Sunday, May 18, 2008

Final TNT Training Ride: Middleburg, VA

Mount Weather. As in, a mountain. And we did it!

It was cold starting out, but we all knew it was going to warm up, so we dressed in removable layers. I was worried because I only had about 3 hours of sleep before the ride--was I ready? Could I really do the hills and the mountain? 93 miles?

We started out, going down hills, climbing, cresting, turning...most of us were taking it easy. Even the Maniacal Kelly was taking it easy. I actually got to ride with Mike for a little bit, which was nice because I hadn't ridden with him all season. Got to comingle with some of the other riders I hadn't really had a chance to talk with before.

It was all fine-and-dandy until we turned onto Snickersville Road--that's where the real climbing began, especially up to Rte.7. Ugh! Maniacal Kelly was even saying that he wasn't going to do the Naked Mountain loop because the climb was hard for him, too. But we made it to the top, to Rte.7, and rode up to Blueridge Mountain Road.

Now Kelly had a good point (and of course, since he was the one who made the cuesheet): any time you see a "Mountain" or "Manor" in the street name, it'll be on a mountain. Blueridge Mountain Road, which ascends Mt. Weather, was one such road. It was steep, and I mean steep--it was so steep that I was in the granny gear the whole way up, glancing up at nearby landmarks and then pedalling to reach each one: That signpost, that tree, that mailbox. Up and up and up and up, we climbed, reaching the top of Mt. Weather.

There was an excellent payoff for the climb: the descent, and the SAG stop at the bottom. Awesome!

Everybody gathered there--instead of the usual 5-minute stay, we all stayed for 15 minutes, watering-up and eating. Then Chuck and I headed out, along Rte.50 with some nice, flat terrain (and an awesome bomb down the road in the beginning). Curiously, we encountered a lot of other riders from the local Multiple Sclerosis ride, and we all shared the same route for about 20 miles to the next SAG stop.

The next SAG stop was easy to miss, and many of us DID miss it. But it was nice--there was lunch and drinks and bathrooms; the whole works. Wisely, we all stayed away from the brownies and cookies, which, while good, would simply sit in our stomaches and make riding that much harder. Again, it was another 15-20 minute stay. Good thing we're all in good-enough shape that such a long stay doesn't affect us too much anymore, and we all know not to hammer it out of a SAG stop, to ride easy for a few miles to get our legs back into it before really laying down the power.

I headed out alone--Kelly was waiting for his group, and he sent me ahead with his blessings to catch up with Josh and Noel, who had left not two minutes earlier. I caught up, instead, with Robert and Jordan, who both missed the 2nd SAG stop, passed them, and caught up with Josh and Noel, who had stopped to rest with two others who also missed the 2nd SAG stop. We pressed on, climbing and bombing and climbing and bombing, all the way out to The Plains, VA, where Josh blew his front tire (again!), and we stopped...not one turn away from the 3rd SAG stop (which, ironically, was also easy to miss).

At the 3rd SAG stop, we stopped to get water and food...and to gaze, slack-jawed, at B-2 Stealth Bomber, flying over head as it made an appearance at the nearby airshow. Holy cow! I never thought I'd see one in person!

We headed out once more, making it all the way to the 2nd Big Climb (Mt. Weather was the First), when we discovered that "SL" on the cue-sheet meant "Sharp Left" (not slight left), and that the road we were supposed to be climbing was all gravel and dirt, perfect for ruining a good set of tires. We found an alternate route and headed back home. It was much flatter, with smaller climbs that all of us could now manage with ease.

This time it was Jordan and me, finishing together and meeting up with those who had been warned ahead of time that the 2nd Big Climb was out and who finished earlier.

Afterwards, we stayed around for the cookout and celebration, thrown by Rob and Ruma. Good times! Good food!
Bike: Trek 1500
Distance: 91.80mi
Saddle Time: 6h01m36s
Actual Time: 7h
Start Time: 7:30AM
End Time: 2:30PM
Start Outside Temp: low-mid 50's
End Outside Temp: high 70's
Max Speed: 40.0mph
Avg Speed (saddle): 15.2mph
Avg Speed (actual): 13.1mph

We're all ready for Tahoe, to ride, to save lives, to honor those who aren't able to ride with us physically.

I also had my new Canon SD1100 camera, and I was snapping pictures like crazy (the fast micro-SD card makes this easy!), both at the stops and on the road. So far, I'm quite happy with the thing--here are a few choice photos; the full set is at:

IMG_0207 IMG_0196 IMG_0213 IMG_0110

Saturday, May 17, 2008


That's what he said to me the second time I buzzed him (apparently) without giving any warning. In my defense, I did say "on your left", but I guess it wasn't loud enough, especially at the speeds we were going. He and I had some terse words, and then he just said "go; I don't wanna be riding anywhere near you" to which I replied with a sarcastic "Passing. On. Your. Left." at him in a tone and volume which I was certain he could hear clearly.

Though he does have a valid point: we're riding to save lives, not to risk them--that is our mission, and any (apparent) jackassery does nothing to further that mission.

We commiserated, with a gentlemanly fist-bump, and that was that.

I'll be more careful next time. Or I'll just put my bell back on my bike. Or I'll do both--I've gotta re-wrap the handlebars anyways...

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Wednesday Buddy Ride: Final

Today was the last Wednesday Buddy Ride, since we're shipping our bikes next week.

Chuck and I had a plan: we'd ride out to the General Store, have some BBQ, and then ride back. And we did just that.

Bike: Trek 1500
Distance: 32.00mi
Saddle Time: 1h48m19s
Actual Time: 2h15m
Start Time: 5:35PM
End Time: 7:50PM
Start Outside Temp: Warmish
End Outside Temp: Warmish
Max Speed: 32.0mph
Avg Speed (saddle): 17.7mph
Avg Speed (actual): 14.2mph

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Tuesday Buddy Ride

met with Roger, and we blasted it out to Clark's Gap and back, passing everyone twice =)

Bike: Trek 1500
Distance: 29.08mi
Saddle Time: 1h33m42s
Actual Time: 1h35m
Start Time: 6:05PM
End Time: 7:40PM
Start Outside Temp: Warm
End OUtside Temp: Cool
Max Speed: 29.6mph
Avg Speed (saddle): 18.6mph
Avg Speed (actual): 18.4mph

Saturday, May 10, 2008

W&OD + Custis + Mt. Vernon + wrong turn =

The Kennedy Center. Seriously, we rode to the Kennedy Center from Vienna.

After today's ride was cancelled, Chia and Ben (who were planning on riding today separately) called me: 12:30, from Vienna to the end of the Custis and back. I agreed--it would be far shorter than the 78 miles we were supposed to ride, but it would be hilly.

So we started out, bombing down the W&OD, turning onto the Custis Trail, and following that all the way down to Lynn Street. Chia suggested we keep going, as there's a parking lot that makes for a convenient turn-around point...and then we spotted where the Mt. Vernon Trail started, and we figured we could spare another 15 minutes, so we started on that. Except I made a fortuitous wrong turn and ended up on the sidewalk alongside Rte. 66, where it passes E-street and The Kennedy Center. Then we turned around and headed back up, up, up the Custis trail and its many climbs. I've been riding so much now that the climbs were easy!
Plus, the clouds went away, the rain went away, and the sun came out...and baked me in my cold-weather clothes. I ended up rolling up my sleeves and tights to get some skin exposed to cool down.

Bike: Trek 1500
Distance: 27.21mi
Saddle Time: 1h55m05s
Actual Time: 2h15m
Start Time: 1:00PM
End Time: 3:15PM
Start Outside Temp: cool
End Outside Temp: Warm
Max Speed: 28.2mph
Avg Speed (saddle): 14.2mph
Avg Speed (actual): 12.1mph

In fact, I think I should do that, starting after Tahoe: start in Vienna (i.e. on Tuesdays and Thursdays), ride down the W&OD to the Custis trail, take the Custis down to the parking lot, and turn around and go back. Those hills will be easy after a few weeks of that...

TNT Training Ride: Davidsonville II -- CANCELLED!

There were many reasons not to ride today, but the main two are:

1. It was raining and wet. Yes, wet is ride-able, and yes, even if it rains in Tahoe we'll still ride, but today it would've made the roads more hazardous (some parts of this ride are known to flood in wet conditions) and we could do without any more injuries at this point (many people have fallen and hurt something on the training rides this season).

2. Most of us are already ready for Tahoe. There are several of us who don't really need to train-up anymore, myself included. Heck, I rode 108 miles last Saturday, hills and all, and totalled about 200 miles this past week alone. That's plenty for Tahoe.
I did take my bike out and rode around the parking lot a couple times, though. I drove for an hour (and an hour back), I damn-sure was gonna ride a little. Not even a tenth of a mile, though...ugh.

Well, I have a chance, now, to do other exercise my muscles differently with some DDR or something.

Doesn't mean that I feel any less guilty or shameful about deciding not to ride, though (i.e. my rallying cry yesterweek: "Leukemia patients can't just quit!")...

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Wednesday Buddy Ride: Warriors of the Wind

Chuck wasn't there, Jeff wasn't there, so I had little reason to go fast. Except Roger showed up, and we booked-it out of Vienna to Hunter Mill Rd., where he turned up Hunter Station and I kept going on the W&OD, kicking serious ass all the way out to SSS (at one point, I was tailed by a guy wearing an "Ireland" jersey--he was heading home to Ashburn).

Then I stopped at SSS and turned around. It was very slow going on the way back, dropping to 15mph in many places, and feeling extremely strenuous. I was bewildered--usually, I'm flying through these parts at 18, 19mph. How is today any different?

I got my answer almost immediately when I was nearly thrown sidewards by a wicked cross- and head-wind. Turns out that, heading West, I had a huge tailwind that I hadn't noticed at all. Well, going back, it became a headwind that dropped my average speed from 20mph down to 17mph.


I joined up with Robert, and we rode back together, me pulling him through Reston and Vienna. When we got back, we met up with Ruma (who thought the ride was supposed to start at 6:30 for some reason--it's always started at 6:00) and Greg, and then we went to dinner at Tequila Grande.

Bike: Trek 5200
Distance: 28.37mi
Saddle Time: 1h38m19s
Actual Time: 1h45m
Start Time: 6:05PM
End Time: 7:55PM
Start Outside Temp: warm
End Outside Temp: cool
Max Speed: 32.9mph
Avg Speed (saddle): 17.3mph
Avg Speed (actual): 16.2mph

I also moved the seat down a few millimeters (after moving it up nearly 7mm on Tuesday), and it felt just right. I won't be riding the 5200 in Tahoe (the 1500 is only a pound or two heavier, and has a triple crankset for hills), but it's nice to have two properly-adjusted bikes at my disposal.