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.