Monday, August 31, 2009

Ashokan Reservoir trip

The view from the ride down Minnewaska west yesterday was spectacular with clear blue skies and puffy white clouds. The descent the rest of the way to Rt. 209 was fast. The full route is on
Garmin Connect - Activity Details for Dana's Ashokan Reservoir trip.

On the outbound leg, I had our group of four riders practice a rotating paceline. Not bad considering two of four riders had no experience pacelining. We held the line together most of the trip into New Paltz at a nice pace.

Our group had two experienced cyclists on road bikes, David and msyelf, and one relative newcomer, Marty, on a road bike. Our fourth rider, Scott, was intermediate in experience but countered this advantage by riding a Dahon folding bike with only one chain ring and a seven speed cassette.

Our original route called for us to return home via the climb up Mohonk west, from Kerhonkson. By the time we reached the top of Minnewaska, it was clear to me that this wasn't going to happen. Fortunately, I'd preplanned a route home down Springtown Road across the Rosendale Plain.

The views at Ashokan Reservoir, former site of Olive City and Olivebridge, were gorgeous. Slide Mountain and the Catskills formed a fabulous backdrop as we ate our lunch.

We crossed the Reservoir on a long level road that passed through some woods. It was smooth asphalt pavement and closed to motor traffic. We went around the east end of the reservoir led by one of our number, David G., a local from Kingston who cycles in the area frequently.

David took us on a detour that saved some hills although there was no way to escape the rise into the town of Tillson. We'd passed through the hamlet of High Falls, it looked quaint.

All in all a good day on the bike. Scott managed to get through the day; the 8-odd miles of mostly level riding down Springtown Road at a moderate pace, where David and I pacelined as I practiced keeping my sight line out an appropriate distance and maintaining a steady cadence, gave him additional recovery time he badly needed. I don't know that I would have survived such a day on that Dahon. Marty was on a ride with me in June and has improved quite a lot since then; he's also an Alyn WOL 2009 rider and considering moving up to the Challenge route from the regular On-Road.

Pictures from the ride, mine and eventually Marty's, will come in a later post.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ramapo Rally

The Ramapo Rally route went through various sections of Bergen County.

Much of NJ was industrial at one time thanks to first the Delaware and Raritan Canal and then the railroads. Former mill buildings like this one are sometimes converted to other uses. At left is one I saw which is divided up into multiple stores and other businesses.

The better residential sections had some nice houses, but even the largest and most elaborate were more modest than those seen on the Bloomin Metric in CT. I did see several horse farms on both rides.

My day started much later than planned and I didn't attempt even the 100 mile route, choosing rather the moderately hilly 50 mile route. The temperature hit 98 degrees. I had filled my Camelbak at the start location, Campgaw Mountain Ski Area, with as near to its full 70oz capacity of water as I could manage and left shortly after 11AM to start my ride. When I reached the first rest stop, Kinnelon Boro Hall, I found that it was closed-- no sign that any rest stop was ever there. I found a shady spot, ate one sandwich and went on. I reached the second rest stop and it, too was gone -- and so was my water. Fortunately, Pyramid Mountain Preserve was across the way and it's air conditioned visitor center provided a superior alternative with a real bathroom and running water. I ate my second sandwich, refilled my water and off I went.

On my return route I skipped going back to Campgaw and went back to the Ramsey NJ Transit railroad station.

Lemonade and cookies

With kitchen help from my wife, our two daughters Shira and Hannah with their friend Rachel ran a lemonade and cookies stand from which they donated $13.80 for a donation to Alyn to sponsor me in the Wheels of Love 2009.

While I was out cycling and baking on the roads of northwest Bergen County in the Ramapo Rally, the girls were running a stand for about an hour and a half selling the homemade lemonade and cookies which they made this morning. They placed their stand in front of our apartment building, which is diagonally across the the Eleanor Roosevelt statue in Riverside Park.

Their stand and big sign advertising fresh cold lemonade and fresh baked cookies, all of which they made entirely on their own with minimal supervision from my wife Golda (who bought all the raw ingredients and the pitcher for them last night) with (a portion of) the proceeds going to "a children's hospital" (i.e., the charity for which I'm raising money this year: Alyn Children's Hospital in Jerusalem) were quite visible to hot and thirsty cyclists coming down Riverside Drive and up from the West Side Greenway.

Hannah told me that four cyclists bought numerous cups of lemonade -- so many that one of the girls had to run back upstairs to frantically mix up another pitcher which promptly sold out. I believe they sold out something like ten pitchers worth of lemonade and Shira told me that their cookies were also a huge hit: they sold eighty of them in all.

The girls were very pleased to donate $13.80 to sponsor me in the 2009 Wheels of Love from today's enterprise. I am very proud of them. They plan to do this again next Sunday if it's hot.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Ramapo Rally

This Sunday is the Ramapo Rally. I'm planning on riding the 125 mile course with a fellow NYCC cyclist. Mordecai says he going to ride his fixed gear bike to make it more interesting and that we will cruise at 19-20 mph on the flats. He did clarify that we will go slower up the hills and Schooley Mountain. I hope I can keep up or at least catch up on the downhills where, since I am riding my touring bike which has gears and a freewheel, I am not limited by how fast my legs can spin.

We are taking NJ Transit at 6:13 AM out of Penn station to Ramsey NJ which is 3 miles from the start at Campgaw Mountain Reserve. It's an hour on the train (plus travel time to Penn Station and from Ramsey to Campgaw) but if I had a car with a bike rack I could get there in 40 minutes door to door. Oh well. It's not worth a hundred dollars to rent a car for the day. I won't get any sleep on the train I'm sure, lots of other cyclists with whom to socialize. Or maybe we'll all sleep.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


I've heard that (at least some of) the riders on the WOL Challenge route ride in a paceline. This is also a big thing in NYCC, where their faster and more challenging rides ("A" rides) require paceline skills and even some of the faster B rides say they are using a rotating paceline. Having no experience with riding in a paceline, just lots of group riding, I got up early this morning to meet NYCC's Linda Wintner for her early morning paceline clinic at 5:45 AM.

We did four laps around Central Park (24.2 miles) in a double rotating paceline (that's two side-by-side pacelines). I had some trouble with consistent cadence and with holding my line tightly though by the end of four laps I had made some progress. I still need more practice at pacelining before I'm ready to try it on the open road (though Central Park at 7 AM gets fairly busy with cyclists, regular automobile traffic isn't allowed until 8 AM; before 7AM I don't believe we saw even any park maintenance vehicles). Linda gave me lots of patient good advice and I have to practice cadence consistency and holding my line. On the half-lap home to the West 72nd st. exit from our finish at the Engineer's Gate (90th and Fifth) I practiced following the center white line even downhill. I managed to stay pretty close but I need more practice.

I find the NYCC is good. I can lead rides and take a trip with a group of riders at my level of ability to a destination of my choice on the route of my choice and have folks who are more skillful cyclists and willing to share their expertise to help me raise my level of ability.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Wheels of Love

Dear readers:

This year I have made a commitment to donate my time and energy to raising funds for the physically challenged children of ALYN Hospital Jerusalem. I will bicycle the 326 mile Challenge route in the 10th Anniversary Wheels of Love International 5-day Charity Bike Ride in Israel from Rosh Pinna up Mount Hermon and the Golan Heights, down across the Galilee and then up to Jerusalem beginning this November 1st.

ALYN Hospital, a not-for-profit private center which receives no automatic government funding, is one of the world’s leading centers for the active and intensive rehabilitation of children who are afflicted with a broad range of physical disabilities from everything from congenital defects to fires and car accidents. The ultimate aim of ALYN is to rehabilitate the youngsters in its care and to return them to their families and to the community as quickly as possible having provided each child with the skills to function as independently as possible within their limitations.

Donations from the Wheels of Love help to fund the vital care which every child in ALYN receives regardless of their ability to pay or the amount of health insurance reimbursement. I therefore ask you to join me in helping these children by making as generous a donation as possible to sponsor me for this important fund-raising effort. Each rider is committed to raising a minimum of US $2,000.00 to help cover the $3 million dollar difference between the cost of care of the children each year and the payments received from health insurance . Your support is deeply appreciated by myself and the children of ALYN.

Please find full instructions for making a donation on the Wheels of Love donation page. Remember to to sponsor me by filling in my name on the appropriate form.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Lincoln Tunnel Ride

Last night, a group of some thirty cyclists led by Alfredo Garcia with Jesse Brown and Rodney Millard bringing up the rear set forth from Chelsea Piers in Manhattan on Alfredo's 21st annual Lincon Tunnel ride. We rode up the West Side Greenway, then through Riverside Park and onto Riverside drive then eventually up and over the GWB just before it closed at midnight.

We met up with our PA Police escort and went through the tunnel. Jesse Brown, riding sweep, was last out of the tunnel.

One of the riders shot a few video clips on her iPhone.

Mamaroneck and City Island

The mere threat of rain possibly at some point late in the day despite clear blue skies at 8 AM was enough for the leaders of this NYCC B18 ride on July 26th to cancel. I had no idea that they'd canceled but didn't care: I was out on my bike for the day and had an advance copy of the cue sheet so I tried to follow it. Despite some missed (and missing) turns and slight errors on the cue sheet I largely followed the route.

I ate lunch at Harbor Island Park in Mamaroneck, overlooking the harbor as seen in the photo at left and watching the boats come and go. There were no working water fountains in the park, though there were working bathrooms, possibly because there were several vending machines selling bottled water and other drinks. After lunch, I cycled up into town and found a store where I bought a 24 oz bottle of water to top off my camelbak.

I followed the cue sheet for awhile. When I came to Pelham Rd., I diverted onto the Pelham Rd. greenway and followed that to another greenway to City Island and over the City Island Bridge as seen in the photo at left.

City Island's main street, seen in the photo at left, leads to the Long Island Sound

The parking lots for the fast food tourist trap resturants at the bottom of the road afforded some nice views of Long Island Sound.

From the same vantage point one can see the Throgs Neck Bridge in the distance.

The ride home through the Bronx on the rest of the Pelham Greenway was reasonably pleasant. The views from a drawbridge I came to showed the dichotomy of cycling this route. On my right, in the photo at left, a view of the tall apartment buildings of Co-Op City. The next photo, below, shows the bucolic view to my right of grassy knolls in undisturbed waters.

I made it home around 4:30 PM. The rains did eventually come shortly after 6PM. It took me extra time because I periodically had to stop and check my location against the map (via GPS) and the cue sheet. With a leader to show the way, I would have kept a faster steadier pace but it was still a good day out on the bike if humid.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Thunder and lightnining

I had to cancel today's Ashokan Reservoir ride. The New Paltz area was due to get lots of rain along with thunder and lightning. The weather satellite images showed solid cloud cover with rain over the entire region. I checked the weather forecast again later this morning and found that the weather was worse than expected with severe thunderstorms at noon until 2pm with no relief afterward, just as I expected from the forecast.

I called those folks for whom I had phone #s and emailed the others. I had two riders who were supposed to meet me at GCT at 7:30AM but one I had no cell phone or home phone # so I emailed him and the other one I could not reach so at 7:20 AM I headed out on my bike to GCT to inform them in person (and perhaps grab a muffin from Zaro's Breadbakset). As I cycled down Fifth Ave., I got a call from the fellow whose cell phone I had repeatedly called (but whose cell phone voicemail greeting says "I do not use this voicemail" and says to call his office voicemail, which I did but which seemed rather futile). He said he was all alone at GCT and I told him the ride was canceled.

Having canceled the ride I took my next right over to Sixth Ave. and went up and into Central Park to do some laps. As I neared the top of the East Drive, the rain came. I pedaled harder. I managed to get up Harlem Hill at 10 mph as the rain intensified and continued down to the 72nd st ramp and headed home.