15. April 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Cycling · Tags:

 

Feeling good at Battenkill

 

When I lined up with the Masters 50+ field at Battenkill this Saturday, I knew it would be hard . . .for everyone.  Without excessive details, and after a good night’s sleep and a gentle recovery ride today, here are some thoughts:

  • This is the second time that I’ve done the race.  And yes, it is a sufferfest, but a great one.  A well-organized, well-marshalled affair and certainly a hard distance that if nothing else is a good start to spring…or summer.
  • Even on hard nights at the NHIS with NHCC and other folks, and even on hard group rides, it is not often that I can replicate the effort at Battenkill or these longer races.  The thing is just too hard to imitate elsewhere.  That’s why this event is great, actually.
  • I raced my race – hanging in with a big group and then a smaller group, and then racing and trading off with another rider.  I knew the strongest (and there were many) would be far off the front once we crested Juniper Swamp Road, and my goal was to ride with a group – any group – and hang with them.  The goal was somewhat met even though it would have been better to have been with more than one other rider in the field at mile 48.
  • I wanted to be near the front for the first covered bridge, and I was, probably about 30 to 40 places back, so that felt like an accomplishment.
  • Battenkill is a race of “self-selection.”  [My wife kiddingly says “self-delusion.”]  Simply put, over 150 of us sat by our computers at 7 pm on December 21 waiting to register.  Ergo, this Cat 1 to Cat 4 group of 50+ came ready to ride and race hard.
  • I made a major mistake not taking the water for the field at the first feed zone in mile 22.  I was feeling inside out and was almost out of my Gatorade-water combo by the next feed zone in mile 48.  There was no water “at the moment,” someone said to me (was I supposed to wait a moment?).  I always feel better when I eat and drink and I knew then that I was totally approaching the dehydration zone.  Something I should have thought about in advance, but mercifully…
  • Just at mile 50 on a downhill dirt section my front tire pinched and, bingo, “pssst,” here was the flat I had wanted to avoid.  But I was spent at that point, so I took my sweet time changing the tube -  I admit –  about 20 minutes, and then took my time revving up again where I joined another in my field and we rode to the finish.

Total ride time: 3:24 – a shade over 18 mph, but it took me 3:44 to do the course.  About 4000 ft. of climbing. 62 miles.  A lot of good dirt sections that were deep in places.

Inside out at Battenkill

18. March 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Cycling · Tags:

Well, here’s the truth.  I’ll never be great at cycling.  Oh yes, I manage to get around and do some climbs and races, and I am a USA cycling licensed racer blah blah blah.  But so what?

Yes, I cannot imagine ever not riding and experiencing hilly climbs around New Hampshire and elsewhere with friends.  I could not imagine NOT feeling my lungs burn and my legs screaming in races and rides when someone in the group decides to push the limits.  But……

…… I know that at age 50, there are not as many matches and they tend to burn less brightly.  I managed to watch [on the Internet yesterday – not on TV] parts of Milan-San Remo.  259 k ( 185 miles) of full on racing for just under 7 hours ( 6 hrs, 59 minutes, 24 seconds to be precise) (the length of the race, not how much I watched!).  Racing, not riding, with an average speed of 26 mph.  At the end Fabian Cancellera, Simon Gerrans, and Vincanzo Napoli were sprinting as though they had just warmed up, with Gerrans sneaking across the line just slightly ahead of Cancellara and Napoli.  I considered the math and the effort and realized that the mere thought of that achievement is so astounding and mind-boggling that just to think of it made my legs feel tired.

And to think that my riding this weekend ( the fourth and fifth times this year) left me with that feeling of having “done something” in my legs…

But I can’t wait for the next ride.

This weekend – 80 miles or so with climbs – a good start to the spring.

 

01. January 2012 · Comments Off · Categories: Cycling

Happy New Year!

 

And what in the world is the weather up to?  Normally I would spend some portion of New Year’s Day shoveling or skiing or both, preferably with our kids, especially the shoveling part.  Today?  A slow, solitary ride on bare and wet pavement.

With no snow on the ground and no foliage to speak of, it’s amazing how deep into the woods one can see.  All the old stone walls and even old foundations hidden or masked during other times of year now are conspicuous.  And on these slow base rides I have time to peer into the depths of the woods and reflect on these structures from the past in a way that I usually cannot.  These rides reward me with an appreciation for just how hard life must have been way back in the 1600 and 1700′s.  Just getting around and preparing food for meals took massive amounts of energy, not to mention the actual working involved!