Archive for the 'Cycling' Category


Billy’s got a brand new bike!

Nov 13, 2010 in Cycling

wpid-newride-2010-11-13-15-50.jpgFast Friend Dave proposed a reru of the Tour de Cure route for today with a decision point at Lakeville whether or not to do the loop around the lake. Sara suggested she and Billy would pick up the group near Rush. I liked that idea shorting the ride to something less than a century so I also opted to start the ride from that meeting point. Sara and Bill kindly offered their driveway for parking so we could ride there together. I wasn’t too sure about the distance – my last ride was a month ago – and so I had to watch the pace and going around Conesus Lake was certainly a no-no. That would still make it a 60-65 mile ride.

Yesterday morning I went down to the basement to get the road bike to bring to the store for repair, take the Bike Friday out the suitcase and put it together for the ride. On that last ride a month ago the front derailleur got stuck on the small ring. For fun I tried the handle, and my, the bike magically healed itself! The bike shifted back and forth between the two rings just fine. Odd. Oh well, riding on the proper road bike then!

Got to Mr and Mrs T’s place in Rush. Billy was riding circles on the driveway. He got a brand new bike, it arrived yesterday and he’s adjusting tit to his fit! So exciting, a new ride! It will be a long winter though until it can be seriously ridden. Before riding off they let their Golden Retrievers out to pee and so Cooper and Stella introduced themselves to me in the happy way only dogs can; but of course after first some proper precautionary barking at the stranger.

It’s about 5 miles to the meeting point with the rest of the group and we take it easy. I ask Billy about his bike (so shiny! look at those sprockets!). It’s a titanium frame from a small bike factory in Tennessee. He asks how old my bike is:
“About ten years now, I think.”
“You need a new bike then! I buy a new one every 2 or 3 years. You’re way overdue.”
Bill is a wise man.

We’re a little early, the other group also had a flat so we have some time at the junction before they’ll arrive. It’s bright sunny, no wind, very pleasant to just hang out there and bask. Mid-November, this is not going to happen much more. Pity though there’s no Starbucks on this corner. The others arrive. Bob brought two new Fast Friends, Patrick and somebody else. I’m so bad with names and I must admit I don’t know now which of the two is Pat… They have nice time trial bikes, especially the older’s Trek (I shall call him Patrick). I don’t really like it when there are TT bikes in a group ride. They handle and respond differently than road bikes and so require extra attention by the rest. Pat seems very solid on his but his friend is a little wobbly. Off we go.

Dr Bill is in the group too. Haven’t seen him in a long time. I move up next to him to chat. I ask if he’s been riding much. Not so much, work and stuff, but yeah not bad. Me?
“This is my first ride in a month.”
“And you chose a century?”
“Well, yeah, I mean, how hard can this be?”

Some miles further we’re moving through some rolling hills. I got dropped at first but manage my way back to the group. After a turn Mark has pulled away a bit. Dr Bill increases his pace to stay in touch, I latch on to his wheel, staring at his back tire not letting any light in between. When we get over the roller Dave asks Mark to ease up a bit so that we don’t drop folks. Dr Bill asks Mark if he’s wearing a heart rate monitor:
“Keep it under a hundred then.”

We ride through a small village (Restof?) a few miles before Geneseo where we’ve decided to stop for a break. It rolls down here for a mile or so, my momentum takes me forward and I pull the group for a bit until first Patrick and then Billy move past. In Geneseo we’ll make a left turn up the hill to the college. The last half mile before that on the main road it starts to incline just a bit (2 maybe 3%) and already there I drop off the back. The climb up the college goes slowly, slowly. Not much of power to detect in the legs with just two rides in the last months. I get to the convenience store stumbling inside for the much needed hot caffeine injection and a cinnamon roll. We discuss who wants to ride how far. To Lakeville, around the lake, turn before Lakeville? Sara and Billy say they want to turn at Avon, go back to Rush from there (yes!). This makes it about a 45 mile ride. Perfect, me thinks.

Rolling out of Geneseo first Bob then Dave take the lead. We’re going about 19-20 mph. I’m pretty sure everybody thinks this a casual pace but I am only just hanging on towards the back of the group. At some point I’m riding behind Bob in the middle of the group. He moves up to take the lead, I follow in his wheel. Protocol requires me to take over from him next. Not that I am looking forward to that but the closer to the front you ride, the more even the pace is, an even pace is much easier with rapidly tiring legs. And Bob’s pace is always very even. Not slow, just very steady. Sadly someone can’t maintain her patience with this perfectly fast-ish pace and comes by rolling past picking up the pace a couple of miles. Yes, Sara got bored. I’m hanging on for dear life. Just before Avon the road goes up and I fling off the back. The legs are done. I’m quickly moving down the gears. In Avon Sara, Bill and I turn left while the others continue their march on Lakeville.

It’s only 6 miles or so back to the start. My two companions are very patient with me while they drag me back, going about 15mph (that may be optimistic actually). The last climb takes us up their driveway. We’re done!

Billy opens the door, and Stella and Cooper come running out. They have a lovely big front and back yard giving the dogs plenty space to run around, chase after their balls. Wise strategy to wear down the dogs before apres cycling nap time! We chat for a little bit but I want to get going before my legs get too stiff.

It was a great ride with fabulous weather for November. But maybe, maybe I should ride more often than once a month.

Springwater, Vista, Coffee, Groveland

Aug 28, 2010 in Cycling

killerhills2-2010-08-28-20-053.jpg(you should read this at the speed it was typed: slowly)

After a hiatus of about four weeks, today at last I had time to ride the bicycle again. The RBC’s schedule featured a 54 mil ride from Geneseo called Killer Hill. Very appropriate for a glorious return to turning the pedals! A 9:00 am start called for the alarm to be set to 6:45 am. I manage to get out of the bed after hitting the snooze button only twice. To the kitchen to make coffee, then check news, email, facebook, print the route map. Breakfast is yoghurt with oatmeal. Then it is time to change into the cycling uniform, fill the water bottles and pack up the bag. Down to the basement storage to retrieve the bicycle, helmet and shoes. Just as I am halfway back up the stairs with the bicycle over the shoulder, my downstairs neighbor kindly opens the hallway door. Great timing! Thanks Jimmy!

I put it all in the car then quickly back upstairs to give Squeak her shot, get the coffee mug and I’m ready for the drive to Geneseo which takes about 35 minutes. The Grateful Dead plays lllOUDLY on the stereo singing of important matters such as a monkey at the controls of a train and that your cards aint worth a dime if you don’t lay em down. Right at the traffic light to turn into the Wegmans parking lot from where our rides start I pull up behind Steve and Cathy.

A fair group is assembling. Not only Steve and Cathy give act de présence after their Switzerland and France vacation but also Gary back from his mini tour de France. When everybody is ready we roll out towards Reservoir Road. While 54 miles isn’t an epic distance I will have to pace myself to keep this on the fun side. There are four main climbs (Springwater, Vista, Coffee Hill and Groveland). Vista and Coffee I haven’t done before but know that they’re the hardest of the four. A fast group very quickly forms with Gary, Bill, Steve, Bobbie and a few more. Our group (Richard, Joel, Jules, Tom, Bruce) follows at a more mature pace. Richard grew up just outside Dansville in which direction we’re heading and entertains us with stories and anecdotes of the area.

Just after the hamlet of Sparta the first climb up Springwater road is before us. Richard and another rider grind heavily through the gears and fall back. About halfway Joel comes up besides me and we climb up together. We gather up Ginn who fell back from the first group, Jeff is just a little further up.

“This used to be easier,” I say to Ginn. “This was never easy,” he responds. Good point.

We’re now on Reed Corners road which is a lovely winding and mostly downward road. Downward of course means upward in the near future. After a left on Depot and a left on Vista this is so. On the map Vista looked fairly short. Up to the second sharp turn it’s certainly steep but nothing too disconcerting. One look up coming through that second turn puts the matter firmly to rest: a vertical wall awaits me. Tching goes the chain onto the largest sprocket and five meters further I’m up out of the saddle. Four, five hunderd meter further it flattens a bit which is code for “13% instead of 19%.” After which it picks up again. I am breathing like a vacuum cleaner. Joel passes me, doesn’t seem too stressed.

A few miles past the rest stop at Dansville awaits Coffee Hill. I’m not too sure about that one, legs and lungs still hurt. In the village I missed a traffic light so I am at the back of the group. At the start of this hill there’s an option to turn right skipping the climb, catching up with the route further on. This is quite appealing. Surely someone else will think still too and I’ll just follow them! I watch the group ahead of me, Bruce goes straight, Tom goes straight, Jeff goes straight. Richard. Richard will turn. No, goes straight. Ginn then? No, straight up too. Jules, surely my pal Jules will turn right and save us both! Alas. Darn, now I have to do that climb too.

It turns out to be way easier than Vista. It’s steep in the beginning but then just grinds on for two miles or so. After the summit we descend for about half a mile, come to a roadblock. Bridge is closed up ahead. We have to go back up the hill then right, right again. I trust this extra climb comes out of our club membership fees?

This is a roughly flat section till we get to Groveland. Bruce and Joel kindly keep looking back, wanting me to latch on. But while the climbing goes quite well, I have to pace myself in between to cover up for the lack of endurance. Eventually I do catch up. Bruce and I chat a while about, Garmin Connect (it sucks: a technical term indicating low quality and entertainment value). Bruce found a new one: One reason why Garmin Connect uh well sucks, is that after they bought (which didn’t uh well suck), they tried to convince that development team to relocate from Sausolito, CA to Kansas. That, apparently, didn’t go over so well.

I ride up Groveland with relative ease. From here it’s about 8 or 9 miles back to base. I am enjoying the wonderfully tired feeling in my legs. Sometimes when you’ve been riding well the muscles hurt in such a good way.

Back in the parking lot some of us gather where Joel and Bruce parked. Joel has his folding chair out, gets another one for Bruce. I lean against Bruce’s car. We smalltalk. Then we notice that Bruce has a new bike! He gets up to talk about, points out important elements of the bicycle. I listen but I eye the now free chair as well. Would it be impolite to just sit down? No, that’s not nice. But he’s still talking about the bike. Others ask him questions. I glance again at the chair. More questions, more Bruce explaining and pointing. That’s it, I’m sitting down. His legs are still young. New, light bike, he’s fine. Oh, that chair is nice. Joel is now my favorite club member.

More Quadzilla

Aug 20, 2010 in Cycling

In my previous post I wrote about assisting with the Quadzilla bike race.

A couple of the riders blogged too. To read about the event from a participant’s perspective:

Oh and I can report that Dennis did indeed break the record!!

Quadzilla has its own web site:


Aug 16, 2010 in Cycling

Weariness-2010-08-16-21-40.jpgOn Saturday I helped out with the Quadzilla bike race: a 400 mile ride from Ithaca, NY circumnavigating all the finger lakes which riders need to complete in 40 hours. Tough? Nah, as Mark Frank the organizer says: “Anyone can do 400 miles at 10 mph.” Right. Sure.

I was stationed at the Geneseo rest stop together with Bonnie. This was the half way point. Riders came here by way of Letchworth Park, continued on from here to Canandaigua and then to the sleep stop in Auburn. Our duties? Basically try to do whatever we could to make life a little more comfortable for the riders.

To paint the picture: The race started at 5am Saturday morning in Ithaca. We set up our stop at 5:30pm and saw the first two riders roll in just after 6pm. They were already 13 hours underway with still 210 miles to go having done already many of our favorite hard climbs like Gannett, Coffee Hill, Groveland and many more. From our stop to Auburn – roughly 80 miles – were mainly rolling hills with then the hard and steep stuff on the 140 mil stretch back to Ithaca. This weekend there was a hard southernly wind and many of the riders suffered it badly.

Dennis and Henrik were the first to come through our stop. Dennis’ wife Sherrie (sp?) was crewing for him. She was uncertain if Dennis would want to switch to his night bike or wait till Canandaigua. Should she get it out of the car and ready? But if he didn’t want it it would be trouble for nothing. But I said if you don’t then you’ll see he’ll want it. So she got it all ready for him before he got there and yes, he did want to switch bikes. Dennis was not looking good, a bit dehydrated. Henrik looked like he was just on a quick ride before breakfast. That difference would impress me during the night: some looked disheveled after 200 miles (I certainly would) and others like they’re just on their way to Starbucks for the morning coffee.

Dennis was going for the course record. I hope he made it! But as of my writing this, results have not come through yet. Fingers crossed!!

Two hours after this duo Marcel came through. A soft-spoken introvert French-Canadian from Quebec. He appeared in great shape. I saw him many hours later at 3am at the sleep stop at Auburn where he had showered, changed clothing and got ready to depart for the next stretch. The sleep stop is a bit of a misnomer I got the impression. I think most riders stop there relatively briefly, certainly not long enough for any good nap time.

Just after Marcel left, Michelle rolled in. She had back problems and getting off the bicycle was a bit of an operation. But after some time in one of our folding chairs she was giggling away again and I have developed the theory that if Michelle is giggling then all is well. While Michelle was at our stop three more cyclists arrived giving Michelle company to ride with.

Around 10:30pm if I remember correctly Mark biked into the park where our rest stop was, our beloved organizer!! He hadn’t done much riding this year and wasn’t sure beforehand how far he would get but he made it halfway! He looked tired though, happily sinking down in a chair. I gave him the Monster soda can from our cooler. When I picked up the supplies for our stop from Mark on Thursday evening I noticed there were many cola and s-up cans but only one Monster making me think this one was for him. Karen, Mark’s wife, arrived with the pickup truck a little later. Bonnie and I were sure that Mark would stay here, not ride on. But after some wife and husband talk Mark summoned his steed and bravely rode on into the night towards Canandaigua.

Dennischeckingthebike-2010-08-16-21-40.jpgDuring the course of the evening, our stop was officially open till midnight, a couple of riders were dropped off by Karen who had to abandon the race. When the last cyclist came through in Geneseo a little logistical juggling took place. We had to pack up all the stuff (folding tables, remaining supplies etc) in Bonnie’s car and mine, then see how to get three cyclists plus bikes to Canadaigua and eventually to Auburn. Karen took two in the pick up truck meaning one had to ride in the open back. I took the third, Makoto-san from Michigan. He and I chatted for a little bit but he quickly fell asleep and I listened to my Grateful Dead playlist while driving.

The Canandaigua stop was right on the lake. Bonnie and I thought our stop was windy. Peanuts compared to here. This stop was without any shelter and the wind was blustering in straight over the water. “Ohh, it calmed down,” shrugged Judy. This stop featured hot food (pasta, potatoes, burgers). How she managed to cook in the midst of that windy onslaught I have no idea. Driving the 35 miles to Canandaigua goes a little quicker than cycling it meaning I got to meet again some of the cyclists that came through the Geneseo stop and see how everybody was holding up a windy 35 miles later.

Here we waited for Marcia. The mystery person. Beforehand by means of Mark’s email and while operating our stop Bonnie and I had heard many great things of Marcia, the crew chief and the person who can be in many places at once (I just watched Frank Herbert’s Dune again). But we never met or saw her. Maybe she does not exist… You know, these long-distance cyclists, who knows what happens with their minds…? But there she was. Cheerful, organized and patient. Do not forget that she got up at 3am too just like the riders and had been driving back and forth between the stops. Amazing. She had just picked up Mark who did had to abandon just before Canandaigua. Two hundred and twenty miles, a great achievement!

Marcia gathered two more riders who had abandoned, my passenger was still napping in my car, and we went off to Auburn. Bringing them to Auburn (instead of back to Ithaca) gave them a chance to shover, rest more and then have the ability to ride back to Ithaca still completing most of the distance of the race. From Auburn it was back home to Webster for me where I arrived at 5am.

I am very happy that I volunteered to help out. It was an incredible experience to see these boys and gals attempt and succeed in this race. To receive and assist the riders as they came through Geneseo after already at least 13 hours and for some 20 hours of hard effort was very rewarding. And I learned from them with regards to my own cycling: I need to drink more, try to eat real food (a proper sandwich) during breaks, use the Endurolyte pills that sit in my cupboard.

All of the participants impressed me:

  • Dennis for his quiet determination
  • Henrik fresh as a shiny apple after 200 miles
  • Leslie, the most cheerful cyclist I’ve ever met
  • George in his rush to keep going and ignore his stomach problems
  • Michelle deserving the giggle award
  • Renato bubbling over with adrenaline just wanting to talk, talk
  • Mark F. who seems to look younger the more tired he gets. What secret is hiding here?
  • Mark S. carefully taking in bits of food and slowly, slowly warming up to our conversation
  • Craig from Pennsylvania who I teased about not riding here from there
  • Tim and Jeff who knew each other from magazine articles and now met for the first time?
  • Makoto-san who calmly, quietly endured the hours until we got him back to Auburn
  • And also Marcel (I wish a spoke better French), Glen, Jud, Chester, and I fear I am forgetting someone for which I apologize.

I took some pictures which you can find in the gallery.

Of drink bottles, barrels and flats

Jun 13, 2010 in Cycling

drinkbottles.jpgToday was the Tour de Cure ride, in support of finding a cure to diabetes.

I signed up a long time ago for the century ride (for the unwashed: that’s a 100 miles) assuming I would be riding 3-4 times a week and completed 2 or 3 centuries before then. Alas, between writing code for the secret startup, selling the house and moving not much cycling happened the last month or so except for weekend rides. Nonetheless, with the house stuff finally done with (yay!) I was very much looking forward to riding. With its start time of 7:30 am and needing to register required getting to Mendon Ponds Park at 7, leaving the apartment at 6:30, getting up at 5:30. Painful.

Got the bicycle from the basement storage into the car, helmet and shoes there too, the bag with clothing, food, maps and stuff. Travel mug with coffee and I’m ready to go. Many cars trying to park at Mendon Ponds. I find a spot on the side of the road. I get the bicycle out the back of the car, put the front wheel in, the computer on the handlebars, hang the helmet on the handlebar. Pump the tires. There is something more though. I do do these things indeed before the ride and then there’s one more thing that I do with the bike or put on it. But what? I get the mug, take a sip of coffee and stare at the bike. What can it be? Ohh! Drink bottles. Right, they’re still on the kitchen table at Webster Manor. Hmm. Well, I still want to ride, I’m sure the route will soon take us past a convenience store.

With my number pinned to the back of the jersey I roll into the parking lot where the start is, arriving just in time for the team group picture. A large crowd of cyclists is lining up behind the starting line. The different distances start at different times (shorter ones later). I don’t think this many are doing the century so I guess many others decided to get an early start. This leads to the usual hazards: many riders not very good at handling their bikes at slow speeds, many cyclists too impatient, leading to some collisions where mainly pride got hurt. We roll out of the park northwise and then swing back around the park. Already within the first two miles there are several flat tires. This scene will continue throughout the ride: almost every mile you would see stopped riders on the side of road changing tires. Also within the first few miles I get stuck behind a car that is hesitating a very long time to pass a slow group before it. The result is that I loose contact with the team. I try for a couple of miles to close the gap but with a train consisting of Gary, Bob, Dwight, Dave, Ed, Billy and Sara that’s a tall order and I let it go. I’ll need to stop anyways at the convenience store in Rush.

The low mileage of the last few weeks doesn’t seem to bother me as I get a decent clip going. At a junction I catch up with a fellow RBC club member (sorry dude, forgot your name!). He latches on and we ride together to the rest stop at 28 miles. He tells me his dad got a flat and is somewhere behind him. His dad is 72 doing a century ride. That’s impressive. After the rest stop I pick up the rhythm again. The landscape rolls a bit here. With the low clouds, sometimes fog, there isn’t much to see. I start thinking of the purpose of the ride: the cure for diabetes. Several friends and family members suffer or have suffered that disease, including my mother. I pass the time paging through fond memories of my mother who passed away two years ago (just a few of these memories you can find here). And my cat Squeak has diabetes too.

I come past a farm. The owner put a sign on the side of the road: Barrels For Sale. This makes me chuckle. We should send some to BP.

At the Lakeville rest stop (mile 60 or so) I see Gary, Dwight and Larry assisting Larry repairing his flat. Gary tells me the rest of the group is waiting at the top of the hill. I have mixed feelings about this. It is great to see the team and ride with the group but the pace is guaranteed to be murderous. But hey, I’m here! Let’s roll! With the flat repaired we ride up the hill to the group, down the other side. At the bottom we turn right in order to go down one side of Conesus Lake and back the other. The pace indeed shoots up. Till then my ride’s average was 19.2 mph. This is going to pull it up quite a bit. I tell myself I’ll try to stay with the group till we swing around the far end – about 8 or 9 miles.
Halfway, the paceline is moving between 24 and 27 mph, Dave behind me calls out “Slowing!”
A typical warning to cyclists behind you that there’s a significant drop in speed.
I look at the riders in front of me; we seem still to be pacing along nicely, thank you.
So I ask Dave: “Are you sure?”
“Yes, “ is his reply, “I’m very good at distinguishing between 26 and 25.5mph.”

On the other side the road rises up. Two riders from a group we caught earlier are in the middle just ahead of me. They slow down but don’t move to the side. One says: “I got a flat” but they still stay in the lane. This creates a gap of about 50 yards with the group. I think about standing up and riding to them but decide that racing down one side of Lake Conesus is good enough; don’t have to do that too on the other side. I drop the pace coasting back to the rest stop at Lakeville. Okay, coasting is perhaps a bit too much credit: I’m very tired. First Ed then Ginn pass me but it’s all good. I catch up at the rest stop. They have sandwiches here, yummy! I notice that everybody looks tired. While it’s delightful sitting on the chair, after I finished my lunch I get up. I want to ride on before my legs get too stiff. Otto thinks so too. We get our bikes, are about to roll, when I notice I have a flat tire. I use a certain word to capture my, ehh, disappointment. I get the rear wheel out, sit down on a folding chair to perform the repair. The group is ready to go. Ed calls back if I want them to wait. No, please go and ride on. Very unlikely that I’ll hold a back wheel.

With the repair done the route goes to Avon. After a mile or so the road goes up a bit to the I-390 overpass. Right there I’m being yelled at: Peter’s got a flat and the whole group is there. While Peter repair his tire a cyclist with a very nice TT-bike comes walking up the road. He’s got a flat too but no pump. Guess that didn’t fit the aesthetics of the bicycle? We lend him one of ours. He pumps air back in the tire. But only few hundred yards later he already pulls over: with a puncture, just pumping the tire doesn’t get you far.

I let the group go wanting to pedal my own, slower, tempo. After a few turns the road will take us into Lima. Just a mile or so before the village there’s Jack&Jill’s Inn. Their sign always makes me smile: Spaghetti Our Specialty, since 1947. After 60 years you do get really good at it. Just past the inn Larry and Ginn are on the side of the road: another flat for Larry, his third. I stop too. Ginn and Larry seem to have matters under control but I don’t mind the break. We roll on through Lima on our way to Honeoye Falls. And just on the other side of Lima Ed is on the side of the road: yes, a flat. A sweep&safety car stopped here too. They have a good foot pump. Larry takes the opportunity to get more air in his tire than is really possible with our hand pumps. A cyclist we just passed stops too and takes out his front wheel: another flat.

From there our group of four actually makes it back to Mendon Ponds Park without further incident. A nice touch too: at the finish line a group of enthusiastic people clapping for and cheering each rider. One by one we find our cars and change out of the wet cycling gear. Then strolling back to the field where the tents are. Dave Lamb did such a good job with the team that the level of fundraising awarded us with our own tent. Everybody hangs in their chairs. There are some conversations but there are also a few nodding off. Peter and Michael look remarkably fresh as if they mere did a little stroll in the park. We finish the day sipping and toasting champagne courtesy of our team leader, mr David Lamb.

The flats notwithstanding and the tired legs notwithstanding, it was a great ride and a great event. Very well organized. All the rest stops were great especially the sandwiches at Lakeville.

Wherein the true meaning of “tomorrow” is revealed

Apr 04, 2010 in Cycling

tomorrow2.jpgAfter yesterday’s geeky day at RIT (BarCamp Rochester, talks ranging from how to hack the phones in the elevators at RIT to needing more technologists in politics – see my work blog) today is again a day of cycling.

First of all the Tour of Flanders is on! The all-knowing site points to a site streaming the live broadcast of a Spanish tv station. With’s live ticker in another window I have perfect coverage of the race. I watch Cancellara and Boonen sneak away on the Berendries and then Cancellera drops Boonen on De Muur. 15 Kilometers remain. The guy in front is the time trial world champion. Boonen is riding in his home country, in the Belgium national champion jersey, he’s won this race twice before but will need to settle for second best this time. The way Fabian Cancellara rode away on De Muur was impressive, he didn’t even get out of the saddle, just pedaled away.

That done it is time to get my bicycle ready. Yesterday at RIT while catching up with email I had seen an email exchange between David, Sara and others discussing a ride tomorrow from his house. A 1:30pm start and a slower 30 mile ride. With riding to his house and back that would make it around a 55-ish mile ride. Nice distance. Some determined scrounging through the email archive digs up his address and I am off. Google Maps suggested down East to Main and then along Chili Ave all the way. That didn’t sound like fun; instead I go down Elmwood, pick a bit of the canal path and then let Paul Road take me into Chili village. There is a bit of head wind but perfectly on schedule at 1:15pm I arrive at Chateau Sorrel where Duc David kindly welcomes me garden tools in hand and informs me that tomorrow was yesterday.

This tomorrow-thing stumps me. The day indicator comes up in conversation most often yet no calendar shows when it is. Reminds me of Umberto Eco’s The Island of the Day Before. The story is about a sailor getting stranded on an island in the Pacific Ocean and it is also about the 16th-17th century frantic competition between the sea-fearing nations to find a method to determine longitude. Well, as it is an Umberto Eco novel there are as many story lines in the book as you like. Anyways, while stranded on the island the sailor tries to understand the emerging concept of time zones and so the island visible on the horizon to the west is imagined to be in the past, or of the day before (time equals longitude in case you’re lost on the connection).

But back to today which, dear reader, we just learned is not tomorrow. David gives me some ideas in what direction to continue my ride. I set off. I used to do this more often but haven’t in quite a while: ride without a route planned. It is a lot of fun. I make it a “let’s turn right here, go left there” kind of ride. With a GPS on the handlebars this is a little less Lewis and Clark than in centuries past but in our modern times one does what one can. I make a broad sweep around RIT and Mendon Ponds Park eventually returning within the safe borders of Rochester City.

Another favorite book by Umberto Eco is The Name of the Rose. A bit like after The Da Vinci Code was published there were theories abound regarding hidden messages and symbolic meanings of the story. Some time later the author answered in an interview why he wrote the book: “I wanted to kill a monk.”

But, beloved reader, we digress once more. Let us return to today and remember that tomorrow is yesterday.

(Note to self: when reading emails discussing plans for ‘tomorrow’, check the time stamp…)

Soda can roller derby

Mar 18, 2010 in Cycling

sodacan.jpgTaking advantage of the wonderful weather this week, I slotted a little bike ride into the schedule today. Along East Ave to Pittsford, through Mendon Ponds Park and back via Clover to East Ave and home.

On the decline to the 490 underpass on East Ave the passenger in the car in front of me throws an empty Red Bull can out of the window. It lands in my path on the road bouncing around. It bobs to the left, I weave right. It weaves right, I bob left. Then it leaves an opening on the inside and I skip past!

At St John’s College I take the turn to the right towards Pittsford Village. The road here rises a bit, I look up and see a cyclist near the top a 150 yards or so ahead of me. I return my gaze to the road 8 or 10 feet in front of me. A bit later I happen to look up again and the cyclist is right in front of me! He’s riding against traffic. I gesture that he should be on the other side of the road and veer around him.

I pedal through Pittsford, make a left on Barker Road and turn right into Mendon Ponds Park. A couple of deer are lounging beside the road. I nod to them in a most courteous way. They stare back. That’s all I get for crying during the Bambi movie?

I pedal through the park turning right onto Clover. This road rolls nicely up and down, and if the wind is right then you can coast along quite wonderfully. I roll down towards the junction with Jefferson Road in indeed beautiful style. I am dressed all in blue, the bike is shiny red. My feet are level, my hands relaxed under in the handlebars, my elbows straight beneath my shoulders, my back flat. Just before getting to Jefferson there is the junction with Tobey. I have a green light. Across the street is a female road cyclist in a bright yellow wind jacket. She is waiting to cross Clover at the pedestrian crossing. Ehh, waiting? No. She looks right at me and starts to cross. I come at the junction at around 30mph. We make eye contact. Surely she’ll avoid a collision course. She smiles and keeps going. I hit the brakes, swing around her. Possibly certain Dutch words escape me.

At the end of Clover I turn left back onto East Ave. I arrive at the traffic lights just before the 490 underpass together with a commuter on a mountain bike. “How ya doin’?” he says. “Nice weather, huh?” I say. The light turns green and he takes off fast in a very small gear, rapidly shifting up. He has one of those small mirrors attached to his helmet. He keeps checking that mirror to see if indeed he’s putting daylight between us. Sneaky to use one’s mirror for such a purpose!

I pedal on completing the 0.75 miles along East Ave home to Brunswick Street without anything untoward happening.

“Oh so now my lane is good enough?”

Oct 24, 2009 in Cycling

Today featured the Canandaigua – High Tor club ride of 60 miles in length. The weather forecast wasn’t all that good but after Thursday’s movie (Ride Across The Sky), I was going to ride no matter what.

Even while I loaded the bicycle onto the bike rack, packed the bag with all options of cycling clothing, laid out all the food goodies on the kitchen island the evening before I was still late getting underway. Among others things because I forgot that I needed to gas up the Mini. So a few minutes before 9:30am I was really underway (after collecting the McDonald’s breakfast and filling up the Mini) – not a lot of time to get to Canandaigua. All goes well until reaching the toll gate at Victor and I-90 – because of road works a little traffic jam has developed. While the delay is not huge it is enough to make me late for the 10am start.

At the toll gates for the Canandaigua I-90 exit there are two lanes. I first choose the right one. There are four cars in each one so it was a toss up. However, my lane is not moving at all and the cars in the left lane swiftly move through their gate. So I check the mirrors and change lanes. When it’s my turn to hand over my 20 cents the attendant grins at me: “Oh so now my lane is good enough?”. Guess he’d seen me switch.

Getting to the starting point it is really starting to pour down. Bob Cooper, the ride leader, is there to sign riders in but he’s not riding himself – wise man! I sign the ride sheet through the window of his car. He tells me Jeff and Larry are the other two riders; they already started as I’m late getting here.

I wait out the pour down by making my final preparations – putting on cycling shoes, stuffing the back pockets with all the ride goodies, rain jacket – in the car and get underway when it is just raining.

The first part of the route goes down the east side of the lake so that’s easy enough. Things start to get more entertaining when turning off East Lake Road and getting to the climb up Newell Road. My cycling computer illustrates its sense of humor by recording a 1% incline. I am meanwhile in my lowest gear and struggling to keep my breathing in check. At the start of the climb the Garmin GPS records 970 ft of elevation and at the top 900 ft. Oh the joys of climbing up a near vertical wall in changing barometric circumstances!

The rain has stopped and a few miles further on the fast decline down West Avenue towards Naples the sun comes through. I pull on the brakes – and am reminded that new brake pads aren’t perhaps such a splurch as one might think – to take off the rain jacket. Then a right turn onto Parish Street where near the bridge I nod courtly at a couple of hunters in full camouflage regalia including their rifles. I admit I like my meat but their Saturday afternoon is just about killing for fun and spare me all the self-justifying arguments. Those just remind me of the Japanese and their excuse to hunt whales for scientific purposes. Grrr… okay, okay, back to the cycling.

At the end of Parish Street I resist to just go a little to the right and visit Monica’s Pie shop, instead left towards Naples. A few minutes later I come past the sign that always make me smile: “Welcome to Historic Naples!” As opposed to the one Italy founded, ohh, some 2800 years ago? Nevertheless, it’s a nice little town and the convenience store we always stop at makes a fair cup of coffee. Jeff and Larry are here. Jeff is adjusting some of his spokes. They came loose on the Newell climb. I go inside to get that cup of coffee and a peach pie. It looks like Jeff and Larry have been here a while. It may be sunny now but we’re all still wet from earlier so I urge them to get going and not wait for me.

A couple of minutes later I push off as well. The route takes us up CR 53 and then left onto CR 21. I quite like that climb – one that I’m always able to warm up to after the stop and develop a nice pedaling tempo. Jeff and Larry turn onto Basset Road just ahead of me. I’m lucky because I was so steadily turning the pedals around on this climb that I would have missed this turn off if they hadn’t been in sight. Larry is riding a time trial bike and turning around a big, Ulrich-like, gear. That couldn’t have been easy on Newell and that’s not going to be easy on Sliter Road.

Jeff and I chat a little before I pedal on. The left turn on to Sliter Road arrives and I go almost straight from a 50×12 gear down to 34×26. This time the Garmin bike computer feels more cooperative and enthusiastically reports a 15% incline, then 17%, 21% and even 23%. While I admire the device’s desire to be part of the effort, 23% and even 21% is just not true. No way I turn around a 34×26 gear on that kind of incline. On Newell I had a hard time controlling my breathing. That goes better here but in the second half of the climb I grind to a halt and have to walk up the last 50 meters.

At the summit I get on the bike again, click in the pedals and look up. Oh, lovely, Vagabond Inn is here… This is where Rachel and I celebrated our last anniversary a year ago in August. I believe we both made our best efforts but I think we both knew in the backs of our minds that it was not going to last. One anecdote may illustrate the odds stacked against us. We had brought a bottle of our favorite champagne (Veuve Clicqout) which our host kindly put in the communal fridge to cool. When the evening came which we planned to spend sensually and romantically in the bathtub overlooking the valley it appeared that other guests had taken our nice champagne. So instead of toasting ourselves and sipping our favorite bubbly we did have the long necked glasses but with water in them…

Alright, back to the cycling. I turn right on Shay Road and start a windy, fast decent. A few times there are side gusts that attempt to throw me off the road but I’m not much bothered. On the other side of the valley it’s up Route 364 that the three of us came down on the way out. My legs are still hurting from Sliter and it takes some revelations and fiddling with the gear lever before I find a nice rhythm. The next climb, Bare Hill Road, goes easier.

Dark clouds start to gather above and ahead. They seems to be all talk and no play and so I cruise back to Canandaigua without needing to reach for the rain jacket again.

After loading the bike back on to the rack, changing into dry clothes I swing by Starbucks (Tall Vanilla Latte, please) at the far end of the parking lot before driving back to Rochester.

The curious mind of this cyclist

Oct 19, 2009 in Cycling

curious1.jpgThis weekend featured two rides: circumnavigating Keuka Lake from Penn Yan on Saturday and a 28 mile ride from Black Creek Park in Chili on Sunday. Friday evening at the RBC Volunteer Dinner I queried a few of the fellow fast friends to gauge interest in the Saturday ride. Responses were lukewarm which was already more than could be said of Saturday’s weather forecast: cold and wet. I wasn’t too convinced of the weather either but looked forward to the exercise and was probably going to ride anyways.

Saturday morning it didn’t look too bad in Rochester and the detailed forecast gave a 50-50 chance of staying dry or getting wet. Good enough, I felt, and put the road bike on the back of the Mini. First stop the McDonald’s on East Ave for breakfast number 2 and a medium coffee. Then switched on TomTom to navigate to Penn Yan and cued Tinariwen on the iPod.

TomTom routed me via I-90 and Geneva which is longer but could be faster than via Canandaigua. Coming up to the Manchester exit on I-90 I changed my mind and decided to cut through from there to Penn Yan. This was perhaps a less than ideal spur of the moment. It took TomTom quite a while to give up on insisting I make a U-turn back to I-90 and instead calculate the alternative route. So I lost some time here and I was already short on time to make to the ride’s 10am start on time. Whether it was this, the weather or something else but I found myself in a bit of an odd mood. I became mischievously intrigued in the concept of getting to Penn Yan just a little late so I would miss the group start and ride by myself. Having some difficulty finding the start location in Penn Yan, this plan succeeded in rather a natural way and I pulled into the parking area at 5 minutes past 10.

Looking around it seemed I needn’t have worried one way or the other: I recognized none of the few parked cars so it seemed I was the only one to show up for the ride. While there was rain on the way here, it is now very calm weather. Entirely overcast but very little wind and no rain: the wind jacket instead of the rain jacket.

The route is pretty straightforward: along the lake to Hammondsport and back along the other side for a total of about 45 miles. Quiet roads, mostly flat, plenty time to look around. A lot of houses, cabins and cottages for sale along the lake’s coastline. Especially real estate agent Mark Malcolm II (the “the second”-part assumes me) is very active. A few have sold or are sale pending; good for them. There are some very nice ones but also a few that may rather benefit from being thorn down and rebuilt. Close to Hammondsport there is a mobile home park with some of those candidates for sale.

I turn through the village and continue the ride now on the other side of the lake. Here the hillside seems to block whatever little wind that was there and so even smoother pedaling. Last year the road here was closed and I was directed up the hill. For a moment I consider doing the same detour but I don’t feel like climbing. Earlier this season a club ride cam along here too. I smile when I see again the pink mobile home that we teased Paul about, how it matched so nicely with his pink Pedaler’s club outfit.

In Branchport a right turn and the last 10 miles or so back to Penn Yan. Here apparently the local bike club has rides along this road what with writing on the shoulder that a sprint is coming up. No line drawn though so I assume club riders know where the sprint finishes. Here the road calmly climbs up then resulting in a big gear run down into town. Back at the Red Jacket park where the Mini is waiting no sign of other cyclists so I guess I am the only one to do this ride. I am quite happy to be back. While it didn’t rain during my ride, the roads were wet. I didn’t bring my booties and so my feet are wet and very cold. But I did bring dry socks. Before driving back I jump into McDonald’s to pee, get a Quarter Pounder and a coffee. Observing the clientele and the working staff I can’t help but thinking that Penn Yan, or at least its representation here, is not the pinnacle of intelligence.

With the support of Mickey D’s calories and caffeine I drive back home. At the I-90/I-490 toll booth I smile at the impressively painted nails and pierced tongue of the attendant.

Sunday features the so-called Fall Foliage Tour from Black Creek Park in Chili swinging past Mumford and Scottsville. Noting the 28 miles distance and the mostly flat profile I predict a fast ride and so put the rear wheel with the 11-23 cassette on the bike. Dave volunteered on Friday to lead this ride. This seems to me an implicit good weather guarantee that he provides for rides he has signed up for. Always wonder what recourse he offers if it happens to rain on such a ride? But behold, the skies are clear and blue. So different from Saturday.

I drive into the park behind Jeff. It is full of parked cars. Hadn’t notice them before but there are two soccer fields and both are in use. The parking lot where we are meeting does still have a few empty spots. Dave rides into the park and I also see Bill, Bill, Sara, Donald, Ginny and Bob getting ready. This indeed promises to be a fast ride. There is a new member, joining in for his first club ride. He attended RBC’s open house in July. Guess he doesn’t much like summer weather with waiting till now for his first ride… Anyways, welcome, welcome!

I try to convince Dr Bill of the joys and pleasures of the Tuesday Night winter rides. He listens to me all the while shivering in his yellow wind jacket. I am not sure I am successful.

We pull out of the park. I trail at the back of the group first observing what pace we’re settling at. I was looking forward to a speedy ride but my legs are rubbery and I feel a little lethargic. Keeping an eye on my cycling computer I see the average speed climbing up to 18, 18.5 and 19.2 mph for a little while. So we are going at a respectable pace so perhaps the feeling in the legs isn’t entirely misplaced. However, I carefully and skillfully avoid coming to the head of the group until just before Scottsville. On the few hills that are on the course I am happy just to dangle at the back. Bill, Sara and Dr Bill all power forward on several of the short climbs. I have for a change no trouble resisting the temptation. On South Street or on Union Street I get dropped on the climb there and with the cross wind it takes quite an effort to get back to the group. Maybe that was a necessary effort because a mile or two later I’m pedaling much easier.

We return back to the park. Past the entrance we all drop to cruising for the 300 yards or so to the parking lot. Seems we are all tired and Dr Bill correctly concludes that we haven’t seen any foliage, only the rubber of the wheel in front of us.

2009 Cobbs Hill Cyclocross

Oct 11, 2009 in Cycling

09cyclocross.jpgThis Sunday morning saw another installment of the cyclocross race in Cobbs Hill Park here in Rochester. Sadly – well for me that is, don’t think the riders minded – it had been much too nice a weather the last few days so no heroic muddy pictures for me.

Still, it is a fun race to watch. The course has technical sections through the trees, fast parts, the climb up to the reservoir and then the descent back. The course was a bit different from last year: the route up the hill was harder and there was a sandy section that was not there last time. Those few zigzags through the sand caused a few problems for many of the riders.

Paul, Cliff and John of RBC fame were riding, the chap from the Towners bike shop entered (don’t know his name, he looks just like my nephew Martijn though), and Shana together with a few others I recognized from the Tuesday Night winter rides.

A few like Paul did both the Masters race and the Open Men’s. Madness, I say, but he seemed to enjoy it.

Each year (this is the third time) I think I should join in. But each time I think of this too late before the event leaving me with no time to practice a on the mountain bike. Which reminds me that I do need to check on that bike. The TNUA rides have started!

The pictures are in the gallery.

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