Bike to Work, day 89: Fog

September 17, 2008

Not enough sleep.

23:37, 6.4mi
48ºF, Odo 2355mi
avg 16.4mph, max 28.4mph

This was not the foggiest ride I’ve ever done, but it is certainly noteworthy.  It’s a good thing I bought that new shirt, it was perfect this morning.

I pushed up every hill, but lacked the energy I had on Monday.

19:36, 6.4mi
72ºF, Odo 2362mi
avg 19.8mph, max 34.0mph

This is by no means a bad time.  Average speed 19.8mph compared to my goal of 21mph.  That’s just 1mph difference!  Actually, it’s sixty seconds.

It’s like I have this one best time and then a bunch of second best times that all end up about one minute slower.  What can I do to bridge the gap?

My Best Guess
Eat a fulfilling meal every night; go to bed on time; wake up on time.  Shower and eat a full pbj; take in OJ and water; stretch before the ride.  This will put me mentally into the game, and give me the physical energy to fly.  For the ride home: energy bar, water and stretch, quick mental decompression before leaving.

Bike to Work, day 88: Coasting

September 16, 2008

This morning I coasted.  Maybe it was yesterday’s extra 20 miles that did it, maybe it was that I couldn’t seem to fall asleep.  Maybe it was that I didn’t take my wake up shower before the ride (opting, instead, for the after ride shower; conserving water and allowing me to snuggle with my pillow for a few more precious minutes).

25:21, 6.4mi
54ºF, Odo 2342mi
avg 15.2mph, max 25.4mph

The moon was beautiful to look at, peeking between wispy clouds against a dark sky.  The sun rising to the east, the moon opposed in the west, bright and strong, noble and silent, the guardian of dreams.

My ride back was less poetic, by far.

21:22, 6.5mi
68ºF, Odo 2349mi
avg 18.2mph, max 33.6mph

Take Five

September 15, 2008

Naked Twenty
This was an awesome ride!  I shed my bag, my shirt, grabbed some hammer gel, Gatorade, and hit the road hard.  It’s a naked twenty because I hydrated first then took nothing with me but the bike and shorts.  (Well, I had my saddle bag with a spare tube, CO2 pump, and chain tool, too.  I’m not that crazy!)

Yesterday’s hilly route was the target, and I attacked every hill, either standing on the pedals or pushing/pulling while seated.  My goal was to dominate: no sympathy.  No poor legs, no poor me, no “wahh it hurts” nothing!  Just determination.  Look at the difference!

Today
1:00:32, 19.7mi
81ºF, Odo 2336mi
avg 19.5mph, max 38.5mph
Total Climbing: 1192ft
Yesterday
1:05:03, 19.8mi
73ºF, Odo 2303mi
avg 18.2mph, max 39.2mph
Total Climbing: 1192ft

I took five minutes off the time!

After yesterday’s ride, my legs felt likely to buckle while walking downstairs, today my legs feel taxed but steady, even though I did 6.5 more miles before this!  Wow!

Bike to Work, day 87

September 15, 2008

Humidity asside, this morning was perfect for riding.  I really felt alive on my bike, today.

20:19, 6.5mi
75ºF, Odo 2310mi
avg 19.1mph, max 31.1mph

“Feeling alive” has it’s benefits.  I pushed up hills, keeping my momentum and keeping my average speed up.  The big gear is draining, which is exactly what I wanted.  I’ve kissed the granny gear goodbye.  Bring on the speed!

Great ride home, despite under-inflated tires.  I wasn’t even trying!

19:13, 6.5mi
81ºF, Odo 2316mi
avg 20.3mph, max 31.8mph

Rocked that!  Now for some hills.  I’m going to go do Sunday’s Twenty again, but this time I’m going to focus on climbing the hills fast; I’m also going to inflate my tires first!

To the road!

Hilly Nashua 20

September 14, 2008

Since I have all this good food in me, and the sun came out, I decided to go ride.  Heres’ the route, which I’ve posted the route on Bikely:

Hilly Twenty

Hilly Twenty

I mapped this ride for maximum climbing, and never used the granny gear.  Elevation chart:

1192ft

Hilly Twenty elevation: Total climbing: 1192ft

Before the ride, I put on my iridescent windproof jacket (note: not waterproof, but it certainly holds the moisture in–eew) and was feeling overly warm before I even left the house.  As a just-in-case it got too cold, and for added viability, I packed it anyway.  (About five miles into the ride I packed away the red shirt, as I had begun dripping with sweat due to the 86% humidity.)

Iridescent jacket pinned to camelbak

Iridescent jacket pinned to camelbak

Finally, I can test my newly dropped handlebars!

All the dieting and resting and handlebar dropping did nothing for my ride, I was worn out from the start.  Still, 1192ft of climbing isn’t bad.

1:05:03, 19.8mi
73ºF, Odo 2303mi
avg 18.2mph, max 39.2mph
*86% humidity

Not as fast as I’d like, but it’ll do given the humidity, hills, new chainring, and proximity to a century.  What I’m saying is “I’m satisfied.” I’ll leave you with this:

ready

Ready.

*FYI, that’s a breathe right strip, meant to open up the nasal passages.  Also helpful to prevent snoring.

Due to the rain, I–sadly–didn’t ride the century today.  I did, however, take pictures of my new winter gear.

New hat and insulating shirt

New Techwick® hat and thermal shirt.

I’m still missing weatherproof pants and a coat, but this is a necessary insulating component.

Other Cool Stuff
Copenhagen seems to be the place for urban cycling, as is evident from sites such as Copenhagen Cycle Chic.  I just love the message on these shirts:

Melt one car, weld 118 bicycles

Melt one car, weld 118 bicycles

More Bicycles

More Bicycles

Both shirts are available from the store.  Look under clothing.

Century II FAIL

September 13, 2008

My goals are were outrageous…

Fail
It’s cold and raining hard.  The rain will continue all day.  @#$%!  If I had a rainproof coat I’d be there, but as is, I’m going back to bed.

Bike to Work, day 86: Chill

September 11, 2008

The temperature dropped dramatically these last two days.  I didn’t ride in yesterday because I was so tired coupled with the cold.  On Tuesday it was a nice, warm, 60ºF morning, now it’s a chilly 45º!  This didn’t stop me, however, nor even slow me down all that much.

22:15, 6.5mi
45ºF, Odo 2276mi
avg 17.4mph, max 25.7mph

I wore my usual moisture wicking shirt, bike shorts, and sweatpants, but added: bandana, ear cover, blue jacket, and my high visibility jacket.  On Tuesday I didn’t need a jacket at all.

Today after work I kept a moderate pace home.  Not really pushing for a record, but certainly not relaxing.

20:22, 6.5mi
70ºF, Odo 2283mi
avg 19.1mph, max 32.3mph

I noticed that I misaligned my handlebars when I tightened them up the other day.  At a stoplight I nudged the wheel with my foot and re-adjusted.  Woops, I forgot to tighten it back up!

At home I decided to drop the handlebars even further.  Here’s the handlebar drop progression.

Progression of handlebar drop

Progression of handlebar drop

Soon, I will simply have tiny handles on the front wheel axle, and I’ll use my teeth for breaks.

This was a tremendous ride.  It was great to have someone to ride with through the whole thing.  I really felt joyous on this century, I had such a good time! Yay!

4:45am
We woke up very early, especially considering what time we got to bed (or couch, for me).  We were suited up and out the door before the sun came up, with helmets and gloves and waterbottles full of energy drink and water.

To warm up, we rode a few blocks then jumped on the subway.  Our destination was Central Park, but train was late.  Eventually we made it to central park and started riding to the event.  It was dark, but the path was well lit.  Soon we started seeing other riders as we made our way to the event.

A Very Early Late Start
At 6:30am volunteers shouted for the last group of century riders to form at the start line, and we made our way forward.  It was early, I hadn’t eaten, I’d barely had anything to drink and clearly hadn’t had enough sleep, but when I clipped in and got rolling… I was ready.

Times Square is Just the Beginning
Right off the start, the police where everywhere.  As we left the park there were police holding traffic.  At all the (early) next busy corners, there were police holding traffic.  This continued sparsely through the first 15 miles.  Very busy intersections had staff and police.  It was comforting, especially in light of recent events.  This is not always the case.  I want to extend my heartfelt thanks to all the officers who were out there protecting us on Sunday.  Thank you.

Early in the ride, while the sky was still mostly dark, we rode through Times Square.  All the lights were bright and beautiful–what a display!  We continued in a giant pack, as a steady stream of cyclists riding through the city.  I crossed the Brooklyn bridge and lost Dana.  I rode over the bridge again, and back, unable to find my friend.  This wouldn’t be such a big deal if I wasn’t 300 miles from home!

To say that I was unprepared for this kind of thing would not be a gross understatement.  I did have a phone.  It would seem I even had Dana’s phone number.  After some frantic calling and message leaving, I decided to ask for help.  One of the volunteers let me know that there was a rendevous point up ahead.  Perfect!  I made some small talk with other riders, commented on fixies, and pushed forth to the 15mile point.  As I rode up Dana called me, we met up, and all was well.

Refreshments and Volunteers
It occured to me that I hadn’t had anything to eat yet, and that a Peanut Butter Jelly Bagel might be just the ticket, along with orange slices, a banana, prune, apple, and some of my sports drink®.

At this point I must comment on the incredible niceness of the volunteer staff helping at each stop, and along the way.  Some of these wonderful people got up before 1am to be out there, helping us.  There were fresh oranges sliced at every stop, along with fruit, water, sports drinks already mixed, maps, and nice people everywhere!  Thank you so much!

Since there was no sports drink mixed at the first stop, Prospect Park, we decided to pack up and fly, hoping the next stop, Canarsie Pier, still had some left.

NYC Century Map

NYC Century Map

The Nasty Juice was Chock Full of Awesome
Canarsie Pier did have the special sports drink mix, and let me tell you, it was wretched.  It tasted like normal sports drinks, but then had a bitter aftertaste.  Immediately after drinking this stuff, however, your legs would suddenly bulge with incredible power, and you would shoot off leaving a trail of flames under your tires.  Maybe I’m exaggerating a little, but it felt just like this.  Unfortunately, I strategically finished my bottle before the next stop, so I could refill… and they didn’t have any.  It wasn’t until mile 85, the last stop, the “As ready as I’m ever going to get” stop, before we had any more.

The pier was amazing.  It was miles long and beautiful; the sun was high and illuminating the giant bridge (which we would all cross single file, stairs and all).  This was my burn phase of the ride.  I was high on endorphins, I was feeding off of the energy of hundreds of other riders, but my legs were starting to feel it, my feet were starting to hurt.

Green Fields
The 70 mile stop was the most welcomed break in the ride.  I greatly appreciated the water, the food, and taking my shoes off.  There was a great big field in the sun, and people were sunbathing, talking, everywhere.  The bathroom was a mess, to a degree that I do not even wish to discuss, but we found another and made our way across the Giant Bridge.

The Bronx
After the bridge, we continued along the walk way until we hit the last turnoff.  There was a woman standing there shouting and pointing “Hundred that way! Seventyfive this way!” This was very exciting for me.  We took the long way.  We’re tough!  We’re hardcore!  One Hundred Miles!

Terrain
I’ve been dying to talk about this since I crossed the finish line.  We rode on everything.  From smooth blacktop to bumpy.  From large blacktop ruts to simple road cracks.  There were monster gaping potholes capable of consuming whole people.  There was dirt, grass, sand patches, debris, cobblestones, gravel, broken glass, and hard concrete.  Nothing was worse, however, than the 2 city blocks worth of the most ragged surface ever.  We were in the Bronx.  The top layer of road had been shorn off leaving the most uneven, painful to ride on, broken road ever.  It was like my bicycle was attached to a random orbit sander, or a reciprocating saw.  It was a jarring experience.

The End: “As ready as I’m gonna get”
Our last rest stop was different than the rest.  It was by far the least populated, and everyone at it was very tired.  On all the previous stops there were upbeat people everywhere: excited people, happly shouting, taking pictures, etc.  Here, at mile 85, there was no such foolishness.  The sportsdrink was being spooned out as powder.  Just add water and mix yourself.  I got two scoops for Dana, because her water bottle was bigger and we were at the most difficult point in the ride.  The Bronx was the hilliest part of the ride.  The saved the hills for the end.  Our fixie friends were not enjoying them either.  At the stop, another couple of riders behind me said “Are you read?” and “As ready as I’m gonna get.”  It was the perfect description of this stop.

After the stop, we rode the last 15 miles in relative silence.  To be honest, the end came before I expected it to.  I was not exhausted yet.  Then I got off my bike, and the exhaustion hit.  My feet were done.  It was easier to keep riding, but we couldn’t.  The subway was packed, we had to stand with our bikes.  My feet hurt for an hour subway ride on the A train.  Since there was a problem with one of the other trains, ours became the A train, and the conductor nearly gave himself a stroke screaming “This is the A train!” over and over, at each stop.

Home
Finally we were home.  It was over, and I could take off those shoes!  Dana passed out instantly.  I went out to eat at Moto, again.  The pudding was divine, again.  I was waiting for the train, standing over the restaurant, listening to the live music waft up into the subway station, trying to hold onto that simpler, computer free, 30’s style atmosphere.  I walked home quietly with those old tunes in my head.  It was a wonderful day.

Bike to Work, day 85

September 9, 2008

This morning’s ride was glorious.  I ate, stretched, and put the hammer down!  New record, here I come!  The new chainring worked beautifully.  I hit 30 on a very light downward grade early in the ride.  Sadly, the front tire flattened out slowly, and halfway up the Obnoxious Overpass the rim started hitting the ground.  I walked the last 2 miles.  Ugh!

15:05, 4.8mi
61ºF, Odo 2263mi
avg 19.0mph, max 31.6mph
*Flat tire

My average speed of 19.0 isn’t a record breaker, but I was powering up the Housebroken Hill at a good clip, with plenty left to push with.  Add another downhill and some flats, and you’ve got 20mph easy.  That’s a record.  Here’s hoping I can break 18min after work!

19:14, 6.5mi
70ºF, Odo 2270mi
avg 20.2mph, max 33.9mph

So close!  I made two mistakes:  The first was not stretching.  The second was pushing hard down Housebroken Hill, I had to push up the next hill while regaining strength, and that just doesn’t work.  Still, great speed.