Thursday, December 30, 2010

Winter, and completion of Continental GP 4 Season road test

Winter is finally and really here. The New York and Long Island area had a large snowstorm starting December 26th, 20 inches of snow in my front yard has put cycling is on hold for now. Time to take up Cross Country Skiing, Snowshoeing, and Ice Speed Skating to pass the time and stay in shape until Spring. I said that I would complete my review of the Continental GP 4 Season 700 x 28c tires that I purchased for my 1984 Pinarello fixed gear bike. During the 2010 cycling season, I have become enamored with fixed gear cycling. I have completed two 100 mile century rides on my fixed gear bike, both of which were ridden on the Conti GP 4 season 700 x 28c tires. So far, I have put about 1250 miles on this set of tires. I say about, because I do not keep a computer on my fixed gear bike by choice in the interest of simplicity. The tires have ridden very well, and soak up the road roughness like champs. Wear on the rear tire has not yet eliminated the center seam, a point at which I usually switch front and rear tires. I can honestly say NO FLATS SO FAR!
These tires have been a great solution for this particular bike. It is old enough to have room for the 28c size, and greatly benefits the ride, safety, and durability of my machine.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Last Ride in Shorts

It was late November, and unusually warm for this time of year. I had Saturday off, and wanted to go for a ride on my North Shore Long Island route. I have been doing this route, or its variants, since I was about twelve years old. It proved to be the last day for cycling shorts, which, for me, mark the end of another active cycling season. Many people who do not live here are not aware of the beautiful country roads that are available for cycling. It's true that some creativity is involved in this suburban setting, but great rides can be constructed on Long Island's Gold Coast.
My ride took me from Planting Fields Arboritum up to Oyster Bay, Center Island, and Glen Cove. It was moderately hilly, and I took along  my LOOK KG381i, a carbon framed bike with a comfortable slack 71.5 degree seat angle. This frame was originally designed for Tour de France racing, but has become a great general riding and Century bike for me as well. The carbon frame had now been durable for  eight seasons

From this point on, tights will be necessary for riding. In the off season, I will combine on road and off road riding, gym,squash, and of course, cross country skiing when I can get it. My accomplishments this season include several old things and some new to me:
1.  Doing five Century rides
2. Doing two of those on fixed gear
3. Participating in D2R2, although it broke my body

For next season, I would like to accomplish several things, including doing the 5 Boro Bike Tour on a fixed gear, getting involved in some Randonneuring, and maybe getting to ride in California.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A visit to Bloomington, Indiana. We go to a tailgate party, and I get my buckle.

On Friday, November 5, 2010, my wife and I went to Bloomington, Indiana, to visit my son Zachary, who is a student at Indiana University. Of course,most cyclists know about Bloomington from the famous Breaking Away movie of 1979. This university town is very bicycle friendly and has a good plan for cycling with lots of bike lanes. My son plays Lacrosse for the university, but the big event was Indiana vs Iowa football. I attended my first tailgate party with about 40,000 19 year olds. Order was kept by bicycle police, who flowed freely through the crowd.I even consumed a Keystone Light beer, but not out of a funnel, as my son's friends insisted. Although Indiana lost in the last few seconds, attending a big 10 football game was quite an experience. After my road slamming of October 9, 2010 in Maryland, I noticed that an Ultra SL buckle from my Sidi Dominator left bike shoe was broken. Attempts to obtain a replacement buckle from several local bike shops and internet sites were unsuccessful. I even called Sidi, and was told that the buckle was obsolete, even the shoe was being sold new with the same buckle. Replacement with the new Caliper buckle and strap would be at least twice as expensive! Shame on Sidi. Fortunately, I found an Ultra SL buckle in Bikesmiths, one of the excellent shops in Bloomington.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

My Sea Gull Century, October 9, 2010. I ride for pie,and get smashed

My wife and I went down to Ocean City, Maryland on October 8, 2010. As she is not a century rider but loves the beach, this arrangement was perfect. This was my second century ride on my fixed gear bike. The Sea Gull Century out of Salisbury, Maryland, is well run and well attended. About 6,000 riders participated, making this the largest century ride on the East Coast. I tried out the Snow Hill Century variant this year, and was pleased with my choice. As with the others, it is not pancake, but basically flat. A few undulations are present, but nothing that I would call a hill. There is great support during the ride. Thanks to the Maryland State troopers for stopping traffic at all most intersections along the route. Particularly attractive was the pier at Snow Hill, the 77 mile rest stop.

After the 77 mile rest stop, which included great cherry pie, I continued on the beautiful farm roads that characterize the bulk of this ride. At the 82 mile point I was on a empty country farm road, with gorgeous fields on either side. I decided to stop and take a short butt and hydration break, While checking my route map I heard the voices of a group of cyclists coming up behind me. What danger could there be on this wide, unoccupied stretch of country road?
Then...BLAMMO! I was flying through the air, flipped upside down, and landed on my back. At first I did not know what happened, but it soon became evident that one of the group approaching me did not see me pulled over on the right side of the road. At first I just lay there in a stunned state. Lots of following riders stopped to check on us. All of my limbs moved, and I was not in pain. Buddy, the guy who hit me, had road rash on his elbow and a banged up knee. After checking the bikes, we both eventually remounted, and, I am glad to say, finished the ride under our own power. My neck and back were stiff, but I sucked it up and rode it in. The fixed gear Pinarello was lively on the road, and perfect for a century ride of this type. Will I ever go back to geared bikes? The next day, Helen and I rode on the Ocean City Boardwalk. We all had a great time

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Miss Pinarello takes a spin

It was the first day of autumn and I was off from work. The weather was going to be in the upper 70's Farenheit, and the skies sunny. What a great day for a ride on the South Fork of Long Island. Miss Pinarello was eager to go out for a spin, so we headed out to Southampton to ride the beautiful and now uncrowded off-season roads there. The terrain was mostly flat with a few low rollers thrown in for interest. I will be taking Miss Pinarello to the Sea Gull Century on October 9, 2010. This ride goes out of Salisbury, Maryland, and tends to have about 6,000+ riders registered. It is also quite flat, and todays ride was a good prep. For those of you who haven't been to this area, yes, we have great cycling areas here!
Riding a fixed gear bike on flattish terrain makes a lot of sense, and I like the direct connection to the pedals. Lack of a choice of gears is simplifying, liberating, and excellent for leg tone and development. The Carradice Barley seat bag is earning its place on the back of my Selle Anantomic seat, and seems headed towards being a fixture on this bike.
By the way, do you ever think of your bike, or other beloved object as having a gender ? I definitely know that this bike is a female. Other bikes in my quiver have differing personalities and gender identifications that have come out over time. I would like to know how prevalent this line of thought is in the cycling community. My wife, who is actually a psychoanalyst, has offered various diagnoses for this belief of mine. Still, when you get a feeling about something that is strong, it often pays to go with it. As English has no gender assignments to nouns, such developments are ill defined. Each person views the world in a slightly different way.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Flattest Century in the East...NOT!

We went up to Needham, Massachusetts to visit some friends from my wife's college this past weekend. Our friend Ron and I went down to Dartmouth, Massachusetts , on Sunday, September 12, 2010, to do The Flattest Century in the East, run by the Narragansett Bay Wheelmen. I had heard that this ride was not hilly but not flat either. Ultimately there were lots of small rollers but no tough climbs. At first I thought that a fixed gear bike would be the best machine for the job, but upon reconsideration, I chose my plentifully geared road bike. My LOOK KG381i was built in 2003 by hand in Nevers, France. It is a 57cm frame, with a 74 degree head tube, but a 72.5 degree seat tube. The carbon frame, fork, and steerer make for a good general road bike, comfortable for longer distances. The specs :
size...57cm ( c-c )
top tube...57.4cm
Wheels...Campy Neutron 2003
tires...Conti ultragatorskin 25mm
bars...3T 199gms
bar tape...Cinelli Zebra cork
brake/shifters...2003 Campy record carbon
crankset...2003 Campy Record 53/39 alloy
rear derailleur...Campy Chorus medium cage
cassette...13-29 Campy
pedals...Crank Bros Candy SL
brakes...Campy Chorus
seat...Selle Anatomica
seat bag...Carradice Barley
We had generally cloudy skies during the ride, but did get rained on at about miles 80 to 85. The secnery was wonderful, and the NBW club did a great job with the organization of the event.A great time was had by all. Hopefully, I will be able to get back here to do this century sometime in the near future. Thanks to Ron and Phil for having us over the night before. Thanks to Helen for putting up with me and for all the travel time.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

August 21, 2010 D2R2

I went up to the beautiful town of South Deerfield, Massachusetts, for the 2010 edition of D2R2. My preparation for the event was extensive, including extra training on dirt roads and hills,hills,hills. Ultimately, nothing on Long Island could have adequately prepared me for the roads and hills of northern Massachusetts and southern Vermont. Our tour hosts were fabulous, and everybody was extremely friendly. The tents set up in the fields had every accomodation possible for the riders. Some famous individuals were there, although I was not one of them. My 100km ride started at a lazy 9am, and took us through regular roads, dirt and gravel roads, and of course, significant climbing. The rest stops were fully stocked, and the volunteers were very helpful. At about the halfway point, I was beat and bonked, despite adequate electrolyte hydration. I did come in under my own power, thanks to the mutual help from Pete from Connecticut. Thanks Pete! Almost every type of bike was used for this event, including regular road bikes, cyclocross bikes, and mountain bikes. Some bikes defied description. When the day was done, the rider was more important than the type of bike used. My Jamis cyclocross bike was adequate for the ride, but I was significantly jarred on the gnarly fast descents, and my shimano cantilever brakes were severely taxed. The mountain bike riders seemed to be doing the best of all the various bike-type groups. Maybe lose some weight and try next years ride on a Salsa Fargo.....

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Getting ready for bike and why

The summer is hot and D2R2 in Deerfield, Massachusetts is only 16 days away. I have been training when time permits, alternating between my cyclocross aand fixed gear bikes. I have been increasing my on and off road hillclimbing, in order to best duplicate the planned 100k and 8,500 feet of climbing. The bike that I will use for this famous event will be my tried and true 2001 Jamis Nova cyclocross bike. It has had some evolution over the years. I believe that this configuration will best suit the planned terrain.
Frame...2001 Jamis Nova Reynolds 631,comfortable on road, stable off road, durable, not the lightest around. The 55cm c-c size with 32c tires gives me a good standover height.
Fork...Tange steel, a replacement as the original fork was cut too short.  This fork with 80mm of spacers gives me a comfortable seat = handlebars height.
Wheels...Mavic Open Pro front, Mavic Open Sport rear, Ultegra hubs, DT spokes
Tires...Ritchey Speedmax 700x32c, good on and off road,sheds mud great
Crankset...Sugino XD, 46/36/26
Rear derailleur...Shimano XT
Cassette..11-32, plenty of gear range for plenty of hills
Pedals...Crank Bros Candy SL... Thanks to Richard Sachs, who turned me onto these pedals as he lapped me in a cyclocross race when  I couldn't clip in  my muddy shoes into Shimano mb pedals.
Bag...Arkel Tailrider...tough, well organized, aerodynamic, has its own rain cover just in case.The rear rack gives some water/mud protection.
Seat... Selle Anatomica ...this seat brought me back from the brink of recumbent cycling. I am sold on the  Brown/Peterson theory of seat height = handlebar height for best comfort.
This setup will give me plenty of gears for the expected 27% off road climbs, and great flexibility for the on/off road nature of the event, be it dry or muddy, ( I like muddy! )

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Riding with a Buddy

Sometimes you ride alone, sometimes with a group, and sometimes with a special Buddy. My friend Bob and his wife Elaine came to Long Island to visit this weekend. Bob and I met at Columbia University in the mid 1970's. He was getting a PhD in Biochemistry, and I was working in the chemistry department with dreams of going to medical school. We became regular Squash partners, and have been friendly since that time. He lives in Moraga, California, just east of Oakland, and has become an avid cyclist. He's the kind of guy who brings his own helmet, pedals, and cycling shoes on a trip. Of course I lent him one of my bikes and off we went on my local hilly ride. We ascended the usual suspects : Turkey Lane, Stillwell Road and Snake Hill Road. Although he is two years older than me he KICKED MY BUTT on all of them. The temperature rose to the upper 80's with plenty of humidity. The photo shows us at the beach in Huntington Harbor. Bob on the left and myself on the right. After arriving home we jumped in the pool and had a great barbeque. Riding with friends is one of the aspects of my lifelong involvement with cycling that I enjoy the most.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Continental Grand Prix 4 Season Tires...Initial Impressions

My conversion of a 1984 Pinarello from a geared to a fixed gear bike was fitted with Continental Ultra Gatorskin 700 x 25c tires borrowed from my carbon racing bike. As this bike's purpose is training in flat to rolling areas, and Century riding with climbing less than 2,500 feet, I thought that a different set of tires was called for. I wanted durability, cruisability, good road feel. Measuring very carefully with a ruler and set of allen wrenches ( nice trick to measure in difficult access areas ), I determined that the frame would take a 28c tire. After EXTENSIVE research, I decided on Continental Grand Prix 4 Season 700 x 28c tires. Wiggle UK had a good price, and they arrived two days ago. Mounting the tires was not too tough, as I was able to slip the Teutonic bead over the Mavic Open Sport wheel rim with thumb pressure only. Maybe the French and the Germans can get along after all.   The stated inflation pressure is 80psi, with a maximun of 115psi. Not being a 150lb racer nor a Clydesdale, I started off at 100psi. My test track was Caumsett State Historic Park, which has a 2.5 mile paved road with flats to rolling hills. For my 25 mile test ride I did 12 small hills ( less than 25 revolutions standing ), and three large hills ( 80 revolutions standing ). As it had recently thunderstormed, the sunny areas were dry and the shaded areas were wet. Perfect for a test run. On the road the tires felt very smooth, giving up only a hint of speed to the Gatorskins. Handling was good over dry, wet, and gravel strewn hard road surfaces. Best of all they were comfortable. The ride consisted of gentle cruising and hard hammering, so I got a pretty good feel for the tire's characteristics. Clearance to the chainstays, chainstay bridge, and brakes is adequate, although I might be wary of trying to put 30c tires on this frame. At the end of the ride I had no road shockitis. The combination of a larger tire and a steel frame/carbon fork made for a cozy, non fatigue experience. For all you naturalist animal lovers out there, I spent quite a while protecting a turtle from being squished by oncoming cyclists and joggers. I feel like a hero of the wilds ! I plan to do both the TFCE Century in Massachusetts, and the Sea Gull Century in Maryland before the season is done. These are flat to flattish 100 mile rides. Some cold day in December I will post a follow up long term report on these tires, and so complete my evaluation. Keep Riding.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


We are in the middle of a heat wave here on the East Coast, with multiple days in the 95 degree range. This is a great opportunity to talk about hydration during exercise. Of course, all of us have heard a lot about this topic from authoritative sources for years and years. My entry today concerns a hydration cocktail that is right for me, and how I arrived at this formula. Over a long span of time, my hydration experiments have varied from water to Gatorade, to various combinations. I now separate the electrolyte and carbohydrate portions, not being able to tolerate sports drinks from the gastrointestinal point of view. During the 2010 5 Boro Bike Tour, I was attracted to a tent from the people at ZICO coconut water, and was impressed with my results during that humid, 87 degree F ride. I have also been using NUUN electrolyte tabs, so I combined them. My current hydration formula is as follows : 7 oz ( 1/2 bottle ) Zico coconut water, one NUUN electrolyte tab, and H2O to fill my 24oz bike bottle. The carbs are usually handled by nut or other energy bars. I have found this combination palatable and efficient. If the ride is extended, I will add Endurolytes and/or Perpetuem, made by Hammer nutrition. No matter what anybody says, it is important to FIND YOUR OWN BEST FORMULA. From the health standpoint. be sure to always keep your bottles or hydration bladder clean.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

A North Fork 70

After a week of 90+ degree weather with high humidity, things finally broke. On June 30, 2010, I had the day off from work. The temperature was going to be in the mid 70's F, and the humidity was low. Perfect for a ride on the North Fork of Long Island. I loaded up the Subaru with my Pinarello fixie, and headed for Mattituck , my starting point. This ride starts on Love Lane, the main street of Mattituck. It meanders on  little travelled side roads, among farms and the many vineyards of the North Fork of Long Island. When I reached Greenport, I decided to take the North Ferry to Shelter Island, a cyclist's paradise ( $5 RT for a passenger +bike ). Shelter Island is a new route for my fixed gear bike. My technique, leg strength, and mental attitude have improved since going fixed. There were lots of small hills, but my fixed gear bike was no handicap, and conquered them all in good style. On the way back, I stopped at Sang-Lee farm in Cutchogue, picking up organically grown baby squash, garlic scapes, baby Japanese turnips, and purple carrots destined for a stir fry. The vegetables fit well in my Carradice Pendle saddlebag...I'm just not a tiny seatpack type of guy. Adding Salmon and Hinewadel's famous potatoes on the grill made for a great post ride dinner. Washed down with Grimbergen Belgian ale, this was a fitting end to a great 70 mile day.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Review...Carradice Pendle Saddlebag

Once in a while I would like to review some cycling item that I have experience with. For my first review, I have chosen the Carradice Pendle Saddlebag. So far I have used it with a carbon racing bike, a cyclocross/touring bike, and a fixed gear bike. These are hand made in Nelson, England, and are of very high quality. They are personally signed by the maker...thanks Priscilla ! I purchased mine from Wiggle UK, and got a fantastic price. The material is waterproof cotton duck. I can attest to its waterproofness after a very wet Maryland Seagull Century in October, 2009. There are no zippers or snaps, but the buckles are easy to use and secure. Two leather straps loop through the seat loops of  Brooks, Selle-Anatomica saddles, or an adapter for general road saddles that is available from Velo Orange. A third leather strap secures the bag around the seatpost. My Cateye LD1100 blinker light ( the best there is ) will fit through the provided black loop, but fits even better in the bilateral strap loop patches on the rear of the bag. The clip fits snugly in the leather patch and holds its place very well. I like this assymetrical position, as it is more visible to motorists. My favorite pump, the Topeak Road Morph, fits horizontally on the bag bottom, and also serves to give the bag more structure. Some people use a bag support, but I have done well without it on my 55-57-59 cm frames.The capacity is 11 liters, the same as my Arkel Tailrider. The Carradice Pendle will take all the cargo that one would generally need for a century or longer ride. When climbing in the standing position, the position and weight  do not detract from my ability to generate power and balance simultaneously. During riding the backs of my thighs sometimes touch the bag, but it is not an unpleasant a way a sort of reassurance that the bag is still there. In general, I believe that my investment in this bag has paid off well, and its high quality, functionality, and versatility will make it a staple of my bike kits for many years.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Back to the Dirt

For a while I have been riding on the road and enjoying my fixed gear conversion bike. My plan for the next big challenge is to participate in the D2R2 on/off road ride in Deerfield, Massachusetts, on August 21, 2010. The 100k version, which I will do, has about 8,500 feet of climbing, and 70% dirt /30% paved roads. For this, I have returned to my training ground of Caumsett Park on Long Island. Its 1800 acres has a 2.5 mile rolling paved loop, and miles of varied and beautiful dirt roads and trails. I will pay particular attention to climbing, as that is a large part of the D2R2 course, including 27% gravel strewn hills.
A few years ago I built a bike for cyclocross and raced a few times, never finishing last. Just riding on/off road is a lot of fun and great "cross" training. It was built from an EBay Jamis Nova NOS 2001 frame with Reynolds 631 tubing. The gearing is 26/36/46 on the crankset and 11-32 on the cassette. This provides a very wide gearing range, good for muddy fields and off road climbs, quite the opposite of fixed gear riding ! Bar end shifters are simple and cool looking. Mavic Open Pro Gray extra hardened rims have been reliable for years. The tires are Ritchey Speedmax 700cx32c, providing great cornering, traction, and dry paved road speed. I have a rack on the back, with an Arkel Tailrider 11 liter capacity bag. It also fits a Topeak Road Morph pump, my nomination for the best pump ever. This bag is quite convenient and tough, and has a built in rain cover, should the need for protection arise. I think that this setup will do me well in a ride like D2R2.

Monday, June 21, 2010

First Fixed Gear Century

Happy Summer to all. I completed The Ride to Montauk on June 19, 2010, for my first fixed gear century. The weather was perfect, with a partly cloudy sky and temperatures on the East End of Long Island in the upper 70's. The ride was perfectly put on by our friend Glen at Bicycle Shows, and all had a good time. Lots of people from out of New York were there to enjoy the ride.
The course was, of course, a beautiful one.The Hamptons are always a great place to ride in any season. Super thanks to the organizers for providing yummy Briermere pies at the 75 mile rest stop. I chose CHERRY!
Riding fixed for a flattish century was still a challenge, with a great sense of accomplishment at the end. My pre ride training of 80 revolution hill repeats at my training ground in Lloyd Harbor prepared me well. My Power, Technique, and Mental effort contributed to success for my 59 year old legs ! Next challenge...D2R2 in Massachusetts, August 21. 2010.