Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Another Sea Gull Century: My 5th Fixed Gear Century

I again went down to the Delmarva Peninsula for my 7th Sea Gull Century ride. This is the third year in a row that I have completed this beautiful ride on my fixed gear bike, Miss Pinarello. Its flat nature is perfect for any type of bike, and tandems, recumbents, trikes, and almost any kind of human powered transportation will do. The most unusual bike that I encounterd was this:
It is called an Elipti-Go, and the woman who was riding it seemed to be having a great time. It is sort of a treadmill on wheels. She said that it doesn't climb well, but is a blast on flat roads.
Once again I chose the Snow Hill Century route, now for the third year. It does not go to the beach, but tends to be less crowded and more scenic. The less crowded aspect gains importance when you consider that this ride has about 8,000 participants.
So, why would one want to do a 100 mile ride on a fixed gear bike rather that having the advantage of a multiple gear machine? For me , there are many reasons. On a selected and non-hilly route, there seems to be a better connection between rider and bike. With my muscles, experience, and balance, the fixed gear bike simplifies things greatly. Superior modulation of muscular output and suppleness or " souplesse " via regular cadence can be achieved with practice. When coasting, repetitive lactic acid buildup over time can lead to a greater sense of fatigue over a longer distance. As there is no coasting on a fixed gear, lactic acid is constantly being diffused out of lower extremity musculature. Any way, it works for me and has been a rewarding discipline. I also got a chance to check out my new Tektro retro brake levers. They are comfortable, look retro-cool, and have a single release button that snaps back into place when the lever is depressed. This is a good feature for me, as I often forget to return the conventional slider to its original postion, and cannot reposition the calipers while riding.
As usual the Sea Gull Century staff and organizers had excellent rest stops, with live music, adequate bathrooms, and healthy snacks. I was looking forward to the pie, which is always served at the last rest stop. This stop is on the Nassawango river, and is quite scenic. The next day I visited Mom in Rockville, Maryland. She will be 92 soon, and is still quite sharp. Happy birthday Mom! No more organized rides are scheduled for this year. Winter riding will be coming soon. Sometimes ,I dream of snow.........................

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Late Summer Ride in Montauk

Summer was ending, the weekend was here, and it was time for our last ride to Montauk Point of the season. Our friend Michaela joined Helen and myself tackling the hills to the Point. This is one ride that I can't lay off of. As they say, it never gets old climbing to the Point, smelling the fresh sea air, and taking in the wonderful scenery.
On the way, we stopped at Camp Hero, the R&R location for Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders after they came back from Cuba in the Spanish American War. The area has lots of bluff views of the Atlantic Ocean, rocky and sandy beaches for walking, and lots of surfing for participation or spectating.

This ride is not the longest or most difficult that I do on a regular basis. The route follows the main road from town to the Point. On weekend afternoons it can become quite busy. Montauk is the type of place where one can say that nothing is there, but everything is there. I think that I will be doing this ride for as long time
We're sorry to see the end of the summer season of riding. Soon Fall will be here, extermity warmers and tights will come out of storage boxes, and cold weather riding will be upon us. I am looking forward to doing the Sea Gull Century on the eastern shore of Maryland on October 6th. It will be my 5th fixed gear century on Miss Pinarello. Hopefully this year we will not be fighting 25mph headwinds!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Its Raining, Its Raining, and I Don't Care !

It was early Sunday morning. Although I was on call for my medical practice, there was nobody to see in the hospital and all was quiet. It had rained heavily the night before, and when I went down the driveway to get the newspapers, there was a steady mist in the air. I had recently had new VO brakes shoes installed and had the wheels trued on my 2001 Jamis Nova, and sensed an excellent opportunity to try them out. Even though rain was forecast, the 70 degree temperature cried out for a wet riding opportunity.
I had purchased this 2001 cyclocross frame in as an Ebay NOS for $250, and built it up with a wide gear range and quality components. It was designed specifically for the muddy trails of Long Island's Caumsett Park. It also has had the unique honor of being lapped by Richard Sachs in a cyclocross race some years ago. It has become my go to all conditions bike.
When the pavement ends is where this bike really begins to shine. Not the lightest with Reynolds 631 TIG construction, it demonstrates solid stability on sand, gravel, and especially muddy conditions. Coupled with Mavic Open Pro front  and Open Sport rear rims, the Ritchey Speedmax tires are the right combination when the conditions turn tough. I run 55PSI front and 60PSI rear for these conditions. A 26-36-46 crankset amd 11-32 casette give wall climbing potential. I have been confident on 26% grades with this gearing.
I was fortunate that there was only a constant spritz most of the morning, which cleared later in the day. For those days where you don't want to expose your roadbike to Nature's worst, a bike like this can provide lots of exercise and can confirm the idea that Men Love Mud !

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

I Try Out My New Jersey on the North Fork and Shelter Island

For awhile now, I've tried to find an era specific jersey to complement my LOOK KG381i on its 10th anniversary. Perusing ebay, I found this jersey and purchased it from Velotastic,a British company specializing in vintage cycling jersies. What better way to try it out than cycling Long Island's North Fork and Shelter Island?
Contrary to what most people think, the North Fork is largely rural, and a great place to ride, with open roads, lots of water views, and excellent food. In the off season, it is largely deserted, and so is a cycling destination in itself. My ride started in Mattituck, with parking at the train station free, convenient, and close to food and markets on Love Lane, the main street.
The countryside begins close to town, and the route to Greenport is mostly flattish to rolling, with good, non crowded roads most of the way. The North Fork never gets urban, and even main roads have adequate shoulders.
Compared with the South Fork of Long Island, there is very little glitz here. Farm stands abound, and there are about twenty five wineries on this fork alone. It is usual to see small stands on the side of the road selling local produce.
The ferry from Greenport to Shelter Island runs frequently and costs $5 round trip for cyclist and bike combined. This island is located between the forks, or fish tail of Long Island, and offers excellent flat to rolling cycling. There are lots of wonderful views and little vehicular traffic. When I come here off season I virtually own the place. Don't expect to see loads of tourists, restaurants, or services here. The major theme is the inherent natural beauty of the island. Yes, from 1909 to 1930, they cut large blocks of ice from the above pond and shipped them to NYC. After that, modern refrigeration killed the business.
On the way back from Shelter island, I stopped at Sang-Lee Farms, my favorate place to get organic vegetables on the North Fork. The variety is astounding, and ultimate freshness is guaranteed. Fred Lee definitely has a natural green thumb when it comes to organic produce. Tonight, I will sautee Sang-Lee baby eggplant and baby bok choi to go with freshly caught Tuna on the grill, for a complete Long Island meal.

Monday, June 11, 2012

A Trip to Saratoga Springs

I've never been to Saratoga Springs before. Helen had a conference scheduled, and wanted to take me along. I figured that with all that countryside, there must be tons of riding opportunities. We went up this past Friday. She had conferences all day Saturday, and we rode together on Sunday.
We stayed at The Geyser Lodge in Saratoga Springs. Our hosts Sandy and Norm were fantastic, as were the hearty daily homemade breakfasts. Saratoga town was much larger that expected, and had lots of terrific restaurants. We shared the weekend with Dave Matthews fans who were in for concerts, and a large group of motorcyclists, who were there for an exhibition/gathering. Suffice it to say that the town was hopping. Lots of thanks to Blue Sky Cycles, who provided local ride lists with easily accessable cue sheets.
As Saratoga is well known for horse racing, the area to the East of Saratoga Lake is countryside with a good road system, lots of horse farms, and rolling to moderate terrain which makes it excellent cycling territory. My 50 mile ride on Saturday included as much scenic countryside as I had time for, low vehicular traffic, and very friendly local people. Although there were intermittent spritzes, no steady/heavy rain was present to spoil my fun.
On Sunday Helen and I headed out of town past Lake Lonely to check out the excellent riding East of Lake Saratoga. We headed up Fitch road and came across lots of rolling hills, horse farms, and fabulous scenery. The hills in this area are moderate , and very doable for riders of all types and levels of expertise. I cannot highly recommend the 7 mile road on the East side of Saratoga Lake, and the shoulder is narrow, the pavement is in moderate to poor condition, and the vehicular traffic can become heavy at times.
Definitely our best riding experience was East of the lake in the extensive farm country, I have only barely begun to explore this area, and want to come back for future riding experiences. This area is also home to the high end Serotta bikes, and must be a handy proving ground for their high performance machines.
On the way back, we took Gideon Putnam Drive into Saratoga Spa State Park. A river runs through it, and there are multiple locations where geysers with naturally carbonated water are present and available for public drinking. There is a series of well maintained roads, and a circular Geyser loop that we rode.
This park also has public baths, hiking trails, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center ( SPAC ).
With lots to do it is an excellent place to recreate. We met a professional photographer from Kent, Ohio, who agreed to take our photo. All in all, our trip to Saratoga was a great success. I would love to come back during ballet or opera seasons to take advantage of SPAC, and explore more of the excellent country roads in the area

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

A New Route for the Montauk Century in 2012, and I ride my 50th Century!

My first Century ride of the year was also my 50th Century ride. The 5BBB Montauk Century had a new route this year. Instead of starting in Babylon and finishing in Montauk, we started and finished in Hampton Bays, and did a circuitous route to and from Montauk. The weather was beautiful, but a 20mph headwind made for tough going for the first 48 miles out to Montauk Point. Many of my fellow riders were exhausted at this point. I decided to stop at the MTK cafe for a little hash and eggs at about 10:30 am, and that fuel made the hills to and from Montauk more manageable. Eating your way through a century is often a good strategy.
On the way back we all benefitted from a 20mph tailwind, and made up time rapidly. On the same section of road I was going east at 9-11 mph, and was hitting 20-24mph on the westward return. All I can say about Montauk Point is that It is always a great place to visit with wonderful views. As the majority of the riders were from Manhattan and had never been cycling this far east, I acted as a tour guide to many of my new found friends. I rode for awhile with a student about to start medical school in the fall, and was able to give him some insight from my very experienced point of view, having been a doctor for 30 years now. The new route laid out by the 5BBB has the great advantage of being circular, and is what I would call flattish to rolling. No huge gaspers, but enough +/- altitude to make it interesting. I'm glad I left the fixed gear bike at home and took my LOOK KG381i with plentiful gears.Those with GPS can give you more precise info.
In a way, this ride was a celebration. I wore my 2002 Montauk Century jersey from my first ever century ride. Now its 10 years later and I can confortably still do a day's ride at almost 61. I made a lot of friends along the way, and saw some of the prettiest scenery around. The new route gets you right into the Hamptons and East End, and is interesting from the start. Did I mention that I got lots of exercise too?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Snowless Weekend in Vermont

Well, not really. We had planned to meet our friends from Boston Ron and Phil in Woodstock Vermont to enjoy a weekend of cross country skiing on the Mt. Tom and Mt. Peg trails. Helen and I had been here in past years and found the skiing excellent. This season, however, has been a disaster for the cross country ski crowd, because natural snow has been extremely scant.With not even enough snow to snowshoe, we decided to do a winter hike instead. That became problematic, as the trails were iced up and had a thin layer of crusty snow at best. The pros at the Woodstock Inn cross country center suggested MICROspikes by Kahtoola, as the only practical means to tackle the trails under these conditions. I bought a pair at the sports shop in town and I have to say that they worked great! At no time did I feel unstable, even on an icy ascent of Mt. Tom. This is a great product for all cold weather hikers! Their website is at http://www.kahtoola.com/.
We got a great view of Woodstock at the top. Generally, these carriage roads of the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historic Park are not steep, but the icy conditions made even a casual stroll treacherous. We stopped for a rest at the Mt. Tom cabin and enjoyed the front porch for a while.
Our stay at the Charleston house was again fantastic. It is a great inn, clean, reasonable, and has a tasty breakfast that precludes getting lunch. Our innkeepers were friendly and efficient. We ate at Bentley's the first night, and at Prince and the Pauper the second night for two delicious dinners. Hopefully the. next trip to this area will be more successful from the skiing aspect. Even though our Sunday hike started at 11 degrees F and ended at 14 degrees F, energy and comraderie kept us plenty warm.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Out For a Winter Fixed Gear Ride

A few days of mild weather has melted all the snow from this past weekend's storm. I was off from both the office and hospital. At a maximum temperature of 42 degrees Farenheit and clear sunny skies, it was a great day to take out Miss Pinarello for a spin on the South Fork of Long Island. This was a typical 40 mile ride from Southampton to Easthampton and back, the return made more difficult by a 20mph headwind coming from the west. This ride is very scenic, including huge mansions, uncrowded roads, and lots of water views.
This ride is on flat to gently rolling terrain, and perfect for a fixed gear bike. I have been riding fixed as well as geared bikes together for about two and a half years. Switching between them seems to cause my body no confusion during the interchange of riding styles. Among the many advantages of riding fixed gear in the winter are: less maintinance, silent geartrain, smoother rotation of the legs, superior low speed handling, and extra warmth on cold riding days. I will say that fixed gear riding has become my first choice, except when the course is hilly. It gives you a sense of purity, connection with the machine, and a great workout when time constrained. Unfortunately, it is also considered cool. Unlike some who ride with no or single brakes, I consider safety first and ride with two brakes always.


Sunday, January 22, 2012

Finally Some Snow ! My First Cross Country Ski of the Season

After the freak October snowstorm, we haven't had any snow to speak of. The weather has been challenging for the active cyclist, and I have not been out on the bike for about two weeks. This has been a time of relatively little physical activity, and I have been working on filing for taxes and doing darkroom work in both medium and large format photography. Yesterday we had our first substantial winter storm, which left about 4 inches of snow on the North Shore of Long Island.

It was a cold and overcast day, about 30 degrees farenheit. The snow was a little crunchy, but very skiable. I would rate it a solid 7 on a ten scale. I had a lot of fun in the fields and forest trails. My Rossignol back country skis with metal edges served me well in this area which has no tracked trails. In fact, there are not any tracked trails on Long Island that I know of. Cross country skiing is a great cardio-vascular workout for both the upper and lower body. I know that most males are watching football playoffs, but I could not resist the urge for this wonderful winter workout.
A nice passer by took a portrait of me with my skis and the open field as a backdrop. We are meeting our friends Ron and Phil in Woodstock Vermont in early February for a weekend of cross country skiing. I can't wait to ski those pristine Vermont trails of the Mount Tom network. We also need to get away for a few days. Who doesn't?