Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cyclocross looking unlikely this year

So for about a week I though I was going to race cyclocross this year. I was super excited about it because I had been really looking forward to racing and I was also looking forward to getting out in the mud and grass and racing.

So of course in normal impulsive manner I went out and purchased a bunch of stuff for cyclocross - new fork, two new tires, some new brakes. All kind of good stuff. I got a good deal on most of the stuff and I was pretty stoked to begin racing. Unfortunately, what I didn't check was to see if the rear triangle of my bike would take a cyclocross tire. Well lo and behold it doesn't. I discovered this this afternoon when I tried to toss a 32mm tire on the rear wheel. There are some 30mm tires out there that MAY fit, but I am so demoralized about the whole process that I'm not really even feeling up for ordering one to find out that it doesn't fit. GRRR. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Noel is an IronGirl

Noel before the start of IronGirlAs I've mentioned earlier, Noel is awesome.  Well she proved it again this weekend by completing here first triathlon and kicking it's ass.   Loving the Run!I'm not going to do a ride report, because I am sure she will do one some time in the future and its really her's to do, but I did want to comment on how impressed I was with her.   She went out there and really kicked it in the swim, totally stomped on it in the bike ride and then kicked it in the final run.

She did so well that she placed first in the Athena under 40 class, 13th in the 30 to 34 age group and 98th overall in the race out of nearly 2000 participants. And all her first time in a triathlon!! I was super impressed and extremely proud of her!!!Champion!!!

It would have been great if I had had the girls this weekend so they could have seen Noel do so well and see all the girls and women have fun at the Tri. Next year!

IronGirl was a wonderful event. They were able to get 2000 women to come out and participate in a multi-sport event many of whom wouldn't have participated otherwise. The best part was seeing daughters and sons grab their mom's hand and run the last couple hundred yards in to the finish with them. Noel had a great time today and I was extremely proud of her for taking up the challenge and doing so well. YAY PUMPKIN!!

Great Saturday Ride

I rolled out Saturday for a 42 mile ride around greater Davidsonville (map below) and it was one of those rides where shortly after I warmed-up everything started working and I was hitting on all cyclinders.  I was 65 or so degrees out and I was able to get my legs working and really turn the pedals over.

Its not the hardest ride ever but its not the easiest either and with St. George Barber Road and some other hills it certainly includes a fair bit of climbing.  I felt really great and was able to finish up the ride with a 17.7 pace over the 42.  I was really pleased because I had been feeling a bit cruddy lately - I'm not sure if it was the couple pounds I put back on or if I overdid things when I did that century a few weeks ago.  I hope this is a good omen and bodes well for my upcoming plunge into cyclocross.  (More to come on that later this week)

Friday, August 22, 2008

Walmart or target should sponsor an endurance event

So I went out and rode last night.  Nothing too terribly exciting - 27 miles at a 18.9 pace.  Same route as this ride (slightly longer) but without the rain and hail this time.   It was a good ride and the weather was perfect.  It seems like fall is coming a bit early to Edgewater (just me posting that should guarantee that this weekend has Indian summer like temperatures) (can I post "Indian summer" - I know kids no longer sit "Indian style," they sit "criss cross apple sauce."  I actually felt pretty lame just writing those words.  oh well I guess 5 year olds don't care.)

Anyway so on the ride last night I was thinking about how more folks could get involved in endurance events.  I was thinking that it would be a perfect idea for Walmart or Target to partner with a disease charity (heart disease seems like a good one to me) and organize their own marathon or cycling event -- heck even a triathlon. (a marathon seems most likely because of the sheer number of runners) 

They could agree to pay some portion of the participants fundraising/expenses and the participant would agree to raise some amount of money for the charity.  They would then ship all the participants out to the event (the Target Marathon to Benefit the Heart Disease Society in Minneapolis or the Walmart Marathon  to Benefit the Heart Disease Society in Little Rock) and have the participants all don running singlets emblazoned with the corporate logo.   They could coordinate training runs leaving from their stores.  They could recruit employees to run the race and to spread the word to their friends.   And they could open the race to participants at large and give the proceeds to the charity.  

It would seem like a win-win for the corporation.  They already have a huge charity budget so they would just be repurposing charity funds.  They would get their name plastered all over a big event (shirts, singlets, promotional marterials, etc.).   With the increasing concerns about obesity they would look like a great corporate citizen to be working to promote physical fitness.  Participants would love them because they'd complete a life-goal type event and associate it with the sponsor.   It would also be great for the brand because customers would associate a fit and active lifestyle with the brand - even if they don't participate.  

Anyway, I was just batting it around in my head.  Maybe someone from Target or Walmart will stumble upon the post and it will inspire them to run it up the corporate ladder. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Another night at Hains

So the pumpkin and I headed down to Hains for some laps tonight.  It was really a pretty uneventful night.  We were figuring on heading out to Glen Echo and meet a friend who usually runs a weekly Wednesday ride out there.  Instead she decided to go watch the O's lose to the Red Sox.  It was a bummer because we usually don't get to join her for her Wednesday night rides because Wednesday is a kids night but since the munchkins are on vacation this week we were free.

The ride was relatively uneventful - I had a nice 18.1 mph pace.  It was fun riding with Noel.  The interesting thing I did see was the SeaDog scooting up the channel between Hains Point and Ft. McNair.  It wasn't moving this fast but it was a bit peculiar to see this bit yellow boat floating past.  From browsing the interwebs it looks like its some high speed water tour company based down in the National Harbor.  Looks like I'll have to get down to National Harbor at some point to check out the newly moved Awakening and the Sea Dog.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Back on the bike

I've been on vacation for a week and have therefore been off the bike for a week.  Unfortunately my first ride back after vacation wasn't such a great one.  I headed down to Beach Drive in the District this morning to get some riding in before the day got away from me.  The route was one I've done a ton of times and a relatively easy one, unfortunately I think either the scrambled eggs and cheese on english muffin or the coffee I had before the ride didn't sit well with my stomach.  Sophie had the same eggs as me so if I hear she feels sketchy tonight, I'll know it was imprecise cooking of the eggs (the eggs were cooked fine).   All through the ride I had a bit of stomach upset and a stitch that came in and out during the ride.     I ended up putting in 26 miles at 16.9 mph or a route that I should have ridden much stronger. 

I suspect the discomfort was a combination of being off the bike for a week, eating like a pig - and eating poorly - while I was down in Charleston, and having a crappy breakfast this morning.  I have a relatively light week at work this week so hopefully I will be able to get in a few rides to get my legs feeling good.   If all goes well,  I'll get in a 100 mile week.  

I'm also aiming to squeeze in a couple centuries before the end of the year.  Late September and early October should be perfet riding weather.   Check the map and see if anything interests you. 

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Google loves cyclists?

The google logo today for the Beijing Olympics was a cyclist. Yay Google!  You love cyclists! And rams.

A beautiful day for a ride

I am off to Charleston tomorrow for work for a week so today will be my last ride for a while.  I am happy to say that today was a great ride.  My friend Josh for the Tahoe team came out with his friends April and Joe and we put in a nice 45 mile spin. 

We rolled out of my house at ~9:30 and headed up into Annapolis. The ride was a combination of a couple of my normal training rides.  We went up into Annapolis and headed down towards Bayridge.  After spinning through Bayridge along the bay we headed back into downtown Annapolis.  We headed out of downtown Annapolis, along the edge of the Naval Academy over the Academy bridge, up the B&A Trail down through Millersville and back home.  The ride was a great pace (16.9 mph) and relatively mishap free.  I did have a brake pad come loose before we got into Bayridge but i was able to tighten that up real quickly and we were back on the road.

We had some fun on the B&A when Josh decided to zip past me and pick up the pace and sprint for a bit.  We hit a bit of wind when we got off the B&A onto East West Blvd, but all and all it was a beautiful ride with the temps in high 60s low 70s and the wind relatively mild. 

I do enjoy riding with freinds more than just riding by myself and I've found that I ride faster when there is a group.   A great ride to cap off my week.   Even though I'll be off the bike for a week it was a great way to wrap up the cycling for a couple days.  Also I've rolled over 2000 miles this yer - 2022 to be exact!  Woo Hoo!  If I stay injury free I think I can put in 3000 this year.  

Friday, August 08, 2008

Holy Hail Batman!!!

So I had some time tonight between when I got home from work (~4:45) and when I had to be at a meeting tonight (7:00pm) so I figured that would give me enough time to get on my bike and go for an hour spin and still be back in time to shower and get ready.   The timing worked out alright.

What I did not check out was what the weather was for today.  We'd been having a bunch of fast and furious little storms rolling through the area today... you know the ones that make scary little red spots on the local radar.  While I was at work we had a bunch roll through and I figured we had seen the best of it and it was all clear for the day.   Boy was I wrong.

I rolled out of the house heading south on Muddy Creek Road.  I made it 32 minutes out and turned around to head back in....I figured I didn't have much more than an hour.  Well I was say 15 minutes in to the way back and the heavens opened.  It was coming down so hard that I had to tilt my helmet down so that the lip of it would block a bit of the rain and let me see.   I got stuck in one of those nasty little red areas you see on a radar map (yesterday's actual radar map is to the right).  It literally took less than a minute for the rain to totally soak through my bib, jersey, socks and shoes.   It was what my mom referred to as a "frog strangler."  I'm not quite sure of the etymology of "frog strangler" but being that froggies seem to be quite at home in the water, it would clearly take alot of water to strangle them....we got that today.   It was so bad that I had my blackberry with me and I was seriously worried that the rain was going to kill my BB (especially concerning because the office IT guy is heading out for vacation and I am going to be out next week -- there was a moment where I thought I could be sans crackberry for a couple can imagine how frightened I was)

So if the rain wasn't bad enough, it started hailing.   This was crazy.  It was like when you camped in a popup tent - but the plink plinks were on my helmet.   Fortunately the rain was warm and the hail not too large so it was really just a matter of keeping the bike on a straight line and not doing anything too crazy.   I made it back to the house after doing 19.7 miles at a nice pace.    The wet clothes and shoes are in a pile on the floor downstairs trying to dry.  I will have to remember to toss the shoes on the deck tomorrow so that they are dry for my ride on Saturday.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A couple interesting data points

I was browsing through the data in my SportsTracks this morning and came across a few interesting datapoints:

Back in March I was down to 197 lbs.  I'm up at 206 now - there's been a lot of eating out.  9 extra pounds on a bike isn't the best thing in the world. 

Also I've ridden 1954 miles this year.   My guess is that this weeked I will roll over 2000 miles for 2008.  I hope that by the end of the year I can have a 3000 mile year.   Alot of that will depend on whether the weather holds out for me.   

OK - that's about it.    Still waiting for Google to crawl the new site.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Gear Changing at the Push of a Finger - Cycling news - Shimano Introduces Electronic Dura-Ace Components With DI2 Technology
Shimano now introduces the highly anticipated electronic version of Dura-Ace with Di2 technology. Being launched as an addition to the new mechanical Dura-Ace 7900 series, the electronic Dura-Ace 7970 will deliver state-of-the-art technology that will give its users a brand new road riding experience. According to Shimano DI2 is short for “Digital Integrated Intelligence”.

This innovative shifting technology is still based on the Shimano index system that has proved its superior gear changing characteristics over the years. The big difference is that in this case, the shifting action is provided for by electronics instead of mechanics.

This truly looks like a revolutionary improvement in cycling technology. They certainly will need to make some modest improvements in the battery life and needle around the edges (wireless?), but that's relatively minor improvement. But the shift - get it SHIFT - from a clunky and inherently imprecise mechanical gearing system to a precise and electronically controlled gearing system will greatly improve the quality of riding. Its a game changing kind of technology. 

I expect that within 5 years this technology will trickle down to all riders. The folks who can afford huge sums of money for early adoption of the technology will install this system and will hopefully work out all the kinks for the rest of us who will only be able to afford them once the price comes down.

I expect we'll see this tech in the lower level groups in a couple years. It sounds like the hassle that is keeping a drivetrain in tune is a thing of the past. There are no cables to strech and no limit screws or barrel adjusters to adjust.

I'm looking forward to riding with these things soon - sadly unless the gov't starts paying the really big $$$ it'll be a while.

Friday, August 01, 2008

River to River Century Ride Report

River to River 004So as you may have noticed from some of my previous posts last week I was scheduled to do the River to River Bike Ride last Saturday.   I did the ride and on a scale of 1 to 5 I would give the ride a 3.5.

The trip started out Friday night with me driving up to Pennsylvania for the ride.   I stayed at the Weisel Hostel.  It was a great little hostel and since I arrived there at 10 p.m. with the sole intention of sleeping the $17 price tag couldn't be beat.  My guess (from the looks of it) was that this was a fairly historic building that had been converted to a hostel.  It's part of a state park in Buck's County and was nice and quiet and for a Friday night pretty empty (I had the whole male dorm to myself.  

I rolled out largely on time and ended up at the church where the ride started at roughly 7:00 a.m.  It was a show an go with a 7:00 a.m. start for the century portion of the ride.  When I  got to the lot there weren't a whole lot of cars there.  Since I didn't really know boo about the ride I was wondering if it was a much smaller ride than I expected.  It turned out that it was a good size ride (460 riders) but few of the folks opted for the 100 mile route.   This was even further born out when it was largely just me and the guy I rode with on the second loop for the second 50 miles of the ride.

The course for the ride was designed as a figure-8 with two 50 mile rides one heading for the Delaware River and the other heading for the Schuylkill River with lunch in the middle.   

The first half of the ride was pretty good.   Unfortunately in the first couple miles I got lost twice.  One of the suggestions I would have for the organizers is that they enlarge their road markings.  The paintings on the road were just too small and I missed them on a couple occasions. And use a color other than white - white is just too easy to miss.   The first time I missed a turn I was in a small town and figured it was probably laid out in a grid format so if I made a left I would run into the road I had missed getting onto before with a right and then a left.  This went well and I was pleasantly pleased when I got to the bottom of a big hill and found the road I was looking for and didn't have to climb back up the hill.

The second time I got lost I have no idea where I missed the turn.  I ended up at a big T intersection with no turns painted at the corner.  Fortunately I was able to whip out my blackberry with google maps and figure out where i could pick up the course again.   I actually missed picking up the course again but when I saw 4 riders head past me in the opposite direction I figured I should turn around and follow them.  Smart call.

I actually ended up riding the rest of the first 50 miles with that group of riders.  There were a very nice group and rode at my pace.   The first 50 miles were nice.  It was largely on wooded roads and kept the heat under control.   Which brings up a good point to note - while it certainly wasn't the hottest day I've ever ridden in (that would be the hellish 50 states ride in DC two years ago) it wasn't the best riding weather ever.  According to the weather service the average temp was 73 degrees with it topping out at 83 during the hardest part of the ride at 1pm.   We also had an average 75% humidity and decent winds at 8 knots.  This is really par for the course for July/August riding in the mid-Atlantic, but it does take a toll on you after a while.
River to River 012
The first half of the ride was pretty uneventful.  It was relatively flat with a couple hills here and there - one coming right after the covered bridge pictured on the right ("Look at the cool bridge - CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB).

The rest stops were well stocked and I was able to to chow down on some yummy fig newtons - THE cycling food.  We got back into to lunch at mile 50 and I think most folks felt pretty good.   I grabbed a PB&J and some ice tea and we got ready to head back out.

One of the riders from the group I had been riding with had told his buddies that he was going to ride the first half with them and then do the second half at his pace.  He invited me to head back out with him for the second half of the ride.  We rolled back out and set out to finish the ride.  Tim was a local and was able to give me all the insight on the local landmarks we were passing - including his daughters' high school and middle school and his house.  I actually turned out to be great to ride with him because he was able to give me advanced notice of the coming climbs and where things were flattening out.   He's a very strong rider and had clearly been putting in more miles than me lately, so I ended up sitting on his wheel a fair bit of the ride.

The second half of the ride was definitely more challenging than the first half.  There were a good number more hill climbs, the road was less shaded and it was hotter.   I'm certainly glad I did the full 104, but it was definitely dragging ass for the second half.   The midway point of the second half had a nice stop at a canal along the Schuylkill - which reminded me alot of the C&O expect the path along the canal was paved.   We rolled out of here and headed back towards home.

With about 20 miles left we picked up a group of guys who were doing the 100 and rode with them for a while.  Unfortunately one of the riders would run up to the front ahead of everyone and then drop back for a friend and then run up.  The guy never really pulled but just ended up getting out in front.  The fact that he almost ran me into a ditch because he couldn't hold a line didn't endear him to me either.  By and large though the last 25 was fine and  just a struggle to pound out the final miles.      I just kept focusing on how far we had to go to get to the end.

One thing I was a bit concerned about was that I did start get cramps occasionally around mile 85.  I suspect it was dehydration and a lack of electrolytes so I need to remember on long hot rides in the future to focus on getting the chemicals into my body. 

Centuries are nice because you have a nice round number to aim for 100 miles.   Turns out that this ride was 104 miles.   I figured this out when we hit a pit stop somewhere around mile 94 to refill water and asked the guy how far we had to go and he gave us the heads up that it was 10 more miles.   The miles past 100 are terribly demoralizing.   Regardless of how you feel they seem to feel 10 times harder than the same miles right before 100.

All in all I would say this is a good ride.  I might go back again.  The area was fairly scenic and the roads weren't too heavily traveled. The people were super nice and things were well organized.   Lunch at the end was hot (in a good way) and very yummy (local gourmet restaurant catered it).  On the downside the weather took its toll and the street markings were a bit lackluster.   I would also make sure that I keep my post-Tahoe riding up before I do it again next year.  In the month and half between Tahoe and River to River, my longest ride was 48 miles.  If my fitness had been a bit higher I might not have been dragging ass so much on the second half.