the road and was guarded by a county police office who refused to let us pass even though we could see a clear path under the wires.  So we took MD 450 instead and came back the same way, just as we often do in the winter when the path hasn't been cleared of snow.

So after doing our small part to aid the cleanup we finally made it down town Annapolis.  It was mobbed, everyone enjoying the nice clear evening and dining out if they didn't have power at home.  We settled on the Severn Inn back on the north side of the river and enjoyed beer and appetizers on the deck.

Tomorrow it's back to the daily grind at work.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Pre-Hurricane Century

I've struggled this week to keep to a daily routine on the bike. Earthquakes, hurricanes and especially back to school season, simply disrupted the normal flow of family life at the Binnix family compound.  But things fell in to place nicely this morning to catch up on the missing miles.

With preps for Hurricane Irene largely done last night, including a last minute decision to purchase a 2500W emergency generator, I didn't wake up this A.M. feeling compelled to attack the "to do" list that often comes with weekends. Further the kids' scheduled games this weekend were already cancelled due to the pending storm, but the forecast said that Armageddon likely wouldn't start until mid afternoon or early evening, so it looked like I could steel away for the entire morning and even a little beyond lunch if needed.  I did just that.

I started at the Ranger Station at 6:00 with the usual club ride of zippy speed demons. But both Bill C and I opted to let the racers go early and rode the Solley Rd route at a more moderate pace.  Carl B originally set out with the fast kids but decided he'd prefer our company and hung back until we picked him up about half way round the course.  We got to Java Divas with 15 minutes to grab a cup o' Joe before joining the 7:30 ride at the rusty bridge.

This was well attended with 17 riders heading downtown for a bagel and to see what the city looked like for hurricane preps.  Not much to see except for the sand bags stockpiled near by and ready to block flooded door ways as the water rose.  The group thinned some after bagels and coffee then 12 of us headed around Bay Ridge.  The Bay looked grey and threatening.  But several kite surfers and wind surfers were ejoying the first breezes from Irene.  The anchorage for commercial shipping was also impressive with over 10 ships at anchor, I presume planning to ride out the storm.  Normally one would expect only 2 - 3 vessels at time there, waiting for their loading piers to open up in Baltimore.  Today they stretched in a line well south of Thomas Point.

On return to downtown Annapolis I couldn't sell a ride through Crownsville to anyone and parted with the rest of the club to keep stretching my legs. I made it through Crownsville and to within about 8 miles of the airport before I saw any rain.  At the airport I made for my office and stopped to check that all of our non-essentials were secured and the essentials correctly attached to a UPS.  Then I turned for home.  The fleet of utility maintenance vehicles BGE has mustered on an empty lot off of Elkridge Landing Rd, staged for storm response was impressive.  A state trooper stood sentry to control access.  Good to see the authorities taking the approaching storm seriously.

To round out an even hundred miles and catch up on my weekly goal of 200, I rode past our neighborhood while heading south on the trail and continued all the way to the trail head at Boulters Way then returned and threw in a final lap around our neighborhood before I returned home   100.5 on the day and 202 miles for the week.  I got home at 1:30 a bit wet but before any heavy rain or wind came through.  So I've met my weekly 200 mile goal for 6 straight weeks.  If there's a window after the storm tomorrow afternoon, that will be a bonus.

So now we hunker down and ride out the wrath of Irene.  Prayers for the safety of all in her path, including my home and my neighbors'. 

Friday, August 26, 2011

Fighting for every mile

Nothing about this weeks' schedule as been 'normal' or 'routine'.  In the last seven days we've experienced or prepared for: earthquakes, hurricanes, kids away to college, first day of school for younger kids, car breakdowns while delivering kids to college, and a visit to the Ravens to play a scrimmage at half time.

So I've been left to fight for time to ride every mile.  Got a brief ride to Sandy Point and climbed The Wall this afternoon.  Looks like tomorrow morning before Hurricane Irene crashes the party will be the last chance to get a ride in.  May start very early and try to stretch it a bit.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Quick update

Updated the mileage after a good morning ride with the club.  I'll catch up on thoughts about the earthquake and other excitement when I get a minute.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Catching Up

Catching up...

Get To The Point

Sunday I made plans to join Crista Borras for one of her weekend DC Century training rides.  She organizes these on Saturday AND Sunday many weekends year round as a way see the beautiful countryside, enjoy a little of it's cuisine, and prepare for randonneuring events.  I've met Crista and Chuck at several brevet events sponsored by the DC Randonneurs but I'd never joined them for one these less formal events.  My training and personal schedule came together nicely Sunday and Crista's chosen route in southern Maryland offered a little less climbing than many other events in Frederick and points north and west.  So I made plans to join the ride named Get To The Point through Charles and St. Mary's counties.  Another attraction was that I'd never ridden in that area.  I shared my plans on the SPP mailing list and Doug Corby put his hand up to join me.

We met Chuck and Crista at the appointed time and place Sunday morning. It was only the four of us, Chuck and Crista on their tandem, Doug and me. Many of the other regular participants are in France riding the Paris-Brest-Paris Grand Randonee, a 1200K ride held every four years.  More on that below.

The weather was slightly warmer than pleasant but it's August and it could have been a lot hotter.  The forecast warned of a chance of pop-up storms late in the afternoon and we discussed the idea that we might want to take one of the short cuts already documented on the cue sheet if the weather looked threatening. 

Not 2 miles into the ride my cell phone started beeping with alerts about a problem at work. Fortunately a quick call to the data center corrected it.  I juggled all of that on the bike worried I'd have to ask for a break or encourage them to ride on and I'd try catch them at the first rest stop.  Fortunately it didn't come to that and I could enjoy the country side.

The farm country was pretty with corn crops, horses, sheep, tobacco and evidence of exhaust from the buggies used by the Amish community in the area. Most of the countryside is flat but every so often we'd encounter a few stingers to get our heart rate up and make sure we were awake.

Chuck and Crista are fun to watch on the tandem. The epitome of team work.  At a point when any rise would approach they'd stand up in unison.  But as far as I could tell they either weren't speaking at the time or the conversation was about anything but the bike and standing to attack the climb didn't interrupt the discussion.  They just knew when to stand up and sit down together.  I've seen other tandem teams who.. to put it delicately... weren't quite as smooth.  If I ever get one, I'll be reaching out to them for tips.

About 15 miles in Chuck indicated he wasn't feeling well and we took a short detour to a convenience store.  At that point our leaders decided it was best to turn back.  I was a little concerned about letting a friend head back with only one bike while feeling ill, but these are two of the most experienced riders I know and they encouraged Doug and I to ride on and enjoy the day. Reluctantly we agreed and did just that.  Later we got an email assuring us they made it back to the car just fine.

So Doug and I enjoyed the countryside and each others company while looking forward to lunch at Morris Point Restaurant that Crista recommended on the cue sheet.  Lunch did not disappoint.  As the name implies it sits on a point between two creeks, a couple of miles by water from the Potomac River.  The proprieter Chris Soussanin offered us a pitcher of ice water and two cups before we could say a word or find a seat, he knew simply by the way were dressed and the sweat on our brow that we were thirsty.  A bowl of diced water melon and cantaloupe also came out without asking, a real treat.  I had a crab cake sandwich and Doug the soft shell crab.  Delicious.  If you're not a seafood fan they also offer a few "turf" options on the menu but this is a seafood place offering views of the water and friendly service.

As we left they asked us what bikers like to eat.  They have signed on as sponsors for an upcoming charity ride and will be manning a rest stop and providing food.  They took notes as we rattled off suggestions.  It was well worth a 50 mile bike ride.

Checking the weather it looked like the chance of storms was increasing so we opted to take a couple of the short cuts built in to the cue sheet and cut our century plan down to 83 miles on the day.  We finished in a light drizzle the last 2 miles but missed the big weather.

The local randonneurs know that Crista's cue sheets are very precise and easy to read.  She also has a knack for picking routes through scenic, rural countryside with light traffic and finding great eateries to look forward to.  Apparently she puts the same planing effort in to these less formal century rides and since they are not ridden "for credit" the options for short cuts are included too.

Thanks Crista for sharing all of the great planning and research. We were sorry you couldn't join us for the entire ride and glad to hear that Chuck was feeling better.  I'm looking forward to joining another ride sooner than later.


Several friends are in the French countryside as I write this are riding the Paris-Brest-Paris Grand Randonee.  1200 kilometers held every 4 years with thousands of riders from around the world.  So a late Bonne Route!! to Chip, Clif, Mary, Ed, Nick and all the others taking part in this big adventure.  Early reports on Twitter show they've had to tolerate some heavy rains. Clear skies and tail winds the rest of the way friends.  I'm looking forward to hearing about it when you come home.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Dodging T-Storms

Ooops, either weather.com was wrong or I just didn't look at the radar closely enough.  It was obvious my plan to leave the office at 4 pm and go chase some big miles this afternoon was flawed when I saw the dark clouds roll in about 3 pm.  But when the rain stopped and the sun poked through around 5:45 I checked the radar and it looked to me like I had a window to get home.  NOT!  But I'm getting ahead of myself....

I've been traveling for work from Monday through Wednesday this week and did not get a ride in.  I was due for a one day break but three days off the bike was two too many.  The work trip was productive for my customers and I, but every minute of each day was pre-programmed with business or social events.  I barely got a short walk around the block in.  So finally Wednesday afternoon, our business concluded, I bid my customers farewell and departed the fine city of Toronto for home.  The flight was uneventful and I was back home with my family before 9 pm last night.  Exhausted and glad to be back where I belong.  I was ready to ride this morning when I got up.

The ride to work was uneventful.  I slept until after 6 and knew I had to confront the jammed in-box typical of the first day back at the office. So I took the shortest route in and made the most of the day clearing the backlog.   I had one call set at 3:30 and was looking forward to heading out as soon as it was over.  Which brings us back to my introduction.

At 3 I noticed the clouds go dark outside my window and checked the radar for the first time.  It looked like a 4 pm departure would put me right in the middle of the tempest.  Complete with National Weather Service warnings to stay indoors.  Okay, back to the in-box and knock a few of Friday's chores out while I'm still here. I'll just wait it out.  Then the call got moved.  More in box items cleared, almost to the bottom....  BOOM!  Big lightning strike right outside my window.

My boss called from his home and offered to come back to the office and give me a lift home.  "No thanks the radar says it will clear soon."  My wife sent a text and offered to come pick me up.  "Thx, but it's clearing up and the radar says I have a good window".  Earl warned me in a tweet to watch out for tough weather.  I trade notes on FB with Isaias when he got off of his bike to take shelter at a post office in Joppatown.  But I KNOW I'm going to be okay, that's much further north and east of me.

So finally about 5:45 I get on the bike confident of calm weather sufficient for me to get at least 24 more miles in, if not the 40+ I'd planned had I made my original 4 pm escape.

I made it a mile before I got a clear view to the South.  This didn't look good.  By mile 5 I was seeing a lot of lightning and hearing the thunder claps almost immediately, it was close.  The skys opened up.  I pulled over and put on my reflective sash and switched the lights from blinking to solid.  Finally just past half way home I stopped at the Wawa on Veterans Hwy and checked the radar on my phone again.  The email was full of more warnings from the National Weather Service and the map now showed several angry red blots headed towards me.  But I was now just over half way home.  I had bravely (foolishly?) spurned all cautions and offers of transportation.  NO WAY could I accept the ride of shame now.  I'd wait at that darned Wawa 'til midnight if necessary to avoid asking for help.

So I stood under the awning of the Wawa and watched the storm go by.  Finally about 7:30 it looked like the last one was now well north and heading away from me.  I made it home without further incident. Wet, and a little grouchy that my plans for a nice long afternoon ride were wrecked by the bad weather and a poor effort reading a forecast.  I made it home safely at 8:15.  Harrumph.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Consolation Ride

Plans this morning to ride an early 100K populaire were scuttled when the forecast for "scattered showers" turned in to a tempest with driving rain, wind, and lightning. 

I got a consolation ride in this afternoon, 20 miles between showers.   That rounds out 200 miles for the week, and 4 weeks in a row where I've ridden 200+ miles from Mon-Sun. 6 weeks straight with an average of 200/week, includes one week at 179 miles.  I feel pretty good about that string but had hopes for a bit more this weekend.

I'm traveling for work tomorrow morning and will return Wednesday evening.  That may make 200 miles tough to hit Thu through Sunday. We'll see.

It was the realization that 200 miles / week for 50 weeks a year would get me 10000 miles for a year that makes that an attractive marker.  10,000 miles is out of reach this calendar year but if I can keep that pace going through the end of this year, I should still reach my 9000 mile goal for the year and I'll be riding strong in to the winter for a good start to next year.

The Surly's getting a bit of a make over.  A front rack, good sized bar bag, new fenders, new bar, leather wrap in lieu of bar tape, and ultimately a new rear rack are all in the works.  I've been tackling them in stages.  Front rack, bar bag and fenders done.  So far so good.  I'll post picks and write a bit more about the project once it's all complete.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Today's Public Service Announcement....


This from a thread on our bike club mailing list today, posted by a member who suffered a tough fall last evening

"I will say that the helmet did an admirable job of keeping my noggin safe. The doctors thought that I might have some head trauma due to the force of the impact but after a few tests everything looks good and the helmet barley has any noticeable damage. There's a small chunk of foam missing in the front, probably from the impact. Rest of the helmet looks unscathed.

Also the road ID came in handy. I got a lot of compliments about it from the e.r. staff since they were able to pull my emergency contact info from there since my phone batt[ery] was dead" [sic]

He reports two broken clavicles,sternum and a rib or two, but none will require surgery and he expects to be back on the bike after two months or less of convalescence.  He was discharged from the hospital and sent home this evening after only one day.

I think the message here is obvious, the missing chunk of foam kept his head off of the broken list.  The Road ID got the e.r. staff in touch with his family and medical history in short order. We should all remember both lessons.

I wear a RoadID because many club members wear it and it's the first such product I was introduced to.  There are several other similar products/services out there that address the same concern.  Give the athlete an easy to wear id token that is unlikely to become separated from him in an accident.  The code on the id let's the medics unlock your medical history and contact list (on line, by phone, etc) to better take care of you if you can't speak for yourself.  You decide what info to record with the service that the medics can access.  I'm endorsing the concept more than RoadID's specific product, though their service seems reasonably priced, and the wrist form I selected is easy and comfortable to wear.  www.roadid.com

Heal quickly friend, we're glad it wasn't any worse and looking forward to having you back on the road with us.


Today was gorgeous day for riding.  Enjoyed the trips to work and home again in such nice weather.  Also put me over 5000 miles for the year!

Tuesday, August 9, 2011


It seems it's been my turn to entertain the puncture fairy this week.  This afternoon I got out of the office a few minutes later than I had planned and still planned to ride all the way down to Millersville Rd before turning towards SP to meet the Tuesday pizza ride at SQs.

The pavement was wet after an earlier shower and sure enough I picked up another piece of glass.  The time to change the tire cost me enough that I cut it short and rode over Grove Rd and Brightview.

Made it to dinner by 7 and enjoyed a salad at Squizito's with the Bodines.  Then I made up the miles with a loop around my neighborhood before arriving home.  40.1 miles on the day.

But that was my third puncture in the last week.  Each time I found a sharpie and removed it.  No ghosts or wire splinters hidden in the tire.  Just plain bad luck.

Okay miss puncture, please go entertain someone else.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Still riding...

I installed new pedals and a replaced the jockey wheels in my rear derailleur over the weekend.  Both seem to be in good working order after riding with them Sunday and today.

Here's what 13K miles does to a set of jockey wheels.  For the unsuspecting, the one on the left is the old one, the one on the right is new. 

From Biking 2011 

So the new gear seems to fine, but it didn't come with new legs.  Sunday and again this morning I just felt like lead.  This afternoon on the way home from work was a little better, not sure what caused it.  But it was a struggle to just keep moving forward on both rides.

Here's hoping for a little energy the rest of the week.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A pleasant surprise

After 9 straight days at an average of 40 miles per day I was ready for a break and took Wednesday and Thursday off of the bike this week.   It was a good choice.  I felt great Friday and again today.

Friendly Friday with the bike club was fun.  It was clear and the humidity was low.  Breakfast sitting outside at the dock with friends was a treat. It would have been very easy to just ride on and skip work.  But of course I couldn't really do that. Earl joined me for the ride from Annapolis to work.  Always fun riding with Earl. 

After work I rode to church where I met my family.  My teen age daughters Jessi and Morgan were counselors at the day camp the church ran all week.  My youngest sons, Zach and Erik were campers.  The camp emphasize spiritual education through performing arts and final presentation of the Old Testament as a musical by the campers was priceless.

This morning I rode to Annapolis with the club.  After coming back up the trail I continued north a few extra miles to the Ranger Station then stopped for another snack at the Big Bean.  The surprise came while I was sitting by the trail sipping my coffee and reading.   Isaias and his friend Maxine rode up and stopped to join me.  Maxine is training for a 24 hour ride coming up in Columbia to raise money for the Livestrong Foundation.  24 hrs to make as many laps as you can around a 2.4 mile loop.   Isaias had to declare his frame a total loss last weekend when the threads of his bottom bracket stripped in such a way that it couldn't be recovered.  Today he was sporting his new Ridely cyclocross ride. He says it feels great and seems to be really enjoying it.  We watched the world running, walking and riding by while we caught up and solved the world's problems.

After a short visit I headed back home to rejoin the family for the rest of the weekend.  A bike cleaning will fit in there somewhere. 

Monday, August 1, 2011

How accurate is the weather forecast?

This is not a scientific analysis.  Just my own observations.  This afternoon's forecast as I found it on Weather.com proved to be incredibly accurate.  About 4 pm I could see the end of the day's "to do" list coming and clouds outside of my window.  The day was ripe for T-storms and I assumed they were bearing down on the area.  So I called up the details to try and figure out if I should leave quickly or plan to sit tight for a while and let them pass.  The radar map showed a cluster north and another cluster skirting just south, but also showed I'd could expect a clear path all the way home if I left promptly.  The dark clouds outside my window were the cell that would move south.

So I wrapped up the work stuff and headed out with an eye on the sky.  Those southern storms looked awfully close.  CRACK!  The first thunder sounded just as I clipped in, then a few rain drops.  And that was it.  I could see the southern storms and hear occasional thunder the whole way home.  When I got a flat at Burns Crossing and MD 175 the southern storm looked even more ominous and the thunder continued to encourage me to change that tube quickly. (Did I mention I live south of the office so I had to head towards the southern cell the whole time).


When I got home, I looked up the radar map that showed the recent history (as opposed to the forecast) and it looked nearly identical to the forecast I recalled before I left work. The cell to the south tracked exactly as forecast, close but no rain on Mike's one-bike parade.

I just find it incredible that the convergence of meteorology and communications technology (The Internet) have come together to give us such a complete picture, literally, of what to expect for a 6 - 12 hour time horizon, and it's all just a few clicks away.  Remarkable.

Here's the route I took home.  I stretched it a little further down Burns Crossing before turning for home to get in 40 miles on the day.  That will be a key number for a while. More on that in another post.