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?