Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The post that shall remain postless...

Until a later date.

I'm going to start writing this post to document the rides that I'm getting in this week, but I can't post it until the mileage challenge is over. The good news is that while you'll have to wait until Friday, your patience will be rewarded with a long winded, overly thorough, completely unnecessary account of the week that was. Right now, it's Wednesday, so I've got to back track a bit, but you'll get it all, I promise. Just what you always wanted. Yea.


Wait, actually, I think I should start on Sunday.


Yesterday, Clint and I were back country skiing on the back of Mount Washington. We hiked into Tuckerman's Ravine, about a 3 hour hike with 2200 feet of vertical gain. Skied for a couple hours, then we volunteered to help hike out an injured skier on a Ski Patrol sled. We then had to hike back up to the bowl for our gear, and then finally, had to hike out to the car, cause they closed the trail that you can use to ski out. Needless to say, my legs haven't been used like that in a long time. It was a great day, and the only sour note we got was a phone call from Chad telling us the crazy mileage that he put in while we were gone. Great. So now having done all that stuff yesterday, I had to get off my butt and get in a ride. Oh, did I mention it was April 26th, yet for some reason it was 90 degrees in CT. Ridiculous. Luckily, I married a girl who also enjoys a good workout, and she helped motivate me to get on the bike. She went for a run, I went for a ride and we met back at the house to collapse on the couch together.


No rest for the weary. At this point I have updated the Monday Mileage post and know that my lead over Chad has gone from 50 miles to a mere half mile. I also know, that he already got in a ride at lunch today, and Clint too, has been on the bike since the Monday update. OK, get home from work and get in a ride. Easier said than done. Today I have to go to NYC to do some work on the movie after work. Oh, I forgot to mention that this morning, Becky got up early, leaving me lying awake waaaay before I needed to get out of bed. Knowing that my brothers are crazy like me and will do untold things to win this challenge, I thought I should also jump on the crazy train and capitalize on this early rise, so I got out and put on an easy, quick 5 or 6 miles. By the way, I'm still no cyclist, but that easy 5 or 6 miles in the morning, was definitely the same 5 or 6 miles that I could barely finish a month ago. Little pat on the back for myself. Who am I kidding, this blog is the biggest, most self centered, 24/7 pat on my own back ever, kinda embarrassing, but your the one reading it. Anyway, back to Monday. After work I did manage to get in my sixteen mile loop, then a quick dinner with the wife, then off to NY.


This was my day to ride this week. I mentioned that Becky had some plans for us this Wed. and Thurs. which is great but severely limits my crunch time riding. To help combat that I had to make today a banner day. This is what I came up with. I threw the bike in my car and took it to work. Today, lunch wouldn't be spent surfing the Internet and chowing on cold cuts; today I would get in a ride. This stupid hot weather in April has continued and my ride turned into sweat fest 2009. I got in about 15 miles, but my coworkers probably weren't too happy when I got back. It took me till about 4 o'clock just to cool off. Mental note, changing into jeans after a hot ride sucks. I head home, grab a bite with the wife, and hit the road once more. Yes, this is over the top, but who knows what my brothers are doing to log mileage. I did not wait long enough after dinner to start riding, turning my dinner into a rock in my stomach which made the next 20 miles pretty terrible. At least it was dusk so it was a bit cooler. P.S. My butt is really not liking my bike saddle at this point.


Crazy train officially boarded. Wednesday presented a problem. It was mission critical to get in some miles, but Becky has made surprise plans for our evening after work, so a ride then is out. On Monday, while talking to Chad I joked that to win this thing I'm gonna have to bike to and from work. Not that funny except I live about 35 miles from the office. After I got off the phone with him however, the idea started to make a lot of sense. For the last hundred or so miles I've been able to maintain about a 16.5 mph average. So for 35 miles it should only take just over 2 hours. I don't have to be to work until 9 am, so leaving at 6:30 actually is doable. It doesn't take much for my brain to convince itself that it has a good idea, and before you know it, the alarm clock was buzzing and I was on the bike riding to work. Here's a map of the ride. 35 miles is way longer than 20, which makes me a little freaked out, cause 100 miles, is way, way, waaay longer than 35 miles. Yikes, I guess it's good that we are pushing each other to ride this much. The ride actually went pretty well. I underestimated how much hauling my laptop and change of clothes in a back pack would wear on me, and the wind seemed to have it out for me, but I kept churning the cranks and I made it. Luckily it was nice and cool, almost too cold when I started, so I arrived at work on time and not too foul smelling. As you can tell from the elevation map on the route, there were 2 significant hills. My first 2 hills ever really. The first was only about 2 miles from my house, I was still fresh and put it behind me without too much trouble. The second however was about 27 miles into the ride and was a doosey. It is a notoriously steep hill, and having driven up it countless times, so the whole ride I had a clear picture in my mind of the unpleasantness that awaited me. I literally had to to the "I think I can" thing in my head the whole way up, but I made it, no stopping, and I was paid off big time. The down side of the hill was great and I set a new max speed on my bike, 39 mph, sweet. The best part of this whole plan. Becky's surprise plans for us tonight include picking me up at work. Jackpot. I got in 35 miles for the day, and I don't even have to ride home.

Wed. Continued.

Becky's surprise B-day present to me was a flying lesson. Ridiculously awesome! Here is a picture of me after my first flight. It was a ton of fun and I hope to get some more flying in soon. Thanks to Mike and all those at Premier Flight Center in Hartford.

Today is the last day that counts towards April's total, so it's do or die time. We have agreed to all get on the phone and do a group update around 8 or 9 tonight. It will get the suspense over with, plus this will allow for personal verbal jabs and abuse instead of swapping emails of questionable content all day long tomorrow. There have been some emails floating around today and from the looks of it, we are all pretty close in mileage. Clint has gotten in 4 good rides this week, Chad three, with plans for a fourth tonight, and you know what I've been up to. I will be riding tonight. I'm hoping to get in about 20 or so miles to finish the month and hopefully that will be enough. Depends on how long their rides have been obviously so I still think it's up for grabs. We'll see.
Thursday, continued.

Just what you wanted more information. I just got in from my ride tonight and it was my first magical bike ride. Magical might be a bit strong of a word, or a bit but I'm sure you real cyclists out there know what I'm talking about. Tonight was the first time that I could just keep going. It was weird, I've had a few runs in my day that just felt great, and I had the sense that I could just keep running forever. It doesn't happen often, at least not for me, but when it does, it's awesome. Until tonight, I didn't know what that was like on a bike. It was pretty great. My legs some how just kept going. Even after all the riding I've been doing this week, I couldn't burn them out tonight. I set out to get in 20 miles, and wound up getting in 35 cause I just wanting to keep pushing it, to see how far I could go. I'm not naive enough to think this is going to be a regular thing, but man was it fun. I stopped at home, ready to end the ride, but I was only a few miles away from 250 total miles for the month, so I said Hi to Becky, told her the situation and that I was thinking of heading back out for a few more quick miles. She said go for it, and I was off again. Weird that I could just keep going, I really hope I feel like this come race day, cause it would be a big help. Anyway, like I said, I got in about 35 tonight so my monthly total has doubled in the past four days and I'm up to 251.1 total miles for April. If the boys beat me, they earned it for sure. This was everything that I got, so we'll see if it's enough.

The End of the Month is Looming

The Mileage Challenge Get's Crazy

So I feel like I need to put up a post but at the same time, it's serious game time between Chad, Clint and myself, so I can't give away too much about mileage.

Here's what I can tell you. They may kill me, and I shouldn't speak for everyone, but the Frost boys are all very alike. It's probably fair to say that we all have a little procrastination in us however, we all also have an unbelievable sense of determination and drive when push comes to shove. For the past three weeks we've been loafing around, taking a couple rides here and there and slowly accumulating mileage for this mileage challenge not to mention our century training. Now, at the very end of the month, Chad turns it on and the spark has been lit for everyone. Clint has been an animal this week, having already put on 40+ miles by yesterday afternoon. Chad got in 25 on Monday and has been silent since. I squeaked in a ride Monday before I went to NYC but that's all I can give away.

So here we are, the month ends tomorrow at midnight, it's anyone's game, so we'll see what happens. No matter what, the best thing that has come out of this is the fact that we're all out riding. I know, like I mentioned the other day, we shouldn't need a mileage challenge and cash on the line to get us out of the house and into the saddle, but life happens, we all got stuff going on, so this is working for now. I can't wait to see the lengths that my brother's go to claim the number one spot, it should be an interesting post on Friday.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mileage Monday Gets Interesting

A note about the blog - Comment moderation was turned on for some reason, which resulted in a few of you not seeing your comments posted immediately. Sorry about that, I have switched the settings, and now you should be able to post comments without delay. Enjoy. - NC

Chad Kills it This Week

Ouch. One word pretty much sums it up. Going into this week, Chad had been bringing up the rear in a big way. He's been crazy busy at work, and he's got two young kids that are into a lot of stuff. Clint and I have been doing moderately well in taking advantage of this but apparently not well enough. Chad rocketed onto the scene by putting on 82 miles this week. Yup, you read right, 82 miles last week alone. That's twice as much as he had done in total leading up to last week.

Calculated Timing.

This is what I think happened, although I may be giving Chad more credit than I should. He has known for some time now that Clint and I were going up to ski/ride Tuckerman's Ravine last weekend. Chad, rightfully so, was a little bummed about not being able to go this year, but I think he was plotting all along to wait until this, the last weekend of the month, to pounce. He rode enough this month to stay within striking distance but not too much that it would make Clint and I worry about adding a couple miles here or there to lengthen our leads. Then, while Clint and I were enjoying the avalanches and perfect weather on Mount Washington this past weekend, Chad turned it on and is now effectively tied for the lead. Whether or not this was premeditated or not, I guess it doesn't much matter. I have to say, the mileage challenge is working for sure. There is no way that I would have gone out for a ride last night if I hadn't been thinking about the competition. The day before, we hiked for about 6 hours with untold vertical feet thrown in there. My legs were not happy with me when I tried to get off the couch, let alone trying to pedal my butt down the road. I know, I know, I should just be getting out to ride for the love of riding, and purists will scoff at this, but I'm a noncyclist remember. We all need a little push once in a while, right. Anyway, it's all about the numbers so here they are.

April Totals Thus Far

1st - Clay: 125.5 miles
2nd - Chad: 125.0 miles
3rd - Clint: 110.4 miles
And here is the photographic evidence for me and Chad, Clint seems to be resistant to getting his photo in on time, but we believe him.

Chad's mileage, finally a hand gesture that's both positive and family friendly.

Here's mine, finally over the 100 mile mark on my bike.

OK, so that was the last Mileage Monday of April but the month isn't over yet. Here is how the rest of the month is going to go down. The final mileage picture for the month must be submitted by 11:59 pm Thursday night, the last day of April. Any mileage not properly documented by then will not count. The winner of the Mileage Challenge for April will be announced on Friday and the donations made by the losers (I mean non-winners) soon after. My guess is that the boys are going to be playing it pretty close to the vest this week. I know I'm gonna be pressed to get in some riding but I'll do my best. I have to head into the city tonight, and Wed. and Thurs. Becky has some surprise B-Day plans for me. Sounds awesome, but that leaves me with only Tuesday to really do some damage. Wish me luck.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What a Ride.

Where do I even begin?

As you know I'm short on mileage this week and really needed to squeeze in a ride tonight. It just so happens that my company's first softball team practice was tonight. Being the captain that I am, I couldn't miss it and it turned out to be a great time, (we're going to have a blast this season) but it meant that I didn't get home from work until 6:40ish. On my way home Becky called and upon hearing that I was still a half hour away, said that she was going to eat. Perfect, I can get home, change, head out for a ride in no time, and warm up my dinner later.

I get home however, to her just pulling dinner out of the broiler. Yes, she's a sweetheart and waited for me. Yes, it was a double edged sword 'cause I wanted to get out on the road ASAP. Yes, my common sense could be called into question; the whole signing up for a bike race without owning a bike thing, but I'm wise enough to know that when the wife waits to have dinner with you, you sit and enjoy dinner. Dinner was great, ahi tuna burgers, and I didn't even rush it (too much). Although, as I was chowing, I was contemplating how this would effect my ride. More on that later.

With dinner over, I hurry up and change and get out on the road. The only thing worth mentioning here is that this change included some new biking attire. My father-in-law Larry, besides being kind enough to loan me his bike, also saw to it, to outfit me with some new gear. Awesome. He got me a high vis Pearl Izumi biking vest. When I say High Vis, I mean shield your eyes, HIGH VIS. Exhibit A. (and this picture doesn't even do it justice)Basically the perfect garment for this ride, as it would soon be dusk. So my new vest and I roll out of the garage and get pedaling. For the most part, while still light years away from being a real cyclist, I'm feeling pretty confident these days. I can get in and out of my pedals, I'm getting my cadence and speed up, and I can even wipe my nose while riding without swerving around. Everything about this particular ride so far was falling right in line with this new found confidence, but oh how quickly things can change.

Here I must admit that I am breaking the cardinal rule of any good cyclist or boy scout; always be prepared. I'm sure it doesn't really surprise you that I don't yet carry around a tube and pump, but I bet it's a little disappointing. So around the halfway point is where this ride started to derail a bit. I was forced to the side of the road a little further than I would've liked by a passing motorist and found myself riding over some sand, rocks and glass. The last one being the most concerning, especially when you hear it crunch under a tire and then ping out from underneath it like it was coming out of a sling shot. After hearing that, I'm now on high alert for a flat tire. It would sure be a nuisance, but I had my cell phone so it wasn't panic mode, but it was like my senses were in overdrive. Every little bump, hum, wobble, or new noise made me look down to see what was going on. No flat yet, but it was the beginning of the dominoes falling.

When it rains it pours. I now have my first real encounter with an automobile. I'm riding along, still semi worried about the tires, when up ahead on the left, I see a car about to pull onto the street that I'm riding on. This young woman saw me, how could she not, and proceeded to pull out. OK, no problem yet, we're both going the same direction, plenty of room, my parents taught me how to share, so it's fine at this point. By the time she makes the turn onto "my" street, I am right on her bumper. Now, if she had just accelerated away, this wouldn't be much of a run in, but she didn't. She's didn't really accelerate much at all, and I had about 3.7 milli seconds to think this is a little weird, until it all made sense. I wouldn't accelerate much either if I was going to make another immediate turn. Yup, not only did she pull out in front of me, now she is taking the next immediate right hand turn, crossing right in front of me. Blinker you ask? Ha... why would she use a blinker, that would tip people off to her next move and that wouldn't be much fun at all. Let's just say, that I can now somewhat control my bike when the brakes lock up, and I managed to not rear end her. I'm sure these stories are a dime a dozen amongst seasoned cyclists, so let's keep moving. This is getting long winded.

That was right around the halfway point, and I made it to about a mile and a half away from my house until the next incident. I thought I was home free; no flat tire, I didn't hit that lady, but no, it was just getting interesting.

So I'm rolling along at a pretty good clip, when I see some fellow bike riders. I'm heading down my street and there are heading up a street that will soon meet the one I'm on. There happens to be a big clearing on this corner, and no building close to the road, so you could see us converging on the same corner for quite a bit. No joke, you couldn't have timed this better if you tried. Right as they were turning onto the street I was on, I was coming through the intersection. At this point, my mind is racing a bit and trying to figure out my options. When I first saw them, I thought maybe they won't be heading my way, but now clearly they were. Another problem was that I was rolling along at about 20 or so miles an hour on a flat road and they had just turned onto that road having come up a slight incline, and having just made a turn.

Option A: Squeeze the brakes, and fall in behind them.

Option B: Continue my original heading and speed, and pass them.

I don't know if there is any cycling etiquette for a situation such as this, so I had to make a quick decision. Option A seemed a little weird to me. I was thinking I would feel a little like the uninvited dork who shows up to the jocks party after prom. They didn't ask to go for a ride with me, they don't know me, so I chose Option B.

I didn't know any proper protocol, but I managed to say "On your left" and one of the guys, also decked out in some high vis gear, said go ahead buddy and waved me by as I passed. I think I heard the other one say something too, like "take us home" or something like that, I don't know and at the time I didn't care as I had other things now on my mind. As soon as I was passed them, I regretted my option selection. I suddenly realized that now I'm in front. What did he say? Are they gonna speed up? They were just coming off a little uphill and a turn, maybe they normally fly along at 25 mph. So now what? Well, I decide to do the same thing I always do during this part of the ride. It a nice, gradual downhill for about 3/4 mile and normally I like to get up some speed. Also, I didn't want to seem like the punk who just passed them and is now slowing them down, so speed seemed like a good choice. So now I'm turning it on, cruising along at about 26-28 mph and wondering if they're back there. I felt like turning and looking back would give a weird vibe, like I'm trying to hold onto the lead until the finish line or something, so I didn't look back.

I did however, need to spit. Yes, I'm still crazy snot filled, and I needed to halk a loogie. (I must've said that 10,000 times in my life, but that's the first time I've ever written it...humm, wierd and a little gross, and that can't be spelled right, oh well) Anyway, you can see where this is going. I go to spit said loogie, and out of the corner of my eye, as it's leaving my mouth, I see him. He's right on my wheel. Probably normal in cycle land, but I've never had anyone that close, especially going almost 30 mph. Not only am I a bit startled, not only am I trying to go as fast as I can, but now I'm also spitting towards a total stranger. Like I said, it was already out of the barrel, no stopping it now, so I immediately get out a "Sorry man" to which he replied "No problem". Really? No problem? Cause I'm pretty sure I just spit in your general direction. Granted, I put some muscle behind it, so the really gross part shouldn't have made direct contact with my cycling stranger, but surely he got some residual mist action. Again gross, I should've put a parental warning on this post, although kids love gross.

Anyway, now I'm a little embarrassed, still a little nervous being in the lead of this unplanned, make shift paceline and not to mention winded, snotty, and my legs were about to go on strike. About a half mile later there was a fairly major intersection, so I used it as my excuse to slow down. I figured if they were still back there, they could take the lead and hopefully not spit on me. I got past the intersection, slowed down, but no one passed me. I gave it a minute, but then did look back, and they were gone. The craziest couple minutes I've spent on a bike so far.

Fellas, if you're out there, you have my apology. Now you know, that guy who passed you wasn't some inconsiderate cycling jerk, but rather a nervous newbie, not really knowing what he was doing, making questionable decisions. I owe you a beer or something and would love to actually go on a ride with you all, especially since you gotta know better routes than I do. If you live in CT and know 2 guys that ride together in Meriden, forward this to them for me would ya, thanks.

Anyway, there you have it, the most eventful/interesting/confidence shattering ride to date, and certainly the longest blog to date. If you made it this far, good for you, you're a champ.

Thanks for reading.

Gotta Get in Some Riding Today.

It's been an ugly week here in the northeast and rain has kept me out of the saddle all week. Today may be the only day I can ride, although I won't be home from work until probably 6:30. Tomorrow Clint and I are heading up to Mount Washington for the last snowboarding trip of the season, backcountry at Tuckerman's Ravine. It's going to be awesome and I will bless you with photos and hopefully helmet cam video on the blog come Sunday, but it means that cycling Friday and Saturday is out. Sunday I may have time to ride, but my legs will be fresh off about 8 hours of serious hiking and snowboarding on 50 degree pitch, so mashing the pedals may prove difficult. Bottom line, my mileage is going to be even weaker than normal if that's possible, and the door is wide open for Chad to dominate Clint and me this week.

I know we have to step it up if we're going to be ready in 121 days for the 100 mile race.

On a more positive note, fundraising has officially begun and I can't tell you how much I appreciate the donations and well wishes. Many people responded very quickly and I'm always impressed with the generosity of my family and friends, not to mention my new (many anonymous) blog friends. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!

If you are contemplating a donation please seriously consider how cancer has affected you and your loved ones. If you're like me and have ever been hurt, angered, scared, or saddened by cancer, please help in this fight and make a donation. You can click here to make a secure donation online. Big or small, it all helps and together we really can make a difference. Cliche I know, but it's very true. Team Fatty has truly banded together and when you get a group of liked minded people together, focused on a common goal, good things happen. So far we have raised $159,315.00 and the total goes up everyday thanks to you guys. Keep up the good work, and thanks again!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Official Mileage Monday Update

I know it's Tuesday, but blame it on Clint.

Clint broke radio silence and weighed in late last night with his mileage and some pictures. To his credit he was on a couple business trips last week so things got a little dicey for him training wise. Since he was out of town, but in an effort to make sure he could still get in some documented mileage, Chad came up with what he likes to call the time/distance warp continuum to calculate the mileage that Clint got in on a stationary bike in his hotel gym. Even if you don't bike, you can guess that putting down 20 miles on a stationary bike in a gym is a lot different than 20 miles on the road. It got a bit complicated and kudos to Chad for his creativity but here is the lowdown. In his own words this is what Chad came up with...

"My take on the spin bike - It can somewhat count. I think it's way easier to rack up mileage and MPH on those, than outside. So I don't trust the mileage number they put out. That said I don't think you should be docked all the spinning time (although for the sake of me winning, I wish otherwise). Here's what I propose. A time / distance warp continuum. Take your average speed of your last several rides, and use that against the time you ride. However, to keep you honest, and make sure you don't just spin at 1mph for 10 hours, you have to show photographic evidence of time and distance ridden. We will accept the lesser of the two (time warp continuum calculation / distance on machine)

Sound good? of course it does - I just talked to you about it on the phone. Any issues Clay?"

I did not have any issues with it and luckily after all that, Clint put it into use and racked up 13.5 (adjusted) miles while in his hotel gym. Props to Clint for getting off his butt and into one of those small, dark, funky smelling hotel "gyms" while on a business trip. In his own words, here is his evidence and his calculations.

"Now for the calculations: According to the stationary bike, I rode 16.73 miles in 45 minutes. That works out to an average speed of 22.3 mph. Based on my last 4 or 5 rides I have been averaging right around 18 mph so it does seem that Chad was right and the computer may be a little generous with the mileage counting. So then we include the continuum calculation and say I averaged 18mph for the 45 mins I was on the bike and I get a total of 13.5 miles. Since we agreed to take the lesser of the 2, that means I should have 13.5 miles to add to my weekly total for next mileage Monday. Sound good to you guys?"

It did sound good, plus then he got in another ride on his real bike. With everything added up here are the official totals.
April Totals Thus Far
1st - Clay: 93.0 miles
2nd - Clint: 80.4 miles
3rd - Chad: 43.0 miles

Monday, April 20, 2009

Mileage Monday

I think I'm holding my lead, but Clint is playing coy.

The long awaited update is here. I'll keep it short and sweet since you already had to put up with that video slide show today. Clint has been under radio silence since last Wednesday. He was at like 13 miles then I think, but I have no idea what else he may have gotten in since then. I'm actually up to 93 miles and here is my picture. My math wasn't wrong this morning, but my memory sure was. The 72.5 on the GT plus the 20.5 that was well documented on the Lotus brings me to the 93 mile mark for April thus far.
Chad got in a good ride this week, but you read right...singular not plural. He's a bit bummed but here's his picture. You can see his hand gesture this week is a bit of a downer, but definitely more family friendly.
He started at 1742, so he's up to 43 miles so far in the April Challenge.

Unofficial April Totals Thus Far
Pending Clint's Update

1st - Clay: 93 miles
2nd - Clint: 65 miles
3rd - Chad: 43 miles

There you have it, not really century training kinda miles, but we'll get there. 124 days until race day; it'll come quick but we'll be ready. Either that or we'll be really, really, really miserable the whole race, not to mention the weeks afterward.

It was good while it lasted

I know this is the crudest, most Busch League photo slidshow ever, but I had some time over lunch, and thought I'd give Window's Movie Maker a shot. I realize now that I should've left well enough alone. Some would say, don't even post it, but then it would have been a complete waste of time. So for your viewing pleasure, I present the Lotus Send Off Video. You may have guessed that I have no music on my work computer except the sample songs, so no, classical music was not my first choice for this piece, but I had to work with what I had. Enjoy.

Mileage Monday Update Coming Soon

Here we are, another week has gone by and another Mileage Monday is upon us. I have yet to get the report in from my brothers so the official post will be coming a little later today, but here's a little tease of the post to come.

I got in a total of 36 miles last week. I got in twenty on the Lotus and only got out for one measly little 16 mile ride on my bike. I should've gotten in some miles yesterday, but Todd twisted my arm into some golf instead, (he didn't have to twist hard, or at all really) so my total stands at 36 miles. If my math is correct, and thanks to the calculator on my computer it is, my grand total since starting this mileage counting thing is 92 miles. A mere 8 miles from the LIVESTRONG Challenge finish line, and it only took me three weeks...nice.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

My First Car

The Chase was On.

Got home from work in good time last night and thought I better put some miles on the bike. I haven't heard much from Chad or Clint this week, which is making me nervous. Either they haven't ridden at all, or they are racking up serious mileage that they are going to drop on me Sunday.

With the Lotus back to her rightful owner, I was on the GT again, and it was good. The bike fits, love the clipless pedals, and I was feeling the love. It was about 68 degrees and sunny, so it was perfect for a ride. I set out to do the sixteen mile loop. Everything was going swimmingly. Although I did almost have my first pedal mishap. I was coming up to a stoplight, and it almost slipped my mind. I was worried about securing my place in line amongst the cars, which I did, but then as we all rolled to a complete stop, I was still securely fixed t my bike. Luckily, the panic didn't set in immediately and I was able to get my left foot out, and avoided disaster/embarrassment.

That wasn't the big news of the ride however. I was just around the halfway point when opportunity presented itself. The last half mile before I turn around and head home is a long gradual uphill. The good news there is that after I turn around, not only am I headed home, but I got a nice long, gradual downhill to enjoy. So on this day, I turn around and start coasting down. I look down and see that up to this point, my max speed is 31 miles an hour. Since there's no time like the present, I decide that now is a good time to try and beat that, so I start mashing the pedals. Before long I'm moving, and getting faster. It was about that time, that I see a mid-nineties Cadillac cruising down the hill. Now I keep on going about my business of beating my max speed, but the next time I look down the road, I start to wonder if I'm gaining on this Caddie. In a totally rational and well thought out decision, I decide that instead of a new max speed, my first priority should be passing this car.
I know, very childish, but also very fun.

So here I am, slowly gaining ground on the Cadillac, and pedaling my guts out. It was glorious, my only regret is that I couldn't see the view from the car. I was soon on their bumper and started to slowly pass 'em, luckily the side of the road was in pretty good shape. Also, I chose the right driver to pass, had it been me driving, if some cyclist rolled up on me and started to pass me, I may have sped up and left them in my dust. This driver however, kept up his original pace, and soon the Cadillac was in my rear view mirror, well, if I had one, you know what I mean. Anyway, I was pretty high on myself at this point, however this was also the point where the slight downhill ends, and the flat begins. Now I was having to really work to keep up this pace, but the stop sign was just up ahead, and I really wanted to make it to the intersection before I got re-passed. Good news, I kept it up and made it to the Stop sign, I took my left and I assume the Caddie took a right cause I never saw them again.

It took me a minute to recover, cause I had spent way to much energy on that stupid stunt and I was huffing for sure. On a side note, not only did I pass the car, I also crushed my max speed. My new max speed is 34.6 miles an hour...sweet.

I got my legs and wind back and the rest of the ride home went by pretty much as usual, except for the stupid, ear to ear grin plastered to my face. Gotta love chasing cars.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Lotus and I Conquer the Duece

20 Mile Ride...Check
Proper Send off for the Lotus... Check
Holding back the tears as Becky drives away with the Lotus...Check

As I had mentioned yesterday, I wasn't going to return the Lotus to Larry without a proper send off ride. I hadn't yet done a 20 mile ride, so that was the target last night. I know that I already spilled the beans, but here's the full story.

We were having some furniture delivered so I was stuck inside, envying the beautiful day outside until Becky got home and relived me. I tied on my Nikes, pumped up the tires, and then realized that I had a mileage issue. There is no way that I was going to move my computer to the Lotus for one ride, but I wanted to make sure that I cleared 20 and I wanted to document the ride properly to ensure credit for the mileage challenge. Enter the GPS.

I pulled our Garmin out of Becky's car, and reset the trip settings. The Garmin Nuvi, a wonderful device that makes a great wedding gift (thanks again Jamie and Dolan), measures everything that I needed; mileage, speed, average speed, total trip time and total trip moving time. Perfect. So I pulled my under seat bag from the GT and put it on the Lotus. My cell, and the GPS got shoved into the bag, and off I went. Here's the starting picture. I headed out of the neighborhood and was feeling good. The bike was actually shifting properly, my bike mechanic work paid off for a change. It wasn't until the first hill I came upon that I realized why I wanted to ride this trusty steed one last time. Having to reach for the shifters on the down tube was a total pain, but it made me appreciate the GT and all the creature comforts it has brought me. Gotta love a good upgrade but it sure is easy to forget how good you got it.

I stopped a few miles into it to make sure the GPS was working, it was, exhibit A. So there we were, cruising along, wind in our hair, living the dream. She was actually riding very well, and it felt like we were going pretty fast. We were doing the same down and back loop that normally turns out to be 16 miles, but I took a few side street diversions to add some mileage to it. Here is a picture right after the halfway point. Yes, this is over docmented to be sure, but I thought I'd err on the side of caution. I didn't want my brothers to have any reason to not allow this mileage. This should pretty well prove that I didn't drive around town going 15 miles an hour for an hour and a half.
So things were going well, but I was starting to realize that there were good reasons why I upgraded.
  1. It's not my bike.
  2. I like to shift whenever I feel appropriate. (while fixed, still tough dealing with the down tube)
  3. I like to be able to stop whenever I feel appropriate. (the lotus has some dodgy brakes)
  4. Water bottles cages are a good thing to have on a bike. (by this point I was seriously craving some agua)
  5. A bike that actually fits is a good thing. (I didn't realize how crunched up I was on the Lotus until I got on a bike that's my size.)
  6. Leather and metal toe clips. (yes, I'm totally loving my clipless pedals)

But it's not all bad, there are some things that I'm going to miss.

  1. The unbelievably loud and satisfying CLANG when shifting gears. Seriously, people have turned to see what the heck it was they just heard.
  2. The sense of authenticity that comes with riding a 30 year old "race" bike.
  3. Uhhhh...that's all I can think of, but it's better than nothing.

So, at the halfway point, my moving average was actually 17.6 miles an hour, way faster than my rides on the new bike. Interesting, but not really a scientific study. I think I was a little amped up for this farewell ride, and the wind was at my back the first half of the ride. By the time I made it back home my average was 16.2 and we had made it 20.5 miles. Mission Accomplished. I can now return the Lotus feeling like we completed our journey and now I'm ready to return to my new bike for good. I guess it goes without saying that the max speed on the GPS was not set by the Lotus and me. 86.9 miles an hour, must've been Becky driving.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Final Ride

My Last Night with the Lotus.

Tonight I have to say goodbye. Becky is heading up to her parents this weekend, which means the Lotus is going with her. She leaves tomorrow afternoon, so if I hope to get in a final ride it has to be tonight. She (the Lotus not Becky) deserves to be back with her rightful owner and I know that Larry will get some good use out of her as the weather in Ithaca is warming up, but it's still a little sad none the less.
I'm going to get in 20 miles tonight on the weathered beauty if it kills me. I gotta send her off proper and this is the best way I can think of. I'll be fighting back the tears, but we'll have a great last hurrah.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mileage Monday

Clint Closes the Gap.

Another week goes by, and the mileage starts to (slowly) pile up. My younger brother Clint stepped up his game this week and caught up to me, while Chad continued his reign of generosity by not logging many miles. Lucky for Clint and me, this whole mileage challenge thing was Chad's idea so we can't feel too bad about whooping up on him. Before I get to this week though, I should update the blog with some additional starting evidence. Chad sent this gem to me as his week one starting mileage. He said he sent it to me last week and somehow it went unnoticed in my inbox. How I could miss this fine photo example of good, clean, competitive angst is beyond me, but the good news is we got it now.So he started at 1742 miles. This week he didn't blank and managed to sneak in 19 miles ending at 1761 miles and apparently was less feisty while taking the picture this week.
I didn't add on as many miles as I did last week but I am holding onto the lead by a very slim margin. This is my photo evidence and as you can see, I'm up to a total of 56.08 miles, so I only added on 23 miles last week. Kinda depressing to realize that it took me two weeks to reach the halfway point (mileage wise) of the race I'll be riding in come August. Yikes.
On to Clint's mileage. The only caveat here is that I have yet to receive Clint's computer photo so I don't have it to post. I know he took one, so when I get it, you'll see it, but until then, we're believing him. He got on his horse this week and stomped both Chad and me, by riding 54 miles last week alone! Kudos to him. Chad and I have to start cranking unless we want to find ourselves fighting for second very soon.

April Totals So Far

1st - Clay: 56 miles
2nd - Clint: 54 miles
3rd - Chad: 19 miles

So there it is, Mileage Monday. This post is a bit late and almost became Mileage Tuesday but oh well. The anticipation was killing you I'm sure and I'm sorry to have kept you waiting, but busy day, yada yada; I hope you can find it in you're heart to forgive me. Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 10, 2009

One Small Clip for a Real Cyclist...

One GIANT Clip for a Non Cyclist.

The clipless adventure has begun, and I'm loving it. Who knew that nike shoes were so bad for cycling. I only rode 16 miles, but what a difference.

Todd got in touch with me early on Thursday and asked if I wanted to ride. My answer of course was yes as you know I needed to tack on some miles for the mileage challenge. I got home from work and got busy putting on the pedals (you got me, I didn't do it the other night after I put up that post that said I was going to do it then) and attaching the cleats to my shoes. It's amazing how much better my bike looks without those clunky pedals with toe clips strapped on. I put on the Look pedals as they did wind up winning the poll by one vote, and they look sharp. Nice and streamlined, but a little intimidating. They're so small, and I started thinking about how they will firmly hold me onto the bike, and how they might not want to let me go. Anyway, on to the cleats.

I screwed the cleats into the Shimano shoes and by this time Todd had showed up and we we pretty much ready to go. After signing up for a 100 mile bike race without owning a bike, riding in 28 degree weather with fingerless gloves on, and riding a 30 year old loaner to get acquainted with the sport, you no doubt have reservations about my level of common sense. I can't convince you otherwise, but I can tell you that I did at least practice getting in and out of these new pedals before we took off. I'm glad I did as they were set way too tight for me. A few turns of the allen wrench and they were less like bear traps and more like pedals so we got started.

I pull out of the driveway and right into near disaster. While I was looking down trying to get my other foot in my pedal, one of my neighbors had turned into the cul-de-sac. By the time I looked up, she was politely trying to navigate her minivan around the idiot in the street who apparently doesn't know how to ride a bike, even though he's wearing bike shorts and sporting biking gloves. I managed to wobble to the edge of the road, and she passed without me toppling over. I finally finagled my other foot in and we were off.

This is better.

From the first few pedal strokes, I could tell how much better this was going to be. The stiffness of the shoes, the connection to the bike, I could get used to this fast. We took off down my now somewhat routine 16 mile down and back route. The wind was so bad it was laughable. We were struggling just to stay in a strait line and make forward progress. The only silver lining was that this was a down and back route, so while this wind would kill us the whole first half of the ride, barring any major atmospheric anomaly, it should be pushing us with the same force the whole way home.

I'm happy to report that we timed most of the streetlights perfectly. We had to pause a few times, but never had to completely stop and unclip. I know, not a true test of the clipless pedals, but I was happy to get lucky the first time using them. I'm sure there will be plenty of opportunities to topple over, unable to unclip, in the future. The second half was much more enjoyable with the wind at our backs. There is one hill on the route, that put us in our place, but other than that we made it back to my house in good order. I made sure to unclip before I even got in my driveway and did so uneventfully. So far I'm loving the Look pedals and will continue to use them. Not to disappoint all you SPD lovers out there, and don't hate me, but if things keep going well with the Look pedals, I'm not sure I'll even give the SPD's a chance. I know, heartless, but if it ain't broke, don't fix it right?

Thursday, April 9, 2009


I Blame Myself

Mileage Monday has come and gone, and yes, you know that I gloated, and was feeling good about my noncyclist self, and yet here we are, Thursday, and I have yet to add to my 32.5 mile total. You don't want to hear them, but here are my excuses, and I know they're just excuses.

Monday - Rain. If I was a real cyclist maybe I would have put up with it, but luckily for my, I'm the noncyclist.

Tuesday - Meeting with financial planner after work. (yes, in this economy, it was about as painful as you are imagining)

Wednesday - After work I had to bolt down to NYC to meet with a musician about doing an orginal track for our upcoming documentary. It went well, but that's a whole other post.

All this while, my brothers have righfully so, been sticking it to me. Both Chad and Clint have been logging miles consistiently this week, so while nothing is official, I'm sure I'm the low man on the totum pole as of now. And to think, just a few short days ago, I was so happy with myself. I now regret saying in my previous post that "busy lives hindered their good intentions and kept them out of the saddle". Clearly kharma is real, and I'm feeling it this week.

Not all is lost however. I will be on the bike tonight, and the clipless adventure can finally begin. I should be able to get in about 16 or so miles after work, so hopefully I can slow the bleeding.

I guess the only good news about this whole ordeal, is that the purpose behind the Mileage Challenge is working. I won't speak for my brothers but I know that I feel compelled to get out and ride a little bit more, knowing that fundraising, and pride is on the line. Speaking of fundraising, just thinking out loud, maybe one month we should have a Fundraising Challenge. Hmmm, something to stew over today, we'll see. Gotta love some healthy compitition.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Mileage Monday

Non Cyclist takes the lead!

I know it's not cool to gloat, but...I'm ahead in the mileage challenge by over 30 miles! You faithful readers out there are doing the math in you're head right now, and, you're realizing that I've only ridden 32.5 miles in the last week. Yup, you got it. My bros were kind enough to park their bikes for the week and let me get a head start. Ok, Ok, they didn't really want to give me a head start, but busy lives hindered their good intentions and kept them out of the saddle this week. Bad for them, good for me. So here are the actual totals.

Starting Mileage - 1742.0 Ending Mileage - 1742.0 Total Gain - 0

Starting Mileage - 424.2 Ending Mileage - 424.2 Total Gain - 0

Starting Mileage - 0 Ending Mileage - 32.5 Total Gain - 32.5

Here is the picture of my computer, the boys haven't sent in their pictures so we're going honor system style.

So now I'm the one with the target on his back, and I'm sure these guys are going to come strong this week. We're hoping to all get a ride in together over the Easter weekend, so I gotta log some serious miles during the week if I'm going to hold on to the figurative yellow jersey. Also the pedals are going on tonight so, weather permitting, the clipless adventure begins tomorrow. Thanks to all who voted and who sent me emails about the pedal debate. While the SPD pedals won the vote by a slim margin, the Look pedals got the most enthusiastic email response, so the Looks are getting put on as soon as I post this blog. Stay tuned.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Christmas Come Early

Stepping it Up a Notch

The cycling fairy stopped by the house this weekend and showered me with a few new toys. Yup, I'm moving into the big leagues, real cycling shorts with chamois and everything, and clipless pedals so I can stop wearing my Nikes. Speaking of not wearing my Nikes, I got some new shoes to go along with those pedals.
If I go with the Look pedals I'll be keeping the Shimano shoes, if I go with the SPD pedals, I'll be sticking with the Cannndale shoes. Last I checked the blog poll didn't really help me much as far as choosing a pedal so I guess I'll flip a coin and bolt on whatever wins, then try the other. Oh, and I finally got my hands on a floor pump, so no more arm burning, mini-pump fiasco's.

Today I got in my last ride in the Nikes, I'll be putting on the pedals tonight. I got in another 16 miles, right around 15.9 miles per hour. I broke out the new cycling shorts. I had worn a pair when I rode in Mystic, but I had never donned them in my own neighborhood. I gotta say, I'm still not used to it. I feel like I'm leaving the house a tad under dressed, but I've come to the conclusion that you just have to own it, and wear them with pride. They'll seem normal one day I'm sure.
The sun was shining, but man was it windy. And not the kind of, at your back, push you along wind, it was the 20 mile gust, blow you into the middle of the street wind. Not very much fun, but it sure kept me on my toes. Besides the wind, everything went well, although I did have my first semi-breakdown. Can't really call it a breakdown I guess, my chain just fell off about .2 miles from home, but it was the first time I had to stop for a "repair". I'm proud to say that I was able to get the chain back on and made it back home, unscathed.

Mileage report tomorrow... the suspense is killing me.

Thanks for reading.

Friday, April 3, 2009

16 Miles On My Own

Longest Solo Ride to Date

In preparation for this mileage challenge that is now going on with my brothers and myself, I spent about 4 hours the other night hooking up my new cycling computer on the new bike. Is that normal? How hard can it be, but the instructions were a bit lacking, and winding the cables around the tubes, blah, blah, took forever. Anyway, I know that I had said that I wanted to do the farewell ride on the Lotus last night, but I got home from work a bit late and was fighting daylight, and had just put the new computer on. Needless to say, I took out the new bike last night, got in 16 miles, and now I'm totally hooked on the bike computer thing.

So much info, I was having a hard time watching where I was going. I'm sure/hoping that the novelty will wear off soon, cause it can't be safe to ride around looking at your handlebars all the time. But for now, I was flooded with all this new information and was loving it. So far, I'd say I'm addicted to the speedometer and the odometer, and the cadence thing is running a close third.

So my average speed was 16 miles per hour. Slow yes, but I was pleased that I did 16 miles (16.085 to be exact) in exactly one hour (ok, 1 hour and 36 seconds to be exact). Gotta leave room for improvement. The odometer was cool, and kept me going a little while longer. I got to where I thought I would turn around, but I was only at 7.5 miles. I thought that a 16 mile ride would be waaaay more impressive and satisfying than a 15 mile ride, so I found a side street and kept riding until I hit the 8 mile mark, then I turned and headed for home. Loving it.

I have to say, slowly, but surely, I'm starting to feel less like a poser on the bike and that is definitely a good thing. My pedals, shoes and chamois shorts should be in next week, and that should be another step in the right direction as well. After 16 miles in my old lacrosse shorts, the chamois will be a very welcome addition to the team.

That's it for now, from what I've heard, I think I may have just taken a 16 mile lead in the mileage challenge, so bring it on boys, start turning those cranks.

Thanks for reading.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Mileage Challenge

It's On!

As you know my brothers and I are taking on this LIVESTRONG Challenge thing, but things just got a little more interesting. We have decided to do a monthly mileage challenge to make sure that we getting in the training that we need to, and also to raise some more money for this great cause. Here's how it's going to go down.

At the beginning of each month, we will all take pictures of the odometers on our bikes to record our starting point for the month. The goal then being, quite obviously, to ride the most amount of miles out of the three of us, in that month. Sounds good right, but a competition like this wouldn't be much fun without a carrot dangling so here it is. If you ride the least amount of miles in the month, you must donate $20.00 to the winner's LIVESTRONG page, and $5.00 to the second place guy's LIVESTRONG page. If you come in second, you must donate $15.00 to the winner's LIVESTRONG page. If you win, you just rake in the donations. Sweet. Here's an example, as I'm sure I didn't explain that as easily as I could have.

The Challenge started yesterday, April 1st. No, it's not a joke. So if Chad rides 300 miles in April, Clint rides 200, and I ride 100, here's how it would play out.

I would donate, $20.00 to Chad, the winner, and $5.00 to Clint, (second place). Clint would donate $15.00 to Chad. And all Chad does is brag about kicking our butts and watch his fundraising pot grow. Simple right?

We're going to check in with each other every Sunday night, and I'll post a mileage update on Mondays. Yup, "Mileage Mondays", my first recurring segment on the blog, love it.

We'll see how April goes, I'd love to figure out a way to get you, the reader, involved. Like picking your horse for the month and pledging a certain donation based on the outcome. Something like that, I don't know, could be cool and its for a good cause, but I have to put some more thought into it. Any suggestions, I'd love to hear 'em.

Thanks for reading and following along.

The Lotus Rides Again

I think I Fixed It.

Finally got my hands dirty and fixed the shifting problem that the Lotus was having. The reason that I tinkered with it in the first place you might recall, was because the gears would shift by themselves. Funny if your watching a Disney kids movie, not funny if you are climbing a hill and your bike decides you should be riding in the hardest gear. My first attempt at fixing it, solved the auto shift problem, but left me with only 2 working gears out of 27. Not good.

You know that I want to get in a 20 mile ride on the Lotus to properly send it off, back to it's owner. Also, I'd like to return it in a little better shape than I got it. So I headed to the garage last night determined to fix it.

I started with the rear derailleur, because that's what I messed around with the most last time. There was a bolt that could be loosened, which would allow the gear cable to be pulled tighter or given more slack. I thought this was how to solve my problems last time, but since it didn't really work, I put the cable back the way it was before I messed with it and moved on. Next, I found that where the cable entered the rear derailleur, there was a thing I could turn that would loosen or tighten the cable. I messed around with that a bit, but I was noticing that no matter what I did, whether tighter or looser, the shift lever itself, didn't have enough tension on it to keep the thing in the gear that was selected. Eureka! So I tighten that screw, which I may or may not have fumbled with when I "fixed" it last time, and it all came together.

Not only did the rear derailleur move when you moved the shifter, now the shifter was staying in place and keeping the bike in gear. Before I got too excited, I took it to the streets and tested it out in my neighborhood. The thing was shifting like a dream. Well, a thirty year old dream, but you know what I mean. Bottom line, I think it's really fixed this time. The weather is supposed to be great today, so the goal is to get home as early as possible and get in a farewell 20 miles on the old Lotus. It just feels right.
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