Tuesday, December 13, 2011

42 Degrees Farenheit Today, and Winter Riding Has Begun

The temperature has been dropping, and we got a preview of winter during our outrageous October snowstorm. Today's high temperature will be about 42 degrees F, just right to begin winter riding. This season is a quieter time, without pelotons or mass participation rides. The quietness , wind protection, and calorie burning terrain of the woods welcome me in the cycling off season.
For today's ride, I have laid out warm clothing to keep me toasty all afternoon. Long underwear, wool socks, fleece under my Showers Pass Elite II jacket, insulated gloves, and a balaclava complete the outfit. I will have to get used to all this clothing until the first day of shorts riding in the Spring. The woods are uninhabited except for myself, squirrels, red tailed hawks, and white tailed deer. One must be careful of collisions with deer, as they can be extremely damaging for both parties.
As usual, the roads of Caumsett park were extremely muddy after a ferocious rain the day and night before. My Jamis Nova was built by me from scratch to be durable under the muddiest conditions. A recent trashing of the rear derailleur by a stick on a singletrack route has generated a new replacement Shimano XT mechanism. It performed well and got me through the muddy roads and trail as illustrated. The bike was built with survivability in mind, and has done well for 8 seasons.
My standard 2-3 hour route in this park includes pavement, hills, flats, open fields, fire roads, singletrack, and sandy areas. In general, it is designed to include a little bit of everything, while being scenic. It is also circular, in case I have to get to the hospital to take care of any emergencies. Riding off road in the winter avoids the dangers of vehicular traffic, and keeps me warmer due to sheltering from wind chill and the more intense nature of the pedaling. Besides, I love mud, and that's all there is to it

Monday, November 14, 2011

Fall is Here, and the Last Ride in Shorts of the Season

It's unusually warm for mid November, so we took a ride on the South Fork of Long Island last weekend. It was probably the last day in shorts until Spring. Our route took us along beaches that were crowded this past Summer, but are sparsely populated at this time of year. It has been a good cycling season for me. I did several century rides, on both fixed gear and geared bikes. The accomplishment, fitness, scenery, and comraderie were terrific. I'm getting my cross country skis, snowshoes, and ice speed skates ready for the winter. We've already had an early snowstorm, and this winter is predicted to be cold and snowy. I think that I will sell my recumbent bike, which I put 10,350 miles on from 1/06 to 6/09. Sometimes activities are time limited. I loved recumbent cycling, but it ran its course. That's just the way some things are.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Another Fixed Gear Seagull Century, Lots of Crabs, and I Take Mom Out For Her 91st

I took my usual trek to the Delmarva peninsula ( Delaware-Maryland-Virginia ) this past weekend and did my fourth fixed gear century ride, and 49th overall century ride. It's a great three day weekend for me, which includes lots of crabs, a flat century ride, and a visit to mom at about her birthday time. This year I stayed in Cambridge, Maryland, and fueled up the night before the ride on crabs and beer at the Odyssey Crab House in Cambridge. The next day, Saturday, I was ready to ride, and we all left for the century ride at 7am. This is the largest century ride on the East Coast, with about 6,500 participants. Most of the ride is out in the countryside with wide open farmland areas over well maintained roads. It does not feel crowded.
I have to say that the support from Salisbury University was excellent in every way. The students were helpful, and all of the rest stops had plenty of snacks, fluids, and live music. There are two century route choices plus a 100k for those so inclined. For the second year I chose the Snow Hill Century route, which has no Atlantic beach rest stop, but is more scenic with less crowded roads overall. I live minutes from Fire Island, so beach access is not so important for me. Those living inland might feel differently. The stop at Public Landing has a long pier that extends into the surrounding bay, and is a great rest stop. I just could not stop eating oranges.
The ride would have been an easy flat century except for the tremendous 20-30 mph head and crosswinds that we all encountered along most of the route. I was the only one who rode in a fixed gear that I know of, although tandems and recumbents were there in good numbers.  Nonetheless, this is a great century to do with a fixed gear, as there is no climbing to speak of.
The last stop at Nassawango Country Club included Apple or Cherry pie, which was much appreciated by all after our dayling buffeting by the strong headwinds. Of course, the club is along the scenic Nassawango River.
Exhausted at the end,I had tons of crabs and beer to celebrate the completion of a usually easy century which became moderately difficult due to the prevailing conditions. I went to my favorite place, the Old Mill Crab House in Delmar. It is the best in the area in my opinion. The next day, fueled by local eggs and scrapple, I went to visit mom in Rockville Maryland. She will be 91 soon, and is going strong with 100% mental capacity. We  met my brother Robert, his wife and son Linda and Richard, and our cousins Robert and Connie Gottlieb for a great lunch at the Matchbox in Rockville. Another fantastic mid October weekend has passed. That's it for organized rides for the season. I've been thinking about Cross Country Skiing lately...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Another Ride to Montauk Point, Camp Hero, and We Meet Some Pipers!

We went to Montauk for the weekend. Our hosts Elaine and Scott again put us up in grand style in their sleeping loft. Our Saturday ride to Montauk Point began with a short jaunt into town, and a delicious breakfast outside at the MTK Cafe, our usual haunt. Following that, we set out for Montauk Point, Today, we made a stop at Camp Hero, on the way to the Point. It was a rest stop for the Roughriders, and then became an artillery outpost during WWII.
Camp Hero has a great view of the Atlantic Ocean from high bluffs. It is very easily accessable by bike or car, and has various paths to the beach. The area is rough and rocky, and is not ideal for swimming, but has a rugged beauty all its own. I keep coming back here year after year, and it doesn't ever get old.
Upon our return to Montauk Town, we came upon a street performance by a Piper band from Amityville. I asked them if there was any special event that they were performing for, and the reply was that they were celebrating  Halfway to St. Patrick's Day! The piping was excellent, and capped off another great day on the very tip of the East End.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Day Before Hurricane Irene, We Take a Ride and a Paddle on the North Fork

It was the dy before Hurricane Irene was due to hit our area of the East Coast,and we had all of our preparations in place. What a great time to take a riding/paddling day on the North Fork of Long Island! Our ride began in Southold, and meandered on multiple scenic secondary roads. One great thing about this area is that almost any place that you go, a water view is close at hand.
The riding was spectacular, and a seafood lunch at Pepi's at the Port of Egypt Marina hit the spot. From there we went out to Orient Point State Park, Where Kayak rentals are readily available. The kayaking on Oyster Pond was delightful, and we spotted more than one Osprey in the nest and air. There were also many small beach areas available for totally uncrowded swimming.
When paddling, Helen is the boss, as she is an excellent kayaker. With this in mind, she always takes the Captain's position, and I help out when I can,
We followed our cycling/kayaking day with a dinner at the Chowder Pot Pub in Greenport. The seafood was excellent, and the view of Greenport harbor could not be beat. We were then all ready to spend a day being beat up by Irene.

I Test the Park Tool SS-15 Fixed Gear tool

It was bound to happen sooner or later. As I was riding Miss Pinarello on one of my training jaunts I heard the sound......PSSSSSSSST! My rear tire had flatted. This is usually not the best time in a cyclist's life, but today my flat had a silver lining: it was time to test my new Park Tools SS-15 fixed gear tool. I had been using a dumbell wrench to take off the 15mm track nuts on my 1984 fixed gear Pinarello, but it was not a good match. The wrench was too short to provide adequate leverage, and the  metal was too soft and was beginning to strip, so a new solution was needed. Even though it is bigger and heavier than my dumbell wrench, I decided to trust the folks at Park and give it a try.
The SS-15 is well finished and includes a 15mm pedal wrench,a bottle opener,a tire lever, and the 15mm hex wrench, the size of all track nuts. It fit in the side pocket of my Carradice Barley, and felt smooth to the hand.
In use, the wrench has a raised lip which grasps the track nut securely, and has enough length and heft that the loosening and tightening of the track nuts  a routine job.
All in all. I am pleased with my purchase. This wrench will be a permanent part of my seatpack kit. I now consider it an essential tool for the fixed gear cyclist, Thank you Park Tool for engineering and producing this terrific item.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A Gold Coast 70 Miler

For years I have tried to participate in the Gold Coast Century, put on annually by the Huntington Bike Club. It was always one thing or another, but this year, I made room in my calendar for the ride. It is a quite hilly century on the North Shore of Long Island. We all started out from Greenlawn in Suffolk County. I took my LOOK KG381i for this ride, due to the significant amount of climbing involved. It did not let me down, and the recently installed Campy 34/50 compact crankset performed flawlessly. I did not see any fixies or recumbents.
I had been doing climbing practice over the past month, but lost a lot of training time when we had day after day of monsoon rains two weeks before. My zeal to make up for lost time may have affected my tapering off time prior to the ride. In any event, it was one hot day! As the temperature cracked 90 degrees after noon, I made the decision that 70 miles were adequate, given the conditions. This ride is well designed so that a bail outs are possible at several points along the route.
All in all, this was a great ride on the Gold Coast of Long Island. It has plenty of scenery, lots of mansions, views of the Long Island Sound and Connecticut, and very friendly participants. Many thanks to the Huntington Bike Club for putting on such a wonderful ride.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A Foggy Ride to Montauk

Helen and I were out in Montauk, visiting our good friends Scott and Elaine. As is our usual custom, we set out on Sunday morning for our standard 25 mile jaunt to Montauk Point and back. There has been a lot of fog lately, but this morning was the heaviest that we had seen in awhile. I was glad that I had a dayglow green Pearl Izumi jacket, and a Cateye 1000 tail light on my Carradice Pendle. After a great breakfast at the outdoor Montauk Cafe, we set out for the Point.
The road to Montauk had some class B hills, the most notable when one is where the road goes by the oldest cattle ranch in the United States. I took my LOOK KG381i fully geared bike, so it was not a gasper for me. We have been doing this ride together for about 20 years on and off, and it never bores me due to the beauty of the Montauk area and ocean.
By mid day, the sun had come out and a good portion of the fog had burned off. After a rest at the Point, we headed back to Montauk town and attended a terrific art show. The quality of work was excellent, and we met three people who we knew there. Then off to the beach for awhile, and then on to a great BBQ dinner with our friends. Scott showed me how to make homemade hummus! A good time was had by one and all.

Monday, May 2, 2011

5 Boro Bike Tour...2011 Edition

When my friend Peter asked me to join him and some friends for the 2011  5 Boro Bike Tour, I was unsure if I wanted to do the Tour again. It's a big day with a large crowd of riders and only 42 miles of riding. I decided that I would do the 2011 Tour with 32,000 of my closest friends. I expected delays, lots of walking, and significant comraderie, and that's just what I got. As usual, we travelled to Staten Island and took the ferry to the starting point at Battery Park in Manhattan. Fortunately, the weather cooperated and it was a beautiful day, sunny and temperatures in the mid 60's.
I chose to ride Miss Pinarello in her final iteration with a Carradice Barley saddlebag, a Selle Anatomica seat, and Continental GP 4 Season 700 x 28c tires. There are a lot of fixies and every other type of bike on this ride. It is not technically difficult, and anything can and was ridden. After waiting about 40 minutes at the start and still unable to get going due to immense crowds, we elected to go up the bike path on the West Side, a scenic and smart decision. We rejoined the ride at 56th street, and did a lot of standing/walking from there and continued into Central Park. In fact, this is really a stand-walk-ride event. If you are interested in a steady ride, this is not for you. Saving factors were that the weather cooperated, and the company was just great.
Peter is a professional colleague, and thinks that I know more about bikes than anyone alive. Boy, is he significantly misinformed! Although steady riding was not to happen, we all had lots of cycle-bonding and great views of the various New York skylines.
Due to construction difficulties, the entire 32,000 strong mass of cyclists became deadlocked for about 2 hours on the elevated portion of the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Considering the time delay, the behavior of the crowd was exemplary. I met lots of nice people. In most cases, our only common bond was the fact that we were cyclists and New York City during the Tour. The climbs up to the Queensborough and Verrazzano Bridges were semi-tough, but I never had to stand and dance up those inclines on the fixie.
Our group of five amazingly stayed together during the entire ride. Hats off to Ms. Stelling, who rode her longest ride ever, and never complained about the cycling. We all had a great interpersonal experience that we will carry as a shared memory for the rest of our lives. Will I ride the 5 Boro Bike Tour again? Probably not. What will I say if Peter says " Do you want to do the 2012 Tour with me? " I don't really know.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Riding With Your S.O.

Sometimes you ride with yourself. Sometimes you ride with a group, club, organized ride, or people picked up along the way. Sometimes you ride with your significant other person. Relationships in and out of a ride may be quite different than in their usual social atmosphere. Abilities and goals may be the same, similar, or different, and adjustments inevitably have to be made. The results can be wonderful or disappointing, and sometimes nobody knows why. Helen and I took a Sunday ride on this first truly Spring Day on Long Island. For me, riding represents a significant physical output on a regular basis. Helen enjoys riding, but her interest runs to about two hours of total riding time. To adjust for this I started early, did some major hillclimbing and speed intervals, and met her at a pre arranged place later in the morning. We both enjoyed the day, although at a somewhat differing pace. I took my fixed gear bike, and Helen took her tried and true Cannondale hybrid with lots of gear possibilities. We did some hillclimbing together, and stopped every once in awhile for some sun exposure. Helen left after about her usual two hours, and I did some extra laps around Caumsett park on this lovely 75 degree early spring day. A great adaptation and compromise. First time in shorts this season!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

A Dreary Spring Day, Just right for MUD !

Last night there was a terrific rainstorm up and down the East Coast. The wind was howling, the rain was coming down in torrents, and I thought that today would be a washout for riding. Due to the fact that I was either on call, in the hospital, or in the office for the past 14 days, I was looking at today as kind of a free day off, and had planned a vineyard ride on the North Fork of Long Island. That was not to happen. A break in the storm gave me an opportunity to do something that I love to do...ride in the mud. Since I took up cyclocross in 2002, I have appreciated the subtleties of cycling in the goo, paste, peanut butter,slime, and grime of my favorite trails after a good rain. Although I did not race cyclocross last season due to an injury, a sloppy day on the trail is still well appreciated, and today ranks up there with the best of them.
An expected additional benefit at this time of year is the fact that Spring is springing. The new flowers and greenery that adorn the landscape contrast with the dark gritty reality of the trail . Ritchey Speedmax cyclocross tires were perfect for the conditions, and although it did spritz from time to time, my Showers Pass Elite 2.0 cycling jacket kept me cozy and dry.
I have to say that although a steady diet of muddy trails is not my general cup of green tea, the trail riding skills and change of pace are definitely a postitve whan it comes to longer road rides later in the season. Many thanks to the passer by who took my photo.