the start of ski season, yes, really!

OK. I declare Dec. 24th my "official" start of ski season 2010/11.
In previous posts, I declared the start of ski season in stages.
Stage 1 was the ski expo
Stage 2 was the Warren Miller film.
Stage 3 is getting our skis tuned up (with coupons from the ski expo).
Stage 4 was a false start for me. Jiminy peak sent out emails on the Saturday after Thanksgiving that they had 6 trails open (for all practical purposes, 1) for $35! But it was too crowded, too narrow and too icy. After an agonizing 1st run, I hurt my knee and went home defeated.

However, yesterday Mrs. MTBMan1 and I went to Windham on our free Warren Miller vouchers along with our son Josh, 30, who is up from Baltimore visiting for the holiday.

Worked out great. Windham was the only hill in our usual roster of possibilities that did not start their holiday rates until Dec. 26th which made using our freebies possible as well as a reasonable rate for the 1 ticket we had to buy.

And the conditions were just about perfect. Little to no waiting on the lifts, good snow for the most part, especially later in the day and blue skies. Temps got up to about mid-20s I guess although we did see some water dripping off the lift towers in the afternoon.

Trees looked like they were coated with powdered sugar against blue, blue skies.

And I still know how to ski. Hooray! My best 1st day ever. I dove right into it with no severe warm up problems. No shakiness or weakness even though I ill-advisedly did a very hard workout at the gym on Tuesday from which I was still very, very sore.

So we have 1 full week to recover because next week is school holiday and the prices are too rich for our blood. Next likelihood will be Butternut or some other hill with $20 or $25 mid-week tickets the week after next.

Even though we haven't had any big snow around here, the mountains have got a few inches and the temps have been cold enough that they have been able to crank the snow guns around the clock. So conditions are good. Now if they can only hold!

Start of Ski Season ... Phase 2

The second big event of ski season prior to actually skiing is the Annual Warren Miller film.
Warren Miller has been making full length feature ski movies for over 60 years.

It's an exciting event for all the ski/snowboard junkies, everybody hootin' 'n' hollerin', fist pumping, euphoric recallin'.

Filming is done in well known ski areas like Chamonix, France and Alta, Utah but the kicker is the unlikely and exotic locations. Places like Antarctica, Iceland, and Western China.

But the big draw are the free lift tickets. For $22 admission you get 1 or more free lift tickets. That easily covers the cost of admission.

The first time we went, several years ago, we got free tickets to Killington ($79), Mt. Snow ($72), Stratton ($67) and Windham ($48). $266 worth of lift tickets for $22!

Since then, the deal has got progressively less great. This year only 1 outright free ticket to Windham and 2 for 1 deals at Killington and Pico. But it's still a bargain.

I have to admit, I'm disappointed that the ski areas have backed off from their freebies. Stratton used to give away 15,000 lift tickets every year up until last year. My wife and I would each get one.

I suppose they have to make their money. Was it really hurting them to give these tickets away? Or is it just the big corporations that own them now can't bear the thought of it? I can't say. I wouldn't want to be responsible for a ski resort! The amount of money that goes out every day you make snow and run lifts, the liability insurance must be tremendous. And the risks here in the east especially with the weather!

Now that I'm hooked, I suppose I'd go regardless!

the start of ski season

Yes, I've been skiing already but I'm not talking about that. For Mrs. MTBMan1 and I, the official start of the season is the Albany Ski and Snowboard Expo in November.

The cost is $8 but in previous years we bought them ahead of time at the local Hannaford Supermarket for $6. This year they were only selling at the door because the 1st 400 to purchase tickets at the door got a free lift ticket. Several local areas were participating and we got tickets to Plattekill.

Also, you get a book of coupons which includes some 2 for 1s for local ski areas. The first year we went Windham mountain offered a freebie but not this year.

The other thing we go for is a discount for ski tune up, edge sharpening, hot wax and stone grind, which we got. $20 at Plaine's in Schenectady.

I also won a ticket for night skiing at Willard Mtn. which I have never been to before.

That's our official start of the ski season. So now how about some snow?


Yes, I know, I've been derelict in my duty. I haven't written anything since way back in October. Mea culpa! Lazy.
I have thought of a few good reasons to write but nothing inspiring enough to overcome my inertia.
Until today that is.
Get ready.
Yes, they finally did it. I've been waiting for 2 years.
I'm sure you don't remember unless you are a local rider but I have complained in past posts that they have been paving back roads all over the town of Bethlehem for the last 2 years but not Hurst road which was definitely one of the worst if not THE worst road in the county! (Tygert Rd. is pretty rough but and least it's consistent and it's not in the town of Bethlehem). My big gripe is that they paved roads through developments that didn't really need it and neglected the rest of Game Farm Road and Hurst.
But they finally did it and it's wonderful.
The thing is, no matter which direction you approach it from there are some pretty good downhills and you can and you certainly want to get going pretty quick. But it was so rough and inconsistent too so it was kind of dangerous. You could get into a bad rut and get into trouble. There were no actual potholes but a lot of patches and wide cracks almost big enough to catch a skinny tire.
One time one of my computer sensors got shaken loose.
So wow, it was pure joy today. It was hard to realize I could go as fast as I want, I'm so used to going cautiously.
Hey, I guess you have to be a rider to appreciate this! ;-)

Reflections on a life

Last week, Monday, Columbus day, I rode with Charles. We went out from my house a little after 7AM. It was about 40 degrees.

The previous Saturday, we attended a memorial service for our friend, Tom Little who was killed by Taliban militants in Afghanistan in August while returning from performing an eye clinic in a remote area. Charles shared as a friend from the podium.

Needless to say, the service and Tom were still fresh on our minds as we rode today.

We rode up Derbyshire Rd. and So. Clarksville Rd. which is the first big hill I rode with Charles a couple of years ago when we first started riding together. I was remembering that and how intimidating it was for me at the time. You know how you are climbing a hill and encounter false peak after false peak. It's so discouraging. This hill was like this. Finally I thought, "I won't keep looking at how steep the hill is ahead or how much there is to go. I'll just look at Charles' wheel, and if it keeps turning, I'll keep pedaling. I'm on your wheel, Charles." And that's how I got through it.

When reviewing Tom Little's life at the service, we saw a man who's life for the past 30 years was committed to bringing some good to a region of the earth sorely in need of it. I can't begin to imagine the privation and struggle of it. Trying to mend fragile human life amidst so much destruction. His life spoke volumes without anyone having to say a word. The unspoken question to me was "Having seen this, now what are you going to do?"

I'm not going to pretend I could attempt something on the order of what Tom did. This is not to make an excuse, but his was a unique calling. His intelligence, capabilities, personality and faith all came together in a synergistic way to accomplish a remarkable work.

However we can all do something to make the world a better place. We all have a responsibility to use the resources given to us wisely and not solely for our own gain. This is a tall order and not easily accomplished.

It is an encouragement to see someone who has gone before us. If he has kept going through tough, seemingly impossible circumstances, we certainly can keep going in the same direction.

I'm on your wheel, Tom.

fun ride on mohawk-hudson bike path in Cohoes, NY

Today's ride was a little outing on the Mohawk-Hudson bike path from Cohoes to Colonie, NY and back with Mrs. MTBMan1. We brought a picnic lunch. It was great! Really classic, fall day. Warm in the sun. Cool in the shade. Unbeknownst to us there was a marathon foot race today from Schenectady to Albany on the path. The road was blocked with orange cones and we were afraid we wouldn't be allowed up to park at the path entrance but the police let us through. Apparently it was just the tail end of the race.
This section of the trail is especially beautiful in the autumn with a couple of "corridors" arched over with brilliantly colored trees. It's a favorite of ours this time of year.
We rode out about 4-1/2 miles and then back and ate our sandwiches but the yellow jackets came around and drove us out.
It was a refreshing and rejuventating time.

Here's a little video (our batteries ran out and our spares were bad too!)

A little fartlek

Speedplay. I like to do this. Nothing "serious". I might start out a ride as I did Friday with no training objective in mind except to get "some exercise" and enjoy the ride.

But I like to stretch my legs, if you will. Pump 'em. And if I'm not serious about doing a recovery ride, that's what I'll do.

Then when I get warmed up, I'll start hammering. Maybe not flat out maxxed out but getting the old heart rate up there around 85%.

Especially when I do my usual 1 hour 15 mile after work "Dunkin' Donut" route. Because I'm so used to sections that are good for sprinting, I'll usually fall into that if I'm not doing some specific training routine.

So Friday's ride was like that. The weather was great. I wore my RRW4L jersey.

I had a little trouble with shifting onto the small chainring. Need to adjust that before my next ride. Also I wiped but did not lube my chain after riding in the rain earlier in the week (shame!)

Tomorrow (Sunday) will do a ride with Mrs. MTBMan1 and then Monday AM with Charles.

Pushing 1500. Will I make 2000 this year?

Healthy life style or ... Obsession?

3 yrs ago when I started cycling seriously, I put in 4000 miles. The next year, 2000. This year I may not make it to 2000. What of it?
I think initially I expected to exercise enough to lose weight without changing my eating habits. Now that reality has set in I have accepted that that will not be the case.
Unless you are a professional, competitive athlete you will not be able to do that. You will have to eat less to lose weight.
So what's the other reason to ride a lot? The high. It feels really, really good to give it your all on several hours of riding. You get in the "zone" and it seems like you can go on forever. You are a machine with endorphins bathing your brain.
This is where people get into trouble ... with their health, their relationships. They exercise to the point of physical breakdown. Or their relationships go downhill for want of time spent tending to them.
So I guess I'm OK with doing 2000 miles or less per year. But I'm still going to have to reign in my eating habits!

Simple ride

A simple ride today with Mrs. MTBMan1. Just enjoying each other's company and the Native American Summer as it is only in the Great Northeast!

About 8 miles in 1 hour. A recovery ride for me after my 50 on Saturday. I was still a bit sore, nothing terrible, yesterday so this was just the thing to get back into it.

Probably won't ride again until next Monday. We are going away to southern Maine for our 32nd wedding anniversary. I checked out the ride possibilities in that area and while they promote cycling, the roads don't really seem very safe. Narrow, winding, no shoulders and heavy "distracted tourist" or "impatient local" traffic. Doesn't sound like fun.

There is a state forest near there so I think a hike would go great.

Fall is here with a vengeance. Winter is in the air and then ...


Happiness is ...

... a new hydration system!

My old camelbak has sprung a couple of leaks. The drink tube was leaking out the bite valve and the bladder or the cover, I can't figure out which, was leaking like crazy. After a ride with red Kool-aid, I looked like I had poison ivy all over my right arm and leg!

After I posted a video on Youtube of me cleaning my camelbak, a guy from Hydrapak left a comment with a link to a video of how you clean a Hydrapak with a reversible reservoir. That sold me because cleaning the camelbak was a real chore, actually getting it to dry out after cleaning it was next to impossible. By having a reversible reservoir, it is easy to air dry the thing. So I got one and I love it.

They also have a retrofit plug'n'play adapter for the drink tube connection to the reservoir so you can just push a button and it pops out. Easier for filling as well as cleaning. I just ordered one for $5.95. With the Camelbak, the drink tube was glued into the bottom of the reservoir making it impossible to clean that end of things completely.

The model I bought was the "Flume" which holds 70 ounces. My old one held just 50. Most of the models come with the plug'n'play adapter but this one doesn't. While the tube is disconnectable from the bottom of the reservoir, it requires quite a bit of force to remove it so I figured who needs more hassle and for 6 bucks, why not?

Old man, old bike ..

Well, today was the day. Rode the Love146 benefit 50 miler. As far as I could tell, I was the only old timer on the 50 mile ride and the only one with a "retro friction shifter's on the stem" bike. Proud of it too.
I think I fared pretty well. At least I'm happy with my performance. Did it in a little over 3-1/2 hours ride time and averaged 14.4 mph. Good for me on that long of a ride.
It wasn't too hilly although there was a fair amount of climbing. Nothing real steep though.
In fact it was a beautiful route. I hope they use it again next year.
I would say about the first 2/3 of the route there was almost no traffic and the scenery was gorgeous. Fields, woods, farmland, lakes. And it was a perfect fall day. Leaves starting to turn. The temperature in the low 70s.
Part of the ride was a loop in the Saratoga Battlefield park. Just beautiful. Except for the paved road through it, it was just as I would imagine it was in the 1770s.
My friend Brad and his wife rode a tandem with their 2 kids in tow. I have to give them a lot of credit. They were both sick with colds and towing 75lbs of kid. Can you imagine. Needless to say they were fried. We rode in together.
Before we rode they announced they had raised $40,000 for the cause to date with more usually coming in later.
The support was good. Plenty of rest stops. Clif Bars was a sponsor so there was drink, bars and gels all over. Moe's Southwestern Grill provided yummy burritos for lunch.
And the bike performed admirably with no problems whatsoever. No flats, no chain drops. Yoo-hoo!
A successful day!
I guess I won't give up just yet.
Here's the route on

MTBMan1 rides ... an MTB!

Mountain bike, that is.

When I first picked the moniker, MTBMan1, it was because I thought I would be doing mountain biking. #1: I like it. #2: I didn't like the cars and dogs of road cycling.

However, in most cases, mountain biking means racking the bike onto the car and driving someplace.

Road cycling I can do right out my door. And when I have only 1 hour to ride during the week that about settles it. As far as the dislike for cars and dogs ... I dealt with it and it's now no big deal. Except for way out in the country dogs are generally fenced or tethered and the problems out in the country are few and far between. They can be managed. Cars are not generally a problem as long as you avoid certain roads. Personally, I use a rear view mirror because I just don't want to trust my life to the assumed goodwill and common sense of drivers, in spite of the "dork" factor of a helmet mounted mirror. :-)

On Saturday, however, I discovered that my Raleigh needed a bottom bracket overhaul! This 1 week before the Ride, Run, Walk 4 Love benefit ride. I dropped it off at my LBS, Mad Dog and thre proprietor, Matt promised it would be ready for Saturday but what to do about keeping in shape this week?

On to the trusty Trek 4400. This entry level mountain bike that is too small for me but has an extended seat post, is generally only used once a week on bike path rides with Mrs. MTBMan1.
But now it is pressed into service!

You know what? It's OK. Yesterday's ride was hard because it's slower going with the knobby tires and low gearing. Also I'm not used to the wide seat. And there was a stiff headwind on Meads Lane too.

Today was better. I put a little more steam into it and climbed Orchard Hill. I was curious how I would fare with the low gearing. I still worked just as hard but was able to spin up with a higher cadence which is what I was hoping. I also took a quick side jaunt down a power line cut. As it turns out, there is a little trail riding that can be done a short ride from my house without driving out to the Pine Bush or someplace.

My original intent, when I started riding seriously a few years ago, was to road bike during the week and mountain bike on the weekends when I had more time. I may do more mountain biking but I'd like to do it with a partner. My friend Bobby La-C says he wants to buy an MTB and ride with me on some trails over by his house. May happen.

I'm still a little nervous about getting my Raleigh back in time for Saturday's ride. I'm not going to attempt to ride the Trek 55 miles! ;-)

It's Fun!

Biking is fun!
Duh, Dad.
I mean sometimes I can get so caught up in training for performance that I forget that. Every ride has to be a tooth grinding, metal mashing, chest heaving ordeal. This is how you get burned out. Every day like that and suddenly one morning you can't do it one more time. Today I had a "hey this is fun" moment. Usually it's when coasting downhill but not always. Sometimes you get in the zone in the flats or a slight grade and you feel like you could go on forever. Those times are important.

No Big Hills
Today I rode somewhat under 2 hours. No big hills. And it was great. Energizing rather than exhausting. I didn't even want to take a nap afterwards. It was an absolutely perfect day. Temperature not too hot, not too cool. Low humidity. No wind (I just realized)! Clear skies.
Here's the route: Saturday 9-18-2010 at EveryTrail

Maintenance is Constant
I did notice however, a gap if you will, in my pedal stroke. Everytime I went around there was a click, I don't know how to describe it, not audible but tactile, like there was a moment of no load on the pedal. I thought it was just my pedal stroke. Odd. But maybe I had slipped into bad pedaling form. When I concentrated on making smooth circles, apply pressure evenly all around the stroke, it seemed OK. But when I got back home and checked out the crankset, it jiggled! Play in the bottom bracket. A lot! Ungood! Bop upstairs to let Mrs. MTBMan1 know I was back and then off to Mad Dog Bicycles for the diagnosis. Matt is pretty sure my bearings are shot. Bummer! He's going to have to order parts but he promised to get it back to me this week because ...

Ride, Run, Walk 4 Love Coming Up in One Week
That's right. Next Saturday is the 55 mile ride to raise money for Love146. Donate here.
So here I am without a bike to train with. I'm thinking about calling Tommy who last year offered me the use of his Specialized Allez for the ride. I could at least train on it. Maybe I would use it if I felt OK with it. I would need a spare, pump, things like that. Of course I have my mountain bikes to train on too. But they're not as much fun on the road.

Alive Again!

Traditionally, winter is a time of dying, quiesence, retreat and hibernation. But for me, autumn and the onset of winter is when I come alive again. Especially after a long hot summer.

Don't get me wrong. I like the change of all the seasons. That's one reason I live here in the Northeast. I spent 2 years in Atlanta and didn't like the lack of distinction between seasons.

Although I enjoy the comfort of riding in the warm weather, I just plain sleep better and have more energy as fall approaches and we get a few cool days like we have this week.

I took a short ride today after work. It was cool and overcast. Almost like November. Dreamy, melancholy, calm. I wore my long sleeved jersey for the first time this summer.

I felt good about my riding. I didn't do a particularly hard ride, no training objective, but I felt like a competent rider. Like I know how to handle myself gracefully on a bike.

Hopefully I can get a long ride in this weekend. I am training for the Ride4Love on the 25th, fund raiser for Love146, an anti-child slavery organization. The ride will be 55 miles and the route doesn't look too hilly. Rollers mostly. But I need to build up my endurance. I haven't done a lot of rides over 26 miles, a couple recently around 30. Last week's was 34 miles and very hilly!
I would like to do 40 flat ones this weekend on the Mo-Hud bike trail.

BTW, if you would like to donate to the ride, you are more than welcome to do so. I have a goal of $500 and I need $90 more to make it. Click here to donate.


Mrs. MTBMan1 was concerned with my ride on Monday. I was pretty cooked at the end which is not all that unusual for one of my over 25 mile rides but she was concerned that I was unwise to push it so hard considering my age and that I am overweight and have an "apple" shape (pot belly).

Point well taken. While I have ridden up to 75 miles on a ride, the week before I did the mega-hill Sickle Hill Rd. ride, I only did one measly 1/2 hour spin on friday. And then to push it to the max on Sickle Hill ... well maybe I might have popped my cork.

I am trying to train for the Ride, Run, Walk for Love benefit ride for Love146. (which you are more than welcome to donate to here). ;-)

The ride is 55 miles and Monday's was only 34 but as I said contained a mega-hill which I wound up walking but I did max out at 99% of my computed maximum heart rate.

I looked at the route for the benefit ride and it doesn't look very hilly so I don't really need to train for hills just endurance.

So I think I will just train by myself like I did on previous years. I can push the miles on the Mo-Hud bike trail down by the river which is mostly flat and I won't have my super-fit (and young) bike buddies to chase. ;-)

In the meantime ("which is a groovy time" - Jimi Hendrix), I will try to ride at least an hour a day to keep everything tuned up.

At least that's the plan.

I quit!

Well, I wanted to, that is.

Monday, Labor Day, I rode with my friend Brad and his wife (they rode a tandem, minus their kids this time) in the hilltowns of Albany County.

I pumped up my (nearly)flat rear tire, loaded the bike on the rack and headed out west about 20 minutes to Brad's house in Berne.

By the time I got there my rear tire was already going soft. Not good.

So I proceeded to change it. I had a really hard time getting the tire off. Broke my speed lever. Not happy.
Also my Camelbak was leaking sticky Kool-Aid all over me and the bike. By the end of the ride I looked like I had a bad case of poison ivy. And the drinking tube is shot. The interior of the tube is deteriorating and bunches up so I can barely draw on it. I wanted to put it in the garbage right then and there.

When Brad came out and saw me changing the tire, he suggested we take the bike down to his basement shop and adjust the shifting which I had been having problems with the chain getting stuck in the rear dropout.

Brad has a full bike shop and he is a very good bike wrench even able to build wheels. He was trained by a master mechanic and it looks it. He was very fast and very confident and did a great job. He explained what he was doing but he was so fast it was hard for me to pick up all the nuances. I understand the concept of adjusting the derailleur and can do it but the dexterity and speed with which he did it can only come with a lot of experience and expert supervision.

We finally got on the road and I proceeded to drop the chain off the big chainring. In retrospect, this usually happens when I'm shifting up in the front while going downhill. I think I'm spinning too fast when I shift.

I was pretty discouraged at this point and wanted to quit bike riding. Everybody tells me to get a modern bike and I'd like to but there's this thing called a budget.

Anyhow, at about 6 miles we started up our big hill for the ride, Sickle Hill Rd. That's sickle as in the Grim Reaper's tool of choice.

This has got to be the worst hill in Albany County. Can I do it? Not even close! 1100 ft. rise in about 1 mile. Steep and long.

Check it out on the route on Hill Rd. at EveryTrail

I got to the first rise and saw that it kept going up so I stopped and walked it. Good thing I did. There was a long way to go and it just didn't let up. It was hard enough walking it.

After that the trip was OK and I decided not to quit. 34 miles. ;-)

Oh yeah, I ordered a new Hydrapak hydration system which has a reversible reservoir which makes it easier to clean and dry. I'm excited about that.

p.s. Brad and his wife made the whole hill on the tandem

Fed up with the heat!

OK. I know it's just an excuse. And it has never stopped me in previous years but I'm just sick of dealing with the heat. 1 week, 2 weeks, OK. But it's been non-stop this summer. Bring on the Fall and Winter! That's when I come alive.

I last rode on Sunday and it was hot enough. It was a real workout. Partly because of all the hills but also because I haven't been doing longer rides on a regular basis.

The first year I did the 75 mile ride for Love146, I did progressively longer rides every weekend adding five miles each time up to a 70 miler 2 weeks before the event. And that 70 miler covered some of the same roads I did on Sunday. In other words, hilly!

Also I wacked my toe last week and it's still bothering me. Wasn't too bad on the ride but walking is a problem. Hope it gets all better soon.

Now I just checked my rear tire on the bike and ... yup, it's flat. What is it with rear tires? You know what? I'm just going to assume it's OK. That rear tires lose more air per day than front tires. I'm not going to keep changing tubes. It's crazy.

Am I getting old?

Hilly Ride and an Italian lesson

Today I rode with my friend Brad and his wife who are training on a tandem towing their 2 kids in a trailer for the Love146 benefit 55 miler in Sept.

We rode from their house in the "hill towns" outside of Albany, NY. There's no way to ride anywhere out there without encountering some significant hills.

The first was Cole Hill which I had heard about but never done (up, that is. I've gone down it). It is about a 15% grade in sections and fairly long. This was to start without getting warmed up. Wasn't too bad but there was plenty more climbing before the ride was over. That was a hard 30 miles. I'll be feeling it for a couple of days.

One thing I learned. Brad raced for the Air Force in Italy so he taught me how to say "car back" in Italian: Macchina! (pronounced "mah'-key-nah") Or more properly, it's what the Italian riders say when we would say "car back". They're just saying "CAR!"

Dropped my chain into the rear dropout once and off the big chain ring once. Brad offered to adjust everything and clean the chain. I think I'll take him up on it but I want to watch so I'll learn something too.

And hooray! My gps worked properly. Here's the route:


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Coulda, Shoulda

I shoulda taken my gps for a ride today. I didn't because I thought I would just do "Dunkin' Donut" again like I've done all week. But I didn't.

On the spur, I took another route.

I've touted this area quite a bit because of its proximity to so much good country and hilly riding. However, every place has it's limitations and for only having an hour to ride after work every day (at least until the clocks turn back) there aren't too many rides I can take. Especially since I'm kind of particular about avoiding fast roads with big traffic.

It does get boring though so I took a different route and did it in just under an hour (59 min). The first part of the ride is OK. It goes down a residential street and then cuts through a development. Not exactly country but plenty of old greenery, quiet and pleasant. Then there is a stretch of country road followed by "Long Lane". It's not named after a guy named "Long". It is long! ... and straight. Kind of boring and fast 60-70mph traffic. Trucks. Along "Long Lane" is a railroad yard, a plastic plant and a cogen facility. Basically an industrial strip. But it is technically country.

But boy what a headwind today! I normally don't like wind and I didn't particularly today but I didn't really mind it as much as usual. My mind just kind of drifted on Long Lane and before you know it, I was at the end.

Here is the route. I mapped it manually on

Now that I mapped it, I see it's not Long Lane but Creble Rd. Well I'm not going to rewrite this post now! I always thought it was Long Lane. I swear they changed it!

I like it gloomy!

It's been a couple of gloomy days but I like gloomy. Today was especially nice as it didn't rain on me but it was dark gray and perfectly still.

I guess there's a peacefullness and quietude about it that I like. Not that I don't also like a bright sunny day.

There were still a few people out riding but you don't find as many. I like that solitude too. It's even better when it is raining. I used to like to get suited up and walk for miles and miles in pouring down rain. There's not likely to be anyone else out and about! ;-)

I tweaked my high gear limit screw on the rear derailleur a couple days ago because I was still dropping the chain into the rear dropout. Very annoying as I have to take the wheel off to free it.

It's been good. I tightened up on the cable and turned the screw in a quarter turn or so.

So far my rear tire has been holding air too. So far so good.

Sometimes my GPS will put me in Canada but most of the time it's been ok.

Nothing epic today. Usual 15 mile ride (Dunkin' Donut) after work.

I was really going to take it easy cause I've had a big headache all day but ... I didn't. I didn't go all out but I did do a couple sprints. But guess what? No headache.


When I was younger, I used to get up at 5AM every morning to do something. Meditate, pray, practice some instrument.

Now I get up later, have a cup of coffee, sit on the couch with my eyes closed, sip the coffee, make another cup and drink it. Then get ready for work. In between all that I may or may not pray or meditate or read for a bit.

A few years ago when I started cycling seriously I rode almost every day. I put in about 4000 miles that year.

Last year it was about 2000 miles. This year I may not make it to 2000.

Why has my discipline fallen off? Age? Maybe I've given up on some goals that subconsciously drove me.

I didn't ride yesterday because I had a really physically hard day at work. I am a network administrator which is mostly a desk job but yesterday I had an assignment that said I needed to go "move some PCs". In a school district in the summer that usually means to load up some computers and monitors on a cart, take them to a desk or classroom and set them up. What it meant in this case was to load up a few hundred monitors and computers on pallets on a loading dock in the sun for pick up by a salvage company. Then it was unloading a tractor trailer load of new computers. I was totally unprepared for this. I had brought no water and was not dressed for the job. I was thoroughly soaked with sweat and dehydrated by the end of the day. Needless to say I did not ride after work.

On another note, I really like my doctor's scale. At home in my pajamas I weighed 205. At the Drs. office in my street clothes and shoes I was 198. Now a doctor's scale, that's got to be the right one! ;-)

Anyhow, I did ride today. About 15 miles. It was little warm, a little muggy. Overcast. Still. I thought it might storm but it didn't.

Oh yeah. The GPS worked right today. I don't know what did it. I deleted all the stored trips in the blackberry and I also setup a new web filter at work. Let's see if it keeps on working.

GPS ... Fugeddaboudit!

My GPS seems to like to put me in Canada. Today, according to it, I rode somewhere north of the US border above Michigan. Mileage was correct, 22.1, but time was only 35 minutes which gave me a nice average speed of 36 mph. Might be conceivable for Lance or Levi. Elevation was interesting at 2490 up and 4718 down!

I won't bore you any more with this. Yes my GPS readings are off. I suspect it has to do with the fact that internet access through this work provided blackberry goes through my connections back at the office. I think the uploads are getting corrupted somehow.

Rode with Charles today. In the rain. Was nice actually. Made it comfortable temperature wise and it wasn't so hard as to be a visibility problem.

The only thing I don't like is that after about 1-1/2 hours my shoes are real squishy.

And watch those wet brakes! Yowsa!

p.s. I tried something new today. Got tired of my homemade lemonade so I loaded up my bottle and Camelbak with cherry cola and filled one of my pockets with peanuts. Munch 'n' ride. Interesting. But I still missed my Clif Bar!

Got a nice 2 hour ride in today. Not too hot, about 80°. Bike was good: tires held air, shifting was good, only dropped the chain once off the little chainring. No problem.

But the technology! Ai-yi-yi!

First the heart rate monitor dropped out, lost communication with the chest strap. OK. No problem. Restarted it. Then once I looked at it and it was reading 66 bpm. Uh ... I don't think so. After I've been slamming it for an hour? That's almost my resting heart rate when I get out of bed in the morning! OK,mMaybe the batteries are down. But I haven't had it that long and I haven't been riding that much.

Then the computer said my cadence was 104 when I know it was down in the 60s or 70s at least. And it stuck there for awhile. Hmmm.

Then, when I got back the GPS said I had gone to somewhere in Quebec in 2 hours, 930.2 miles averaging 424.5 miles per hour. Pretty good huh? Good thing I didn't get a speeding ticket. But then, what police cruiser could catch me? Hard to enjoy the scenery at that pace! Don't believe me? Check my route here:


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*** sigh ***

Good thing you don't need all those gadgets to ride, eh?

Tire changing ... the bane of my existence

Had another flat tire today that I had to repair before going on my ride. I took the day off from work so I had time to do some wrenching.

As usual, I couldn't find a leak in the tube so I just swapped it out. But why is it so hard to get the tire off. Some people do it with just their hands. Yeah right. I'm struggling with 3 tire levers and it's still a wrestling match. Goes back on somewhat easier.

I stopped off at Mad Dog Bicycles the other day to pick up some Slime® but Matt says he doesn't carry it. Doesn't believe in it. He says if the tube does blow it makes a mess.

Does anybody have any experience with this stuff?

The second worst bane of my existence is shifting adjustments. I've been having problems with the chain dropping off the little chain ring, sometimes even to the outside on the big chain ring, it won't shift onto the biggest cog, and worst of all, the chain drops off the smallest cog and gets wedged in between the cassette and the drop out necessitating removal of the rear wheel to free it.

After I changed my tube today, I put the bike up on the rack and adjusted the derailleurs.

Today's ride was 100% malfunction free! Hooray!

a time to weep and a time to laugh

I've been silent the last couple of days because I have been struggling with something.
If you are a regular reader you know I try to keep it light and humorous and of course, about fitness, particularly cycling and skiing.

I try to keep the serious side of my personal life out of it.

But sometimes you can't ignore the elephant in the room. They say the show must go on but life isn't always just a "show".

You may have heard about the 10 aid workers murdered in Afghanistan. Well the team leader, Tom Little, is someone I have known for nearly 30 years. We've been invited to their home here in Delmar, I have hiked with Tom in the Catskills a couple of years ago and see him and his wife frequently when they are in the states as recently as a few weeks ago.

So you can imagine this has put a damper on my spirits the last few days. I can't wrap my head around this and I can't pretend it's business as usual. My weekend riding buddy Charles was even a close friend of Tom's and he is really broke up.

Yes, Mrs. MTBMan1 and I rode a little yesterday and enjoyed the beautiful day down by the bike path in Albany. But it was a quiet and somber ride as we tried to digest the news.

And yes I rode by myself a bit today and it was a good ride and I thought a lot about Tom and his family.

And that's all I have to say about that.

140 miles per hour

Before my ride today I was going to title this post "Sore calves, slow leaks". I had sore calves, not from cycling, but from painting. At least that's the only exercise I had this week. Mrs. MTBMan1 and I journeyed to Baltimore to visit our son and meet up with our daughter who bussed down from NYC. Our original plan was to travel from Baltimore to Hancock in northwestern Maryland to rent bikes and ride the Western Maryland Rail Trail as a family but son had plans to work on his house so we pitched in to paint his study. I did the cutting in and it was up and down the step stool innumerable times and crouching on my knees on the floor. That's the only thing I could conceivably believe could have made me sore. We never got to the Rail Trail. It was very hot and humid anyway so I'm not sure how much fun it would have been.

As to the slow leaks ... I mentioned in a previous post about my mysterious leaking tire which rode fine one day and was flat in the garage the next and I could not find a leak to save my life. In fact, I reinflated the tube and left it out for days and it never lost any air. So I packed it up for a spare.

But on my ride today, first in 6 days, I used my GPS as usual and when I got back it reported that I rode 69.4 miles from someplace south of Boston, MA to near Durham, NH in about a half and hour. Basically a straight line as the crow flies at an average speed of 140.3 mph. Pretty good for a bike, eh? Must have flown. Perhaps I went into a trance and did a bi-location like superman did in one episode. Cause I thought I was sloggin' it in upstate NY. Who knew?

Or maybe the trip to Baltimore confused the GPS. It got disoriented.

Now my cycle 'puter says I did 21 miles in about 1-1/2 hours. But it doesn't know about bi-location!

The Little Things

One thing I like about cycling is you get to appreciate the little things of life that are really the important things.

Like going past a "cool spot" in the woods where there is maybe a shady ravine with water or a cave and the you can feel the air for a moment as you go by. You won't feel it or care in an air conditioned car with the windows rolled up at 70 miles an hour.

Or wild flowers and scenes like these on todays trip. Mrs. MTBMan1 and I took a short ride with no objective but enjoyment on the Mohawk-Hudson trail segment in Rotterdam, NY just outside of Schenectady. We went from near Lock 8 on the Erie Canal to the Kiwanis Picnic Area a few miles away.

Temps were cool, even fall-like and perfect for leisurely riding.

Pond along the bike path with wildflowers
Black eyed Susan
Queen Annes’ Lace
A tributary off the canal
‘Nother shot of the same view
Check out the bees
These purple flowers were all over

For the Reward

I wasn't going to climb Orchard today. I wasn't looking to do that much work but I started thinking about the reward of Bullock Road at the top. Smooth pavement and totally shaded. Cool. Worth it!

This turned out to be a pretty good ride. It's about the same length as my regular 1 hour-er "Dunkin' Donut" but includes the pretty good hill Orchard Hill and of course the wonderful Bullock Road. It also traverses Meads Lane. It's the most direct route from my house out to the country with minimal suburbs or busy roads.

The only problem with it is that it traverses 3 busy rail crossings so you could get stuck behind a long, slow train at any or all of them. It's all the same track. So if I really need to stick to a 1 hour ride it could be problematic. Nice for an after dinner ride where time is not so critical.

I was dreading going down to the garage to get my bike, half expecting to find the rear tire flat again. It wasn't. Also, the tube that went flat that I couldn't find the leak yesterday, was still pumped up full of air where I left it. Maybe someone is sneaking into the garage and letting the air out of my tires. I haven't actually had these flats on the road, they've all been when I went to take the bike out after it had been sitting for a day or 2.

Here is a picture from today. Sheep on Meads Lane.

Here is todays ride. I need a name for it. Take a look at it. What do you think? Butterfly? 50s eyeglasses? Waterwings? If you can't see the route, go here. If that doesn't work, let me know.


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The Fear

I got the fear.

Fear of breakdowns in a remote place far from help.

I've got 2 cars that are getting on in years and miles, a 96 Camry and a 95 Geo Prism. 170,000 and 203,000 miles respectively ....

and ... a ~1980s era steel 27" friction shifting Raleigh Olympian that keeps getting flats on the rear tire. In spite of new tubes, new tires, new wheels!

I just replaced a tube and when I went to ride the next day the replaced one was flat!

Now, what's got me scared is, flats are a fact of life with bikes. Ok I got that. Should be a no brainer but the tires I have are so darn hard to get off and on. And it doesn't seem to matter if I have new or patched tubes, they all go flat, eventually.

I got this Crank Brothers speed lever to help with removing the tire but it requires so much force to get it started that I'm afraid of slipping and really cutting myself bad or something. Also, it seems to peel off rubber from the tire bead. That can't be good.

If you're really good, you're supposed to be able to change a tire without any levers at all, just your hands.

Well, I can get the tire ON with just my hands but no way can I get it off. No way.

I've wound up using 3 levers to get it off. 2 of the regular kind to get it started and then the speed lever to finish it up.

Then the other thing is my pump. The one I ride with. I'm just not comfortable with it. It seems to only get about 60 lbs of air into the tire. I guess that's enough to get home on. It's a Topeak.

Anyhow, I immersed the tube in a tub of water and looked and looked but I couldn't find the leak! Now THAT'S a slow leak!

I put another patched tube in and went out for another short ride. It was so gorgeous out. I've had my fill of the hot and humid weather.

I retraced the ride I took the other day with Mrs. MTBMan1 which blog I titled "No numbers ... just fun" so I could record the numbers. :-) (voice of Samwise Gamgee to Gollum "You're 'opeless!")

No numbers ... just fun

I told you about my flat. I pumped it up and went for a ride anyhow and it held up for a 20 minute ride.
But I didn't feel to confident about it as far as going out for a couple of hours so I declined my Sunday AM ride with Charles until I could see what was up with the tire.
In the afternoon, I changed out the tube. Boy what a bear that new tire is getting off the rim!
I started out trying to use the Crank Bros. speed lever but it was too hard to pull and it started shaving rubber off the bead of the tire. It was really hot and humid out too. My glasses got so fogged up I couldn't see.

Forget it!

After a nap, I took the wheel down to the basement and worked the tire off using a combination of the speed lever and two standard tire levers. Still was tough!

Turns out the tube was leaking from one of the patches I put on. I patched the patch then put another patched tube into the tire and pumped it up.

Then, unexpectedly the weather got beautiful. The sky cleared up, a fresh breeze started blowing and the humidity went away!

Too good to pass up!

Mrs. MTBMan1 and I decided to take a relaxing ride out to Meads after supper. The air hadn't been this good for weeks!

When I went to get the Raleigh out of the garage .... flat again! Arrrgh!

You know what? I didn't check the tire and the rim for any possible causes like McSween suggested. I didn't get the Slime like I said I was going to do either.

OK. I'm not going to get into it now. Just grabbed the Trek and forget about it.

It was perfect really. A perfect day to just smell the roses with the Missus and try not to work up a sweat. Just what I needed.

No computer, no heart rate monitor, no GPS .... No numbers.

Just fun.

Fed up with Flats!

Today's ride was a real quickie. Didn't have enough time when I got out from work (turns out I did) because I had a church meeting at 5:45.

Meeting got out at 7. Home by 7:10. Then suit up, fill water bottle, strap on HRM, etc., 7:20.

Grab bike ..... errrrr.....

Rear tire flat!

That tire was fine yesterday after I got home from a ride. I pumped it up. Looked OK. I headed out.
Checked the tire once after a minute. It was still hard.

But that's it! Tomorrow I'm going to Mad Dog Bikes and get me some Slime! It's a tire sealant. Some people swear by it. You fill the tire with it and if you get a hole in the tube it's supposed to seal it.


Tire held up fine though it was only a 20 minute ride.

I wasn't totally a good boy on this ride. Supposed to be a recovery ride. I did ride with a lot less intensity than yesterday but still not totally watching my effort.

I fear recovery rides! If I'm logy when I start out I don't really get revved up unless I ... rev up!
I'm afraid I'll still feel logy during and after the ride. Also I get very uncomfortable if I stay in the saddle the whole time.

In other words, it's less FUN! Yikes! Can't have that can we?

Yes, these numbers are pitiful but at least I rode:
Miles: 4.77
av HR: 115
Max HR: 132
av cadence: 78

OK. It's hot.

I don't like to complain about the weather but I have to say after 2 weeks of this hot and humid stuff, I'm starting to get a little worn down.

I rode today for an hour after work and rather than rejuvenated I was very, very tired afterward. But now I think I am dehydrated. I thought I was drinking a lot during the day but after the ride my urine was dark so I guess that means I'm not.

Also, after reviewing my numbers I realize that I rode harder than I thought. My average HR was 137 and max was 165, a fairly intense ride for me on such a hot day.

So, after mowing some lawn (if it wasn't for the weeds I wouldn't have anything to mow!), I shut my eyes for a few minutes and drank a soda and a glass of water. I feel much better now.

I'm just going to give you the link to my numbers today, sweat365 track workout. See if that works for you.

The route is "Dunkin' Donut" which I have published before:

ride Wed. 7/21/2010

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Another Hill

There's nothing quite like the feeling of going down a straight hill with good pavement at 40+ mph after having climbed a long steep and windy one with maybe not so good pavement. It's your reward and it sure feels good.

Especially on a quiet 70 degree perfectly clear sky Sunday morning with no cars!

Finally got a ride in with buddy Charles at 6AM today. Under 2 hours riding time and kind of meandering this way and that across Southern Albany County. A ride I titled because of it's appearance on a map, "Glasses on a Stick". Eyeglasses on a Stick, that is, that have been run over by a truck.

We rode up Blodgett Hill Rd. A new first for me. I have ridden down it a couple of times so I knew it was going to be long and steep in a couple of places.

Hey, you know what? It was no big deal! One steep section but I've definitely ridden worse. Then down Tracey Road, a nice smooth, section where I got coasting about 40 mph. Sheer bliss.

Now on this section of Tracey Road is a former drug and alcohol rehab place for the rich and famous in the 50s. Secreted away here in the boonies when it was not OK to acknowledge your problems in public. The local lore is that Marilyn Monroe spent some time here drying out. This was corroborated by Ken, an 89 year old, still farming farmer and former neighbor of Charles' who we saw outside on the farm today and we stopped to say hi. Ken's life would make quite a memoir. He was in the first wave at Omaha Beach on D-Day and fought in other major battles like the Battle of the Bulge. Understandably, he doesn't like to talk about it.

I have been having some problems with my calves cramping up especially on climbs lately. Perhaps from all the hot weather. But not today.

And my new cassette is running ... oh-so-smooth! I can stand and pedal hard with confidence. It feels so solid! Even Charles remarked how quiet it was.

I have been submitting these rides to Le Tour Challenge and am now ranked 1790 out of 4206. Woo-hoo! I did much better last year where I didn't miss a day out of the 21 that the tour rode. The last stage I rode, Stage 11, I came 789th for the stage.

Oh well, it's just fun, right? Plus, I get entered for some cool prizes including some awesome bikes!

Now, if I could just get up everyday and ride and 6AM, that would be something!

Here's the route! Again, if you don't see the video or if it doesn't work as a link, go directly to my primary blog here.

glasses on a stick

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Why Recovery Rides Fail

A recovery ride.

That's where you recover from a hard workout that damages your muscle fibers. The goal is to get the blood flowing and keep things limbered up but keep the intensity down so you don't damage any more muscle fibers and give the ones you damaged yesterday time to heal.

So why can't I stick to that protocol?

1. competition: a rider passes you. what are you to do? You don't want him to think he's better than you just because you're deliberately taking it easy. You would say, "Hi, I'm doing a recovery ride." but then what if he says "Yeah, me too." So you chase him. Recovery ride failed!

2. discomfort: You need to stay in the saddle. When you stand and pedal you're lifting your whole body weight. Your heart rate will go up and your muscles will not heal. But your butt is sore from so much sitting. So you pedal out of the saddle. Recovery ride failed!

3. speed: Faster is funner. It's fun to go fast. It's boring to go slow. But you need to keep your exertion level down which may require you to ride slower than you'd like. The heck with this. I'm outta here. Recovery ride failed!

4. heat: a corollary to #3. On a hot day, one the great things about a bike ride is that you generate your own breeze. If you are going fast enough, that is. So, you go faster. Need I say more? See #3. Recovery ride FAILED!

5. hills: some day I may be fit enough and light enough to go up the hills around here and not break a sweat but that day is not now. And around here, hills are unavoidable unless you want to ride loops in a parking lot. RECOVERY RIDE FAILED!

........... sigh .................

Well I DID have fun anyway. And my chain slipped off the small cog in the back and wedged up between my wheel and the drop out. You know the drill. I had to take off the back wheel to free it up. I'm so cool.

I made some salty limeade to drink for this ride. Whew, too salty. Especially nasty after all the ice melts and it gets warm.

I chased a bird along the road for a few hundred feet. I think he was playing! Kept right in front of me on the right. Of course he could have gone up and away.

Snuck up on a deer with my new super quiet cassette. He was feeding by the side of the road. Didn't even hear me until I was right next to him. Ha, ha! Good thing he didn't bolt into me!

Actually I didn't see one other bike on the road. The only thing I chased was the bird. But I did get out of the saddle and I did make a breeze! ;-)

So, not a perfect recovery ride but it is what it is.

Av HR 117, max 138, calories 626, miles 9.66, av spd. 14mph

here's the route, if you can't see it, go here:

Meads - Short Loop

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Breeze, that is.

People often ask me "Why do you ride in such hot weather?"

I like to reply that it's one of the best things you can do on a hot day because you bring your own breeze with you. Especially around here where there's nothing that's perfectly flat. It's all hills or rollers up and down. And lots of trees. So there's always shade somewhere.

I rode late today. Right after supper. We had Mexican and I got terrible heartburn on the ride. Also I brought plain water which gives me heartburn, believe it or not. Took a pill and some Tums when I got home.

First ride with my new cassette and it was smoooooth and perfectly quiet. Now people have no warning when I come up behind them so I have to cough or something. ;-) No skipping either.

My left calf was wanting to cramp up which rarely happens to me. Sure it was hot but I've ridden hotter days for hours with no problems. It first happened going up Orchard Hill and then several times after not necessarily when climbing. I tried to some on-bike stretches while coasting on the down hills.

Also on Orchard Hill I caught my computer not registering any movement. Speed says 0 mph and the time and mileage are not incrementing. It's not flashing either like it does when it loses communication with the wireless. Hmmmm.

I called this route "Stingray". It about the same general shape and area as Dunkin' Donut but has a longer tail where the Donut handle would be. Same road just went longer on it.

Here it is:

Sting Ray

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Piece of Cake

When I picked up my new 6 speed cassette from Matt at Mad Dog Bicycles, he expressed concern (mock?) that I was going to put him out of the repair business because I was doing the job myself.

I don't think so.

Replacing the cassette is really a cake job. All you need is the little puller thingy and a breaker bar or ratchet with a 1" socket.

I did this recently when I replaced my rear wheel and again tonight so I'm getting pretty good at it. Only took about 10 minutes. I'm getting better at removing the rear wheel without touching the greasy parts. Almost. The chain still falls off the small chainring and I have to put it back on. No biggie.

I did a little test ride and it seems fine. Tomorrow I hope I will have time for a real ride.

I'm thinking I paid a lot for my cassette, $42. I was looking in the Nashbar catalog tonight and the Shimano XTR 9 speed is $170. Ouch!

Dana and Matt at the bike shop told me I'd love this cassette. It's nice and smooth and quiet. We'll see how it performs tomorrow.

Oh, is going to credit my ride yesterday towards today's 9th TDF stage although they might not allow it to be a verified because the date is different. At least I'll be entered for a prize. I see 2 people from Albany won prizes for Stage 8, cycling shoes and a $100 gift certificate for TwinSix. Not bad.

Back in the Saddle Again

After not riding since Wednesday, I finally got a ride in today after work. I wanted to put in a good effort but it was hot, 90 degrees, so I was a little careful. Not exactly a time trial but not a walk either.

I submitted this one to Le Tour Challenge. They wound up crediting all my rides but one and seem to have made some positive modifications to the site. But I think today was a rest day for the tour. I wonder if they'll apply it towards tomorrow's stage. Probably not. No problem. I didn't ride solely because of that.

It was really great to get out. Like I said it was hot but there was a breeze now and then.

My smallest cog skipped like crazy early on in the ride so I avoided riding hard on it. I bought a new set from Mad Dog and haven't put it on yet. It started skipping right after I replaced the chain. Common problem. The worn chain wore down the cog teeth and now I have to replace the cog. Should have checked it more often. I have the tool. Try to do it tomorrow after work.


I'm a little ashamed of myself (just a little, I'm not too big on self-castigation) for railing against in my last post.

I've always believed that if you stick your head up above the masses you're going to get it shot at by those who aren't willing to take risks to accomplish anything worthwhile, in other words, the critics. I don't want to be a critic of someone who is trying to accomplish something and has accomplished something worthwhile and they continue to try and do so.

I guess it's about expectations. I so enjoyed Le Tour last year that I was excitedly looking forward to it again and when the new interface had some shortcomings I was disappointed. It didn't help my mood that I was coming down with a cold in the middle of the heat wave of the season and was unable to ride as much or as hard as I would have liked.

Their new interface is actually pretty nice. It just had some glitches as any new software development will and I appreciate their effort in trying to improve the site.

Having said all that, they have been making real efforts to try to correct the problems and I see that they have credited me all but one of my rides and put my status at the top of the leaderboard as I suggested so the end user doesn't have to search through 15,000 listings to find their ranking. They still haven't listed my rides as verified because I am using a GPS but as I said, I'm done criticizing.

So hat's off to you for doing what you do.

Kudos also to for a great site and a real service to the fitness community!

Abandoned Le Tour Challenge

I'm very disappointed in and their Le Tour Challenge this year which mimics and follows the Tour de France. I logged 3 rides with a GPX file from software on my blackberry and it's supposed to be considered a verified ride according to rules and none of them show up on the web site.

I really enjoyed it last year when it worked properly and all my rides for the entire 21 days showed up verified or not.

Kind of takes the wind out of your sales when you take the trouble to log the rides and the web site doesn't work properly.


I guess I'm a little grumpy. I'm in the middle of a combined chest and head cold and having to work late on an IT project. Plus we've had all kinds of goofy outages and problems this week to boot. I haven't slept too well, mulling these problems over and over to what end?

Plus it's hot. I don't mind riding in it if I'm not sick. I rode a 100K for Tour de Cure 2 years ago in just these conditions with 3 broken spokes! 7 miles into it somebody said, "Hey, your back wheel looks a little wobbly!" I stopped at the next rest stop and released my rear brakes so the wheel wouldn't rub. By mile 42 the wheel was rubbing on the frame. A volunteer wrench fiddled with my spokes to help it a little and I finished fine. Had a real bad case of hot foot though! I finally got off the bike at about 55 miles and gave my feet some relief for a couple of minutes. That saw me through until the end. Should have rested sooner! ;-)

So ... no ride today, that's for sure. Tomorrow ... doubtful. Maybe something by Sunday AM.

And now that I've got it off my chest, I'll probably give Le Tour Challenge another crack. I'll try logging the ride as unverified and see if that makes a difference.

just to ride ...

I haven't been feeling to well the last couple of days. Sore throat, drainage, blah ...
But I haven't missed a ride day yet.
Thought for sure I would skip it today.
This AM felt completely zoned out, didn't sleep well, etc.
Then had a rough day at work. Wanted nothing better than to slip through the day unnoticed, not wanting to think hard or actually DO anything that required any real attention. But no .... the sky fell.

I could think of nothing but getting home and doing ZERO after dinner.

But actually, as I lay on the couch trying to drift off to never never land, the blue sky beckoned to me. "Just ride, ride" it seemed to say. "You don't have to train, you can just ride for the pure joy of it. Don't have to work too hard. It's hot out there. But you'll feel a breeze you create as you ride and you'll pass under lots of shady trees and feel the cool air as you ride past a little creek hollow in the woods. Ride."

I didn't really feel all that bad and I didn't want to lie on the couch all night and then just go to bed.

So I went. It was pretty hot still (at 7:30PM) and the ride created breeze wasn't all that cool but I'm glad I went.

As my riding buddy Charles says, I've never regretted going for a ride!

When in doubt ... ride it out!

When in Doubt .... Ride!

When I woke up this morning I felt like I had been hit by a train. Sore throat. Just blah.

I had intended to take a 2 hour ride early before it got too hot.

As time wore on it was between no ride or a one hour ride ... or take a ride later. I wouldn't be able to do it until maybe 3:30 or 4. But by then it would be hot.

I took the ride.

Usually I try to ride with Charles on Sunday AM before church but I didn't call because I hadn't decided if I was going to ride or not or when. He didn't call either, it turned out for the same reason.

But about 20 minutes into my ride, on Meads Lane, I ran into Charles riding in the opposite direction. He was just winding down his ride and heading back. I was intending to go another 10 minutes and then head back. He had already done Orchard Hill twice but wanted to go one more time with me so he came along for the duration.

I wasn't sure if 30 minutes would put me at the top of Orchard Hill and it didn't. It put me in the middle. But that was OK. I felt good enough to push to the very top just before the drop off down to Bullock Road.

I told Charles about my indecision to ride or not and he said whenever he felt like that he reminded himself that he never regretted a decision to ride.

Ain't it the truth!

Here is my route. Stats are not worth mentioning.

Orchard Hill and Back - 1 hour

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Le Tour - Day 1 - The Prologue

Today is the first day of the Tour de France and also the first day of MapMyRide's Le Tour Challenge.

It works like this, every day the real Tour rides, you ride. Or as often as you can. Then you submit your ride to the mapmyride website and your entered in a daily drawing for a lot of cool prizes. Somehow, they rank you as if you rode the real tour based on some formula and criteria which are totally beyond me. If you submit a verified ride, i.e. via some GPS enabled device you get a chance to win a jersey based on your performance but I'm not that good of a rider although I will try to submit via a GPX file generated by via my blackberry.

I rode an easy 15 miler today and submitted it the Le Tour Challenge. My new Sigma computer worked flawlessly today. Hopefully I adjusted the magnet/sensor combo correctly and it will stay that way.

I put a new chain on the other day and it seemed to skip a couple of times when pedaling hard in a big gear. Indication that the cog set needs to be replaced too so I had Dana, the wrench over at Mad Dog Bikes order me one. It's hard to get a good 6 speed set for an oldie but goodie Raleigh like mine.

Today was the last good day before the hot and humids begin tomorrow, the 4th of July. Monday and Tuesday are supposed to get up in the 90s.

By the way, the computer said the ride was 15.1 miles, the GPS said it was 14.7 miles and when I exported it to mapmyride it said it was 11 miles!

My stats are:
RPMs: 77
Average HR: 123
Max HR: 142
Miles: 15.1
Time: 1:03
Cals: 960
Ave. Spd:14.26mph
Max Spd:33.7
Ascent:1083 ft

Here's the route:

Feura Bush Loop

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Video premier! Quest for Righteous Pavement!

Finally got a ride in today but my front wheel speed sensor for my new computer was acting up. Those sensor/magnet positions are sure fussy!

I rode an aerobic workout. Three 10 minute hard intervals followed by 5 minutes of easy spinning.

I got my handlebar camera mount reinstalled and took some video of a couple of favorite bits of roller road on the Dunkin' Donut route.

Here is my first roller at the end of Van Dyke before Meads:

This is going west on Game Farm Road before the bridge over the Beaver Dam.

This is going back east over the same section. Check that groovy (smooth) pavement! MMM-MMM-MMM!

If these videos don't play right, come here.

Another First!

No ride again today. Got back from a meeting too late. But I did change my chain! Very important!

When I changed out my wheel yesterday because of a broken spoke, I thought it was a good time to check my chain wear with my handy Park Tool chain checker, excuse me, Chain Wear Indicator.

Well, lo and behold, it failed the test! It was 1% worn which is time to replace!

So when I went to Mad Dog Bikes today to get some spare spokes to repair my now spare wheel, I picked up a new chain.

I believe this was the first time I changed my chain. The new chain as well as the old has a master link which makes it easy to install and remove the chain without a chain tool but I still had to remove one link from the new chain to make it the correct length.

This was the first time I used the chain tool from my Park multi-tool. It worked great. In fact I think I like it better than my dedicated chain tool which is around here somewhere.

My old chain was just absolutely filthy. I have got to get better about keeping that thing clean. I am such a bad boy when it comes to maintenance. I only maintain it when it breaks!

My copy of Zinn and the Art of Road Bike Maintenance recommends wiping the chain down after every ride and lubing it. Then, next am after the lube has had a chance to soak in, wipe it down again before riding. That gets the excess oil off that has soaked through and pushed some of the inside dirt out with it. Just another chore to do besides getting all my gear on, filling my drink bottle and topping off the tires with air. Sigh. Patience is a virtue I am still developing.

I'm quite pleased with the addition of another skill in my wrenching repertoire, though. :-)

Home Groan

Yesterday, rather than do a workout from Dave Ertl, I did a hard workout but a more informal one. This one is similar to the "stop sign" workout where I alternate sprinting between stop signs or intersections and resting between same. This, perhaps, mimics normal riding more than the timed intervals.

Having said that, it was probably a less intense workout than the Dave Ertl ones. :-)

Today, I rode an easy recovery ride with Mrs. MTBMan1. No hard ride tonight. I took a look at that wobbly rear wheel and sure enough, broken spoke! I thought that wheel was only a year old but I bought it after the 2008 Tour de Cure where I rode the 100K with 3 broken spokes! I released the rear brakes so they wouldn't rub. Then at the 42 mile mark, a volunteer wrench straightened the wheel out enough so I could finish by adjusting the tension on the remaining spokes.

Anyhow I don't feel TOO bad. The wheel is TWO years old and I am a little HEAVY and I do ride pretty HARD and it is very HILLY around here and BUMPY at times although they have resurfaced a lot of roads in the last couple of years.

I figured the quickest way to get back on the road was to buy a new wheel, which I did and I switched out my cassette (after taking the opportunity to clean it up pretty good) and put everything back together. Later I'll get some spare spokes and repair the other wheel so I'll have a good spare.

Also it seems my headset is binding (or the bearings are shot). Matt at Mad Dog Bicycle seems to think I should try loosening it up a bit first to see if that helps. A project for another day!

Great Expectations .... minor Disappoinment

I told you that I am a pavement connoisseur and one of my pet peeves is bad pavement that doesn't get fixed when better roads nearby are repaved.

I was very happy a couple of weeks ago when I found that a bad stretch of Game Farm road had been recently paved and was interested in seeing how far it went and if the town also paved another road that I frequently ride that is really bad, Hurst Road.

On my weekday 1 hour rides, I don't have enough time to go further than the railroad tracks on Game Farm and Hurst is way beyond that besides and to check it out in the car would be, well ... how can I say ... uncool!

So that was my objective today. I had 2 hours for a ride before church, 6:30AM to 8:30 and I definitely wanted to check the last piece of Game Farm Road and Hurst Rd. Game Farm road from the tracks to where it ends on county route 308 is only 1/3 of a mile but it is very rough macadam with stones showing. It ends up at about a 6% grade so coming down it you can get going pretty good but it is a bone rattling ride.

Well, they didn't pave it. Boo-hoo. I was quite disappointed.

I continued on up Orchard Hill. They didn't repave that either (it could use it) but they did do some patches. Same thing on Hurst. No repave but a few patches on the worst spots. They could have done more.

Hurst Road ends on Clipp Rd which is actually pretty rough itself but it's more consistent and it's flat. Hurst has potholes and ruts in random spots which makes it hard to cut a decent line through at speed going down the hill which is up to a 7% grade in one spot.

On this ride I also had some trouble with a rubbing sound when I pedal hard out of the saddle on a hill. This was of some concern because there have been only 2 reasons for the rubbing sound in the past: 1. Rear wheel was loose in the dropouts or 2. Broken spokes! #2 is the one I was worried about and the rear wheel did look a little wobbly.

I stopped twice to make sure the wheel was centered in the dropouts and that the quick release was tight. I also did a spot check on the spokes and didn't find any broken ones although I did find some loose ones. That may account for the wobbliness. But it still made the rubbing noise. I finally figured out that it was the brake pads that were rubbing. All I needed to do was either push on the pads themselves or else flick the brake lever lightly to stop the noise. That was a relief. Although I should get those loose spokes tightened up.

It rained a little over half way through the ride. It wasn't supposed to. I guess God should have checked the report before he pulled the lever on today. Ha ha.

Terrific ride. A little over 2 hours and 29 miles. This was for endurance so it was a moderate pace. Average HR was 120bpm and max was 145. Burned about 1300 calories.

Here is the route:

endurance ride Sunday 6-27-2010

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There are two things I dread, income tax time and changing my bike computer.

You may recall I have been having trouble with my bike computer. It keeps counting time and miles even when I stop riding, raising havoc with my average speed numbers. It thinks the wheels are still turning when they're not.

For father's day, I got a new one, a Sigma BC1606 DTS. The good news is, it's a different make and model than my old one. The bad news is, it's a different make and model than my old one. Therein lies the dread. I have to figure out how to install and use another bike computer.

This wouldn't be quite so bad but for the skimpy documentation, another of my pet peeves. It's all done in pictures. What little text there is has been translated into all 42,806 languages there are in the world. I'll be half way into trying to read a sentence before I realize I'm not on the English page.

This model happens to be a wireless one for both speed and cadence so I thought this would make it neater and easier and it does to a point.

It took some prolonged looking, at the components and then at the pictures and then back again. Sigma uses rubber O-rings, essentially elastic bands on steroids, to fasten their components to the bike although, to their credit, they provide the option to use wire ties. And I'm glad they did.
The O-rings are much quicker and easier than the wire ties ... when they work. Plus, if you need to fiddle with the positioning of the magnets and sensors (and believe me you do!) it's also much easier to do.

I hooked everything up and then spun the cranks and the front wheel to test. The cadence worked right out of the gate. No problem there. The speed sensor took a little fiddling to get it to work ... and then it didn't work ... more fiddling. Finally got it and went back inside to read more of the documentation ... how to work the functions. I saw that I was supposed to have used the thicker, more sturdy O-ring for the speed sensor so ... back outside. I tried to get the thick O-ring to fit the groove in the speed transmitter but it didn't seem right so I decided to use the wire ties.

Now of course, it didn't work again. More fiddling. Finally got it. I hope it stays working!

Now I have to familiarize myself with the functions and buttons on the new computer.

More dread.

I hope this thing is worth it!