Tuesday, September 29, 2009

NYC to Bear Mtn and Storm King Oct. 12th

My next NYCC ride leaves from Eleanor Roosevelt statue, 72nd St and Riverside Drive at 8 AM.
It is 80 miles and a 'B18' meaning moderate difficulty with an 18 mph cruising speed on level ground: faster downhill, slower up hill.

This hilly Columbus Day ride with a rotating single paceline will take us up Seven Lakes to Bear Mountain with a stop at a kosher bagel shop in Monsey along the way. After we climb Perkins and picnic there for lunch, it's on to Storm King After Storm King, we'll head to Beacon to catch Metro North home. In case of need, there is an option to bail via Harriman Station instead of pushing on to Beacon.

We will try to make the 5:18 PM train home from Beacon. Next trains depart 5:57pm and 6:57PM.

- your paceline skills
- front and rear lights for night return when you get back to the city.
- consider bringing layers (jacket etc.) as the weather may be cool in the morning and evening.
- lunch or buy something at the bagel shop (dairy only)...or both.

RSVP via e-mail: limited to 15 riders.


I setup the the Cycle Ops Fluid 2 trainer tonight. My 'road' bike is mounted on the trainer, in the living room. I now need to find where I put my heart rate monitor and I need to go back to J&R to get the cadence sensor replaced (of course, I've lost the magnet). I thought initially perhaps it was the battery but since it registers the speed sensor magnet but doesn't peer with the Edge 750 via ANT wireless, the sensor is obviously defective. I'm guessing I will get a run-around from J&R which means I will have to find my receipt and send the thing back to Garmin (not the GPS, which since it peered with the heart rate sensor when I had used it, is working as an ANT network node just fine).

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Move on up to 'A'

"Slow it back to 19!" I called out to the rider in the lead as we zoomed along the East Drive in Central Park at 22 mph earlier this evening. I was on my first NYCC A19 training ride. Doug Moreira runs a "Tuesday Night Training Ride" series for NYCC. At the start, Doug went over the procedures: we were to take 20-second pulls; keep to the 19 MPH speed (on level ground -- faster downhill, slower uphill) and that on the Harlem Hill we would split up and everyone climb at their own pace but that we would regroup on the other side. Doug would ride alongside us as our coach, not in the pack. That means Doug works harder than those of us in the pack.

This ride was a very different experience than Linda's early-morning rides. The conditions were more challenging with many others on the road: pedicabs, sometimes two or three abreast; horse-drawn carriages; the occasional police or Parks vehicle; joggers (though they stayed in the recreation lane this became an issue when we had to use that lane because of obstructions). The riders were a mixed group: despite that A riders are supposed to have paceline skills, this wasn't the case for all (I'm no great expert but I know what to do from having done Linda Wintner's early-morning paceline clinic rides for several weeks whereas it seems two of the riders didn't have any such practice). After the ride, Doug reminded me to make minor steering adjustments by leaning -- use my hips rather than arms. I noticed myself that I had to remember to keep my right arm not only flexed but relaxed.

All issues notwithstanding, I had fun and I pushed myself. I don't think I've ever ridden up Harlem Hill that fast much less on 2 consecutive laps. I need to work on stamina and climbing ability: the third lap up Harlem Hill I just couldn't push so hard anymore: I down-shifted and spun up the hill at about 10 mph instead of trying to do 13. After riding out the downhill, I dropped my pace to just under 15 mph as I rode down the West Drive back to the Tavern on the Green start point. By the time I got there, I had recovered and could breathe normally.

I think its time I setup and used the trainer I bought. Tomorrow night...meanwhile, Doug invited me back for next Tuesday night.

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Riding many miles over the streets of Brooklyn , Queens and the Bronx this past Sunday was pretty hard on my butt despite wearing Pearl Izumi P.R.O shorts. It wasn't just vibration but also the burning of perspiration rolling down from my lower back. I have three pairs of road shorts: one off-brand from Bike Nashbar was my first pair of shorts and was certainly a big difference over riding in regular clothes. As I started doing higher mileage and harder rides, I bought a pair of Pearl Izumi Slice Ultrasensor shorts and indeed they were considerably better than the Nashbar house brand.

While there are substantive differences one can see between the P.R.O and the Slice shorts, such as the grippers on the legs, I haven't felt significant difference in comfort of the P.R.O. over the Slice.

I also own two sets of insulated winter bib tights with built-in chamois: the Pearl Izumi Slice thermafleece and the Cannondale LE Carbon all-weather bib tights. The Pearl Izumi bib tights are theoritecially the same chamois as the shorts but it seems bigger and thicker to me. It is my very subjective opionion that both pairs of bib tights are more comfortable with better padding than the road shorts. The trouble is that in winter temperatures I don't go out and ride 80-100 miles a day though I do get some rough roads.

With the winter bib tights in mind along with the description of bib shorts as for "high mileage" cyclists, I ordered two pairs from Performance Bike recently: the Pearl Izumi Slice UltraSensor Bib Short and, because it was out of stock and to try the house brand which got good reviews, Performance Ultra II bib short. I'll post my initial impression after I've received them and had a chance to give them a try.

Bicycle Access to buildings in NYC

This past August 13th, Mayor Bloomberg signed Intro 871a into law. This law requires buildings with freight elevators to allow bicycles in. It takes effect 120 days after signing. Another useful law signed the same day is the bicycle parking law Intro 780-A which requires parking garages of over 100 spaces to include bicycle parking as well as that for automobiles. It takes effect 90 days after signing.

I inquired at work about any plans for these laws. None is contemplated despite that our building has freight elevators and contains a parking garage for over 100 vehicles. I'm pushing on them just a little now; we'll see how that goes. The facilities director had never heard of either of these measures despite NY Times coverage but when I requested him to do so, he made inquiries.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

104+ miles through the City

"Enjoy your jog" said my friend Marty; "I won't be riding the NYC Century, it's much too slow; I did ". As I pedaled along the Shore Greenway in Brooklyn at just over 20 mph, I recalled what Marty said. I grinned and dodged another small group of much slower cyclists while calling out greetings: "How y'all doing this fine morning?" I said though by the time most folks responded I was already out of earshot.

I had gotten a bit of a late start, leaving Central Park at 8 AM. As a result, I had to work my way past many 15 and 35 mile riders. It was great to see so many riders on the Brooklyn Bridge enjoying their ride. Once we got into Brooklyn, I was able to get past many riders. Climbing the hills of Park Slope in a harder gear made for a better workout and gave me more power to get past other riders.

At the Prospect Park rest stop, I saw some of my riding buddies from the 5BBC including Ken Williams who was marshaling the 55 mile route.

After Prospect Park, I was able to cruise at 18 mph as we made our way to the Greenway. As we went through Coney Island, a section of Emmons Ave. was wide open and I pushed myself as hard as possible for a couple of minutes. I reached 24.8 mph on that level stretch of road then eased back down to 18 mph again.

This year we had a new section of route through the Rockaways after the Marine Park rest stop, on the 75/100 miler route. It was a breezy day and we saw fabulous kites in the sky over the beach as we rode along the boardwalk. I passed a few riders and most told me they were doing the 75 mile route; one told me he was planning to do 55 so I told him he'd made a wrong turn and was well on his way along the 75 mile route. I encouraged him to give it a try as we had plenty of time left in the day and moved on.

When I got onto the Gil Hodges bridge as we headed north , I started asking riders what distance they planned on riding as I passed them.. Most answered 75, which was very appropriate. A few, rolling along at about 11 mph, said they were trying for the 100. I informed them I was the sweep on the 100 and urged them to pick up the pace and to consider their options at Astoria. I never saw them again.

The pace through the Greenway in Queens after Kissena was mostly slower as it wound its way through Cunningham Park, though that route segment included both some climbing and fast descents as we crossed the Harbor Hill Morraine. Along the Joe Michaels Mile, I cruised around 16 mph; I was getting a bit tired after pushing hard for over 50 miles (one of the benefits I missed of group riding with a rotating paceline). Still, the weather held and I arrived at Astoria Park rest stop shortly after 4PM where I found Bob Ross, the sweep captain, and Paulis from Poughkeepsie, the other remaining sweep team member.

Shortly after 4:30PM, we set forth at a moderate pace to sweep the 100 miler portion of the route. Once we got to the Bronix, we encountered a few riders going too slow and warned them that they were now on their own. One trio we encountered as we rode near the Bronx Zoo was an 8-year-old boy on a mountain bike with his Mom and Dad riding their bikes. He confirmed he was doing the 100 mile; when we told his Mom that we were the sweeps, she decided they should turn back to the subway at 180th St. That they got as far as they did is absolutely amazing (and probably a bit much for an 8 year old).

A few riders awaited us at Van Cortlandt Park Rest stop, which was next to the entrance to the "Old Put" trail. As we left, a few more riders straggled in. Some of them caught up to us as we entered Manhattan and we formed a peloton with Bob on point and I brought up the rear (Paulis had gone on ahead). It was getting dark and I had the only headlight; Bob had put on his rear flashers. We reached Central Park shortly before 7:30PM.

A long day on the roads of NYC but a lot of fun.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Clausland Mountain

The climb up Clausland Mountain Road felt longer than the .3 miles listed in the NYCC regional hill guide. The park didn't in fact have the advertised picnic area but given that there's no other option we stopped there, ate our lunch and took this photo.

The day started with a much larger group. I announced our route and plan for the day to the assembled riders. I specifically mentioned that we'd go up 155th St. and make our way to the GWB from there as well as the 18 mph cruising speed and that we'd go via River Road in NJ. A group of riders nonetheless proceeded up Riverside Drive to 165th St., hammering a 20 mph pace. I felt I had to follow them though I refused to match their pace lest I leave the rest of the riders behind.

The lead riders did stop after crossing the bridge to wait for me but as soon as I arrived they proceeded to head north on Hudson Terrace despite my loudly calling to them that they were going the wrong way. That left me with four riders to follow me to Palisades Park. We opined that we were better off without impetuous hammerheads who wouldn't stay with the group and headed for River Road.

At the traffic circle for the Edgewater boat basin, Eliot split off. He was just ahead of me by a second or two and I called out loudly to him that he was going the wrong way but he ignored me. The rest of us figured he'd catch up to us at Alpine and continued. We never saw or heard from Eliot again. With the park full of cyclists, police and motorists we weren't worried about Eliot's safety.

Our group formed up in a paceline on 9W and headed north. We had a great time and the paceline went fairly well. I managed to hold my line fairly well. As the miles went by, we got better at keeping a consistent pace. I had no trouble communicating turns (I didn't prepare/distribute a cue sheet, I just programmed my GPS and in so doing studied the map; I'm familiar with the overall area from other trips up the lower Hudson Valley) to the lead rider even from the back of the line.

Here's the
Garmin Connect - Activity Details for this trip

My constraint for the day was that I had to get back by 2PM to get ready for the trip to New City. We got back at 2:22 PM but it worked out in the end: by the time I got myself showered and dressed, my wife still was almost ready and I didn't have to wait long.
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Friday, September 4, 2009

NYC Century

The Transportation Alternatives NYC Century Bike Tour rolls on Sept. 13th from Central Park with 5 route options: 15 mile (escorted); 35 mile; 55 mile; 75 mile and 100 mile. I'm riding sweep on the 100 mile route. If you're riding one of the shorter routes, I may see you on the road somewhere before the 55 mile mark. I hope that all of you folks reading this who ride more than 55 miles are sufficiently far ahead that you reach the finish before my fellow sweep marshals and myself.

If you haven't signed up yet, I recommend you do so. It's a great way to see NYC.
Per the NYC Century website, if you register by September 11th and you will be entered win a mixed case of Brooklyn Brewery beers.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A ride for Sunday

I've got to keep the training going. Paceline practice in Central Park is great for bike handling skill but the climbs are not so steep and not so long. In a paceline, I can't just put my bike in a harder gear: I need to maintain a steady cadence and maintain position; on the major climbs in Israel, we'll all separate and climb at our own abilities since paceline doesn't help below 15 mph.

Regardless, I need to get as many of the NYC area WOL Challenge riders together as possible at least twice before the trips. With the NYC Century and 3 weeks of Yom Tov on Sunday I'm running out of Sundays. Therefore I'm going to put in an NYCC ride up the lower Hudson Valley via River Road leaving from the Eleanor Roosevelt statue at 8:30 AM and aim to return back 2PM. I intend to run a single rotating paceline (except on the return down Riverside Drive we'll run a double if we've enough people) where practical. It's a 55 mile route with hills. I'll list it as an NYCC B18 ride meaning we keep a 18 mph cruising speed on level ground (I personally intend to zoom down River Road from Edgewater at 30+ mph...no point to a rotating paceline on River Road, there's precious little level ground on the road from Edgewater to Alpine).

The route is a combination of the "Nyack Classic" and "Nyack with Hills" rides from NYCC library. The key difference is that I'm not taking the group into downtown Piermont or Nyack. Instead, we'll do hills. Specifically, the NYCC listed climb of Clausland Mountain Rd., an 11% grade for .31 miles. We'll stop at Tackamack Park North, which has a picnic area, for lunch. After that we'll continue up and around on Tweed and Bradley and back onto 303 to 340 and home (with the additional climb of Churchill Rd.). finishing this ride in 5 hours is a real challenge only possible if we get a paceline. If short on time and stamina, we'll have to bypass the Tweed climb.

I tried to put the complete route into Bikeroutetoaster but it drove me crazy.
Here's a google map:

View Larger Map

We might punt on coming down Piermont Ave and stay on 9W, substituting a climb on 9W for the climb on Churchill. Coming down Piermont is somewhat safer but there's more traffic lights.

Paceline continues

I've managed to get up for Linda's paceline clinic 3x now. Sunrise is getting later just as the weather is cooling off to the point where I considered wearing my jacket Tuesday morning but am glad I decided not to.

I have less trouble holding my line in solo practice but when it comes to that first lap or two around Central Park I still have some trouble. Practice, practice, practice.

The Challenge route group for WOL looks like a mixed bag. One veteran rider, Steve N., told me that on the first day, the organizers will move (or ask to voluntarily accept transfer) of the weakest riders down to the regular on-road group. Steve says the strongest riders ride very fast in a strong paceline and some even race each other.
Steve doesn't sound like too strong a rider when he said he was hoping to stay on my rear wheel. I don't intend to pull for hundreds of miles! I can't do anything about those not in the NYC area but I've got to try to get as many of these Challenge riders together and make sure they understand rotating paceline. Of course, I don't want to have an 18 mph paceline slow to a 15mph paceline when some weaker rider gets rotated up front.
That's OK in a practice session and it's not terrible on a day ride back here in the US but when we have 81 miles to cover and the police are holding the road closed we have a deadline -- not to mention the 11,000 feet of climbing.