Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Finite heat source in an infinite heat sink

The quest for more information and the best pricing for winter boots continues.
The "standard" in these is the Lake particularly popular are the MXZ 300 but all the Lake winter models seem to have lacing issues.

I found a very comprehensive reviews site "Mountain Bike Reviews" with a lengthy list of shoes/boots. What it gains in breadth it often seems to lack in depth with only 2 or 3 users comments but if one considers how many folks have these products and of those who will bother to comment, I consider 4-5 comments a very broad base.

From my readings on MTBR and on some other forums, it looks like Answer Kashmir's are a very good option. They're $150 (I saw them for $140 on ebay but then you pay $13 shipping so you're about back to amazon.com $150 with free shipping). Tomorrow I'll try to get to call a couple of the bike shops which offer a 10% 5BBC discount, see the prices. The Northwave Celsius MTB winter boots are usually expensive but I stumbled on a shop in UK shipping worldwide that sells them for $102. On MTBR the Northwave Celsius gets a 4.0 with 2 reviews recommending them and the Answer Kashmir 4.5 with 4 reviews.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Cold toes

New York City area weather in the winter varies quite a lot. While today's high was 66 degrees F and overcast to partly-cloudy, it also drops well below freezing. I want to keep riding throughout the winter in the absence of actual rain/snow/sleet -- or at least in temperatures above the low end of the twenty-degree range. I ride both of my bikes with clipless pedals using the SPD 2-bolt cleats and I have Shimano MTB shoes. In cold weather, my toes get cold.

Last year I bought a pair of Performance Bike's house-brand neoprene toe covers. That didn't work very well at all: Not only did they nearly disintegrate with one day of riding, they kept popping off because there's no heel strap. They didn't keep my toes warm either.

For this winter, I spent the extra money and bought a pair of Perl Izumi AmFIB® MTB shoe covers. When I tried them on in the store, they felt quite warm. I wore them immediately and headed off on my touring bike for a ride on that late November Sunday across town, over the Queensboro Bridge and eastward to try out a route through Queens to the LIE that I got from a fellow 5BBC leader. The weather was cool and somewhat windy with a high of 37 deg. F.

About 90 minutes out, my toes and forefoot started to feel cold (the cleat transmits the cold right into the shoe) and I decided that it was not prudent to try to ride all the way to my Mom in Dix Hills (which I've done with various sub-optimal routes through Queens on several occasions in warm weather -- the 50-odd mile ride is no problem in terms of distance) and headed for Jamaica LIRR station to take a nice warm train to Wyandanch and bike the 3-odd miles from there to Mom's house.
When I arrived I found out that a few minutes before I arrived the LIRR had had the worst derailment in its recent history. I waited around in the nice warm waiting room, out of the drafts from the doors, for over an hour waiting for a train east. My toes never really warmed up completely.

Eventually, I decided that it was unwise to risk getting stranded out in LI with no train west. I called Mom and rescheduled, then headed for Pita Hot on Main Street in Kew Garden Hills for lunch.

Not only did the AmFib shoe covers fail to keep my feet warm, and I wore medium weight wool socks, they didn't hold too well. The toe on the left has a worn/ripped spot (remember, I only did about 20 miles of urban cycling) and the heel on the left got worn/ripped some. I purchased them at Bicycle Renaissance, but in a telephone inquiry they stated that they don't warranty such items themselves -- they can only send it back to Perl Izumi for replacement.

Shoe covers alone don't seem to suffice. It seems the alternative is winter cycling boots, of which the Lake CZ series seems the most highly recommended from folks in places with serious winter like Iowa. The best price I've seen is $200+shipping.
Answer makes the Kashmir for $90 or so but some research on the web indicates they don't hold up very well: they pull apart when you pull them on. That does seems like a very low price for bike shoes much less insulated winter boots. OTOH, I don't know if I want to dump $230 on Lake boots instead of $300 on a trainer and just ride indoors to keep in shape (and for my 3 scheduled winter bike rides just wear 2 pairs of socks, maybe get a pair of heavy wool socks, and foot warming pads for $6 a pair for a day's use).

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Polar Pancakes are go!

I've plotted a route through to brunch that should get us there by 10:30 am. We really ought to arrive at Coney Island shortly after 12 pm for the festivities preceeding the swim. The whole event down at Coney Island is a charity fundraiser they call "Freezin' for a reason", to raise money for Camp Sunshine.

The festivites at Coney Island start at 12pm. We can arrive a few minutes late if we take too long at brunch. Assuming we get moving by 9:45 AM, the pace on this ride needs to keep up 8 MPH overall average to reach brunch (7.5 miles) by 10:45 AM. A half hour break is an aggressive schedule, 45 minutes is more reasonable. Its only another 5 miles to the boardwalk, so we should just about make it without puhing almost anyone faster than they're comfortable. We should get back to City Hall Park by 3 PM, 3:30 PM latest, so that folks are able to get home by sunset at 4:38.

Since the festivites at Coney Island are pretty much over by 1:15 PM, we have two hours to cover some 12 miles to get back (including a pit stop somewhere around the 10 mile mark...Prospect Park or the Parade Grounds).

Looking at the route home, folks from Queens aren't going to want to recross the Brooklyn Bridge they'll want to take Willoughby to Myrtle and home. So presumably they'll break off either before we enter Prospect Park, staying on Bedford, or make their way out from Grand Army Plaza. They'll manage. Winter riders are a hardy bunch.

Advance notice helps for a good turnout, and that's missing on this since the newsletter for January isn't out yet and the ride isn't on the 5BBC site yet. Oh well. I spoke to a few folks at the holiday party saturday night, talked up the Dec. 25th ride and this one. We shall see.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Polar Pancake plan

I'm working up a route now for another new ride: Polar Pancakes, on New Years Day 2009. The general idea is go to a really good place for kosher pancakes then hustle down to Coney Island to see the Polar Bear club do their annual New Years dip.

Time is pressing on this one, we've got to get down to Stillwell ave. by 12:30-12:45pm if we are to see the swimmers do their thing at 1 PM but we like to give the day a chance to warm up.

If it was someone else riding sweep I'd start the ride at Columbus Circle. That gives Manhattanites and Queens people a central gathering point so they don't have to ride alone to the start at City Hall Park. But, Ed Defreitas is riding sweep and so we'll start at City Hall Park which is his usual spot.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A Non-Partisan spin

A nice turnout for this past Tuesday's Election Day ride. The title link gives you the Motion-Based interpretation of the route based on the data recorded by my Garmin GPS. It includes a map, our speed and how much elevation we climbed. The route through the streets of Brooklyn was ok; Eastern Parkway went fairly well. The really good fun was the route through Highland Park, around Ridgewood Reservoir and thence to and through Forest Park. The trees were in full autumn color. Folks also liked zooming down Cypress Hills Street.

Our lunch, at Pita Hot on Main Street, was great. They were very nice to us: they invited us to bring our bikes inside the resturaunt. The food was good and folks liked it.

After lunch, I took the group on a tour through the old Worlds Fair grounds, AKA Flushing Meadows Park. We stopped for a group photo at the Unisphere.

cylists stand in front of the Unisphere
Photo provided by Stanley Fine

As we rode through the park, I pointed out a few interesting features, including the ruins of the NYS Pavilion (used for the location of a scene of a McCloud episode, back in the early 70s before neglect allowed the pavilion to become ruined) and the former Sikorsky pavilion which is now the Terrace on the Park catering hall.

My original route was going along the greenway by the Whitestone Expressway and thence out into Queens, but on the spur of the moment I detoured us onto the Flushing waterfront greenway instead. All enjoyed the lovely waterfront scenery on a nice long stretch of waterfront with no pedestrians or other cyclists in sight on this Tuesday afternoon.

After a few other turns, we got back onto the cue sheet route and headed for the Queensborough Bridge. One tripper from Brooklyn who stayed with us to the end peeled off for home via Queens Plaza North when we reached there after riding down Crescent St., and the rest of us crossed the Bridge back to Manhattan.

We bid farewell to each other on the Manhattan side, and I guided our tandem riders back to Central Park where we too parted ways. Another great day on the bike out with nice people from the 5BBC.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Manhattan Perimeter with Ed Defreitas

I rode sweep for Ed Defreitas on his "Manhattan Perimeter" ride. Ed had described the route as "mostly flat" and we had FOUR flat tires at the start. One of them got a flat again as we made our way up through Battery Park. He bailed, I pointed him in the direction of the nearest bike shop and off he went.

As we headed up the West Side Greenway, a jogger stepped in front of one of the riders as we approached Chelsea Piers. The jogger was unhurt but the cyclist went down. He wasn't wearing gloves and got a gash on his palm to go with the general contusions and scrapes. I gave him first aid supplies from my kit and showed him how to apply the band-aid to the wound. He and his friend bailed, headed for the ferry back to NJ.

The ride continued the rest of the day without incident. Our lunch break in Isham Park was a very pretty spot.
Folks ate their lunch sitting on a park bench in the shade.

This was the culmination of Ed's Perimeter series. The original plan was pizza afterward. It was way too hot for that. When we stopped for water at a playground on the lower Manhattan East Side Greenway, Ed declared that we would do ice cream instead. Off we went to the South Street Seaport at a leisurely pace suitable to the heat of the afternoon. The ice cream was Haagen Dazs and the store had a teudah so I got to have ice cream with everyone else.

Friday, September 5, 2008


We met up with our group at Riverhead LIRR station. My buddy Mike Moses drove out to Riverhead with my wife Golda and my daughters Shira and Hannah. They were joined by 5BBC member Pat M. . Golda went to see about tickets for Atlantis Marine World and the others joined us for a nice slow ride for a few miles, mostly on country roads, to visit North Quarter Farm and its buffalo.

As ever, the disparity in athletic ability -- at least for cycling -- between Shira and Hannah made pace a bit tricky: Shira rides at least 2-3 mph faster than Hannah, and when that is 6 vs 9 its quite noticeable. I kept the pace down to 8 and made sure to keep Hannah in sight as best I could. Hannah was mostly happy as the center of attention with 4 large men forming a safety cordon around here, offering her praise and encouragement as we went. Nonetheless, by the time we reached North Quarter farm just a few miles away from the station Hannah was quite tired.

After our brief tour of the farm, I stayed behind with Hannah and Shira while Rodney and Jesse escorted Mike and Pat back to town. Hannah rested, ate a Larabar and drank some water.

The girls took turns posing for pictures, first with the buffalo and then with Daddy, while we rested.

We waited a little while for Mike to come back with the truck and pick up Hannah, but then Hannah felt strong enough to slowly ride back towards town. We got perhaps a quarter of the way and then Mike found us. The girls got into the truck while Mike and I loaded their bikes onto the rack. I declined the offer of a lift back to town. With the bikes loaded, I waved goodbye to Mike and my girls then took off. I went all the way down into the drops and pedaled as hard as I could to go as fast as I could.

At 26 mph, Mike and the girls pulled alongside. The girls were very excited and happy to see me riding so fast and for a moment or two Mike drove the truck at a speed to pace alongside me. Then, with all 3 of them laughing, they took off while I continued to push as hard as I could to go as fast I could while the conditions permitted as I headed back to the Peconic waterfront in downtown Riverhead to meet them.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Riverhead run

A noticeably strong headwind blew against us as Jesse Brown, Rodney Millard and I cycled up CR 101, Patchogue-Yaphank Road. I barely kept in front of Rodney at 17 mph; at times, he was out in front.

We made our right turn at Long Island Avenue and the wind was gone. What a relief! Sure, the pavement on CR-101 was in better shape but now the wind was blocked by the trees. Jesse and I rolled on and Rodney zoomed ahead out of sight. As we approached our turn, I saw Rodney waiting for us at the light and called out for him to make a left then a right. Zip! He was gone while Jesse and I cruised on, chatting at 17 mph .

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Scouting Riverhead

I've built a new ride for the 5BBC. Its taken quite a few twists and turns as it evolved but I've done the preliminaries and scouted the route. I wanted to combine a ride where adults would have a chance to ride full-out then have a chance to meet up with our kids who we would then take on a kid-paced ride to someplace fun that wouldn't bore adults to tears.

The result is that I and Jesse Brown are taking a train to Patchogue this Sunday 8/31, hopefully with a few folks along for the ride, and escort our group through the Central Pine Barrens in Manorville / Calverton / Riverhead. While the initial trek up Ocean Avenue and east along the LIE service road isn't the most scenic we should make good time to Yaphank, where the good riding really starts on South Street: nothing there but road and trees. From there until we get to Main Street (NYS 25) Riverhead, there's mostly just trees, farms and a few houses. Brookhaven Town has been busy repaving some of the roads, so we'll have some real fresh macadam on which to ride some of the trip.

In Riverhead, I've arranged for us to have a tour of North Quarter Farm, where they raise bison for breeding stock. After that we'll cycle back to the downtown waterfront and picnic, then those of us who want to will go to the Atlantis Marine World Aquarium. I'm not sure we'll take the tour boat, my daughters are intrigued by the idea of getting pictures taken of a seal kissing each of them. Everything has a schedule and we'll see if the seal show schedule finishes in time for us to take the Peconic River / Bay tour boat.

I'm going to have to build another ride that rides more of the Pine Barrens and makes its way out to the North Fork without time pressure to meet the kids.

Any such idea has to go to next year's schedule. I already am scheduled to marshal the NYC Century Sept. 7 then on Sept. 14th I ride sweep for Ed Defreitas on his Manhattan Perimeter ride.

Sept. 30th the High Holidays cycle starts. Somewhere in there (October) I've got to scout my Nov. 2nd ride to West Orange for kosher Chinese (Chopstix from Riverdale opened a branch in West Orange) -- and lots of hills, such as one gets when the hills are really just glacial moraine eroding a 500-odd foot high plateau. December 25th I am running my Teaneck kosher lunch trip: this will make the third time in a year I've run the ride, though its also the first time as an official 5BBC day trip.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Bronx Perimeter with Ed DeFreitas

A pleasant ride through the Bronx riding sweep for Ed Defreitas. Ah, the Bronx. Such...scenery

We stopped at the SUNY Maritime College up on City Island.
Lovely views.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Monsey Pizza run

On my first official 5BBC ride, I took a group of 5 cyclists including my brother Ken with veteran 5BBC leader Manny Sanudo riding sweep on a ride through Bergen and Rockland counties. After crossing the George Washington Bridge, we were very soon deep into suburban Bergen county. Most of the roads were tree-lined streets and had few cars.

We had a great ride culminating in a climb up a shady tree-lined residential street (Hungry Hollow Road). After a whole-wheat pizza lunch at Chai Pizza and Falafel in Monsey, where our group of sweaty guys in lycra turned quite a few heads and aroused some excitement amongst the children present, we headed back down Saddle River road toward home.

Our route back took us through Hackensack and across the Old River Bridge, which is no longer used for automobile traffic. We stopped on the bridge for this photo, which a passerby snapped for us:

From the old River Bridge we had a nice view of the Hackensack River and the new River Bridge:

Thursday, June 26, 2008


After we finished with the ride on leadership Sunday,the weather was clear and nice.

A view of the Hudson River, Stuyvesant NY
Since I didn't have to help clean up or cook, having brought sandwiches for my own kosher supper, I went for a ride around the area on my own.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Ride'em Fred!

On Sunday of 5BBC leadership training weekend, we rode my route. On the outbound leg, I rode point. We made a nice loop around the back roads of Stuyvesant and headed down through Greenport Town towards Olana, home of artist Frederic Edwin Church of the Hudson River School (of painting).

As we rode rt. 9 through Greenport, the skies opened up. I knew from my planning that there was shelter in Greenport Town Park so I lead the group to the covered picnic area where we ate lunch and waited out the rain. All except Fred here, who found the lure of of riding Barney too strong to resist even in the rain.

After the rain ended, we headed back to the house; I rode sweep. Andrea Mercado had lots of wrist problems and had to stop often but eventually we made it.
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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Roosevelt Island

After today's leadership training day ride in Queens, I detoured on my way home to visit Roosevelt Island for the first time. The ride over the bridge from Queens was ok. Despite that it is a shared path between cyclists and pedestrians its not that busy and everyone is polite and reasonable. That is so different than riding the Brooklyn Bridge where the pedestrians often don't move even if you ring your bell repeatedly and call out as you approach, sometimes not even if you're about to hit! Over the bridge to Roosevelt Island, you have to go into the parking garage and take an elevator down to ground level if you are a pedestrian or bicycle. I rode the perimeter, there's relatively little traffic and then there are parks with greenways. Some nice views and then at one end is a park where folks fish in the East River and there's the pretty little lighthouse seen in my photo at right.

Next weekend is the leadership training weekend trip.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Memorial Day Weekend

Sunday of Memorial Day weekend I biked out to my Mom's house in Dix Hills on my touring bike. I tried to sort of orienteer through Queens. Bad idea. I ended up hauling down Jamaica Ave. and eventually Rt. 24 to Rt. 106 then up to Old Country Rd. to the LIE service Rd. at Round Swamp Rd. and then onward to Mom to meet up with family.

Sunday night the girls camped out in Mom's backyard. Hannah enjoyed spending the night in a tent wearing her PJs, as you see in her photo at left. They kept a small campfire going throughout the night. As you see in the photo below, my daughter Shira took great delight in cooking scrambled eggs over the coals.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Montauk Century 2008

This year I attempted the 145 miles route of the Montauk Century, Penn Station to Montauk, with my new Habanero Ti touring bike. As you see in this photo, I put a Brooks B17 leather saddle on it. I really hadn't had a chance to break it in much before the Montauk Century ride but it still was pretty good. The picture at left is of me at the Babylon rest area, 45 miles out on the route from Penn Station.

I wish I could say the same for the bike, the left crankshaft came off twice. First time, I found the fasteners and used my Alien II minitool's hex wrench to fasten it back on. It came off again out in Shirley and I couldn't find the piece. I was stuck, called SAG to come get me.

As I was on the phone with the SAG dispatcher, a couple in an SUV pulled up and offered their assistance. These kind, kind souls rescued me and drove me to a bike shop further up the route who found a replacement fastener and fixed me up and sent me on my way. I rode as best I could. At Westhampton Beach rest stop, I had to put on a jacket and leg warmers because of the falling temperature. SAG tried to persuade me to bail but I refused and pedaled my way at 17 mph down Dune Road. They caught up with me again as I was climbing Ponquogue Bridge at 12 mph and informed me that there was a rainstorm about 15 minutes away and would I bail in lieu of riding 2-1/2 hrs in cold driving rain. I accepted, 110 miles into my ride.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

East Coast Greenway / D&R Canal

The East Coast Greenway includes the D&R Canal Trail, a 35 mile off-road segment listed as a "green" route, "suitable for touring bicycles" in New Jersey between New Brunswick and Trenton. This route is the former towpath of the Raritan River portion of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, now a state park.

I took my new touring bicycle on a NJ Transit train, they have a "Bikes Aboard" policy, to New Brunswick. rode over to Johnson Park, which has a nice paved 2.5 mile bike path that takes one to the "."East Jersey Olde Towne

After exploring Johnson Park, I circled back to Landing Stage Bridge and entered the towpath. The dirt road you see in the pictures is the way the towpath looks for most of the trip to Griggstown, at which point I left the towpath and went to a local country store / farmstand to get more water etc.
The towpath is interrupted at irregular intervals for spillways, most of which are the original rock slabs. They function to let overflow from the canal spill over into the Raritan River. I stopped at each and walked my bike across.

The very first spillway I encountered after the one at Landing Street Bridge had the bypass onto the banks of the Raritan River as you see in these pictures, left and below.

Bridge Tender's house and booth, D&R canal

While the road was rough, indeed in one spot I was riding through a sea of pebbles, it was quiet and pretty; I hardly saw anyone else for most of the ride other than 2 or 3 cyclists and maybe 6 pedestrians the entire 17-odd miles I rode on the towpath. I'm planning to go back -- with my hybrid equipped with knobby 40mm tires suitable for the dirt riding that is this towpath. I don't know why the Greenway people think this route is "suitable for touring bicycles"; while I was able to ride my touring bike, I was not happy about it and indeed had quite a lot of cleaning to do afterward.
After Griggstown I didn't like the way the weather looked so I rode up the road next to the towpath, which is a nice paved country road, and then over to various other roads as I made my way to Princeton Junction Station and the train home.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Spring training begins: Englewood

I rode the Montauk Training ride to Englewood except that on Tenafly at Jane St. I left the group and went to Dougies BBQ on West Englewood Ave. for lunch.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

After the snow

It snowed last week. Sunday I thought between the warmer weather and time, that the roads and bike paths would be cleared. Wrong. Oh sure most roads were clear. The West Side Greenway was clean up to the hill to the bridge, which was just icy snow rutted from bike tires. I can understand its narrow and they can't get plows or equipment in, but what was their excuse for not clearing the Riverside Drive portion of the path after that? I don't know -- Parks thinks its DOT's job and they think its Parks so nobody does it?

Well I did make it to the Broadway Bridge and up to Riverdale Ave. for late lunch at Chopsticks. After riding around Fieldston I got back to Manhattan. The streets had some snow not much. The initial portion of the East side greenway was nicely cleared, obviously plowed. That lasted a good portion of the way along the river, just enough to where bailout meant turning around and going all the way back. So I grabbed the handrail and sort of managed to pedal up the rut in the snow -- beats walking in snow and getting snow in my bike shoes through the cleats.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Teaneck ride

On December 25th 2007, after several exploration rides and advice on ride-building from a few of the veteran 5BBC leaders especially Jim Zisfein and Ed DeFreitas I ran my 1st ever bike ride; as I was not an official 5BBC leader, it wasn't listed as an offical club ride though I did publicize it on the club webforum and elsewhere. Jim Zisfein graciously rode as sweep and we went to Teaneck for lunch at the Royal Persian Grill.
I used my Garmin 60CSX to log the trip in an outbound and a return leg. Arabelle Taggart rode with us and took photos.