Saturday, April 28, 2012

A Little Father-Son Bicycle Commute Makes my Day!

When your 12-year old son asks to ride the 14 miles into school with you one morning, you don't ask questions. It's not that he doesn't like riding so much as he doesn't go out of his way to do it, especially in lieu of sleeping in the back seat of the car. This week is different, though. On May 6, my son and I will be riding together in the 42-mile NYC Five Boro Bike Tour for the third year and I think he's feeling a bit behind in his "training."

The trouble with today's ride was not the distance or the unseasonably cold temperatures. No, the trouble with today's ride is that I decided to try a new route to cut out some city streets in favor of an additional 6-miles of rail trail and things didn't quite go as planned. It turns out that the alternate route contained more hills and traffic than the one I was seeking to avoid. In addition, despite researching directions, we got off track and added a few extra bonus miles to our commute. As a result, we arrived 10 minutes late to morning assembly and I bounded into the theater sans shower wearing my full training kit.  Needless to say, I made an impression. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

The April R-12 Ride: A Change of Plans Keeps me Local.

After planning for several months to initiate my 2012 brevet season with the Princeton (NJ) 200K, I sadly had to "switch gears" and ride a local 200K instead. When I was asked to serve as the MC for my school's annual gala auction on Saturday night by the generous and hardworking chair of the auction committee, I knew that the only appropriate answer was "of course." Originally, I thought this would still allow me the time to ride in the scheduled brevet, drive back to upstate NY, shower, dress and put on my game face. What could go wrong, I asked myself. Wait a second, that's probably not the best way to plan. With a margin that tight, I decided to stay local, eliminate the travel time and still get in my scheduled April R-12 ride.

So at 5:30am, I rolled out of bed, brewed some coffee, suited up and hit the road. The forecast was for midday showers and scattered thunderstorms, so I was sure to ride the new bike with Honjo fenders firmly in place. I also packed my new Showers Pass jacket eager to give it a try. Since one of my permanent routes starts a few miles from my door, I just clipped in a rolled out the driveway as the sun rose over the river. I designed the "Keep the River on your Right 200K" as a way to log winter miles in anticipation of my R-12 attempt. The route basically hugs the Hudson River on both banks, covering well maintained primary roads with very little altitude gain.  It's very hard to ride 200K without hills in this area, but many of the roads I typically cycle on would not be suitable to winter riding after a snow storm.

The downside of a basically two-directional route is that wind often makes one of the legs considerably less pleasant than the other. Yesterday, we had a steady 10-15 mph wind out of the south so the large middle section from Hudson to Beacon was slower and less pleasant than it might otherwise have been. The two river crossings in particular were blustery. It's a good thing there are secure railings on those bridges. Phew! Despite unpleasant winds, the rain never appeared so I was dry throughout the entire day.

In addition to the breathtaking natural beauty, the Hudson Vally is rich in history. On this particular ride, I passed the Vanderbilt Mansion, FDR's home in Hyde Park and the site of New York's first public school. I also rode past Hudson River School artist Frederic Church's home "Olana" and the outstanding modern art museum Dia: Beacon. I wonder how riders would respond to passing through an art museum to find answers for an information control?

Since I had the school's annual auction on my mind as I pedaled through at least 20 towns in which our families live,  it occurred to me that I should really plan an endurance trip taking in every town that sends a child to our school. Not sure how long that one will take, but seeing as we draw from a 30+ mile radius, it will be a good workout for sure.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring has sprung!

I can't believe it's been a month since my last post! Things do always seem to get extraordinarily busy in schools as winter turns to spring and this year has been no exception. In other words, I've not been able to ride nearly as much as I would like. I have been able to add some commuting to my routine again, which has been delightful. With various complications brought on by the children I need to get to school and the late meetings and after-school rehearsals I need to shuttle between, it's been hard to ride in more than one or two days each week

In addition, my family and I just spent our spring break on Block Island. Early spring, while the weather is mild and before the tourists invade is one of the best times to take it all in. I made sure to ride every day and while my rides were not as long as I would have liked, the regularity made me feel like a rider again. I concentrated on quick tempo rides and threw in a few sprints here and there in hopes that I might actually improve my speed on the road. We'll see.

My first big event of the season arrives next weekend with the Princeton (NJ) 200K. This brevet is an old favorite filled with quiet roads through historic towns of western New Jersey. There are a few respectable hills along the way and I look forward to catching up with friends and acquaintances that make up the NJ Rando scene. I plan to ride this one at a steady, fast pace making very few stops along the way. I finished in 8:05 in 2010 and while that is an unrealistic goal at this point with my level of fitness, I am eager to see if i can break the 9-hour mark. I'll be sure to pack enough food to ensure that stops require me to stop just long enough to fill water bottles and get my card stamped. I'm eager to take my new Indy Fab out for a ride.