Training Inside Seems Too Easy

I have tours and organized rides this year and am itching to begin riding, which translates loosely into training.  I have been very consistent getting some miles on the stationary bike at the gym but it doesn’t seem like I’m working that hard.  It may be that when I’m on the bike and have music blaring, my head is down, and I float in and out of awareness that I’m riding.  During my years of training as college and semi-pro athlete, I learned how to get into a zone to help pass the time during mundane routines like long distance running and biking. But also during those years I was very strict about my training start times.  For example, in college I would always begin training the first Monday following the 4th of July.   I would increase the intensity gradually and by the time pre season camp opened, usually the last week of August, I was in peak pre season fitness.  Three weeks of very high intensity training getting into game fitness was nothing more than routine.  The walk on candidates who came unprepared were very seldom still around after the third day of camp.  Most couldn’t walk because of the massive lactic acid buildup in their legs.  

On multi day bike touring, the third day is usually the point where riders either keep going or begin to look for ways to opt out and get back home. Getting prepared for a long tour is very much like the preparation of athletic teams.   Besides the many rides of varying intensity during the weeks, there are also some bike events or group rides.  Those are like the friendlies or scrimmages if you will.  It’s a chance to test your fitness and adjust the training to be in the best possible shape for the season, or in my case, the big ride.

The scrimmages for me are the Five Boroughs Bike in NYC in May with 32,000 like minded riders. In June, I will join 300 friends for a short 200 mile supported tour in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland. In late September the hilly Woonasquatucket Watershed Ride will be the final tune up.  All of this is in preparation for a 1200 mile tour from St. Augustine, Florida to Austin Texas beginning late October using the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier Route 

October is one of two options for a start time.  The other is late March of 2015 and that could be a problem.  Heavy duty training on the road and riding “scrimmage” events doesn’t happen in New England in the winter. Most of the training would be indoor at the gym.  A March start to the tour could put me in the “walk on” category and the third day of that tour could be interesting because training inside just seems too easy.

St Padddy’s Weekend

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Posting no parking signs along the New Bedford, MA peninsular.

The last big training run for the Boston Marathon is the New Bedford Half Marathon. The Friendly Sons of St. Patrick took over the logistics of this race a few years ago. I offered my services to post the no parking signs around the peninsular around the south end of the city. I worked alone and got all the signs up in about four hours. It was pretty cool walking my old stomping grounds. After the race on Sunday I again walked the peninsular taking down all those signs. It took a while but it was fun.

After the race we workers were all invited to gather for food and refreshments at Slante Irish Pub formally the Catwalk. Slante is Gaelic for cheers by the way. It was there that I was introduced to the Mayor of Derry, Ireland, Martin Reilly. We spent some time talking about his visit to the states but mostly we talked about the English Premier League. He is a Liverpool supporter and I an Aresenal supporter. The conversation stayed friendly but it got lively especially when I broached the subject of American politics.

The Mayor of Derry, Ireland and amidnightrider
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Volunteering can be very rewarding and fun but it also can be very cool because of the people you get to meet. Today was one of those very cool days.

No Helmet No Wave.

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Today was more than nice enough for the first long-ish ride of the season. Sixteen miles to lunch and 16 miles back. One thing I did realize is that coffee really does a job on my riding. I’m not supposed to drink coffee at all but what the doctor really meant was to cut down I’m sure. After a medium Dunkin Donuts coffee with my egg salad sandwich from Cumberland Farms it took a good 10-15 minutes of struggling to keep up a decent pace. A small size coffee is not a problem but today I had no choice but to order a medium because I had a coupon for a free-bee.

The back roads to Wareham, Ma had very little vehicle traffic. I did cross paths with a some bikers and got the standard snub from the roadies. When I ride with friends, some wear helmets and some don’t. When we pass roadies, (those all decked out in racing gear), us non helmets very seldom get any acknowledgement while those with a helmet get anything from a head not to a baby finger wave. Today I got two sneers from the roadies who didn’t like my stocking cap. I even smiled, waved and said “Hey’ while nodding. Nada from them. We get that a lot so we are used to it. No problem, but I do get a kick out of it.

The road is all mine
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No helmet, no wave
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Stone sign has been in place since who knows when. There is also a water pump and trough there.
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Time To Show Of My Speedo

55F is predicted for tomorrow. It’s time to up the mileage and all that other stuff with a longish ride on my favorite weekday route to Wareham, Ma. It’s around 40 miles round trip with a stop at Cumberland Farms convenience store for an egg salad sandwich. Or as they say in New Befit. Sangwitch. If you don’t know New Bedford is the city where the March 28th Bikeway Summit is held on March 27th.

We were given a 55 degree day on Saturday and people came out of the woodwork. Tomorrow is a Tuesday so there probably won’t be anyone under 60 riding bikes till after 3PM when the schools let out. I’m pretty much free so I’ll be riding at lunchtime.

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Oh, and me in a speedo? Maybe another time.

The People We Meet While Riding

When the temperature reaches the mid 40s after a long cold winter, people get out and do stuff. There were walkers, runners, bicyclist and motorcyclist out today. I decided on the old standby route into Rochester and Mattapoisett, which are located on the south coast of Massachusetts. It was very difficult to get going today and I didn’t get into a rhythm until slogging through 7 or 8 miles. After that it was head down and go, go, go. The slow start kept my average speed way down, but speed was not the point of this ride.

I had just made the turn onto a road that begins the loop back to the start of the ride when I noticed a rider on the opposite side pull over. If I was in the city I would have pegged him as one of the poor souls that roam the area around the bus terminal. I almost kept going when I noticed that he was possibly looking for help.
“You OK”, I asked.

“Just pulling over for a rest” he responded.

I wasn’t sure so I rode back the few feet to look him over and make sure everything was copacetic. It only took a few seconds to realize he only wanted to talk. His name is George Brault and he is 83 years old and has been riding bikes, like forever. He wore a child’s purple helmet without straps. Jeans that had both cuffs contained with an elastic band, and a blue and white windbreaker.

The initial conversation was us bantering about our riding. Soon enough I realized George had some great story telling to do. His first comment was about riding to Scusset Beach on the Cape Cod Canal. “That’s 55 miles” he bragged. Then he told about some of the bike trails he has done recently and a tour in Vermont he did with his 55 year old son. He then looked at me and said. “Don’t you wear a helmet?”

“Sometimes” was my reply.

He then asked about my riding and listened intently until I said that I like to tour. That got him to tell me a story about his Army days in 1950 Italy. He had 30 days of leave owed to him and decided to see the country. He bought a bike pretty cheap, packed up some of his Army gear and set out on the Mediterranean Coast. He wanted to ride south to Rome but along the way he met a young girl who was riding home to Florence. She invited him to ride with her and he agreed. He spend much of his leave riding his bike across central Italy and when his time ran out, he gave it to a stranger and bought a train tickey back to his base. It was fascinating listening to George’s stories and when we parted I felt so luck to have met him. As I was riding off I thought of turning back to get a photo of George but decided to let it go this time. It would be nice to run into him again when we are both on our bikes.

Mapping The Bike Summit Route

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Date: March 27 2014
Meet at Cork’s Wine and Tapas bar for a 4:15 start. If necessary there will be another led bike ride leaving Corks at 5:30 for those who cannot make the 4:15 start.

We will be riding on very wide and bike friendly city streets, some bike lane and off road paths which will get us to Fort Rodman/Fort Taber by way of west beach. This 4:15 route offers a tour of Fort Rodman and the batteries that were built to protect the city from and invasion by sea. The early ride will arrive a few minutes before the 5PM social. The return leg will be the shorter East Beach route. This will be after dark on pretty well lit, wide laned roads and a bike path. Bring a light and helmet if you want, but you can easily get by without either, safely. It’s around 3 miles each direction and the route is very flat. Any bike will do including fixed and single speed.

The 5:30 ride will be by the more direct East Beach route and will arrive a few minutes before the 6PM start of the summit.

The route is HERE at Map My Ride
Riding along West Beach
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We will enter Fort Rodman on west Rodney French Blvd.
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Once inside the fort we will ride along the waterfront that during WWII was protected by a number of batteries overlooking the bay.
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Our last sight before the meeting house is Fort Taber which was designed by Robert E Lee. And one of the on sight engineers was Henry Martyn Robert noted author of Roberts Rules of Order.
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That Sounds Pretty Cool

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Last night over dinner at a local bistro the subject of my summer bike tour was broached.  I am doing a 6 day ride in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland with the Rails to Trails organization.  It’s their annual Sojourn, which is sold out by the way.  During that conversation I said “next year will be a much better ride”.

“Where is next years ride?” She asked

“St Augustine, Florida to Austin, Texas”.

“That sounds pretty cool. How long will it take?”

“Really”.  I never expected that, but I’m happy. Most see this as an epic kind of thing, but if your someone who has toured, weather it be a long multi week ride or only a few days, you know that a tour is nothing more than a bunch of daily bike rides.

This ride should take around 30 days to complete. It’s 1200 miles, give or take and it’s on the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier Route. She also asked if I was riding alone.  That, I don’t want to do and I’ll be perusing bike touring sites keeping a lookout for the companions wanted type of postings.  There are five men my age riding the southern tier who started their tour a couple of weeks ago.  They met online through Adventure Cycling and are riding the whole route from St. Augustine, Florida to San Diego, California.  One of the couples that I’m following are posting HERE.  This is the one of most interest because they are also doing Florida to Austin.

This summers tour will be fun but next year will be a blast, and to this guy who has never wanted to do a long tour… this one sounds pretty cool.

 

 

Winter Is Winding Down

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It was a nice day for a short ride but it’s still winter.

It has been a difficult few weeks for bike riding in Southeastern Massachusetts. The multiple snow events have kept the roads and MUPs pretty much too shitty to ride a bike over. I have been relegated to the gym on a stationary bike, something I have avoided for years. I always felt like I wasn’t getting much of a workout, and when I would see others on one of those bikes, I would shake my head and think, what a waste.

While reading Bicycle Magazine last month, an article caught my attention. It was about interval training on a stationary bike when outside riding was too risky. I gave those intervals a try and got some good workouts. In the middle of all that I came to a brilliant conclusion. I could take it upon myself to make sure the stationary bike gave me a good workout. Now when I finish my 50 or 55 minutes I’m soaked through and through and I’m even a little wobbly when I step off the bike.

I did find the magic formula that insures me a high intensity workout. My ipod. I crank up the music and often find myself matching the cadence to the song. Yesterday one of the songs was finishing with a nice long crescendo and it was in the last couple of minutes of my workout. My cadence had spiked to 24MPH and I sustained that for a couple of minutes giving me a nice high intensity sprint to end the ride.

Today settled into a calm, sunny, brisk 29 degree day. I had to run an errand and took out the old commuter bike for the short trip into town. A face mask, stocking cap and sunglasses, a style that gave me the uni-bomber look, made the ride pretty comfortable. I did bring my camera, but after taking one photo early in the ride, I forgot all about it and kind of got into a zone while riding. One of those zones where you don’t remember anything about the ride which brings me to the end of this post