Archive for April, 2011

Princeton 200k Post scriptum

26 April 2011

I forgot to mention how all the electronics performed in the deluge. I had been concerned that the cache battery linked up to the dynamo hub may get waterlogged and any electronic gadget plugged into its USB port would subsequently get fried. As it turns out, the cache battery did not get waterlogged. Alma checked it after the ride and said it was slightly damp but not wet. That was good news. The bad news, in a way, was that I had forgotten to switch it on. Whilst it was being charged from the rotation of the front wheel, the bike computer was not being charged as I had not got it switched on. Fortunately for me, I had about an hour’s charge left on the computer when I finished. For the 300k, I definitely need to remember to switch it on once I turn the lights off after dawn.


Princeton 200k v2.011

25 April 2011

This is one of the NJ brevets I did not do last year. I had done the Frenchtown Practice ride and the Princeton 115k which together equate to the Princeton 200k but I had not done them both together. I had not thought Adamic Hill was daunting though I did only have ten miles on my legs. This time around I was going to be having an extra 37 on them plus I had another 76 miles to go.

I had been looking at the weather all week for this ride. Mainly because of the temperature, not the actual conditions. I knew it was going to rain at some point during the ride, I just hadn’t expected it to be pelting down at the beginning. I signed in and got inspected only to realise that I didn’t have my ankle reflectors – I had left them in the room. I phoned Alma and she quickly found them and brought them down to me a minute before we started riding. She’s my heroine!! Anyway, we had just started off when the heavens opened and we pedalled away through deluge after deluge. I quickly abandoned my sunglasses as they became more hindrance than of use.

The field was split early on and as I settled in behind the second major group, they began pulling away from me. I seem to have lost the ability to stay with the leaders this year. Last year I remember riding the express train the first 62 miles on the 400k. I doubt I’ll be doing that again this year. However, I was soon to catch up as they missed a left turn, thinking it was going to be the lights further down the hill. It’s bad missing a turn but when you miss it going down the hill fast, double bad luck!! Anyway, I was not to be with the group for much longer as they pulled away again.

For the last three brevets I have ridden, the majority of the ride has been ridden solo. The 400 and 600 I didn’t do solo but the 200 and 300 last year I did. It is difficult trying to judge the ideal person to ride around with. I guess I need to push myself harder so I can stay with the leaders for longer. (Back to CTS training in the morning!)

I passed through the only wooden covered bridge in New Jersey, apparently, and with a sharp right turn after that, I remember on the 115k last year, that was around the place where I noticed one of the water bottle cages rattling like crazy. I had stayed with the group on the occasion to that point. This year I was by myself. There were three worrying parts before I got to Frenchtown – all made bad by the wetness of the roads. The first metal bridge I crossed over, my heart missed a couple of beats as I felt the back wheel wobble and slide. I stayed upright however. The other two bits were steep downhills. One had a bad surface with lots of potholes and the third crossed on to the main road into Frenchtown. That time I had both sets of brakes on to make sure I didn’t go rushing into traffic on either side of the road. Brakes applied on downhills is never nice to do but picking yourself up from a spill is even worse.

Some lovely chicken soup was waiting at Frenchtown and of course, Janice’s brownies, which had been missed sorely on the Cranbury 200k. The fact that I am on a low carb diet and no cereals goes out of the window on these long bike rides. I changed batteries in the GoPro and it wasn’t long before I was heading off again for Adamic Hill.

Just as I neared Adamic Hill, I started up the camera to take photos every two seconds. Chris Nadovich nipped by me as I was preparing the camera but I caught him up on Adamic and I followed him up. The computer, which I have set up to Auto Stop and Auto Resume on 3mph, mainly because of the red lights, thought I had stopped riding quite a number of times. I also noticed that it did that on the last section when the Cat’s Eye was reporting me at riding a while 2 mph faster than what the Garmin thought. Now I don’t think I was so slow going up Adamic!! 😛 The only good thing about Adamic is that you do eventually come to the top. It doesn’t go on forever. After answering the debatable question about the windmill, well, the answer is debatable, not the question, Chris set off again and I soon followed. It wasn’t long before we were in Asbury munching on lunch. The best sandwich I have had this year!! A toasted egg salad sandwich. Delicious!

After the break, I leave the deli to be immediately faced by a climb. A few more climbs leaves you on a nice decent which has to be stopped due to a left turn. This is the section that I am worried about as there is another informational control which I definitely did not want to miss. I was following Roy’s electronic route, not blindly, but I was following it. I wasn’t too sure if the control would be on there so I was using the paper cue sheet in conjunction. Anyway, as soon as I turned left, a secret control!! Karl has stopped Chris and also stopped me too. My brevet card was quickly signed and then I was off again to the tune of cowbells being played. Way to go, Karl!

Looking at the ride I did, this section was mainly downhill. I am not sure why my speed didn’t reflect that. It definitely did not feel like mostly downhill. It did feel like there was air resistance but I couldn’t see any flags moving in the wind. I didn’t notice passing where I had turned off in the morning to climb Adamic so I was pleased to discover I was on the Frenchtown approach as I followed the Delaware river down. The control looked sparse when I arrived with only Chris and the two “Tandonneurs”. I think it was Barbara and Ron. Two more riders had turned up before I departed. I couldn’t remember the last section being that hilly but my memory is not too reliable when it comes to remembering how difficult the roads can be. I did have a vague collection of a climb in the woods.

There’s a slog up from Frenchtown and I stayed up high until I hit the fastest descent of the day. I clocked 42.3mph, I think, and this time I am going with Garmin’s estimation. 😛 Then there came the long, long climb in the woods. This does seem to go on forever and in reality, it does. I am surprised I am sitting here writing this as in reality I am still riding up that road in the woods. What follows is a long, long descent which also went on forever but that is one forever I didn’t mind. It was almost as delicious as the egg salad sandwich!

The last ten miles finishes nicely with barely a climb. Just a quick short burst with two miles to go where I stopped to phone Alma that I should be done in less than ten minutes if she wanted to see me finish. Oh that reminds me, the sun came out at 5:17pm. I didn’t even bother reaching for my sunglasses. I also sat down at one point to remove my leggings. It wasn’t until I saw a truck bearing down on me did I realise how idiotic it was to sit on the corner of the road to remove them. My defense was the grass was wet and the road was dry.

So I finished the ride 40 minutes behind the flat Cranbury time. I am happy with that but there is room for improvement. This has to be one of the prettiest brevets to do in NJ. Next up is the Princeton 300k in three weeks time. A new brevet for me with four long hard slogs!! Bring it on!

Pre-registered for the PBP

17 April 2011

Well, I have successfully pre-registered for the 2011 PBP. Now I just have to do the three more rides for qualification by middle of June and then get ready for the August ride. Yikes!!!

Just got back from Windy City

16 April 2011

Boo. That’s all I want to say, boo! Where did the higher temperatures go to? I had already laundered my winter cycling clothes and put them away in drawers for the first time in months. Now I had to get them out again and don them once more.

I actually checked the weather last night. Windy and cold today or more windy but less cold on Sunday. Wind today was from the East and the wind tomorrow is from the SW. I chickened out and opted for a tail wind to end with; I went out today.

A new route was created today. Last weekend, Alma told me that on the Mt. Sinai Patchogue road, it is the highest point on Long Island. It looked like a long gentle climb up so I wanted to try it out. I actually think I had done it before but was not too sure. As such, it was a nice climb as climbs go. There was a cross wind at that point which helped to slow me down as I began the descent. It turned out to be a nice route. Only 30 miles but on semi decent surfaces for the most part.

Two bad incidents though during the ride. First, another puncture. I have no faith in the Specialized tyres and should have changed them before now. I have two brand new Bontrager Hardcases waiting to go on the wheels. So six miles into the ride I am thinking, “Do I have a puncture?” It wasn’t obvious but enough to make me wonder. I got off the bike and felt the tyre. Yup, a puncture. I quickly changed inner tubes. I checked the tyre but could not find anything poking through that would have caused the puncture. I was debating whether to make it a shorter ride at that point. I had another spare and because I was doing a circular, I wouldn’t be really increasing my distance from home, if I needed to walk. I proceeded as planned.

The second incident really got my goat! A STANLEY STEAMER van driver had an issue with the lane I was cycling in on 347. There were four lanes going East. The right most lane was a right turn only lane and as I was not turning right, I was not in the lane. The van driver beeped his/her horn a few times and the passenger wildly swung their arms around. They passed by me very close. There must have been inches in it. They got a lot of verbal from me and some hand action I am too polite to go into further details! I sent them an email thought I don’t expect a reply at all. We shall see. But it is drivers like that that should be banned from our roads.

Anyway, apart from that, it was a good ride.

Yoga, huh, what is it good for?

14 April 2011

Those deep forward lunges had my thighs burning tonight. I honestly thought they were cooking but I loved the feeling I was getting from them too. Maybe I shouldn’t go so deep. I am not the deepest in the class by a long shot so I do have some way to go. Happy Baby pose was very happy tonight.

Cycling back from the class my legs felt very heavy. All I could think of was the ride in the morning on Trekkie. I am going for a fast spin down Motor Parkway – hope my legs are up for it!!

Baby, it’s cold outside

14 April 2011

I stood outside in my long pyjamas to see if I could gauge how cold 48F was. It didn’t seem that bad. Stick with the shorts. Ok, I did put on two long sleeved tops – I am not that crazy. I went out with the bike and thought, “Ooh, it’s a tad cold!” Did I come back in for leggings? No, I did not.

The first climb warmed me up but when I was flying down the first downhill I realised how cold it was. The second climb fully warmed me up. I still cannot descend Motor Parkway fast. I think I am topping 33mph when normally I am approaching 40mph. I am not sure what is slowing me down. I think my approach is up there. I may take the Trek out tomorrow to see if it’s me or the bike.

Today I wanted to beat Tuesday’s time. I was really pushing it. I think I was on target. COnsidering I ended up being four seconds slower, I definitely was on target. What slowed me down? I got stuck behind a school bus coming back down Motor Parkway. Nightmare scenario. A bus on the other side of the road only makes you stop once, a bus on the same side makes you stop every time. I had to stop twice and pedalled really slowly. I think I could have cracked the time by a minute. I’ll never know.

Anyway, I think I have done enough speed work. I need to get some miles under my belt so I’ll be back on the longer rides next week.

Shedding the grub’s clothing

12 April 2011

Last night I decided I was going to go out in cycling shorts only. Come rain or shine, wind or snow. Well, it was 55F and a light breeze. I didn’t feel up to going out in just a cycling shirt so I wore two tops but my legs were exposed for the first time. The layers had been shed.

It made a big, big difference. I was over a minute ahead at my first checkpoint and two minutes ahead after the second climb. I did notice that I wasn’t as fast going down Motor Parkway towards Old Nicholls, need to see how to improve on that. I got back in 46 minutes plus, almost seven minutes quicker than yesterday’s time. I am still three minutes down on my fastest time ever but at least my times are comparable to my peak last year. Just need to shed these last few pounds and I will be happy with my progress.

I had forgotten the reasons why I was behind in training. I was away for most of December and then in the middle of January I had an operation which kept me off the bike for over a month. So overall, it’s not too bad.

Play Misty

11 April 2011

If it was possible to have greater than 100% humidity, then today was that day. Even a downhill couldn’t clear the condensation from my glasses. As such, I had to remove them and put them in my pocket. It reminded me of scuba diving with a fogged mask.

Temperature was on the 50F mark. Hmmm, the usual layers or to brave it and go with less? I opted for the softer choice and went with what I had hanging on the line in the basement. That dries my clothes for the next ride and when they stink too much, I switch clothes layers!! I do go out with fresh shorts each time though. I was trying to beat Friday’s time but I failed by 22 seconds. I think back on the school bus that had its red lights flashing as I was pedalling like crazy going down Motor Parkway. That must have stolen some precious seconds as I practically same to a stop, it switched off the red lights as I approached, and had lost all momentum for the flat that followed.

Anyway, be back out tomorrow to beat that time. 🙂

Like pushing peas up a hill

9 April 2011

You’d think cycling should be an easy form of exercise. Just hop on the bike and off you go. Sounds dreamy but in winter (spring) you need to put on the layers and then just hop on the bike, etc. But there are things that will try to stop you going fast. The cold just saps out energy – see yesterday’s blog. The wind tries to fling you from your machine. Hills try to make you do a wheelie and fall backwards. And, another thing dawned on me when I was cycling along Sound Avenue, the type of road surface can strip away 3-4 mph.

Sound Avenue has mixed surfaces. There are areas where the surface is nice and a reasonable can be maintained. Other areas are plainly bad. The road surface created so much friction I wanted to get some slicks on the wheels. I am thinking of writing to whoever and asking them if they can make a slicker bike lane along the side of the road. They can also paint one of those nice white lines to keep the nasty cars away! Just need to find out who they are now.

I wanted to do a long ride today. Okay, I only did 64 miles, half the distance of last week, but I was not planning on stopping for a break. I set off shortly after seven and it was still in the 30s. By the time I had finished the ride, it was in the mid 50s. There was little wind to speak of but I did notice a slight easterly as I got further out east. At least that would be behind me as I made the return back to home.

Getting off Sound Avenue and going through Riverhead, the road surface was much better. I went by Tangers and I didn’t realise how long a road that is. When I drive along there, I have normally be scuba diving, and it doesn’t seem like a long stretch. But on the bike, it seemed to take an age. Coming back along 25A/347, the road undulates so I had periods of faster riding and slower riding.

One thing I did notice was that I cannot eat the GUs (that’s plural GU, not someone called Gus) on the way with the double glove layering. I think I could rip the sachet open but I don’t want to litter and I think I would drop the top portion of the sachet as I eat. So I have to stop and eat. I think I also reached the limit of cycling with two water bottles. The GU Brew Electrolyte Tablets arrived this week and they are so much nicer than Camelbak’s tablets. Camelbak’s are too sweet and whenever I drink liquid with a tablet in, I am reminded of the 600k where I was desperate for non-sweetened water. The GU has just a hint of sweetness and is very tolerable. I had one water bottle with a dissolved tablet in and one of plain water. We are still not in summer yet where water consumption increases dramatically. May get one of the saddle water bottle holders. We’ll see.

Day off tomorrow from cycling. Whoo hoo!

Crushing the bunny in my thighs

8 April 2011

This morning it was tough to get out of bed. I finally opened my eyes, grabbed my watch, and prayed I saw a 7 dot something on its face. No such luck, 6:38. Time to get up and go cycling. As I passed the window at the top of the stairs, I saw frost on the garage tiles. Brrr. The thermometer in the kitchen reported an outside temperature of 37F.

So, finally making the move to go cycling, I was determined to beat both yesterday’s and Wednesday’s times. No wind again but, and more importantly, dry roads. No slacking off allowed. However, as I cycled along our street, the cold sapped the energy away from my legs.

The first check point, top of the first climb, I was twenty seconds ahead. Second check point, first long downhill, greater speed than yesterday’s max. My eventual top speed of the ride did not top Wednesday’s but I wasn’t to find that out until my second and fastest downhill section. My next checkpoint is the cross section of Terry and Old Nichols. Time was 46:xx which gave me seven minutes to get back to then house. The lights changed to green and I was off again and did not let up till I reached the front door and stop the timer. I had beaten Wednesday’s time by four seconds shy of two minutes.

I am pleased with the reaction of the cycling this week and needed to do speed-work. Not the speed-work that will win races but that will get me focussed on the long and gruelling season ahead.