Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Updates...

Well, the year is almost over, and I'll be heading into my second year of digital narcissism. The past couple of weeks have been a bit of a blur. Between a hectic work week and the insanity that revolves around the holidays, I'm at the point where I'm looking forward to putting December 2008 to bed.

This week I've been putting our house back together after the holiday re-organization, and trying to get back on a work-out schedule. Sunday's 60-degrees was perfect for running. The trails, sadly, have not been up to par. Mike and I took off today for an optimistic ride, but we were thwarted after about two miles. The trail head looked good, but we kept alternating between deep snow (not really deep, but deep enough to make riding annoying), deep mud and water, and ice. Not great conditions. More snow is on the way tomorrow, so who knows when the trails will be ready again.

I got my commuter ready for the winter weather with studded tires and fenders. Sigh, I really hate winter. I can't wait for Hawaii!

Anyway, I updated some of the pics in Picasa of Gary (and of course, Luna is in there too), and I posted some more pics from Art Week (listed below).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Art Week.

Well, another week off is in the bag, and it’s back to work again tomorrow. The weird thing is, I like my job, so heading back to work ain’t a bad thing. This past week was great as Jean was off too. As you can see below, our Saturday was good, and the rest of the week was great as well.

Sunday, Jean and I went up to Manchester, NH with our friends Mike & Jo to the Courrier Museum to check out some “aht.” They had a great
Warhol exhibit, and plenty of other great visuals. We also went to a Frank Lloyd Wright house. I guess, in retrospect, this week was full of art as Jean and I also went to the Griffin Museum of Photography and the De Cordova Museum of Art which is one of our favorites—and we made it up to Portland, ME for a day trip.

Jean and I also stimulated the economy with both home purchases and holiday shopping.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

A Saturday...

Jean and I went to the open house at the Salem Athenaeum--a private library, where we recently became members. It has an amazing collection of books (including a copy of Sir Isaac Newton’s ground breaking PhilosophiƦ Naturalis Principia Mathematica!)

They have also hosted some great lectures and classes which is how Jean and I first got involved. The open house that we attended was to display and discuss the artistic and symbolic merits of “end papers.” End papers are the insides of books covers—the transition from exterior to interior. Look in any hardcover book and you’ll see many different styles of end papers, from maps and graphs to marbleized artistic patterns. It’s one of those things that we encounter all the time, but never think about. Of course, the main reason I went was for the free coffee and cookies.

In keeping with the paper theme, a local artist was on hand to teach people how to make their own paper. Yep, starting with some unwanted paper stock and a regular blender, she created pulp, which was then turned into paper. Jean and I gave it a try too.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Another, Another Sunrise

Yep, this one was taken from the boat ramp next to the Kernwood Bridge in Salem just before I was heading in to work. It's good to have a camera on hand when you need one!

Crash, part two.

I seem to have problems commuting. For the second time in about two months, I've succumbed to gravity's sweet serenade and found myself floundering on the ground while trying to commute to or from work. Last time it was a mechanical malfunction, this time, it was the dreaded--black ice. Yep, I went around a corner that only looked wet, and before I could even think, I was down. The bike went left, the right leg went out, twisted, and I went down. Technically, my right lower leg was externally rotated while my thigh was internally rotated (not good), with significant valgus flexion. Yum. I hobbled up, pedaled the last couple of miles in to work, and went about my business. I was fairly stiff, sore, and swollen by the end of the day, and my lovely wife picked me up. The next day, I was limpin' like a gimp, and I ultimately picked up a cheap cane to facilitate walking. Plus, every at the hospital got to make "House" comments to me. My biggest fear, based on the mechanism of the injury, was that I sustained some cartilage damage. I happen to be lucky enough to be friends with one of the top knee guys in the business, Dr. Ira Evans. He checked me out and felt that an MCL sprain along with some other soft tissue bruising was most likely (here is an article that Dr. Evans and I worked on for Dirt Rag discussing knee injuries).

Now, two weeks later, I'm feeling better. Certainly not 100%, but I'm walking much better, I've been able to do an easy spin on the bike on the rollers and I did a short run tonight. I'm still on NSAIDs, but I think I'm on the road to recovery. I did miss some good cyclocross races, but there will be more races in my life.

I have to say, I don't like being on this side of the patient-provider relationship. Oh well. I guess when I see how often my mother falls down, it's only to be expected...

Anyway, the ironic part is that the day prior to the fall, I had posted a reply to the LinkedIn group for bike commuters extolling the virtues of studded tires for winter riding. I have a set sitting in my garage waiting to be mounted... Had I only taken my own advice! Oh well, needless to say, they're going on before I start back to my two-wheeled commute.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

December 4

So, it's been a little while since the last update. Let's get caught up. First off, over the past few weeks, I've been tailoring my work-outs to be more cyclocross oriented. Yep, using the flatbar 'cross bike, and doing short, fast rides with some running thrown in for fun. In fact, this set of stairs is particularly fun, especially because there are always people walking dogs nearby, wondering what kind of lunatic would be riding towards a set of stairs at full speed, only to dismount at the last second, shoulder the bike, and run like a lumbering lumox to the top. The real strange looks come in when I hit my second or third time up.

Gary has been slowly getting more comfortable in his new home. He and Luna get along great, and the destruction has been bumped up a few notches. They tear through toys that are billed to be ultra strong. They are like furry piranha. But, the toys keep them busy and it keeps them from chewing on Jean's shins. He started obedience class and for his first time, he did fine. He did, however, vomit in the back of the Element again. Did I mention how great the rubber floors are?

I haven't taken any inspiring photos lately, but with the impending holidays, perhaps I'll document the life and times of some figgy pudding. I shot this cloud pic while I was waiting for Jean as she was being a good consumer in Target.

Last week I spent a little bit of time getting ready for winter. I got some gas (which is cheaper than I've seen in a long time) for my new snow thrower and started it up for the first time. This monster will be ready for the worst that New England can send my way. Yep, the hoses are shut off, the grill is in the garage, the deck furniture is taken in... I'm getting ready.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Another Sunrise

Mack Park, Salem, MA
Friday, 11/21/08
Canon Powershot A700
f4.0 @ 1/1000sec
Slight color manipulation with Photoshop CS3

Gary's First Week.

It's a good thing that my job has desensitized me to exposure to bodily fluids. Gary had a couple of bouts of car-sickness of epic proportions earlier this week. The rubberized floor of my Element is THE best. Personally, I don't understand why ANY car has carpeted interiors. We're constantly bringing dirt, mud, snow, rain and everything else in to the car on the bottoms of our feet. Anyway, I digress...

Other than the vomit, my life has revolved around Gary's pee and poop, essentially trying to ensure that he does none of the above in the house. To his credit, he's been VERY good about doing his business outside. In fact, aside from one accident (which in retrospect, he was pacing around quite a bit), all his #1 and #2 have been in the yard. He really likes leaf-piles. He's still mostly petrified of just about everything, but I'm working on expanding his little world. In fact, Luna is teaching him how to hop up on our bed. I had nothing to do with that, but I did have my 2MP digital camera in the Blackberry to capture the violation. The phone/camera has come in handy to capture the puppy action as I don't have one of my other cameras in hand all the time. (I'm not that much of a dork). Well, almost.

In any event, our first week of having a new puppy is going well so far. If I could just get him to stop being SO AFRAID of everything...

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Here's Gary!

We've been talking about getting a second dog for quite some time. Jean trolls the Web, mostly sites like "Great Dog Rescue New England," always finding the cutest pups. We've talked abotu different dogs, but she finally found one that spoke to her across the information super-highway. His name was Gary, and he was a mix-breed stray (about 6 months old) found in Tennessee. When we called, ironically enough, he was being fostered in the next town over. He's SUPER shy and submissive, but he's been making progress. Luna's been a great role model and so far (two days), it's great to have two dogs in the house again.
See more here.

Sunrise...

From a night scene to a day break scene. Actually, I took these sunrise pics before the night pics, but who's keeping track. I woke before dawn, was fairly motivated, took the DSLR down to the Salem Willows and let that shutter go wild. See more here.

Night Scene...

Jean and I are taking a photography class together... she's got the eye for composition, I just shoot lots of pictures and hope for the best. I'm going to be bringing my Canon Powershot A700 with me much more often... I took this one night while commuting home from work. See more here.

Eye Wash

Maybe I missed that day of ophthalmic emergency treatment, but apparently, in some places, an Eye Wash station consists of some mouthwash, some toilet paper and some maxi-pads.

Sabbatical?

Has it really been almost a month since my last entry? Yep, I guess it has. Well, time flies when you're working. Here's the skinny on some of the latest...

The lovable Luna has had an appetite for seat belts. She chewed through about three pairs in Jean's old car, and over time, I got to be an expert at changing them out. It would be amazing how much damage she could do in a minute... anyway, I bought the first couple through the Ford dealer--$$OUCH$$, but then I got smart and started buying them online through used parts dealers (that's a classier way of saying junk yard).

So, a couple of weeks ago, when Luna chewed through the seat belts in Jean's father's van, I figured that I'd be able to fix the situation without too much trouble. I was able to get the seat belts online with much trouble, and they arrived in about a week--a duration of time that had Jean's father driving around with his seat belts tied in knots. I was so confident in my skills, that I offered to install the new seat belts after work one day. Hah. My first obstacle was the fact that I'd have to remove the seats to get the interior molding out. Hmmmm... fun. Well, removing seats is only loosening some bolts. I can do that. Two seats, eight bolts.

Seven of the eight were cooperative, although not totally. I had to do some contortionist maneuvers to get a couple of them off, but they yielded to my ratchet wrench. And then there was one. The last nut was a collection of rust atoms loosely held together by moisture. With the first turn of the socket, I felt the nut go round, and I poured pure rust on to the ground. After much swearing, more contortionist moves, longer ratchet arms, and a smaller socket that was hammered on, victory was mine.

That "simple" project took almost 3hrs. Fun. And all the while, Luna watched with a smirk.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Sound the Alarms!

Well, I don't cook. I shouldn't cook. I'm not going to cook ever again... I tried getting some food together last night for my lovely wife and I... it was just some sausages... and, well, the fire alarm went off. ADT called right away, but the alarm went off again, and that disconnected me from the ADT service center. In the minute it took me to grab the number from the drawer and grab my cell phone, the fire department had already been mobilized. ADT was able to convey a message that we were NOT being toasted, but the fire truck was already down the street (yep, I could hear the sirens), so they still had to come to the house to make sure everything was okay. The whole neighborhood came out to see what the commotion was, and sure enough, it was just me, cooking. I'm now only authorized to use the coffee maker and the microwave, and even those are only with a probationary period.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Kingdom Trails....

Ah, KT. Sadly, I've only been up to the North East Kingdom a couple of times this year--way too few. Perhaps it was the $4.00+ gas, perhaps it was my schedule, but gas prices dropped and I had a free weekend, so when Ron proposed another trip up, I jumped on the chance. I was going to race a 'cross race in Maine on Saturday and then head over to VT in the afternoon, but a closer look at the map had the 'cross race in Maine farther up than I really felt like driving, so I did some "stuff" around the house and shot straight up to VT Saturday afternoon.

Luna and I stayed at our friend Jo's house. She's got a great B&B pretty close to the trails and over years we've become friends (I stayed there for 6 weeks while in PA school). Anyway, Saturday night involved pizza and beer and then I was asleep. I awoke Sunday morning to temps in the low 20's... 21 degrees F to be exact. DAMN, that's cold.

Fortunately, Ron and Todd were running a bit late so the temps warmed up to perhaps the 40's by the time we hit the trail.

The group consisted of me, Ron Salb, Todd Roberts, and Rob & Renee Bousquet. We started off down near East Burke Sports--that would give us a killer climb in the beginning, rather than at the end. We climbed up the road and hit all the good stuff--Coronary Bypass, Tap & Die, Webs, Old Webs, SideWinder, Heaven's Bench... and I got lots of it on video! I'm going to process the video later on and post 'em on YouTube. For now, take this footage of Webs...
video

Thule?

I think I saw a new prototype Thule roof rack while on my drive up to Vermont. Looks slick, and it looks like it will work with any bike, regardless of frame design or fork type. Way to go!

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Gloucester Cyclocross...

videoGloucester's BIG cyclocross race took place this weekend, and I was there to suffer with the rest of the Tim Johnson "wanna-be"s. I was originally working Saturday the 11th, but my colleague needed me to work a day for her, so we made a switch. By the time I did this, registration was PACKED and rather than race with the Cat4's where I belong, I could only get a spot with the Cat3/4 Masters. Fast. AND, we were staged in roughly the order of registration so my buddy Dan and I were in the back of the pack of more than 100 in the 90's somewhere. Anyway, I just wanted to have fun. As you can see from the post below this one, I had a problem with a crash last week that left me with much less skin on my palms. I *could* hold handlebars, but on rough terrain it was painful. So, going into this race, my goals were:
  1. 1. NOT fall on the hands
  2. 2. Get a good work-out in
  3. 3. Finish higher than the place I started in
I don't know the final results, but I did well on the first two. I ran a technically clean race with no falls. And as for the work-out, I raced for 45 minutes with an average heart rate of 175 with a max of 185 bpm with a total of about 1200ft of climbing for the just over 9 mile course. That's 45 minutes of max effort!

I also wanted to shoot some helmet cam video footage, which I did, however, the point of view didn't come out so well. I knew how to position the camera perfectly on my other helmet, but I didn't even think that I'd have a problem with a different helmet. I didn't have a problem per se, but I had to position the mount a little differently. I thought I had adjusted the angle of the camera appropriately, but as you can see, it was pointed down a tad too much. Oh well. Practice makes perfect. This video is the first lap of the race...You may be able to hear me wheezing over the music...

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Crash.

Riding home from work Thursday night, I had an issue. I know what happened, but I'm not sure why. If you're not interested in details about bike mechanics, you don't need to bother reading anything after this following paragraph.

Here's the deal for me... I flew over the bars, slid on my hands and elbows on the pavement for a bit (no gloves!), and decided to bleed for a bit. I limped the final mile home, and thanks to Jean's urging, made sure not to bleed on anything in the house. Oy! We cleaned and dressed my wounds and the next morning the wonderful nurses at Beverly Hospital finished the job. I've been dutiful in my wound care, keeping them clean, covered, and moist, all to promote healing and reduce the risk of infection. In fact, with my hands wrapped correctly, and covered in good gloves, I can even hold handlebars!

Okay, so here's what happened. Somehow, the lockring on the rear cassette backed out/loosened up, allowing the smallest cogs to come off the splined freehub body of the rear hub. Unfortunately, this didn't happen slowly... it happened SUDDENLY, and while I was cranking up a short hill in the big ring. The sudden loss of resistance from the rear wheel flung my weight forward and put me off balance enough to result in my graceful splat. C'mon epidermis, grow!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

I'm going flat...

I decided that drop bars are NOT for me. With about 30yrs of bike riding experience, and the VAST majority of that with BMX or mountain bike handlebars, I'm going with a flat bar on the 'cross bike. I tried the drop bars, and I just didn't like the hoods, and riding on the flats was too narrow. I can deal with it on my road bike, but I didn't feel that I could be aggressive enough on the 'cross bike.

Spoiled Dog

With my new job, I'm able to greatly reduce the amount of driving I do. I love the fact that I get to ride my bike! I've been working on using my bike as transportation for more and more of life's obligations, including revitalizing my cargo trailer (thanks to the ability to use B.O.B. components with a discontinued Yakima trailer). Of course, as a dog owner, I still need to occasionally transport the mutt to the vet, the groomers (I'll gladly pay to have someone cut her nails), or to some of Luna's favorite beaches and parks. I had, at one time, tried to convert a baby bicycle trailer for dog use, but it didn't work very well, and I sold it to someone with a human baby. I was thinking about tackling that project again, but a quick Google search helped me find that there were actually several products specifically designed for dog trailers. I located a DoggyRide trailer, and after a long wait, it finally arrived last week. I haven't had time to take Luna very far, only a quick inaugural ride around the block. But, it seemed like she liked it, or at least tolerated it without freaking out.

After a few more short rides I'll start taking her to the park and what not, and then she'll associate the trailer with fun just like she associates the car with fun. And the best part is that this will mean less dog hair in my car!

New England Velo Cross Challenge

So I had my first cyclocross race of the season this past weekend. I sufferred for a bit but it was fun. And I do love the fact that there are plenty of races within an hour or so from home. That means I can get a race in and usually be home around noon... Much different from the all-day committments of most mountain bike races (although, I do love mtb racing).

This race was in Londonderry, NH, and it was a mix of pavement, grass and trails. Here's how it went down: The race started with a half lap on a paved oval track followed by a hard left turn with a short little uphill that lead into the woods. This small hill had good line in the middle but was soft on the sides. It was rideable with a good approach but would be a run-up if congested. You then had another left turn, a short downhill trail, then a hard right turn up a steep hill that would definitely need to be run. At the top of that hill, there was a longer trail section that was fairly fast with very little in the way of techincal obstacles. After a short rise, the trail turned right and went down a steep hill with a near hairpin turn at the bottom, followed by a soft uphill that again would need to be run up. At the top, the trail was slightly off-camber but easily rideable. A few twists and turns and you were out of the woods and on to some flat grass areas riddled with caution tape and 180-degree turns.

We were then directed up a short, steep, soft hill that again had to be run up. At the top, we were greeted with a short stretch of sand that was also best to be run. After that, we crossed the pavement and went into the infield of the track. A couple of twists and turns, and two sets of barriers later and we were back at the start and ready for another lap.

I got a good start but I was NOT comfortable with the speed and closeness of the other riders as we were rocketing from the pavement into the woods. We were "criterium" racer close and that's not something I'm accustomed to. That's not really come up for me in other 'cross races I've done and it's certainly not something I'm used to from mountain bike races. I backed off and that put me back many places. Once in the woods, I was further hampered by a small stick that caught a ride in my derailleur. I knew I had abandoned derailleurs on my other bikes for a reason! I lost probably almost a full minute as I unwound the vine-like stick from my cogs and derailleur, and I'm pretty sure I was at the back of the pack. Damn. From there, the rest of my race was uneventful, and I slowly worked at moving back up through the ranks.

I think I finished around 15th out of nearly 30. Not great, but that's racing. Thanks to Tom Merrill for the pics!

Take Down that Wall!

We recently had our retaining wall totally re-done, and it came out awesome. Our mason was Brian Rodriguez, who took LONGER than expected, but he did a really good job. The next phase is to start working on the walkway to the front and back doors. As with EVERYTHING with our house, this is a much bigger project than anyone would anticipate. Our mason had a really tough time breaking up the concrete wall that was there previously, so I took it upon myself to remove the walkway.

I recruited my good friend, Mike Lawless, who has access to truly manly tools, and Doug Salb, who likes to be around manly tools. Mike rolled up with a giant compressor/trailer on the back of his truck with a 90-lb jack hammer and a 60-lb jack hammer. He also brought the rain, because as soon as we got everything plugged in, the precipitation started to fall. With safety glasses and gloves in place, we started the laborious process of chipping away at the bomb-shelter quality concrete.

Tragedy struck when Doug stepped wrong on the air compressor hose and rolled his ankle. I administered a quick evaluation using the Ottawa Ankle Rule, and decided that an X-ray was not needed. Ice, elevation, compression and NSAIDs were also quickly administered and Mike and I got back to hammering. It was slow-going, but we eventually got the job done and Mike was even kind enough to let me fill the back of his truck with as much concrete debris as would fit.

We now have a massive pit that welcomes people to our home… let’s hope the walkway gets done soon!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Willowdale State Forest Rocks!

I'm really impressed with the amount of singletrack in Willowdale State Forest. It seems like each time I go out there I find more and more. I thought I had a pretty good handle on most of it when I took Doug on a convoluted tour this past Friday, however, we found our way on to a killer, long, twisty climb followed by smooth, rolling singletrack. Hell yeah! My mission now is to ride every trail I can find with my GPS, and then superimpose the digital trail data onto the park trail map (which does NOT have most of the good stuff shown). Of course, this is just an excuse for me to "geek-out" with the techno-gadgets, but I will have a cool map when I'm done!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Ouch.

This *could* have been painful... my carbon fiber seatpost broke off, at the frame, while seated and going over a bump (actually a pot-hole). Fortunately, I caught myself as soon as I had the falling sensation, and fortunately there were no sharp protrusions, and fortunately I was able to remove the stub from the frame, and fortunately I had a good, reliable Thomson post that I could use as a replacement. Whew.

Check out this little story from Cyclingnews.com to see why I used the word "fortunately" so much:

Czech triathlete and Olympic bronze medallist, Jan Rehula, suffered one of the worst possible consequences of a seat breakage after a training accident in Sydney recently. 27 year old Rehula hit a pothole, snapped his seat, was gouged in the rear by his seat post and lost two litres of blood.

He has so far had two operations and has internal damage in his lower back. His start in the Hawaii Ironman triathlon in October is in doubt, but his spokesman said that he was quite positive that he will be able to resume his career.

http://www.cyclingnews.com/results/2001/feb01/feb09news.shtml

Yikes! I'll stick to metals...

Monday, September 8, 2008

The 29'er Revolution

Plenty of people have strong opinions about 29'er mountain bikes. Personally, I'm a convert. I may never ride a 26-inch wheeled mountain bike again. Heck, I even got some brake post converters that enable me to run 29'er wheels (700c) on a standard mountain bike frame (only with cyclocross tires because of clearance issues, but that's okay with me)--With that conversion complete, I've only got one other 26-inch mtb in my stable, and that's been collecting dust--partly because of the small wheels and partly because it's encumbered with 26 more gears than I really want to deal with. There are plenty of reasons to love or hate 29-inch mtb wheels, but when I ran across this photo of me riding a standard 26-inch mountain bike (with a 20-inch frame no less), I realized that I could never go back... it looks like I'm riding a BMX bike!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

24hrs of Great Glen

Well, the 24hrs of Great Glen race is over. I feel like I brought a knife to a gun fight. Nay, I feel like I brought a rubber chicken to a gun fight.

First, a word (or more) about the weather. Friday night, as Doug and I were trying to load the car up, we had thunder and lightning in biblical proportions. I haven't seen weather like that in a long time. That delayed our departure by quite a while and we had patchy rain and fog the whole drive up. I opted to grab a hotel on the way up rather than set up camp in the dark and in the rain. We had some more light rain Saturday morning, but, miraculously, the rain stopped just before the race started and we had clear skies all the way through until the race ended Sunday. THEN, however, while many racers were still sitting/eating/drinking/recovering, the skies opened up again with torrential downpours and hail. Fortunately, Doug had started our packing process while I was out for my last lap, so our gear was all packed up just as the first drops started to fall. That rain continued intermittently on the way home, even forcing me to stop because visibility was zero just beyond my dashboard.

Now, the course. Check out the GPS data here. In total, I did 7 laps for a total of about 8400ft of climbing. The race had to be modified because of all of the rain/mud and a couple of sections were cut. There was still more than enough mud to go around though. In my mind, there were two distinct types of trails in the race--fast, SMOOTH fireroads, and muddy, gnarly walking sections; with only some sections that were rideable singletrack. The course also changed throughout the race as well, with some sections getting worse, some getting better. I don't know if it was "fun," but the scenery was spectacular. I was going to go out after the race and take some pics, but the hail was sort of a buzz-kill.

And finally, here's the race report. The race started with a 1/2 mile run (why?) around a pond before we grabbed our bikes. I wanted to take it easy on the run--this isn't a sprint--but I was being beat by a guy in an Elvis costume and a guy in a viking helmet, so I picked up the pace a bit. My heart rate hit the 170's and didn't let up. After getting on the bike, we crossed the road to a switchback climb on the appropriately named Blueberry Hill. Clogged with riders, this became a walk, and after a quick downhill, we were back across the road to the main part of the course.

As I said before, I was either riding as fast as I could on the smooth fireroads or slogging through deep mud, pushing/carrying the bike. Rob and I switched off lap for lap with no big problems for several hours. I went out for my 5th lap (a night lap, with lights in full effect), and trouble started. I got through about 80% of the lap before I had some leg cramps threaten to bring me down, but I was still moving, then I got a spasm in my back that took my breath away. It hurt to breathe, it hurt to walk, it hurt to oxidize carbohydrates. I had a similar problem on a run a few weeks ago, and that took almost a week of NSAIDs and other treatments to resolve. I honestly didn't think I'd even be able to walk out of the woods to finish the lap. Of course, the truly painful part was the realization in the back of my mind at how meaningless my pain was. Oh well, it still hurt. Anyway, I limped out of the woods, slowly rolled in to the end of the lap and told Rob the bad news--I thought I was done.

I got back to my car, and because I couldn't even think about crawling down to the ground to sleep in my tent, I slept in the Element. Believe it or not, it was fairly comfortable. I pumped myself full of medications and fluids, and tried to sleep it off. I woke up at about 5:00am and the pain was still there but not as bad. I walked over to the main tent and found that, surprisingly, even with our break, we were still in 2nd place. Rob got up shortly after and went out for another lap. By the time he got back, I had loosened up enough to feel like I could go out again. I was able to keep the spasm in check and we were able to pull a total of four more laps in on Sunday to secure second place. Pay no attention to the fact that there were a total of 3 teams in the two-man singlespeed division. Ignore that fact.

I kept myself full of ibuprofen and had the heating pad on my back for the whole drive home.

It was good to hang out with everyone--Rob Bousquet, Renee Bousquet, Dan Walsh, Todd Roberts, Mike Deak, Ron Salb, and Doug Salb, and it was VERY helpful to have Doug provide support/assistance. THANKS!

I also have to thank Jamie at Western Cycle for all of my last-minute bike needs, Mike Lawless for letting me borrow his Rig as a back-up parts bike (not needed), and to Trek/Gary Fisher for getting me a replacement eccentric bottom bracket at the last minute. In the days leading up to the race, I wanted to "fix" something on my bike, I made it worse, and I freaked.

The bike is happy now, although it is completely disassembled. Just about all of the laundry has been done, and almost all of my stuff is back where it belongs. Next up, some cyclocross races this fall and the Stonecat Trail marathon... Yee ha!

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The countdown to 24hrs of Great Glen

So I'm in the final stretch coming up to the big 24hr race at Great Glen. Rob Bousquet and I will be racing as a two-man team on single-speed bikes. It's going to be two men, two bikes, two gears and one dream--to be the best! Hah. My dream, more of a potentially sleep deprived delusion, will be to survive. I got my last big training ride in on August 1st: just under 6hrs on the bike and just under 50 miles covering trails in Bradley Palmer, Willowdale and along the Bay Circuit Trail. I'm amazed at the amount of great trails in my back yard, and I can't believe how many of them are new to me. This Bay Circuit Trail will definitely needs further exploration. Anyway, I survived the training ride without complications. I was getting sore--not sore/tired legs, but sore neck/wrists/butt. I'm thinking that with the frequent breaks and ability to stretch between laps will help mitigate that at the 24hr race. And, I carried just about all the water/fuel I needed for this last ride with me--another thing that I won't have to worry about at Great Glen. Nope, I'll just have to worry about staying awake and keeping those pedals churning, mile after mile, hour after hour...

I still have plenty of preparation ahead of me before I'm ready to head north too. This is my first week at a new job--which is great, but I'm basically heading home each night and trying to organize and pack gear. Here's tentative list:
  • helmet (2)
    sunglasses (2)
    jerseys (up to 10)
    shorts (up to 10)
    socks (up to 10 pr)
    cycling shoes (3)
    gloves (all)
    t-shirts (4)
    shorts (3)
    underwear (3)
    flip-flops
    coat hangers
    first aid kit
    camera
    Water
    Gatorade (liquid and powder)
    Gels
    Bars
    Food…
    towels
    tent
    tarps
    air mattress
    sleeping bag
    camp chair
    camping lights
    kenda 10x10 tent
    folding table
    Rig (that's my bike)
    D440 (that's a back-up bike)
    cycling lights (all & charged), including blinking red lights
    extra tubes
    disc pads
    chain
    extra bolts
    pedals
    work stand
    tool kit
    bike wash materials

And, I might be bringing my friend Doug who has graciously offered to give up his weekend to help out (and to watch me suffer).

So much packing and preparation--why am I doing this? Stay tuned...

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kenda Bicycle Festival

Last week I drove out to Hancock, Massachusetts (I actually had to go through NY to get there) for the recently re-named Kenda Bicycle Festival Presented by Dirt Rag, formerly known simply as PedrosFest. No matter what the name, it's a big bike festival with hundred of riders, an expo area, food, entertainment and plenty of other fun stuff. And, incidentally, Jean and I got engaged on our way out to the festival way back in 2001. Anyway, I was only able to go out for one day this year (that annoying work always seems to get in the way), but it was worth the 3hr drive each way (I think).

With all the rain that we've had, I had a premonition that the trails would be soupy, and sloppy groups rides tend to turn into muddy walks with bikes. Sure enough, the first group trail ride that I participated in, almost immediately after crawling out of my car after the previously mentioned 3hr drive, was an advertised Intermediate Ride. I thought it would be good to stretch the legs out... At first, one of the ride leaders said to be ready because we'd be doing lots of climbing. I've given up on gears for off-road riding, but what the heck, bring it on. With 30+ people in the group, I was also predicting 2.5 flat tires, 1 broken chain, 1 muscle cramp, and lots of chain-suck. The first two miles were all up. Two miles of continuous climbing, and much of it slippery, sloppy, mud. It became conga line of riders intermittently walking and riding. Fun (not). At the top, we were rewarded with about a 1.5 mile down hill, of twisty singletrack. Fun (for real). At the end though, (mind you, 3.5 miles later), we were milling around waiting for the remaining 50% of the "group" to re-coalesce to determine what to do next. I decided to bail and head to my back-up plan--my road bike.

I grabbed a Western Massachusetts bike map and made my way from Hancock to Williamstown to Adams to Savoy to Pittsfield and back to Hancock, for a total of about 60 miles. I was hoping to ride up to Mt. Greylock but the approach I had chosen (from the north, just outside of Williamstown) was closed. I still did more than 4,000 ft of climbing on the ride, mostly thanks to a LONG slog into Savoy. I'd like to try to get up Greylock sometime though...

Anyway, after the ride, it was time to socialize with some of my Dirt Rag and Kenda peeps, grab some grub, and make my way back home.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

July Vacation Part 2

So, we got to ride at Kingdom Trails, which as I've mentioned, is always awesome. That was Tuesday. On Wednesday, we made our way to Canadian province of Quebec but that was AFTER a great run on the hills and dirt roads in Newark, VT (including a 500ft climb up in the first mile). The drive to Quebec City was, for the most part, uneventful. The Canadian border patrol agent made fun of my passport photo, gas was about $6/gallon, and Canada apparently doesn't put road maintenance high up on it's list of national priorities (must be because of all of that nationalized health care). Anyway, we got to the lovely KOA, set up our giant tent and found some grub, ironically, at a restaurant called Boston Pizza.

We spent the next day in the "old town" of Quebec City. Lots of tourist shop, lots of "semi-European" architecture, and some good, dark beer (Chambly Noire). Everyone seems to say that going to Quebec City is similar to going to Europe, but we didn't get that feeling. In fact, we bailed out of the KOA and headed to another campground in a more rural area of Quebec, near Lake Massawippi and North Hatley. This was a beautiful area and we got to do some good (hilly) riding (Jean IS in the pic to the left). The scenery was similar to northern Vermont (duh) but with more signs in French.

Friday we had all sorts of ideas for things to do, but the constant cracks of thunder and lightning and torrential rail limited our options. There was a short break in the rain, and we decided to try to break camp, but as soon as we started, the downpour began again. Essentially, we threw EVERYTHING in the car, wet or dry, in absolutely no order. I hate chaos in my car.

We headed back to our friend's house in VT, and we contemplating spending another night there, but the rain followed and we knew that the trails would be closed, so we picked up our mountain bikes and continued on to home, but not before stopping in Manchester, NH, for dinner with our friends Mike and Jo.
And thus ended our Maine/Vermont/Canada vacation. We got to pick Luna up a day early and get some great riding in at home; and we got to get started on drying all of our camping gear...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

The Maine Bike Rally (July Vacation Part 1)

That’s how our vacation started; at the Maine Bike Rally, in Fryeburg, Maine (July 11-13). I was fortunate in that one of my co-workers took my shift on Thursday (7/10) so I could spend that day getting “stuff” done. That stuff included moving everything in our basement so it could be painted while we were away, weeding the yard, and well, you get the picture. Friday morning it was time to actually get ready for the trip, and that meant packing, stuffing everything into the Element, and dropping Luna off at the kennel. Once all that was done, we were on the road—first to Portland, ME, for lunch. From Portland we shot west—through the tourist trap that is Sebago Lake—and ultimately arrived in Fryeburg. We didn’t have time to make any of the rides on the first day, but we got our tent set up, scoped out the scene (so many great rides available), and planned our weekend. On Friday night we got to see a great slide show (don’t worry, it was digital) about a couple that was touring through Arizona when there bikes were stolen by some crack-heads. In the end, they got the bikes back, but not until they confronted the alleged thief in the “hood.” It was very entertaining, and the teaching point is to ALWAYS lock your bike.

Saturday morning we got up, got our “included” breakfast, and chose our route. We picked a fun 20+-miler called the Farm and Garden loop or something like that. The rural roads in Northern Maine were great and the ride was very fun. We got back in time for me to participate in one of the group mountain bike rides. We had to carpool about 12 miles to North Conway, but the trail was worth it—fun singletrack with some good climbs and good downhills.

The Rally had an amazing spread set up for dinner that night with chicken, portabello mushrooms, pulled pork and other stuff that Jean ate. From there we were sucked in to watching a movie presentation by a Canadian couple who rode their bikes 8,000km through Mongolia, China, Tibet, Nepal and India. While I do think a ride of that magnitude is impressive, the movie was so self-congratulatory that it was sickening. It’s not like they were over there building schools or working with sick people—they were on a ride for themselves, and it was annoying hearing them talk about how they always find new and challenging ways to push themselves beyond the limit. Blah, blah, blah. Get a job and a haircut.

Sunday we got out for another road ride, this time on part of the Kancamagus highway. This was a very scenic 35-mile ride and a great way to stretch the legs out. After that, it was time to break camp and head to North Conway to support the local “Outlet” economy. Jean didn’t do so well, but I cleaned up at Reebok and Pearl Izumi, and scored a nice sweater from Brooks Brothers. We hit the road and then made for Vermont—to the Northeast Kingdom for riding at Kingdom Trails. We drove into to scattered showers and storms…hmmmm… the trails might be messy…It rained ALL night Sunday night, and stopped just before sunrise. The weather outlook for Monday was questionable, but in the end, the rain held off and while the trails were muddy in spots, any day on Kingdom Trails is a good day.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Commuting by Bicycle...

With rising gas prices, more and more people will be considering bikes are more than just toys--they can actually be used as transportation too. Who would have thunk it? With my new job, I'll soon join the ranks of bicycle commuters, but take my advice--bring a pump, a tube, and other implements of repair. I probably have more tools and supplies than some small bike shops, but I (yes me) was caught unprepared when I pinch flatted on my way home from a PA symposium. Jean rescued me--and ridiculed me. Lesson learned.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Re-Emerging Threat to US

With the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and World Health Organization monitoring the front lines for re-emerging biological threats (from diphtheria to bubonic plague), I have to ask, who was asleep at the wheel and failed to notice an even more insidious threat? Of course, I'm talking about the fact that everything from my organs of corti to my primary auditory cortex is infected with the vile sounds of the New Kids on the Block yet again. Didn't the Coalition of the Willing erradicate them? Weren't they sealed up in a concrete bunker somewhere? Aren't they in rehab? The only comforting thought is that if we got rid of them once, we can surely come together as a nation and do it again. America, prepare yourselves.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Where's David?

Wow. It's been almost two months since my last post. That's lame, huh. If you can find me in this photo, I'll tell you why it's taken me so long to get back to the blog... Otherwise, there'll be another update in a couple of days.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Bilenky!

I had mentioned in my earlier post that I would talk about the bikes, so here I go. I picked up a pair of Redline D440’s. These are chromoly frames—fully rigid—with 29er wheels (700c). Out of the box they are designed to be mountain bikes, but the wheel size will also support road tires (or cyclocross tires for road/light off-road use), and because the fork and frame have disc mounts, the brakes can easily be upgraded, which I did to Avids. Gearing is simple—1x8, so no front derailleur, and the frame also has mounts for racks/panniers, making the bike suitable for touring. What this all means is that with this one bike, I can ride road, off-road, a mix of the two, with or without touring bags. That’s pretty versatile in my book.

I’m a total convert to the 29er wheel platform, and I’ve committed myself to this totally by making my “bike of choice” for trail riding my 29er singlespeed hardtail.

Anyway, as if the inherent characteristics of the bikes weren’t cool enough, I had the frames custom modified by a frame builder in Pennsylvania (Bilenky) so that the frames can easily be split into two pieces for packing/traveling. The amazing thing is that you can fit a complete bike into a suitcase that the airlines will take WITHOUT charging you the $100-$150 (each way) extra surcharge. My bike isn’t assembled yet, but every review I’ve read about the S&S couplers states that you absolutely can NOT tell that the frame is two pieces screwed together. Jean rode her bike and had no complaints. I’ll keep you posted.

The retro-fitting was not cheap, but it’s an investment and after a couple of trips, it will pay for itself. Our biking travel just got bumped to the next level.