Sunday, May 20, 2007

Montauk Century!

Today was the big day: my first 100 mile bike ride. I went out to my Mom in Dix Hills Frida afternoon with my daughter Shira so that I could get some sleep Saturday night and get up early this morning. It took a little longer to get out the door this morning than I anticipated but I pedaled as fast as I could down to Babylon, checked in and hooked up with my ride buddies Mordy and Alex.

We headed out at about 6:40 AM. It was a great ride with some really nice scenery. The rest stops were great and we kept the time there as short as possible.

Somewhere around the 60 mile mark, Alex blew out a tire (not just the tube, there was a hole in the sidewall) so we had to leave him for SAG and pedal onward.

I tried to keep an average 15mph pace; sometimes it was a bit tough, others somehow it seemed I was able to push up to 18-20 mph with not to terrible resistance on the pedaling but that didn't last more than a few miles at a time then I dorpped back to 15 or 14 as the terrain became hllier.

Hither Hilss was indeed quite hilly. I managed to coast down one hill standing in my pedals and pulling my elbows in; I managed to coast up the next rise and then down again so that was great...and then came one long hill. After that were were pretty much ome free and I zoomed down that one's backside with glee and enjoyed the fabulous ocean views.

Start of day mileage (in Dix Hills):
56:01:26 riding time
616.63 miles this season
1646 total
10.9 mph average

End of day, after pedaling home from Penn Station up the Greenway as usual:
733.15 miles this season
2320 total
11.3 mph average this season

116.52 miles for the day
8.33 hours riding time

14 mph average speed for the day

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Lloyd Harbor, Brooklyn and more

Mother's Day I went out by LIRR to Huntington Station and rode to Hecksher Park (about 3 miles away, I couldn't take a direct route from the 'B' platform), saw my brother Ken and the 9/11 Memorial he built (he's an architect) there.

After munching on bialy and lox, I had a look at the Ansel Adams exhibit in the art museum. That was great, to see the master photographer's prints in person is so much better than a book or poster.

Afterwards, I parted ways with the rest of my extended family and went for a ride up to Lloyd's Neck and around and down to the Cold Spring Harbor station. It was really pretty riding near the water on West Shore Road and I didn't have too many killer hills when I made the turn to West Neck Road (which becomes Woodbury Road when it crosses 25A). About 10 miles of riding for that leg.

Tuesday I took a long ride down to Sears at Avenue U and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn to pick up a new toaster oven I'd ordered online. It was quite tricky to get the box secured to my bike rack; the fellow at the Sears merchandise pickup helped me supplement my bungee cords with twine. I made it back home without a problem.

Along the way home, I met a fellow named Mike who was riding his single-speed race bike. We rode up the Greenway together for a while, until he got another flat and had to walk out to the subway, and chatted as he extolled the virtues of the single speed. Mike says he goes up the back hill in Central Park at 18 mph! The catch is that downhill, he can only go as fast as he can pedal: there is no freewheeling with this type of bike. Mike is going to ride the Montauk (I think the 100, or was it the 145) on his fixed-gear bike; the mostly flat terrain is well-suited to it and the rolling hills of Hither Hills State Park are not so long and steep that he can't pedal fast enough to keep up. He's never done the Montauk on the fixed-gear before. I hope to see him at the finish line and find out how it went, should be interesting though I don't see myself getting a fixed-gear bike anytime soon.

Odometer: 55:05:05, 11.0 mph average on the odomoter, 609.86 miles this season 1640 total on the odometer.

Pictures from the 5 boro bike tour

The official photographers of the 5 Boro bike tour finally got their photos up.

The early morning was chilly, I wore my red long sleeve jersey and leg warmers.

Pedaling across the Queensboro bridge

I ride a hybrid: that's a ATB ("all terrain" AKA "mountain" bike) frame, with front suspension, and road wheels. Over the course of this last month or so, I've been riding downhills in a more sort of mountain-bike style where I stand on my pedals as you see in this photo of me coming off the Queesboro bridge. Usually, I do this with my knees flexed and try to lean forward while pushing my weight back, keeping a very light touch on my handlebars. The idea is to streamline myself more than hunching forward while seated because I have more flexibility when standing. It also lets me flex with vibration and shock as I go over rough road surface.

At the Astoria rest stop, I changed to my Team One Family blue short-sleeve jersey.
Leaving Astoria, we passed under the Queensboro bridge.

Not quite sure where this was taken.

I managed to get and stay relatively near the front of the tour. I found a Flick group with photos other riders took on the tour which only reinforced to me the imperative of pedaling hard and staying ahead of the massive mob epsecially when you get to steep hills like the Queensboro bridge approach, where a thousand weaker riders in front of you can bring things to a halt for you no matter how good a rider you are as they struggle up to the bridge (never mind the great funneling of folks from the broad Sixth Avenue into the narrower Central Park East Drive). yomamali's collection of photos from the Commerce Bank 5 Boro Bike Tour 2007.

I had a great ride but next year I'm going to pay more attention at Astoria so that when people start heading out before the posted end time for the mandatory stop, I'll be with them. Not that my position in the tour was so terrible leaving Astoria at 9:55 AM -- I certainly was not delayed by mobs of slow riders ahead of me, I had plenty of room to ride as hard as I could.

Monday, May 7, 2007

ride to work

Headwind this morning headed down the West Side Greenway but at least it was sunny and warm. Lots of traffic on Chambers street with the usual crop of cars parked illegally in the bike lane / no standing zone (and in front of the fire hydrant too) on Centre Street, opposite 1 Centre Street, between Chambers and Park Row. This includes Mr. Softee, who regularly parks in front of the 2nd hydrant on the block, which is about midway into the frontage of the plaza in front (back?) of City Hall Park, an assortment of private vehicles some with press plates some with NYPD parking permits -- which are not supposed to let one park in No Standing only No Parking. I have called to complain twice with no result although when I followup with "311" they say that NYPD responded and fixed the problem. Except that is a lie from NYPD since the problem wasn't fixed the day I called nor any day thereafter.

I once complained to some NYPD officers standing around in the plaza doing nothing much; they said they were on CounterTerrorism patrol and couldn't do anything. Of course, they don't realize that in an emergency (including a terrorist incident) the narrow road is narrowed further by the illegally parked cars so emergency vehicles would have great difficulty getting past all the regular traffic snarled in the area. Indeed, this row of 12-15 illegally parked vehicles would make a great site for a car bomb but you don't see them checking underneath the cars for explosives etc. nor looking in the back of the big moving van that was parked there the day I complained directly opposite all the city offices in 1 Centre Street (and directly in front of the northernmost fire hydrant on the block).

Jay Street in Brooklyn, which is one of the streets bordering the Metrotech campus, has on several occasions had an officer posted to keep the bus stop clear and keep an eye on the numerous vehicles double-parked in back of the Marriott (which is the entrance to NYCERS and next to the entrance of the Metropolitan Credit Union which also has something related to NYPD in the same building). I was told by one of the officers one day that he'd had a busy morning chasing off numerous vehicles including an NYPD Captain in his official car. When I came back at lunchtime I saw him busy at one end of the block chasing off someone while a hundred or so feet in back of him someone in civilian clothes pulled up in a car and parked, leaving some photocopied sheet about NYPD mug shot division (not even an official NYPD parking placard) and disappeared into the Marriott. The uniformed officer on bus stop duty noticed, and when I left was looking over the car while grumbling about the nuisance this car was creating. I don't know what happened but I suspect nothing official like ticketing much less the well-deserved towing a car with no claim to NYPD affiliation would receive.

Odometer: 45:32:38 / 504.89 miles this season / 1535 total.
That makes 17.17 miles today, which includes walking my bike to Eddie's Bicycle Shop for a replacement inner tube for the rear wheel after the valve stem broke while inflating it this morning, and despite my pedaling home vigorously up the West Side except for having to stop for a red light (and indeed doing a decent clip of around 12 mph on most of Chambers Street) at 15-18 mph this is an average speed of 10.28 mph today.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

odometer reading

I had written down my odomoter readings a couple of time this week but I seem to have misplaced all but one. So, sometime prior to the 5 boro bike tour the reading was
38 hours 41 minutes 16 seconds riding time
10.9 mph average speed
425.60 miles this season
1455 miles since I got the odometer in summer 2006.

At the end of today, including my ride back up the West Side Greenway home,
43 hours 52 minutes 25 seconds riding time
11.0 mph average (when I got on the ferry it was 11.1)
487.72 miles this season
1518 total miles

A bit of calculation shows that for this interval, which includes riding to work (Chambers street really drags my average down) my average speed was 12 mph.

5 Boro bike tour, or 15 mph is a myth

Today was the the 5 Boro Bike tour. I had a great time. As I rather suspected, they kept a rather brisk pace. I managed to do pretty good myself much of the way though as usual I don't go up hill too fast -- better than I was though.

I managed to keep up about 18 mph for much of the tour, with some bursts to 20 and on the shore parkway I had an exceptionally smooth run of about 25 mph for a while. Of course, the lead riders were 5+ mph faster than whatever I did.

We had a mandatory stop at Astoria for a half hour (it was supposed to be until 10:05AM but we actually left about 9:55 AM).

The ride down the FDR drive was a lot of fun. When we went through the long underpass everyone went "wooo", it echoed and reverberated as we zoomed through.

My bike is a "hybrid", ATB ("mountain bike") frame but only front shock absorbers. Its heavier than most road bikes even though I have reasonable road wheels on it. There were quite a few places, though, where the road surface was pitted or almost as bad, patched, that made for quite a bit of vibrations...which I didn't feel at all as I coasted downhill standing on my pedals crouched forward as much as I can -- the classic mountain bike 'jump' position. With a light touch on the handlebars to keep control and my knees flexed and loose I took great glee in zipping down at 20-27 mph past many people on road bikes who had to slow or damage their bikes. Of course, once we came to the next hill some of those people passed me as my speed dropped to 12 mph.

The Veranzano bridge was the most difficult climb. Not the steepest, it was definitely the longest. No matter how hard I pushed and switched gears down to where I had just enough resistance I just couldn't get above 9 mph on the way up. While I think my speed up the Queensboro approach ramp was 7, that was a much shorter run.

After a brief stop at the festival I pedaled over to the Staten Island Ferry hoping that if I made the 12 pm boat I could just about make it up to the parade. I made the boat but we didn't sail until 12:20 PM so I couldn't make the parade. My wife Golda did make it there in plenty of time from home; she saw Shira and Shira saw her so they both were happy.

I hope the Brightroom folks got some pics of me, I certainly passed them several times. If they did, I'll post them here.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

5 Boro bike tour

I'm registered for the 5 boro bike tour this Sunday. The tough part is that my daughter Shira is dancing/marching in the Salute to Israel parade this Sunday (and the One Family Fund is of course marching in their own group). Her school doesn't form up at the parade until 11:45 AM, theoretically at 12PM they start.

The finish line on the 5 Boro bike tour at Staten Island opens at 11AM. The tour organizers state that the front of the line moves at a 15 mph pace (and the back at 6 mph). I know there is mandatory stop at Astoria for the lead riders. I'm not any sort of official lead but I hope to maintain that 15 MPH pace and be among those who are on the first Staten Island Ferry back to Manhattan then hustle back uptown and over to 5th avenue to reach the parade and see my daughter. While a bicycle isn't as fast a subway train when both are moving, I don't have to wait for my bicycle to arrive nor spend time getting on or off a train nor do I have to stop every 10 blocks to pick up passengers.

I'm looking over the route to find the subway stations in Brooklyn that we pass near so that if I'm short on time I can bail out. My experience is that trying to get up or down the East Side on a bicycle without interference from special events is a frustratingly long and slow trip because the East Side Greenway ends at 23rd street; trying to get uptown on the roads will get me maybe 8 mph average speed. A subway ride to Herald Square is probably a good compromise on a bailout.

odometer reading

I've done some Central Park riding, in particular last Sunday April 29 I was out on my bike much of the day, including getting the bottom bracket replaced with a new Shimano part at Eddies' Bicycle Shop (where I talked directly to the owner and chief bike mechanic) after 2 visits to Toga failed to find the cause of the clanking noise from my bike, and did four complete loops around Central Park. I also managed to get in a loop around at 7 AM one morning this week before cycling to work.

Most of my riding now is up and down the West Side Greenway to Chambers Street to the Brooklyn Bridge to Tillary St. to Jay St. to the bicycle rack at Metrotech. I am trying to keep a 15 mph pace on the Greenway and to go up the bridge the best I can which is as low as 7 mph in the steeper uphill parts.

Odometer now at
37 hrs 38 min 36 sec
10.9 mph average speed (seems to fluctuate between 10.9 and 10.8 depending on how many red lights I hit on the Greenway)
1442 total miles
411.81 this season