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Sunday, October 23, 2011

PA 200K - 10/22/2011

Yesterday I rode what is likely my final brevet of the year, an Eastern PA 200K, another great event organized by Tom Rosenbauer. Yesterday Tom offer both a 150K and a 200K event, and it was a very good turnout for a Fall afternoon. Although the weather forecast was for sunny skies and temperatures close to 60, we had cloudy and much cooler temperatures all day, making me think of the coming winter ahead. Even though I have ridden a number of events this Fall, trying to work of a few extra pounds put on at the end of the summer, I found myself really struggling towards the end of the day, with the over 10,000 feet of climbing, and some stomach cramps in the final hours. I was helped in those final hours by riding with my friend John Clamp, whom I had not ridden a brevet with since the Spring. John is a very strong rider, but yesterday he took things to new levels by riding a fixed gear bike on this challenging ride, which I had trouble comprehending all day, as John passed me on the hills while I was pounding away in my granny ring. I had so much fun, and really enjoyed riding the series in PA this year, in my second year of doing brevets. I cant imagine a finer RBA than Tom, and we capped yesterday off with a great BBQ, and excellent support by yesterday's volunteers, Len, Shane, and Shane's daughter, Victoria, who all helped us throughout the day. I learned a lot this year, and will be looking forward to the challenges that 2012 will bring.
Preparing to take off on our 200K @ 7:30 outside the Weisel Hostel
Jon & Tim Crossing Belvedere Bridge
Tim at the Top of Fox Gap Climb
Rick, Tim & John at the finish of the ride, ready to take down some BBQ!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sea Gull Century - MD - 10/15/11

Well, this started out initially as a blog about Randonneuring for me, but there are so many additional cool things that we can experience within our great sport. This past weekend, my good friend, Paul Whelan, who took up cycling several years ago, was riding in his first ever Century, the massive Sea Gull Century, and asked me down to his beach house in Ocean City, MD, which my family and I have been invited to many times, but for different reasons, have never been able to make the trip. I was able to take Friday off, and Paul and I were able to get a nice ride in Friday morning, before a round of golf at a beautiful course, and 12 hours of "hydration", but not the type of hydration that is normally recommended for cycling, let alone a challenging event. I was very impressed with the organization of this great event. I am not exactly sure how many riders participated, I believe at least 8000, and I heard as many as 10,000? We had a nice, clear, crisp day to ride, with temperatures in the afternoon in the low 70's, with not a could in the sky. The roads were flat, well marked, and very pretty. That said, there is more to this story, as I cold front had moved through the day before, and for most of the ride, there were 25-25 mile wind gusts. As always with any long cycling events, the wind was directly in our face for the last 40 miles, and for as long as I have been riding, yesterday's winds were definetely some of the most challenging I have ridden in. The best part of the weekend for me was not only a great weekend with a great friend, but being there to celebrate and help him complete his first Century, which he finished strongly, in challenging conditions, some of which we could not control, and some of which we could, but didn't, which is our history.
Paul, at the entrance to Assateague State Park, MD, known for it's wild horses
One of those famous wild horses, "not me"
Paul, and Tim, at the end of a great ride, and great event. "until next year" I think I have one more long cycling event to complete, which will be next weekend's final Eastern PA 200K, which as always will be challenging & full of climbs. Then, into Cyclocross season #2 for me, for more pain & sufferring & getting my "a" kicked. As always, thanks for riding, until next time..."keep onTruckin"

Monday, October 3, 2011

Keating's VT Ride

During the first weekend of October, our good friend Dan Keating invited many of us that ride together out of Brielle Cyclery, in Brielle, N.J., up to his wonderful home in Ludlow, VT. I have been riding with many people in this group for about the past 8 summers, since we have been fortunate enough to have a summer home nearby. Technically, this means that my family are not "Bennies", but certainly for some, that would be up for debate? My wife and I have developed my great friendships with this group of riders, and we had a wonderful weekend in VT. Unfortunately, like much of August & September in the Northeast, what looked to be a nice weather forecast early in the week, turned into a cold, rainy Saturday & Sunday in VT. With some urging from myself, and 1-2 others, we were able to get most everyone out of the nice house & warm fire on Saturday for what turned out to be a nice & challenging 50 mile ride. As usual, although I had my iphone with me, I was too lazy to take it out of my pocket, which I really regret not taking any pictures of some of the devastating scences of destruction that we witnessed in a few places from Irene. I am talking about serious road erosion, or in fact, significant stretches of roads that just disappeared. It is one thing to watch stuff like this on the news, it is another to see it in person, even 5 weeks later. Most importantly, this was a fun weekend, with good friends, sharing good times around a common bond, cycling.
A picture of the gang with our New Jersey's purchased for us by our gracious hosts Dan & Diane, from LBS, Mountain Cycology in Ludlow, VT.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

New Jersey Fall 200K

Yesterday I participated in a new brevet run in Central New Jersey which was put together by NJ Rando's Ron & Barb Anderson. This was my first Brevet since my DNF of the Shenandoah 1200K back in early June, and although I have been doing plenty of riding throughout the summer, it was really good to "get back in the saddle" before the end of the season.

The weather forecast called for potentially heavy rain all afternoon on Friday night, but we actually had a rain free day, although very humid. The route took us on some of the roads used in other NJ brevets, through Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean & Burlington Counties, but also some nice new roads, with somewhat varying terrain, which was great, instead of the mostly flatter roads through the NJ Pine barrens.  The route was well planned by Ron, and excellent Q sheets for the first brevet that they put together.

I rode most of the day with 2 or 3 other riders, Rick Lentz, Norman Smeal, and later Roy Yates, whom I rode with quite a bit this year doing PA brevets, and who also had a successful PBP last month, which I enjoyed hearing about. The day was enjoyable, and we made good time. Most importantly, if this is my last brevet of this year, I am glad that I finished the year with a better feeling. I did say at the outset of this year, my 2nd, that I wanted to see where the journey would take me & what else I would learn, and I have learned a lot. Although my first attempt at a 1200K did not work out well for me at all, I would imagine that I will have learned from the entire experience and training, and the next time, I will also hope for some cooler weather.

As always, thanks for reading, and "Keep on Truckin!"  A picture before departure on a grey, humid, Fall morning.

Sunday, June 12, 2011


Well, my attempt to complete the Shenandoah 1200K, failed very miserably a few days ago. When I had to withdraw, one of the first things my wife said to me was.....your still going to write about this in your blog right....., some support.

I arrived in Leesburg VA early Wed. evening of the night before the event, well rested, and ready to go, but scared given the brutal heat wave. It was in the upper 90's on the drive down, with the temp's forecasted to be close to 100 on Thursday, the first day of the event. I tired to be sensible on Wed. night for dinner. Grilled chicken, & grilled veggies, but the 2 small slider burgers seemed to good to pass up as a side dish, given all the miles I would be riding. Bad mistake! I was sound asleep by 8:00, and was awoken at 10:30 by some kids banging on the door and running away. Soon, I was drenched in sweat, but it wasn't from fear, but from the burgers, and I got sick several times during the night. After perhaps 2 hours sleep, the 3:00 alarm came very quickly.

10 of us set out at 4:00 A.M, and my GPS said it was 80 degrees at the start, with very high humidity. As I sweat incredibly, I set off with 2 bottles, and a Camelback, and of course my Endurolyte pills. We made it to the first control, Gettysburg by 9:00, and I had already felt like I had lost 5 pounds before the sun really came out, with a very weak stomach. By 11:30 A.M., I was starting to feel the same exact symptoms that I suffered 3 summers ago in Spain doing a trip across The Pyrenees, very weak, light headed, and very high heart rate. Before we even started any of the big climbs of the day, I was falling off rapidly, and although I tried resting a few times under some trees, I knew that I was in danger, and risked a serious health issue if I were to go on, let alone making some of the controls on time, and riding the rest of the ride potentially alone.

It was really amazing to me that after all of the training, and doing "well" in so many of the brevets this year in respect to time, the additional training all winter and spring, and all of the mental preparation, that I was abandoning this ride at only mile 95. I knew that I had problems riding in severe heat, and I was hoping to make it past that first day, (I never thought that I wouldn't) but really, stopping was the only decision I could make at that point. After informing Janet that I had withdrawn, I started to make my way back to Leesburg, and I thought that I could do so on some easier on flatter roads, but the afternoon heat made it even worse for me. At one point, after resting for 30 minutes, I made it another 5 miles before I pulled into a gas station near a big highway, and asked 4 people in pick up trucks if they were going south and could give me a ride, and finally, the 5th, one of our country's fine soldiers, Joe from Mississippi, drove me 25 miles to Fredricksburg, which was gladly welcomed & needed. After another rest of 30 minutes, I tried riding again, and made it about 4 miles before getting really sick on the side of a busy highway. I sat on the side of a 4 lane highway hoping a police officer would see me & stop, but after 20 minutes with no luck, I ran my bike across the 4 lane highway to get near the left hand split to Leesburg, knowing that I could either take hours to make it back the last 30 miles, or beg another ride (would have been the case), but I looked up, and a fine fellow cyclist in a Subaru wagon with a bike rack had pulled over and asked if I needed any help? Dan drove me back to my hotel, and I cant thank him enough for his kindness. I was also only in the car for minutes before what seemed like a small tornado went by the area.

It has taken me a few days to recover. Of course I am disappointed, but the weather is the weather and I am not sure what I could have done differently. I hope to attempt another 1200K in the future, but for now, back to road cycling for a while before Cyclocross season in the Fall.

I said before I started my 2nd Rando season that I was hoping to learn more and see where the road would take me? Well, I learned a lot this year. I met a lot of great new Randonneurs doing the fabulous Eastern PA Series run by Tom Rosenbauer. I hope that the remainder of the survivors in The Shen 1200k have finished safely by now, and I look forward to hearing about it.

Thanks for reading, and until next time "Keep on Truckin"      

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer Breeze

This past Memorial Day weekend, I was able to get back on a bike after a weeks recovery, or 5 days off a bike after a very tough PA 600k. We finally had some nice warm weather here in NJ, and it was the first time that my family was able to get down to our beach house, after a very busy "family" spring.

Riding this past weekend, reminded me again the diversity of our sport, and some of the many reasons why we ride. It was great seeing and riding with many of my "shore" friends, that I ride with during these 3-4 months of the year, and it also seemed to be the first time in many months that I was actually able to go on a 2-3 hour, fast group ride, after riding so many brevets and long distance brevet training rides throughout the Spring. Although my legs were still working their way back in to form on Saturday, by Sunday I felt great again, and it was fun knowing that I could push myself to the limit, yet it "would all be over in a short period" of time.

Although I had some doubts about my commitment or sanity in riding The Shenandoah 1200K early last week after the completion of the PA 600K, those doubts soon passed, and a week from today I will have been underway, and I am hoping that all of the preparation will pay off.

As a very long time "Dead Head", I am not really sure why I never made it to a Phish Concert until last night, but what a treat and awesome show. Phish is really an amazing live band, and I may need to call upon some of those good tunes and vibes next week in the dreary hours.

Until next time, thanks for reading and "Keep on Truckin"

  Not a Cycling photo, just the view of our Life Guard Stand from my Beach Chair in Spring lake N.J. this past Memorial Day

Thursday, May 26, 2011

PA 600K, 5/21/2011

Last Saturday morning at 4 A.M., 25 of us set off for the Eastern PA 600K, which was really a great, challenging & scenic ride. Although humid most of the day, I stayed mostly dry, with the exception of a 30 minute down pour after lunch. My plan, before the ride started, was to sleep for 2 hours or so, or maximum of 3 hours before being on the road again, which would occur after 400K, and arriving back to the starting hotel. Within 30 minutes of riding, I was already asking a few of my Rando friends, "what is your sleep strategy", and Bill Fischer indicated that he planned to ride through the night, and right away I agreed to join  him, as usual...., so much for planning. After an easy start and likely 10 of us riding into the second control together, Bill & I decided not to stop for breakfast at the 2nd control, and off we went. A few hours later, Gavin Biebuyck caught up with us, and the 3 of us rode the next 22 hours together.

I had ridden with both Bill & Gavin a few times this year doing the PA Series, with this being Gavin's first year as a Rando, and being a very strong rider. Bill is a veteran of many years of Randonneuring, and many events, and I have learned a lot from him during the past several months. We all worked well together, and I have to say that it was a real pleasure riding with them during this event.

What else have I learned this year? Well, I blew up my 2nd Garmin again on this ride, although I was able to get it going temporarily back in the hotel when I plugged it in, but when I got back outside, it wouldnt read any satellites. When i turned it on again a few nights later ready to call Garmin, it was working again. I like the Garmin 800 if it would work, but it is proving very difficult to use on long rides and i still havent figured out yet if the problem is charging from my E-Werks with the light on, as it seems to work fine with the light off during the day, or just long routes, even though I broke the 600K into 3 separate routes, and this broke down again, the exact same period, with 10 miles to go before finishing a 400K distance. Strange, but true.....

Thoughts....this was my second 600K, the first being last year doing the NJ 600K, when we started at 10 PM, and it was down the NJ shore, during the summer. But while riding throughout back country Lancaster during the middle hours of the night, I am amazed to see so many people staying up late into the middle of the night, or out partying in their yards? True, I am getting old, and then again, I can only imagine how strange it seems to see 3 riders cruising by in the middle of the night on bikes...

When life looks like easy street, there is danger at your door.......? When Bill, Gavin & I pulled into our 2nd to last Control at 5:30 AM after riding through a peaceful, calm night with the stars shining, the sun was starting to come up, and I was already starting to feel great about knocking off those final 64 miles and being done well before 11 AM. Within 5 minutes of our departure, the fog & wind rolled in, and the next 41 miles to the next control were really brutal for me, especially as my mindset had just changed to being so positive with the sun shining. As I had no Garmin, and didnt want to ask Bill or Gavin what time it was, when we arrived at the next control, I thought at best it would be 11:00, and was pleasantly stunned to learn when my card was signed, that it was "only" 9:15. Once we got started again, the last 22 miles were less painful. Total time for the 3 of us, 31 hours 20 minutes.

I really enjoyed riding with the NJ Randonneurs last year, and I will certainly do more rides in NJ, but I cant say enough about the job that Tom Rosenbaur-Eastern PA RBA does with these rides, truly the "Gold Standard". His rides are very challenging, very well mapped out, supported, and he encourages all of the riders. I can not say enough what a great job he, and all of the volunteers do, and I want to thank everyone. Even though I live in NJ, I will volunteer for some events next year, and I look forward to more PA events, and i would encourage anyone else in the area to come out and enjoy the fun.

Lastly, as I write, I am now 2 weeks away from The Shenandoah 1200K, and I have to say, i have had some second thoughts during the week, especially as I just learned today that there are only 10 riders signed up for the brevet. I have trained hard, and put a lot of thought into this, and I intend to do a little riding this weekend, enjoy our shore house for the first time thus far this year, do some drinking with my friends, and make the final decision by Monday.

Until my next update, thanks for reading, "Keep on Truckin"

Gavin, Bill & myself, back in the hotel after the finish! Tired, but Happy.......

Sunday, May 15, 2011

PA 400K, 4/30/11

The PA 400K is 2 weeks behind me, and was a very enjoyable event. A group of 36 riders set out from The PA Randonneur home base hostel at 5:00 A.M., and soon, a group of 7 of us, started riding together, and we stuck together almost the entire day. We were fortunate to have nice cool temperatures throughout the day, upper 60's to low 70's, compared to the low 90's that they had for the same event last year, which really must have been brutal given the amount of climbing on the ride, especially the first part of the ride.

I needed to finish a 400K this year, as my requirement to ride in The Shenandoah 1200K in June, so after having already ridden 2, 200K's and a 300K event this year for training, my goal for this ride was not to push too much, and I really enjoyed the company throughout the day of the group that I rode with. We finished at midnight, 19 hours total, with several more "relaxing" rest stops for food.

One of the things that I did learn on this ride, which was "better now than later" was that it is true that if you load a long route into a Garmin Edge 800, or probably earlier models, it can cause the unit to crash. I had no problem loading a single 300K route into my Garmin, and had wanted to break the 400K into 2 routes, but I was away on business most of the week before, and used a route that someone had already loaded as a full 400 route, in order to save time. I almost made it, but the unit crashed with 10 miles to go. I will say though that whenever I have needed to call Garmin to ask any questions, they have been great, and they said that they would replace the unit, which I am hoping to receive this week, before the upcoming PA 600K next weekend, which will be my final preparation for the 1200K. (Yes, I have already loaded up the route into 3 segments), and I may only charge the Garmin during the day from my E-Werks charger. Again, much of my second year is still about learning and gearing up for the June ride.

I feel that my training has gone well, although I probably need to get some weight off in the final weeks, as I feel that I have slipped a little of late.

I still do not attempt to take any pictures during these rides for some reason, but I am going to paste a link from a fellow N.J. Randonneur Shane Beak, who I rode with all day on the event, and is not only a real strong rider, but very adept at taking pictures all day. This is a slide show that he entered on the PA Randonneur message board.

Thanks for reading, and until the next time, "Keep on Truckin"               

Tour of The Batenkill

Life events, family & work have had me very busy of late, which has cut into time available for my new blogging hobby, but I want to get caught up a bit on a dreary May Sunday afternoon.

Over a month ago, my son & I drove up to participate in the Tour of The Batenkill race in Cambridge, N.Y. My son had been registered for a long time, and I was on a long waiting list, but was lucky to get in with a week to go. The entire event was an amazing experience, very well organized, and tremendous volunteer support throughout the entire 64 mile route, with a lot of fans as well. In my Group of 50, Cat 5 riders, all group went off in 10 minute intervals, I was in a group of ten after the first big hill, then proceeded to drop my chain on the next climb, couldn't get back to the group ahead, and rode solo for 24 miles before finally getting picked up by 2 strong riders from my initial group. Of course, this all speaks to my lack of racing skills and knowledge, but Jeff, Rob & I rode the rest of the race together, and really helped to push each other and make up some time.

Although The Batenkill race has been around for a long time, and is very well known, these type of races are become so much more popular, and I can see why they are so appealing, and spreading. I really dont like Crit. racing at all, although I do enjoy going to my Son's races, who was just upgraded to Cat 3 today. I look forward to a return to The Batenkill again next year.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

NJ 200K

Yesterday I rode the N.J. (Princeton) 200k, which is where this journey started for me last year. I was mentioning to some of the people that I was riding with yesterday, how much more comfortable I am now with several brevets under my belt. Even though I have been riding a bike almost year round for 10 plus years now with several cycling trip experiences as well, I cant believe how nervous I was last year for those first few brevets. So many things were new and unknown, and now, although the "unknowns" are still out there, everything about the experience now feels so much more comfortable.

Our conditions yesterday were very challenging in the morning, as we rode through some very hard rain for several hours, but by mid day, we had just drizzle, and our final hours were dry. The NJ Princeton 200K is a very challenging, scenic & hilly ride, with excellent support. I rode with a group of 4 riders for almost the entire day, including my Rando friend John Clamp, Roy, John & Peter and we made good time throughout the day, and I know that I enjoyed everyone's company.

Next week I will be riding the PA 400K, as I need to complete a 400K this year as my primary qualification for The Shenandoah 1200K, which is now not that far off. I feel like my training for that event is going well, and after riding my 2nd brevet yesterday on my new Gunner Rando bike, I am starting to get more dialed in to the bike after some needed adjustments after the PA 300k.

Thanks for reading, and until next time, "Keep on Truckin'"


Sunday, April 3, 2011

PA 300k, 4/2/11

Yesterday I rode my 2nd PA brevet this year, a very challenging "Water Gap" loop. Our start was pushed back by 1 hour until 6 A.M., after a late spring snowstorm thankfully missed the greater metro area a day ago, but our RBA wanted to make sure that the higher elevation roads had a chance to melt any remaining ice. 26 riders set out on the 300k ride. This event was my first ride on my new Gunner Rando bike, and given some bad weather & other "life events", I was only able to ride the bike about 20 miles prior to this event, so I knew there would be some expected adjustment period. I loved the way the bike handled & performed, I enjoyed having the Hub & very powerful Supernova light illuminating the roads, and I also really like having a bag up front using a Nitto rack, which I felt made the bike handle far more comfortably and stable than the Topeak bag that I had attached to my seatpost on my former bike. All of that said, the adjustments are different on this bike, and I certainly felt some aches and pains during the ride, and if I had really wanted to ride today, it would have been difficult.(I tried & gave up quickly) Of course, these are the things that I need and intend to work out in the next couple of weeks before some longer events.

The ride was very scenic, and I am not really sure how many times we passed between NJ & PA, but there were great views all day of the Delaware River. Although I had hoped and intended to be able to take a few more scenic pictures during the day, I did not, as I am just not comfortable taking my iPhone out and snapping pictures along the way, and the group I was riding with again was always focused on getting to the next control, as was I. I rode the entire event with my new friend John Clamp, as I now ridden 3 events with John, and our riding styles are similar, and I think we do a good job of working together. More importantly, I know that I enjoy his company. John & I also met up with Bill Fischer around mile 100, and we rode the rest of the day with Bill, and I really enjoyed meeting him, and soaking up a lot of his cycling knowledge. I have now completed 6 brevets, and in some ways, yesterday was probably my worst day physically on the bike, as I had been sick during the week, and just did not seem to have my usual energy. There was a period around mid day where I really started to fall behind John & Bill for 6 miles or so on a relatively flat stretch, and not only did I think that I would not be able to catch up, I started to have some doubts & concerns about riding on my own, which I suppose is part of the experience. Thankfully, I was able to make up some ground, and I know they also slowed up for me before starting a big climb, and after that, I was able to both physically and mentally recover, and the rest of the day was enjoyable. As always, each experience is a new one, and for me, I still have a lot to learn, and I am enjoying the journey!

      Craig, Bill & John, during a quick break @ Control #5 in Portland, PA

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hell of The Hunterdon

No, this was not a brevet, but a really cool "Spring Classics" style ride on the N.J./PA border, which was held on March 26th from Lambertville. This was the 3rd "HoH", and like Gran Fondo's, these type of rides are exploding in popularity. The first year this event had 30 riders, last year when I rode for the first time, there were c. 125, and this year the ride easily reached it's 250 rider limit, and the event organizer, Brian Ignatin, allowed an additional 50 riders to enter at the last minute, and thus there were 300 riders. This was a challenging, very scenic 77 mile ride, with about 20% of the roads being off-road, dirt and gravel. Last year, we had nice low 70 degree temp's, but this year, not so lucky, as it was mostly in the low 40's, with a brisk wind, so the ride lived up to a true Belgian Style "Spring Classic"


This ride was a lot of fun, for a lot of reasons. Great company, and met a lot of nice people. Brian Igantin and his colleagues deserve a lot of credit for putting on such a great event, and growing this as much as they have in such a short period of time. Also, for a modest entry fee to $25, there were plenty of cool prizes raffled off after the event (much better prizes than last year as sponsorship has grown) and plenty of pizza, and for me, the best part is the unlimited beer from local, Lambertville NJ "River Horse Brewing Company", which really make some fantastic beers. Although not a brevet, if you live in the NJ/PA area, I would certainly recommend thinking about this ride or some of it's sister events in the future.

Lastly, I think I need or want to stop being so lazy during my brevets and take a few more pictures along the way, but to be honest, it was too darn cold yesterday, and mostly we were going too fast.

    The setup for the all important post ride festivities

My son Sean (yes, finished ahead of me) and our good friend Al Clancy, from Brielle N.J. who rode the event with me last year as well. (That is not water in his cup)

Until next time, when i will be back to a brevet report, Keep on Truckin', and as always, thanks for reading!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Maiden Voyage of my "New Machine"

I took delivery yesterday of my new brevet bike, and went for a quick ride tonight. I can truthfully say that I bought my last new car in 3 hours total, driving out of the lot, and I cant even begin to count the hours I spent planning this bike, and then agonizing whether or not I made the right decisions during the past 2 months. I may have spent more time worrying about this bike than the birth of my.........never mind......

I am happy to report that all the worrying was not needed, as this bike seems to fit like a glove, and I cant wait to really test it out next weekend during the PA 300k.

Gunner, Steel, "Sport" frame, Shimano components, Paul Canti brakes, Mavic Open Pro wheels, SchmittSON28 hub, King Headset, Thomson Seat post, SKS Longboard fenders, Nitto Front Rack, Supernova E3 Light, Shimano SPD PD-M770 pedals, Velo Orange Campagne Bag, Sella Anatomica saddle, Garmin Edge 800, B&M E-Werk charger, Conti 28 tires.

Well, off to participate in the "Hell of The Hunterdon" spring classic race/ride in Lambertville N.J. with 300 other riders. Not really a brevet, but was a great time last year, especially the free locally brewed beer at the end. (No, I will not be using the new brevet bike over the rocky & dirt roads)

Until my "HoH" report, Keep on truckin', and thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring Training?

Of course, most people think of baseball when it comes to Spring Training, especially this time of year, but as a long suffering NY Mets fan, the old adage, "hope springs eternal" does not likely apply to us this year, or most! Realistically, I think the best 3 things a Met fan can hope for this year are as follows; Luis Castillo being released (done), Oliver Perez being released, (imminent?), The Wilpon's selling the team (one can only hope). We did have an early glimpse of true Spring weather here in the NYC metro area recently, with temps up into the upper 70's, but the cruel winds of March resurfaced today, and the temps plummeted by 40 degrees.  

I had hoped to have taken delivery of my new Gunner Randonneur bike this week, and would have posted a picture, but the building process remains ongoing, so hopefully this week. As I mentioned in my first ever blog post, this is my second year as a Randonneur, and after really enjoying all of the brevets last year and completing the SR circuit, I mentally committed to entering The Shenandoah 1200k late last Fall, after the end of summer cycling season blahs had faded away. Making that mental commitment has really helped me to more seriously train for this event in a few ways. I started road cycling about 12 years ago, and like Forrest Gump, basically have not stopped. Although I certainly do a lot of "competitive" road riding, with a few teams or clubs, I have never raced much here in N.J., as I don't really enjoy the Crit. races, and those races I entered years ago, I did not do very well. I will mention that I did race Cyclocross this Fall, as a few of my friends who compete thought that I might enjoy the experience, and I really loved it, totally different vibe & culture than the road scene here in N.J. & I would imagine most places as well. That said, in order to hopefully complete a 1200k, I knew I would have to train differently in 2011.

Thus far, I have been able to keep my weight down during the winter, better than any winter since I have been riding. I have been fortunate to have taken several cycling trips in the mountains of Italy & Spain, so in some respects, I know what lies ahead of me. I have always left for those trips at 165 lbs, and for the 1200K, I plan to be at 160 lbs, and I am already just about there. I am also lucky to live in a relatively "hilly" area of N.J., which will help with my training. Two years ago, I whimsically purchased a Powertap, and I did download the data, looked at it..., but never really did anything with the data or information. For me, it turned out to be overkill. I am happy to have given the Powertap to my 16 year old son, who is a Jr. racer with some potential?, and I know he will & is already benefiting from the information that it can provide to him in his development. That leads to my next training point, although I have ridden a basic trainer in my basement during the winter for many years, often following a "Spinervals" tape, I found that boring, and I don't know what real benefit I derived? At the suggestion of my son's primary coach, Dan Coleman, Colavita-Baci U-19 (great youth cycling program here in N.J.) we purchased a Computrainer in the Fall, and what a difference in riding/training with this system. I started using it a bit too late in the winter, but I feel it has made a very significant early season difference, and I am going to start using it much earlier next off-season. Another thing that I feel has really helped me the past 2 winters has been swimming once a week at our local Y, which I think has really helped with my cardio. Lastly, I have downloaded a few of coach John's Hugh's e book's from the Road Biker website, and I plan to follow along some of his suggested training methods for longer brevets, which I think will give my riding some structure between brevets as i move towards the 1200k event.

Of course, there remain the basic weekend training rides, and this past weekend was a good one, with a nice 50 mile ride on Saturday, and a 75 mile ride to Princeton with my Liberty Cycle team.

N.J.'s Round Valley Reservoir, a hidden gem within North-Central N.J., from Saturday ride.  

Until next time, Keep on Truckin' and thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

PA 200K, 3/5/11 Another first for me, as not too long ago, I could never have envisioned reading a blog, let alone writing one, but here we go. That said, as an avid cyclist for the past 12 years, I really could not have envisioned doing or enjoying Randonneur rides, which I had not even heard of until 2 years ago, but  now I seem to be hooked. Another reason for writing, is that I have learned so much by reading other Rando blogs, and following the Google Randon Group, which seems to highlight one of the major differences between Rando's and regular road cyclists or racers is that the Rando community seems so willing to share and help. Lastly, as a "middle aged" father of 2 teenagers, and now "happily married" for 20 years, nobody listens to me in my own household, so....Truth be told, my family has been very supportive of my new cycling path. When I informed my wife at the start of this year that I intended to enter the Shenandoah 1200K in June, she said, "great, when can we expect you to ride across the country"? How can I fail with this type of loving support?

This year will be my second Randonneur season. I would imagine like many newbies, last year I made some physical, mental and tactical mistakes, but I did learn a lot, and also gave me a lot to think about in between seasons. I guess one of the primary questions in entering year two, is do I want to do these events as fast as I am able, as I did last year, or do I want to take my time more and meet more people, etc? As I headed into yesterdays event, I still hadn't really answered that question.

As a N.J. resident, I did all of my initial brevets last year in N.J., riding many of the roads that I am familiar with. I heard from several of the people I rode with and met last year that the PA Rando rides were very well organized, very scenic and challenging (more hilly) Given that my primary motivation from this point forward is training for The Shenandoah, and also that the PA events start about a month before the NJ events I decided to make the drive to PA yesterday, and I was not disappointed. The morning started off very well, as I followed the pre-ride advice to visit The Pancake House, which did not dissapoint. I ordered 3 large blueberry pancakes, which cost $2.95, which made me feel like I was stealing something? Hard to believe that I was only 2 hours away from the very expensive confines of  "The Somerset Hills" of N.J. This was not my only reminder during the day, that I was in a very different environment. We had 32 riders yesterday for the 200k, which I think was a record turnout for this early event. I cant say enough about how well the ride was organized, and the excellent pre-ride communication from Tom Rosenbauer-RBA, Andrew Mead, our Ride Organizer, and George Metzler, for opening his home to everyone for a wonderful BBQ at mile 95, which came at a great time for my group. Like any ride this time of the year, we experienced a few changes in weather, from several hours of cold drizzle, to low 60's by mid afternoon, accompanied by very strong winds around noon, before a big storm was to blow through on Sunday.

I rode with a strong group at the front all day, and met some great riders and new friends. A real highlight for me was reconnecting with John Clamp whom I rode almost the entire NJ 600K with last summer. John and I decided not to spend much time at the "sleep stop" last year, and basically finished the last 180 miles of the ride together on our own, during a day that was in the mid 90's, all day, with no shade. (Those mental & tactical decisions I referred to) Not only is John a very strong rider, last year he did the 600K and a single speed bike, which was very impressive? It took John & I some time to recognize each other yesterday, even though we were riding in the same group, likely because he now has a beard, but more likely because when we last saw each other, we were delirious? At any rate, it was great riding with John again, and I look forward to riding with him again this year. Several of us, ended up putting in an extra 3 miles towards the very end of the ride, as we were not really following our Q sheet all that closely, and were following behind a local Rando. I actually rode with my new Garmin 800 which I had just purchased this week, but have not had the time to figure out how to program routes into yet. I guess that will really help with situations such as those, and I know will be a huge help at night. Never the less, several of us set a new course record, and for now at least, I think the answer to one of my questions is that I like to ride these events at the best pace that I am able to sustain. This was really a great event, and I look forward to the PA 300, and other events.

Lastly, yesterday was my last ride on my original steel frame "Mondonico" which I have been using for these events. As I was planning for the new season, and especially the 1200K, I decided to outfit a new Rando bike using a Gunner Sport frame, which is currently being put together, and I am excited to use and work out any kinks during the coming months. Of course many, if not all of the decisions that I made in putting this bike together came from countless hours spent reading Rando Blogs and The Randon group, so thank you all for your advice and wisdom, and I will be sure to post a photo!  

Until then, keep on truckin', and thanks for reading!

Rick Carpenter, our post lunch, "local" ride addition

Rick, (John & Lenny - fellow N.J. riders)

Gavin, after completing his 1st brevet, "at the front all day"