Monday, October 31, 2011

October 2011 - In the books

Today's ride to work was cold, with temps just below freezing when I left the house.  An eerie fog hung in the air as I left my neighborhood but it had mostly cleared out by the time I got to the Ranger Station. The ride home this evening was much warmer with the winter over pants and the heavier of the two base layers I wore in the morning were packed away in my trunk bag.

October's mileage of 823.7 is respectable but I had hoped for 900+ which would have made four months in a row and brought my deficit vs my schedule for the year down under 200 miles.  But 4 days off last week to recover from a cold and find my motivation pushed that out of reach.  But I think my 9000 mile goal for the year is still in reach.  I'm 267 miles behind schedule for the year.  But the schedule assumes I'd taper down quite a bit in Nov and December.  Instead I need to get in 800 miles each month to round out the 9000 for the year.  Daylight and weather will conspire against me but I'm not ready to give it up yet.  Consider I was over 700 miles behind schedule at one point,  I feel pretty good about where I am now.

The highlight of the month was the double ride on the 14th and 15th when I rode the Eastern Shore Reversed Perm Friday night with 6 others from SPP and then about 3 hours later clipped in for the Seagull Century.  227 miles in 20 hours was a new one-day personal best and bodes well for my goal to ride the Super Randonneur series next year. 

Also fun this month was keeping up with MG's Coffeeneuring Challenge. 7 weekend rides to coffee shops over a period of 6 weekends.  It was fun to keep track of these and at least once it got me on the bike when I would otherwise have ridden the couch.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

A New Perm and Coffeeneuring Number 7!

Gardner D has been working to plan a couple of new RUSA 200K permanent routes.  I joined him this morning to test the cue sheet for one of them on the Eastern Shore.  Family commitments this evening kept me from riding the whole thing so we agreed I'd accompany him the first 42 miles and then take a direct route back to the start.  I got to see the first third of the new ride and enjoyed a total of 60 miles on the bike myself.

The route is a rough triangle from Centreville, MD to Rock Hall to Chesapeake City and then back to Centreville.  We set out from the start about 6:45 and enjoyed a spectacular sunrise that highlighted the fall colors. West of Chestertown as we headed to Rock Hall, every pond we passed was filled with huge flocks of geese and we saw a doe run for nearly half a mile across the plowed fields.  One of those clear fall days meant for spending outdoors.

It was also the coldest ride so far this season and acclimating will take a bit.  My heart rate seemed to run a bit higher than I would expect in such gentle terrain at 16 mph.  But the cold gear all worked just as it should.  Wool is wonderful stuff.

The perm Gardner is planning proceeds west from Chestertown to Rock Hall then doubles back on itself for a few miles before turning north towards Chesapeake City.  At mile 42 Gardner continued on following his prototype and I split to return to the family and Dad's birthday party.   A large flag at the intersection where we parted told the tale.  I'd enjoy a tailwind the next 18 miles back to Centreville while Gardner would have to ride into the wind to Chesapeake City. 

I stopped on the way for breakfast and coffee at Higgy's Farm Market and Country Cafe (5306 Church Hill Road Church Hill, MD 21623) in Church Hill.  There I enjoyed an omelet, bacon, muffin, cup of fruit, coffee and glass of juice.  Just what a hungry coffeeneur needed!!  The last 12 miles downwind to Centreville were bright, sunny, and uneventful.

I enjoyed the ride and based on the first third I think it will make a fine perm.  Later in the day Gardner sent an email and confirmed the rest of the route exceeded expectations.  Though a few adjustments are still need to get around a section of dirt road he encountered unexpectedly.  I'm looking forward to a new perm on the Eastern Shore.

Higgy's T-shirt Biking 2011

The Surly at Higgy's Biking 2011

Higgy's Biking 2011

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Coffeeneuring in the Rain 6/7

This is the last weekend of the Coffeeneuring Challenge and coming in I still needed two more rides.  So despite the lousy weather I HAD to get up this morning and go for a short ride for coffee. My wife wondered on Facebook if the coffee was that good or I was crazy.  I'm just too stubborn to let a challenge like this go, even if means a rainy ride in 40 deg temps.

So I dug out all of the cold & wet weather riding gear and quite enjoyed a 10 mile ride to the Rangers Station on the B & A trail before turning back and stopping at The Big Bean right here in Severna Park. It was a good reminder that when tempted to bag a ride due to wet weather, I do in fact have the right gear to wear, specifically plenty of wool layers and the ShowersPass pants and jacket.  The V.O. fenders on the Surly are a big help too.  I was actually quite comfy despite raw weather.

The Big Bean (558 Baltimore and Annapolis Blvd.  Severna Park, MD 21146)  is an awesome neighborhood coffee shop.  The back of the shop opens right on to the B&A Trail park, our very own neighborhood rail trail and home turf for the Severna Park Peloton.  The proprietor, Deb Hoffman, keeps a warm bright shop with great coffee and tea drinks, snacks, WiFi, indoor seating, and an outdoor picnic area right on the trail.  It's a fun meeting stop and I enjoy being a regular customer whether I arrive by bike, on foot, or by {cough cough car, hack cough}.    When the SPP Fleche team set off  this spring, The Big Bean was their opening control.  They opened early and had an extra barrista come in so the whole SPP could turn out and launch the team with a proper Bonne Route!!  Come to think of it, the weather that day was similar to today, cold and rainy.

This morning I enjoyed a large hot Big Bean Blend coffee and a couple of peanut butter cookies before getting back on the bike to return home and begin a busy day of family fun stuff (football, cub scouts, home chores, etc).

The Big Bean Blend is a delicious coffee Biking 2011

My SPP Cap at Big Bean Biking 2011

Big Bean's Pumpkin Spice is an annual treat. Biking 2011

Friendly Friday

After a gorgeous Sunday last weekend I came down with a cold and took much of the week off of the bike.  By Friday I was finally feeling better and rode to breakfast with the SPP for Friendly Friday.  At B'fast I peeled off for Chick N Ruths and caught up with old friends Keith, his wife Kathy, Doug W and Doug B.  Then Earl joined me and rode to my office before parting company. 

It was the coldest day so far that i've ridden this year, about 40 deg F just before sunrise.  I had read of other riders wearing wool socks and continue to use their biking sandals with temps down to freezing.  So I gave it a shot, with my SealSkinz wool and water resistant socks and a pair of GoreTex socks over those.  FAIL. My toes were numb by the time I got to the office.  I think my limit with the sandals is 50 deg F.  Upper 40s at the start of a ride if the warm up is likely.  It didn't ruin my day, I wanted to find the comfortable limit for the sandals and I did.  My other clothing choices were appropriate and I was otherwise comfortable.

The ride home was uneventful for a total of 58 miles on the day.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Still Riding

I backed off a little after the big weekend last weekend.  But I haven't retired my bike just yet.

Monday - rode the mosey Monday ride with the bike club at 5:45 am.  26.2 Miles
Tues and Wed - No rides
Thursday - Another light, early morning ride with the bike club.  22.5 Miles

Friendly Friday - Followed the normal routine in the morning and rode with the club to breakfast then to work.  40.8 miles.  No ride home.  My father called mid-day and asked if I'd take his care home from the airport (my office is 1 mile from the airport).  So we put the bike in the back of Dad's car and I took him to the airport to catch his flight,  then drove home.  This was NOT the ride of shame. It was a beautiful day.  Instead I was simply being a good son and doing Dad a favor.

Saturday - Coffeeneuring 4/7 - got in a quick ride to Java Diva's for a cuppa joe before heading to NJ for the day to visit Justin for family weekend at The College of New Jersey.  It's his freshman year and my first visit to the campus.  Among other highlights we saw him sing The National Anthem at the TCNJ homecoming game with the Chorale Group he belongs to.  A great day.

Java Divas is at 8355 Ritchie Highway. Pasadena, MD 21122  an 11 mile round trip from home by bike.  The serve good coffee, a nice selection of danishes, muffins, and other snacks to go with the coffee. And the baristas... well they are just very lovely young ladies.  

The Surly at Java Divas From Biking 2011

In addition to coffee and snacks, JD offers other products as well Biking 2011

Sunday - Coffeeneuring 5/7 - Then intercept the OC 13 crew.

I set out from Stevensville at 10 am.  My first stop was The Trailways Truckstop 610 Ruthsburg Rd Centreville, MD 21617 at the intersection with US 301.  It's a truck stop.  They serve fresh, strong, hot coffee and breakfast dishes heaping with eggs, hashbrowns and your choice of bacon, scrapple, sausage or ham.  It's filling and tasty.  But you can't order a latte or a frapacino.  

From Biking 2011

After a cuppa joe and hearty breakfast I continued on in search of the SPP OC 13 riders. They were westbound from Ocean City on day two of OC 13 - SPP's 13th round trip journey to OC from Kent Island.  I couldn't join them for the full trip since we had family plans to check up on the freshman in New Jersey Saturday.  But Sunday I was free to ride.  So I rode their planned route backwards. The intercept worked just as I'd hoped. I found them after 43 miles on Knifebox Rd and then accompanied them back to Stevensville were we toasted the lovely weekend with beer and burgers.  

Total mileage for the day: 86.9

Monday, October 17, 2011

Big Night and Day on the Bike

I did it.  227 miles in just over 20 hours.  That's a new personal record for me in a 24 hour period.  Here's how it all unfolded...

Eastern Shore Reversed

I opted to drive to the start of the Wallops Island ride Thursday evening and spend the night in a hotel. It allowed me to coordinate my work commitments more easily Friday from one place all day with phone and internet (instead of spending all afternoon driving) and let me arrive at the start fresh, rather than stiff from the long drive.  It worked well for me.

Seven of us met in Wallops Island for a 7:00 pm planned start.  By the time everyone arrived, unloaded bikes and checked in to the control, we were a few minutes late pushing off.   That made some of our crew a little impatient since everyone prefers punctuality.  But it's a flat route and there was never any pressure on us trying to meet the control time limits the rest of the evening. The turn around control shuts it's doors at midnight but the brevet time limit gave us until 1:52.  So had the business been closed we would have had to find some other "proof of passage" but as it was we arrived about a half hour before they closed for the evening.

Each rider had one or two bright white head lights on the bike based on his preference, and a helmet lamp.  Multiply all of this times 7 riders and we must have made a very imposing sight for on-coming cars and trucks on a dark country road.  Several times through the night the drivers coming the opposite direction would actually slow down until they could better see what was coming at them and be sure we were clear of their travel lane.

Probably 2 dozen or more deer crossed our path in the course of the evening.  Once or twice they crossed the road so close as to startle the lead riders and cause a bit of sudden braking.  After that we tried to make a habit of scanning the open fields with our helmet lamps, looking for the reflection from their eyes and saw several more groups at a distance that let us enjoy the spectacle without risk of collision.  One group included two small fawns following the larger deer across the road.  Really beautiful creatures, even in the dark.

If I'd written a script in advance, I would have been pretty darn close the night we actually had.  The weather was about as perfect as we could ask for.  Clear, with cool temps, a bright moon, a light breeze that was mostly a cross wind and not really a factor in the ride.  This route is also on mostly rural roads with very little traffic allowing us to ride two or even three abreast most of the night and talk while we rode.  I've written before that even though randonneuring is designed to emphasize individual self-reliance, I enjoy the friends I've made,  the camaraderie, and the team work that often makes for a successful finish.   126 miles cycling in the dark is a great adventure and lot of fun when riding with friends.  It was my first all night ride and also the first half of what would be my longest day on the bike.

Many thanks to Chip, Dave, Bryan, Dan, Jeff and Earl.  It was a lot of fun, and I appreciate that some of you might have preferred a bit of a faster pace but that instead we rode together and enjoyed the great night on the road. 

The Garmin reset after the first 9 miles, this is the rest of the ride.

Seagull Century

We finished back at Wallops Island at 4:30. From there Dave, Dan and Bryan were heading home for a weekend with their families.  Chip, Earl, Jeff and I were headed 40 miles up the road to Salisbury for the Seagull.

I grabbed a quick breakfast sandwich and juice at the Royal Farms, changed in to a fresh kit, then packed the bike and headed north to Salisbury. Once safely in S'bury I managed about an hour nap in the truck before the 7 am start.

Earl and I had planned to ride together for both events.  At Wallops Island we were 7 guys in the dark.  No SAG van, only each other for support.  It was prudent to stick together on the night ride. At Seagull we were with 8000 other riders on the best supported charity ride on the East Coast, with bright sunny weather.  There was no reason for concern and it made sense to regroup so everyone could ride at his preferred pace.  Chip and Jeff rounded up a few like minded friends from home at the start and set of at a brisk pace.

Earl and I set out to finish. And with a little help we did just that.  It seemed at every turn we were saying hello to friends from home there to enjoy the great weather. They knew what we were up to with the double ride and kept offering encouragement.   Some went zipping by, others were at the rest stops the same time we pulled in.  But it was Mike C, Doug and Alex who hung with us much of the day and pulled in to the head winds when the course turned west.

Somewhere around mile 50 Earl got bored and decided to liven things up with an acrobatic display.  He touched Mike C's rear wheel and lost control of the bike.  If he'd had a shoulder to work with he probably could have pulled it out.  But instead the roadside was tall, wet grass leading down to a dry, sandy ditch.  As the bike stopped abruptly in the sand Earl was unclipped and ready for his big dismount.  The crowd roared it's approval as he launched over the bars, tucked his shoulder and rolled to a safe landing on a bed of pine needles.

Okay it was really one of those moments where time stops and the action unfolds in slow motion.  I was behind Earl and swerving to avoid him hoping I didn't crashing in to any other riders.  Watching him flip off of the bike was a terrible sight.  A small crowd, including at least one car stopped to make sure he was okay, and remarkably, he was.  He jumped up, we brushed the sand from rider and bike, inventoried all the critical parts on both and got going again.  The whole thing was over in 5 minutes.  Fortune was smiling on us.

At the Assateague stop we took the time to refuel.  If you've ever ridden the Seagull you know the support stations are extremely well stocked with food, drink and helpful volunteers.  We took full advantage of this at each stop and enjoyed the hospitality to top off our tanks.  But we also knew the tough part was still coming.  Up 'til now the wind had been either a cross wind or tail wind the whole way.  Now it would be a head wind most of the way to the finish.

Mike C, Doug and Alex stuck with us the whole way and we accepted their assistance, especially Mike's as he pulled much of the next 40 miles in to the wind.  We still owe you guys a few beers.  Some confusing hand signals from the police directing traffic at a busy intersection caused a sudden stop and another incident of bumper bikes though I was lucky the incident started at slower speed and I had more room to work with to the right of the road than Earl did so I managed to stay up.  But the decaleur holding my bar bag broke loose. We jury rigged it with velcro and zip ties and kept going.

At the last stop at mile 85 they serve ice cream and apple pie.  After I found a patch of grass to lay down the bike and sat down myself I was too tired to move.  A few minutes later Earl was shaking me awake. Mike brought me my pie and filled my camel back for me.  I was exhausted and frankly a little embarrassed to realize I let them wait on me like that.  Thanks guys.

Then we mounted up and rode 15 more miles in to the wind and the finish.  227 miles in just over 20 hours time!!  My longest stretch on the bike by over 40 miles.  After the ride everyone stowed their bikes, and changed clothes, then we regrouped in the beer garden to congratulate ourselves.  It was a big day. I was exhausted and very satisfied that it turned out so well.

I knew I'd be in no shape to drive at that point and had another room reserved a mile from campus. A hot tub and then a bed, never felt so good.   I slept 12 straight hours Saturday night.

Seagul Century

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mosey Monday

Met the 5:45 Club ride then rode on to work.  There were 8 of us and we had a good time going over plans for the big night ride Friday evening and Saturday.  I'm getting excited about this. We plan to meet in Wallops Island, VA and ride the Eastern Shore Reversed 200k perm.  We'll start at 7:00 pm and ride through the night.   Then we'll head up to Salisbury and ride the Seagull Century.  That'll be 225 miles in about 18-20 hours. 

The weather forecast is shaping up very well.  We should have a clear night with moderate temperatures in the 50s and 60s, calm winds, and moonlight all evening.

Wish us luck.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Coffeeneuring (3/7)

Had a great ride this morning with Chris and Bob to Caribou Coffee in Gambrils (2638 Chapel Lake Drive Gambrills, MD 21054).

Caribou is a real treat.  They serve an incredible sandwich with egg, cheese and sausage that has a hint of maple in it to sweeten it up.  The coffee selection is fantastic and very tasty.  I took a second cup in my thermos to go after we left.  We lingered there almost an hour enjoying the nice outside seating as the sun got a little higher and the morning warmed up.  The three of us hadn't ridden together in months and it was great to catch up.

After the coffee we continued to Annapolis and passed briefly through downtown Annapolis to gawk at the Sailboat Show crowds then we all returned home to resume the day with our families.

I may have committed a coffeeneuring foul. Chris snapped a picture of us at Caribou but I forgot to get one myself.  I will link to Chris' photo when it's up and throw myself on the mercy of the chief coffeeneuse.

This ride: 35.9 Miles

Bob and I at Caribou - Photo Courtesy of Chris Lane
Added after initial publication of this post. Biking 2011

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Coffeeneuring (2/7) Navy Football Tailgate

Saturday I took it easy.  It was a gorgeous, clear morning and there were 2 or 3 club rides going.  When the alarm went off at 5, I just couldn't get moving.  I slept until after 9 and enjoyed a lazy morning reading the paper.

I headed out just before noon for the Navy Football tailgate party in Annapolis. I stopped at Naval Bagels in Arnold (1460 Ritchie Hwy Arnold, MD 21012) along the way for a coffee and a bagel.   It's conveniently located adjacent to the B & A trail which provides for great people watching while sipping a cup and enjoying a bagel.  Their coffee is basic and not for the connoisseur.  But it made for a nice pick-me-up before I headed on to Annapolis.

At the tailgate festivities I saw my old roommate and several other classmates I hadn't seen in years. It was a great reunion and totally unexpected.

Total Ride: 15.2 Miles

Naval Bagels Biking 2011

The Surly enjoys the tailgate party Biking 2011

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Still Riding

Yep, still riding regularly, just fell behind jotting it down here.  A quick summary since my last post.

Thursday - Nice day, uneventful ride to work and home again.

Friday - Rode to breakfast then to work.  Left work a bit early and enjoyed a great ride home.  Until the last half mile.  Had a terrible close call in my own neighborhood.  I came out fine but quite conflicted about how I responded. Particularly in light of my mild rebuke of another rider whose reaction inflamed the situation only two days before.  I've drafted the whole story and will post it once I've a little more perspective of time to reflect on the whole thing. (Sorry that's not meant to be a tease, though I suppose that's how it may come off).

Friday - Sunday - camping with the Cub Scouts.  Awesome fun, even if it was a little wet.  No biking over the weekend though.

Monday - Another day off the bike

Tue - rode to work with Bill C. First time we've been able to connect in months. Good to see him out and about.  Had a pleasant and uneventful ride home.

Wed - Rode with the 5:46 club ride then to work.  Also a pleasant ride home. Love this Fall weather now that the rains have stopped.

Today - another Cub Scout meeting this evening. So I rode 30 mi with the club at 5:46 and then drove to work to allow a quicker return this evening.  Still loving the clear Fall weather.

Upcoming Plans:

Friday - Road trip to Richmond, VA tomorrow for work so no ride planned unless we get home early enough for a quick spin in the evening.

Weekend -  chock full of fun, Cub Scout popcorn sales, football for both boys, field hockey for my girls, Navy football; the sailboat show is in town and I hope to ride another 80 miles.  So much fun to be had.....

Next weekend - epic ride planned.  I will join 6 friends from the bike club for a midnight ride that's become a tradition of sorts for some these guys.  We'll set out from Wallops Island, VA at 7 pm Friday evening the 14th for a 125 mile round trip to Cape Charles, VA through the night.  If all goes as planned we'll finish around 4 am. But.... we're not done yet. Then we tool up the road 40 miles to Salisbury, MD and clip in at 7 am for the Seagull Century.  225 miles in about 18 - 20 hours!  Let's hope for more of this CLEAR, cool, Fall weather.  I'm really excited about it.