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Wednesday, December 26, 2018

2018 in Cycling

I can't go the whole year without a single post, so how about at least a quick recap on the cycling?

Stats (with a few days left in the year):

Miles 9,033
Elevation 315,533 feet (96,173m)
Rides 293

That's way more miles than any other year. I think the closest was about 5500, quite a few years ago. Lots of those miles were on the trainer which obviously aren't real miles as I don't actually go anywhere, but the devices all take a pretty good measure of the effort being produced, and they know my weight so they approximate the distance. It isn't perfect but so what? What isn't in question is that I rode way more than ever before.

Training through the Winter (which actually started in the late Fall of 2017) also allowed me to pick up in the Spring where I left off in the Fall. I put on a few pounds in the dark days, maybe as much as ten during the worst of it, but those pounds came off again quickly when I went back outside. More importantly, I didn't start the season slow like I did every other year. In most previous years, I'd gain 10-15% of my body weight and lose most of my fitness, which resulted in less training effort and slower weight loss. Training all Winter was the key, and I've felt really healthy all along, too.

I should write about the system (both hardware and software) I'm using for training in the Winter, but this post is already going to be super long so I'll save it.

Besides the winter training, I started joining the Brumble Bikes shop rides, most weeks. His shop is just three miles away, and I now consider Amos a friend. He puts up with me standing around in his shop chatting almost endlessly, which is a pretty good definition of a friend in my book.

There were a lot of century rides this year. I lost track! Five stick out in my memory, so I'll just cover them.

1. Greylock

The first one was Mount Greylock Century with the Huckleberries, or just “Greylock.” The distance was fine, it's just a little over 100 miles, but this was definitely the hardest century I've ever ridden because of the climbing. Almost 10,000 feet of climbing (over 10K according to some of the bike computers), and the bulk of it starts at mile 63 when you're already tired. At times the grade kicks up to 16+ percent. I cramped on that mountain, almost constantly. It was pure torture. It was also my own fault: I'd ridden a little too hard earlier in the ride, and hadn't kept on top of my salt intake. The results were really scary, and at one point I was more worried about whether or not anyone would find me on the side of the road (as if I was on Everest…) than I was about finishing.

A friendly couple at one of the many pull-offs (for taking photos) gave me a bottle of water, and I went through a full pack of salt tablets. Eventually I dragged myself to the peak where most everyone was waiting. I didn't get the long rest they all got, but it was enough and I recovered nicely on the descent, finishing with Steve and Paul Davis, and Mark Stockwell.

This was both my first season and first big ride with a power meter. I was so new to it that I thought of it as just another number on the screen. Next year will be better!

Central PA Trifecta

2018 was the year of Pennsylvania centuries. I rode all three centuries in the Central PA Bicycling Trifecta, though one of them ended up not being a century due to the rain.

Hershey Chocolate Tour, August 4, 2018

Official link: Penn State Hershey Chocolate Tour

With: Dave Moore (and about a thousand others)

This was the wettest sunny day ride ever. This was a beautifully sunny day, but the whole area had been inundated with rain for weeks before and a heavy storm the night before the ride was more than the drainage, creeks and rivers could handle. See the pictures on Strava.

I was introduced to Dave by Gavin Robertson, who I knew through the Lancaster County Bike Club. Gavin talked me into this ride, but since he's one of the primary organizers he couldn't ride it. He literally grabbed me and Dave and said, "You guys are riding together." Dave and I got along quite well so props to Gavin for a good pairing.

Lancaster Covered Bridges, August 19, 2018

Official link: Lancaster Covered Bridge Classic

With: Dave Moore and Gavin Robertson (and thousands of others)

It absolutely poured for this entire ride, and I was afraid to pull out my phone to take pictures. They canceled the 100 mile loop so we only got a metric century.

Here's the description I wrote for the Strava ride report:

Wet. I must be traumatized. Starting to conflate water and central PA into a single concept. Hopefully Three Creeks in September will be drier (despite the name).

It was great to finally ride with Gavin, and to see Dave again. See you guys again in a month!

They canceled the 100 mile loop because of the rain. Gavin says the descents are quite dangerous enough when dry.

Three Creeks, September 16, 2018

Official link: Harrisburg Bicycle Club - Three Creek Century

With: Dave Moore. Gavin missed it for an anniversary cruise with his wife. Poor guy.

This was the best of the three, if only because of the weather. There was no rain, and in fact the floods that had been drowning central PA for months had finally receded. At one point we passed some water running through the road (from someone washing their car or something), and Dave pointed it out as proof we were still in PA. Great day on the bike.


One downer about this ride: I had a major wipe out the day before, on a Brumble Bikes shop ride. I was sprinting to catch the group after an aborted water stop when my crank came off the bike!! Theere was no time to catch myself, I just went down hard and slid on my left side.

The "only" injuries were road rash, but I had a lot of it. I won't include pictures here in case you, dear reader, have a weak stomach, but you can see them on the Strava ride report.

And yes, I still drove to PA that night and completed the Tree Creeks century the next morning. Bandages flapping in the wind!

2018 Birthday Century

With: Steve and Paul Davis

I turned 46 this year. As I've done every year for a while now, I rode 100+ miles. Steve usually joins me, but this year he actually planned the route for me and brought along his son Paul (who I've known since he was tiny).

On top of all that, Steve gave me a cross bike that actually fits me, which he picked up from someone in the Boston area. it looks almost new. I haven't ridden it much yet, but it's nice to have a spare in the stable and I do plan to get out with it more this Spring when I'm sick of the trainer in the basement.

2018 was a great year on the bike. Special thanks to Steve, Paul, Gavin and Dave for being a big part of it. and especially big thanks to Corinne for putting up with it all. (Lest anyone think she's ignored as a result of all this riding, please remember that I work from home so we see each other all the time.)

Here's to a great 2019!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

High Speed Chase!

The weather was beautiful today with the sudden drop in humidity, so I went out for a hill ride right after work.

I was headed south on Route 2 in North Stonington, about 3/4 mile north of the intersection with Route 95, when I started hearing sirens. Lots of sirens, and screaming engines. Coming straight at me, from the direction I was headed.

Wanting to return home fully intact, I got off the road and watched. A few seconds later, an ugly, old, beat up racer (like a suped-up datsun, maybe?) cam FLYING over the hill. Literally, all four wheels left the ground for a second. There was then a bang as he bottomed out, and some screaming wheels as he swerved around around the car in front of him (into the oncoming traffic lane which was currently empty).

Right on his tail was a long line of police cars. At least nine of them, I think it was ten but I stopped counting after five. All of them with different sirens screaming their warnings, all of them getting a little air as they crested the hill, all of them coming down with a bang. Even the SUV.


Dramatic, and stupidly dangerous. There are pedestrians and other cyclists on that road, and the traffic averages about 40mph in that section. Believe me when I say you have to be going a lot more than 40 to actually leave the ground on that little rise.

A little further up, I pulled over and sent Corinne a message, letting her know what I'd just seen. (She tends to worry if I'm on the bike and she hears sirens! I was still miles from home, but wanted to let her know I was ok.)

While I was writing the message, two of the police cars pulled onto the same road and parked next to each other, facing opposite directions as they often do. I saw one of the cops looking at me so I yelled to her, "That was crazy!" She agreed. I asked what it was all about, but she didn't know what to say. (Maybe she honestly didn't know why they were chasing him!?) I said, "You all had to be going at least 90" (mph). She pointed up… repeatedly. As in, "a lot more than 90." :-(

Last thing she told me before I rode off was that they'd been chasing him from Westerly. That's two towns and one state over (Westerly, RI -> Pawcatuck, CT -> North Stonington, CT) from where they flew past me.

Home safe and sound, though.

I wonder if they caught him!?

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What, Now? Wow. Ow.

My brother Jed came back East from BC for two weeks with his new family in tow, two weeks ago. We stayed at Steve Davis's house Tuesday night so I could drive them all to the airport before sunrise, Wednesday morning.

Stop-and-go traffic all the way to the airport, starting at 6am?! That's just wrong.

Jed Dillingham and Family

It was very hard to say goodbye to them all. Alycia is Jed's perfect counterpart, 4yo Michael is nearly his perfect clone (but cuter than he ever was), 4yo Rachel (M's twin) is quiet and sweet and very smart, and Gracie is curious, cuddly and learns to say new things faster than the parrots do. And repeats them more. Except for a very brief visit less than two years ago for Gil Riley's funeral, I haven't seen Jed in seven years, and I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried on my way back to Steve's house after saying goodbye at Logan.

Steve and I ate breakfast on their front porch and then dressed for the ride. It was to be surprisingly warm, and had rained a bit the night before so we were expecting more humidity. Before we left, we swapped my tires for the new ones I'd brought with me, then we were off.

3.7 miles into the ride, I was pulling and we were making a right. I remember thinking that it was nice of Steve to have the roads re-surfaced for our ride, and was going to say something like that to him eventaully. No, really, that's the last thing I remember about the ride. The next thing I remember is a very brief flash of the inside of an ambulance. "Huh, what's that now? Did I ride right into the back of an ambulance?" Then some jumbled stuff, and people repeatedly asking me stupid questions like, "What's your birthday?" and, "Who's the president?" over and over again. As if the president knows my birthday. Silly.

Corinne was there, somehow. It was like magic! She was ninety minutes away, at home. Probably cooking something delicious, hopefully thinking about me, definitely missing me! Then suddenly people are asking me too-repetitive questions and she's there in the room, in the background. Not sure how that happened.

I remember being put in a CT scanner. Then suddenly I was out of it again. Pretty sure there are two meanings there! I remember asking for water, and being told NO. Then being given water in the form of ice. Whatever, it's water. Why'd you say no? Now your pants are on fire!

I told them they wouldn't find anything looking my head with that thing. Clearly I was right.

Shots and other violations? Plenty. They put an IV in my left arm. "Just for fluids." At some point I pointed out something pointedly obvious, and they agreed with me and detached it because I'm a genius, and they let me have more not-water-because-it's-ice. And a tetanus shot in my right arm that I barely felt. The local anesthetic shot in the skin next to my eye so skinny doctor could put stitches in my eyelid? Most painful part of the day and I still haven't forgiven her. Not sure how injecting a cocktail of lemon juice and burning gasoline into my skin is supposed to numb the pain, but I was Mr. Tough Guy and didn't let on that my inner child was now hiding behind the headboard in his room and moaning in delirious, tortured agony. Bad doctor.

She said she liked me, though, because I was… something. Funny? Sassy? Steve, help me out here, I can't remember. Probably not funny, nobody thinks I'm funny.

What, Now?

Oh, I called this "tally," so here's my tally of momentos (keepsakes, even) from my shortest ride of the year:

  • Road rash all over the right side of my face: next to my eye, on my nose, my cheekbone, my lip and my chin.

  • Four or five stitches on my right eyelid. Skinny doctor was soooo confident that I won't have scars like I got from the other stitches in my childhood. Yeah, I'm going to be disfigured for life.

  • Black right eye.

  • My ears are so small and tucked in close to my head that the road just couldn't reach them. Undamaged! You missed a spot, so maybe next time, suckah! Nyah nyah!

  • Bruise and road rash on my right shoulder and right forearm just below the elbow. The bruise on my right shoulder is deep, moving that arm generates funny noises from my mouth. Odd, huh?

  • Scraped all the primary knuckles on my right hand.

  • Matching holes at the middle knuckles of both thumbs. Nobody can figure that one out, so I'm guessing I was sliding along the ground with both thumbs up like the Fonz (as he jumped the shark).

  • What feels like a watermelon stuck to my right leg just below the hip. It's not actually a watermelon, it's just a giant bag of hurt. The hospital was fresh out of real watermelon.

  • Road rash on my right knee.

  • A bruised and dislocated rib on — wait, can you guess? — the right side. Bruised as in "huh, that hurts to touch it, but not like it's broken. I know broken!" Dislocated as in, "I don't think it's supposed stick out from my sternum like that. And when I cough it hurts worse than the watermelon!" No external bruising there, though. Ellyn says it's because of all my rolls of fat. (I got those from the almost 3,000 miles of cycling this year.)

How did it happen?

How does anything happen, really? Forces interacted with masses at surfaces, and effects were generated.

In this case, I went around a corner, slid on a new crosswalk wet with rain, and the bike hit the ground. Me, too!

Steve went down behind me, even though he "strongly affirms" (he never swears) that it's not possible for him to lose traction with his diamond-spiked, sticky-as-bug-trapping-spider-silk tires. Which means he saw me go down and did what any friend would do and ran me over, then fell halfway across and kicked me in the eye with his cleats. He got a booboo on his right knee and right elbow. The poor guy.

Note that I have no memory whatsoever of the crash as it actually happened, so I'm trusting Steve's recounting of the story… which conveniently did not include anything about running me over and kicking me, nor him getting a ride home with the very pretty police officer that was directing traffic just up the road. So I probably made that all up.

So, congratulations! Now you understand what happened yesterday at least as well as I do.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Still Riding

I still ride a lot. I can't believe it's been five years since I posted my rides here, though.

These days I track my rides on Strava.

The weather has been extremely weird this year, as we've only had a few warm days and it's already the second half of May. That's resulted in less riding than I'd like, but to be honest I think I say something like that every year.

And the current weather report shows rain... rain, and more rain. Starting late morning and lasting through next Saturday. Since the weatherpersons are always right, it looks like I won't be back on the bike again for a week.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bike Performance vs. Lung Infarction

I had my monthly checkup on Tuesday (follow-up to my ICU stay back in May). My blood clotting speed is good, all is well as far as they can tell.

I asked about my performance issues on the bike, wanting to know if Coumadin/Warfarin has any known negative effects related to athleticism. I'm much slower than in previous years, and it's frustrating me.

The clinician (and pharmacist) just shook his head, at first. Then he said, "Most of the people who come to this clinic due to blood clots and lung infarction need help getting across the parking lot, and have to stop for breath in mid-sentence. You're asking this question because your 35 mile bike rides aren't as fast as you'd like."

Humbled and reminded of how narrowly I dodged my bullet, I left happy. Slow on the bike is so much better than being dead.

December, 2018
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