My first year in WA

30 January 2015

I was stoked about joining Seattle International Randonneurs. Theirs was the biggest group I noticed at PBP in 2011, the reason why I got into this pastime. So I was very much up for the challenge, careering up and down hills, sweeping through vine covered valleys and the like. However, life did not turn out like that.Portland

I did my first 100k in March, I think it was. I turned up really early for this event. I was not used to driving to an event on the day of. Normally I had spent the night in New Jersey before, and sometimes afterwards, an event. Of course, the two Long Island brevets I set up were different.

The 200k and 300k were hilly affairs, in comparison to the normal NJ brevets. I believe the 200k had Lord Hill upon which I was ready to get off and push the bike. I had stopped and was in the process of dismounting when I looked behind me and saw Narayan and Keith zigzagging back and forth across the road. Ah ha, I thought and got back on the bike and did likewise. That was the toughest climb and I heard that some people did it twice as they missed the left turn after the turnaround, didn’t they Jason?!!

The 300k was a tough ride. I was tired of climbing and in particular, I was tired of Camano Island. It felt like I was on the forever. We had to cycle over a bridge to get onto the island and I knew we had to cycle over the same bridge to get off. And did that bridge ever come around again? Oh, sure it did, but only after 3 hours cycling time. I rode to the finish with Jason having caught up with him at one of the stops. However, the 300k prepared me for the 400k when finishing as I recognized the approach to the end coming into Woodinville, I knew how far to climb exactly!

I completed my first ever permanent, albeit only a 100k. It was a nice little ride from Redmond to Issaquah to Seattle and back to Redmond. I will be making use of this ride.

I signed up for a fleche, starting at Portland, OR and made our way to Olympia, WA. Apparently this was a wet event, we spent some time in a pub at crazy o’clock, and curled up on the floor in a bathroom of some park. I do remember taking off my rain jacket, or is my memory playing tricks. Anyway, what I do remember is that I felt strong for this event.

After the fleche came the 400k. The route was changed from the original one as that had us going through Oso which was still suffering from the landslide that happened earlier in the year. I wasn’t complaining about the change of route as it was relatively flat. It did, and this was the cool part, go all the way to the Canadian border. I could have easily stepped into Canada, without my passport or visa! I was taking selfies when a border patrol came along just to see what was doing. Like I had ridden all the way to Canada and was going to turn around straight away? Yeah, right! So that is the closest I have been to Canada, beat my trip to Niagara Falls by a river’s width.

Alas, the 400k was the final brevet of the year for me. I did not complete a series which was the first time since I started randonneuring. The Spring 600k, which I had signed up for, saw me with a heavy cold. I was in two minds about not doing it and it turned out I made the right decision as I believe I would have DNFed. The summer 600k fell on the wrong weekend as it was Alma’s birthday and I would rather spend the time with Alma than riding a bike.😀

Intermittent riding: strange, strange year. I could have ridden thousands of miles due to not working but the Catholic guilt would have been dumped down as how could I justify being out riding when I ought to be looking for a job? So I probably rode the least number of miles in a year since 2009.

This year is going to be a challenge but see my next blog for more on that!

Sammamish River Kirkland Circular

20 February 2014

So, looking for a regular route to do, as I had in New York, I created the Sammamish River Kirkland Circular.  It is roughly 23 miles and I feel it is a good distance for a daily route until I start commuting for the elusive job I’ll be getting soon.😀

Of course, we happen to live near the top of a climb so most rides will start off with a descent and end with a climb.  The route takes me down to Sammamish River which has a bike path running alongside of it.  The bike path is about 10 miles long and it then moves on Burke Gilman Trail which takes me another mile or two before hitting the roads again.

Once I hit the roads, there is a two mile climb (roughly) of category 4. The second red light marks the end of the climb and the third red light marks the beginning of a descent.  After follows a short bump to Kirkland town centre and once through there, the climb back up to Redmond.

Yesterday, I could not cross Redmond Way to take my left turn and ended up going right, doing a U-turn and then a straight over at the light.  Also, coming up from Kirkland on NE 85th, as I approached I-405, I half expected to be hit from behind from crossing traffic.  I wasn’t but the feeling was there.  Due to this, I modified the route to take a different approach to the Sammamish River Trail and a different route up to Redmond.

The new approach to the trail was not good.  I found another trail that would get there if I climbed up to 132nd Ave but to my surprise, the descent to the trail was either riding down a scree path of walking down a load of steps.  I opted to walk and carry my bike.  The trail itself was not that great so I’ll be going back down Redmond Way.

The return was much better though it is steeper.  My legs felt it today.  It took me above I-405, literally, so I didn’t have to worry about that traffic coming on and off.  That part will stay.

Was slower today than yesterday.😦

Washington State – a cyclist’s dream or nightmare?

13 February 2014

We moved to Washington State from New York.  I am preparing to complete my first ever Washington series of brevets but first I need to get fit.  After the damage I did to my hands on LEL, I have been off the bicycle for a long time, doing just a handful of rides since August.  I am overweight!  The hands feel good now so I shall begin my training on the bike path that runs alongside the Sammamish River.  However, I have a nice climb at the end of the ride as I have to get back to our house which is up Redmond Way!

I shall report on how my first ride goes.

A different training schedule

14 January 2013

For Xmas, Alma bought me the Insanity 60 day Workout DVD set. The schedule allows for a day off once a week – Sundays. Going by the experience of just doing the fitness test this morning (Day 1), it seems tougher than CTS, and it was only 25 minutes! Today set the benchmark and I do another fitness test in two weeks to see how I compare. Tomorrow is proper training and is over 40 minutes. I watched the DVD last week and some of the “students” on the DVD dropped like flies during some of the exercises. I can only imagine what tomorrow will bring!

New Year, another resurrection.

31 December 2012

I am really looking forward to the upcoming year. I will be cycling LEL which is 200k further than PBP. In addition, Long Island will be hosting its first two brevets, a 200k and 300k.

A new Randonneuring group

18 October 2012

As I am going to resurrect this blog I thought it worthy of note to say that I am now the RBA (regional brevet administrator) for Long Island Randonneurs. Yes, this is a new group that we (ok, just me to date) have formed. Rusa (Randonneurs USA) have allowed us to hold two events next year so we shall be running a 200k in April and 300k in June. I am really excited by this and am busy creating the website. When I publish it, I shall post a link of course.

I’ll write separate postings on the two rides we are going to be holding.

W00t! W00t!

Speedy Gonzales

23 May 2012

I am a happy cyclist today. I just beat my track record which was set back in 2010. And, I beat it by 32 seconds. That’s all.🙂

Feeling a little deflated?

22 May 2012

Yesterday, I got my first puncture in a long while. Ever since switching to the Bontrager Hard Case Lites I have not suffered a puncture out in the field, as it were. I think it was on the Frenchtown practice ride back in 2010 that I got my last puncture. So to get one on a local ride means it is time for new tyres.

Yesterday was such a beautiful day for riding. A very slight breeze, maybe too light to be even considered a breeze, coming from the East. I was finally out in short sleeves so the temperature at 6am was nice. Sunday had been a hot day and I got a little burned working in the back garden wearing just a vest. So I was looking for a faster time as I was not wearing a layer that would add air resistance.

My first checkpoint is after 2 miles, once I get to the top of Hoffman Lane, to the West of the landfill. 8:15 minutes is a good time to get there but I am normally around 8:30 – 8:45. From my time there, I can usual gauge how the rest of the ride will go, especially if I can discern the direction of the wind, if there one. Yesterday’s split was 7:49. I could barely believe it. That’s a great split. Of course, when I get a split like that, you know there is not going to be any letting up. My next split is when I come back to Motor Parkway after climbing Blydenburg Rd. I got there in 18:58. Under 20 is a great time there so I was very pleased to see 18 at the front.

The rest of the ride was going well. I got up to 37+ going down Motor Parkway and it has been a while since I have gotten that fast. Normally, with layers, it is about 32/33mph. So I was maintaining the pace, if not actually increasing it. Nipping down Terry, where I was briefly dismayed having gotten behind a school bus which put on its red stop lights, then along Johnson to Ocean Avenue and back up to the start of Motor Parkway, I got there in 36 minutes. Normally I think 38 is a fast time. By now I am sure I am challenging for my best ever time around this route. I got my second best time ever last week, down two minutes on the all time fastest, but I was almost two minutes faster on that time already.

I was zipping around the lake when I got the feeling that my back tyre was flat. You can tell straight away. It is a feeling of harmony with the bike and you can tell when the wheel behaves out of character. I checked the tyre and it was deflating. I slow wheeled around to a safer place to change the tyre. As I was trying to inflate the spare a little before tucking it under the tyre, I couldn’t discern any air coming out of the inflator. No! It’s broke? Couldn’t be! But it was. I tucked the tube inside the tyre, popped the tyre back into the rims and tried inflating the tube. Nothing. I disassembled the inflator, wondering, hoping it was just dirt. Put it back together and felt a little air. I twisted the inflator a little more and felt more air come out. It was going to be enough to allow me to limp home rather than go all out.

I decided to take a different route as I had given up on the fast ride and I nearly got lost. I knew I was in the triangle between Motor Parkway, Ocean Avenue and Old Nichol’s but where in that triangle I was, I couldn’t tell. I decided to head east, after coming to two dead ends as I was bound to hit either Motor Parkway or Old Nichol’s. Fortunately, I came out on to Old Nichol’s and from there, I found Townline which leads to home.

So it could have been a fast ride, a very fast ride, but it wasn’t to be. However, I think it is indicative that I am feeling strong which is just as well as I have a 400k on Saturday and then the big ride of the year, the PA 600k the following weekend.

Cranbury 200k – the 2012 version

30 April 2012

The Cranbury 200k is usually the flattest and the shortest of the NJ brevets. It is a test of measurement to see how well you have come out of hibernation. Two years ago, for my first full brevet, I did a pretty reasonable time. Last year, I had minor surgery in January and was off the bike some weeks, this year, I was off the bike some months since I started that diet back in October. It was going to be interesting to see how the diet affected the performance.

For this year, there was going to be some additional climbing. Nothing major but more than what is normally expected. Two weeks before the brevet, the temperature warmed up and I thought I was going to be cycling in shorts. As the even approached, the weather slipped back into coldness and the thought of dressing in shorts dissipated.

The 200k is just over 125 miles. My longest ride in 2012 was 20 miles. The distance didn’t scare me. The speed did. How slow was I going to be? Most of my training had been focused on the CTS sessions. Were they going to be of any benefit?

Everyone set off at a mild pace. Did some chitting and chatting at the beginning. Seeing people I hadn’t seen since France and others ever longer still since the brevets last year. Nigel was doing the brevet on a fixie so I was asking him questions about that. Am I interested in getting one? Maybe I can convert the Trek. One minute I was having a chat with Patrick and then next second, he’s disappeared from sight and he is on a wild goose chase trying to track down Katie and Jonathon on the tandem.

The first rest stop came and I grabbed a BK breakfast sandwich. Most people were not eating BK stuff so I dropped from the main pack as I finished off breakfast. I caught up with them at one of the lights. However, at mile 40, I started feeling the effects of little energy. When we started climbing up for the information controle, I dropped way off the back content to climb at my own pace. No rush.

The second rest stop was a new one for the course. One of the ocean bridges was closed for repairs so we had to come further inland. This meant there was no stretch of ocean views for miles and miles but it also saved us from the wind which normally accommodates that stretch. Climbing or wind? I know which I prefer. So I was pleased to reach the second rest stop. Not desperate by any measure.

At some point on the third segment, we joined up to the old course. There is a four mile stretch at the end where you can pass the other riders leaving the last controle on their way to the finish. I was expecting to see many riders as they headed for home. However, it was only Ren and his brother Robert I saw as I approached the third controle. I seemed to be doing fine though I was aware my speed wasn’t great. Janice had her brownies as a nice surprise at this checkpoint. I thought she had not baked any so was delighted to see them. When Dawn and Rick arrived at the controle, Dawn announced she was going to take two of them. They were quite popular. Thanks, Janice.

The last segment I felt worn down. There was only 31 miles for the last segment but it seemed to take an age. I was passed by a few people as I headed for home. I just didn’t have much energy to put up a decent pace. I kept counting down the miles and soon enough, as with all rides, the end is reached.

It had been a long drawn out ride for the first one of the season. I came to the conclusion that CTS was no substitute for miles and that doing 2 or 3 CTS sessions per week could not replace actual mileage on the roads. So I came back home with the intent of getting outside more on the bike and to see how I could incorporate the CTS sessions into the training week.

When I got back home, I was pleased to discover that I had beaten last year’s ride by 30 minutes. More climbing and less energy. However, I do remember last year being windy. Still, it was a quicker ride but way down on 2010. I have a feeling that 2013 will beat the 2010 time. We’ll see next year!

Neglecting to update the blog

29 April 2012

Seems as if I have been overly neglectful of the old blog here. I need to finish the postings about the first brevet of the year and the fleche ride I did with Team Sins of the Fleche.

I have signed up for the Eastern PA 600k as I cannot do the flat NJ 600k this year. That’ll be a 400k and a very hilly 600k on consecutive weekends. Look forward to that.

The Specialized bike is in for a service so will be training on the Trek this week. I am enjoying going back to the big circular rides around Lake Ronkonkoma. They add a bit of climbing though not much. I wonder if I can get a Port Jefferson ride done before work in the morning. I’ll see what my shortest route is with the climb from Port Jeff.

I have started doing spin classes on Sunday mornings. They are tough though very enjoyable. I paced myself better today knowing what was coming unlike last week whereby I reached the top gear very quickly and couldn’t move the pedals at one stage. The music is pretty good too.