Saturday, January 31, 2009

Newfield-Odessa Ride Report

Today we had a great turnout for this ride given the time of the year. I rode down East Hill and up West Hill to the professional building, not before stopping at Andrejs' to get my new FLCC helmet mirror. I spent most of the ride enjoying what was behind me instead of looking up the road. As I turned into the parking lot I was happy to see Bill Fischer of Elmira, a fellow Randonneur from our brevets in Pennsylvania, Blaine Chamberlaine, who road the Ridge of the Rockies last year with Ruth Sherman, and Ben Kraft. A flash-snowstorm up in Lansing scared Jamie Gartenberg from the start line. I do not blame him. However, Ithaca is known to cater both sun, rain and snow at the same time to different parts of town. It can be very confusing. Bill was riding his Trek Pilot, Ben was on a Schwinn commuter bike, Blaine rode a new Moots titanium cross bike and I was on a Fuji carbon mountain bike. Assorted riders on a variety of bicycles.

As we began to roll we observed the tireless Evan Palmer-Young starting the gentle climb on Hayts on his mountain bike. Six riders for a 60 mile ride. I was a bit concerned given Jamie's observation of snow in Lansing, but fortunately we had sunshine for the first 40 miles of the ride. I remember riding this same loop back in early September. It was one of my favorites of the year. Of note was the presence of Glenn Swan, John Dennis and his pulse oximeter and also the mechanical that forced Paul Steen and his wife to give up the ride after only a few miles. Dave Ruppert also had some trouble with his shoes on that ride, which Glenn attended to promptly. It is amazing how my brain was flooded by memories of that Sunday as we rode today.

Returning to the present day, the climb on Van Kirk seemed more gentle this time. It is most likely because my legs have seen a lot of action since then and at that time my lifetime mileage on a bicycle was less than 500 miles. Ben rode most of the climbs a bit ahead of me, while I was trying to perform my Zone 1 training. That really did not happen. I'll leave that to the trainer. We rode to the crest and decided to wait for Bill and Blaine. After about 10 minutes I saw them grinding the pedals. In an effort to cheer them up I shouted "Bill, you can do it!" , "Come on!". Ben promptly noted that if it were him he would probably kill me once he arrived at the top. I hope neither Bill or Blaine were offended. My encouragement was genuine. We took a little brake before we began the awesome descent of Van Kirk. I tucked into my aero position, hands snugging the stem, butt almost off the back of the saddle, knees pressing the top tube and head just behind my hands. I must admit it is a bit scary. The thought of a pothole did not cross my mind or my path, so I made it safely to the bottom with a half frozen face. After a few moments I was joined by everyone else and then we started a rather painful stretch on 224 towards Alpine Junction.

Alpine Junction was a little oasis on a cold and windy day. After having spent a lot of my fuel on 224 pushing against the wind, I needed to reload. Ben and I shared a tuna sub, Blaine had some pizza and Bill drank a quart of chocolate milk. It seemed like an awful lot to me, but chocolate milk is amazing, so delicious. As we were savoring our lunch Evan strolled in and began fiddling with his shoes. The screws were coming loose, but he was well equipped and solved the problem. We shared some riding stories and made our way to the bikes. Blaine had announced he would leave us. His last ride had been a 20+ miler before Christmas. So for him it was enough and he was really close to home. It was a temptation too large to resist. On our way out we greeted Evan who was having a nice salad. Those first 10 minutes after Alpine junction were very cold. I was shivering. But eventually were were working hard enough to stay warm. Just before the turn on Pertl Road we passed an automobile accident. I was too cold to pay much attention, but I remember seeing only one car involved, rather odd. As Bill, Ben and I made a right on Pertl we bade farewell to Blaine who made his way home.

This was probably the most pleasant part of the ride, on CR10 and then CR6. After passing through Mecklenburg we joined 228 and then Perry City Road. After a left on Waterburg Road Bill complained about not feeling very well and shortly thereafter he was struck by a flat tire. We stopped to wait for him, but he urged us to continue and said he would cut the ride short. Ben and I reluctantly continued. Because of some logistical problems, I had no cue sheet and before the ride I quickly memorized all the important turns and roads. I was aware that this was probably the trickiest part of the ride if you are not familiar with the route. Fortunately I had done it once and Ben was familiar enough with the region that we managed to continue according to plan. Soon I found myself in familiar territory from the FLCC Thurssday "slow" rides. Old friends like Rabbit Run, Taughannock Park Road, Gorge Road, Willow Creek Road and Dubois kept us on track and back to the start. Upon arrival we noted the presence of Bill's car and also the absence of Bill. We decided to wait for a bit and after just a minute or so we were happy to see him stroll in the parking lot from 96. Apparently after fixing his flat he felt much better and was able to put up a strong tempo until the finish. Next time I'll carry a pocket knife, so that I can relieve those in need of rest by puncturing their tires.

Ben and I then flew down 96 back to Ithaca. I then road up East Hill back home where I now write to you.

All told, and quite a bit I must add, it was a great ride. On the downside it was a bit cold and windy. However it was a joy to have sunshine for a good portion of the ride. All have been accounted for, except for Evan. I hope he is now enjoying the warmth of his home.

Unfortunately it was too cold for my camera battery. I have posted the only three pictures I managed to take

Juan S.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

55'ish miles on a nice warm and sunny day, really?

Today Jamie Gartenberg and yours truly set out on a planned 53 mile ride at about 11am. I road to Jamie's house off North Triphammer Road and back after our ride, adding approximately 15 miles to the total riding distance. In an attempt to avoid a frozen water bottle on the ride, Jame boiled his water before he mixed it with Accelerade. He was reluctant to take my advice and use a Camelbak, mainly because of the extra weight. C'mon Jamie, you weigh 137 pounds! I also did not tell him that I think that boiling water was not very good for the protein in the Accelerade, but that's just speculation. After Jamie took an inadvertent sip of his boiling Accelerade we shot a couple of pre-ride pictures and set out to the official start, the Rink on 34.

The ride began very pleasantly. The temperature was hovering around 14F but the sun was shining nice and bright, a rare treat this time of the year. We made our way North on Van Ostrand and then on Sharpsteen, East Genoa and Stewarts Corners. This was a long stretch of a gradual climb, just enough to annoy me. I much prefer the steeper climbs. They give me a sense of accomplishment. We made a left on Long Hill Road, a known friend from one of the rides Misty organized in early November to Moravia. We remained on Long Hill and then Poplar Ridge Road all the way to Cayuga Lake. During this 9 mile stretch we had a constant and nagging headwind of about 10mph. We also discovered the home of Jethro Wood, inventor of the cast iron plough, patented in 1819. His plough was succeeded by a version made of steel by John Deere in 1837. If only Jet had thought steel, we would be seeing Jethro Wood tractors everywhere. For the history of the plough, visit .

I was very much relieved to ride South and get that chilly Westward wind out of my face. We veered off 90 onto Lake Road. Now that I have ridden in Pennsylvania and Upstate New York, I have learned that roads that incorporate water in their name (Creek, Lake, River, etc.) are never flat, just the opposite. While on Lake Road I spotted a flock of birds (geese I believe) enjoying the calm waters of Cayuga Lake. I thought it would make a great picture If I could get those geese to fly away, so I made my way to the shore. I attempted throwing a small log and a stone at them to no avail. The stone must have fallen about 20 feet from were I was standing. I seem to forget that my arms have little muscle on them. I decided to move closer and suddenly found myself on a sheet of ice as slippery as it was thick. Cycling shoes are not ideal for this type of terrain. Nonetheless, I spent a few moments enjoying the view and annoying the birds, who seemed not to be very intimidated by my presence. During all this time Jamie was observing from the distance. I have no idea what was going on in his mind.

Our ride resumed and after a few more miles we were climbing out from the lake on Ledyard Road. The rest of the ride was uneventful, except for a slippery slope we encountered on Brown Hill Road and the Alpaca Farm on Conlon Road. Unfortunately the Alpacas must have gone back to Peru for the winter, there was no sign of them.

I must say the ride was very enjoyable, except maybe for the last 10 miles. I was getting tired and wanted the comfort of a nice warm home, where I find myself writing this ride report. Lastly I would like to apologize for not posting the ride on the FLCC list, the decision to ride was made late yesterday. Below are some pictures from the ride.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

A Hilly 36 miles in a lot of snow

There was some interest in a ride I had planned for today, so here's my report. At the end I added a section on clothing for the cold temperatures and nutrition for longer rides.

After carbo loading at yesterday's FLCC gathering, I set out alone on a hilly ride later than planned, 12:00pm. The first half of the ride included climbs up Mount Pleasant, Hunt Hill Rd and Hurd Hill Rd. The roads on these climbs had a fair amount of snow, which made it a bit more difficult to reach the top. The descents were very challenging (really scary on Hunt Hill Rd) and I was happy to be on a MTB with disk brakes. No crashes or mishaps occurred. The climb up Hurd Hill Rd was especially tricky because of the accumulated snow. I was rewarded at the top by a beautiful view. I got a small break from climbing on Midline and then continued up Creamery Road after crossing R-79. At this point the sun was peaking through the clouds and I was able to take a picture of my next goal, Bald Hill. Having done this climb yesterday in the opposite direction with Brian Lawney and Ben Kraft, today I went up Grove School Road, which led me to White Church Rd and the next destination, East Miller Rd. This is one of my favorites in Ithaca. If you consider the climb starting from Caroline Depot, in the center of the valley, it is 1.7 miles with an average grade of 8% and maximum of 18%. Just the right climb to get you warm on a cold day. At this point I made arrangements with my wife for a late lunch at Smart Monkey. After a bit more of climbing I started an awesome descent on East King Rd. I got the green light and did not have to hit the brakes to cross 96B. Shortly thereafter I made a right onto Stone Quarry Rd and continued the descent all the way to Spencer Rd. At this point I had icicles on my eyelashes. I made my way to Smart Monkey and had a "Mediterranean Omelet" for lunch. It was delicious and I highly recommend it. After lunch we decided to visit some friends who live half way up South Hill. They have a nice slope in the backyard and I went down it on a sled and also on my bike several times. This added at least 300 feet of extra climbing. Somehow I was able to squeeze a bit more of amperes from my camera battery and I took three nice pictures of the view. After some hours of chatting and coffee I made my way back home climbing up Giles St. All told, it was a beautiful Sunday. Now I have to make sure there is no salt left on the bike. Below are some pictures taken during the ride.

If you are interested in how I stayed warm the whole ride, here's my approach: I wear a "Jones wares" merino wool mockneck as my base layer and DeFeet arm warmers. On top of that I use a Louis Garneau Massimo jacket and a Showers Pass "Double Century" jacket. I recently got a pair of the Louis Garneau lobster gloves and they work very well for me (note that I do not get particularly cold hands). On my head I use a Louis Garneau balaclava and I cannot state how much this helps. My ears never get cold when I am wearing it. On my legs I had three layers: Louis Garneau shorts, Louis Garneau tights and a Showers Pass "Event" pants. They are great but I recommend getting them with suspenders. On my feet I wore DeFeet Woolie Boolie's and Grabber Toe Warmers on top of them. They are amazing and lasted the whole ride. I also wore Louis Garneau shoe covers. There was not a single moment during the ride where I felt uncomfortable and the average temperature was about 17F. It also helps to have all those climbs.

Regarding nutrition, I have done several rides lasting 9h+ and on every single one of them I have bonked at some point. This is not fun at all and usually it takes some time to recover. I attribute these bonks to not enough calorie intake, but I am sure there are other possible causes. On every ride that lasts 2+ hours I have devised the following strategy. I take one 24oz watter bottle and mix 600 calories worth of "Spiz" with water. This is an endurance drink that works very well for me. It has everything you need in it (and probably more). I have not found it in stores around here and have to order it from California. I use about 300+ calories per hour, so the water bottle will last two hours. I'll take extra powder in ziplock bags on the ride for later use. For hydration I use a Camelbak filled with water. I do not like the taste of plain water, so I add electrolyte powder to it. In a second bottle I carry Accelerade as a backup, in case I run out of water in my Camelbak. In these freezing temperatures it important to blow in the Camelbak tube after drinking. That way I get all the water in the reservoir and it does not freeze. With the bottles it's tricky. I use the Polar Insulated bottles but I have found that it does not quite cut it on rides longer than 2h in subfreezing temperatures. My solution has been to stop at convenience stores and put the bottles under running hot water if such and option is available. Of course I also take an assortment of bars for variety. I also take gels in case of an emergency. I would rather eat the slowly digested complex carbs.

Juan S.