Monday, March 29, 2010

TransIowa Training Part Deux

Well Saturday was another big test for TransIowa. I had a hilly 100+ mile ride set up and wanted to hit the road nice and early to get some early hour training in. TransIowa starts at 4:00am so your body better be ready to go nice and early. Mother Nature had another plan in store - lows in the mid-teens warming up to 40 or so. Come on that is crazy so I delayed to 8:30am to let the sun shine somewhat!

Yes I will be riding all the way down in the far valleys - far far away :)

After my delay I headed out and started to head towards "ski country". In Western New York we have Lake Erie to our west and then some nice hills about 20+ miles inland that just dumped on with Lake Effect snow all winter long. My house is on the northern boundary line and we generally miss the big ones and they settle to the south. I pedaled towards Springville and then kept heading further south to my lunch refueling location of Ellicottville.

Just on the outskirts of Ellicottville, NY - glad this was downhill at this point - I was ready for lunch :)

I pulled into Ellicottville at 1:00pm and grabbed a personal pan pizza, pop, water, and chocolate milk. All was well except the Chocolate Milk - made for some interesting immediate post-lunch climbs but I survived :) They were still skiing also - which surprised me because KB by my house has been closed for over 1 week now. Different climates :)

Holimont off in the distance - I should have taken a picture when I was closer but I was ready to ride :)

Part of the allure of TransIowa is the thrill of walking some sections AKA hike-A-bike's. These are either a necessity because of the conditions of the roads, the steepness of the hill the RD throws in, or a combination of the 2!!!! I was hoping to come across some of both on this ride to test the bike out and test the legs out. Well I found it - sometimes that which you ask for is not a good thing :) I remember how much they hurt last year!!!

This was just after a nice 1/4 mile or longer hike a bike hill section. The road was pretty soft so it was a good Iowa test for sure!

So I headed out of Ellicottville and started to make my way back north towards home. I knew there would be some fun times ahead and I just pedaled along enjoying the scenery and lack of traffic. Then I came across this:

I had no backup plan so I walked around the barrier and rode down to see how bad it was. Last fall we had some nasty thunderstorms blow through and I thought this might be the result of some heavy flooding we received. A little down the road I came across this:

Just as I figured out - wash out. I walked across and up the hill and headed out. I came across some more down in the Zoar Valley area but there I decided to turn the bike up the biggest meanest hill that made me walk again instead of tempting fate. I had a sense of where I was but no real directions but it worked out in the end.

Cruised home from there after another refueling stop. All in all a 109+ mile day in the saddle, some great training for Iowa, and a great time on the bike. One more huge day coming before we head to Colorado and then it will be a lot of spinning and just having fun on the bike :) But then again hills like that and hike-a-bikes are fun - that is why I do what I do I guess :)

Get out there and ride!

Monday, March 22, 2010

TransIowa Training Weekend

So this weekend was a gorgeous cool dry weekend. It reminded me of late September/Early October time around Western New York but the leaves are already on the ground then and they are just getting ready to bud now (if even this early - it is only March 22nd I keep reminding myself!)

Saturday I set the alarm for 6:00am and tossed and turned for a while before getting up, eating some oatmeal, confirming forecast, and getting dressed for the bike ride. I probably didn't get out of the house until around 6:45 or a little later but that is alright.

I forgot the camera though - that is not alright!

Out the door I went and headed off to never never land. No particular direction in mind - just lots and lots of miles (next weekend is my TransWesternNewYork bike route ride so I have a plan for then). I toured West Falls, Orchard Park, East Aurora, Elma, Lancaster and maybe even Alden (depends on where the town line falls for them). I rode flat, I rode hills, basically I just rode.

My plan was to be home by 12:00-12:30 and rolled in around 12:45. My wife tells me Todd (my Freedom Tour partner) wants to ride a little. I gulp, say ok, run my son to his friends house, ate as much as possible in that short of a time, and head out again for a 1:30 meet up at the country store.

I arrive about 1:33 and walk into the store to grab a gatorade and peanut butter cup. Come out expecting to see Todd in the lot but no where to be seen yet. I gulp some gatorade and down the PB Cups and head off down towards the way Todd ALWAYS goes (you know it is interesting story time when someone capitalizes ALWAYS right?).

I am traveling down figuring I will see him over the next crest, turn on Davis expecting to see him just barely down the road, cruise through Jewett Holmwood, determine he had a mechanical and figure I will find him in his garage when I arrive at his house. Well he is not there, but his son is. So we call and he is at the country store. He went Jewett Holmwood to Freeman which he never does unless he is going to see his in-laws!

We laugh and determine to meet on the route I just came down. Hook up occurs at post office, so we head south to Kissing Bridge area. Great conversation occurs and we determine on our way back that pizza has been earned. We pull into Bob's store and grab a slice of pizza, eat it, have some more good conversation, and head our separate ways home. Almost 9 hours on the bike Saturday.

Sunday I realize the sump pump has died. So I go to church, skip Sunday School, head to Hardware Store, fix sump pump, change again, head off to Sprague Brook on my 29'er Mountain Bike.

Forgot camera again :(

I severely under-prepared for this ride! I didn't bring tire bars if I flatted but was not too worried about that because the tires usually come off fairly easy. I did not have enough water/food for the ride but wanted to see how I reacted sort of like in a TransIowa situation! I did a scout trip for TransWesternNewYork ride and did some major hill climbs. Glad I had the granny gear on the bike for sure!

Made it to the park and was going to see how the cross country trail area was for riding - too wet. I turn back around and head home figuring I would cruise up a nice flat stretch but had a headwind the whole way home :(. Took some side turns and hit some more major hillage for our area. Made it home and was done for the day and weekend!

All together just over 130 miles and almost 12 hours in the saddle. More to come!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Sunrise Walk Into Work

A nice picture of the lighthouse and the thawed Lake Erie!!!!!

I think I was officially tired this morning. So I slept in a little, put my beautiful daughter on the bus, and drove to work without stopping at the gym. I got to work pretty early and it was too nice of a morning out to go spend an extra 60 minutes locked inside a cubical so I walked around the marina and cobblestone district of Buffalo and took some pictures.

My first stop was the Vietnam Veterans Monument - These soldiers fought a very difficult war - My heart breaks every time I see a movie or read a story about this time period.
A poem by a veteran they have inscribed by the memorial wall.

The morning was cool so I threw my hat and gloves on, plugged my ears with IPod music, got the camera ready, and headed out. We have some very cool features in Downtown Buffalo around the Marina so I walked around down there and then headed over by HSBC Arena.

Yep the furthest west point of The Erie Canal

So I continued on my walk and the sun started to rise.
Just creeping up over the horizon. I had to keep walking further east because of that building on the left - it kept blocking the sun!!!And the final shot up towards downtown Buffalo from the Cobblestone District. See the cobblestone on the road - they do a crit race here each summer - I have not been brave enough to attempt that but maybe this will be the year!

Have a great day and get out there and enjoy the beautiful weather!

Monday, March 15, 2010

Weekend Training - Rain Drop Dodging

So this weekend I had visions of doing 50 mile bike rides in the sunshine and spring warmth of Western New York.

Well mother nature did not agree with me at all so I cut the mileage back and punished myself by doing some hill work around the area. I ended up doing 2 20 mile bike rides but got some serious good hill work in. That is the great thing about my house; if I want to do hills I don't have to travel at all.

First of all I swam more between Friday morning and this morning than I have in any month in my whole life and my arms are dead!

Saturday I woke up and did my swim/run combo workout at the YMCA and then ran our typical Saturday errands. The forecast was for rain all day long so I was mentally preparing myself for a wet ride by taking a Saturday afternoon nap. I then picked my daughter and her friend up from the movies and by the time I convinced myself a ride is necessary the rain had moved out of the area.

I did a loop around our incorporating some small, medium, and large hills. I think my average speed ended up being only 13 mph or so, not that I am wicked fast, but for my avg to be under 15 means there were a lot of hills involved. And it did not rain!!!!

Sunday I had this brilliant idea of waking up at 4:00am and going for a 3 hour ride before church. Well with daylight savings time and the lost hour I thought better and slept in. I had to clean snow of the car when we finally did leave for church so I think it was a well planned sleep in!

Did another swim/run workout after church and then had a birthday party to attend. Took the kid's to Youth Group, went home and put my earlier workout in my BT log, got changed, and headed out for another ride. I was going to go solely flat and on my way down to the lowland I had a great idea - head up one of the bigger hills around and take that to the flat ground.

I did some more hills on the way home and decided I was officially tired!

Today is Mechanic Monday as I have to fix the commuter's flat that has been there since last Tuesday, switch rear racks around, take the studded snow tire off of my Bianchi, clean her up from the winter, and then relax.

So no riding today but tomorrow is a commute. Hopefully I can get some nice spring time pictures to post.

Have a great day and go ride your bike if you have one - if not, go support your local economy and hit the LBS up and buy one :)

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

First Commute is in the Books

Today was the day I had picked out going back to last week - I was going to commute today as long as the forecast held - and it did.

The first commute is always a pain because I have to go back to last year and think about everything I brought with me, where it was, and how am I going to transport it downtown and back home.

Bike Lock - last used on Christmas Trip to Florida. Left in garage with keys on BBQ. Grabbed it last night and it was basically rusted (salted) shut. Shot some power lube into the lock and the key inserted but it did not turn. Crap - time to run to LBS for a new lock!

Lights - All set because of all of the riding I have been doing this winter. Picked a backup last night at LBS just in case.

Backpack - Well since I am going a tour this summer I have panniers so I decided to give these a shot. I loaded them up with everything I always carried in my backpack and the bike was heavier but my back was lighter :)

Bike - I generally take my Raleigh One Way for my commute. I put my cross tires on it recently for road riding just in case I hit some slush or snow. I put a little extra air in my tires because of the weight of the load it was carrying and headed off.

Well I made it about 1.5 miles from home and hit a bump and my rear wheel started making a noise. The tire did not seat properly so I lowered the pressure to re-seat it and headed back home. Made it about .75 miles and the tire went totally flat on me. Time for a hike/bike.

This gave my mind time to convince me I should just go for a run, clean up, and head off to work in the car. Figured I could hit the Y on the way home and do a workout there and all would be good. About 1/2 way home on the walking portion - for those following .75 ride/.75 walk so .375 or so into my walk - I got mad and decided I was going to fix the flat because I always leave earlier than necessary because of traffic and getting ready and cooling down.

The dilemma was which bike to ride???? Fix the flat on my One Way Single Speed or fix the flat that my touring Masi Randonneur got on the rollers somehow (explanation if you have one because I have no clue on that!).

Gears/Single Speed??

Downhill to work Single Speed is nice - Uphill home Gears are nice.

First commute of the year - take it easy

So I fixed the flat on the Masi, headed off to work, and got here in my standard 1 hour 5-10 minute. Ride home is always 1 hour 15-30 minutes depending on nutrition during the day. The last hill is a killer :)

It was nice not having a backpack also! Glad I went with the panniers!

Monday, March 8, 2010

My Final Snowmobile Trail Ride of the Season :(

Yesterday I set my alarm for 6:00 am to get a short sunrise bike ride in before church. The thought came to me Saturday while I was out riding and decided to hit my valley overlook at 6:42'ish to get some photos.
The moon as I set out from the house - time was approximately 6:15am.

So I decided to do a little road spinning on the mountain bike to loosen up the legs. It felt good just cruising along so I took it easy and did a little more of that. I went out to the my closest far point because the point of the ride was sunrise and I did not want to miss it.
This spot is about 1/4 mile from my house through the woods. Unfortunately I have to ride my bike to get to the trail head but when I am skiing I get here pretty easily!

The sky teased me and so I set off at a leisurely pace. I read I had until around 6:42'ish so I was not pushing real hard and also because my legs were still a little sore from Saturday's workout (and the past weeks - who am I kidding!). I kept looking up and seeing the pinks/oranges but not the official sun so I kept riding.

Well I made it to the point where I knew I was getting close to my location (I had only ever been there at night so I was not real familiar with it) and then all of a sudden I turned a little more due east and the sun was blasting at me through the maple trees. I should have stopped to take a picture but took off in search of my spot.
This was the first spot I stopped to shoot it but I soon realized I had a better location - just had to rush over there before the sun hit the cloud line!

I put it into high gear (on my Single Speed mind you) and cruised through some more trees and then I hit my spot. I was afraid I would have to post hole through the meadow some but I was in perfect line with the sun so I shot away!

This photo made it worthwhile to be awake that early on a Sunday morning. I could feel the warmth on my face as I stared at the light source!

I was quite content at this moment. The sun was warming my face as I stared at it and I just felt a total peace sweep over me. These moments are so special and hopefully never forgotten.
I sat there a little while longer and then decided to drop off the trail and head back home. Going back on the trail would have meant substantial hike/bike and I just wasn't up to it. Plus I would have missed this shot!This is my favorite shot besides the road and telephone line. It looks like the trees are holding the sun up just for me!

I slowed to check out the sun some more and tried to see if the local church would have made for a good shot with the sun and steeple but there was a wing added on that would have blocked the shot so I rode on.

I wonder if people think I am crazy for riding that early in the morning but I think they are crazy because they missed this!

Have a great day!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Late Winter/Early Spring Bike Rides

Wow - the sun has been shining so brightly this week. Sometimes I think it is because it has been so long since we last saw it around Buffalo. My ongoing statement about Buffalo is that the sun goes down November 1st and you don't see it again until April 1st. It returned early this year and it has been super awesome!

The bad thing is that your mind thinks back to when it was warm and sunny and you "think" it is a lot warmer than it really is. Especially when you add wind chill and bike speed to the equation. Wednesday afternoon I had an appointment with my bike tour buddy for a photo shoot so we could get some pictures of us riding our bikes up on the website. I got home early and left for a long warm up ride.

I knew it was cool so I put a wicking shirt on, then my Mountain Hardware shell, and 2 bike jerseys (this comes from TransIowa where they load up on the shirts and you control temperature with all the zippers!). It never bothers me leaving a little on the cold side because I figure I will warm up along the way. Well that never happened!

View off Buffalo from Chestnut Ridge Park. Large white building in middle of picture is the Bill's Practice Dome. That is a pretty cool facility. This gives you a hint as to the hill that I live on. I work downtown and love my commute to work - but the ride home gets tiring!
Toboggan Chutes at Chestnut Ride Park. They just re-opened this year after at least 15-20 years. What a blast!
My commuter bike set up. Right now it has cross tires on it but those will go flat once the weather breaks for good!
An action shot of me in our church parking lot.
My buddy (and tour partner and pastor) Todd and I riding together. There will be a lot of this coming up after TransIowa. I am ready for the tour but not TransIowa. How can someone be ready for a 1700 mile 30 day journey and not a 320 mile 32 hour journey? Because TransIowa is going to hurt!

Have a great weekend and I plan on getting some bike time in again!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Ski and Bike Trip from Sunday

Yesterday was a glorious day. We had a lot of wet, heavy snow fall from Friday to Sunday morning and the trees were coated in the most awesome snow coating I have seen around here in a long long time.

We did our typical Sunday routine - wake up, church, Sunday School, and then we divided and conquered. I had the kids and my wife went to sister's house to hang out with them. We ran a couple of errands, ate some lunch, and I suited up. I had about 2-2.5 hours until we had to leave for Gold Medal Hockey game party at a friends house.

These are my tracks from Saturday through this meadow - there are some cool Christmas trees in a little deeper but the bike would not make it!

So after all the snow and how awesome the skiing was on Saturday I decided to hit the cross country skis even though the trail looked awesome for snowmobile trail bike riding. It was a workout getting to the snowmobile trails on the skis and I regretted it. The snow was very wet and the skis were not gliding good enough. So I headed home and planned on a quick switchover to my bike gear.

The snowmobile trail heading east and downhill. This is where I do my hill intervals on the skis and snowshoes.

The switch went painless and I hopped on the bike hoping the trail would cooperate with me.

This tree just caught my eye - seems so lonely out in the middle of a cold empty meadow. I hope to check it out this summer and see what it looks like in it's full armor!

The horse ranch by our house - the horses were as interested in me as I was in them. They probably don't see much ski traffic

My first breakout and getting ready to ski downhill. I cannot believe I can go out my backdoor and get to this fun laden area with minimal effort and no gasoline at all!

This is our front tree and you can see how the snow weighed it down because it is usually spread wide open.

My winter snowbike - Single Speed Bianchi MUSS - great bike for trails if you are willing to walk it up hill!

So I got to the trail and it was in great condition. The sun was out and I only wished I had a lot longer to ride but I told the kid's we would go to the party and I wanted to keep my word even though selfishly I wanted to ride as far as possible before dark!
A shot of my bike with the trail heading west towards Lake Erie!

I know there won't be many more days like this in the near future and I will be restricted to road riding until TransIowa and then mountain bike trails once they dry out. Days like this make me want to move to Alaska and just ride around the middle of nowhere for as long as possible.

My studded snowtires that I picked up 2 winters ago in Colorado. I should swap that out for my regular tire but it cuts into my riding time :)

Well this is where the trail heads into Chestnut Ridge Park. I biffed it pretty good a couple of times when my tire would go from smooth crusty snow to mud snow but it is all fun and games when I don't get hurt. I think I went over the handlebars 2 times on this ride. Hopefully that keeps me safe on the asphalt the rest of the year :)

Get out there and ride your bike - this is so beautiful it is hard to express in words!