Wednesday update

Todays ride:
Decent morning today although a bit chilly, 30ish. No prob. Dressed for it. It was great to get back on the bike after 2 days off. Took my usual 10 miler up along Meads Lane. Has a couple of nice short hills and Meads Lane is flat farm country with views of the Helderberg escarpment. Very serene and peaceful in the morning. I'll tell you those hills seem like nothing now compared to Sunday's ride!
I was psyched cause I averaged over 13 mph today compared to 10 mph in the past. I wasn't really trying to work out in a particular heart zone. Just rode like I felt like riding although I did wear the heart rate monitor.
Was hoping to bring the bike to work and get to ride during lunch hour but I didn't have time to get it all together and still get to work on time. I'm also a little worried about the Raleigh hanging down too low to the ground on my current bike rack. I might be able to get away with taking the front wheel off as the back wheel is hanging a little higher because the top stay is resting on the rack.

Hand update:
My hand is getting incrementally better. The swelling has gone down, the pain is less and I can grip more. Biking not a problem at all.

No word on the x-rays yet. Life is good!

Bike update:
Got a good pump from Mad Dog today. My old one let more air out trying to get the fitting on the valve than I put in pumping! Got to keep those road tires pumped up.
Switched the computer from the Ross MTB to the Raleigh. Much easier the second time around. The sensors on these things are very fussy with positioning. It's OK when you know how to finesse 'em. Also took me a couple of tries to get the right size cable ties to attach it. Works great. Although, if the positioning shifts so that it doesn't work I may put a dab of hot glue on the sensors to keep them in place. The cable ties aren't quite as secure as the screw clamp type.
Took off the kick stand to save weight. Charles suggested I remove the safety bar brake extensions for the same reason. They don't seem very heavy though and I kind of like having them. We'll see.
Finally, I took the toe clips and straps off the Ross MTB. They just don't make sense for me. I think the Ross will be my get around town and do errands bike. You know, hop on without changing clothes or shoes and drop a letter in the mailbox or return a book to the library.

Hope to be able to ride tomorrow morning. Supposed to be in the high 20s!

Sunday's ride and the Killer Hills - Part 2

The second "half" of the hill was certainly more climbing than I have ever done in one day. It just seemed to be one hill after another. The thoughts "I'm not going to make it" and "I really should quit, I'm going to hurt myself" and "I'll kill you, Charles" tried to enter my consciousness but I banished them! I told Charles later I never would have done it on my own. I wanted him to think well of me. I do not want to be thought of as a quitter. Also, looking up one hill after another, each one seemingly steeper than the last, was demoralizing so I just looked at Charles' rear wheel ahead of me. As long as he kept moving, I kept moving. Finally, the road levelled out and we passed a cell tower, as Charles said, a sure sign that you're at the high point. I was positively ecstatic that i had done it and so glad that I didn't quit! During the climb I was wishing I had eaten some Clif Bar before but it was too late then. My calves wanted to cramp up at a couple of points but never did. Good boys! As promised, the ride down the other side was as spectacular as the ride up was grueling. Panoramic views of the Catskills and of course, all downhill! :-)
I was a little worried about my fanny pack as it had come loose once before and wedged between the rear wheel and top stay, stopping me rather abruptly. At that time, I wasn't going very fast and nothing bad happened but flying down this hill it would have been disastrous. But it was fine and I checked it at the bottom where Charles and I stopped for a Clif Bar before turning on to another road. Everything was a cakewalk after this! I was so glad to have done this ride. Turned out to be a perfect day. Temps just right, no wind, clear skies, ride companion, real road bike, sense of accomplishment: I can do it!

Sunday's ride and the Killer Hills - Part 1

Rode 30 miles with friend Charles on Sunday. I'm ecstatic. Rode the "new" Raleigh and it performed flawlessly! Charles met me at the house where his wife dropped him off with his bike and riding clothes. He needed his tire pumped up as he had just bought a new tube that morning but my pump did not have a Presta adapter. So we rode by Mad Dog Bikes and used Matt's pump to pump up both of our tires. That was good cause mine needed air too. My floor pump does not work too good. I need to get a good one like Matt's with gauge attached.
I followed Charles' lead. He had a ride in mind that he'd done before which would end up at his house. Then he would give me and bike a ride home. The first leg I was familiar with. Down Van Dyke past the high school then down Meads Lane and past Five Rivers environmental center. Then we took the dreaded Orchard Hill which I have frequently come down but never gone up. I started it once last year when I first began riding again but quit almost immediately as being too hard. I was riding my rigid fork, fat tire Ross MTB then. As I've now got a road bike and am much fitter and Charles said he has done it, I thought, why not? This time I skipped a gear right in the beginning when standing up to pedal so I had to stop. I pushed the bike a little to a slightly less steep spot and finished the hill from there. So I didn't do the WHOLE hill but it still felt like an accomplishment. I wouldn't have done it by myself. I saw my highest heart rate ever to date, 171, on that climb. My supposed maximum HR is 175 according to the age/weight/fitness based formula on my monitor. So that would be 98% MHR! I had forgot to start my chronometer on the HRM until the middle of Meads Lane so I was off to a bad start as far as getting an accurate average heart rate and calories burned count. After Orchard Hill, the riding was pretty easy until county route 109. Just before we started to climb, we stopped to read a historical marker on the Onesquethaw Reformed Church building. It quoted the Scripture: " The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone." The church was built from stones rejected in the building of the Erie canal. Likewise the farmhouse we could see on the other side of the road. I stopped my chronometer here and forgot to restart it when we continued. We started to climb up county 109 and Charles pointed out to me a spot near the bottom where a super-fit fellow church member, older than either of us, had a serious bike accident at about 40 mph. He was not sure what happened but the front wheel started to wobble and then .... wipe out! He broke his collarbone.
We came to a decision point. Charles said we could continue on straight which was the end of the serious climbing or turn right and continue up to a spectacular view. He said we were about half-way (yeah, right. try 1/4 of the way and the hardest climbing yet to come!) I felt pretty good so I said sure, let's continue. Onward and upward. .... to be continued!

Raleigh Olympian - Pics. As promised!

Raleigh Olympian - Pics!
This is my new used Raleigh Olympian which I got from Mad Dog Bicycles, my neighborhood LBS. I replaced the original pedals with clipless Scotts from my MTB. The originals looked great but I just gotta have the clipless for riding!


The close-up focus is a little fuzzy. Got to work on that.




This is the 555SL cro-mo steel. Supposedly lighter than the SP. Bike weighs 26 lbs.


Raleigh cranks


I like this quick release lever on the front brake. Don't have one on the back though.


It says Suntour on the shifters. Can't see cause of the fuzzies.


Stem


Diacomp brake levers


The number you can't read after "12 speed" is 38-108. Is that the gear ratio range?


Suntour derailleurs






Hand update and new Raleigh

OK. Hand is doing much better. Still hurts all the time but I was able to ride the bike today and that's what counts! ;-)
Had x-rays done yesterday. Won't have the results till next week although the doc thought everything looked good as far as her exam went. She said if it still hurts after a week they may have to take another x-ray because sometimes hairline fractures won't show up right away. Then they would have to put me in a cast. Really don't want that as I am now pretty functional.
Rode the Raleigh today 10.3 miles. It went pretty well. The ride is smooth and quiet. Everything working good. I was concerned about not having a granny gear but I actually went up the hills on this ride easier and with a lower HR than on the Ross MTB. Maybe it is lighter (I weighed it at 26 lbs) and because of the skinny high pressure tires. I was pleased.
Later today I put my clipless pedals on it. Next, I have to switch my cyclocomputer from the Ross to the Raleigh. Then maybe tinker with the seat height a bit and that should do it. I'll get some pictures up here soon. I would like to get a 45 miler in tomorrow. We'll see what the weather is like. I bought an O2 waterproof top this week and some Pearl Izumi socks which are great.

Endo!

I did an endo yesterday while testing out my "new" used bike. My fault. I was totally distracted trying to figure out the shifting, looking down at the derailleur when I suddenly came to the end of the street and decided to make a u-turn. I was going too fast and when I realized I wasn't going to make the turn, grabbed the front brake. Unfortunately, the brakes are so much better than what I am used to on my other bike that I stopped rather abrubtly and went over the handlebars. As I looked down at the ground coming up at me, I saw my left hand hitting the ground and the fingers bending over backwards the wrong way at the knuckle. My first thought was, "BROKEN!" My second thought was, "Oh no, I just got these pants," but they weren't ripped where my knee hit. (My skin was though!)
I got right up and boy did that hand hurt! I should have walked the bike back to the shop but I rode it anyway. I don't think the hand is broken, I can move all the fingers without any sharp pains but have no gripping strength. I have to drive using the heel of that hand like a suicide knob (remember those?).
Got home and took some vitamin I and iced the hand. It hurt real bad but got better real quick. Probably sprained. This AM there is slight swelling, not too bad, and very slight bruise between the thumb and forefinger. I AM able to type but not grip anything. Better go to the doc's and get a script for an x-ray. I wanted to get my shoulder checked out anyway. Hope they don't tell me not to ride the bike. (Bzzzt! INCORRECT! Try again).
By the way, I bought the bike. It's a Raleigh Olympian. Sweet! Pics later.

Thursday's my "rest" day at the gym

My wife laughs that I call it a rest day when I go to the gym or ride the bike. But what "rest" day means to me is a day that I don't hammer it and just take it easy. Today was such a day. My average HR was 94 for the half hour upper body "workout".
For my ub workouts as you can see from the numbers, I REALLY take it easy cause my upper body has always been weak since child hood and I have never really overcome it. I am prone to all kinds of injuries up there; golfers elbow for example which took me 2 years to get rid of and still flares up mildly on occasion. Right now I have a problem with my right shoulder which I have been avoiding going to the doctor's about (rotator cuff?). I'm afraid he's going to tell me to stop riding the bike (wrong answer!)

My "new" used bike update ....

I think the Kabuki is out of the running. Matt, owner of Mad Dog Bicycles, my local LBS (yeah, I know, that's redundant) didn't get to checking out the weird random noise cause he's been swamped with repairs and new bike sales. It's that time of year for bike shops especially with the great weather and lousy gas prices. I should have done my bike deal in the winter when Matt was twiddling his thumbs but I didn't have the money then. Anyway, as I was waiting to talk to Matt, I took a second look at the Raleigh that I had rejected on first try earlier cause I thought it was too small. It really didn't "look" too small this time. It turns out it is a 59cm which is ideal for me. I had thought it was a 54 for some reason. I test rode it again. I think the reason I thought it was small was cause the seat was angled down and also needed to be pushed back on the post. It's a nice riding bike and feels pretty solid. No funny noises. The shifting front and back needs tweaking and Matt says that it has the wrong cable clamp on the rear derailleur cable. He couldn't find one there at the shop but said he had one at home so I will check in tonight and hopefully can ride away with it. I'm really excited about riding a real road bike. I'll see if I can live without a granny gear here in the foothills of the Helderbergs. ;-)

Rampin' it up! But not TOO much!

This week the weather around here (Albany, NY area) has been like southern cal; 75 deg, clear and dry, nary a cloud in the sky. Very hard to stick to one ride a day. Mornings are getting lighter earlier and temps are moderate. Of course, I can't stand staying inside the office on lunch hour so bringing the bike in for a ride down by the Hudson river is a must! Plus, buddy Brad suggests it might to time to ramp it up so I thought, "Well, I'll just double my training volume; 2 training rides a day instead of just one". Yesterday, I was scheduled to do a light intensity ride so I did it in the morning and then again in the afternoon. No problem. Today I intended to do the same thing with my higher intensity ride but I remember I read somewhere that you need to be careful about ramping up training F.I.T.; Frequency, Intensity, Time (duration). I think the number I read was no more than 5%/week. I'll track that down. But especially for us over 40 fellers (I'm 60). Plus I haven't been sleeping too well since the weather change. We close the bedroom door to block noises but the air gets kind of stuffy and it's warmer but I like to sleep with some kind of cover on and I haven't put the A/C in yet. So I find myself awake a lot and thrashing around trying to get comfortable.
Anyhow, back on topic. I DO like to ride. So this noon-time I'll try to do a recovery ride instead of 45 minutes in the 70-79%MHR range like I had originally planned and restrain myself from looking at the numbers too much although I WILL record my miles. I want to get my credit you know! ;-)

"FUN" ride is hard!

I figured I'd do my "training" ride at lunch hour from work today but I wanted to get out this AM too cause the weather is so nice (got to grab it while you can get it here in the Northeast!)
So, OK, I'll just do a fun ride. Take it easy and not look at the numbers on the gizmos. Easier said than done when you are performance and achievement oriented! I like to know how I'm doin'.
The hardest number to not look at is my cadence cause that's the biggest number on the display of my computer. I did peek at my HR from time to time too. I'm glad to see that my HR is down these days. On my first steep but short hill I have seen up in the 150s in the past. Today it was 131 at the top. Also at the start of my ride, I saw some 70s. As I've said in previous posts, I used to get in the 90s just getting off the couch! :-)
On my hardest hill of this loop (I call Meads Lane Loop)I have seen my highest HR # ever, 165 (I'm sure that's not max tho). Today it was in the 140s. All good.
Fringe bene: On Meads Lane I saw a pile of lumber by the side of the road with some new 2x4s in it. I have been looking for some 2x4s in the cheap to free range in order to build a workbench which I saw some great plans for on the web. So after my ride I went back in the car and picked them up. Ain't life grand?
Not so grand: My cyclocomputer is definitely acting up. After the ride, I pulled it out of it's cradle on the bike and it was still counting up miles. The ride was 10.3 (I know from past experience) but it now says 13.699. Also it says my max speed was 69.8 mph (I don't THINK so!) That's a grrrrrrrr!

I get high ...

Sunday AM. I'm sitting here on my couch, legs outstretched, enjoying my second cup of coffee and reading AARP magazine and I'm thinking how good I feel right now. Totally content. A slight somatic buzz in my quads and shoulders. Which makes sense as I rode my bike yesterday (quads) and am still tingling from my upper body workout at the gym on Friday (what are those muscles on the front of your shoulders?; and pecs). Too bad so many people look at exercise as drudgery. It's like doing drugs with good side effects instead of bad! Ain't it great?!

Kabuki - Vintage Bike or Japanese Theatre?- Part 2

Here are the pics of the Kabuki. I haven't bought it yet. Matt, my LBS guy, let me borrow it for the weekend to see if I like it. I dropped it off for him to look at cause it's making a clunky noise like bad wheel bearings. Otherwise I like it.
Notice the price tag




Check out those funky bar end shifters!


Cool name plate


'Nother view of the name plate and the funky shifters




Heart Trouble!

Specifically, I'm having trouble keeping my heart rate up where I want it; at least at the beginning of a ride. I guess that's a good thing. It means I'm getting fitter.
On my ride this AM, I decided not to worry about my cadence but just about keeping my heart rate in Zone 3, that is, 70-79%MHR.
Usually, if I check it and it's about 130bpm, I don't have to worry about keeping it there for 30 seconds or so but this morning I went from 135 down to 120 in about 5 seconds of slacking off and it wasn't like I stopped pedaling, just not hammering it. I decided I'd better keep my cadence up there in the 90-100 range. That's a better way to ensure that my heart rate stays consistent. Also, when warming up, my HR is sometimes below 80 which was impossible when I started riding. I used to get in the 90s just getting off the couch! I suppose that's progress! :-)

Kabuki ... bike or Japanese theatre?

Well, I'm talking about the bike here. I'm looking at a used Kabuki at my favorite LBS, Mad Dog Bicycles. I really need a road bike but am not ready to shell out the big bucks for a new one. I tried a few used ones ... a Nishiki and a Raleigh both 54 cm. and definitely too small for me. I was avoiding the Kabuki mainly cause I'd never heard of it and it had these really weird shift levers on the ends of the handlebars. After I decided that the first two were too small, Matt, my LBS guy suggested I try the Kabuki. I actually liked the feel of it and it fit me much better. I really want to get something more modern, lighter with indexed shifters but it's hard to find used for $400-450 which is what I'm willing to spend. I keep checking Craig's list. I let a Trek 2000 58cm get away for $450. It's not there any more.
I did some web research on the Kabuki and it's actually a pretty good bike. Some people that owned one or still own one rave about it. Built well although with some unusual construction. Mainly a unique method of lug welding and a seat post that uses a wedge to bind it because the aluminum lugs are not flexible like steel lugs. The main "con" that I found was that it is heavy. The "pros" are: it fits, has a solid feel, and the price is right ($159). Matt said he would put shift levers up on the stem for me. I would definitely want to put my clipless pedals on it and maybe change out the seat. Or maybe I'll just keep checking Craig's list. :-)
I'll let you know!

Longest Bike-Path in the US

Well, one of the longest or so they say. The Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail runs approximately 35 miles from the Corning Preserve on the Hudson River in Albany, NY to Rotterdam Junction just west of Schenectady.
Here is the North-South section from it's start in Albany north to Cohoes.

Here is the East-West section from Cohoes to Rotterdam Junction:

This Sunday, as is my custom, I took my "long" bike ride of the week. I am working up to a half-century and beyond. My last longest ride was 35 miles. I had hoped to do 40 on this trail Sunday but didn't have enough time. I wound up doing 30.
This trail is a great resource for me. It's mostly flat so it's good for heart-rate and cadence training. Much of it was uncrowded and there are many scenic vistas along the way. I routinely ride the south to north section (about 12 miles round trip) on my lunch hour at work but have never explored the rest of it.
Sunday started out a little unsettled. It sprinkled a bit in the beginning of the ride from about 1:40 but dried up nicely as the afternoon progressed. As I said, it's mostly flat along the river but there are a few good hills which I hammered trying to see how high I could get my HR. The trail passes the Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory and a GE facility. I would like to have taken pictures but in these post-9/11 days I'm afraid the guards at the gate would have come rushing at me with guns drawn!
I thoroughly enjoyed this ride and am excited about exploring the rest of it. At some point I would like to do the whole thing out and back; a total of 70 miles. Here are some pics which I DID dare to take! ;-)

Typical trail shot near my start point:


The Cohoes section has a few of these metal culvert type tunnels under the roadways


This is the Thadeus Kosciuko Bridge over the Mohawk River (mercifully referred to locally as the "twin-bridges")


Typical scene along the Mohawk River


This is called "Lock 7". The path runs along the old towpath for the Erie Canal system


The bike path is mostly asphalt paved so it's good for road bikes and skinny tires


This section is between the atomic power plant and lock 7 looking east

Ski Monday! Stratton, VT. Last day of the ski season!

As has been our custom the last two winters, Mrs. MTBMan1 and I went skiing on Monday. Sadly, this was the last day of the season for us. So it is with mixed emotions that we skied our final runs on Stratton Mountain in Vermont. Monday was a mild and sunny day so the snow was softening up early. We arrived about 10 AM and finally got on the lift before 10:30. There were only 2 lifts running that day. American Express, which takes you half way up. Then ski across the mountain to Ursa Access which takes you the rest of the way to the top.
For our warm up run, we got off American Express and skied back down, bypassing Ursa Access. The snow was quite soft and deep already and getting fairly wet and heavy. For our second run, we went all the way to the top and conditions were much better. It was absolutely gorgeous at the top; a winter wonderland. The trees laden with fresh snow. It looked like the deep of winter but was close to 40 degrees. It's very picturesque up there with all the signs pointing out the trails and lodges; like a little village on top of the mountain.
We took the trail "Mike's Way", a green trail on the west side of the mountain; a short, slightly uphill hoof from the lift unload point. "Mike's Way" was lovely; still perfectly groomed and little traveled it seemed. Then we merged into "East and West Meadow" a wide and slightly steeper trail which also was still in good condition. After the "Meadows" it got a little cruddy again but this run really made the day. We did another run, had lunch and went back up but by this time conditions had deteriorated to the point that we called it quits. The crud is very tiring for us and why do it if you're not having fun? Our very last hill on our last run we paused and sang "Auld Lang Syne" to bid adieu to a wonderful season! Here are a few pics. Unfortunately, my camera was set wrong from a wedding we did a week before and I didn't realize it (it's impossible for me to read those LCD menus in the bright sunlight) so most of them didn't come out very good. They just don't do justice to how beautiful it was up there at the top. Here they are!



That's me.
















Oh, well!

shoes and pedals

I got shoes and clipless pedals from Craig's List. Paid $20 total. How cool is that?
The shoes are Shimano. As near as I can figure out from current catalogs, it's a general purpose shoe that goes for about $60. The pedals are Scott. It caught my eye on Craig's List cause they were my size (48). The guy was available and I was available, we met and did the deal within the hour. I love them.
Here they are:

Yes, I know, my bike needs to be cleaned!

The Fraternity of Suffering

Having just got done grousing about (perceived?) elitism amongst cyclists in my last post, I would like to, perhaps, offer some justification and even admiration for a particular type of exclusivity amongst serious riders.
A blog that I like and follow, "Jeff Kerkove, Endurance Mountain Bike Athlete", recently posted a series about an endurance race of 100 miles, the Moab Rim Ride. Jeff actually came in 3rd on this race only because of a mechanical breakdown and 2 of his teammates placed 1st and 2nd. What pertains particularly to today's post, though, are a couple of riders, Adam and Tom, referenced in Jeff's blog, who did not finish high in the rankings but posted inspiring stories of how they struggled to just finish and spurred each other on. In the comments for each of their posts, I noticed how much praise and encouragement they got from other riders and it occurred to me that in certain instances respect must be earned and it is right that it is so. In this case, fellow riders understand, as only they can, the suffering and ensuing mental struggle that must be overcome in many cases just to finish such an undertaking as an endurance race. Similarly, in the book I just finished, Heft on Wheels by Mike Magnuson, the author, even though 5'10" and 255 pounds, eventually gains the respect of fellow cyclists because he just WILL ... NOT ... GIVE ... UP!
These riders all earned their way into the Fraternity of Suffering!

Not one of us!

On my Sunday ride, this week, I encountered many cyclists as it was a perfect day for biking. I always make it a point to wave at other riders as I pass them. Maybe it's just me but it seems like the more "serious" appearing bikers were less inclined to wave back or show any recognition or friendliness whatsoever. What I mean by serious appearing bikers are those who have the expensive bikes and gear and look pretty fit and trim, perhaps racers. I don't mean to generalize because there are exceptions and maybe it's just my own insecurity. As a matter of fact, what I noted on Sunday was that out of maybe 5 or 6 serious appearing bikers only 1 responded or seemed friendly and that because he was stopped looking at a map and I asked him if he needed help with directions as I passed. Everytime that happens, the Peter Gabriel song runs through my head ... "Not one of us, not one of us, no, no, not one of us!" I guess what I'm really thinking of when I say serious appearing is elitist. So I'm thinking, when they look at me, an old bearded guy, with my "mountain" bike and funky clothing is that I'm just a recreational biker or perhaps some poor schmuck who can't afford a car and too far beneath them to acknowledge as a human being.
I hope I never get like that after I win the Tour de France! Ha, ha!

Sunday's 35 mile ride

Sunday, I rode my longest ride yet, 35 miles. You see, I'm training for a half-century on June 8th by increasing my weekend "long" ride by 5 miles per week.
Yes, I know this is not a long ride by most of you experienced rider's standards!
I did my favorite 25 mile Sunday loop plus an extra lap of my 10 mile daily ride.
It was such a beautiful, wind-free, sunny day and I felt so good near the end of the 25 mile loop that I decided to go ahead with the extra 10 miles.
I pushed it a little harder than usual too. Stood up in the saddle more and used higher gearing on some of the hills.
I love that 25 mile loop. It has enough hills to provide a good workout but doesn't have any long, killer grades that grind me down. It's scenic and varied enough to be interesting. It provides enough variety of terrain and scenery to have many good milestone markers to look forward to. Much of the ride is through very low traffic rural areas. I may not see a single car for many miles, especially because it's Sunday.
Still, my average speed was only slightly above 10 mph! I'm trying to get up to "touring" speed, 14-16mph so I can do some group rides with the local bike club. I'm riding a relatively heavy cro-mo steel rigid "mountain" bike with knobby tires. I'm hoping to be able to get a road bike soon and that that will enable me to improve my speed significantly on these rides.