Thursday, August 28, 2008


Finally I've got some time for my D2R2 report. Having never done a randonee or a long-distance off-road ride, I developed a mild obsession with equipment. What should we use? I consulted with MegA and Kerry and studied photos on MegA's blog and Solobreak. I learned a bit about rando bikes from my friend Robert, who recently did a 200k randonee on an IF fixed gear one day after he had surgery on his elbow.

I ended up ordering a pair of Michelin Dynamic tires for my 'cross bike in 700x28 on Kerry's suggestion. Ed used the ride as an excuse to order a long-wanted compact crankset for his 'cross bike. After reading this report, Ed suggested that we put the Dynamics on the front wheels of our bikes and Ritchey Speedmaxes on the back. We also used Rock Shox seatposts. We both had a low gear of 34x27. I used my road shoes and pedals since I knew those were dialed in and comfortable for long rides. And of course I borrowed some King cages from another bike. They're very durable and non-marking. We ended up being pretty happy with our equipment choices, although I wouldn't have minded an easier gear at points.

I made a very simple map holder with a ziploc bag and binder clips, which I would not recommend. Every time I hit a bump the clips let go. Ed's navigation system, based on Meg's from last year, was very useful and refined. He turned the cue sheet into a long strip of paper, then took a paper towel tube and cut two slits in it. He taped chopsticks to each end of the paper and fed the paper through the slits. He covered everything with plastic wrap and sealed the ends with packing tape to make it waterproof, then attached the tube to his brake cables with electrical tape.

The gear obsession was of course not really necessary. We saw a variety of bikes, all of which were successfully ridden to the end of the course as far as I know. A selection:

  • - Mountain bike with smooth tires and an old-style aero bar
  • - Cyclocross bike being ridden by a triathlete in a tiny tri suit (no pockets) with bottle ejectors. Guess who picked up one of the bottles and cages when it was duly ejected on the final descent.
  • - Full-on rando bikes, leather flaps on the end of the fenders, Brooks saddles, riders with lots of facial hair and stuffed, saggy wool jersey pockets. Mustachioed men with mustache bars.

We saw some road bikes as well but the majority of people were on 'cross bikes with low-profile 'cross tires.

So finally, on to the ride. The first section was brutal: 12.7 miles, 2240' climbing. The climbs were pretty loose and by the time we got to the top of the climb before the first control my back was killing me. I found some old aspirin or something like that in my seat bag. Yum. Just before the first control we saw and heard a man bagpiping in his front yard.

After the first control we headed up into Vermont. Ed got these photos before and after the state line.

The second control was at the covered bridge on the Green River back in Massachusetts. Lots of great food at this stop. We corrected our roadie error of overinflating our tires and felt much better afterwards. (I also got a nice compliment on the team kit. Thank you, Brad Sheehan!)

After the bridge it was flat for 10 miles and I felt great. :) We passed a sheep who was hanging out alone in a yard, right up by the fence, baaing at us in a very territorial manner as we rode past. He was like a dog in sheep's clothing. We got to the third control, Apex Orchards, and enjoyed the tastiest peaches I've ever had.

The ride to the finish had a section that the cue sheet described as a "gnarly descent." It was in fact gnarly and I had to get off my bike a couple times because I was too tired to pick the right line. We got back onto roads that looked familiar and I was so excited to finish. Here I am covered with dirt. And I did not at any point fall off my bike.

The verdict: it was better than Cats! I would ride it again and again.

The numbers:

Monday, August 18, 2008

My husband, the coffee snob

As we walked back during low tide from Salt Island to Good Harbor Beach in Gloucester, we walked past some Dunkin' Donuts cups. I stopped and turned around to pick them up. It was disgusting, but I am still the person who did a project on plastics killing marine mammals for the science fair in 7th grade.

me: I was going to leave them, but then I thought they might wash out to sea and I felt bad.

Ed: Yes, that's a tough call.

me: Really?

Ed: Does saving the planet outweigh the risk of being mistaken for someone who drinks Dunkin' Donuts coffee?

Friday, August 15, 2008

In the money

Yes, I was 10th, and yes, it was $20, but I was still pretty happy about my race at the Gate City Cyclone Crit last Saturday. The field was completely dominated by two teams, so I resisted the urge to chase anything down and instead concentrated on riding smoothly and feeling comfortable in the corners. Done and done. With one to go I tried to poach the NEBC train but I moved up too early. We got swarmed and I was too far back when the field sprint started, but like I said I'm still happy. It was a real confidence booster.

On Saturday night we headed to CT for an early birthday dinner for my sister-in-law, Liz, and a nice visit with the in-laws. I went to do the Tokeneke RR just 8 miles from my MIL's house. We were with the 55+ guys which made for a huge field (50 women, 20 guys). I went to the front figuring I might as well pull to Beach Rock Road if I could since I always get dropped there. However it was not totally downhill for that first 8 miles as I remembered. :) I made it about halfway and then stayed at the back, getting stuck behind some guy who locked up his rear wheel apropos of nothing just before the turn onto Beach Rock, a nasty, bumpy climb. After that I was alone and tried to ride my own pace. I really don't enjoy the climbing though. 2400 ft/22 mile lap, x2. It's all up or down. Around mile 15 I saw Ed riding around. He rode next to me to the start/finish and then I dropped out. I got the camera and we got some pics of my teammates while riding the course in reverse.

I've ridden by this building numerous times and it was fun to finally stop and take a look. It's part of the Saville Dam.

I was really suffering by the time we finally finished and seriously questioned whether I have the endurance for D2R2. But we kept checking the forecast and it's not going to be raining (fingers crossed) and we got some new equipment and we're going! I think it's going to be fun. Or at least, very bloggable.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Can I get out of my own way?

It's already August and I feel like I haven't really started to feel comfortable yet while racing, but I'm kind of running out of time. The road season ends for me in about 7 weeks. My fitness is better than I really deserve, given the hours I've put in, but I still get kind of nervous at races -- especially on courses where I've crashed or Ed has crashed. My last two crits both fell into that category (that category being "places where Ed or I separated and/or broke a shoulder in 2003"), so I'm trying to give myself a pass with my less-than-stellar performances. I recently re-read my account of my win at collegiate crit nationals in 2000 and was kind of in awe. I used to feel comfortable cornering on cobblestones at 30+ mph? Who was that kid?

I realize that the fear is a nice problem to have. After all, it stems from having much more to lose now than I did back then.

Rather than race at Bow Road Race today, I drove the pace car for a couple of fields (supporting my wonderful club, NEBC) and enjoyed the excellent view of the women's race. The course is very hilly and very selective.

I was driving a Volvo wagon from a local dealership. It is much more complex than my '96 Civic, in which I roll down windows by hand and there is no rear windshield wiper, so my non-car-owning passenger (Bill) and I had quite a time trying to figure out how to close the sunroof while it was raining inside the car and we were driving down a hill at 45 mph with 30 female cyclists behind us.

Bill is an amateur photographer and took lots of cool photos of the racing through the sunroof during the non-rainy periods.

My teammate Silke was in a break for most of the race and got second by centimeters. Or maybe millimeters.

In recent weeks I've also been to the track. Here you can watch a video of me sprinting for third in the win-and-out a few weeks ago. It's kind of cool but also illustrates my problem of needing excessive personal space while riding.

I have several more trips to the track planned as well as a road race and a few crits. The 'cross bike will be out again soon as well. So here's hoping that I'll relax enough to start racing a little bit more like the 23-year-old me. :)