on again off again 2014   5 comments

My training to recover from the cycling malaise of 2013 quietly continues. Most of my updates will have to wait for a separate post, because the main event today is my writeup of Sunday’s excellent Rando Ramble. My Monday training rides have been going pretty decently and I’ve built my endurance back up to the point where 90-some hilly miles on the bike doesn’t sound too bad. A few weeks before the ride once Bob posted his plans I emailed back and forth with Ken and he asked if I wanted to start from his place. Some of my plans for the day included riding from home and I routed an intersection from around the Monkton area bypassing the first 10 or so miles of the route. I felt ready for a hilly 96 or 7 that coasts back to the start and the ‘from home’ routes were stacking up to about 115/120 with a bunch of hills in the last 10 of each. After a little back and forth I settled on driving to the start at dawn and getting a jump on the group again. Ken said we could meet along the way and finish the ride like Pylesville with a drink at a local establishment. Sounds good to me.

I was awake and out the door early and pulled into the Ashland Shopping Center parking lot around 6:30. As I was leaving I heard Isaias shout my name from the Dunkin Donuts. He had ridden from home and got there early because he thought the ride started at 7. I kind of wanted to hang out, but I’d already had my coffee and knew I’d need all the time I could get. Training is going well, but I’ve noticed over the years as spring and summer progresses it goes well for everybody in the group so I don’t expect to ever actually catch anyone–just not get caught as fast.

Part of my undocumented experimentation over the past month has been caving to Ken and picking up a heart rate monitor to experiment with training/riding in zones. When I told him via email last week he said he couldn’t wait to see my setup and went on to describe me pulling a hospital style ekg monitor in a trailer behind me on the bike. I’m not that much of a luddite thanks… Starting with long steady rides I’ve watched my average rate, peaks and dips to get a baseline for how hard I can push myself over a day in the saddle. I’ve also taken note of how I feel over the next days as an indication of just how hard I’ve been pushing myself based on recovery times. All that research was to find a power output I can dial in and stick to all day without blowing up too soon or not pushing myself hard enough. With my preliminary ‘magic number’ in hand I took off. The first few miles were easy pace as usual. There were runners out training for a race ‘en massé’ leaving right at dawn like me so I got caught in traffic for about a mile but it thinned out very quickly. Once I turned off the trail at Monkton and up Wesley Chapel Rd. the fun began. I did pretty well controlling my max on the hills and was pushing a little harder on the descents. This section has some of my favorite scenery for the day so I just basked in being out early on a Sunday morning and alone with my thoughts. Every day the same again. Before I knew it I was back on the trail. 5 miles or so of crushed limestone and I was ready to climb again at Freeland Rd. This route is a tough one to rely solely on the gps because it’s easy for my unit to make a mistake and send you off on the ‘mile 80′ route instead of the ‘mile 20′ route at intersections. That being said the Garmin was not at fault for anything today. At mile 24 I drifted off a bit between monitoring my pulse and climbing a hill causing me to miss a turn. By the time I noticed my mistake the closest correction on the map was Middletown Rd. which I intersected with about a mile before the cue stated. I wasn’t sure what had happened until I approached the trail and recognized the single lane bridge on Dairy road I had just ridden across 13 miles earlier. %$!@–There goes my lead.

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 9.51.33 PM

Nothing to do by that point but ride back to where I screwed up and get it right the second time. I thought about taking a trail shortcut to get back on track for a second but it was too early and I was too fresh to cheat so I kept spinning. The first rest stop is in New Freedom at the Rutters. I’d been eating on the bike a bit all morning and my bottles were still in good shape so I made the executive decision to skip it. I made a small wrong turn in town but it only took me a minute to sort out and I was on my way. P.J. later told me that he had seen me climbing the hill from the rest stop as they were arriving.

I took back roads up to Glen Rock where I hopped back on the trail for one of the smoother sections in the entire route. North of Seven Valleys it was back to the streets for a few miles. At some point around here I intersected with Andy and Rita who were backtracking to find the group along the road. They kept going south in search of the group and I kept chugging north. Between here and York I screwed up again one more time in exactly the same place I did 2 years ago…

Screen Shot 2014-04-14 at 10.50.12 PM

I Flew down the hill past Messersmith. When looping around the Garmin said R on Messersmith and I blindly obeyed. Then I turned on Tunnel Hill because I saw that on the cue (we intersect with it but not for another mile up the road). Needed a compass to get this one figured out–got to Genova’s in one piece though. I had enough time to sit down, get a drink, send some texts and order before P.J. and the rest of the group pulled up. Damn I had been hoping for at least a half-hour lead but at least I didn’t get caught at mile 25 like last month…

It was a good lunch and it was nice to catch up for a bit. By the time the check came I was really itching to get going. I’d been off the bike for around 1 hour, 45 minutes and was wondering if I had it in me to ride back. Definitely second-guessing the mug of Yuengling. On the trail I found the southern headwind that I had thought was a westerly all morning long. Nothing to do but watch as the peloton cruised away. In the first off road section I intersected with Dave (#3 or new #1) who needed a cue. Luckily I had snagged a souvenir from Bob at lunch to pass on. He offered to give me a pull through the wind back up to the group but I declined as the hills are just as much of a challenge for me and I don’t have it in me to run that hot even if I did catch up. Just like last time that section kind of sucked. I had maybe 2/3 a glass of beer at lunch and given the unseasonable temps for the day it was probably a bad idea. I was suffering from dry-mouth and rationing my water all the way to the Rutters in New Freedom even though I had 2 bottles with me for a combined 40 oz of liquid. I chipped away at the hills and made it back to Glen Rock for one of the only on-trail sections that is a mental drain–the 5 mile 2% grade south to New Freedom which coincides nicely with my mile 85 slump. My heart rate was drifting down into the low 130′s but I could feel in my legs that I didn’t want to push too much harder. There was a train running the route from Glen Rock along the trail with kids waving from the windows and I was matching pace for a bit. It was nice to have something to look at and take my mind off of the gravel for a while. Back at the Rutters for the second time I felt a break was in order. I checked out with an ice-cream cone, a jug of water and a bag of salty pretzel bits for later just in case I could feel my legs cramping up. I saw a few of the guys sitting inside and thought everyone else had long since left so I sat down and joined the conversation. When we stepped outside later it turns out most everyone was sitting out on the side of the building. Ken, Isaias and I talked about cutting the route short. I was getting tired but still had energy to burn so I pulled out of the Rutters with the intention of finishing the route exactly as cued. The downhill section of trail in Maryland boosted my spirits, but when I got to the turnoff point (just before mile 91 above) and saw the same hill that I already climbed 2 times earlier today I decided to skip that offroad section. I missed Mt. Zion and Gore Mill, but got 15 extra miles doubling back so it was a wash. Approaching Monkton I caught up with Ken. The rest of the group caught up with us (they were behind because they decided to ride a few extra roads in the off-trail section ‘just because’) a few minutes later. When we got to Monkton we stopped for a few minutes to stretch and enjoy the view. Bob rolled in and we decided to knock out the last on-road section together. There were a few hills but nothing compared to the morning or early afternoon. Not 20 minutes later we hit the trail again and the ride back to the start was gravy.

Best part of the day – getting a few minutes to hang out with the group…


We loitered in the parking lot for a little bit, then Ken and I piled in the sag wagon and drove over to the Iron Horse Tavern at Sanders’ Corner for a round or 2 of beers and appetizers. Final word, another good ride in the books. Thanks to Bob and all. Hope to see you on the Monument Ride.

Distance: 110.2mi | moving time: 9h28m | avg: 9.3 | mv avg: 12.9 | elev: 6987′

Loooooong lunch killed the overall average. When it comes to moving time, the garmin says 9.5 hours and ridewithgps says 7.75 hours. Different algorithms for calculating what’s “stopped”? Weird. Felt pretty good the day after so I guess I had 110 in me after all.


Posted April 15, 2014 by bikesncoffee in Bikes, randoramble, rides

the headwind flat tire loop   6 comments

The weather Saturday and Sunday was a little craptastic to say the least. Normally it doesn’t put me off too much and I was really itching to ride Sunday, but the wind and the rain followed by ice pellets, followed by snow just was a little more than my initiative could handle. In lieu of riding I focused on getting stuff done to free up Monday as much as possible. I was up at my normal early time to take care of business around the house and even though the rain was gone the wind was still pummeling the house. The outlook for 9am was Sunny and 38° with 15mph winds and 25mph gusts. Not quite as nice as I was hoping for but I really wanted to get out and give the revised loop another shot. You never know how good of a day you can have if you spend it sitting on the couch…

Screen Shot 2014-03-31 at 8.06.49 PM

Not long after 10 I had my chores done and was ready to go. It felt really nice prepping out on the driveway with the sun shining on me while shielded from the winds by the house — hard to believe there was ice laying on my deck not 14 hours earlier. The first 2 miles were south with a tailwind, but then I finally got a taste of the headwind that was to be my constant companion for the next 20 miles. Truth be known the first 4 – 6 weren’t that bad. I spent most of it up and down hills either shielded from the wind or tucking into it. The gravel on Bottom and Laurel Brook was saturated from the heavy rains which made me glad I didn’t try to take the rando. Once I crossed 152 and headed north, my cover was blown and I really started having to work for my progress.

I have a little meter in my brain. On one side it points to carefree exploration and on the opposite side the needle points to survival at any cost. By the time I got to the top of the loop and had spent close to 2 hours pushing into the wind, my gauge was squarely on survival and I was disinterested in pushing any further north for that bonus 6 miles. Rocks’ll still be there next time I have a free Monday. Stopped on the side of the road to take a pic and have my snack.


Miles 22 – 30 were not as bad. The headwinds were replaced by crosswinds. They were strong enough to force me to concentrate on my line constantly. I was all over the place and so were everyone’s recycling bins, which I stopped in a few places to push back off the street. Once I turned on to Fallston Rd. I was really looking forward to riding south-east with a huge tailwind. Not half a mile into the good part I heard the back tire start to hiss and I flatted out not 100 yards later. Sitting off on the side of the road I was trying to find the leak to patch, but it was impossible with all the wind noise. A flag was blowing across the street and it was as stiff as a board. 5 minutes of that and I said ‘screw-it’ and reached for my spare tube. 5 minutes and 300 strokes from the Lezyne Pressure Drive and I was on the road again. Side note: I got a Relevate Designs Viscacha bag this year for Christmas. It’s a little huge for what I’ve been using it for but it was great to be able to just shove everything back in there and get on the road without thinking about it.


My first inclination was to go back to the route like nothing ever happened. The back tire’s pressure was a little low but I really wanted to finish strong. I turned right on Hess, left on Park, left on Moore, and left on Greene headed towards Fallston for my first back-roads diversion on the loop’s south side. By the time I intersected with 152 again my spare tube was flat. I pulled off to the side of the road and pumped it up again. “Well there goes the rest of the day” I thought. 300 strokes buys me 20 minutes so I just stuck to Fallston on the way back. I don’t remember if I stopped 2 or 3 times, but it’s sort of immaterial. Every time I could feel myself getting a decent bit of a workout or enjoying the view the back of my bike started to bob up and down and I was off to the side of the road 2 minutes later pumping. I limped home, tossed my bike in the corner, stretched and ate a late lunch. Later on I went to repair my repair and realized that not only was my spare tube an old patched one which had a second leak but I’m glad that I didn’t spend forever trying to locate the leak in my first tube because I had about 10 patches in my kit but no glue. I did have a few of those emergency sticker patches, but they SUUUUCK. Guess I’ve not been the boy scout I thought I was…

Distance: 44.2mi | moving time: 3:18:46 | avg: 9.8 | mv avg: 12.1 | elev: 5108′
(not sure of the elevation, the unit has consistently put numbers over 5k for this, but RideWithGPS is in the 4k and change ballpark)

Looking forward to my next free day so I can redeem this one. Still glad I gave it a shot.

Last minute addendum: As a final ‘eff-u’ for the day, while sitting here writing this at 10pm I hear what sounded like a gun shot from the garage as my repair-repair blew off the rim. I’d noticed a bit of an odd seat for the tire bead with the rim strip peeking through this afternoon fixing it in the garage and I tried to tweak-fix it by deflating the tire and pushing the rim strip back under. Guess I didn’t do a decent enough job. Oh well. Something to work on tomorrow I guess. !@$#

Posted March 31, 2014 by bikesncoffee in Bikes, rides, train-o-rama

Dirt, Cows & Horses (bridge,dirt & horses r2)   6 comments

As I hung out with Ken on Saturday, we talked about the route and I told him about my not liking the busy parts. There were no altercations, but when I think of a day out on the bike I like to spend more time on quiet back roads and less time getting passed every 8 seconds on a major thoroughfare. In the event that being on a busy road is unavoidable I enjoy one with a huge shoulder where the pavement isn’t crumbling on the white line and rolling off into a ditch. I had tentatively planned for a second longer-distance effort on Sunday, but after getting in late Saturday night from visiting friends I just wasn’t feeling it. In addition to chores I took some time Sunday to blog and start building off of Ken’s route to cook up my ideal Harford County (and some Balto. Co. I think) ride.

My first observation is that when planners chose the main routes, they were obviously careful to avoid the steepest grades in the county. By process of elimination that left the hillier roads for riding. Lucky me.


Disclaimer: I started talking about specific roads but got bored of writing it all out pretty quick, especially since there’s like 500 turns on this route. First 6 miles were the same as always — heading south towards Rocky Branch along Reckord Rd., then climbing back out. From there I crossed 152 but aimed for Pleasantville Rd. rather than Carrs Mill and Grafton Shop. I took a few of the back roads to catch up with High Point and Cosner from Ken’s route again. Rather than heading west I kept going north till I almost got to Rocks St. Park. Hit the northern-most point and stopped to take the ‘clif-bar-break-photo’…


Technically the northern-most point was at the ridge on the other side of the farm. Sharon Acres Rd. parallels one side of North Stirrup run and Rigdon Rd. is on the other. I rode north on one, dipped through the valley on Sharon Rd. and went south on the other side. The view from the other ridge had a strange symmetry…


From there it was west towards horse country. My original idea in devising a route which cut across the county was to use the east/west highway as a way to get from one side to the other. Not paying attention to the map I tried to intersect in a few points before realizing that most of the minor roads are simply bridges underneath without an intersection…


There was probably a way to hike-a-bike up the hill and around the fence, but I think I like the back-roads better now that I’ve tried them. Headwinds were aplenty from the west again. They weren’t quite as strong as Saturday and I wasn’t riding into them for as long, but they did take their toll on me mentally around mile 30. The western-most leg of the route intersects with route 152 many times and the temptation to stay on it for a rolling ride home with a tailwind was pretty strong. I ate ever-so-slightly more than last time, but the route was ever-so-slightly more hilly too. My legs were getting twinges and I was on the verge of cramping up. A little bit of water with an electrolyte tab was enough to level me off. I ate my on-bike snacks, but didn’t have to dip into my emergency reserves to finish the south side of the route. Normally I stay in my big ring for a stretch about 5 miles out but was a little too tired for it. I watched the average on my gps tick down from 12.3 to 12.2 on the last long climb and even though I know it’s all semantics I thought to myself “no you don’t…” Once I got back to the flatter sections I did 2-3 sprints at level 10 max effort just to push it back over. By the time I hit my driveway and shut off the GPS I was done.

Only decisions I wasn’t crazy about were Pleasantville rd on the way north at mile 13 and the same road again around mile 36 at the end. Given the entire route it was the most traffic for the day and not to terribly great an improvement over Grafton Shop Rd. I have a way to cut it out, but it takes me away from the stretch of gravel on Cosner Rd. which I’ve already grown accustomed to. The southern stretch of Pleasantville to Fork Rd. will be reserved for lazy Sunday rides and I’m going to replace the miles lost there at the top of the route, hopefully extending it into Rocks St. Park.

Nice day on the bike and aside from the 2 aforementioned stretches there was nary a car to be seen. I’m pleased with the times. The moving average doesn’t look like much, but considering this is me and the elevation profile would make the route an 11k century I’ll take it. A little more tweaking and I think I’ve got a good replacement for the trainer.

Distance: 48.8mi | moving time: 3h42m | avg: 11.6 | mv avg: 12.3 | elev: 5501′

Posted March 25, 2014 by bikesncoffee in Bikes, rides, train-o-rama

Bridge, Dirt, Horses…   Leave a comment

I spent a good part of the week being sick. It was the annoying kind of sick that was not bad enough to miss work, but plenty bad enough to throw me off my training routine. Even though I bounced back pretty well, Tuesday through Thursday was a bit of a garbage dump and I still felt a little out of sorts by the weekend. Ken contacted me about a ride after my last ride report and all I wanted was to be up for it. A little easy spinning late in the week was enough to convince me I felt good enough to proceed so we tried to get the details straight Friday night. I went to bed early and missed his last message. I caught his email Saturday morning but was still half out of it and went for the coffee pot first. Luckily, he took the initiative and called me up. We set a plan to roll out from his house at 10:30. Ken gave me a cue, but I made it clear from the beginning that I was going to let him lead me around. To start, he took me east along Glen Arm rd., down Mt. Vista and over towards the Jericho covered bridge.

We set a purposely relaxed pace for the day and spent quite a bit of time in the first few miles just seeing the sights along Harford county back roads. The route led along Bottom and to the west of Bel Air along Carrs Mill and Grafton Shop Rd. The traffic here was normal for mid-Saturday, which is to say a little thick for comfort. I was glad to be free of the main thoroughfares when we turned onto Boggs close to the top of our route.

A certain short sharp steep dirt hill on Cosner brought back memories of the Fondue Ride. The Warbird handled it and all the other rough stuff quite well. The route he showed me the night before crossed rte. 23 and I was wondering when we were going to get there. Talking along the way we missed the turn onto Engle. We didn’t notice until intersecting with 152. We pulled out our phones and quickly realized that we could get back on route by detouring up Ebenezer Rd., which turned out to be one of the nice stretches of the ride. In hindsight I believe I was on this road before but I’m counting it as a discovery on our part. We stopped along a fence line and just listened to the wind whip through the trees for a few minutes.



While riding along Hutchins Mill Rd. a few minutes later, we intersected with a hunt club out for a ride–hounds and all…


That was about it for photos. I’ve been traveling light as of late and the phone has too many buttons to pull it out while riding for a quick photo op. From here we started to head south. The westerly winds had been kicking up stronger as the day went on and now they felt like they were starting to turn from the south. It was probably mental, but no less real from my perspective. I had a small breakfast of eggs, veggies, and cheese with coffee at 7:30, a clif bar somewhere around 11 and a few almonds when we stopped on Ebenezer, but not much else all day. By the time we hit the mid 30-mile mark I was riding on an empty tank and started to get a little cranky. Ken had marked the last turn on the cue at 43 and told me at one point that the ride was about that long, but there was still a little further to go in returning to his house. Even for a low miles day I was glad to be back and we hung out for an hour or so enjoying the day, a beer or 2 and some conversation. Thanks for getting me out of the house and back on my feet.

Distance: 45.6mi | moving time: 3h37m | avg: 11.1 | mv avg: 12.6 | elev: 3827′

Posted March 23, 2014 by bikesncoffee in rides

Bel Air to Baltimore and Back – the errandonee rando   4 comments

I’ve been spending my weeks doing indoor workouts and getting out here and there for rec rides when I have a chance but not getting much done by way of bike. Mary over at Chasing Mailboxes posted the 2014 Errandonee Challenge, and I was excited for the chance to start using my bike for utilitarian purposes again. I started relying on the Hopkins Shuttle for commuting back in September and cutting back on my store/bike trips since moving last year. This would have been a good chance for me to get back into the swing of things but I also started incorporating strength/core training early last week. After a few days suffering through “delayed-onset-muscle-soreness” and doing only light spinning on the trainer while trying to recover I’d burned up a number of the challenge days with nothing to show for it. I’d planned for an endurance ride on Sunday so I sat down with the computer to see if I could also knock off some ‘errands’ too. I set my alarm for 5:30 Sunday and put all my riding gear in neat piles ready to go the night before.

In lieu of my normal pre-ride routine, I went out for breakfast. 0.7 miles in was my first stop of the errandonee challenge at the local Dunkin Donuts for breakfast. I treated myself to cream and sugar in my coffee this morning. What did I learn? Well, if I need to cool off a volcanically hot beverage quickly enough to drink it in 10 minutes, I can blow on it from the top-left and create a little ‘convection cooling whirlpool’ that brings the first few sips to temperature in a minute or 2. That’s all I got. Oh, and it’s been ages since I’ve had a hash brown. I like hash browns.


Leaving the Dunkin Donuts I saw a truck pulling away hauling a fishing boat in tow. I can relate to the hobbies of nearly everyone I see up this early in the morning… There was a near-full if not full moon setting as I rode south on Jerusalem rd. I stopped to take a photo, but phone cameras suck and it didn’t do the scene justice. I did snap a slightly less-crappy pic of the way my bars are lit up by the marker lights on the urban 400. Looks pretty cool. Oh yeah, Stops 1 and 2 both started pre-dawn. I used my Light & Motion Urban 400 for a headlight and a combination of L&M vis 180 micro taillight on my helmet with a Dinotte 400r for the heavy lifting.


A few minutes later and I was in civil-twilight territory. Riding at dawn before the world wakes up is the best. THE BEST. The trip south was along standard routes I’ve ridden a dozen times before. I got to ride through the covered bridge along Jericho Rd. The only difference from the normal route was a missed turn due to a cockeyed road sign which took me off Franklinville Rd. and a mile or so out of my way on Reynolds. I didn’t notice I was off course for about 5 minutes so I decided to “see where this road would take me”. Just a different path that put me out a mile further east on Bradshaw.

Through Middle River for my approach of East Baltimore on Eastern Ave, I intersected with the MARC rail line and looked across the fence at the tracks I take to every work day. Now I’ll have a new memory to daydream about while I’m staring out the window on the train. The sun was rising right behind me and I was casting a long shadow maybe 50 feet straight in front of me along a stretch of Orems Rd. Before I knew it I was in Fells Point at my second stop–the Common ground–about 30 miles and 2 hours later. The Warbird soaks up the cobblestone streets pretty effectively, but I can’t imagine wanting to race on roads like that for an extended period. I’ll call that my lesson learned for this control. I’d already had a bagel sandwich, and other options weren’t looking all that spectacular so I just got a small mocha (great) and a chocolate cookie (eh). 20 minutes later and I was ready to go. The sun was out and the weather was great. Still lots to see and do!



From Fells Point I headed west towards the Harbor. There was a ménage of food trucks parked up along the waterfront and I thought about making a ‘lunch errand stop’ for a few seconds. It was barely 9:30 by that point. I wasn’t hungry and I don’t think they were serving yet anyway.


I rode through the Harbor and over to Charles St., heading north. This leg (#3 – 8ish miles) was taking me to the atm so I could get a little cash. I had $4 left in my wallet after the Common Ground stop. My observation for this leg was that there were a bunch of things I wanted to include while riding through mid-town and not one of them was open at the time I wanted to ride through. The only things I REALLY wanted for the day were to browse at a bike shop (my 2 faves open at 11 and 12 respectively) and have an ice cream cone (every good shop was either closed{?!?} or didn’t open till noon). The bank I had in mind was about 1/2 mile off-route for the day but I figured “no problem, I’m out for the miles so what’s the difference.” Turns out the diversion wasn’t necessary because I passed at least 4 other branches further up the route where I could have stopped.


The next leg took me north out of the city. Instead of going straight up Charles St. I cut over to Springlake and Bellona before taking in the great descent west of Charles St. I exchanged pleasantries with a roadie who was just leaving for a 2 hour ride at the Charles light. He was out of sight within a half mile of the bottom of the hill but I couldn’t feel too bad about it today because I already had 3.5 hours of riding under my belt by that point and another 3 to come. I rode north on Thornton and across Seminary pointing towards REI. I was going to make that my 4th stop around mile 48, browse in ‘a store that is not a grocery store’ for a few minutes and pick up an energy bar or something. Problem with my plan was I was too quick for my schedule and arrived about 35 minutes before they opened. I sat out front, ate a clif bar, checked in with home and took off. What’d I learn? I don’t really need anything right now.

My bike is the gear I need to stay outside…

From there I took Greenspring Dr./Deerco/Beaver Dam straight up through Timonium and Cockeysville. I hit a red light and ducked into a 7-11 as I noticed my water bottle was light. The last 25-30 miles of the route is a bit of a ‘convenience-store-desert’ so I wanted to top off. I got vitamin water because it was on sale and instantly regretted my decision. It was so sweet I felt like I was eating raw sugar by the spoonful. Arriving at the north end of Baltimore’s urban territory was the point when the errandonee challenge started to fall apart for me. My plan was to grab lunch and knock off #5 before moving into farm territory but nothing looked both appealing enough to eat and casual enough to not escort a person with snot-covered legs and helmet head to the door. It was only 11 by the time I reached the trail so I grabbed another snack from my collection and kept moving. The trail was quieter than I thought it would be for a sunny weekend day but there were a few souls here and there. Amazingly enough after all the warm weather there were still a few traces of ice and snow lingering in the valleys. There was one point where a muddy area with some rutted tire tracks had frozen over and it required all my concentration to get through. If I was spending the day on the trail i would have let 30 pounds out of the tires. The clouds rolled in while I was off-road and it was the last of sun or blue-skies for the day.


Climb-Descend-Climb-Descend… The last 25% of this route is kind of brutal. I was starting to feel it in my upper-left leg. I’d been pushing the higher gears for most of the day and saved the 2 largest cogs for emergency use only. The strategy worked well and on the worst grades I dropped it in my lowest combo and spun rather than blowing myself up. While I was descending on Glencoe or Carroll Rd. I had a close encounter was a rooster crossing the road. Some church somewhere close to Corbett rd. must have let out just when I was passing through because I got caught in more traffic than any farm-country road deserves. I pulled off to the side, had a bit of my corn-syrup laden vitamin water and balanced it out with the rest of the salty snack that I had started earlier. Aside from that my approach to Bel Air was nothing more than pedals up and down as fast as I could. My moving average had been ticking back and forth between 12 and 13 all day and I wanted to finish strong.

Although not associated with an errand, I have a bonus observation for the last 30 miles. As much as I hate the idea of using a trainer in the basement it truly is a wonderful workout for pedaling technique. The 2 areas I concentrate on the most are cadence and efficiency. My usual pedaling style when I’m not paying attention is to spin along at 50 or 60 rpm and the trainer will produce a sinusoidal ‘wah-wah’ noise. As I work through several hour-long sessions I try to focus on being as smooth as possible until I reach the point where I can just spin along at 90 or 100 rpm with an even hum. The benefits back on the road are 1) My legs stay fresher longer. Maybe they clear out lactic acid faster or don’t build it up as quick. Doesn’t really matter, I just know it works. 2) I’m not fiddling with the shifters on every little rise and drop–I adjust my cadence to match it. Riding over varied terrain feels smoother.

Home again, I still had the option for lunch and even mapped out an option for a ‘dessert’ run 5 miles up the road at Brooms Bloom Dairy. As it turned out, once I checked in at home, stretched and got a drink I checked out. If all had gone according to plan I would have finished 7 in one day. Looking out the window at the snow, my final day off till next weekend was cursed with bad weather so it looks like I won’t be pulling round 2 of my errandonee catch-up rides. I’ll have to give it a real go next year.

Distance: 81.4mi | total time: 7:33:21 | avg: 10.8 | mv avg: 12.8 | elev: 6482′

Posted March 17, 2014 by bikesncoffee in Bikes, errandonee, rides

44:07   2 comments

I trained every day last week in the evening and I was a little burnt out by Saturday. Decided to take it easy and not do much of anything more than housework on the weekend. In my downtime I did a bit of reading on the internets and pulled out my old training book…


One snippet I got on this read was to set up baselines for myself. I do a decent job of recording statistics on rides I go on but there’s too much static to really quantify anything. Route differences? Weather differences? How much soft pedaling was there at the beginning and end of that 1 hour ride? Did I stop for a flat tire on that slow century? You get the idea. This morning I set myself up a route with a flat stretch, a few small rollers, a few climbs of about 1/2 – 1 mile and easily navigable intersections. I took advantage of the decent weather to hit the road and give it all I got. I’m keeping most of the stats private to spare myself from embarrassment, but I’ll publish one number because It’s the only one I want to change…


28lb down from 12/28 as of Friday. I was going to take a picture of the scale and celebrate going under 200 until I remembered that I ALREADY DID THAT ONCE. Can’t remember if I said this before, but lesson learned and I am never doing this again. Incorporating more strength exercises and restructuring my interval training while phasing out 1 or 2 of the run sessions startingggg. now.

Posted March 10, 2014 by bikesncoffee in Bikes, train-o-rama, weight loss

microbrews are for heroes. I’ll have a water   8 comments

I believe the Rando Ramble for March is the only route Bob has designed that I haven’t ridden. The first time it came around for me I definitely wasn’t ready, or there was bad bad weather, I forget. Last year I had my mountain bike decked out with the heaviest studded tires on planet earth and was ready to give it a shot even though there was an inch of fresh snow on the ground. In that attempt the last I saw of the group was 200 yards from the start when they skipped the Gwynns Falls Trails section in lieu of the main roads. I made it as far as Ellicott City before turning back and transforming the ride into a ‘West-Baltimore-trails’ day. This year I was cautiously optimistic. The weather looked above freezing and the precipitation wasn’t supposed to start until the afternoon. Most importantly I’ve trained 4-6 days a week since January, ate clean aside from 2 occasions and lost over 25 pounds to help make the task of hill climbing a little less torturous. Sounds pretty good right? Well the only way I’d know is to wrestle myself out of bed at 5am, hit the pavement and find out.

Sunday morning came and that’s just what I did. Everything was laid out the night before so even with breakfast I was out of the house by 5:30. My plan was to leave the vehicle in Hampden with the hopes of hanging out at a local establishment after the ride for a drink or 2 and dinner. The best riding of the day for me was pre-dawn in Druid Hill Park and coming down the west side of the city on Monroe. The sun was just peeking over the horizon as I approached the starting point. Following Frederick rd. to Frederick is about as simple as it gets. My plan was to get ahead of the day since I’m permanently slow so I made a right when I got to Frederick rd. A bridge was out on Frederick near the Gwynns Falls — now I know why all the gps tools kept re-routing me when i was planning. There was a foot bridge so I was still good to go without a detour. Climbing towards Catonsville I saw Mike headed for the start. In my mind the clock started ticking and I figured I had about a 20 minute head start given where the rendezvous point was. I found out later that they left a little late and my lead was more like 30-35 minutes.

The first part of the day has some of the larger climbs and descents. I was fresh enough to remain mentally collected climbing into Catonsville and for the large climb through Ellicott City with nary a look-behind. A few miles west of the quick jog on route 40 through the tiny rollers that seem to go on forever was when I started wondering how I was doing. The little hills are the ones that really mess with my mind. I don’t get up any speed on the descents, and when I’m going up-down-up-down for 45 minutes I can’t really tell if there’s a net elevation gain or loss which really is the true test of how your performance is stacking up with the average speed. 7 miles out from the rest stop I was zoning out up a hill when P.J. caught me by surprise at the first moment I wasn’t expecting it. It’s kind of amazing how easily a cyclist can sneak up on me when I’d been training myself to only listen for the hum of a car approaching me from behind. They kept moving and were distant memories not 2 rollers later. Bob hung back and we talked for a little bit even though I didn’t have much to say.

At the Starbucks break, the plans were forming for the approach to Frederick. With the weather threatening to deteriorate in the afternoon, the group consensus was to bail on the brew pub or sit-down lunch and just grab a sandwich or some other quick food before hitting the road. Giving the way the morning went — me rolling out half an hour ahead of schedule, riding non-stop and still getting caught at mile 24 — that generally meant they’d be ready to saddle up just about the moment I arrived even though we were only maybe 15 miles out. Faced with the concept of riding alone along busy Frederick for 4o miles or riding alone along busy Frederick rd. for 70 miles I did the only thing my brain would let me do which was cut the ride short.

Good news is that my outlook improved after a venti latte and an amalgamation of other ‘bike snacks’. The 16 miles leading up to the break turned out to be a net elevation gain so even though there were rollers on the return trip they weren’t as soul-crushing and I didn’t have a true hill to climb until I got past Ellicott City and the Patapsco River again. Bad news was that what is normally my favorite part of west-side bike trips turned out to be frozen over and I spent most of it slowly walking after 2 or 3 failed attempts at pedaling slowly.

IMG_0411ice on the trail and slow walking for 1/2 to 1 mile in bike shoes destroyed what was left of my average for the day

After 20 minutes or so of walking I finally came to a place in the trail that wasn’t hardpack snow or ice. I quickly cleared the slush and mud out of my fender with a stick, and the trip back through Catonsville went well. I love that nice wide boulevard (Edmonson?) compared with Frederick. When close to the Frederick rd. intersect I missed a turn but just took the next right and was back on course in 5 minutes. All that remained was to cut back across the grittiest part of the west side, up through mid-town and home. My cue was mapped to go up Maryland, but I took the extra street across to Charles so I could enjoy riding past the monument and Penn Station like olden times. The little downhill stretch before Penn was faster than usual and I was beating a sequence of red lights for about 5 blocks by 2 seconds. From there it was up Falls Rd., through the JFT switchback and within a half-mile of where I was parked. Not quite finished, I zig-zagged across Hampden and headed for my old neighborhood. After riding past my old house (they put up a fence but it still looks pretty much the same) I decided to go to Joe’s Bike Shop in Mount Washington and pick up a few essentials. As I climbed up Bellemore the drizzle turned into a steady rain. Back at Hopkins I stopped into the office to get some stuff from my desk, stretch for a few minutes, fill my water bottle, and be dry. There was a loose plan that I would ride around in Baltimore when I got back and possibly catch up with the guys upon their return. After I was out of the rain for 10 minutes all I wanted to do was stay out of the rain so I headed for the truck, cranked up the heat, threw the rando in the back and was on the road in about 2 minutes.


I was glad to get home, have a hot shower and put some dry clothes on. Got farther than last time. Maybe next year I’ll finally earn the beer.

Distance: 81.9mi | time: 7:22 | mv av: 11.1 | elev: 6578′

Update: Bob’s got his writeup here. and photos here!

Posted March 3, 2014 by bikesncoffee in Bikes, randoramble, rides


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 27 other followers