Sunday, June 30, 2013

Riding the Long Way Home

After a whirlwind week of transition into my new job that involved several school visits on Long Island and a three-day residential conference, I was more rundown than expected and in no shape to compete a hilly 400K in rural Vermont. That I was able to turn back is a small indication that I may actually be learning from past experience. As a result, I was able to join my wife and son in the Catskills where we helped grandma with a gallery opening. Today I decided to take the long way home rather than drive to make up for lost time riding this weekend. The first few hours were dry, but the latter half was filled with rain. While the gradual downhill tilt certainly helped, today's 70 miles were some of the best I've ridden all year. The majestic views didn't hurt either.

Did you hear the fabulous NPR story on randonneuring this weekend? If not, give it a listen. It's only 5 minutes long and you get to hear interviews with both RUSA President Mike Dayton and Bicycle Quarterly's Jan Heine. What are you waiting for?

Up next: a local 200K.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Shifting Sands of the Randonneuring Calendar

Getting long-distance cycling events on the calendar is always a remarkably complex task when you have (at least) one full-time job and a family with children living at home, but this spring has been more hectic than most. In fact, I'm quite sure it's been my busiest spring ever. The months of April and May are always a blur when you work in a school and as a principal the events really tend to compound at the end of year. Since I'll be starting a new job in July, the past few months have been especially busy as I work to get up to speed with the demands of my new position. Add to this the leadership program I run and the key role I play in my wife's end-of-year dance concert and you'll understand why my head has been spinning more than my wheels.

This year, scheduling the 400K has been a particular challenge. All possible weekends for easily accessible rides were ruled out early on by either family or work commitments so I widened my search radius. I had hoped to get up to ride in the Central NY 400K again this year. It was a bunch of fun in 2012, with gorgeous views from smooth, low-traffic roads throughout the Finger Lakes. At the last minute, though, I had to pull out to take care of a few family needs. While I was able to squeeze in a nice 200K last Sunday, I still need to find a place for this 250-mile piece of the puzzle.

Through a complex set of negotiations, it looks as though I'll be able to ride in the VT 400K at the end of the month. I had originally written this one off, since I'll be away from home for the three preceding days at a residential conference. When I pointed out to my wife that swapping an early September 400K with this one would provide us with another weekend at the beach she was more than happy to embrace the plan. It was one of those rare win-win family calendar negotiations where everyone leaves the conversation feeling as though they've had gained something special.

So I'm off to New England at the end of the month. I've yet to ride one of the VT events, but I've heard nothing but good things. Time to get these climbing legs in shape!

Up next: VT 400K on June 29.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Catskill Climbfest 200K Permanent: Last Minute Edition

I was all lined up to ride the Central NY 400K this weekend when life got in the way. At the last minute, I came to my senses and realized that a 10 hour round trip to ride in an 18 hour event was going to set me back too far on both the home and work fronts to justify the fun I'd have on the route. While nursing my disappointment, I got an email from Doug who was hoping to scare up interest in a Sunday ride. Andrey quickly chimed in that a tour through the Catskills would hit the spot so I jumped at the opportunity to get the band back together.

After some seriously wet weather this week, the skies cleared to reveal near-perfect conditions for a ride through the mountains. It was one of those days we dream about while fighting off the frigid conditions of winter.

It's been awhile since Doug and Andrey and I took on the Catskills as a group and I was as impressed by their enhanced fitness as I was disappointed with my own sorry shape. Since the hills are likely not any steeper, a more plausible explanation is the utter lack of serious riding I've done this spring.

An added treat for riders of the Catskill Climbfest are the many waterfalls along the route. Depending on the season and the water levels, these can be either roaring torrents or humble dribbles. Luckily, the recent rains created rather dramatic conditions this weekend.

One of these days, I may actually walk up to investigate the famed Kaaterskill Falls, the tailhead of which we pass on our climb up Route 23A to Tannersville. For now, it's just provides a little shaded relief and a photo op on the first of our two mammoth climbs of the day.

Another treat we discovered deep in the high valley behind Peekamoose Mountain was a pool of submerged ferns that looked like something out of the movie Avatar. The deepness of the green and the clarity of the water glistening in the afternoon light was almost intoxicating. So while I was not able to bag my 400K this weekend, I did have a great time riding in my own backyard with two good friends on a nearly perfect day.

Up Next: The Boston 600K on July 20-21.