Saturday, December 25, 2010

A few bikey things I likey.

These are a few not so everyday items that make my ride just a bit nicer. Some are from individual craftsmen, others are more widely available, and one is not bike specific. None are run of the mill.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Group Dynamics

Saturday, December 11, 2010 - And now for something completely different.

To earn the Randonneuring R-12 award, I will have to complete at least one timed ride of 200K or longer, each month for a year.  After nine months of biking solo and semi-solo (solo in a group event) routes of at least 200k, this would be my first group ride, a 200k permanent with Randonneurs Katie, Keith and Angel.

The official Randonneuring organization of the United States (RUSA) defines a permanent as “like a brevet but you can ride it any time, not just on one specific date. Like brevets, routes can start and finish in the same location, but they can also run point-to-point, and can be any distance of 200km+. Permanents are open to any RUSA member."

Riding a permanent also gives you the opportunity to ride long routes that someone else has scouted and mapped for scenery and road conditions. This route was user friendly, with no extreme climbs. Although called a 200K, the actual length of this ride was 130 miles. 

On the way to the start, I wondered how the day would play out. The plan was for us to start, ride and finish together. I was pretty sure that none of the four had ridden together for an extended time. And when you think about it, asking four people to ride bikes together for 130 miles in freezing cold from sun up to sun down, when they don't really know each other, might be asking a lot.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Getting it done


My pursuit of an R12 award continues. To earn it, I will have to ride at least one route of 200k or longer each month for a year. This is month eight. The route is the Schuylkill to Delaware loop. It is 200 kilometers. I rode this route once before, but because that ride started at midnight, my memory of the first half of the ride is one of following a small pool of light along a road under a night sky. This time, I start just after dawn.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

10 miles


Yesterday, I ran 10 miles. More than seven years have passed since I last ran that far. More than five years since an orthopedic surgeon implanted a donor ACL and repaired a torn meniscus.  Before that, running was a staple meditation. Two sub four hour marathons, more 5ks and 10ks than I can remember and the better part of 16 years of runs through neighborhood street and local parks with my always ready, always willing lab/shepherd mix.

Then I had the surgery, and my dog died, and I gained weight. And the memory of 20 minute 5ks and 42 minute 10ks and seemingly effortless easy 10 milers became an anchor I dragged through every post-surgery jog/walk. I avoided mile markers and watches and timing and tried to just jog or even walk for exercise.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Loop around Lancaster


Driving into the parking lot, a bank's red digitized time and temperature sign alternately flashed 6:50 a.m. and 38 degrees. Leaving the car, the cold sifted through the thin fabrics of my windbreaker and tights to settle against my skin. I wondered if leaving the wool tights at home was a good idea after all. Ephrata was quite a bit colder than the neighborhood I'd left an hour and a half ago. 38 degrees. Glad to have my winter gloves and softshell vest, I loaded the bags on to the bike and headed across the street to the first controle.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Death of ultracycling great - Jure Robic.

Came across this article in the NY Times:

Jure Robic, a long-distance bicyclist who won the grueling Race Across America five times and whose seemingly endless, sleep-eschewing stamina tested the limits of human endurance, died during a training ride on Friday when he collided with a car on a mountain road in Plavski Rovt, Slovenia, near his home in Jesenice. He was 45.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

400K - Bremerton, WA to Pacific City, OR

Exceeding physical limitations comes at a cost. In the late spring, completing a 300k brevet put me in the hospital where specialists had to fix the damage I inflicted on myself when I ignored the cramps, thirst, fatigue and racing heart rate that should have warned me against pushing too hard too long. I returned to riding brevets, but had not gone that far since. The longest one day bike ride in my life had been the 190 miles it took to finish the 300k. This brevet would be 400K. Fear tinged my anticipation.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Night lights

On the last Saturday night of the summer of 2010, I rode through the wilds of the New Jersey Pine Barrens with an Ancien.

I met Len on my first brevet. At that point, I only had the slightest idea what it meant to be a randonneur, and had never heard the term Ancien. Since that day, I've learned a little more. 

Sunday, September 12, 2010

She ain't heavy, she's my Surly.

One year ago this weekend, I DNF'd at a local century. After going way off course, I had to call for directions to the closest rest stop, get there, then wait for one of the volunteers, a very nice guy named Bob, to drive me the last 20 miles. I wasn't hurt, didn't have a mechanical. Oh, I had other excuses, a bunch of them, I started the course way too fast, I bonked. I got lost and did a bunch of bonus miles, but inside I knew that, despite all that, I just didn't have it in me to finish that ride that day. I had just quit. It was a long drive back to the start.

My any road, any ride, bike is an olive drab Surly Long Haul Trucker with SKS fenders, a Brooks B17, 40 mm Schwalbe marathons, a VO Campagne handle bar bag up front on a nitto mini rack and a hard leather, former military, binocular case as a seat bag.  For the non bike addicted, just picture a military green bike with thick tires and small squarish luggage looking bags attached front and rear. It looks like it could ride through pretty much anything. It pretty much can. It also looks heavy. It kinda is. Especially when compared to the bikes that are around me when I ride her. I call her Esmeralda.

Monday, September 6, 2010


I began Randoneurring in April, when I completed my first brevet. The Schuylkill to Delaware permanent would be my sixth Randoneurring event in as many months. Although I've already signed up for the 400K from Bremeton, Washington, to Pacific City, Oregon, that's taking place at the end of September, I've never ridden that far before and will be using a rented bike, so I  wanted to have a 200K in the bank, to preserve my Quixotic run at an R-12 award, just in case.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Down the Great Allegheny Passage (2009)

A pre-randonneuring account


My trips always seem to start after nights of little sleep. We arrived last night at 1:30 am delayed by all day rain, those work deadlines that always come up when I want to take a day off and the nagging effects of a cold or sniffles or allergy that have me questioning the security of my stomach and reaching for tissues. The flu the kids had three weeks ago was also on my mind.

I drove for 5 hours while the kids slept. Of course, when we arrived, the baby was wide awake and eager to explore at the top of her voice for the next few hours and no one was going to stop her. Sleep was interrupted for me. For my wife, who stayed awake with her, all I can say is I heard her pleading with the baby and bargaining with God at least once last night. Or maybe it was the other way around.

Going up

                      Insanity needs a structured environment to really flourish.

Not so long ago, I used to think I could ride uphill. No biggie - just stand on the pedals and jam up the shorties or, if the hill was tall enough that you had to tilt you head to see the top, sit and spin your way up - your heart might pound a little bit and you might have to catch your breath on the downhill, but once it was over, it was done. Just find your groove, ride fast on the flat and make up any time lost in the hills. Then I started randonneuring.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Blue Mountain Permanent - August 14, 2010

A wall of land runs east-west for 150 miles in central Pennsylvania. Verdant family farms spread over the rolling fields south of the wall. Amish, Mennonite and smallish, corporate-sponsored farms grow corn, clover, organic vegetables, raise cows, alpacas or goats. North of the wall, the towns and villages of coal country sporadically appear. The land wall thrusts 1400 feet up as though two ancient land masses offering different ways of life resolved their dispute by smashing themselves together to build a barrier that would forever hinder any exchange between the two. That wall is Blue Mountain.

200K - Biking from Brooklyn to Bear Mountain

- NYC  July 18, 2010
Pre-dawn summer Sunday in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY, comes with waves of heat and throbbing sounds of an all night reggae-thon. Today’s brevet will start under the George Washington Bridge at 7 am. That’s two hours and 17 miles away. Traffic is light for the city. The thought of a subway ride with at least one transfer seems a poor way to start the day plus, it’s a chance to ride the length of Manhattan at dawn. So I start an easy pace toward Prospect Park and flow into the warm humid embrace of July.