Winter riding recap (skirt off!)

After 11 years of road cycling, this was the first in which I had ridden through the winter months. Of course I had to pick one of harshest winters and top 3 coldest Februaries of all time here in NJ…and another year of 100+ temperature delta’s.

PL Mtn Pk

Not many know but the northeast, particularly NJ has one of the most severe climate variations in the US. Consistently with more than 1 day of 100°+ to more than 1 day of negative zero, 0° to 5°. It’s not something many consider given the brutal heat of the southwest and the brutal cold of the northcentral regions.

snow fleece

I managed to get out for 4 rides from Dec 21st onward. 9 rides in January, 5 times in February and so far 3 times in March. Albeit mostly short rides, but 21 rides nonetheless. Now it looks like this month is warming up nicely which will be good for continuing the base miles (or at least something that resembles base miles!)

When the snow piled up and the roads were somewhat impassable, I took to the mtb, which was a good change up and kept my bike handling skills sharpened. Aye, though the snow, salt and ice wreaked havoc on me drivetrains!

Slushed gears

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My rides varied as did the temps, from a low of about 15° in Feb to a high of 46°, battling misting rain, ice and snow, hedy winds and treacherous roads. But, I made it through like everyone else who chose to keep riding through old man winters wrath and I’m thankful for the coming Spring….Bring on the Summer!

“the infection has been removed…the soul of this machine has improved….”

Beware the Ides of Mud…

A short Saturday ride, with lots of drama and action…

Base Miles sure don’t come easy…as this was a ride to forget.
The roads were in bad shape, salt and water everywhere.  Then I sank my
right foot in the mud up to my ankle. Oh nice… (in my best Brit accent)

Then while at the local airport for a quick pit-stop….I was chased by an angry Rottweiler.
My quick thinking and memory of reading about how to fend off the pooches had me
fencing the 4-legged chap with my carbon steed. At first, I just tried to discourage him,
but he kept coming at me. So then, I attacked him, using the pedal to try and hit him in
the snout. But he was relentless.

Finally what seemed much longer but probably after about two minutes, an
elderly gent thankfully came running over and restrained the stout mongrel. Whew,
that dog Wanted a piece of me in the worst way…I remounted, bid farewell to the man
and the ambitious dog then sprinted out of the airport lot!

Another stop for a scenery pic and the bike fell over. Result? Scratched the carbon fork,
the rear stays and broke both bottle cages and that were not bad enough, I was almost T-boned a block from home. Aye, bugger me…


A T-6 Texan…(trainer) on display and ready for guest rides at George Walker Field
in Bedminster NJ

Hommage de l’étape 18 et le Col du Calais

In paying tribute to Stage 18 of Le Tour de France, I give you…today’s ride. 60 miles, climbing 5,700 feet, ascending Mont Harmonie Twice and featuring the Catagory 3 climb of the Col du Calais.

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1516768/elevation_profile

Following the quiet, semi-rural roads of Bernardsville, Mendham and Randolph on an
absolute beautiful day. 90 degrees and 59% humidity as Sol’s bright orange and yellow rays illuminated the Summer sky…

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I rolled out, solo as usual, to the first low uncatagorized rise of the day, Meeker Rd. Which would then lead me to Mont Harmonie, the first catagorized climb and the first of two
ascents up the famous (and only) switchback in the Hills of Bernardsville.

My next challenge would be a portion of Hardscrabble, Woodland and then on to Jockey Hollow hill. The sun was shining and I was feeling pretty good so far, but I knew that Calais was looming…the first half-mile is very steep, kicking up to a tough 12+% in the beginning, with an average gradient of 7.1%!

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Jersey worthy? Not a chance…but hey, it does look cool…

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After slogging up Calais, I had a brief respite of about 7+ miles, with a bit downhill and some rollers…until the next climbs of the day. But before I tackled them it was time for the second food and water stop. Cesar’s Deli in Peapack-Gladstone offered up cold drinks, some bananas and an well deserved ice cream sandwich!

Hydrated and fueled, I threw a leg over the top tube and clipped in my shoes to take on Campbell, Clark and the second ascent of Mont Harmonie…Re-energized, I headed off with enthusiasm.

Alone on the road, my thoughts turn to the Tour and today’s awesome Stage 20.
The protagonists battling it out on the slopes of the Alps, as hundreds of thousands of crazed fans cheer on the riders. A stark contrast to my serenely quiet journey through rural suburbia.

After the 2-mile climb of Campbell-Clark, I descended Douglass Ave at a blistering 2:07, my fastest time to date and I slotted into a tie for 3rd place. The second time down
Douglass, I was much slower, taking some pictures and searching for those wild road-side Raspberries!

One last small hill on Route 202, then the last climb up Liberty Corner and onward home…great day in the saddle, nice long ride with a lot of climbs. I was tired and
starting to get hungry, it was perfect timing.

Allez, Allez, Allez!!! Fantastique!!! Oui!!!

Moving Mountains…

Start Date: June 1, 2013/12:59 pm
Ride Time:  4 hours, 4 mins (total time 5:06)
Temperature: 90°
Prototype: 47 years, 8.44 month old rider
Distance/Ascent: 55 miles – 4600′

-It was the 3rd day in succession of riding this week, with plus 90° temps-
each of the 3 days. Thankfully, it hadn’t really bothered my riding so far…

Today, the Antagonists of hills lay ahead. I rolled out, making my way up the
slight, steady grade of Meeker then down to Harmony Falls and then
onward to the climb of St John on the Mountain.

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Hardscrabble, bumpy and broken throws her all at me, 3 miles,
long, 675′ up at about a 4.6% avg grade. I keep the pedals turning,
fighting for every second. Off along the edges of the road, lay
the remnants of the 7th Brigade, as Revolutionary rocks form
the hardscape, while the streams run their course.

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The top of Talmage- with the heights of Randolph in the distance

The miles are rolling by and the scenery has me smiling today.
I approach the 3.5 mile Cold Hill-Woodland Climb that takes me
past Potts Reservoir– The rays of sun dance and glean off the still water.
She rises up 547 feet, with a slight reprieve and dip in the middle.

I’m struggling to keep a steady pace. Shoulders rocking, labored
breathing, The sun is pounding my head like a 10lb hammer sledge.
The cars of passers by, look into my suffering eyes…I’d ask them-
tell me what do you see- someone real? yea this is for real, as real
as it gets… At the summit of Mt Freedom, I stop for a respite, water
and food to fuel the second half of the journey.

I roll down South Road- peeling off onto Ironia. This is the big, fast
descent of the day. I was thinking to just coast and roll down her wicked
esses- but just then, the ‘racer’ got the better of me…

Carbon wrapped in Flesh and Bone, plunging down steep Ironia-
Riding into sweeping Fury…
( I scorched the downhill- 1:37 and shattered the record of 1:49-
Now I covet the #1 spot…but for how long?)

The road bends right-left-right-left, with a decreasing radius in the
2nd right-hander. Here is where I nearly met my fate… I made a rare mistake of
turning in just a second or two early, I was in way too hot…and had to just feather the rear brake. The tire locked for a brief moment, my eyes-wide with fear…I immediately
released the lever and the rear tire hooked back up.

I stomp the pedals and the gears once more gathering  precious speed down
Snake Hill- as my heart rate slowly comes back down. Oh, I got lucky today, no doubt.
straining the limits of machine and man…laughing out loud with fear
and hope I had a desperate plan…”

Three more climbs were still in front of me before I made it back
home, Campbell, Clark and the finish up old familiar Liberty Corner.
The 90° heat was beginning to takes it toll…as I could feel my face radiating,
the sweat pouring off my arms and legs. Thankfully, there was
a little shade on the Clark and Liberty Corner climbs for a bit of cover.

I am taking on a steady flow of water and now at mile 50 I was empty.
So one last water stop at Dunham Park, just 4 miles from home…
It’s 5:37 pm now and the sun shine is unrelenting, but Sol is a welcome friend, always.

My hands, back and neck are all aching, as I head for the solace and
comfort of the house door. I’m thinking about the big post-ride meal,
as I look to bright, blue sky with thanks and remember the sights
and sounds on this first day of June…

Cogito – Ergo – Zoom…

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1370222/elevation_profile

Harmony Falls into the Descent of Bliss…

48 miles, 3800 feet up

Today’s stage 20, in the “Tour of 2013” had me rolling through
some familiar roads and a couple of which I had never ridden.

Hitting an old favorite, the Mt Harmony Ascent at mile 7, I set a
PR again, now ranked 3rd on RwGPS. I continued meandering
through the low hills of Bernardsville on my way towards the
farm lands of Bedminster.

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Mile 24, I hit the dirt and gravel for about 2 miles on Old Dutch
and Lager Cross Rd’s. Passing historic Rheinland Farms.
The Sunday scenery was subdued and quiet, as I stayed near
the crown of the road.

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Back on a long stretch of rollers of “Loamatong” heading into
the outskirts of Bridgewater towards Rattlesnake Bridge. I kept
a steady pace pedaling into a stiff headwind. Then it was on to
the false flats of Burnt Mills, heading up Washington Valley Road.

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One of the last climbs of the day would be the short, but tough
hill, Hunter-Somerville and homeward bound up Liberty Corner.
Once more I would set a PR on Hunter, ranking 3rd as well.

In between all the climbs, there are of course, always descents.
Typically, I try to push hard on the familiar downhills…in an
effort to keep my cornering skills sharp. I bombed the very short
right-left esses of Bliss and the last left-right of Old Chester.
I love bending the bike in to corner, lean, counter-steer and
flow right through. It’s pure magic when you get it right!

So far, my climbing has improved nearly 20% from 2012. I
hope to keep this trend up through the rest of the year…

http://ridewithgps.com/trips/1314899/elevation_profile