Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Good ride, nice day, occasional tailwind

Did another one of our biweekly training rides this Sunday. It turned out to be a really nice ride. The weather was nice, the route was good and the team was in a groove. The ride was out of Dave's house and through some of the local hills. Check out the map.

The ride started out a bit sketchy. As we headed out to roll out, I went to top off my tires and as I topped off the back tire, I heard it start leaking. I think something happened with the valve stem, but I still haven't had a chance to check the tube. Regardless, I had to do a quick tire change outside of Dave's house. That meant I ended up rolling out a little late. Not the end of the world though, since I was able to catch up with the team by the next traffic light. Also about 5 miles into the ride, the stupid spealized blinker I have attached to the back of my bike shook loose and spewed its innards all over Beaver Dam Road. Fortunately I saw it happened and was able to roll back get them and catch up with the crew.

The ride was scheduled to be a 35 mile ride but we decided to throw in another 4 ish miles. It was a good stretch of road, roughly mimicking the 8 mile run up to Spooner mountain, even if it was only 2 miles long. Felt good on the stretch though. Everyone knocked it out really well.

Other than that there were some winds out on the road. Not too oppressive though, and I was able to catch a tail wind on a bit of the ride and really stomp on the pedals for a while. I ended up finishing the ride with a 14.5 MPH pace total over 40 miles. Not too bad. I should be able to push that up as the season moves along. I can feel it getting warmer though!!

Did a recovery spin for about 30 mins last night at 70% of maximum heart rate. Just couldn't get in the groove to spin. Oh well. I'll ride again in the next couple days. Maybe I'll sneak a ride in Friday...hhmmm...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Thursday night ride

As you hopefully read earlier, I had some mechanical issues earlier this week. Broke that spoke and all. The upside was it was easily repaired and I had a working bike Thursday night.

Since my hearing at work went well, albeit it a bit short, I was in a pretty good mood and totally stoked for some riding. So I zipped home, dragged Noel out of bed from her nap and we headed out for an evening ride. The ride route was out Wisconsin Avenue, down the CCT and back up Wisconsin through Georgetown.

The part out to the CCT was pretty uneventful. There was still some residual rush hour traffic so the was alot of stop and go and stupid car people not paying attention to what they were doing.

Southbound on the CCT a night can be a bit harrowing. Between the darkness on the trail and the periodic blinding from lights of the bike commuters heading out of town northbound you can't really get going too fast....unless of course you want to take an improvised detour onto river road via the side of a hill. After finishing the CCT we headed up Wisconsin Avenue out of Georgetown. This is a good 3 mile stretch of almost constant uphill. Its a good ride because it hits you with good hills...gives you breaks....hits you with hills again .... and I like it because there are alot of places where you can set goals...ok..I want to get to the next intersection, I want to make it to the top of the hill and traffic light. I want to make it though the cloud of sizzling beef wafting out of the Ruth's Chris...things like that.

The big downside to the ride was that I got a stitch during the hill section out of G-town. I don't really know what the cause was..the internets say it has something to do with breathing, but that doesn't seem to make any sense. I just kinda peddled through it and made it up to Wisconsin and Mass. If for no other reason than I didn't want my girlfriend to see me stop and get off my bike. Hey whatever motivates you.

Anyway it was a really good ride and the first time I had been on the bike since I got my eyelids chopped up.

35 Miles tomorrow with the team. Should be a good ride.

I'll write soon.

Urban Biking Tips - For riders and motorists alike.

I was just browsing my blogs and wanted to pass along a recent post I read detailing some suggested strategies for better urban riding. I think the post is helpful for both my cycling buddies and my motorized buddies. It provided good tips for riding safely on the streets of the Big City and also provides a good perspective on what bikes are encountering out there, for those of you how might be ensconced in 2000 lbs of steel and glass.

In short the 8 tips on Biking Toronto are:
Briefly, the 8 are:
1. Knowing that drivers don't want to kill you will give you confidence in traffic;
2. Ride in a straight line;
3. Play by the rules;
4. Avoid the "stoplight squeeze;" don't move all the way to the right to rest your foot on the curb, or lean against a utility pole;
5. Signal sensibly;
6. Take that lane;
7. Make them think you're unpredictable: if you look over your left shoulder, many drivers will think you're going to swerve that way;
8. Ride with others.

Pretty helpful 'eh.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mechanical failure

So I've encountered the first mechanical failure on my new bike. As you may recall I bought the Marin Last year. I was rolling the bike out this morning to strap it to the back of the car for an afterwork ride. Well as I was rolling out I noticed that the rim was rubbing on the brake .... I also then heard what sounded like a clanky spoke. Took me a while to find it, but it turned out that one of my spokes broke off at the nipple. My guess is that its a combination of the wheels being machine built, me being a relatively big guy and the spokes being a bit cheap. I only had 600 miles on the wheel so I was a little annoyed at the failure.

The upside is that I got some great service on the bike at Capitol Hill bikes. I rolled in there on my lunch break, they had the wheel repaired and in my hand and out the door in about 20 mins. Trued the rim and tossed in some new rim tape for me. The rubber band they threw around the rim at the factor was garbage.

Anyway, all in all it was a good experience. I was pleased with the work they did and the speed they did it with. The downside is that I think that I am going to start encountering alot of minor things that start croaking because Marin was hoping to save a couple bucks at the factory. Because I got such a MONEY deal on the ride, I guess I can't complain too much. The guy at the bike shop tried to sell me on a new wheelset. I'm going to give it serious consideration. I am real happy with the frame, am a little iffy on the gearing...might think of upgrading that to something a little nicer....its a bit chunky and I wouldn't mind something a bit smoother...oh well. we'll just have to see what shakes out...would be nice to have some nicer wheels under me though...anyway, I'll see what shakes out....oh if I only had tons of money to feed my gear addiction.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Recent riding and off line for a few days

Those of you who live in teh DC/Baltimore area know that spring has sprung, to repeat and oft heard cliche. The beautiful weather did allow for my first outdoor after work ride. I rolled out of the office with Noel Thursday night and did the ride down to Haines Point, 4 laps around the loop and then back up to the office. An excellent ride. There was nothing really exciting to report. COnsidering how nice the weather was, there were very few people at Haines Point. There were a couple guys who blew past us like we were standing still while we were doing 15MPH. Anyway it was good to get out and do some outdoor spinning. 19 miles total.

I had some minor surgery on Friday so I have been off the bike for a few days, but I expect that I will be back up and riding pretty soon. I'm figuring that I will be riding on Wednesday and Thursday of this week if the weather holds. Hopefully it will, otherwise its buckets of sweat on the trainer.

Monday, March 06, 2006

The 30 + mile training ride

Well first things first. Those of you who are avid readers for 528K are obviously eagerly awaiting the report on how the zucchini bread went over. I am pleased to report that after our 30 (more than 30 for some) mile ride, that the bread/cake went over extraordinarily well! When everyone got back from their ride, Noel told them to get back inside and by the time I got in there there was nothing left of the double loaf of bread that I dropped off. By the time I left the second double loaf had pieces missing. I am very pleased that everyone liked it. Many a squash was sacrificed to create it.

As for the ride it went really well. Unfortunately, no one told me that one of our riders was bailing from the ride. I saw her pull over, but after waiting a few minutes I went back to find here. After doubling back about three miles I couldn't find her and headed out back on the road. It was all good and it gave me a good reason to throw in a few extra miles.

The ride was pretty solid. some hills in the beginning, some hills at the end and a little flat stretch in the middle. The big downside of the ride was about 10 mile per hour wind that kept gusting around during the ride, and seemed to be in your face most of the time.

I had a pretty good time during the ride. I did pretty much all of it by myself. There was a nice bit of solitude for me during the ride. Got to clear my head a bit and have some good high intensity spins for a bit of the ride. It was all in all alot of fun.

pace was 13.5 MPH. Not too bad considering all the hills and winds. HR was pretty much always in the 80% range.

Funny thing happened while I was making dinner at Noel's. I heard a loud hissing and thought that Noel was doing something in the other room. Turns out the valve on my rear tire finally gave up the ghost. Ironic considering that the morning's pre-ride clinic was on changing a tire.

Next Sunday's ride will probably be somewhere in the Annapolis area. Won't be joining the team for this ride, but it will be a fun ride with Noel and me.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

I love the stick!! or Let them Eat Zucchini Cake!!

So as I mentioned in my last post, the spinning thing wasn't such a hit. Long and short of it was that it left my thighs a bit sore for a couple days. The upside was that I did discover an amazing new tool. Now as I might have said earlier, I am a big supporter of traditionally medicine, and with that I mean lots of chemicals designed by pharmaceutical companies (making crazy delicious profits), tested in clinical trials and all that good stuff. So I was a little leary of the promises of a piece of hard nylon with what looked like pieces of PVC tubing wrapped around it. I have to say (make a note, because you won't hear it often) my initial preconceptions were wrong. The Stick is awesome.

Noel was kind enough to rub my legs down with it and for some unknown reason the thing totally worked. It made my muscles feel pretty much normal and made it much easier to walk. The relief lasted roughly til the next morning, but it really did sooth my muscles. If you see one at a sporting goods store I would highly recommend purchasing one. Or click on the green link above and buy one online.

Other than that the week has been pretty good. Made a triple batch of chocolate chip yellow zucchini bread last night (yellow zucchini Tom? Something must be amiss. Yes something is in fact amiss, its the fact that the Giant on Wisconsin Ave has all the floor space of a broom closet and all the produce stock of a Soviet era supermarket. They were out of zucchini, so I made the executive decision to substitute squash -seen here on your right- for zucchini, but per Noel's suggestion we're going to call it yellow zucchini). Noel took a loaf of it to her 20 mile run with TNT alums and all reports were that it was a HUGE hit. I have two double loaves that I am going to take to the ride tomorrow, and I promise to report back on its reception. For those of you who are interested, the recipe (original format) is below. (THANKS MOM) It makes a yummy moist, thick, but not dense, chocolatey cake that is sure to please, and will hopefully hit the spot post ride tomorrow.

Finally at roughly 12:30 PM last night I did a spin in the trainer, nothing too exciting, but it was pretty intense (I had some GRRRR I needed to get out) ... I don't have exact stats on heart rate, because I left the HRM in that car and wasn't schleping out at 12;30 to fetch it. Anyway I rode for 40 mins listening to Lords of Acid and the Clash.

MAD PROPS to Mom for sharing the Recipe. It follows:

Chocolate Zucchini Bread
2 & 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
2 &1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 & 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 cup butter or margarine;softened(I used butter..tastes better)
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
2 cups zucchini coarsely grated,unpeeled
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped nuts
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Combine dry ingredients and set aside.
With a mixer beat the butter and sugar until smooth.
Add eggs and beat well.
With a spoon stir in vanilla,orange peel and zucchini.
Alternately stir in dry ingredients and the milk.
Add nuts and chocolate chips in at the last.
Pour into 10 inch tube pan and bake at 350 degrees for about 1 hour.
You may also bake in small or medium loaf pans.
Drizzle with sugar glaze or sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Freezes well.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Spinning PFT...Biking Yeah!

Well I did my first spin class on Sunday, and I can say without hesitation that if I have any control over things, it will be my last spin class. Its not that the class was too hard or too demanding or anything like that. It was that spinning on the stationary bike wasn't like riding a bicycle. The input I got back from the stationary bike was completely different from the input I get back from the road or the trainer. The stationary bike puts a lot more momentum back into the upstroke of my spin, much different than the road, where I tend to focus a lot more on making the spin round. Also I wasn't so enthused about all the time that the spin class had us out of the saddle. This isn't a good habit to get into. Unless its absolutely necessary, you should keep your butt in the saddle. So other than that, spinning glass was great. Made me sweat a lot.

As some of you might remember it was approximately 35 degrees and about 20 mph winds on Sunday. The wind and cold were the two factors that combined to have the group ride switched to a spinning class.

But since I had been spending FAR too much time inside spinning my wheels and not outside getting some asphalt under my tires I decided that I wanted to do a short ride outside after the spinning glass. I wasn't able to get much in the way of takers from the folks on my team, but I was able to persuade Jenn and gene, two of the other mentors and my GF Noel, to do a ride. We only did about 9 miles but they were pretty good miles. Gene led us on the ride since he was most familiar with the area. We did one pretty good long hill into the headwind. It was a really good ride and getting out on the road felt really good. Also as an added plus, I set my new top speed on one of the downhills, 44MPH. Bombing down the hills was a lot of fun.