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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

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.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

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...

Read the Full Story

Friday, August 1, 2008

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...

Read the Full Story

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Ride #69: Push It!

My plan was to ask Rick to push me. Hard.

Saturday's century was great. Not super fast, but I felt strong all the way to the end. Sunday I went out again for 40 miles and still felt strong (though I faded a bit in the last few miles).

Monday I rested. Tuesdays are the big hill ride. A group ride with 4400 feet of climbing in about 55 miles, and this would be our sixth time out. We ride hard, but the fastest climbers always wait at the hilltops for everybody else to catch up. Nobody gets left behind. (That's a welcome change from previous years, it makes the ride a lot friendlier.)

So I was feeling strong, and had planned to ask Rick (the ride leader from Mystic Cycle) to push me this time. Make me work. Keep the pace up.

I never asked, because I didn't have to. Two new guys (Alex and ... the other guy, I can't remember his name) showed up who normally do the 5:30 a.m. ride from downtown Mystic. They were both very strong, and brought out Rick's competitive nature.

There were five of us: Rick, Jeff (also from MCC), Alex, what's-his-name, and myself.

At the end of the ride I had my highest avg. speed for this ride so far this year, but that doesn't really tell the whole story. There were lots of places where we noodled around waiting for slower riders to catch up. (Sometimes I was a slower rider, especially on the two biggest hills, but mostly I was near the front.)

(See, the guys who ride faster and then wait for the others to catch up end up with the same average speed.)

My average speeds for the six "birthday loops" (as this ride is called):

  • 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

These rides are good training for the Huckleberries ride, where we have over 6,000 feet of climbing in about 100 miles. That ride is Friday, August 31st, the day before the PMC... so I get just one more of these before the big event.

Stats: 57.96 miles (93.31 km) in 3h 3' 36" for an average speed of 18.94 mph (30.49 kph).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Ride #67: First Century of the Year, with Tom Tinory

Rawson Hubbell, who joined us for the first time on the Huckleberries Ride last year, wrote to ask me if we were doing it again this year. I knew we were, but there hadn't yet been any communication between the group, so I (eventually) wrote to everyone to talk about starting times. Even tried to fool them (half-heartedly) into thinking we should start at 6, to beat the heat.

We'll be starting at 7:30, at the same spot on the MA/NY border, on Friday, August 1st, the morning before the PMC.

In the burst of email which followed (between the fifteen or so riders on the cc list), one mentioned being in CT for vacation so he wouldn't be available for a proposed hill-ride sometime in the next couple weeks. "In CT?" I thought. So, I asked him if he was in my area, and (if so) if he would like to go for a ride.

Not only was he in my general area, but he's staying at his mother-in-law's house right in the very same town. Another Huckleberry right here in town? There's only one thing to do.

So, at about 5:40 on Saturday morning I set off to meet Tom Tinnory somewhere between...

Er, what's that, you ask? No, it's not a typo. 5:40 a.m., that's right. FIVE FORTY IN THE MORNING. No, really, I'm not kidding. Stop it, I'm serious!

As I was saying, I left the house at 5:40 AM, just a few minutes after sunrise, to meet Tom somewhere between his place and mine. That place happened to be on Route 117.

I mentioned the ride on Twitter, yesterday, and someone asked me for the route. My response managed to compress the whole ride into a twoosh! (A twoosh is a post on twitter that uses exactly the limit of 140 characters.)

@dreimiller 184->201->Cossadduck->49->184->River Rd->1->Watch Hill->Misquamicut->1a->1->215->117->184

That doesn't include the approximately 4 miles from my place to the meeting point on Route 117, but it says, in English: Route 184 to Route 201, to Cossadduck Hill Road, to Route 49 (actually, I forgot to include Route 165, as 201 never intersects 49 as far as I know), to Route 184, to River Road into Mystic and Route 1, to Westerly and the back roads into Watch Hill Road then Misquamicut, to Rotue 1a, back onto Route 1, to Route 215 in Mystic through Noank, back onto Route 117... er, hang on.

In fact, that route was wrong. After Route 215, we turned right on Long Hill Road (still Route 215?), which ends on Route 1 at the top of the hill. Tom turned left to head home, I turned right — away from Route 117 — and took Flanders Road back to 184, then to Haley Road and home. Whatever, it was close enough.

There were two mechanicals on the trip: the first was Tom getting a flat on Route 49 after riding over some glass. We saw quite a bit of glass, in fact, because we haven't had rain in ages so there's been nothing to wash it out of the road. The second mechanical was shortly after his flat: my bike started making this incredibly annoying metallic ringing sound! Turns out it was just a broken bottle cage.

With Cossadduck and Route 49 in the first half of the ride, we were mostly done with the hills before the temperature went too high. Our first water stop was actually my house, where we went for a little side trip after returning from Route 49 (about 45 miles into the ride) because I had left my Gu (energy gel) there. Second water stop was a gas station on Route 1 a couple miles East of Mystic Cycle and just a couple minutes after 9 a.m.

Another bit that my "twoosh" left out: from Route 1 in Stonington we turned right onto Greenhaven, followed that to the Pawcatuck River and swooped left onto River Road. This takes us into Pawcatuck, right on the border with Westerly.

Tom had never seen Watch Hill from the road, only from his boat. Not sure he really saw it this time, either, as he was focused on both not being hit by any tourists in their big cars and not running over any of the many careless pedestrians.

In Misquamicut I did what I always do: pick my way through the stopped cars waiting to enter the beach parking lot, and then crank up my speed to whatever maximum I can manage all the way around the big curve of the parking lot. This time, that speed was 30.1 mph, for about 30 seconds, then about 26 mph for another 45. Slowed down at the far end so Tom could catch me (I didn't warn him), then told him Steve Davis hates it when I do that. It's nice to stretch my legs a little, sometimes.

After the beach area we had rabbits: five cyclists ahead of us, and I wanted to catch them before the end of the road in Weekapaug. It was a struggle, but we did it with just a few dozen yards to spare. Rode with them to our next water stop, the Mobil station Dunn's Corners. Turns out they were all from URI, and were also doing a century.

Tom was a little concerned that we were going to end up with a lot more than 100 miles, but instead of retracing our route we took the most direct route back to Mystic Cycle. It took almost 30 minutes for them to replace the bottle cages on both bikes, because one of my bolts was completely stripped (the inside, where you put the allen wrench). They finally ripped the cage off and then used pliers to grab and turn the round bolt.

After last year's disastrous PMC ride, I was really worried about how I'd handle my first century this year. Would I be ready for three days in a row?

Once this was all done, though, I felt great! Tired, of course, but still far better than I expected. Plus, I got to ride with a friend instead of going out solo. Thanks for a great time, Tom!

Stats: 101.46 miles (163.3 km) in 5h 30' 13" for an average speed of 18.43 mph (29.68 kph).

My weight for this ride was 244 pounds. Last year at the PMC I was 253, and my lowest ever at the PMC was 250. (I've been down to 239 later in the summer, but never this low so early.)

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