Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Monday, December 31, 2012

D'oh! 500 KILOMETERS, not MILES! - Festive500

As Fear Rothar raised his glass in toast tonight for completion of the Festive 500, he said, "Next time pay attention to the UNITS."

What? It was only 500km, not 500 miles?

photo courtesy of Henry van den Broek

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Motivation to Keep Going - Festive 500

Shortly after we finished our ride on Saturday, the sky was filled with white particles - small at first, but they grew larger after a while. It was actually very pretty. The larger ones had a lace-like quality, with patterned edges and they floated down slowly. I searched deep into my memory. I knew I'd experienced this before. I almost suffered a mini panic attack as I feared the sky was indeed falling - that whole Mayan thing is still lurking in my sub-conscious. What if they were right, but had miscalculated? Could this be the end?

Reception on the Cat TV (TM) was snowy too.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Another 100km Before the Snow Flies - Festive 500

It's a bit tricky trying to plan rides in New England at this time of year. Fortunately, we are somewhat resilient, so we can cope with fluid plans and changing things on the fly! A few weeks back, as Patria and I were putting together the schedule of Festive 500 rides for the week, she heard from Derrick Lewis, Ride Studio Cafe's Rapha representative, that he and Rich Bravo, Rapha Continental rider, would be joining us for a ride on December 29. So we planned a special ride with some Rapha Epic (tm) potential.

The initial plans were for a 105 mile ride that headed out to Mount Wachusett, taking in some lovely steep back road climbs up the the park entrance, a few nice ridge views, a couple of wind turbines, and even some nice dirt for good measure. While we barely got any snow in our neighborhood in the mid-week storm, the western suburbs got quite a bit on Thursday. I received several emails from folks who live further west, about less than ideal conditions on the roads near the mountain. I'd already decided that passing on the dirt road around the back of the mountain would be wise, but still felt like the ride to the mountain would be doable, and should score us some Rapha Epic (tm) Points. However, as the day of the epic ride approached, the forecast began to suggest that snow might start to fly partway through our ride, potentially making it more epic than we really wanted. I studied lots of different forecasts, and came to the conclusion that if we scaled back to the 60 mile option, that everyone, including slow-worn-out me, should be able to do the ride and make it back to the mothership (Ride Studio Cafe) without drama. Since we'd initially planned for a century, we had moved the start time for this ride up to 8AM, so the earlier start time would definitely help with beating a potential midday arrival of the storm.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Blue Moon - Now I'm No Longer Alone - Festive 500

The song played inside my head throughout today's ride, although with slightly revised cycling themed lyrics...
Blue Moon by Lorenz Hart and Richard Rogers

Blue Moon
You saw me standing alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own
Blue Moon
You knew just what I was there for
You heard me saying a prayer for
Someone I really could care for

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will (ever) hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked to the Moon it turned to gold

Blue Moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

And then there suddenly appeared before me
The only one my arms will ever hold
I heard somebody whisper please adore me
And when I looked the Moon had turned to gold

Blue moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

Blue moon
Now I'm no longer alone
Without a dream in my heart
Without a love of my own

The sun returned Friday morning. It was quite cold, but at least it was clear. The roads were a bit dicey though. The temps had plummeted overnight and a dusting of snow had fallen. With all the rain from yesterday, there was potential for icy patches hidden under the film of light snow. I probably should have shown better judgement and taken a bike with the winter or studded tire, but I was tired and really didn't want any more of a handicap than necessary.

Yes, I admit it. I am tired. And may not show the best judgement!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

No BAD Weather, just BAD clothing - Festive 500

Cyclists can be quite devoted to their favorite weather forecasts! Some of us even have multiple forecast apps on our smartphones and multiple weather bookmarks in our browsers - or maybe that's just me. I have started to learn which sources are the most accurate and where to find the best hourly details. I can also try to fool myself by shopping around for the most optimistic forecasts, as if ignoring the reality of a prediction for bad weather could make it go away!

Now the only optimistic forecast I saw about today was that it would positively be miserable and raw. But I'm no fool. Remember my number one rule, courtesy of Fear Rothar, is "Better looking at it than for it".  My frequent riding companions know that I also have very strict rules about tempting fate, by discussing weather during the ride. The phrase that will get you moved to the top of my * list is "At least it's not raining/sleeting/snowing" while we are riding together under very threatening skies. Other banned phrases include "It could be worse" and "Now we'll have a tailwind".  But some have confused a ban on tempting fate, with going out unprepared. Let's be clear. Not carrying a jacket is tempting fate, just as much as saying "At least it's not raining." Looking for the brightest forecast, so you can get yourself out the door, should never preclude carrying or actually wearing raingear! It's not bad weather, it's bad choice of clothing!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Leading the Lost to the Lake - Festive 500

We woke to brilliant sunshine. The thermometer, on the other hand, displayed something that challenged my brilliance! The mercury, for any who remember non-digital thermometers, was buried deep where the sun doesn't shine!

For those having trouble with the metaphor...
And for those having trouble with the units (it was a photo of John's thermometer)...

Big Red Bicycle Christmas

I forgot to include this video with yesterday's post on our Christmas ride. I even rode my red bike yesterday. How could I forget! Enjoy!

BTW, I also added a few more photos from Mary's iphone to yesterday's post, so you can see our desperation at finding all the Dunkin Donuts closed and our great relief at finding giant burritos at 7-11.


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Follow me to the End of the World and Back - With Snow - Festive 500

Last year, we did our Festive 500 rides with quite varied temperatures, from well below freezing to almost balmy. But we had no snow to make our rides appear tough enough to even register on the Rapha Epic Scale*. So we were very excited to wake to snow this Christmas morning, with the road in front of the house completely covered. There actually was enough snow on the roads to cause me to switch bikes, changing to one that could take a studded tire. But first I had to put the fenders back on it. I've been using it lots for dry dirt road and trail rides, and the fenders were stored away somewhere in the basement. Once fenders were re-mounted, I grabbed a wheel to take a studded tire - for standby. I was certain it wouldn't be needed, but our road was still covered in snow, so that certainty was tempered. John graciously offered to let me use his winter (non-studded) tire and handicap himself with the studded tire. He is such a stud and a gentleman! I was still thinking the studded tire might not be necessary, but do also have vivid memories of falling on black ice a few times last year. The temperature was just above freezing, and since we've had no real snow this year, there is no salt residue on the roads. Hmm, caution...

Monday, December 24, 2012

Fire and Brimstone on a Cold Day - Festive 500

The Rapha Festive 500 started today, this day before the holiday when everything is closed in our annual celebration to honor excessive consumerism and gluttony [John: I get to live with this positive attitude!]. The idea behind the Festive 500 is to ride 500 km over the holidays to offset a bit of the excesses that may stretch the waistline at this time of the year. Fortunately I've been training hard all year just so I can survive all the riding this week. And given all the riding I have planned, I will need to eat even more!

John and I worked with the fine folks at Ride Studio Cafe in Lexington to put together a series of rides for the 8 days of the challenge. We have rides of about 100km on everyday, with a special 100 mile ride out to Mount Wachusett on December 29, when a few folks from Rapha are coming up to join us.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Resting Up Before the Festive 500

It just seemed wrong. A crisp cold Sunday with lots of sunshine, and I was holding back, doing a short ride. Why? Because the Festive 500 starts Monday. We have long rides planned for every day through the end of the year, and I suspect I'll be appreciating the rest as the week wears on. I heard from lots of folks on today's club ride who are planning to come out for many of the rides through out the holiday week, so we are very excited that we'll have so much company (and so many people in our photos!) The more the merrier. Please join us for any or all. Details here.


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Festive 500 - 2012

It's starting to look like we might get some snowy pictures for the Rapha Festive 500 this year. Like last year, we have put together a series of rides, based out of Ride Studio Cafe. Check out all the details here, and please come join us!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Winter Bike

My recent blog postings have dealt with dressing for winter cycling.  (Southern Hemisphere readers can skip the smug comments, and store away these links for a few months!) So now that we've got you in appropriate clothing for riding comfortably through the winter, let's take a look at your bike. You may look at your fancy lightweight bike with its shiny anodized parts and carbon rims and think that you don't want to take it out on wet mucky salty roads. Good call! Save that bike for warm dry rides on pristine pavement.

A winter bike is one that will need to stand up well to abuse, as it is likely to get caked in sand and salt and other assorted road grime, be ridden through slush covered potholes and occasionally kept out after dark. You might think that an appropriate winter bike is a cheap department store bike that you won't care about, but the first time you are doing some repair on the side of the road with cold numb hands, you will curse that bike in a way that makes you care!

Monday, December 10, 2012

World's End Ride, December 20, 2012

Will Thursday, December 20 be our last full day of existence? Lots of folks seem to be worried that the Mayan calendar may be predicting total destruction on 12/21/2012. There has been enough chatter about it that the US Government and NASA have posted FAQs addressing the question... not that any of the groups freaking out about the Apocalypse would trust those agencies.

I don't know if I trust those agencies either! Who knows what will happen on the Winter Solstice (December 21), aside from cyclists in the Northern Hemisphere celebrating that days are starting to get longer! If we are still here, that is...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Dressing for Winter Cycling - Hands, Feet and Head

In the previous two posts, I've talked about base layers and outer layers for winter cycling. Now before getting to the details for hands and feet, let me reiterate that riders sometimes miss the obvious when facing issues with cold extremities - Protect the brain and Insulate the pipes. The brain, being the central control unit, protects itself first. Extremities are the lowest priorities. So the most important item of clothing for keeping the hands and feet warm is actually what is on your head!

It should be obvious that the hands and feet are at the end of your arms and legs, and the warm blood you'd like to have flowing around your hands and feet has to pass from your heart inside your nice warm core out through the arms and legs to get to the hands and feet. Imagine your hot water heater working away down in your basement, but with uninsulated pipes running outside the house to get upstairs to your shower, or the duct work from your furnace running outside the house before reaching a vent in your living room. A lot of heat will be lost through those uninsulated exposed pipes and ducts. Same for your body.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Dressing for Winter Cycling - Outer Layers

In the previous blog post, I talked about base layers for winter cycling. But so far, global warming hasn't completely eliminated the need for a few extra layers in the winter, so I will now talk about additional layering.

Arm and leg warmers are great for those rides that start out cool, but warm up enough to expose some flesh. Warmers are easy to push down or pull off on the move. They tend to be pretty compact so can be stored in a pocket or seat bag when not in use.

Dressing for Winter Cycling - Base Layers

For many years now, the most popular article on our website is the one about dressing for winter riding. The next few blog posts draw from that article with some updates. The weather here is starting to turn distinctly colder, so the timing seems right to talk about dressing for winter rides.

Both Fear Rothar and I are year-round cyclists, and have been for many years. We commute throughout the year, but also enjoy quite a few recreational rides during the winter as well.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Vertical Epic

Yesterday I hit a milestone - well not so much a milestone as a foot-stone. According to my records on Strava, I've climbed 1 million feet this year!

Now I'll be the first to admit that I am quite lucky to have lots of time on my hands, enabling me to go out and do long rides every day. And my ability to clock up this much climbing has a lot more to do with time to ride than anything else. But it's still something I got excited about as I got closer to the big number.

We had a very mild winter in 2012, which allowed me and most of my riding neighbors to do a lot of early season riding. Then Strava had this climbing challenge from mid-March to the end of April. I got a little taste of competition as I flirted with the top spot on the female leaderboard. And by the end, I'd accumulated a lot of feet, and it seemed also a new love of climbing.

I've never considered myself a climber. Fear Rothar is the climber. But he seems to influence me a bit. I started doing the hill-climb races, because he was doing the hill-climb races. And of course when we ride the tandem, I have no choice but to go up and down all the same hills. But I will admit that at some point I developed a real love of the views from the top of these climbs, and eventually found I also really enjoyed the journey.

A suitable brew!

The ride that put me over the top!