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Monday, January 1, 2007

Happy New Year, One and All

2006 was a good year for me and mine, in many ways.

To all of my family near and far, to my ecclesia here and worldwide, to all of my friends new and old, close or distant:

Happy
New Year!

Hoping 2007 will be even better, for all of us...

Sunday, September 25, 2005

2005 Tri-State Seacoast Century

Saturday I rode in the Tri-State Seacoast Century for the third time. It's a 100-mile bike ride along the coastlines of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Maine.

I didn't get to sleep until almost 11:30 on Friday night. Not good, considering that I was supposed to meet everybody at Steve's house by 5:00, and he lives about 80 minutes away. I was out of bed when the alarm went off at 3:00, and straight into the shower... but I think I fell asleep just standing there as it was almost 3:30 by the time I got out.

I was on the road by 4:20, but didn't have enough gas. That added another ten minutes, as I bought some (bad) coffee and powerbars at the gas station.

Google's directions to Steve's house said to take exit 7A off I-95 in Massachusetts, make a right, "go 0.4 miles, continue for another 0.4 miles, then turn left onto Chauncy Street." Here we have a whole bunch of problems. ;-) First, there was no Chauncy. Second, I was stupid-tired and upset about already being late. Third, I can't stand the way online directions always say things like "go 0.4 miles, then continue on the same road for another 0.4 miles." This stuff is all script-based, so why don't they merge that into a single "go 0.4 miles?!"

Anyway, being stupid-tired meant that I was just looking for Chaunch Street and not paying any attention to the mileage, and went too far because I never saw the sign. After an extra mile or so, Rt. 140 grew a median (so I couldn't do a U-turn) and rudely dumped me onto I-495. More minutes flushed away as I drove up to the next exit to turn around and try again.

When I finally pulled into the driveway, I was frustrated and just hoping they'd all jump in Steve's van and we could go immediately. (So, I'd drive my car up, too.) Steve tried to talk me out of it, and after I'd relaxed for a minute I agreed. We put the bike on the van and all five of us were finally on the road.

Five? Yeah, all folks I've mentioned many times before: Mike Lucas, Jason Cicero, Jim Boyko, Steve Davis, and myself.

None of us had a camera this time, so there are no pictures. That's an unfortunate first for this group. :-(

Start of the Ride

Last year we waited nearly 30 minutes in the sign-in line at Hampton Beach State Park (NH). This year we waited at least... a minute. Very nice.

We hit the road at about 8:00. That's an hour later than we had intended, but it worked out nicely: it was a chilly day, and the extra hour gave the sun a little more time to do its thing.

Jim wasn't feeling up to riding the whole century with us, so he waited at the park for us to complete the first ~20 mile loop down to Mass and back. In fact, it turned out that he had other plans entirely: he was only going to do about thirty-five miles with us to the Nubble Lighthouse, have lunch, and then continue North to Kennebunkport to meet his wife, Katie.

Those first twenty miles were bumpy but uneventful. Well, mostly. My jersey had ridden up a little and was showing a crescent of skin on my lower back. Steve yelled, in his most drill-instructor-like voice, "Dillingham! Pull up those shorts!" Ahem. I guess I'm glad he didn't have his camera with him, after all!

To Nubble Lighthouse

Jim was waiting for us at the entrance to the park. After a quick pit-stop, we were on the road again.

The wind was in our face at about 12 mph. Normally the opposite is true for this part of the ride, but this also explains the chill: the wind was coming out of the North. It's ok, though, as we were really trying to restrain our pace for this part of the trip, and the wind definitely made it easier to stay slow.

Along the way we picked up a sixth rider, named Rob. Nice guy, alot like us in that he just loves to ride and does a lot of it.

Lunch at Fox's Lobster House ("One Nibble on the Nubble and You're Hooked!"), right next to Nubble Lighthouse, was a clamroll and onion rings. Mmm, gotta love fried food in the middle of a long bike ride. (I think everybody else had lobster rolls.)

The weather at the lighthouse was perfect. The wind had stopped (a bad sign, actually), temperatures were in the high 60's, and it was perfectly sunny and clear with very low humidity.

Back to the Park

After the lighthouse the route continues North for a little longer before looping around and heading back South towards the start. Rob stayed with us, he said he liked our pace. Jim stayed with us for awhile, too.

Near the point where we expected Jim to part ways for his trip to Kennebunkport, we stopped at an intersection. Two ladies were there ahead of us, and one of them didn't unclip fast enough... whomp! She fell over on her left side. It looked funny, but she was stuck so Mike and I helped her back up.

In the confusion, Jim just seemed to disappear. Not one of us saw him go! He may have turned off the route before the the lady fell, and just never said goodbye, or he passed us and made a right while we were trying to help her back up. Whatever, it was very strange.

Rob pulled at the front for a little while, and then apparently blew up and was shelled off the back. Again, he never said a word, just pulled for a little too long and then sort of vanished. I actually expected that (the vanishing, not the silence), unfortunately. He liked our pace on the trip up, but we were intentionally keep it low. We were somewhat less restrained on the return trip.

Oddly, we picked up *another* rider named Rob for the last twenty miles or so. He was as strong as any of us, and worked well with our paceline to keep the speed up.

Speaking of the paceline: I've taken to calling Mike's pulls, "chasing the dart." Mike is a fantastic rider, and we all know that age (he has 20 years on me) is the only reason we can keep up with him. Unfortunately for us, his size and complete lack of bulk mean he doesn't make a very nice draft. He guessed that this is why we kept emphasizing "short pulls," but he was only half right: we were all trying to take relatively short pulls (less than a mile) to keep our strength up. (It didn't always work out that way, but nobody from our group took really long, hard pulls.)

I mentioned that the lack of wind at the lighthouse was a bad sign: that's because it was turning around, and was in our faces again for most of the trip home. It wasn't as strong as last year, but it would have been nice to ride home with a tailwind!

Lesson for the Future: Don't Skip the Water Stop

As we approached the final water stop, Steve suggested we skip it. He had enough water (especially at the pace he drinks it!), and wanted to just push all the way back. Nobody objected, so we blew right past it.

This was a mistake. It wasn't long before Mike realized he didn't have enough to finish the trip. We only saw one open store after the water stop, but it was just a couple of miles later and Mike didn't think he needed to stop. (If he'd known that was the last one, we definitely would have stopped.)

Next year, don't skip the water stop.

It wasn't tragic, Steve shared some of his with Mike, but that's obviously not the best solution.

Final Push

For the last ten miles, we really turned on the juice. Mike says we gained 0.3 mph overall in the last ten miles alone. Cool. Steve, Rob and I did a lot of the pulling, but nobody was dropped and we all finished together.

Unfortunately, I didn't reset my cyclometer until after the first 20 miles, so I don't yet have the numbers. This certainly wasn't a 20 mph century (I'm guessing it was about 19), but this ride is definitely not about speed so I think we were all fine with that.

If It's Brown...

Another lesson to remember for next year. Don't go to Brown's! I wasn't hungry, but the other guys were. Steve ordered a burger, Jason some fried chicken ("fingers," I think), and Mike got some fries and something else that I can't remember. Steve said his burger was, "the worst I've had in a long time," Jason had to wait 35 minutes for his food, and Mike had to wait almost 45 minutes!

This was silly, as the Davis's were planning a big barbecue for us at their house anyway. Brown's is expensive and excruciatingly slow. Next year, let's just go to the Davis's. The waitress is prettier and much friendlier, the food is much better, and they serve free appetizers and beer while we wait for the meal!

Stats: I'll drop them in as soon as I have them. Steve? Jason? Mike?

Sunday, August 7, 2005

PMC 2005, Sunday After the Ride, and the Trip Home

After being "scanned" at the finish line, I coasted up to the reception area. Mark and Andy had just come out of the shower tent and were finishing getting dressed.

I wasn't surprised they were in ahead of me. Remember, I saw them take off first thing in the morning to find Dave, and then never saw them again. (If perception were reality, as we're so often told, then that's exactly how it would have happened. I had their story all wrong, but...

Read the Full Story

PMC Day Two: Bourne to the Provincetown Inn

OK, now you can have the repeat of Friday morning that you've been waiting for. ;-)

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzt....

Must not hit snooze. Must not hit snooze. Must not hit...

ahhhhhhh. Snooze!

No! Get Up!

Really, the voice in my head, telling me to get up, could barely be heard over the cacophany of other voices, all of my muscles just begging that little voice to JUST SHUT UP AND LET THEM SLEEP...

Read the Full Story

Friday, August 5, 2005

Pan-Mass Challenge 2005: Day Zero, Huckleberries, West Stockbride to Sturbridge

"Mumble mumble mumble ... something something something ... national public radio ... " Where's that darn snooze button!? I can't find it! Let me sleep!

Wait! I can't hit snooze. It's time to ride!

I dragged myself out of bed and took a shower to wake up. It wasn't terribly early, I just wasn't waking up...

Note: this story has been udpated with some new info. The previous version, though long, was incomplete.

Read the Full Story

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Ride #17: Thrice Around the Scituate Reservoir

As foretold, last Saturday I went up to Cranston for my first group ride of the season with Jim Boyko, Jason Cicero, Steve Davis, and Steve Harper. I was a little wary of this ride because it's so early in the season. Last time I rode with these guys (in the SCC) I was in pretty good shape, but can't honestly say that I'm there yet this year.

Aside...

Last year at this time, I had exactly zero miles in the saddle. In fact, I didn't even have a bike: the old Canondale had bitten the dust with a large crack in the frame around the seatpost, and the new Seven wouldn't be ready until April 22. I weighed 300 pounds, and it had been only one month since Shane died.

Anyway, the point is that although I'm not yet in the condition I was at the end of last year, I'm way, way, way better off than I was a year ago. 470 miles in the saddle for the year (though 130 were spaced out in January and February), and about 266 pounds.

I met Steve (Davis) at the Cranston hall at about 10:15. Fifteen minutes late, as usual. (Sorry Steve.) Another fifteen minutes to change into my jersey and shoes at the truck, and I was back at the hall again. Mike Pride was there, but didn't recognize me... that was very strange, I guess it was the helmet and shades. ::shrug::

We left, but it was colder than I thought so we went back again for my jacket. This happens every time I ride with Steve... there's always some reason to go back again. (Left my watch on one time, forgot my water bottles another time, the list goes on.)

We quickly managed to miss our first turn, but he had a map with him so a few minutes later we were zipping along towards the reservoir. (Oh, and "thank goodness for apostate churches and their free porta-potties!" ;-)

The loop around the reservoir is very pretty, and a little challenging at times. There's a long, shallow hill that curves off to the right, and my eyes were convinced that it was flat... but I couldn't keep my speed up over 12 mph, and eventually settled at just 9 for the climb. Steve said it must be a "high gravity day," but I didn't see anything about that in the weather reports.

I should mention that Davis is in excellent condition, especially for this early in the season. Kind of sickening, really: he rode his 1,000th mile for the year on this ride! He has good reason, as he's riding the Brasstown Bald Buster this weekend with his brother-in-law David Schalgeter. From what I've read and heard, he'll need everything he's got, as this ride is brutal.

After our first loop, we heaed back to the hall to pick up the other three. Jason and Steve were ready and waiting, and Jim showed up a few minutes later. After Jim changed his clothes we were off again. It was still a little cool, but I left the jacket behind this time (without regret).

Five riders at the Prides' house.
Clockwise from the top left: Steve Harper, Steve Davis, Jason Cicero, Seth Dillingham, and that's Jim Boyko kneeling in the front.

Halfway into this loop, I suggested we go left to find Uncle Dave and Aunt Karen Pride's house for a quick visit. We've all known them our whole lives; he even performed the wedding ceremony for me and Corinne, and she was our wedding photographer. We found the house just a couple of miles up the road, and definitely surprised them. (To the right is the only picture from the ride, taken by Aunt Karen with Jim's camera phone.)

They topped-off our water bottles, shared their bathroom, and reviewed our map and gave us some possible "more interesting" routes.

"More interesting" is perhaps an understatement. Jason Cicero particularly appreciated the two miles of dirt roads, and getting temporary lost in the woods. While we were stopped at an intersection of two dirt roads (though the intersection was paved!), Steve Harper made a comment about hearing banjos just as I was about to say, "we need deliverance." Two points to Steve for slightly better timing.

We did eventually find our way out of the woods. Based on his reaction (which included much yelling and fit-pitching), Jason wasn't very happy about this, but what were we to do? Just keep riding on dirt roads all day? Sorry, dude. ;-)

The plan had been to do two loops with the whole group, but when we neard the end of the first loop I decided I'd had enough. We stopped at a little road-side restaurant so Steve could eat a hamburger, and I let everybody know I was done. Boyko was dragging too, and Harper was afraid he'd start getting leg cramps, so we all decided to head back... except Davis, who said he was going to do one more loop on his own.

For the next few minutes, I considered and reconsidered my plan. The main problem was not how I was feeling, though I was tired. Frankly, I missed my wife. It's been hard to be away from her for significant amounts of time over the last year. So, I could either go back with the guys and then head up to Jim's for the BBQ, or I could do another loop with Steve and then head home. The BBQ would add at least three or four hours to my day, and a lot of food that I really didn't need. A third loop would take about an hour, and I needed the exercise. At the last minute, just as the rest of the group made a left, I told Steve I'd go with him and we made a right. He hooted in response, something like, "All riiiiiight!" ;-)

This third loop hurt. That darn hill still looked flat to my obviously cockeyed brain, and there's nothing like a false flat to break the spirit. Still, Steve was very patient, pacing me up almost every hill. Gotta love having patient, generous friends.

By the end of the ride my arms and face were sunburned and I was totally covered in salt from my own dried sweat. Nice. My saddle felt like a misshaped iron bar, and the pedals just didn't want to go around like they're supposed to.

(That last part is true, actually. In the smallest sprockets, the chain was slipping every few seconds. Steve took a look and said my chain was probably worn out, and I should replace it ASAP so that it doesn't also wear out the cassette. He was right: I've since brought it to Mystic Cycle, and they're going to replace both items this Monday as part of my final, free-for-the-first-year tune up.)

We finished our loop and returned to the hall. The other three were long gone, of course, and after a quick handshake (and phone calls to our wives) we both headed home.

Definitely the slowest 80 miler I've done in a long time, but also the earliest I've ever done it. I think we all had a great time (especially Jason). Thanks, guys! I hope we can all meet up again at the Quabbin on June 4th.

Stats: 82.03 miles (132.0 km) in 4h 54' 29" for a pitiful average speed of 16.71 mph (26.90 kph).


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