Monday, August 29, 2016

I've Never Been To Harpswell Before

And I don't think I need to go back.  No offense to the fine Massachusetts residents of Harpswell.  I road to the end to a place called Potts Point Preserve. Which seemed to be a little overrated.  The Brochure indicated swimming.  Maybe if you are a crab, because the shoreline was sharp rocks with lots of attached seaweed.  Mostly, it is a private road leading to the preserve and the residents, rightly so, don't want the masses parking on their lawns.  So I'm not going back out of respect for the residents.  Which incidentally all seem to be people from Massachusetts looking for a place to spend all their extra money.  And I say that because the starting price for a waterfront lot is around $400,000 A F---ING LOT. And at least half the cars in the driveways I passed had Mass plates. OK, I'll stop being negative.  Potts Point was a fine place to walk around but there are thousands of other destinations that might be better.
Welcome to Potts Point Preserve

My Garmin said I was at 140' below sea level when I got there.  It must have been because it was low tide
My Wife Said
To Take A Lot
Of Pictures
So I Did.
After a quick snack and a 250' stroll I headed back.  I was excited because I had battled a headwind all the way out.  Not so fast, still a good cross wind on the way back.  I was leaving Harpswell neck at about mile 60 with 2 empty water bottles.  I had crossed paths with the Farm to Fork Fondo back in Pownal and knew that it started around Wolf's Neck Farm.  I decided to see if I could bandit one of the rest stops for a water refill.  I found the last stop on the short course and told them I wasn't part of the ride but needed some water.  They said they were just closing up and to take any food or drink that I wanted.  Score!  That Fondo may be on my list for next year because the food at the rest stops was top notch! 

From there I decided that I'd follow the course back toward the finish to see if I could catch up with some friends that were riding.  As it turns out, they were the very first group of cyclists I past out of over 500.  What are the chances?  I finished the last 5 or so miles of the ride with them.  The announcer at the finish announced everybody's name as they finish but just had a funny look on his face when I went through.  I declined the finisher's medal at the end too but helped myself at the sponsor tables.

With a belly full of Gu Recovery Drink (I know I had more to ride but it's mostly marketing, it was hydrating and pretty tasty) I was on my way.  I never really got the tailwind I was looking for.  No, it was mostly of the head variety.  By mile 90 I was pretty much drained so I stopped at the orchard to re-fuel with some apples and get a drink.  Most notably, apples are ready; in August!  I bought 2 apples and a cold Poland Spring water for a buck!  I asked if they had tap-water available and they were in the process of having it tested but the owner offered me a second water for riding 90 miles already!  Therefore, I highly recommend taking a trip to the Orchard Hill Farm, very nice owners that not only saved the old T&T orchard from being developed but are planting more trees.

A welcome break with nice owners.
Slightly refreshed I went on to finish the ride.  I met yet another cycling friend on the way and finally got my tailwind for the last 8 miles.  Good thing 'cause this body was done.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Camping Century, Mount Chocorua & The Great Adventure Challenge

Some people take vacations to rest.

Actually compared to some years this year had less activities.  We started camping over the weekend and between setup weather and a forgotten Garmin (with my programmed route in it) I pushed my weekly century ride Til' Tuesday. My lovely wife offered to take her long ride home to retrieve said Garmin where she discovered a newly hatched chick.  The picture looks fuzzy because chicks are fuzzy.

I'd hoped to make it around Lake Winnipesaukee but that was going to make the ride way too long.  I opted for a route that was mostly in New Hampshire.  I had the cross bike so I didn't pay a lot of attention to weather the roads were paved or dirt.

Nice Views, Not a lot of Traffic
Trespassing?  Fine.  With Dogs?  Fine. But Leave Your Bear Dogs At Home.
New Hampshire has a lot of towns.  It seemed like I rode through 50 of them.  Most notably Sandwich.  Which gives the mind time to wonder.  Is there a New Sandwich which might also mean there is an "Old Sandwich" Can you really take the "Sandwich Police" seriously? Is there a Sandwich Sandwich shop?  And does the Sandwich Store not sell sandwiches? Anyway.
The Store Was Closed. (A Few People Will Get This)
Planning routes on the Garmin through areas I don't know is a fun way to do rides.  I'd say 80% of my ride I didn't know where I was or what I would find around the next corner.  I did make my way back to Maine to stop by the family garden and fuel with a few cherry tomatoes and a green pepper.
The Garden Was Open
This was my 11th Century this year!
The next day we hiked up Mount Chocorua at a spirited pace since we were going almost 4 miles one way to the top and the rest of the group was only going 1.6 miles to the falls.  
Happy Campers

My wife had visions of the dogs plummeting off a cliff and falling to a gruesome death so she stayed back with them while I scampered (almost) to the top.  In the interest of time and since there was nobody to hang out with up there I got most of the way up and called it close enough.  It was also cold, raining and very windy  and I was in a wet t-shirt (not a contest).
Could not get a selfie without a crooked face.
I'm not sure the pace was a great idea with a race coming up in a few days but it certainly didn't hurt. 

                                              BECAUSE WE FREAKIN' WON!

First Overall
She puts on a bigger celebratory face than I do.

First Female Overall
The kayak leg just about wore me out since I hadn't been in a kayak yet this year, aside from puttering around a very small pond 2 days before.  I felt totally drained when I climbed on the bike and thought: "This isn't my race".  But my 5000 miles of riding this year took over and I made my way to the front of the pack from 20th.  I passed the last person before we turned from a dirt road into the trails again.  I decided to do the run in my bike shoes so the transition was me throwing my helmet and camel back on the ground and heading up the mountain.  I spent the first 1/4 mile looking over my shoulder to see who was going to pass me on the miserable trip down the mountain.  When 2 people finally appeared I was pretty hopeful that they were far enough back that I should be able to hold my own. 

The trip down the mountain was brutal as always.  It always takes a week before I can walk down stairs without a grimace but the king for a day feeling is worth it.  

We did get our own Personal Press Release after the race, which was nice. I missed breaking the course record on the bike by 2 minutes.  I've got my sights set on breaking the overall course record but not until I get a new kayak.  I need to be paddling a pencil, not a tugboat to compete for that.  Might have to actually run some before the race too...

Friday, August 12, 2016

Early Morning Cyclist Inspiration

Free Syrup

Inspiration comes in many ways.  I think it is a sign, that the day before we head off camping there is an offering of free syrup on the side of the road.   Not maple syrup, no, this is the pancake variety.  (Not specified for waffles) Which is fine since there is no place to plug the waffle iron in at the campsite.  
 Made of the finest ingredients: 


I notice that they didn't even bother with the word Maple as in "Maple Flavor", "Imitation Maple Flavor".  Nope, this is just syrup.  It is also from "Signature Kitchens" which sounds a little fancier than the ingredient list might suggest. 
That is one of the biggest energy gels I've ever seen.
After examining the ingredient list I think I might know why it was on the side of the road.

Yes, it was sealed.

Monday, August 8, 2016

9 Bikes in 9 Days

Last weekend my mother in law asked if I rode all my bikes every day.  I told her no but I still try to show them all love.  So, I decided to ride a different bike every day of the week.  I even brought the CR1 Comp out of it's For Sale status to have one other bike in the mix.

1. Saturday - Cross Bike & Hills
2. Sunday - Fatbike & Dogs
3. Monday - Rain Bike & No Rain
4.  Tuesday - Vintage Bike & Sunshine
5. Wednesday - Mountain Bike & Madness
6.Thursday - Old Bike & Last Ride?
7. Friday - 29er & Long Trails
8. Saturday - Cruiser & Bike Shop
9. Sunday - Road Bike & Lakes

Around About 40 Lakes and a Visit With Grandmother

Every long ride needs a theme, right?  No, not really but most of my weekend centuries lately have had some kind of goal.  It's been a while since I visited my grandmother so that was part of he plan.  She lives on the other side of Sebago lake from me so I was riding around one lake already which lead to the idea of how many lakes could I make it around.

Ironically I didn't go around this lake.
This was my 8th century weekend in a row and the 10th this year.  Riding for 6 hours gives the mind time to wander.  At one point I passed a vary handmade looking sign that said "Odd Jobs Wanted" so my mind immediately went to "I need a penguin circumcised"  That would definitely be an "odd" job.  I also never realized how close Norway and Sweden were.  I mean, I know they are both in Scandinavia but the Maine Towns only have Waterford between them which makes no sense because the countries Norway and Sweden abut with no water at all. Poland and Sweden should be separated by Waterford for this to make any sense at all.  And why is Paris next to Norway?
I stopped to take this picture and that's why I didn't get the KOM.  That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
My wife met me at Grandmothers and joined me for the last part of the ride,  not much else to say.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

4NaaP (4 Notches and a Pass)

For my 7th century weekend in a row I hooked up with a fast group out of southern mass for their annual (?) 4NaaP ride. The ride includes Kinsman Notch, Franconia Notch, Crawford Notch, Bear Notch and the Kancamagus Pass.  We started with the pass.
Top of Kinsman Notch

The weather was excellent, the views were spectacular and the hills were plenty.  On the ride down from Franconia Notch one of the riders hit a round stone in the road which knocked his wheel into the soft gravel where he promptly flipped over the bars to a sudden stop.  Luckily, he didn't suffer any major injuries and was even able to continue the ride.  He'll be even more sore than me the next day.
Not what you want to be doing on a group ride
 The rest of the ride was much less eventful with a few (too many) stops at stores for re-fueling. Our small group of 3 split off before the last stop for the the last climb up Bear Notch.  When the day started I had visions of climbing it in record time.  Now I just wanted to make it to the top.
Top of Bear Notch
I made it to the top 275th out of 1225 which was good enough for me.
I look happy because the last 10 miles are downhill
At the end of the ride I had averaged 19.3MPH for the 107 miles with 7000ft of climbing.  If I continue this century quest I might try to make next week's an easy one, maybe.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lake Placid: The Land of Ironmen, Thunderstorms & Mountains

Ironman weekend, the test of my wife's 6 months of training is here.  Unfortunately, I don't like running or it doesn't' like me, since I usually end up with a trip to the chiropractor when I try if for long.  And I think distance swimming is about the most boring sport that could ever be.  Waking up at 5:00 and crawling through cold water looking at nothing for an hour and a half just isn't my idea of a good time.  Don't get me wrong, I like to swim.  Scuba, snorkel, diving of docks, jumping off rocks, playing frisbee in the water...all fun.

But I digress, some people like that sort of thing and my wife is one of those people.  So we loaded 2 bikes and a pile of crap in the back of the car and set out for a long weekend.
Can you spot the 2 bikes?

There's one!
9,999 bottles of beer on the wall, 9,999 bottles of beer; if one of those bottles just happened do fall...
9,998 bottles of beer on the wall. (It is a long drive). 

Entering New York
We left at about 9:00 and got to the check in about 4:00.  From there we got to the campsite to set up the tent where it promptly started to rain.  In the middle of the night I thought all the travel was in vain because the 80MPH winds would surely drop one of the giant pine trees on us and we'd be dead.  Luckily, we lived, which you knew because I'm writing this blog.  They were probably only 35MPH winds but everything is louder in a tent.
Obligatory Photo
 The next day was all about getting our bearings, checking out athlete village, checking in her bike and doing a few shakedown rides (& runs & swims if you are into that kind of thing).  Also picking up a few supplies from the store that we forgot, mostly non-alcoholic fluids.

The bike is safely in slot 1315

Last swim
The goal was to eat and get to sleep by 8:00 since the wake up time was to be 3:30.
The contrast between the healthfulness of this dinner and the garbage food along the ride is mind boggling.
Ironman morning! My plan was to drop my wife off with her gear and then to ride around the course backwards to catch her out there.  I initially thought I might see her start the swim but after milling around the sea of people for 20 minutes I had had enough!.
It is only 4:30 AM
My big day was about to start.  Just because I wasn't becoming an Ironman didn't mean that I wasn't going to put in an Ironman effort!  My plan was to do at least the distance with twice the climbing.  I started by ascending Whiteface Mountain.
The Goal
Not as grueling as Mt Washington but a "HC" (Hors cat├ęgorie) rated climb none the less.  The auto road doesn't open until 8:45 and I was there around 5:45.  I took the advice of somebody we had met and went around the gate, Saved the $8 bike fee too.  The climb was as promised, a steady 8-12% grade for 8 miles. I'm sure I could have climbed it faster but I was very careful to pace myself for a long day.  At about the halfway point you get a good view of the rest of the climb.  once I got to the "Top" I realized that the road stops but the mountain keeps going.  I made the rest of the way on this:
Danny Macaskill could do it on a cross bike. Not me.
I took my bike of course because what would summit pictures be without a bike in them?  My shoulder is still a little bruised.
The highest I have been on a bike.

In the distance you can actually see Mirror Lake churning with Ironmans
 You could actually make out the rectangular swim course in Mirror lake over 10 miles away because it was all choppy an the rest of the lake was smooth.

The view was spectacular
The trip up took 1 hour and 16 minutes; the trip down: 13 minutes and 32 seconds.  It was by far the best bike descent I have ever done.  I was very thankful for my disk brakes. I'm also very happy to have had the road to myself, very cool.  After a quick detour to the campsite to re-fuel, pee, drop off a wind breaker and forget to put on sunscreen I was off again.  At this point I was getting to the part of the course where I could expect to see the first pro racers.  After spotting a few I turned off to climb another hill which turned out to be a dirt path.  I made it most of the way to the top and called it good.  From there I was in the thick of the bike race but going in the opposite direction looking for my Ironman.
Found Her, Looking Good!
OK, on to the next hill labeled "The Never Ending Climb" on Strava.Strava didn't mention that it was a dirt logging road.  The climb was much steeper than Whiteface.  At one point my Garmin said 37% grade, probably not but 25% in spots, maybe.  There was about 8 miles of dirt, at least.  The biggest problem with climbing loose gravel logging roads on a bike with road tires is that the trip down isn't much faster than the trip up.  My average speed dropped to 12.

Loosey Goosey
Once I made it back to civilization I was going to climb another hill but there was a "Bridge Out" sign so my plans started to change. I decided to ride back to the part of the bike course I had already done, then turn around and ride with the course now that it had thinned out and I wouldn't be in anybody's way.  The climb out of Keene in the opposite direction of the course was brutal . The hardest climb of the day for me.  Later I realized that it was a Cat 2 climb.  I'm sure if the course had gone in that direction there would have been a small pile of Iron-wannabees stacked up along the way.  It was about this time that I started salvaging unopened water bottles from the side of the road - I was thirsty and some triathletes are clumsy.  After a second wife spotting I decided to ride backwards to the next water stop and try to score more hydration.  Knowing how much my wife paid to enter, that the drinks are sponsored by Gator-aid and that they THROW OUT all the leftovers after the race, I didn't feel bad about riding past the rest stops and accepting the bottles and food being handed to me.  I was just careful not to get in the way of any participating athletes in the process. 

I was into my ride about 90 miles when I started riding with the racers that had gone about 65.  The rest of the ride was without pics so I'll try to make it brief.  It's interesting riding in about the middle of the pack.  Entertaining, actually.  Some of these people were on bikes that cost $10,000+ with carbon wheels, $500 helmets, all the dorked out triathlete bottles and stuff.  YET, their bike sounds like somebody at WalMart set it up (Click-Click-Click-Clack-Clack-Clack) and they are riding uphill in the aero bars with a cadence of about 27.  Posers. I'm not trying to sound like an asshole here (with a lead-in like that, you know I am going to sound like and actually be; an asshole) but...I passed a shit-ton of people on bikes they don't "deserve".  I also passed a shit-ton of cliff bars still safely sealed in their nearly impenetrable wrappers.  Apparently I'm not the only one having trouble trying to open them with my teeth mid-ride.  At least I didn't drop mine.  I ate enough GU shots and Cliff bars to give a horse diabetes.  I also think my fluid intake topped twenty 20oz bottles.  And I still started to cramp at the end.  Straight salt intake kept it at bay after mile 130.

Brief, right.  I saw my Ironman one more time on an out and back, she was about 8 miles ahead of me.  I stopped at the campsite one more time for more supplies (trying to limit my banditing as much as possible) and I was off to watch the rest of the race where I met up with my son and his wife.  We were busy trying to figure out where she would be when and did pretty good at catching here in the right spots.
That's a big High-Five right there.
We milled around and saw her a few more times before the finish and then headed over to watch her become an Ironman!
I'm so proud of Kelly!  I've never run a marathon, nevermind running it after the swim and biking 112 miles so the accomplishment is significant.  She shattered her goal of 15 hours.

 Way to go! You are a BEAST! :)

It is a pretty powerful thing watching all these people accomplish something that most people can't.  They've trained and sacrificed to show the world what they can do and it shows through the emotions that surround the finish line.

It's getting late and I want to get this posted so.. We left the next day.
This "time saving" ferry ride made out trip about 1 hour longer.
I tried to be a nice guy and let a car in that showed up after us get in line for the ferry before us so he could get out of traffic.  He got the last spot.  Phuck!  I'll bet he wasn't driving 6 hours after an all day endurance event.  We made sandwiches.