March April and Now May

What can I say? The weather in March sucked! The winter wouldn’t end. There was lots of snow still around and in the day time it would get just above freezing in the afternoon and refreeze at night. The morning temperatures were cold so lots of black ice. It was just plain sloppy. I did manage to get a couple of rides in but they were cold rides. Both rides included a fairly nasty short climb of almost 15%. Talk about quad burners.

April got better, temperatures still chilly at times but the snow was gone. The biggest hazard was potholes, followed by the excess piles of sand that gathered along the side of the road and at intersections. This meant my “winter tires” (700×28) are still on the bike, the road slicks (700×23) are still sitting in the basement.

The last week of April into the first week of May turned out to signal the start of spring. I got into some group rides. One group ride I had to bail on because I flatted my front tire before I even got my second foot clipped in. Some days it just goes against you. I told the group to go ahead and I would try to catch up since I had GPS. Well my GPS got confused, or maybe the operator confused it. Anyway there were a couple of roads on the route that split and the ran parallel for a bit before finally diverging. My only saving grace was this group ride was in my backyard so I was familiar enough with the roads to make it back to the start. It was one of my faster rides as I averaged 14+mph over 24 miles.

So far in May I have finally become comfortable with my GPS. I still have an occasional screw-up but overall I like it a lot. The distances of my rides have increased. I did a 40 just a couple of days ago followed up by a 20 miler. I have also ridden a couple of times in my short sleeve jersey which is really a nice feeling. One other good sign is that the road crews are out filling potholes, the street sweepers have cleaned up a lot of sand and debris. I am thinking that in the very near future my road slicks will make their appearance.

Look for more of my updates soon, especially since riding season is in full swing. Also follow me on Facebook: General Thoughts/Issues on Bicycling. A.J.

My First Group Ride of the Year!

I met up with my buddies in the Charles River Wheelmen Bicycling Club. This is a social bicycling club open to everyone. We met at a member’s house and had a choice between a supershort (25 miles), short (about 36 miles) and a long ride (around 54 miles). Since I had ridden 4 miles to get there and about 4 miles to get back I opted for the short ride, which would give me close to 33 miles for the year. This was the first group ride of the year for a few riders. Despite temperatures in the low 40’s at the start, I guess the snow discouraged a lot of potential riders as there were about 10 of us at the start.

I had ridden parts of this route this past Monday. So I knew where the the nasty hills were. It also helped that this route was practically in my back yard so I knew what to expect. A few riders went out fast maybe too fast. I guess they were excited for the first ride of the season. I was beginning to feel discouraged a bit almost resigning myself to be tail-end-charlie or pretty close. However, as the ride went on I started to reel back in some the riders that took off early. I passed a couple of riders before the big hill on this ride and by the time I topped the big hill, I was up with a few more. At the halfway point of the super short route we were all riding together. With a few miles to go there were just me another guy up front. By the time we got back to the finish we all were within a minute of each other and sat around and chatted about the ride and biking in general. It was a good time with good friends. I am looking forward to more rides this season. BTW I had a friend take a picture of me to show what it takes to ride in cold weather.

Where is Spring?

Today is March 18, 2013. On this day last year it was over 70 degrees. Today for my ride it was barely half that temperature. Thanks to my new GPS and ride with GPS, I drew up a new ride the other night and had it on my GPS in less 1/5 the time it used to take using my old GPS and the old GPS would not be as accurate. This course was 27.3 miles with 1366 feet of climbing.

I really liked this ride. It was scenic quiet roads with a few steep hills (one with a short stint of 14%) thrown in. The ride went along two sides of Whitehall Reservoir, into Upton and return home. The pavement on this route at this time of year is terrible. 700×23 road slicks would not be recommended, especially with the sand on the road let alone dealing with the occasional pothole. I rode on 700×28 with some tread on it. These are my winter tires and they helped me in a couple of places where the sand on the road was sketchy.

This will be a nice ride to do again in the summer and it may become one of my favorites. When will I ride this again. I will probably do a portion of this course this weekend with the Charles River Wheelman, if the weather and roads cooperate. As for now they are forecasting 7-9 inches of snow tomorrow on the 19th of March. This has been a tough winter, thank God I have a spinning bike at the gym. A.J.

P.S. The mileage widget is working again and I have logged 74.5 miles this year.

General Craziness

I encourage you to read that link and realize their are a lot of crazy people out their who just hate bike riders, even politicians. You will probably have to copy and paste it into a new window

March 8th: Well the weather forecast called for a couple of inches of snow on Friday with warm weather in the 50’s on Saturday and Sunday. Good weather for bike riding, right? Wrong! We got almost two feet of snow, give or take a couple of inches. We will have warm weather on Saturday and Sunday even Monday, but it won’t be the riding weekend I was hoping for. I will just have to see how the weather holds up.

My First Ride in March 2013

Well, if the weather goes south this month I did manage to get an 18.1 mile ride in today. So I have three months where I rode at least one day. The route I did said 17.1 on the map, but my GPS says 18.1 miles. The only reason I can attribute to the difference would be the amount of climbing and descending on some rolling hills on the northwest leg of the ride.

I started out a little later than I wanted to and I didn’t realize the temperature was below 40F and went down to as low as 36 in some spots (maybe a couple degrees lower). Very little wind today, hands did not get cold in my gloves. It was also very cloudy, dreary and this route had more sand along side of the road than the other routes. I am also getting used to working with my GPS unit, which has a virtual trainer. I had a moment of triumph I did beat my virtual trainer.

Please note my widget for mileage for year does not seem to be working, but in case you are keeping track I have logged 47 miles so far this year.

Road Biking in February

Well it is February 26, 2013. My goal of riding at least one day per month in 2013 looked to be in jeopardy just two months in. This New England winter seems to have flipped flopped January and February, at least in the terms of snow.

There are some differences to consider between summer and winter riding, besides keeping warm. There is less rideable road surface with the snow banks, sand and potholes. So, you probably should go for a wider tire. Put your 23cm road slicks up and change them out to something wider with some tread. You will thank yourself when you come upon a bunch of sand in the road. I also read that in winter the air is denser and you don’t ride as fast. This tidbit was in my club newsletter and backed up by some mathematical formulas. Personally, I thought yeah, whatever.

On today’s ride I managed 13.3 miles with a moving time of just under (barely) an hour. This ride also included just about 1,000 feet of climbing. I really enjoyed this ride, though I was a little chilly a couple of times. I should have worn more on my head that would have protected face and neck more, and maybe another layer underneath. If I was one a longer ride I would have. The weather today was cloudy, very little wind with temperatures in the low to mid 40’s. It just got cold when I was really moving. If you jog a lot outside in the winter and want to ride a bike, consider adding one more layer. This will account for your self generated wind chill.

That’s it for this edition. I hope to have more rides in March. You can check out my progress for the last 30 days on the widget page, which has a link to ride with gps website.

February 8th 2013 – The Blizzard of 2013

Well, it’s been over a week since I rode last. I only have 16 miles and around 800 ft of elevation to show for my one ride this year. (See the page I set up so you guys and gals can track this.) This past week has been a mixture of cold weather and small snowstorms that you would wake up to in the morning and the days would not get above freezing. If they did get above freezing it would not be long where it would freeze again and you would get black ice.

Finally yesterday, it looked like I would be able to get a short. I was wrong! Blizzard preparations were needed. I had to do some grocery shopping, get dog food, load up the firewood, and make sure the snowblower and generator were ready to go. Hopefully I won’t need the generator, but I know the snowblower will get a workout. It’s now 8:30 pm out and the blizzard is ramping up. They are calling for 2ft. of snow here give or take a few inches. My thought is that once you go over a foot it’s all relative. It’s the drifting and what ends up at the end of the driveway that counts. I have not felt the house shake yet because of the wind nor I have I noticed “white-out” conditions. I have seen heavy snow and the Governor has declared a driving ban that went into effect at 4 p.m. today until further notice. Anyway, I hope get out on the bike sometime towards the end of next week. One forecast is calling for the 40’s on Monday. But. we’ll see what happens.

A. J.’s 2013 Bicycling Adventures

January 31, 2013: Believe or not I made it out riding today. There were some instances were I was regretting this decision. I was surprised how much I got blown around by 30 to 40 mph wind gusts at times. It really sucked as a headwind or off your 10 to 11 o’clock as you were trying to go uphill.

Yes, the wind took it out of me. When I put my gear on it was barely over 50 degrees. It dropped steadily during my ride. Through in the wind and it was cold, damn cold. Fortunately I was layered with a wind breaker, fleece, and thermal on my top, riding shorts and pants on the bottom. I should have opted for the three finger gloves but went conventional gloves with riding gloves over them. I did not suffer to much.

My time did suffer. I can tell that the holidays played hell and not being out on the road since late October had its drawbacks. My average speed was slightly better than 12 mph. I would do this same route in the summer at close to 15 to 18 mph, but I did not have the cold and wind. I also only did 15.8 miles.

The one thing I did get out of today is that hopefully this year I will get at least one ride in every month of the year.


January 29, 2013: Well here it is, the start of a new bicycling year. I hope this year is better than last year. I retired with 30 years of Federal Government Service in April 2012. In May of 2012 I underwent shoulder surgery along with a couple of months of physical therapy. So my serious riding did not start until late June. This knocked me out of two events I wanted to ride in. The Charles River Wheelmen (CRW) Climb to the Clouds Century in July and the D2R2 in August. I just did not have the legs for it. I did manage to have the legs, just barely, for the CRW fall metric Century.

Disc Brakes on Road Bikes

Someone has finally done it, disk brakes on a road bike. I like this idea. I have disc brakes on my mountain bike and love the increased stopping power. Roadies on the other hand have been obsessed with weight: Disc brakes weigh too much. Come-on give me a brake. The average roadie is not going to ride in the Tour de France, or be on the Olympic Team. The average roadie is should be more concerned about stopping before someone pulls a left turn in front of them or opens a door in their path. The average roadie who does a couple of centuries a year maybe with some long fast descents may benefit from disc brakes. They won’t have to worry about overheating their rims, with their caliper brakes, and blowing out a tube; this would result in them being in a ditch in the side of the road or worse. Who knows maybe in a few years, you will see disc brakes on bikes in the Tour de France and other races. Disc brakes would probably change the whole complexion of the Tour de France and other Grand Tours as you would have faster descents in the mountains.

Anyway, here is a link to the article about one of the first road bikes I have seen with disc brakes. Surprisingly, it’s not to much more than the what some riders pay already.

Training for Rides after Injury

Here it is the last couple of days of June 2012.   I have not had much chance to update my blog; here are the reasons.   Last fall I went down hard on my knee during a mountain bike ride.  I was not wearing my knee pads, something I am doing now and will do in the future when I take my mountain bike out into the New England rock and root strewn woods (this terrain makes me wonder why I went with a hard tail vs. a full suspension rig).   Anyway, I had my knee drained twice and went through physical therapy.  My therapist told me that my main problem is more my hip than my knee and because of my hip I would have had knee problems in the future.  So now, I have to remember to do some good hip and knee stretching as well as icing down my knee after I ride.

In December, during my winter training I tweaked my shoulder doing a kettle-bell work-out. I got sloppy. Well it turns out, I needed surgery. My surgeon stated that the surgery would have been needed sooner or later. I just sped up the process, as there was a calcium deposit rubbing against a tendon. Well everything is cleaned up and I have been going to physical therapy twice a week since mid-May to get my strength and range of motion back.

The good news out of all of this is that in the last two weeks I have been doing more riding on my road bike and also taking my mountain bike out on the road. I had hopeed to do the ride to the clouds century in mid-July but that is not happening. Even the 48 mile ride which includes the ride to the top of Mt. Wachusett, is doubtful as my legs do not have their strength back. I have been struggling on some hills on a 30 mile climb as recently as yesterday. So, I think I am going to concentrate on getting ready for the D2R2 in mid August. I hope to be doing the 100k ride this year and not make a wrong turn like I did last year.

Don’t forget the Tour de France starts on June 30. The stage to watch will be on July 11th. I am pulling for Levi Leiphiemer (sp?) this year for individual. For team I am hoping for team Rabbobank (they ride the Giant Brand Bikes and are in orange jerseys). Bradley Wiggins could be the first Britain to win the Tour, but keep an eye out for Tyler Ferrar from the U.S.A. as a young upset rider.