Author Archives: PR-Bike

About PR-Bike

Just a guy who loves to ride my bike

And now, for 2015…

Welcome 2015!!!  Year two in this adventure of mine…as if the rest of my life were not its own adventure of sorts.

Now that the holidays are over, and some of you may have already noticed the updates to my “Upcoming Events” section, I’ve laid out something of a schedule of rides for 2015.  At the moment it is a short list of only 5 rides.  I have some major life/career changes ahead of me and with the uncertainties that accompany such things I’m hesitant to commit to more than this for the time being.  If all goes well, and when things settle out, perhaps I may be able to accomplish a few more late season rides.

However, at this point, I am very excited to announce the following rides:

I have more big news for all of you, in the arena of helping me to achieve this insanity, but I think that will have to wait till the holiday stupor subsides.  Stay tuned and ride on.

What’s Next?

It’s been a banner year.  I’ve ridden 5 Century/Gran Fondo rides and added 3 states to my completed list.  At the moment I don’t have any others scheduled in 2014 and I don’t think there are any out there on my list which will fit in to my schedule.  Doesn’t mean I won’t jump on a pop-up event if I happen to find one…………. where it’s warm, between now and New Years.

That reminds me that I’ve figured out the “Calendar” widget.  The events I intend to ride or for which i have registered will now show up over there on the right.

I’m starting to consider and formulate my calendar of events to ride next year.  However, next year is a big one for me as I will be marking some major personal life changes and my calendar/schedule are likely to be in flux.  That’s somewhat preventing me from laying out a solid plan of events right now.  As things progress I hope I can develop a bit more solid plan.

For the moment, I’m just planning a good solid winter of maintaining my conditioning and getting in to some strength training.  Our winter here in the DC area is projected to be cold and wet, so I’m expecting lots of time on my trainer.  I’ll also be working on my plan to turn this in to the charitable endeavor that I’ve wanted it to be, so I should still have plenty of things to tell you all about.

Happy Halloween!

Throwback Gran Fondo: Or Why You NEVER Change Your Routine On Game Day!

In 1986, Greg Lemond was the first American, in fact, the first English speaking person, to win the Tour De France. When you see pictures of the races in those days, the most striking thing you’ll notice is that they did not wear helmets. At least not in the TDF.

lemond_g5

It just looks weird. If I’m on a bike and I don’t have a helmet on, it just feels weird. So you can imagine on Sunday morning, in a parking lot in Morristown, NJ, ready to head over to the start area for the Gran Fondo NJ, I was a bit perturbed to discover I’d forgotten to bring my helmet. Angry not just that I’d forgotten it, but angry that the reason I’d forgotten it was because, as I’ve already learned NOT to do in the past, I changed my routine. Never, NEVER change your routine on race day. Don’t wear anything you haven’t worn before, don’t eat anything you haven’t eaten before, don’t do something you’ve never done before.

I have a black Jansport backpack I carry all my ride gear in, not only to all my training rides, but to all my races as well. Everything was packed nicely in my backpack on Saturday. Earlier in the day I’d used a shopping bag to get my goodies at packet pick-up. For some reason I still can not fathom, I decided when packing on Saturday night, to use the shopping bag for my gear, instead of my backpack. When Sunday morning came I was all set to go, everything nicely situated in my Trader Joe’s recycled shopping bag……………except, of course, my helmet.

20 minutes prior to the start of a race, for which a helmet is required, never mind a safety practice which is inviolable, and I’m in a bit of a panic. Ah, but wait. The main sponsor for this event is the bike shop, right around the corner. Not that I really want to spend the money, but I can buy a helmet for this race. I’d already asked the only other riders still in the parking lot and they did not have an extra I could borrow. Now here’s an important business tip, boys and girls. If you are a bike shop and sponsoring a major ride in which thousands of people are participating, it might behoove you to have your store open the morning of the ride, even if it is 0700 on Sunday. I assure you that SOMEONE will want to buy something at the last minute. Oh well, your loss.

I made my way to the start area, hoping the Expo, where there should be shops and vendors with gear would already be set up. Alas, they were not. I REALLY did not want to try and ride 107 miles without a helmet. Now I was thinking I was really in a pickle when it occurred to me to just call my sister and have them bring my helmet with them when they came to cheer me on. DUH!!! The first rest stop, at mile 21, was only about 20 minutes from their house. They could easily be there by the time it took me to ride there. Whew, crisis avoided. Yes, I got some funny looks at the start and along the way. Nobody said a word to me and luckily nobody from the organizers prevented me from starting, as riding helmetless is definitely a No-no.

Thank you Michael, my brother-in-law, for the quick trip to Peapack-Gladstone to bring me my helmet. I felt MUCH better after getting that on my noggin. That faux-pas behind, the rest of the day was fantastic.

gran-fondo-nj-19188

Once again the weather gods had smiled upon me with a beautiful day for riding. The thunderstorms had cleared overnight and taken the awful humidity with them. Sunny, breezy and comfortable were the words of day as we rolled and climbed and descended through western NJ. There is a reason this course is listed on the 50 Greatest Rides in America. The scenery is beautiful, particularly the first and last third. Perhaps the most scenic ride I’ve done, it will change your perception of NJ if all you’ve ever known or heard about is what you see from the NJ Turnpike. Don’t let any of that fool you, the course is plenty challenging, with 8700 ft of climbing. The four timed climbs were especially tough reaching grades of 12%-15%.

gran-fondo-nj-23340

Once again, another great ride. Thanks to my parents, sister and nephew for coming out to support me. It’s always great to see friendly faces out on the course and at the finish. State #4 complete.

White Mountains Gran Fondo

Saturday was a beautiful morning in the small hamlet of Lincoln, NH. The sun was rising brightly over the eastern mountains, the temperature cool and crisp, more akin to an October morning than August. Unlike every day that I have to get to work, I was up with my alarm though moving with my usual morning sluggishness. I’m just not a morning person. Never have been, never will be. I love being up early, I just hate GETTING UP early.

Making sure all my gear was ready to go, having staged it all the night before, I went down to the typical hotel “Continental” breakfast and fed myself on yogurt, peanut butter and jelly toast and some coffee. It was a very short drive up to Loon Mountain Resort and the starting line. I’d managed to time it all perfectly so as not to be rushed at all but arriving at the start with just about 10 minutes to wait for gun. Or in this case, the cannon. Time enough to take a quick photo, a bit of stretching and decide that at 55 degrees, it was still cool enough to keep my armwarmers on.

If you looked at the graphic from my last post you may have noticed that the Gran Fondo, Medio (medium) and Piccolo (short) all started at different points along the route and so, it was only us long riders at the start here on the mountain. I was a bit surprised how small the group was. I would have said from a glance around, less than 100. As I found out later in the results, it was actually 197. Not quite the massive throng I’d experienced at the Gran Fondo NY, with 6000 of us jammed on the George Washington Bridge. It was kind of cool to be right up there, within 20 or so riders of the actual start line when that cannon went off. WELL, I’m awake now. And we were off.

Nothing like starting with a 10.8 mile climb. The good news there is that it was a very gradual climb for the first several miles, a decent chance for the legs to get warmed up, which always takes me much longer, in both distance and time, than it does for nearly every one of my riding friends back home. I was in no rush, and adamant about riding my own “race” so it was not a surprise for me that I was passed by nearly everyone. I knew for sure that once I got myself going, later in the day, I’d be seeing many of these riders again as I passed them back. And I did.

I won’t bore you with the details of 7 hours and 103 miles of ride. I had a great day of riding. My legs hit their stride after about an hour, which is typical. The roads and scenery were wonderful, with challenging, but not spirit shattering climbs, sweet, swifty descents, and lots of nice and surprisingly flat riding in between. I stopped at each of the 3 fully stocked reststops for food, water refills and a short break. There were 3 other water-only stops in between, but the distances were planned out perfectly and I did not have need to stop at those. The forecast had called for a good chance of afternoon showers, but the weather held out beautifully. We probably topped out in the mid 70’s, with only some light wind. A perfect day for riding.

Afterwards, as planned, I drove back down to spend the night in Manchester. Dinner at Cotton was exceptional, thanks in part to having my OpenTable.com reservation. The restaurant was packed; clearly a well known and local favorite that I would definitely recommend.

Gran Fondo White Mountains is a terrific ride. Although much of the roads are main thoroughfares through the White Mountains National Forest, where the traffic areas were heavier, the shoulders were wide. There were some backroads to enjoy as well and the entire event was well organized, easy to travel to and a really fun time. It gets a thumbs up on my reputation scale.

WMGF Finished

Next up…………..Gran Fondo NJ.

Carolina Century 2014

On Saturday, state #5 in my quest for 50 officially entered the books….. or map, really.

If you ever plan to do the Carolina Century, bring a friend, or make sure you really like your own company, because those are your two choices. This ride is SMALL, in terms of participation, but a great event in terms of everything else. It takes place in the rolling Piedmont, just north of Greensboro, North Carolina. I’m not sure there were 100 participants total, across the five different mileages, which means I rode almost the entire 102 miles completely only. Luckily, I’m one of those who does happen to enjoy my own company, most of the time. If I saw 15 other riders during my 6 hours of riding I’d be surprised and the vast majority of those were at the plethora of rest stops. One thing about this ride is you will NOT go hungry or thirsty. I believe there were at least 8 rest stops on the 102 mile course. Perhaps the most impressive thing was the three or four folks on rollerblades. Apparently that is still big in some areas, and this must be one of them. My helmet’s off to these hearty souls, attempting to skate 102 miles, on certainly not flat terrain. Now THAT’S crazy.

That you could even attempt to skate this event will tell you everything you need to know about the road conditions. This was 102 miles of near perfect roads. Despite being all primary or secondary roads, the traffic was low and the scenery throughout was bucolic. So, it was a wonderful day of riding, except………….

Carolina_Century_2014[1]

I have Shimano Di2 Ultegra electronic shifting on my bike. Let me say up front, I LOVE IT!!! I’m not sure I will ever own another road bike without this. It seems a minor thing, but it’s shifting performance is exceptional and you really do get used to just tapping the button. So much so that once you get used to the Di2, riding a bike with mechanical shifting seems somewhat a chore and rather clunky. I know, how “roadie” of me. ANYWAY…………… it works great, until………. the battery dies.

The battery lasts a long time. When I first got it I went nearly a year without having to charge the battery. I’ve not run it down fully since then, but generally go a few months between charges. It’s been 2-3 months since I remember charging it last, but it could be more. The system is rather ingenious. When the battery begins to get low, the first indication is that it will take several taps on the button to move the front derailleur. That essentially indicates you have one, maybe two, chainring shifts remaining. The rear derailleur will continue to operate until the batter dies completely, which is advertised as at least a couple hundred more shifts.

At mile 60, I got the tell tale sign shifting from the low to high chainring. Uh oh. I’ve got a long way to go yet not to have all my gears. But no biggie, I knew there weren’t any real killer hills. At mile 63 I down shifted in to the small chainring, figuring that was better than being stuck in the large. I’m glad I did because some of the later hills ended up a bit tougher than I’d been anticipating. Now I just had to get used to the forced difference in my cadence capacity and accept that I wasn’t going to pedal much faster than 21 mph and not at all on downhills.

At mile 85, the battery was extremely tired, much like the direction my legs were heading, and my rear derailleur was cooperating maybe every 4th or 5th time I tried to shift gears. With 17 miles left I was now very stingy with my attempted shifts and limited myself to my middle 3 or 4 rear cogs. And finally, at about mile 99, she gave out completely. Trust me, I must have hit that shift button 30 times in the last few miles trying to get just one more shift, more for the principle of it than the need for another gear.

I can manage to turn the most idyllic of days in to an adventure. But fear not, I finished, felt quite good and had a wonderful day in the Carolina Piedmont.

North Carolina, check. √

Bringing An Evil Plan Together

Or maybe not such an EVIL plan, but a plan all the same. You may have read on my other blog site (Bike Life) that I have a plan/goal to complete an organized Century Ride or Gran Fondo in each of our 50 states.

If not, you can read it under: My Quest

So far I’ve completed rides in 5 of the 50. More accurately, I’ve completed 5 which meet the criteria I laid out in My Quest. In total, I’ve completed 10, but some were repeats and one was not wholly contained within a single state. Sorry Gran Fondo New York, as great as you were, I can’t count you officially. That just means I get to do another ride in the Empire State.

Now, I have finally created this blog, explicitly devoted to this endeavor.  Follow me through this adventure, on both sites and the map as well. Over the next few months I hope to be developing and announcing my plan to do this all for charity.  And I’ve only just thrown this page up today.  I’m planning additions and much more fun doodads and widgets. Please check back often for all the latest.

And please share this with friends. The more the merrier. 🙂