Monday, December 27, 2010

Snow Day

Today is a snow day in that school-aged kid sense of the word, except I'm not a kid. The office is closed today on account of a bad snow storm (the first time in 9 years). We had fun in snow.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Fall riding

Just some nice images from a recent October ride.

Monday, September 27, 2010


It's been a while since the last post. That's not for lack of interesting goings on, it's for lack of motivation to blog. So be it.

Yesterday I finally decided to explore some dirt roads in Concord that Brian wrote about earlier this year. Brian's route starts quite a few miles east of where I joined the route, but I decided to focus on the area just north of the Old North Bridge called Estabrook Woods. Estabrook Road continues up the hill from the bridge and eventually the pavement gives way to crushed stone, and that quickly gives way to a fire road. Oolala! The trail meanders along easily enough for my "road" bike on cyclocross tires. There are just a few spots that aren't easily rideable - that makes sense considering that it was a legitimate road many many years ago. I continued along hoping to pop out where Estabrook Road regains pavement and continues up toward route 225, but somewhere I took a wrong turn and back-tracked out. The wrong turn was valuable - I figured out where I should have turned, and I realized that there is more rideable trail in those woods that I initially thought. Perhaps I'll do some more exploring this fall. This network will surely go into my small library of local dirt riding and walking trails.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Boston Brevets 200k

A few days have come and gone since the Boston Brevets 2010 200k ride. I have ridden the 200k a few times before, and it is always a good trip. The route has many quiet and interesting roads and there is no shortage of good company. But last Saturday was really tough. Things just weren't right and it gives me reason to rethink long distance riding for the time being.

Well here's how the day went. I was up early that morning. Claire had not slept well and everyone was a little grumpy from a poor night's rest. A lingering cold was sapping my energy still. It had been a long week for everyone. It seemed like I ought to just listen to the signs and sit the day out. For one reason or another, I decided to go.

I grabbed a quick coffee and breakfast sandwich to jump start my system on the way to the civil air terminal in Bedford. The crowd of riders was very large. I heard 80 showed up. Maybe it's the nice weather, maybe the new PBP registration requirements, who knows. We started out promptly at 7. I foolishly fell in with a large very fast group to start. We zipped along in excess of 20 mph for the first 40 or so miles, much faster than is normally sustainable for me, but drafting really helps and I was having fun chatting with friends. There were a few in the bunch who suffered with me through the torturous weather of the 110k two weeks before, and we exchanged comments about how much nicer today would be.

Zipping along, I eventually took a turn pulling and did not recover well. It was time to ride a more reasonable (slower) pace, and there were a few other riders who apparently realized the same. We cruised into the first check point in New Boston shortly thereafter.

I checked in, filled the bottles and grabbed a snack. A few riders were getting ready to go and we rolled out together. The second leg of the 200k is considerably more hilly than the first or last, and I was happy to be with riders who were familiar and sensible. And there was a tandem in the bunch, and I just love tandems. Trying to keep up with one on a downhill is near impossible, but tandems make for very good karma on a ride. One day I'll convince Nicole of how much fun a tandem is.

On Lyndeborough Road, just a few miles out, we reached a massive wash out in the road. Recent flooding damaged many areas, and that's probably what caused a 20 foot cross section of the road to disappear. There weren't any alternate directions on the cue sheet, and we discussed whether to cross the gulf or detour. At some point someone just decided to try and cross. The footing wasn't great for bike shoes, so we carefully spaced out across the ditch and passed the bikes to one another. The team work was really quite impressive.

We continued on. There were a few moments of head scratching at some intersections. Between the memories of riders and iphone navigation we found our way. Everyone in the group spaced out a little as each rode his/her own pace over the steady onslaught of hills. Occasionally we'd bump into one another. The most pleasant vista of the ride is always on Greenville Road near Mason, NH. Sure enough, you could see for miles. The view was great, but I was wiped out. I think my lingering cold was really starting to show it's effects. Thankfully, the second checkpoint was just a few miles off in Brookline. I sat for a while there and ate a ton of watermelon, a PB&J, pretzels and more. Rehydrated. People seemed to be having a good time at the stop, but I wanted to get the ride over with. I set off for the finish.

I bumped into a few riders here an there, but I rode the last section mostly solo. This was really good because I didn't feel bad stopping a couple of times to dunk my cycling cap at river crossings. That first capful of water dumped over my head was amazing. the weather was not too hot, but I was just feeling totally depleted and kind of miserable. I really just wanted to go sit in a river for the rest of the day, but that would not get me to the finish. A capful of water would have to do. Just before Westford, two familiar riders caught up to me. One in particular is always pleasant to ride with because she's very experienced and pleasant. Her partner was steadily pulling us up some of the large hills coming into Westford. After an eternity of pedaling we finally cruised into Bedford.

On paper, the ride went well; it took me just over 7.5 hours door to door. Great! But aside from that and the many friendly riders who kept me company, this was probably the most unpleasant brevet I can remember. It just wasn't my day. I felt pretty trashed for most of the ride. Why? Going out with a very fast group of hammerheads is just dumb; I'll admit that riding with that group is fun but I don't have the legs for it. I've had a cold that won't quit, and my energy is lower than usual. I'm pretty busy with work and family, and that occupies most of my mental energy. Riding is definitely a lower priority. Sure, I've been bike commuting and riding a good amount, but I don't think I can spread myself this thin and expect to ride that distance so quickly. Maybe I'll just volunteer as ride support for the longer rides. Earlier in the year, I was planning on doing the whole brevet series, right through the 600k. I just don't see that happening now. My weekends seem short and these rides take me away from home a little too much. Riding a 600k also demands more training than I am interested in doing right now. At times during the 200k, I was thinking to myself, maybe my appetite for long rides is diminishing these days. That's OK. I'm only riding for me. It only feels weird because I've always liked to get after it. Well that's it. Not the cheeriest report, but that was it.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Wet Feet Season

We've had a few wet weeks here. I don't know what the recent rainfall totals are, but it must be some kind of record. Many of the low-lying areas are flooded. Modest rivers are frothy torrents or gigantic lakes now. Several roads are underwater.

Well, maybe things are starting to dry out a bit and the water is receding, slowly. Still, many favorite bikeways of mine are wet wet wet. Some are passable and others, like the Route 117 crossing of the Sudbury River shown above, are not. Here are a few more.

Monument Street in Concord crossing what I think is the Concord River. Passable. Notice the canoe pulled up to the back door of the house. Sort of cool, sort of scary.

Just across the road, the Old North Bridge goes into a lake now. Decidedly impassable.

Claybrook Road in Dover. This street sits very low along the river. I can't believe it isn't always flooded. Passable.

Mill Street adjacent the Charles River in Dover. Impassable. Looks calm now, but the white caps were breaking over the road another time when I passed it.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010


Taking some time up in Stowe with family. It's an XC skier's paradise, and the established resorts are just part of it. I took a late day ski and found my way onto the recreation path going along the river toward Mt Mansfield. While very civilized, the trail is still fun. I now keep seeing trails starting though the woodside to some unknown place. Exploring more would be an adventure.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Big Things for Ought-Ten

Ought-nine has come and gone. What a year is was!
1. We made a baby. Claire arrived on June 15th, and life hasn't been the same since. Mom and dad adjusted nicely to a life of doting on a giggling drooling little nut. She's already aware that I'm a dork; smart kiddo.
2. The house is finished. Early in the year we wrapped up a complex home addition and renovation. I cannot remember a more stressful period in my life. The project was over budget and behind schedule. There were no major disasters, which means that our project was a success. I'm still glad it's done. The house is beautiful. I hope we never have to move away from it.
3. Given both items one and two, I'm pretty pleased that I still managed to find time to ride. 3015.2 miles in all, not as many as in 2008, but I'm pretty happy with myself. I relish every ride these days. About half of the miles were commuting miles, the other half were recreation miles. The Rivendell A Homer Hilsen logged 1305 miles. The Trek 610 fixed-gear logged 1006 miles. A few other bikes picked up the rest.
4. Still commuting by bike. This one is more about mental wellness than anything else. It's a good way to start the day and to wind down after work. I probably average about 3 days per week by bike for most of the year. It beats driving a car every time.
5. Got a couple new bikes and sent one away. My wife bought me a Salsa Ala Carte mountain bike for my birthday, hot diggity! The Ala Carte is perfect for the trails in my area. An orange Rivendell Rambouillet frame and fork found me, yes it found me, on ebay. It took me many many months to aggregate parts and put it together. I eagerly look forward to riding it. That orange paint is the best. The Lemond Poprad now lives in Portland Oregon with my brother in law who is using it as his primary mode of transport.

Ought-ten is almost five days deep, and I've got plans.
1. Grow the baby. Claire will be my new sidekick. I hope to get her out for some cross country skiing very soon. I may think about getting a bike seat for her later this summer.
2. Bikes, bikes, bikes. Cycling is a continued obsession. Riding to work is a great way to ride regularly. I'm thinking about getting a set of rollers too. Rollers? What have I become? I never thought I was a rollers kind of cyclist because I think riding indoors is unnatural. Here's the thing. My free time is more limited these days, and planning ahead is the way to make things work. Riding in drizzle is OK, but often the weather is much worse and it's unpredictable. The weather is always fine in my basement. So maybe I can put the bike on some rollers on nasty rainy days or in the late evening when family responsibility is reduced. Why am I so determined? I'd like to complete the Boston Brevet Series this year; that's 200k, 300k, 400k and 600k. I think I could make that work with some careful planning, and I'd like to be fit enough to following through with it.
3. Stretch. I hate stretching. It is boring and takes away time used for fun activities which are usually the kind of activities that tighten my back. The cold reality is that stretching is necessary and makes me feel better. My goal is to stretch every day. I've stretched on each of the last few days and I already feel better.
4. Playing banjo. I more or less stopped playing banjo four years ago. I was tired of it, and we got a dog who kept me busy. Only recently did I rediscover the banjos in the basement. My fingers are starting to remember it. It turns out that Claire finds my shoddy playing quite entertaining, and that alone is motivation to keep it up.

That's about it for now. Best wishes in the new year.