Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Saturday, December 31, 2011

December 31 - Recuperating from Chasing Redemption

Total - Pamela - 838 km,  John - 609 km
Dec 31 - Pamela 29 km, John 29 km
Dec 30 - Pamela 74 km, John  88 km
Dec 29 - Pamela 105 km, John 28 km
Dec 28 - Pamela 110km, John 51km 
Dec 27 - Pamela 130km, John 44km
Dec 26 - Pamela 96km,  John - 100km
Dec 25 - Pamela - 75km,  John - 75km
Dec 24 - Pamela and John - 164 km
Dec 23 - Pamela - 55 km,  John 30 km

Chasing Redemption is hard going, especially for someone with such a cheeky attitude.

Friday, December 30, 2011

December 30 - World's End 2011-style

Last May, we survived Harold Camping's predicted rapture and had a rapturous good time doing the East Coast Rapha Gentlemen's Race. Today, we rode to World's End and, yet again, it did not. We'll see what 12/21/2012 brings and whether the Mayans had it right. Maybe we'll plan to do this route again on that day. If I have to be somewhere when the world ends, this is as good a place as any - actually much better than most. It is an absolutely beautiful spot. I'm so glad it has been preserved and is maintained now by the Trustees of the Reservations.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

December 29 - A Pagan Celebration

Last week, when we came up with our list of Redemption Rides, we had a few obvious choices like Redemption Rock and the two Purgatory rides, but some of the others required a bit of literary license. I must admit Pagan Hill is one. It is actually Pegan Hill , but this, the highest spot in Natick, does so fit with the original meaning, that we call it Pagan Hill. As one of the local hill-climb training spots, it also seems like a natural place for a band of druids to cast spells that make cyclists dance up hills effortlessly.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 28 - From Purgatory to Paradise

After the disgrace of Monday, I worried a bit that today's ride to Purgatory Falls might also not go as planned. But the weather gods cooperated somewhat, allowing for a glorious ride from Purgatory to Paradise and beyond. I say somewhat because the high temperature for the day, 50F, occurred in the wee hours, while it was hosing down with rain, incidentally. Then the temperature fell throughout the day, approaching freezing when we finished, but it was clear and sunny. And while the roads were wet from the evening downpour, they weren't icy thanks to the 50F overnight temperature. Dressing for these conditions (temps falling) was challenging, but we all managed to select the right combination of clothing. BTW, I mentioned my desire for some Rapha women's tights in yesterday's entry. Well, Zabeth came through for me. She had accidentally ordered an extra pair when Rapha was having a sale, so she passed them on to me at the good sale price. And I absolutely love them! Rapha can still send me a pair for free- ladies - size small, please.

Today's route includes some of my favorite roads. Years ago, John and I put together a 200km route for the local brevet series. Over time, some of those roads have gotten busy, so I have proposed replacing the middle part of the 200km with this route. I think it will happen this year. Hopefully the riders won't hate me for replacing the busy roads with some quiet, scenic (which translates to hilly) roads. There are some magnificent views along the route, but I will say that riders have to work hard to earn them. 

The reward at the top of the toughest climb

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

December 27 - Paradise Lost Lake and Beyond Redemption

The Festive 500 - Ride to Redemption continues. Today, John had to go back to work, but I continue to enjoy freedom from proper employment. A few weeks ago I started leading a social pace ride out of Ride Studio Cafe on Tuesdays, so today's Redemption Ride was just my Tuesday Social Pace Ride, meaning I would likely have a bit of company. We started with a total of eleven riders, with a few planning to cut off at some point for a shorter ride, but most planning for the full distance. It was another amazing December day, not quite as sunny as yesterday but an almost balmy 40F at the start. I was definitely dressed lighter than in previous days. If only I had a nice pair of the Rapha Ladies Winter Tights... Maybe I can win some in this contest!

Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26 - Disgrace and Redemption

To translate Robbie Burns,  "The best laid schemes of mice and men / Go oft awry"
Seeking the Abbey of Sisters of Divine Mercy of the Assumption of the Immaculate Epic Conception, we found this one

Followers of the blog may be aware that we made some ambitious plans last week for the Ride to Redemption challenge, completely ignoring the fact that it is actually late December in New England, a time and place that is often much more suitable for cross-country skiing than cycling.

Today's planned route to Mt Grace is a challenge even in the best of conditions. It has loads of climbing and descending, and is a bit on the long side for the amount of daylight we currently have. We had shortened it with a remote start, but this did mean loading up and driving to the start. We further complicated logistics by arranging to test-ride a Seven tandem, which we'd need to pick up on our way out of town.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

December 25 - Fire and Brimstone for the Unredeemable

December 25 is the day most of the western world sets aside to celebrate consumerism, allowing most folks a day off work to consume lots of food and exchange lots of items into which the giver may have invested great thought, like a manger scene snow globe, that will likely be returned the next day and exchanged for something the recipient really wants, like Air Jordan sneakers.

Having achieved Redemption yesterday, we chose to seek out Fire and Brimstone. But rather than descending into a hot, fiery hell, we climbed up to Brimstone Hill where it was so brutally cold, that we would have been quite happy to roast our toes on a bit of fire.

Since this holiday seemingly honors shopping and consumption, the folks who work so hard in all the shops and cafes are given the day off work. However, in recent years, more and more businesses (CVS, Dunkin Donuts) have decided to take advantage of lack of competition on the day, especially for the potential customer who has truly waited until the last minute and considers a bottle of shampoo and a pack of batteries to be an appropriate gift. But even the ever-accommodating Rob and Patria, of Ride Studio Cafe, our usual coffee and ride-launching point, decided to take a break and closed early on Saturday and completely on Sunday. So we decided to open Cafe Blayleys before the ride to serve espresso drinks and provide a warm meeting place.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 24th - Ride to Redemption Rock

It all started innocently enough. John and I were talking about a theme for the upcoming Festive 500 rides, when we realized Rapha had already provided the theme for us: Ride to Redemption. John suggested we simply Ride to Redemption Rock out near Mt Wachusett. Next thing I knew, we were also talking about riding to Purgatory and Brimstone and Grace, but I'm getting ahead of myself. Before all those other rides we would kick off the week with a long, hard, hilly ride to Redemption! When we planned this 90 mile ride, starting from Ride Studio Cafe, for the eve before the day when everything is closed, little did we know the temperature would never even think about rising above freezing. But given the long hard day and the early sunset at this time of year, we figured we should get an early start, so we planned an 8:30AM departure from the Studio, which meant a 7:30 AM departure from home, which meant a 6:30 AM alarm. Oh that hurt.


Friday, December 23, 2011

December 23 - Seeking Out Redemption Centers

The first day of the Festive 500, Dec 23, started grey and dreary. We've got lots of long hard rides planned for the rest of the week. Today should just be an easy ride - save something for tomorrows ride to Redemption Rock. But I think I will seek out some inspiration. I'll ride the Green Queen, my workhorse fixed gear commuting bike with a pannier so I can pick up some coffee beans for the weekend. 

First off, how do I take a self portrait?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Redemption Rides

As we posted previously, Rapha has another crazy challenge for the last week of 2011 called the Festive 500 - Ride to Redemption. The challenge is to ride 500 km between December 23 and December 31. We are taking the challenge quite literally and kicking it off by Riding to Redemption Rock on December 24, and sticking with a somewhat irreverent take on the redemption theme throughout the week. We'd love company.

Some rides will leave from Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington, Massachusetts, USA. Others have a remote start, since we don't need to ride the 500km all in one day! The longer rides will start earlier to maximize daylight. We plan to be back before dark, but it might be a good idea to bring lights, especially for the longer rides. Definitely bring a camera and a spirit of adventure.

Please download the GPS track and/or cues and let us know if you will join us, especially for the rides that don't start from RSC. (Email pb at blayleys dot com)

Since Ride Studio Cafe (and almost everywhere else too) will be closed on the 25th, we will serve espresso drinks at our place before the ride (coffee from 9, ride at 10). Send me email, pb at blayleys dot com, and I'll give you the address. And for folks who have no other obligations for the day, we will have a potluck after the ride. Let us know you are staying so we can coordinate food.

So here's the schedule, including links to RideWithGPS routes. The weather could get temperamental with all this forward planning, so check back for potential changes. As you can see, we have over 500 miles (which if you do the conversion is way more than 500 km) of rides, so Pamela will be well and truly exhausted by the end of the week! She'll probably need a massage

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Rapha Ride to Redemption

Rapha has another crazy challenge for the last week of 2011 called the Festive 500 - Ride to Redemption. The challenge is to ride 500 km between December 23 and December 31. We are taking the challenge quite literally and kicking it off by Riding to Redemption Rock on December 24 following this route. We will start the morning off with our noses against the window of Ride Studio Cafe at 8 AM, awaiting their opening, to get espresso and scones, before heading out to ride at 8:30 AM sharp. This will be a fun, hard, spirited and festive ride. Folks are welcome to join us. We will be on our tandem. We plan to be back before dark, but it is 90 hard miles. It might be a good idea to bring lights. Definitely bring a camera and an spirit of adventure.

We are planning other rides as the week goes on, including rides to Purgatory, Brimstone, and World's End. More details to follow.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Waffling on about the weekend

On a bitterly cold December Sunday, Patria and Rob of Ride.Studio.Cafe were kind enough to entrust a Seven tandem to our (ab)use on their Sunday morning ride. It wasn't just any Sunday morning ride, however, but the prelude to their Waffle Wonderland seasonal celebration.

A tandem photograph?

And, did I mention it was the coldest ride of the season thus far? Considering the temperature, an impressively large number of people turned out for fun and frolics. We rolled out the bike path to Bedford and then popped out into the wind as we headed towards Carlisle. There are no prizes, dear reader, for guessing that this wind was chilly, to put it politely. This had a few effects. One, our extremities begged for a little more blood flow. Two, the shiny tandem seemed to invite spirited pedaling. And three, ride leader Geoff, who was kind enough to supply hand warmers at the start of the ride, was also eager to appreciate the tandem from the point of view of its slipstream. The result was us putting said tandem to a very good test and warming everyone up!

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Winter Solstice - The begining of the end of early darkness

It's that time of year when cyclists can start celebrating. Very soon days will start getting longer. You may notice non-cyclists also commemorating the solstice or beginning of the end of early darkness by lighting up the night with decorative and colorful displays all around their homes. I consider these displays a symbol of empathy for the commuting cyclist all lit up at night, making her way home.

We do a fair amount of riding with lights - both for sport and practical riding. Click on over to the website to check out the updated article on lighting.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Photos from November trip to Ireland now available on website

John has a new camera and has been having fun prepping photos for the website. He's selected a nice subset of all the gazillion pictures he took during our recent trip to Ireland in November and we've updated these pages with maps, photos and commentary. Slideshow available here. Enjoy.
The full report
If you are now inspired to go bike touring in Ireland, check out these tips.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Winter Cycling

We've had an amazingly mild autumn, ignoring that little snowstorm that brought down limbs from every tree in Lexington before Halloween. 

The problem with a mild autumn is that winter still comes, and when it arrives suddenly, rather than gradually, my body just can't adjust, and suddenly I don't have the right clothes, or lights or studded tires! It was just Monday that I was out with riders in shorts and short sleeves as the temperatures reached into 60's Fahrenheit. Then last night the temperature dropped below freezing and today despite ample sunshine, less than 40 of those little Fahrenheits came out to play at the best part of the day. And those that did got blown around by a stiff icy breeze. 

So after months of riding supplementing with just arm and knee or leg warmers and a wind vest, I had to dig into the cold-weather gear and pull out the winter boots , heavy tights, jacket, warm mittens and yes, even the Windstopper skull cap. It wasn't that cold, it was just that much colder than it had been. In February, we will consider today's temperatures balmy. But today it felt horribly cold. So it seems appropriate to take the time to review the winter tips article and update it as necessary. 

The readers digest version:
  • Don't overdress
  • Layer, layer, layer
  • Wool is a great base layer
  • Lake Cycling Winter Boots can't be beat
  • You really can never have too many pairs of gloves
  • Fixed Gears are great for those who suffer from cold hands, since you don't need to worry with gloves jamming brifters
  • A good hat will help with cold hands and feet
  • Bib tights are great for keeping the back warm, but no good for gals trying a quick pee stop
  • Don't forget the rain jacket
  • Keep your bike in good working order, so you aren't doing roadside repairs with numb fingers
  • Studded tires beat a broken collarbone
  • Don't get caught in the early sunset without lights
  • Better looking at it, than for it (i.e. carry extra clothes for the inevitable)
  • Stop and drink the coffee
  • And enjoy the low light
Read the full article...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Signs of the Times

I notice odd things sometimes when I'm out riding. Here's a few shots of some of my favorite signs.Is it any wonder that I ever find my way back home?

I found this one last spring while riding in NC. What could it mean? I think we could use some signs like this in Massachusetts, just to indicate that the road ahead is actually just a series of potholes loosely joined by bits of pavement.
Another of my favorites. If there is Nonesuch Road, why does it need a sign?

Bring on the Flat Hills!

We are plain speakers here in New England!
Meet me at the brick building. It's the one with the sign over the door that says "Brick Building."

This goes a long way in explaining why they have to label the brick building. Note that the schools are on Church Street, while the church is on School street.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Cycling in Ireland

We took a quick trip to Ireland at the end of November. While it may not be the best time to go cycling in Ireland, the extra time we get off for American Thanksgiving makes it a convenient, albeit expensive, time to travel.

Joining the 21st century

Seems about time that we do a proper blog. We will keep the full website, but will post info here when the website is updated. We will also try to keep the blog more current with weekly postings.