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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"