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Topic: Cycling in August, 2008

Messages: (7) 1

Author: Seth Dillingham


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# 6231

Cycling in August, 2008

August is the target month. All the training for the year is aimed squarely at the beginning of this month, when I ride with the Huckleberries from the NY line in West Stockbridge to Sturbridge, MA. The next two days are the 188 miles of the PMC, from Sturbridge to Bourne the first day, and from Bourne to Provincetown the second.

It's a lot of riding, but the anxiety about "will I be ready" is over. Either I'm ready or I'm not.

This year, I was more than ready. I felt great, rode very strongly and had a fantastic time. Read the full story of my 2008 PMC Ride here. (Actually, at this moment only part of the story has been posted, I'm still writing it!)

Here are the stats for this month. Note that the first three rides are the PMC days.

Date Distance Time Avg. Speed Max Speed Weight
August 1, 2008
100.25 5:10:40 19.36 52.8 244
August 2, 2008
112.66 5:34:28 20.21 52.8 245
August 3, 2008
74.71 3:34:11 20.92 39.5 245
August 5, 2008
58.18 3:04:35 18.91 50.8 248
August 7, 2008
52.69 2:37:37 20.05 48.1 247
August 11, 2008
26.19 1:13:44 21.31 41.2 246
August 12, 2008
54.27 2:45:02 19.73 51.5 242
August 14, 2008
57.17 2:53:09 19.81 45.7 242
August 16, 2008
59.5 2:59:12 19.92 47.6 245
August 17, 2008
40.6 2:04:17 19.60 31.0 242
August 19, 2008
50.65 2:33:19 19.82 49.9 242
August 21, 2008
46.13 2:17:37 20.11 46.2 244
August 22, 2008
26.04 1:17:57 20.04 38.3 244
August 26, 2008
48.8 2:24:14 20.3 50.6 242
August 28, 2008
40.55 1:59:05 20.43 46.0 241
August 31, 2008
31.21 1:31:50 20.39 36.4 242
16 Riding
879.6 Miles 44:00:57 54.97 Miles / Ride 52.8 mph
(Monthly Max)
165 Minutes / Ride

... and the same information organized a bit differently:

Summary of rides from 8/1/2008 to 8/31/2008
Rides: 16 Miles: 879.6 miles (1415.57 km) Time: 1day 20h 57s
Avg. Speed: 19.98 mph (32.16 kph) Avg. Miles: 54.97 miles (88.46 km) Avg. Time: 2h 45m 3s
Fastest 21.31 mph (34.29 kph) Miles: 26.19 miles (42.14 km) Date: 8/11/2008
Slowest 18.91 mph (30.43 kph) Miles: 58.18 miles (93.63 km) Date: 8/5/2008
Avg. Weight: 244 lbs Max Weight: 248 lbs Min Weight: 241 lbs


Author: Seth Dillingham


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# 6232

PMC Day 0: The Huckleberries Ride Again

Friday, August 1, 2008

This ride was epic.

There were fifteen of us, as shown in the picture below:

15 at the Start

From left to right: Scott, Joel, Jon, Tom, Mark, Dave, Tim, Not Sure, Ellen, Me, Steve, Mike, Mark, Not Sure, and Steve.

Could someone fill me in on the "Not Sures" please?

Did I forget to mention that I was riding with Lilliputians? They may be tiny, but they make up for it with numbers!

Click the image for higher resolution. (This is Mark Stockwell's photo, used with permission.)

Not pictured: Jimbo and ???, the guys that drove the sag wagon and kept us all alive.

Also not pictured: Rawson Hubbel and his friend Mike (who caught up with us later), and two friends of Mark Stockwell who we picked up in Stockbridge at the Red Lion Inn.

Now that you've met the crew, let me remind you of something. I started this year very heavy. In early April I weighed 278 pounds! Climbing hills wasn't just challenging, it seemed nearly impossible. I lost lots of weight, but in May I did the Birthday Loop with Steve and felt fat and slow. In June we started doing the birthday loop group ride, and Rick is so light and fast that he makes everybody feel fat and slow. Although I improved with every ride (which usually included some real hills), I never stopped feeling fat and slow.

Imagine my pleasant surprise, then, when Mark Stockwell and I flew into Huntington more than five minutes ahead of the rest! After Huckleberries I even managed to be first up the monster climb on Route 66 (though Mark and I left a bit ahead of some of the others). No, it's not a race, and none of the other riders are "slow," but I surprised myself.

The descent off Jacob's ladder was as amazing as ever. Miles and miles of gentle, downhill pedaling, looking through the forest on either side of the road, hoping to see bunnies and deer. It's so relaxing after the hard climb.

HAH!! Yeah right! Mark and I rode down that mountain like our butts were on fire, and I hit my top speed of the weekend: 52.8 mph. I actually managed that while coasting in the steepest section. The road descends for at least nine miles, but after the first five or six it barely deserves to be called a "road." Pot holes and rocks replaced the road, and we had to drop our pace or risk flat tires and wipe outs.

Gee, it would really stink to get a flat out there, wouldn't it? Would really hate to have to change a flat tire on the side of a mountain road... Yeah, anyway, I'll come back to this, as you probably guessed.

Rawson and Mike caught us at our namesake, the Huckleberries cafe.

At some point after the Route 66 monster climb, we regrouped and rode to lunch together at Atkins Farms Country Market. I ate better than in previous years: only half of a roast beef sandwich, a V8 (mostly for the salt, on the advice of Mike Lucas), and a bunch of grapes. Others in the group ate sushi. Sushi?! I couldn't do it. I like sushi, but it just makes my stomach turn when I'm riding hard.

Triple Flat on a Two-Wheeled Bike

Some of the roads were in such terrible condition that we'd all gotten a little burned out from pointing out every significant hole and bump. We were in a pace line — I don't recall now, four days later, if it was before or after lunch but I think after — and I was sixth or seventh back.

SLAM I hit a hole very hard, and heard the dreaded "psst psst psst psst" of my front tire gasping its last. We'd already had two flats on this ride, and I now had our third. One of the guys Mark Stockwell had us pick up at the Red Lion jumped into action and had my tube replaced faster than most riders could even pop the bead over the rim. (Seriously, he has this super-human talent for tire-changing, and I'm not the only one to notice it.)

I pumped it up with my frame pump, and managed to rip the stem off it just as I was finishing up. YEAH!! There's our fourth flat, same as the third flat.

Tom worked his magic again, and I got on to start riding... and my back wheel was flat too! GAH! So I had originally double-flatted without knowing it, and then managed to make it a triple flat by breaking the stem while pumping the front wheel. NICE. Surely I belong in some record book for that one.

On to Sturbridge

I was next to Steve Weiss when he commented, "There's Sturbridge." I looked up and smiled. Because sometimes I'm evil.

"Sturbridge?" I asked.


"As in... the town line?"

"That's the one."

I paused... not at all. I sprinted past the front of the line, and kept going hard until just before the town line. I couldn't hear him behind me, but I was sure he was back there. Just after I crossed the line I saw him out of the corner of my eye. He'd almost caught me. (That was fun!)

18 at the Finish

Finish Line in Sturbridge at Motel 8

While only 15 started in West Stockbridge, 18 finished with us in Sturbridge. We actually picked up four additional riders, so I'm not sure who is missing.

Click the image for higher resolution.

We all finished together at the Super 8 motel for pictures, and then I rode to the Comfort Inn where Corinne had already registered.

After a shower and a little munching, I drove back to the Host to register. The registration hall was almost empty, so I zipped through the line. Then I made a bold move...

Heavy Hitter

I committed to being a "heavy hitter" for the PMC again this year. That means I have to raise at least $6700 by October 1, instead of $4000. So far I've raised $675, so I'm 10% of the way there. I have to make it, or they charge the balance to my credit card...

Dinner to Lights Out

I held bikes while Steve, Paul, Dave, Mark and Andy unpacked their car, then I went into the "retail area" to buy a couple of tubes (for the guys who loaned them to me when I triple-flatted) and a CO2 cartridge for Mark (owed it to him for two years). I got what I needed, but never managed to give them to their owners. Sigh.

Dinner was the same as every year: held out back under the big tent, and was exactly the same food as we have every year. Pretty good, if a little boring. I sat with Paul and Steve, and Chris and Donna Rawson.

After wandering all over the Host parking lot to find the car (I could NOT remember where I had parked it!), I drove back to the hotel again. There was a mechanic set up at the back of the parking lot, just like they had at the Host! Hmm... I stopped by to see what was up. He had an interesting story:

The owner of the hotel came into the shop where the mechanic worked, the day before (Thursday). He asked if they were doing any volunteer work at the PMC like most of the other shops in the area, but they weren't. So he asked if they'd like to. They would, but it was too late to set anything up this year, because "surely the PMC had paperwork or a process they had to go through..."

The hotel owner's response was, "I don't care about any of that. It's my hotel, and I'd like you to set up at my place for all the cyclists staying with us." So, that's what he did.

He wasn't busy, so I had him retape my bars, and gave him a small tip.

Corinne and I watched some of the opening ceremonies on TV, and then went to bed. I felt good, and was confident that this was going to be a great weekend.

Stats for the Ride

100.25 miles (161.4 km) (including the ride from my hotel to the start, and from the finish to my new hotel) in 5h 10' 40" for an average speed of 19.36 mph (31.17 kph).


Author: Corinne


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# 6233

Re: PMC Day 0: The Huckleberries Ride Again

Don't forget the search for granola & azul-berries the night before.

On Aug 8, 2008, at 4:56 PM, Seth Dillingham wrote:

> <>
> --------------------------------
> Friday, August 1, 2008


Author: Seth Dillingham


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# 6235

PMC Day 1: Sturbridge to Bourne, by the Numbers

Saturday, August 2, 2008

This was my sixth year riding the PMC, and my fourth year to include the Huckleberries ride (which makes it a three-day event). Those previous three years, I was totally exhausted on Saturday morning from the hard ride on Friday.

This year was different. I woke up easily and on time (4:30), showered, had breakfast, and left at about 5:30 to ride back to the Host, where the ride starts. I was there at about 5:40.

Starting Line

On the way in I saw someone that looked suspiciously like John Kerry riding out with someone else. Last year he had a mechanical on the starting line, so perhaps he decided to leave a few minutes early and avoid the crush. I don't blame him.

Just 20 minutes before the start is a bit late to be arriving to a crowd of 3,000 cyclists. All the good spots in the "fast lane" were already taken. As were all the bad ones. I tried to weasel my way into the crowd a little bit, but quickly realized that wasn't working. The bikes were packed too closely together. So I stayed near the front line!

I took a couple pictures of the crowd just as the National Anthem started. That's a big bunch of riders!

Three Thousand at the Start!

Sturbridge Start 2

Tom Tinory was standing about twenty feet back in the crowd, and yelled for my attention. We took each other's pictures at the same moment: you can see his flash firing as I took my picture. (Tom is one of the Huckleberries, and I rode my first century of the year with him just a couple weeks earlier.)

Click the image for higher resolution.

One Goofed Up Video

I also took a short video of the crowd during the National Anthem, then realized my helmet was still on. Without really thinking about it, I tried to take it off with the camera still in my hand. Makes for a roller coaster ride of a video!

The microphone that the singer was using cut out just as she was finishing the National Anthem. The crowd finished it for her! Unfortunately, I pushed the button to stop recording just as the mic cut off.

The weather was cool and dry, perfect for cycling. We rolled out at 6 (as we always do).

The Ride

Though I'd been standing near the front, at least three hundred people rolled out ahead of me, including Dave Schlageter. I caught him in about 15 miles. My average at that point was about 21.4 mph. We skipped the first water stop and stayed together until the second. He said he had thought about sticking with Mark and Andy, but wasn't sure he could do it. (They're ridiculously fast.)

Paul and Steve Davis arrived about five minutes behind us. We chatted for a minute, then we all rode out together. We hooked up with a really nice paceline and were just flying down the road for a long time. The strong riders did most of the pulls, but the slower ones knew to keep them short so the pace was kept up around 26-27mph. Paul was on the edge of bonking, so he and Steve pulled off to ride in at a slower pace (Dave had pulled off a few minutes earlier). I don't know the exact timing, but I was almost done with my lunch by the time I saw them riding in.

Steve's Mom and Dad were there at lunch (with a cooler full of cold, wet towels! Yay!). Again, we all chatted for a little while, then Dave and I left together. (There are about 40 miles left after lunch.) As we were leaving, a bee stung Dave right through his sock! He said he was "a little allergic." It didn't kill him, but it swelled up like a golf ball almost immediately and obviously hurt quite a bit.

We kept the pace low, and the Davises (Davisses? Davis's? Davu?) caught up with us in another paceline.

Dave vanished off the back at some point. I never saw him go, and didn't see him again until after my massage.

Steve, Paul and I finished together at just before 12:30.

Stats: 112.66 miles (181.3 km) in 5h 34' 28" for an average speed of 20.21 mph (32.53 kph).

Three at the Finish

Paul, Steve and Seth at MMA Finish

Paul Davis, Steve Davis, Seth Dillingham

Like the shark-fin hair? Helmet head at its best.

Click the image for higher resolution.

Hotel and Massage

Massages were available as early as 1:15 (we were pretty early), but I needed to ride over the Bourne Bridge, shower, and return before I could have one. So I took one for 3:00, and headed out again.

Every other year, I've put a bag on the truck in Sturbridge to be picked up in Bourne. This year I realized that was silly, since Corinne would be waiting for me at the hotel I could just leave the bag with her!

We actually pulled into the hotel driveway at the very same second. She went in to register, but came out fuming in a few minutes. Even though we had paid for the room a year in advance and specifically reserved a room on the ground floor and canal-side of the hotel, they had given our room to someone else. "Please deal with this, honey!" So, I went in to see what could be done.

Corinne plays bad cop pretty well when she's frustrated. ;-) (It didn't help that she'd just spent a lot of time sitting in traffic, and had read a whole slew of negative reviews of the hotel that morning.)

I let the manager fumble about for a minute while he gave his version of the story and why there was a problem: we reserved the room as we were checking out last year, everyone else did it as they were checking in, so they were a day earlier and got first dibs. I pointed out that, in that case, we shouldn't have been told that we could have the room we asked for when we reserved it last year. He didn't really have a response, so I simply asked him, "Is there anything you can do?" He sighed and said, "let me check," then started typing at the computer. Hey, surprise, here was something he could do! One of the people assigned to a ground floor, canal-side room had not actually requested it, and *nobody* else had yet shown up that day, so he simply moved them to another room. Problem solved. (And, I reserved next year's room at the same time so the problem won't be repeated.)

We moved all the stuff into the room, and I took my much needed shower, ate a little, then drove back over the bridge toward the MMA. Stopped at the first PMC parking lot I saw, memorized the location so we wouldn't have a repeat of last year (when a bunch of us wandered all over Bourne trying to find the car), and took the shuttle back to the MMA.

After a little snack, I headed to my 3:00 massage. I don't remember the massage therapist's name, but I remember that I was assigned to table 8 and that he was good. Much better than any previous year. Said he's been doing this for the PMC since they started offering complimentary massages in the early 90's and has done it every year except two. Most of the MT's are fresh out of school and still have a lot to learn, but he's been doing it professionally for a long time and the difference was amazing! He quickly found my trouble spots and focused on those: a spot between my shoulder blades was bad, but a rock-tight muscle in my left thigh was much worse.

Fifteen minutes wasn't enough time to work out all the kinks, of course, but I felt lighter than air when my time was up. He outdid himself by telling me I'm in fantastic shape. Three people told me that over the course of the weekend, and the only way I kept my head from inflating like a dirigible was to remind myself that Steve is still 50 pounds lighter than me. ;-)

Storm Tries to Topple Tent, and Stuck in Traffic

Back in the food tent I had some more to eat and sat with Steve, Paul, and Chris Rawson. Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but I seem to remember Chris's wife Donna being there also, though I'm not sure how she got in. Maybe she volunteered? Eventually the Davises and I moved over to the dugout with Dave Schlageter, Mark and Andy.

A Couple Dozen in the Dugout

MMA Dugout

At first there were just the six of us in one of the MMA dugouts. Then the rain started and it got very crowded.

Click the image for higher resolution.

A thunderstorm moved in, and everybody lounging on the grass in the baseball field moved into the tents... or the dugouts. It was crowded. The wind picked up, and actually knocked over one of the support beams in the (very, very big) food tent! That was a little scary. The PMC admins panicked a little and tried to get everyone out, but I think the majority of the riders ignored them. The worst of the storm passed and the tent didn't fall down. That's good: the poles that hold the tent up are bigger than telephone poles. That could have been ugly, especially with over 1,000 people under the tent at any given moment.

Dave, Mark and Andy were waiting to have their pictures taken as part of the John Hancock cycling team at the PMC. The rain screwed everything up, and somehow they missed the photo.

The five of them were all going to dinner at a local lobster restaurant, and I (for the third or fourth year in a row) was going to drop them off. We took the shuttle back to my car, which quickly got stuck in traffic but at least we weren't walking in the rain! They asked me (at least twice) why I wasn't going to dinner with them (they ask every year): because it's my anniversary!

Six on the Shuttle

Dave, Mark, Andy and Paul Looking Tired Very Sleepy Paul, and Steve Seth On the Shuttle in Bourne

Dave, Mark, Andy and Paul in the first picture. Paul and Steve in the second. Me in the third (shot by Steve).

Click an image for higher resolution.

Eventually we were dropped off near the car, which I didn't lose at all!, and I drove them to the restaurant. Steve and I agreed to leave at 5:30 Sunday morning, and he put my cell number in his cell phone in case of problems.

I don't remember much after that, other than being really tired. I set my cell phone's alarm for 4:30 and at some point I went to sleep...


Author: Seth Dillingham


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# 6236

Re: PMC Day 1: Sturbridge to Bourne, by the Numbers

If you read TruerWords via email, you'll probably want to visit that one on the web for the pics and videos.


Author: Seth Dillingham


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# 6237

Rides #78 and 79: Time Trial and Birthday Loop

Ride #78, A Solo Time Trial

Due mostly to Steve's and Penny's wedding on Saturday, I didn't manage to ride from Friday through Sunday. By Monday afternoon I was so full of energy I couldn't sit still, so I went out for a short one. I had time for a longer ride, but knew I shouldn't burn too much before the Tuesday night Birthday Loop ride.

Well, my enthusiasm got the better of me. Instead of riding long, I rode really hard. Like a time trial.

After exactly 22 miles my average speed was exactly 22 miles per hour! That's fast, at least for me. Unfortunately, I wasn't home yet. I had just crossed back over the Mystic River, ridden through downtown, and was turning onto River Road. I had one Gu with me, but hadn't eaten any and decided to continue home without eating it.

That was a mistake, because my speed sank like a stone over those last four miles. Still my fastest solo ride of the year, but not what I could have done if I had eaten the Gu at the halfway point as I had planned.

Stats: 26.19 miles (42.16 km) in 1h 13' 44" for an average speed of 21.31 mph (34.31 kph).

Ride #79, The Birthday Loop

Tuesday morning I had breakfast at Snoopy's with Rich, then worked from his place for a few hours (and had a small plate of pasta for lunch). On the way home I stopped at Mystic Cycle to pick up some more Gu and Power Gel, and get some chain cleaner: my bike is always a big mess after the PMC, and I wanted to clean it before the evening ride.

Corinne and Mom both sat out on the front steps and chatted with me while I cleaned the bike. Mom thought I was coating my chain with something when I was actually doing the opposite. This was all a little odd, though, as I've been washing my bike like that for years and nobody has ever, not even once, sat out there to watch me work.

Due to the chit-chat, it took me twice as long to wash the bike as it normally would. When Corinne mentioned it was 4:20, I rinsed the bike off and ran in to change my clothes. We had agreed to leave the shop at 5:00 sharp this week, so I had to leave the house by 4:40!

Well, I didn't get out until 4:45, and arrived a few minutes late. Didn't matter, because Rick (one of the partners, and the ride leader) wasn't ready yet. We left at 5:15, still earlier than last week.

We left with five (Rick, Matt, someone from Mystic Velo, the blustery older guy who's ridden with us three or four times but I still don't know his name, and myself), and rode through/around two other pace lines on River Road and Rte. 201 the way to Wintechog. Both times, we picked up a couple extra riders, but they only stayed with us for a few miles.

I was fine on Wintechog. Not fast, but I wasn't worried. Then on Rte. 2, heading to Cossaduck Hill, all the wind went out of my sails. Blustery-man set a devil's pace up the slight incline, and I stayed with them but knew I was working a lot harder than I should have.

On Cossaduck it was obvious that I was having some trouble. I wasn't last up the hill (but only barely), but I was slower than I was the last two weeks. I recovered a little on the rest of 201 (but Matt quit, so there were only four), but then Gilliver put the hurt on me again. We kept the pace down on 49 so I recovered a little again.

Wyassup Road starts with a very small, slight ascent (like 0.5% for 1/8th mile), which turns into a very slight descent and then dives into a fantastic free fall to the base of the first climb. Every week we do the same thing: Rick pulls up the baby climb, then rolls to the back to get on my wheel, even if he has to sneak in front of someone else. I told him I was feeling tired and wasn't sure I could do what he wanted.

Still, I stretched my calves and relaxed my shoulders a bit with a few rolls, to get ready. Just before we hit the dive I accelerated hard and shot past the guys in front of me (who never expect this). I hit the bottom of the hill at 51.5 mph, my fastest ever for this ride.

As I told Steve this year, I work almost as hard going down hills as I do going up. (Unfortunately, there's a limit to how fast I can pedal..) I was almost completely smoked, and it took me forever to get up that next hill. I had one of the guys in sight, still, but he was gone by the time I reached the top of the second hill. (Wyassup starts high, so it's down, up, down up, down.)

They waited for me at the end, before we crossed over Rte. 2 back onto 201. I'd recovered again, somewhat, and stayed with the other three. At the top of 201 I joked that this is the part where Rick loves to "race it," so I caught his wheel as he picked up speed. I yelled, "come on baby, go!" and he did. 30. 31. 32 mph, on relatively flat road. 33, 34. He signaled with his elbow and pulled off, and I kept the same pace... and shelled him!

He was only a hundred feet back when we turned onto Wolf's Neck. I *think* this is where the Mystic Velo rider pulled off, but maybe that wasn't until after Town Farm's steep climb. Can't quite remember.

Once we were back on River Road I told Rick that I was heading home after Oral School. I'd felt the telltale signs of cramping in my abductors, so let them ride ahead. Sure enough, I had to stop on Oral School Road to let the cramps pass: I couldn't even move my left leg for a minute.

So, in the end I left out one of the climbs, but still did over 50 miles and managed this year's best pace ~and~ my fastest descent. No complaints!

Oh, and two other things:

  • At least half of this ride was on soaking-wet, just-rained-on roads, but we never saw a drop of rain. In fact, most of the time the sky was blue and sunny!

  • I've cramped up more this year than ever before. I'd love to know what's causing it. Rick suggested I need more salt, but I can't find anybody local that carries salt tablets!

Stats: 54.27 miles (87.37 km) in 2h 45' 2" for an average speed of 19.73 mph (31.76 kph).

Oh, and here are the ride stats for

  • 6/17: 18.46 mph
  • 6/24: 18.59 mph
  • 7/1: 18.48 mph (I forgot to have lunch that day!)
  • 7/8: 18.56 mph
  • 7/15: 18.86 mph
  • 7/22: 18.94 mph
  • 7/29: 19.33 mph
  • 8/5: 18.9 mph (PMC was just before)
  • 8/12: 19.73 mph!

Maybe next week we'll finally finish at 20 mph.


Author: Seth Dillingham


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# 6238

Re: Rides #78 and 79: Time Trial and Birthday Loop

On 8/13/2008, Seth Dillingham said:

>I stretched my calves and relaxed my shoulders a bit with a few rolls,
>to get ready.

Corinne totally made fun of me for this. Sigh.

I guess she's right, that sounded a little goofy.


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