Sunday, November 11, 2012

Second Flatbread

My first post in this blog was from last year's Flatbread 200K brevet.  Yesterday was a repeat.  Finished in 7:58, well ahead of last year.  I credit lesser headwinds and better (but not optimal) nutrition


1. A Subway footlong is too much for lunch.  Suffered digestive pains/shutdown and bonked until it cleared and I could get Gatorade flowing.  Until then I was hanging with the lead group, but got dropped around mile 90.

2. Perpetuem works, but you need electrolytes separately.  6 scoops in a 24 oz bottle.

3. Had a dry bottle with Perpetuem in it which I mixed with water at lunch, but I think the powder compacted and there was a solid mass of the stuff in the bottom at the end of the ride.

Sound track: "Don't You Get So Mad" - Jeffrey Osborne

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Flat Overnighter under a Full Moon

On the evening of 3-4 August I rode the Eastern Shore Reversed permanent with 3 other members of SPP.  Fearing Friday afternoon beach traffic on my drive to Wallops Island, I left around 1:30 PM for a 7:00 PM start, stopping at Joy Luck IV for a quart of house fried rice to eat on the way (my carb-loading routine had been non-existent this time due to a couple of crises- I also had 3 bagels for breakfast),  I got to Wallops about 5:30 (traffic in Salisbury was a mess), and had a BLT and three Pepsi's (felt a little dehydrated as well) for dinner with the others before heading out.

This was my first ride with my new Camelbak MULE, which held all my stuff and would have held more.  This was a warm/humid/fast/sweaty ride, and I went through 2 bladders of water (~5l).  Also two bottles of Gatorade, and probably still ended up on the dry side again.  Food on this ride (other than the pre-meals): half a bag of jelly beans, a tastykake, and a clif bar. Definitely easier to drink from camelbak when riding fast, not sure it didn't make me hotter.

Receipts: Missed one at a control when the guy signed an old receipt vice giving me a new one.  Sweat stinging my eyes was a big factor in the mixup.  At a closed control got a receipt from a gas pump ($0.01, didn't even spill any gas).

This was a fast-paced ride.  Finished 201K in 8:27 (an hour better than previous best).  Had to dig deep to stay close, the rest would slow down occasionally to let me back on.

Here's a link to the stats Thanks Clint!

1. When switching between bike pack and camelbak, don't forget to transfer the spare spokes.
2. Didn't have enough spare batteries for all lights.  The "headlight" might be too small/dim.
3. The GUTR would have been handy, even at night in 80F temperatures
4. Kept tasting the fried rice almost to the end of the ride - wise choice grasshopper?
5. Power Bars still don't set well.  Get rid of them.
6. When riding at your limit it's hard to eat/drink.  Be attentive to slow points in the ride to do these.
7. Had only commuted 8 times and ridden 40 miles with my daughter since last month's perm.  Probably would have been faster with more mileage.

My Love is Alive - Gary Wright

Saturday, April 21, 2012


Here is a great description of Team Chain Reaction's ride in the 24-hour event - it is pretty complete. Team photo at the finish line:

My comments:

It was pretty obvious to the team that the amount of climbing we were doing exceeded the estimates.  This later proved to be the case.

I thought frequently about what to do if I broke a spoke, especially likely since the bike was laden with extra stuff.  Towards the end I mentally calculated whether I was close enough that I could walk the bike to the finish and still make the 24 hour limit.

I was surprised how not-sleepy I was throughout the event, getting drowsy only when stopping at 3:30 AM for food but not drowsy enough to nap (which many did).  On the bike I was wide awake.

Lessons learned:

- Add a hand pump and sweat bands to the rando pack list
- Find a way to eat steadily in the saddle, not wolf down snacks and give yourself indigestion.
- Used the wrong chain lube - it pretty much was washed away by the rain.
- Carried way too many snacks (about 2-3x too much) just extra weight. One bag of candy and 4 powerbars would have been fine.
-Get those new wheels!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

Yesterday I rode the furthest I had ever ridden in one day, and it was just practice for an even bigger ride coming up next month.

I left the house in the dark at 6AM and headed up the B&A trail to meet my ride partners Mike and Mike, with all my lighting installed to prove it would be OK in the future.  In case you didn't know, there are LOTS of rabbits out on the trail after dark.  We linked up at the 7 Eleven at Richie Hwy and Earleigh Heights Road, controlled in, and set off for Patapsco State Park.  There is a very scenic trail that runs along the river that's worth a return trip.  Flat #1 happened on that trail.  It looked like a case of "snakebite", but perhaps a snake with huge fangs spaced closely together.   We then headed to Gambrills for some food, then to North Beach for more food (stopping at two information controls along the way: questions you could only answer if you were standing at that spot), followed by another spot for even more food (the secret to long rides is to stay fueled and hydrated).  My knee, which has recently become a problem, started hurting on the way to Gambrills, so I took a 200mg ibuprofen there.  Pain got much worse for a few minutes, then completely went away.  I continued taking one of those magic pills every 3 hours for the rest of the ride.  Along the way Mike flatted yet again, in a way I've never seen before: both tires simultaneously from the same pothole.  A curious horse came over to watch when we showed up. Something else I had not seen before: a dog take a running leap at a rope hanging from a tree, swinging from it while hanging on by his teeth.

We got back to the 7Eleven around dinner time, then rode to Squisitos Severna Park for dinner (more food).  When it was getting dark, we decided the riding day was not yet over, so we rode up to BWI and did a loop around the airport.  We considered a second loop, but it was 9PM by then and (a) we were thinking we should go home to our wives (b) we were feeling pretty good and knew we could go on almost indefinitely (c) it was St Patricks Day and we didn't want to expose ourselves to the ameteur drunk drivers any more than necessary.    Got home about 1030PM after a 175 mile day, took a shower and went to bed.

Lessons learned:
- The breakfast routine I've been trying isn't working.  Time to try something new.
- Time to ditch the backpack for something else - it's getting hot
- Need a "bento box" so I can snack continuously while riding
- Jelly candies go down well, power bars not so much
- The wire from my helmet light flops all over the place and needs to be restrained.
- Need to reapply chamois cream more often
- STILL need to relocate the cue sheet further forward on my bars
- Carry 3 tubes - you might need them all
- Time to replace the rear tire, it's getting bald

Sunday, February 5, 2012

No Choice but to Confront Your Fear

In a previous post I discussed my fear of having to ride in a cold rain.  It happened yesterday, in a place where I had no choice but to put up with it.

When I got up to eat breakfast before driving to Rockville for a group ride  into Virginia, I saw a Facebook post by a fellow rider saying the chance of rain was 50%, even though it had never been >20% as I tracked it all week.  It was 32F with a high predicted in the 40s, about as cold as rain can get, so I tossed my make-shift collection of raingear into my backpack and headed off. I told myself not to worry, that it really meant a 50% chance of not raining. I usually get my way when daring the weather gods.

Most of the ride was cold, but dry.  We had lunch at the halfway point, a cool/funky deli or restaurant (it defies description) place in Middleburg VA called Market Salamander.  On the way out everyone freaked to see wet pavement out the window, and was very relieved to find out that the owners had just hosed down the patio.

At the 87 mile point we stopped at a 7-11, and emerged into a drizzle.  We were far from home - with no choice but to get on with it.  I pulled out a cheap cycling rain jacket,  and others had nice jackets, but many had nothing but their normal stuff.  It rained contiuously until we got close to Rockville, then it turned into a wintry mix of rain and snow. At some point the sun set and it also got really dark.  That's when it got scary.

People could not see because their glasses were fogging over.  If they could see, people could not see their cue sheets (directions) because they had either been pulped by the rain, or had rain drops on them.  We were warned that, even under the best conditions, the route was "funky": with entries such as take the path just past the house with the white picket fence.  We were riding on a busy 4-lane road in the busy part of town, disoriented, wet and cold, in the dark, unable to find our next turn.  Someone had the presence of mind to recommend we all duck into Metro Coffee Convenience and sort things out.

Once we got inside it was clear that we made the right call.  A couple riders were shivering violently, like I'd never seen before, and it was scary.  We got them going on hot tea.  I had a layer of slush on my fairly light jacket. We wondered about calling a cab to take us the final 4 miles to the finish.  Quitting a 125 mile ride in the final 4 miles was repugnant to everyone, but if the situation was a little worse it's what we would have had to do.  Mike B. and I, possibly the only ones protected enough from the weather to still be coherent, got out our smart phones for a GPS fix and tried to figure out where we were and how to interpret the "funky" directions to the next turn.  He had the number of the route organizer and called her for clarification.  I had brought a second copy of the cue sheet, and replaced my pulped copy of it.  I also added a second light to my helmet, as did Mike, so we could read the cue sheet and see street signs.  I also put on the plastic sailing overalls that used to belong to my wife to cover my lower body - I was almost completely waterproof.   Mike went out and scouted the next turn for us.  After about an hour there, everyone felt good enough to continue on.

We headed out - glasses much less foggy, nav picture clearer (still about 15 turns to go), and lights blazing.  15 minutes later we were back to our cars at the Safeway where we started.  We got our control cards signed and gulped down hot chocolate and coffee.  Everyone looked much better than they did when things got scary.  As if there were a supreme being sending me a message, as I started my hour-long drive home a song came on that used to have special meaning to me as a member of the USNA Sailing Team:  Gerry Rafferty singing "....just one more hour and I'll be home and dry......"

There - I did it.  I can ride in any weather condition.  Yesterday and Death Valley bookend the possible conditions, and I've done them both.

Notes to myself:

- You started out dehydrated because you didn't drink when you got up
- Cue sheet frog light on your helmet still points in the wrong direction.
- Waterproof sheet covers aren't
- Neither is your backpack
- Balaclava alone was waterproof enough in a light rain
- Need a better way to flip between sections of the cue sheet
- One tail light may be shot
- You need a new helmet
- Think about chamois butter

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Concert at Ram's Head

I had a spiritual experience Friday night when I went to see one of my musical idols at Ram's Head Tavern, a local live performance venue.  Since moving to Annapolis I have taken advantage of opportunities to see my musical heroes when the pass through, and Rams Head has been a good place to do so. I've got pretty eclectic tastes in music - my iPod and CD collection contain almost everything that you might find in the polygon whose corners are George Gershwin, Amy Winehouse, Rick James, and Buck Owens.  Last night I got to see Jimmy Webb  in concert.  I didn't know who he was until a couple years ago, but the songs he wrote - By the Time I Get to Phoenix, Galveston, Wichita Lineman, All I Know, Highwayman, The Worst That Could Happen, MacArthur Park - have been favorites for decades, resonate in my soul, and are all over my iPod.

He played for over 2 hours.  Actually, I think he played for about half that time and talked the other half of the time.  He's not a great singe but a great piano player, just like his idol Burt Bacharach, but just being in the same room was well worth the $25 ticket price.  Disappointingly, just like the time I saw Donovan live, he spent way too much time dropping names of past associates or telling of all the awards he had won (to his credit, most by the time he was 22), and was heckled for it at one point.  He also seemed to begrudge singer-songwriters, blaming them for sweeping him and other songwriters out of the way as the 60's went on.  He spoke disparagingly of the British Invasion, and of Bob Dylan (why did Bob get away with lyrics such as "You used to ride on the chrome horse with your diplomat, who carried on his shoulder a Siamese cat", when Jimmy got savaged for "Someone left the cake out in the rain"), and somewhat disparagingly of the Byrds and The Mamas and the Papas.

Jimmy - you are already a legend in my book, and in those others who knew enough about you to show up.  You don't need to try to raise your stature.  Spend less time time talking,  and more time playing - maybe you could have gotten to "Worst That Could Happen" and "All I Know".  At least you signed autographs after the show - a rarity among performers these days. And thanks for leading off with Highwayman, which contains one of my favorite lines from any song: "...Or I may simply be a single drop of rain..."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Could have been worse.....

...could have been raining (from "Young Frankenstein").  On this ride it only could have been worse if the forecast for wind came true, because it was so cold that rain was impossible (it snowed instead).  My secret fear in the world of randonneuring is spending a day in the cold rain, because that is my personal "worst case" weather condition. The wind forecast was 20 MPH, with gusts to 40 MPH.  Despite waking to the howling wind, and seeing it blow leaves across the road on the drive from home, it was absent when we got to Emmitsburg MD for the start.  And the only times it kicked up during the day it was a tailwind - a gift from the gods!  Once the sun came up I even removed my balaclava briefly and went down to fingerless gloves.  On the almost 2000 foot climb on Big Flat I thought about stopping and stripping off layers.  But starting with the fast descent and for the rest of the day I was deep-down cold.  The worst was whenever we emerged from indoors - instant shivers until we were on our bikes and peddling hard again.  As a group we would group-up just inside the door, them all run out together and get to our bikes.  Unfortunately, and inevitably, there was always someone who wasn't ready to go and we stood there in the cold waiting.  Weird - at all other times I didn't feel all that cold, but I couldn't think straight most of the day and I could feel the cold warping my perception of reality.

This was the first ride since we formed our fleche team, and 4 of 5 members of the team were present among the 17 riders.  I hung out with the other three guys all day to get a feel of how we would do riding together.  Seems like a great group to spend 24 straight hours rolling down the road with.  Unfortunately, one of the guys was suffering from bronchitis and had to abandon at a restaurant 60 mile into this 127 mile ride.

The surprise of the day was finding a Naval Academy classmate of mine in the small Italian restaurant we ate lunch in.  He lives outside Carlisle PA and flies for Delta.  I'm envious that he lives in the beautiful Pennsylvania countryside that we spent most of the day in.

Overall I was happy that I successfully applied lessons learned from the last ride.  My small helmet-mounted white LED made night navigation a snap, since I could now read my cue sheet and bike computer in the dark.  Wearing a backpack was a huge convenience in that it was a great organizer and allowed me to swap out glasses and gloves as conditions changed.  The minimalist wallet I had also was a great organizer.

Funny, if you draw the routes for this, the Last Train From Clarksville perm, and the Civil War Century, it would look like a Venn diagram with this little spot between Liberty Resort and Gettysburg in the center

Weather:  Starting/ending temp: 31F.  High: low 40s
Equipment: Plastic cue sheet sleeves blew out of the clip twice, need something more grippy.  Very hard to read cue sheet in the dark with sunglasses on (no duh, but not obvious - need reading lenses).  Reflective vest might need to be replaced by a Jack Browne belt because there is little reflective on it.  Also, the flashing light-stick for my backpack is not reflective.  Still ought to put reflective tape on my rims, and still need to find a place on my bike for my hand pump once summer gets here and I ditch the backpack.
Food/drink:  Need to pre-tear powerbar wrappers, and eat/drink more frequently.

Sunday, January 1, 2012


During the winter I'm short of time on the weekends because my bike riding and snowboarding conflict.  This year it's an easy win for bike riding because there has been no snow and little snow making weather, However, with my boy getting antsy to try his new snowboarding equipment (me as well), and a looming trip to Breckenridge in a couple weeks,it was time to find some snow somewhere and start "tuning up" for the season.

We took a trip with my good buddy Kent to his cousin's place in Oakland MD, near Deep Creek Lake and Wisp Resort. Our hosts Mike and Donna were over-the-top welcoming and accommodating, and their place is the nicest  second home/vacation home I've ever seen - nicer than anyplace I've ever rented for $$$$$. I'm not worthy!  Anyway, I took my boy and Kent's 2 boys to Wisp on two days.

Wisp was barely open, only two trails (a green and a black). Unfortunately, there were enough snow-deprived folks like us in the area that the place was packed to the gills!  We headed to the green trail to shake off 10 months of rust, and it was instant mayhem.  The trail was packed with skiers and boarders, many like us wobbly and unpracticed, many flying down at high speed, in tight quarters.  Within a few runs I had redeemed myself for the poor little kid I had collided with in Breckenridge last winter by (1) helping tend to some old guy who probably had a concussion after going down hard without a helmet on (2) successfully avoiding some little kid who did an ill-timed cut in front of me (replay of the Breckenridge incident) and apologizing successfully to his private instructor (3) getting taken down from behind by some teenage kids.  Although the terrain on the black slope (Squirrel Cage) was more treacherous, it seemed to be less of a hazard than the melee on the green slope (Wisp Trail).  So the next day, after resting, I took on the black slope somewhat successfully.  I never made it without falling at least twice, mostly because it revealed to me my weakness in toe-side turns on steep slopes, but I did fulfill my goal for this season of getting up the gumption to do a black trail.

Clothing notes:

For 25F: Balaclava, jacket with flannel shirt and t shirt, no pants underlayer, Gore mittens.

For 35F: Helmet vents out, only t shirt under jacket.