This blog recounts rides, pictures of bikes that I notice (and have time to snap a picture of), and occasionally comments about cycling. It is focuses on the Northeast US but I have also ridden in Washington state, Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Virginia, California, and four of Canada's Maritime provinces.
Yesterday I rode 25 miles out to Concord and Bedford. The high temp was around 50F but it was 45F when I started out. I wanted to have a relaxed ride so left the go fast bike at home and took the commuter/child hauler/light touring bike. I had a mostly empty pannier (lock so if I needed something warm to drink I could leave my bike outside safely and a layer just in case I was cold). It was a relaxing ride and I enjoyed not trying to go fast.
My last commute was the following Friday, 12/4. I'd like to think that I could get in a few commutes in by March.
Here is the route - it looks rough until you see the scale and understand the road surface for a good part of the ride, then it looks really rough.
In fact, it is not very rough, if you have a thousand or so miles under you belt and you already like hills. I was surprised when we made it to the lunch stop and had 5000 of the approximately 8000 feet of climbing behind us. The road surfaces were generally very good and I had to get off the bike only once when riders piled up in front of me as we were powering through loose stones. During the ride I held back, often waiting at the top of many hills for parts of our crew. Bobby powered through everything faster, of course, and waited for me and the others in our group.
I generally liked this tour with the exception of the proximity of some of the riders. I road a Surly Cross Check with 700x32 tires. These are not the widest tires for some of the road surfaces and I am not an off road racer. In fact, I am not a racer and don't have a lot of experience with racing. And at some points on the course the ride felt like a race. I was often passed by riders racing (or riding very quickly) down hill. I'm sure they felt safe but I know I didn't. I tried to stay on the side of the road whenever possible but even then I was passed once on my right, after a rider announced he would do so (I was surprised to see the surface he passed me on - too rough for me to ride on, given my equipment). The proximity of the other riders was, at times, intense and I often felt hassled by riders who needed to pass in narrow quarters.
The bottom line - I liked the route but didn't like the bike traffic.
I saw several of the IF folks on this ride (who didn't seem to mind that I rode my Surly and not my IF, which only accommodates 700x25c tires with fenders). They seemed to enjoy the ride.
During the first of the family trip to Vermont, I took 3 rides: Brattleboro to Mt. Snow. This was an unexpectedly big hill. Should have checked out a map. The ascent was fine but lengthy. The descent was very cold and I was under dressed for the weather. I think the cold sapped all of my energy and there was a decent ascent left. I'd do this ride again but check the weather first.
Mt. Snow to West Townshend. This was a down and up trip done before breakfast. I wanted to get out and couldn't be out long enough for any of the epic loops available here. This ride supplied substantial exercise. It was done early enough that traffic was light.
Bobby and I did one last long, hilly (for eastern Mass) ride before the D2R2. It's a standard route for me with some variations. Since Goldsmith Road is a wreck these days, we took 2A/119 into Littleton rather than taking Shaker to Goldsmith into Littleton. We back tracked on Newtown Road to Fort Pond Road to get some of the hills of Nagog Hill Road in rather than taking Newtown into Acton center. We had a great day. I bonked coming into Concord but nothing that a power bar couldn't cure (drafting behind Bobby for a couple of miles helped). In Lexington we took Pleasant St. past Wilson Farms to avoid Arlington Heights traffic and skip the Park Ave hill. We did this ride at around 16.1 mph.
I have nearly 1200 miles on the season with some faster rides and some hill work. I should be able to handle the D2R2 - though I won't expect to finish quickly. My goal is to be healthy and happy at the end of the ride, nothing more.
I made it out today, on a vacation day from work. This is nearly the classic ride although I cut it short by a mile or two because I was running short of time. I felt much better today, which means I am finally beating this bout following the flu. I rode at 16mph and felt great during and after the ride.
I usually take Pope Road to Strawberry Hill Road to Barretts Mill Road to Lowell Road. The cutoff on Westford Road saves several minutes and a mile and a half.
When I talk about what kind of exercise I do and how often, friends always ask, "what are you training for?" And I always say, I'm training for life (or, more accurately, life after 50). I find that I don't need an event to train for. And I don't need a partner to encourage me, although I do enjoy riding with people who I am compatible with. I do well enough on my own. I can push myself hard when I am feeling good and slack off when I am tired or lacking sufficient blood sugar. And I push myself a lot of the time. I consider myself very lucky.
Now I am riding in what should be called the Infamous D2R2 2009 in August. Am I actually training for it? Maybe, maybe not. I am doing some hill work but I've meant to do that in the past and what makes it palatable now is that with a 10 month old boy, I have less time in the mornings, even when I get out at 5AM for a ride. I will try to do several hill rides in western Massachusetts, like this one that Bobby and I did last year (and I have done in various permutations over the last 15 years): http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/?r=2889476. And I definitely want to ride around Killington when we go for a family vacation this summer. But mostly I will ride hard, or not so hard, when I have time. So no, I can't say I am training. But I am paying attention to how hard this ride might be. It is intimidating.
I needed to have Roy of Grace Bicycles, who built my IF, look at my derailleurs and shifters. It was to be the last nice day before a week of rain so I took the day off and rode there in the most direct route possible. I completed the ride at 16.3 mph and had time for a shower and lunch before picking up the little guy and my wife.
I always thought that Route 16 west of Wellesly was pretty but a bit fast traffic and both were true. Despite the traffic, the ride was pleasant and I enjoyed the reasonably quick pace.
I left the house around 5:15AM and with some apprehension of forecasted fog and that the streets would be wet (as our street was) but the major roads were dry. I encountered a lot of fog crossing MA 128/I95 on MA 2A and thought of turning back. It eventually cleared and while I hit more patches of fog, none were as intimidating as the 128/95 crossing. On the return trip I passed most, or perhaps all, of the Harpoon B2B riders. They are in for a long haul (149 miles or so). I haven't been in the saddle enough this season (~610 miles) to even think about that distance. I saw three support vehicles, one looking like a Harpoon van with bike racks and a couple of Mavic cars with many spare wheels and a couple of bikes, in Mavic's colors. I finished the ride reasonably quickly, at 17.0mph.
I road from Ashfield to the Connecticut River Valley then to Leverett and Amherst before heading back to Northampton and Williamsburg before taking Ashfield-Williamsburg Road to South Ashfield. I did this after a morning of using the chopper saw, cutting lumber for Mike's sauna. I was rewarded with a great bbq, if I recall correctly. This was one of my first rides on my 1997 Lemond Alpe d'Huez. Despite what the maps says, I took the bike path into Northampton from Amherst.
This long ride took me south into Massachusetts on several roads I had been on in the past. Lovely ride with big hills coming back into Vermont. The ride down the Deerfield past the old nuke plant and the Hoosac Tunnel is both easy (all downhill) and dramatic in the deep gorge of the river.
It's less than 25 miles from Arlington to Andover and I wanted to get a long ride in so this ride takes you on an intentionally convoluted route. I knew most of the roads and it is mostly pleasant once you get past I 93. I did this in the summer of 2008.
I met Bobby, who was outside of Concord by the time I called him, in Bedford. We traveled through Great Brook Farm Park and then on to South Chelmsford. We traveled the newly created bike trail, which had several other users but appeared to be unfinished (signs and lines were missing). The stretch on 27 and 2A/119 could be missed but weren't too busy. Not the fastest ride but I was tired by the end.
The whole ride is a minor variation of a basic NW ride and was cut short due to time constraints. I will try to do the complete ride on Tuesday (when I will be taking a vacation day from work).
And the bike I will ride the D2R2 (100k version) on. A Surly Cross Check built up as a light touring bike with 36 spoke wheels with 700x32 tires, Shimano 105 equipment including a triple crank for hauling my son up hills in his trailer. It is still new with only 110 miles on it. It's been to work through the city and on dirt roads and for a ride in the country, just to see how it rides, which is great!