The cycling season started!

Mar 11, 2012 in Cycling

wpid-firstride-2012-03-11-15-46.jpgThe first club ride was yesterday, the traditional hike along Whalen, Scribner, back up Browncroft. Just 14 miles but sometimes that’s an enormous distance after a long winter. This time of course we are still waiting for winter to start. Today was the Penfield-Walworth ride, advertised as 28 miles but in reality 34. The extra six miles are courtesy of the club included in your membership.

I like the preparation for a club ride, either in the morning or if the ride starts early, the evening before. There is a certain Zen-like quality to gathering the drink bottles, filling the little bottle with Hammer gel, deciding how many energy bars to bring and which flavors, checking that the Garmin is charged, print the map, putting the cycling clothing ready to wear on the chair in my bedroom. This time of the season, and again at the end, the weather can be in that zone of temperature that is hard to guess how much to wear. Two layers and a windbreaker? A hat or just a headband? Gloves? In the morning before the ride I always go outside to measure. Need to throw the catlitter in the dumper anyways.

Yesterday it was cold but quite sunny. Th weather forecast gave a chill factor of a few degrees below freezing. But the short walk outside didn’t feel that cold: two layers plus wind jacket plus gloves. Today it was very sunny and temperatures around 50 but more wind: one layer plus wind jacket, no gloves.

Before yesterday my last ride was on February 5th. Clearly the atmospheric circumstances were different. The Garmin Edge uses barometric pressure to calculate altitude. After switching it on, it calibrates for a bit and then settles on the right altitude (plus or minus a few feet). When the circumstances are quite different from the previous ride then this can take a while but often it catches on after 15 minutes or so. Not yesterday. As you can see from the picture we were only briefly on dry land and for most of the ride well under sea level. Webster is about 300 feet above sea level… The altitude profile also shows a few more hills than I remember from the ride.

The season opener always starts very calmly at a pace of 10-12 miles or so. Until the climb up Blossom Road and then things pick up. They did now too. After the turn onto Scribner three of us had pulled the group so much apart that Otto could be heard saying: “Let’s slowdown and let Paul catch up.” Shock! Horror! We dropped Paul? What kind of cycling season is this going to be?

With riding to and fro the start my mileage was 24 miles. Small change you keep in your car for tolls once the season is well underway but my legs were tired and I was pleased to be back home for the post-ride opportunity for a little nap with the cats.

This morning my legs felt quite good. I could feel yesterday’s ride but no real stiffness. I rode to the start at the high school in Penfield. A large group was there, about 30 cyclists or so. This ride’s route is tricky and not one of favorites. Five Mile Road at the start of the ride is a bit busy and requires extra caution with everybody still together. We’re not as diligent about this single file stuff as we should be. But after the right turn onto Whalen and then a short distance further the left hander to Jackson we are out of the way of traffic and on quiet country roads until the return leg after going through the Walworth village. The official route takes us along Route 441 which is busy with heavy traffic, has narrow shoulders with putholes and debris. We took the scenic route back via West-Walroth and Sweet Corners Road. My, what are the two climbs on Sweet Corners steep when on the second club ride of the year! On the first I was crawling along in the lowest gear.

After the smalltalk in the parking lot after the ride Otto and I rode back together. Otto slipping in a few extra miles by going around the bay back to Irondequiot.

Back home I delighted the cats by opening the balcony door and giving them their first chance of fresh air and stare at birds and people outside for the first time in months. It’s barely mid-March. I am still convinced we’re going to get a few nice snow storms. But not this week according to the forecast.

Around the Public Market

Feb 26, 2012 in Photography

wpid-Tracks2-2012-02-26-11-02.jpgIn the eight years or so that I’ve been here I still have to visit the Public Market. Yesterday’s photo excursion doesn’t count as I was there mid-afternoon and so too late for the market although there were still a few vendors going strong. Instead the focus of the trip were the buildings and train tracks in that area. Combined with the strong winds and the drifting snow I was hoping that it would lend itself to photos with some character. Whether I succeeded you can assess for yourself in the gallery.

These photos were edited on my iPad with Snapseed. I am falling love with that app! Nik Software now also released a Mac OS version of the app.

To pick up from the previous blog entry, I found a new home to display the photos. As mentioned, Apple is discontinuing the MobileME Gallery and so I was pondering what to do. I do post on Flickr as well which is nice for getting comments and ratings on my work but I don’t really like the display options there – it is very cluttered. After some searching and browsing I came upon smugmug.com. It has similarly nice presentation options as MobileME has (or had), it integrates with Aperture, it looks nice on iPads as well. So, onno.smugmug.com will be new photographic home. Let me know what you think?

Yesterday and Friday evening were also productive times for another hobby: the web site for the Day Rides program, now renamed to Impromptu Rides: impromptu.onno.com. In two or three days time we will launch the new version I’ve been working on for a few weeks. And I made good progress on the Club Rides app for the ’12 season as well! I should be submitting the update to Apple today or tomorrow – a few loose ends still to tie up.

Hurt So Good

Apr 03, 2011 in Cycling

wpid-rideseason-2011-04-3-17-20.jpgThe cycling season has started. Actually it started a few weeks ago because the RBC schedule said it did.

I’ve done 6 rides so far most of them windy and chilly. Although the rides yesterday and today were much warmer than those a week ago. Having been grounded for two months with a sprained ankle after an attempt at cross country ski, and not having done much exercise for the few months before that, I’m only slowly getting back in shape. For the first time ever I gained weight this winter and had to loosen the belt a notch to keep things comfortable. Embarrassing.

But, we’re back riding!

Yesterday was RBC’s Two Park Tour ride (aka number 123), a favorite of mine because it was the second ride I did with the club after moving here. And everybody remembers their second! I like it because it can be a fast ride, it has some hills and some descents, it goes over quiet roads. Yesterday the wind was blowing hard from the west meaning that the first half of the ride would be work but the turning point near Avon was a blast. Wind in the back and rolling hills with stretches of false flat in the good direction. Around 20 people showed up for the ride which is a good number early in the season. Almost immediately after the start I decided to let the fast friends go (well, not much of a decision to be honest, they were going too fast) but after a few miles we settled with a group of 4 or 5 riders.

Today the route took us the other way around. The wind was a bit less but still very present and towards the end the two steep climbs up Stony Brook waited for us. While my legs were pretty tired after the ride yesterday, I felt pretty good today. While I ended up behind the fast group early on due to the need to take off my wind jacket, I managed to close the gap. That gave me a 19.2 mph average for the first half hour, something I knew I couldn’t sustain. Shortly after rejoining the group we came upon some short hills and I swung off the back. What I did notice while in the group that Gary “I’m going to take it easy today” was riding ahead of the group. Such certainties make one smile.

In the short season so far many of the Fast Friends have made appearances. Uncle Jules has been riding well, Spinning Ginn put in valiant efforts. Cold Hands Tom rode well last Saturday on the loop through Bristol and Honeoye. He wore inner gloves and his motorcycle gloves and still had cold hands. How is that possible!? The Pink man rides strong, of course. Saying things like “I brought my slow bike”, as if that makes a difference. Miss Giggles, of whom it is rumored that she does own a bike with gears, has so far preferred to conquer Parrish, Stony Brook and other steep climbs on her single speed. The Honorable Donna and Don managed to both ride today with Donna having the right cleats. Sara rides no matter what, feeling sick or having sore knees, and will still make sure she gets to the top of that hill before you, thank you. Engineman Otto has been making sure to get the miles in, already riding to the rides. And Mark seems to have a had a good winter, lost weight, looking good. Even Pencil Legs Dwight was there today. He’s possibly the only cyclist with thinner legs than I have.

Some of us are still slowly awakening from hibernation. We have not yet spotted Edward The Fast, welcomed Dr Bill to a ride, seen Dennis (both of them), nor Wayne (O Wayne, were art thou?). But I’m sure they’ll come and play with us the next weekend!

Club Rides 2011

Mar 08, 2011 in Cycling, Technology

wpid-clubrides-iPad1-2011-03-8-10-18.pngThe new version of my bike ride scheduling iPhone app, Club Rides, is up in the iTunes App Store.

It has native support for both iPhone and iPad. In addition to the new schedule for 2011 there are several other enhancements:
– Faster launch time
– Displays the club’s RSS feed for club news
– Share your favorite rides via email (facebook and twitter to come in an update)
– Send the rides you plan to do directly to your calendar
– Tap the ride leader’s phone number to call

To enable posting your rides to the calendar on your device, tap the Settings icon in the top right corner of the screen and select which calendar you want to use.

On iPhone to show a map with the starting location of the ride, tap the starting location in the ride view.

Club Rides comes preloaded with Rochester Bicycling Club’s schedule. It supports other clubs, like Northern California’s Western Wheelers, as well. And it can support your club by using the customization guide. If you like to make Club Rides applicable to your cycling or hiking club then I would be happy to assist you.

(this post is a little late – couldn’t log in for days – called in my host’s customer support and lunarpages came through with flying colors – thanks guys!)

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:
“Yes.”
“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 BikeJournal.com, Garmin Connect (it sucks: a technical term indicating low quality and entertainment value). Bruce found a new one: RideWithGPS.com. One reason why Garmin Connect uh well sucks, is that after they bought Motionbased.com (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.

Club Rides app now in the iTunes Store!

Mar 11, 2010 in Life

mainscreen-2002.pngRun over to install Club Rides on your iPhone or iPod Touch!

Club Rides helps you keep track of your bicycling club’s activities, see the yearly schedule of rides, keep track of your participation and mileage, view elevation profiles, and map the starting location.

You can view your rides by schedule, by distance, by starting location.

More information is on my Software page.

Club Rides comes pre-loaded with Rochester Bicycling Club’s schedule but can be easily customized to show your club’s schedule.

Go on, make me rich. It’s okay.

“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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