Measure for Measure

Distance: 20.7 mi.

Time: 1:00:24

Avg. speed: 20.58 mph

Weather: 70º, 79% humidity, wind ENE 8, bright overcast / sunny

Song stuck in head: Sneaky Feelings - Elvis Costello

Did the 20 mile "TT" route today as I didn't have time for a longer ride and felt as if I didn't get tapped out enough with yesterday's intervals. The wind felt stronger than weather.com indicated but I kept low and pounded the whole way. My legs definitely were telling me something along the lines of, "Hey, we did this yesterday dood, don't expect too much!"

Made the turn around in 00:30:20 and thought I would do alright against the headwind as the return trip is largely downhill. A couple of dog walkers decided to cross the road after looking only one way (not in my direction) and so I had to slow to below 20 mph right by the airfield road to let them pass.

The return trip on South Acton Road was tough as I was going right into the wind and barely managed to keep my speed above 20 mph over the rollers. By the time I got to Red Acre Road, I was definitely feeling the burn and willed myself to keep pushing.

Did alright up Pompossiticut - two out-of-saddle sprints with a short stint mashing in the saddle in between. Once I passed Summerhill Road, I checked the time - 0:59:35. Damn, I knew I couldn't make it the half mile to the finish in less than 25 seconds, there was a busy intersection to cross as well. But I picked up the pace as much as I could with what energy I had left.

I did this route in September of last year in 0:58:58, shouldn't be long before I am able to whittle that 1' 30" margin down.

MAINTENANCE: Rear hub still not right, have to figure out how to get the cones properly set. Getting noise from BB too. Will have some work to do tomorrow before I ride.


Photos from MRC's 2009 Twilight Criterium to Benefit Cystic Fibrosis

A selection of the many photos I took Saturday at the crit in Thompson, CT. You can see more here. If you're interested in buying prints or a high res file, there's an email link at the web gallery.







Chainring of Fire

Distance: 16.4 mi.

Time: 0:52:30

Avg. speed: 18.75 mph

Weather: 75º, 72% humidity, SSW4

Song stuck in head: Ring of Fire - Johnny Cash

"Short" ride today, but intense: after a 15 minute warm up which brought me to South Acton Road, I did 8 x 30 sec. all-out sprints with the recovery interval being the time it took my HR to drop back down to 150.

Max speed was 31.1 and max HR was 175.

The last bit of anaerobic exertion was an all-out sprint up Pompositticut (I carried 20 mph to the top).

MAINTENANCE: Just before the ride, I cleaned and repacked my rear hub as it was making some nice gritty noises. Had some trouble getting the cones set correctly as the left side of my Bonty hub has this rubber cover that keeps you from getting a wrench on the actual cone as you sock down the locking nut.

It took quite a few tries but I think I figured out just how loose to leave it so that the locking nut then pinches things together for a nice spin with no play in the bearings. Can't wait to get some new wheels with sealed bearings!


Long Misty Days

Distance: 31.9

Time: 1:48:04

Avg. speed: 17.73 mph

Weather: 61º, 97% humidity, wind NNE8, mist/rain

Song stuck in head: Lucky Seven - Chris Squire

Wildlife seen: 1 - doe, 1 turkey hen + 5 poults

Nearly forgot to blog today's ride, it's late so I'll keep it short and sweet.

Set out today to do a 3-4 hour ride, starting with some good climbing and adding on an hour plus of rolling hills. It was obvious from the start that I was still feeling the effects of the lack of sleep Saturday night.

On top of the fatugue, it started raining (no surprise, really), so I cut it short and rode 32-ish miles along my "5 Climb" route (map below). Did the usual 6' 30" up Stow Road, felt pretty good going up the Fruitlands hills, did very well heading back toward Harvard Center along Rte. 111 but really dogged going up Oak Hill Road.

The mist was pretty thick going down Old Littleton, so I took it easy, keeping my speed below 30 mph. I was able to climb out of the saddle halfway up Taylor and cruised along pretty well down Liberty Square, Summer and the rest of the way home.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, some heavy interval training.

Catching Up

Eked out a couple of nice days for mini-vacation on Thursday and Friday although my daughter capped it by barfing in the hallway at 2 a.m. which cut sleep time to about 3 1/2 hours before I had to wake and head to CT for the MRC Twilight Crit. to Benefit Cystic Fibrosis.

The day at the races was enjoyable enough for a) not racing b) only actually seeing 3 of the races. The weather was about the best we've had around here all month. Sunny, dry, not much wind. I spent the morning with Bill P and Gary S of the MRC at the entry gate, having people sign a liability waiver required by the track.

When the juniors prepared to race, I left the gate, grabbed my camera and headed for the track. Next thing I know, I've squeezed off 1000 frames over the course of 3 races: the juniors, women's 3/4 and the men's 3/4 (I could be wrong about the class on this one). I wish I could have stayed longer (more MRC members raced later) but had to go at 4 p.m. I'll have some of the photos on my flickr page by tomorrow afternoon.


Mid-week Mashing

Distance: 35.8 mi.

Time: 1:44:55

Avg. Speed: 20.46 mph

Weather: 66º, 88% humidity, wind ENE 8, mist/rain

Song stuck in head: It's Over - Boz Scaggs

Heading out of town early tomorrow so a quick synopsis of tonight's MRC Wednesday ride:

  • mist/rain started just as soon as we gathered to ride
  • big group: 14 cyclists at the start
  • idiot driver passed our paceline on a blind incline, nearly had a head-on collision with another car
  • idiot ME followed Pattie too close, crossed wheels, nearly crashed but recovered
  • felt good up Oak Hill, was last though but closer to pack than ever before
  • kept up for Fruitlands and Bear Hill climbs, recovered well for descents
  • minor pre-cramps on Taylor/S. Acton Road return trip
  • best time for this route by one minute

All-in-all very pleased with my performance.

Three days no riding: mini-cation w/family then working registration at the MRC Twilight Criterium to Benefit Cystic Fibrosis on Saturday - hopefully I'll get the chance to take some photos then too!


Mildew and Cobwebs

Two days in a row down in the dungeon on the trainer. Today, I got jinxed by a nice lady at the bank who, just as I was walking out the door said, "Well, it sure is nice that it's not raining today."

And then, of course, it started to rain.

In fact, it has been raining quite a bit around here lately and so I poked about the intertubes looking to see if our June precipitation was out of the norm. Found this page at NOAA's site. Boston rainfall appears to be close to normal, but for Worcester (Maynard is a bit closer to Worcester than Boston) it's nearly 50% over the average for June... and we have 7 days left in the month!

Meanwhile, my daughter is halfway through the fourth Harry Potter book. Along with reading the series so far on her own, my wife and I have taken some turns reading to her. Of course this means that I've read only bits and pieces of each book and can't seem to piece any of it together. As a result, I've been watching the movies while spinning on the trainer. I'm about 2/3 the way through "... and the Chamber of Secrets". Sure beats staring at the dryer.


To Ride and Dry in MA

Distance: 77.3 mi.

Time: 4:17:03

Avg. speed: 18.04 mph

Weather: Bleah. I mean, 62-65º, 98-96% humidity, wind N5-NE11 gusts to 19, constant light rain

Song stuck in head: Happy Ending - Joe Jackson

Longest ride so far this season. Set out from home to meet Pattie and Della (two very strong tri atheletes) in Harvard Center. I was running a bit late and so had to go from a cold start to cruising speed without a warmup. I made very good time up into Harvard, even making it up Stow Road in 6 minutes flat.

When I arrived at Harvard Center, I was surprised to see Crystal just getting her new Cervelo out of her car. She rode with Della, Pattie and I a few times last year and is also a strong cyclist. Soon enough, Pattie rolls up then Della and we were off on our way to try to chase down some of our brethren who were doing the Acton Lions Club ride. Della and Pattie planned on getting 100 miles in today, while Crystal was looking for 60 or so and I was playing it cagey hoping to get some long miles in before 11 a.m., when I promised to return home.

We bombed down Rte. 111 to Acton, cut through the Acton High School parking lot and rode up Rte. 27 to Nara Park to discover we were at least 15 minutes behind the riders. So off we went to do at least one lap of the 50 mile course. A light mist began to descend upon us.

We kept up a decent pace all the way out to the Rte 2A traffic circle on the Ayer/Littleton border, following the L's painted on the road to indicate the Lion's Club route. Once in the circle, with me in the lead, we saw no "L" indicating which way to exit the circle so, laughing all the way, we completed one circuit before seeing an "L" partially obscured by sand that had washed over it after it was painted. We missed a couple of other turns because of this same problem. The organizers ought to get someone to drive the course with a driveway broom to sweep off the markings just before the ride.

Very soon after we got into Ayer, it started to rain in earnest, so I put on my jacket, helmet cover and began to wonder how well my new shoe covers would keep out the rain. Not much to report for most of the rest of the ride, we traded off pulling duties and rode up and down the rollers through Ayer, Groton and East Pepperell.

While in East Pepperell, re-watering ourselves at a White Hen Pantry, a group of 4 or 5 cyclists pulled up who turned out to be with the Lion's Club ride. We gratefully accepted the cue sheet they offered us. They also alerted us to an unmarked turn up ahead.

Off again we went, gradually pulling away from the other group and heading down towards Westford. Pattie and Della peeled off to head back up towards New Hampshire to rack up their mileage quota while Crystal and I continued on along the Lion's Club route, our pace dropping a bit to 19-20 mph average. I was starting to feel my tank going low as each roller ran beneath my wheels although I still had it in me to crank up them out of the saddle, just a little slower each time.

Out of Westford and into Carlisle we went stopping once to see if we could shortcut back to Rte. 27, turned out the route we were on was the fastest way back. The rain was back on after slacking off to a mist for a while, fortunately it wasn't the heat draining kind of rain I rode in last week. The shoe covers did a great job of keeping my feet warm, I think they ended up wet mostly due to sweat.

We made our way down 27 and I pointed Crystal back towards Harvard, where her car was parked, then poked the rest of the way home.

My wife and daughter greeted me with a delicious bounty of food they had laid out for a Father's Day brunch. We ate and then I found my favorite chair in the living room and slouched my way through the rest of the afternoon.


Playing My Cards Right

Distance: 25.3 mi.

TIme: 1:19:21

Avg. Speed: 19.15 mph

Weather: 59ª, 98% humidity, wind NNE1 (I didn't check the weather stats after the ride)

Song stuck in head: Highway Star - Deep Purple

Set out to do the MRC Saturday loop for two laps. The Harpoon Brewery B2B was also today, so I didn't expect any takers to the invitation to join me, but nonetheless, I would pause at the Stow Plaza Parking lot in between laps to gather up anyone looking to do the second lap with me. I'd missed two days of riding due to a very busy work schedule and my legs felt quite rested.

The weather looked great, considering how lousy it has been for what has seemed like forever. I left the parking lot at 6 a.m., targeting HR at 150 (except for climbs) and cadence to 100 (especially on the climbs). I took it easy the first 4 miles, averaging 18 mph or so and pushed harder than usual up the little steps that lead up and across Rte. 2 on the way to Littleton Station. The Oak Hill climb went very well (10' 18" climb time) and so did the next one up Bolton Road out of Harvard Center.

TRAINING NOTE: I think I've just about nailed down a technique that works well for me regarding pedal cadence and gauging available effort: on a climb, if I'm able to spin up to 95 rpm or better, I seem to be able to maintain at least 90 rpm while in the next smaller freewheel cog. Also, on flats/rollers, if I can spin up to 105 easily, I seem to be able to kick it over kick my speed up a mph or two in the next smaller cog.

The descents back into Stow were uneventful and I seemed to have plenty of power to keep my speed at or above 21 mph all along S. Acton Road. On Red Acre, I really made sure I kept my speed at or above 18 mph by doing mini-sprints up every little rise in the road all the way back to the parking lot.

I got to the parking lot at 7:20 a.m., 10 minutes before I predicted I would, shifted to an easy gear and pedaled around the lot to wait for anyone arriving to do the second lap. As I did so, I really hoped no one would show: today is my wife's birthday and I decided that I wanted to sneak back home and make her breakfast in bed (she is a very late sleeper on weekends). Besides, I want to do a 4 hour or so ride tomorrow, so it made sense to cut it short today from that standpoint as well. Today's ride was on the short side but very good.

When it hit 7:35 a.m., I turned for home and got the scrambled eggs going.


I Hope I'm Still Riding 14 years From Now...

...but a bit more alert than than this poor sod: Bike rider injured after running into back of CDTA bus. I wonder if he was drafting...

Got a Good One In Before the Rain Returns

Distance: 39.3 mi.

Time: 2:03:30

Avg. speed: 19.07

Weather: 58-70º, 790-40% humidity, wind calm-S5

I had "Going Mobile" by The Who in my head again today, great song for a ride. It was only a matter of time before my "brain's radio" did this. I'll only post "Song stuck in head" when it is new and unique to this blog.

This will be a brief summary of the ride as I am spinning many plates today.

Got my (nearly) 40 miler done today in good weather with very little wind. The route goes up Stow Road into Harvard, across Pinnacle and down Oak Hill into LIttleton. From there, it goes along 2A/110 for a stretch until it turns east on 225 to take me through a corner of Westford and into Carlisle. Then it turns south into Concord, through Concord Center, east into West Concord and then southwest through part of Acton and back home (map at end of post).

I targeted my HR at 150 bpm (actual was 151) and tried to keep my cadence as close to 100 as I could (avg. ended up at 95 rpm). The early climbs into Harvard went very well. I completed the section of Stow Rd. from the green mailbox at the bottom to the stop sign at the top in 6' 8", I'll have to check my previous logs but that may be my best time yet by 20 seconds or so.

Ever have one of those rides where you swear you're grinding into a headwind only to realize, "Hey, I'm going 24 mph on this stretch"? Nice when that happens.

I felt good all the way up to mile 25 in Carlisle when my left hamstring started to feel a bit twitchy. I dialed down the effort a bit and that seemed to take care of it. I wasn't very happy with my performance heading down Concord/Lowell Roads into Concord, but with the hamstring in the back of my mind, I didn't push it.

By the time I got to Parker St., I was feeling like I was just about spent and had just enough oomph in me to power over the final rollers and put up a feeble sprint for the last few hundred feet.

OBSERVATION: If you start failing/flaggin/flailing or otherwise underperforming on a ride, you can usually trace it to one of 3 things (mechanical failure notwithstanding):

  1. motor - you've overdone it and your legs are giving out
  2. tank - you are under fueled or under watered
  3. control panel - you have psyched yourself out or simply given up

Today, it was the motor - but I still feel I got a very good ride in, right at the limit for my current state of fitness.


Kicking It Over

Distance: 20.7 miles

Time: 1:00:44

Avg. Speed: 20.45 mph

Weather: 55-57º, 91-72% humidity, wind NE5-ENE4, misty to cloudy

Song stuck in head: Black and White Boy - Crowded House

Last night, I went to bed with the intention of doing the ride that got rained out yesterday, a 40 miler with bigger climbs at the beginning and rollicking rollers for the second 2/3 of the ride. However, I had disassembled my cranks/BB and freewheel cassette and my chain was soaking in a little tray of solvent when I woke up this morning. I figured I had a good hour's worth of assembly and adjustment to do before I could ride.

I got the bike back together without any issues and took a chance on the rear tire that flatted on Saturday and left it on.The weather was looking acceptable (a very light mist) so I decided that I would give a 20 mile "time trial" a go.

The course I do this on (map at bottom of this post) is not flat, but not very hilly either. Rolling little hills with three medium size humps to get over on this out-and-back route. The highest point is 110 feet above the start with total climbing of about 1,000 feet (according to my cyclo-computer).

The "x" factor for this ride, as for any public road TT is traffic and intersections, so I do my best to ride right up to stop signs and crossings then stop abruptly, to keep average speed up.

My performance targets for the ride were to keep my HR at around 160 bpm, my feeling, from the rides I've done so far this season, is that 165 bpm is about my anaerobic threshold. I'll go with that number until I get it properly determined. I also wanted to keep my cadence on the higher side than usual, at 100 rpm.

I added an extra 5 minutes to my usual 15 minute warmup and cranked up to 20 mph for the start. The first mile I spent getting my rhythm down, concentrating on pedaling smooth circles. I've found in the last few rides that the "scrape the poo" mantra doesn't work for me, instead I've been concentrating on pushing over the top, or "kicking it over". This seems to get me more power all the way around the pedal stroke better than anything else I've tried. I'm working hard to make the act "invisible" to my active mind as I ride.

Anyway, I was on my way to the first small hill on Pompositticut which you hit in the first mile of the ride, it's one of those hills with a gradual start and then a steeper ramp right near the top. A good way to wake up those type II muscles early. I rolled over the top at a respectable 15 mph and cruised down the other side, being sure to NOT soft pedal, as I often do. I was also careful to stay as aero as I could: elbows in, head low, etc.

At the bottom of Pompositticut, there is a buttonhook right that puts you on Rte 117 for about 25 feet with high potential for delay depending on traffic. Lucky for me, I was able to cruise right onto Red Acre Road. I shifted down a bit so my HR could stabilize again, which it did at 158 bpm or so. I was doing a bit over 20 mph as I rolled on down towards S. Acton Road where I usually take a time split. At 11' 40", I was doing ok but not fantastic. I knew I was up against a slight headwind to that point and would have it behind me for the next leg.

The two miles along S. Acton consist or 3 or 4 rollers and troughs which I was able to maintain 20+ mph without much trouble. My HR was pretty steady at just over 160 bpm and I was feeling good. I was able to scoot across W. Acton onto Boxboro Rd. with only the briefest pause to peek both ways for oncoming cars. A little past mile 7, I hit the second steep section of the route. My cadence was up nicely and I kept my speed up to 17 mph at least halfway up by sitting back and holding onto the bar tops earlier than I normally would. I felt a lot more power from my legs this way and planned to do it again on the next rise.

Over the top and down the other side past the road to Minute Man Airfield and Nancy's Airfield Café where the long incline continues along curvy wooded roads. I leapt from the saddle as I started each little rise and sat back down as I felt my legs begin to burn just a little bit. Just past mile 9, the route peaks out and I got a little relief as I spun up to 25 mph on a slight decline towards the 90 right that led me to the turn-around point. Time at turnaround was just under 31 minutes.

I knew that I could make up that minute on the way back, as now I would be largely going downhill, with a couple of exceptions. I was still feeling good and able to keep my HR in the zone I desired, but now any inclines were driving it and my breathing up pretty high. The hill at mile 13 was a good example.

I hit it doing about 23 mph and, hands on the bar tops with upper body low, I spun up as far as I could then shifted up 2 gears (I was prepared before the hill to be in the small chainring already) and stood up and blasted for as far as I could then shifted up one more gear and sat and ground my way to the top at about 14 mph. One thing I do well is recover from efforts like that quickly and down the other side I went shifting to the 53 toother and getting up to 27 mph towards the W. Acton Rd. crossing.

Again, I lucked out with traffic and zipped across onto S. Acton Road and into it's series of rollers. I was beginning to "feel the burn" steadily now but felt like I had some good juice left in the tank. I kept my speed over 20 mph the whole way to Red Acre turn, after which, on that steady incline, it became more and more difficult to keep the speed up and my HR down. My speed varied from 17-20 mph all the way to Rte 117 where I button hooked left this time onto Pompositticut and up that final hill.

This side of Pompositticut is made of two steeper sections with flatter middle section. The road surface is fairly typical New England: the part cyclists are obliged to ride on when there's traffic consists of frost-heaved asphalt and/or old heaves sealed with hot-patch and/or holes in the road where snowplows have removed heaved road surface AND, if you're lucky, there's a little lane of clean road near the shoulder. Heaven help me if Pompositticut didn't have that little 8" lane of clean road way to the right.

I bounded up, knowing this was the last big effort of the ride and I crested with a good burn in my thighs but enough left to begin to punch it down the other side, carrying 27 mph for the next mile and then tapering down to 24 mph Concord Street. One turn to go towards home and I... well, I can't call it a "sprint" but I did work my speed back up to 27 mph as I crossed the line.

I completed this route in under 59 minutes once last year, so beating that will be one goal for this year. Where could I have shaved off additional time (excepting traffic dodging, etc.)? Red Acre Rd's rollers on way back always get me, I need to be more aggressive on those, as well as the small incline just past the airport road.

I'll do the 40 tomorrow.


At Least I Didn't Flat Today

Distance: 23.9

Time: 1:19:28

Avg. speed: 18.04 mph

Weather: 57-60º, 92-83% humidity, wind E5-ESE3, cloudy then rain

Song stuck in head: Could You Be the One? - Hüsker Dü

Once again, I got burned by the weatherman. Set out to do 40-ish miles today, certain from my read of various weather web sites that I could do my 2+ hours of riding before the heavens reopened. I was wrong.

Only 8 miles in to today's ride, the rain started. That's about 20 minutes after I left home. I threw on my rain jacket and cursed myself for not wearing my shoe covers and forgetting the "shower cap" for my helmet.

Had to make a brief stop at the intersection of Eldridge and Stow to corral a stray cocker spaniel that looked worse off that I felt. A woman passing by in her car stopped and called the number on the dog's tag and got the address to return the pooch to and took over from there. This is the second stray in two days for me: yesterday, it was a very smelly and under cared for Westie that I turned into Maynard's Animal Control Officer.

I pressed on up Stow Road, logging a slightly-faster-than-usual 6' 20" for the climb. At the top, it really started pouring. I could have turned around right then, but was counting on the forecast of "scattered showers" and so continued down Rte. 111 to Harvard Ctr. and traversed many "rivers" coursing their way down and across the road as I went.

I stopped at the Harvard General Store, which has a eaves large enough to shelter the bike and tipped it back onto its rear wheel to pour out the water I knew had collected in the BB and chainstays. After letting myself drip dry for few minutes in the store's covered wheelchair ramp, I went in for a nice hot coffee.

I was variously greeted with amusement, pity and bewilderment by the other patrons and staff of the store. One woman told me that it should only be a "brief shower" as one of her friends had just shown her a radar map on her iPhone. A runner, she sympathized with my situation as she confessed that she'd been caught in the rain many times herself. I returned to the covered ramp to sip my coffee as I was simply to wet to sit down inside.

A Harvard police officer cheerfully noted, as he headed into the store, that predicting the weather is the only job that still pays even though you are wrong.

A landscaper pulled up and said, "We're both out of luck for a while." Indeed.

More than one individual assumed the role of "Captain Obvious" by stating, "Caught in the rain, eh?"

I pulled out my phone and started making calls to help wile away the time. First my wife, who was a little too busy at work for chit-chat. Then I called occasional riding pal, Patti D, who used to work at the very store I was in front of - left her a voicemail.

The rain appeared to be easing up a bit, after 45 minutes of waiting when the woman who gave me the "brief shower" mis-forecast pulls into the parking lot and apologized for the errant prediction and offers me a ride. I thanked her but politely declined the kind offer.

I set out, resigned to reducing the route to a mere out-and-back of 23 miles or so. I had a car on my ass the whole way down Stow Road, even though I kept my speed down (due to the amount of water on the road) and stayed way to the right. The driver couldn't summon the gumption to pass me until Stow Road passed under 495 and even on that long straight with no one in sight ahead, she put-putted past me completely in the other lane.

The rest of the ride does not bear much mention except to say that even though it was raining harder than last week's soak/ride, it was about 8 degrees warmer which made a ton of difference in my performance.

Once back home, I drained the BB/chainstays again, took off the chain to soak it in some gasoline, pulled the freewheel cassette for a cleaning and peeled the dead worms off my brake calipers and frame.

Tomorrow's forecast: patchy fog. :: crosses fingers ::


Six Miles South of North Platt

Distance: 59.5 mi.

Time: 3:06:32

Avg. Speed: 19.15

Weather: 60-73º, 94-57% humidity, wind N4-SSE2, sunny/partly cloudy

Song stuck in head: A Nervous Tic Motion of the Head to the Left - Andrew Bird

A ride with quite a few interesting and different facets to it. But let's begin the tale last night at about 9 p.m. when I was hard at work in my office editing some photos when I got a wicked cramp in the back of my right leg. No amount of straightening, bending, standing on it or cursing would alleviate the incredible pain. My wife rushes glass of water to me - I didn't bother telling her it would be some time before my body absorbed the water, so I just drank it down. It took about five minutes of hobbling around and massaging before I felt like I could sit down again without feeling that "I'm gonna cramp again soon" twitch.


At 11 p.m., My wife and I were just starting to watch the ch. 7 news when we heard someone on our front porch. It's our habit to have the porch light on only when one or both of us is not home so as I got to the door, I flicked on the light and opened the door to reveal a guy who looked like he belonged in Foghat.

Skinny, droopy mustache and stinking of drink, he burbled out, "Is she still here?", before I had a chance to say anything.

"You got the wrong house, bud," I tersely informed him.

"Oh, ok" was all he was capable saying as he stumbled down the porch stairs and around my house to the left (I live on a corner, with the road running along the left of the house as you look out the front).

I lean over the side of the porch to watch his retreat and see him mount a slightly-too-small mountain bike that was parked on the road across the street. He could barely pedal away and stay on the road. I don't know why I didn't call the cops, it was late and most youngins would be safe and sound in bed and if this guy crashed his bike making his way home, that was his problem, I thought. Not very charitable, I know.

Finally crawled into bed at 11:30.


Overnight, we were serenaded on and off by a bunch of female revelers somewhere down the block drunk-talking joyously but unintelligibly.


I got out of bed 5 minutes before the alarm went off, prepared some tea and a bowl Grape Nuts while I suited up for the ride. I felt no worse for the wear considering the various "intrusions" the night before.

As I arrived at Stow Plaza, it was evident that the day would be a real winner: sun was out and I already had my arm warmers off. By 6 a.m. the extra credit riders had arrived, Rebecca and Diane pulled up and got ready and a few others appeared too. I had my camera with me and snapped a few photos (click this one to see more):

We spent a little time figuring out what the game plan would be and settled on the following:

The 20 mph squad would ride the route to West Rindge, NH and back, perhaps adding some extra miles at the end. Rebecca, Diane and I would ride the route until we hit the 12 or 13 mile mark when the two of them would double back thus bagging a 25 mi. ride for themselves. I would continue on and turn around when I spied the then (hopefully) returning 20 mph group. Unfortunately for them and us, I misread the map, leading them to believe that we'd pick up Rte. 119 out of Littleton Station which is right along our usual route up to Oak Hill.

We started off and right away, Diane dropped a water bottle, which put the 20 mph group ahead of us by a fair amount. No matter, we had our own agenda. But when we got to Central Ave. on W. Acton Road, they were turned around and heading the other way. We passed each other, trading little jokes about being lost, etc. but Rebecca, Diane and I pressed on.

We kept a decent pace (20 mph or so) all the way through LIttleton Station and into Ayer on 2A and at the traffic circle there, Rebecca and Diane looped around to head for home. This was about the point where I realized I goofed on reading the map: I assumed that traffic circle was where we would pick up Rte. 119 but I mistook downtown Littleton for Littleton Station. I should know better: I cross Rte. 119 often enough on my "roller route".

The other group figured out my error and made their way up Newton Rd. towards downtown Littleton as the route indicated. I kept going into Ayer, thinking there must be some way up to 119 from where I was and sure enough, I came upon Rte. 111 running north past Groton Academy. The route was a nice change from our usual big hills, mostly long grades up which you could maintain a decent speed. The light was so good, skimming across the fields I passed that I was tempted to stop and take some pics along the way. But I pressed on, wondering if my route would put me in the path of the other group sooner than expected.

I got to 119 in good time and started west out of Groton towards Townsend. The road surface was so-so and there was a fair amount of traffic, but it was not as bad as riding Rte. 117 to me. Maybe my experience riding motorcycles has made me a little too comfortable riding with traffic... have to remember how vulnerable you are on a bike.

I cruised along through Townsend and made my way to Ashby. No sign of the 20 mph group. I checked my odometer and I was nearing 30 miles and it was a bit past 7:30. I needed to be home pretty close to 9 or after so I turned around, expecting to have the other riders catch me on the way back.

As I entered Townsend, I looked ahead and to my left and saw the other group in the parking lot of a convenience store, re-watering and re-fueling. I pulled in and we traded info on how we all arrived there. Apparently, they got messed up in Littleton and so never got to the NH border at all. In fact, they were surprised to see me coming back at them from that direction.

So off we went as one group, picking up speed behind Smudger's strong pull, hovering around 25 mph. He relinquished the lead position and drifted back to the rear only to flat out his front tire as soon as he slid into his new slot in the back. The group stopped on an incline to wait for him to swap out the tube, which he did in very little time. Off again we went, this time with Tony in the lead.

Tony gave way to Vic, I think, both of whom kept us going at a steady 23 mph. I was next and as far as I could tell, I gave a respectable pull as far as speed goes - 21 to 22 mph, but felt like I was spending a lot of time pointing out the pot holes and rough road surface we faced on this particular stretch of road. I pointed left, then right, the left again as our pace line wove it's way through.

I flicked my right elbow, drifted left and let the pack start to pull through. As soon as I got in behind Gary, who was now last, I hit a pot hole so solidly that it shook me right up off my saddle. And it flatted my rear tire.

The group was pulling away fast up an incline and I called out to Gary, "Go on, go on!" and so they did.

Unlike Smudger, it took me at least 10 minutes to change my tube. Continental tires have a notoriously non-stretchy bead. Once I got the thing mounted, I set to the task of pumping it up. As I did, I swore to myself that I'd buy some C02 cartridges the next time I visit Landry's. Arms fully pumped up and ripped, I was ready to strike some good Dave Draper poses for the passing cars. Instead, I mounted up and got going towards home.

I decided that since I was on my own, I might as well reverse the errant course that I took to get to Ashby and so I turned down 111 from Groton to Ayer and then took 2A west for a while. I had a change of heart when I got to the traffic circle in Ayre and took 111 into Harvard so that I'd have a few steeper climbs under my belt by day's end.

At Harvard Center, I was nearly out of water again, so I parked at the water fountain there, loaded up my bottles and called S to give her an idea of how much longer I'd be.

Up 111 out of Harvard Center and down Stow Road, and the rest of the way along familiar roads. I bumped into Scott S as he made his way home from the other direction and got the lowdown on what the 20 mph had done after we separated. After that, it was an uneventful ride back home to tally nearly 60 miles at 19+ mph average. As of today, I am down 10 lbs in weight since returning to riding at the beginning of May. I now weigh 168.

Too bad 119 was in such poor shape and so trafficky, the terrain is perfect for some nice wide open riding. I'm quite pleased with the ride I got in despite the flat and my navigational idiocy. I made the mistake of not eating enough after the ride (I only had a salad) and was found myself totally spent about an hour later as S, G and I went to Drumlin Farm for a visit. Once I got some decent grub in me, I bounced back.


Again With The Rain

Indoor trainer time: 65 min.

Avg. HR: 144 bpm

Raining hard enough to bring water into the basement this morning, so back on the "go nowhere" bike again to finish watching "All the Pretty Horses". Pushed a bit harder this session, with more one-legged spin intervals thrown in the mix.

I sweat up a storm and lost 2 lbs during the session even though I put away a bottle and a half of water along the way. Tonight, I experienced some serious cramping in my right thigh... more water and stretching to follow this post.

Tomorrow, the MRC crew is either going to do the same 2 loop Stow route as last week or head up to West Rindge, NH and back (90 miles)... I'm not sure I'm ready for that quite yet.


As far as the movie went, the parallels with "Brokeback Mountain" were numerous: Two guys go off to a strange land to work at a job that the world was passing by. They get in trouble. Midway through the movie about gay cowboys, one of them says, "I wish I could quit you". In the movie about the straight cowboys, one says, "I'll never quit on you". Both movies end with lovers separated forever. And the conflict between male emotionality and Old West stoicism grinds on.

The book of ATPH was so much better than the movie. The movie never really got me in touch with the desperation that the characters experienced the way the book did.


Fool Me Once

Indoor trainer time: 60 min.

Avg. HR: 139 bpm

Careful not to let the weatherman gull me into riding in a cold rain again today, I prudently did a trainer session. I mostly spent the time spinning the ache out of my legs from last night's ride but also threw in a half dozen one minute intervals of one-legged pedaling, revealing how poorly I can pedal a good circle with my left leg. Must work on that.

I watched the first half of "All The Pretty Horses", I like Cormac McCarthy books (just read The Road, read ATPH a few years ago) but usually have reservations about Matt Damon's acting ability. Interesting to watch it after seeing "Brokeback Mountain" this past winter.


MRC Wednesday Ride

Distance: 35.3 mi.

Time 1:46:08

Avg. Speed: 19.93

Weather: 62º, 80% humidity, wind NE5, cloudy

Song stuck in head: Birdhouse In Your Soul - They Might Be Giants

Good size group at the start for the mid-week MRC ride: Smudger (John), Chris, Tony, Gary D, Bruce, Carl (?) and two others.

We set out at a 19 mph pace and made our way to Liberty Tree Square Road without incident, I was able to sit in the pack comfortably and then the bigger hills came up and I started to fall behind, as usual. No worries, on Wednesday's the group will pause after the big climbs to allow stragglers to catch up. At the top of Liberty Tree/Taylor, Bruce took a left and went his own way.

A few hundred feet further up the road, I saw Gary doubling back to pick up a dropped water bottle. He went off on his own after that as well. I did my best to make it back to the pack on the Taylor Road descent, staying tucked down tight and pedaling hard, only closing the gap a bit before Littleton Station were we sorted out who was still with us and who was gone/dropped.

The six of us turned up Oak Hill Road, my plan being to do what ever it took to keep my speed above 10 mph the whole way up - ignoring HR, I monitored my cadence, trying to target 90 rpm or higher. The pack spread out right away with John, Tony and one other up ahead. It was good to have a couple of other riders close to me as I climbed - both in and out of the saddle.

As I crossed the long straight that parallels Rte. 2, I peered down and back through my arms and noticed a wheel tight on my tail. I don't know how rude this was (after all, Gary had lent me his wheel up Bolton Road this past Saturday), but I was feeling like I had more in me than merely grinding my way up... I was feeling competitive. So, I clicked down one cog, jumped up and cranked up my speed for the next 100 feet or so, the settled back into the saddle at this new pace. I was actually able to catch the rider who was some distance ahead of me as well. My breathing was heavy and labored as usual.

When I got to the mailbox at 223 Old Littleton Road, I calculated that I had shaved about 30 sec. off my best time for that climb: new record is now 9' 20". Woot!

Pushing on towards the Pinnacle intersection, I caught up with those that be me to the top. We regrouped, bombed down the other side and into Harvard Center where we took a right onto Rte. 111, up a short climb and then down towards the left onto Depot Road. Two riders opted to go straight on 110 and meet us on the other side of the Fruitlands climb.

I stuck with the pack until the actual climbing part started and drifted back again. At this point, both of my calves started doing that pre-cramp twitching on each upstroke, thus slowing my rate to below 10 mph. I caught up with the others just around the corner on 110 and stayed with them until the climbing south of Bare Hill Pond (I'm still fuzzy on the actual roads we took through this stretch, so beware of the map posted below). My lower legs were cramping hard and anytime I had the chance to coast a bit, I tried to stretch them a bit by pushing my heel down below the pedal as I stood on it. I also drank more bug juice as I went. It was very hard going.

When I got to Bolton Road (I think), the group was there waiting and Alan had met us there by riding the route in reverse. Bolton road is a nice, mostly straight stretch with a slight incline and as a group, we where able to cruise along it at 20+ mph. The balance of the route is the same as the Saturday morning route that consists of descending Cameron, Westcott, Stow and so on.

I was able to spin out the cramping in my calves and stayed right in with the group as we made our way down to Eldridge going 23 mph or so. Even though I couldn't carry that speed without drafting other riders, it was still all I could do to not let a gap form in front. At one point, I did feel like I was going to gap and so I flicked my right elbow, pulled left and let the next rider pull up. As I drifted back, the last rider conscientiously called out "Last" to let me know that this was my chance to grab his wheel or get dropped. I latched on.

As we worked our way along Taylor, I again felt myself fading and pulled out of the paceline to the left. I was barely in my new line when I felt a hand on my backside, pushing me back up to speed. A quick look over my shoulder revealed that it was Smudger generously giving me a boost.

Back into the line I went and we continued onto S. Acton Road where I got a turn at pulling the group for a minute or so and then the pace really picked up (over 25 mph) and my calves really began to hurt. I was able to keep my speed at 20 mph or so but the rest of them were getting pretty far ahead. Everyone eased up on Robbins and we rode together as a group the rest of the way back to the parking lot.

I'm extremely happy with how I did on this ride, despite the cramping. Almost 20 mph average speed over a very hilly route. I need to spend more time stretching as well as ensure that I am well hydrated BEFORE I head out for hard rides.


I Could Have Been Watching a Movie

Distance: 24.6 mi.

Time: 1:22:47

Avg. Speed: 17.85 mph

Weather: 60-52º, 62-91% humidity, wind SE4-NE2, cloudy then heavy rain

Song stuck in head: Love Reign O'er Me - The Who

My intention for today's ride was to get in some good climbing and to try out the idea of high rpm spinning up the hills. Forecast called for rain to start at around 11 a.m., I left home a little past 8:30 and expected to be back by 10:15 or so.

The route goes the usual way: Red Acre > S. Acton > Taylor > Eldridge > Stow and things were going very well all the way. I got to the green mailbox at the bottom of Stow Road, noted my time and started up, attempting to keep my cadence at 100 rpm or better for as long as I could.

About halfway up, I saw a drop of rain on my computer and then another so I stopped and put on my rain jacket and helmet cover, which I've had for some time but never wore. I was also glad I had put on my shoe covers before I left.

Off again I went and soon enough it really started coming down. Determined to at least get this climb in before turning back, I made it to the stop sign at the top in... 6' 35". It's amazing how I consistent my time is on this hill regardless of conditions or methods.

At the top, I pressed on down Rte. 111 into Harvard Center and as I went, I could feel the heat draining out of me. A quick look at the temperature readout on my computer showed that it had dropped from 59 to 52 degrees in about 10 minutes time. It was time to turn back.

I turned right onto Oak Hill Road which provided me with one more short, steep climb and then turned onto Woodchuck Hill Road, right on Slough and back down Stow towards home. I usually bomb down Stow when I get the chance but it was raining hard enough now that there was a lot of water on the road and I didn't need to take a spill so I just soft pedaled to keep my legs moving and as warm as possible.

I pretty much made the rest of the ride home into another spin session. I was cold, but not quite teeth-chattering cold. The silly-looking helmet cover definitely helped by keeping my head dry. At 24 miles and change it wasn't a wasted outing, but I kept thinking I could have been on the trainer, watching a movie in my basement instead.

Once back home, I stuffed towels into my shoes (the covers finally let some rain in after a while), put the bike on the stand and tilted it back to drain the chainstays/BB and then toweled off the whole thing. I also took off the chain off and set it in some solvent.

The forecast for tomorrow looks much better, hopefully the MRC Wednesday ride goes off without any rain...


Spinning On Air

Distance: 20.4 miles

Time: 1:09:06

Avg. Speed: 17.73

Weather: 66º, 50% humidity, wind N7, partly cloudy

Song stuck in head: Middle of the Road - The Pretenders

Took a rest day yesterday as I was feeling pretty achy and in particular, was sore just above my right knee when I bent it. I think I also might have bruised a couple of ribs when I had my little spill on Taylor Road.

Today, the goal was to do a REAL spin ride so I targeted my cadence at 110 rpm and my heart rate at 140 bpm or lower. I set out to do a 20 mile out-and-back route (map below) into Boxboro that is about as flat as you can get around here.

It was easier to hit my cadence and HR targets today largely due to some lingering soreness in my legs and so I settled into concentrating on form as I went, focusing on keeping pressure on the pedals all the way around each rotation while holding a good line. If I came to any sort of incline, I shifted down immediately to keep my cadence up. This meant that I was going as slow as 12 mph on some of the rollers I typically crank up at 20 mph or more.

As I rode, I wondered if my hill climbing technique demands too much of my muscles and not enough of my hear/lungs (even though I end up breathing hard anyways). At my current state of fitness, I might do well to try to really spin my way up hills. I'll give it a go tomorrow on Stow Road to find out...

I didn't check my time at my usual waypoints along the way and was fine with that: I was actually spinning my way through the whole ride... until I approached the intersection of Boxboro and West Acton Roads when I saw another cyclist take the turn onto South Acton Road, where I was headed. My first instinct was to just let him go and keep to the plan for this ride.

It didn't take long for me to let the competitive spirit take over and soon enough, I was on the big chainring, pushing my way up to 22 mph across the rollers on S. Acton in the attempt to catch whoever it was ahead of me. He/she was far enough ahead that I would briefly lose sight of them from time to time. I wanted to catch him before Red Acre Road if I could but each time I was able to see him again, the distance between us didn't change so I did a little sprint each time I crested a roller to help put on some additional speed, getting up to 25 mph.

Sadly, by the time he made it to the Red Acre intersection, he went left... I was going right and had not caught up at all so I settled back into my spin regimen which came much easier after the effort I had just put in. 10 minutes later, I was back home.

After a typical ride, I'll park my bike while I take off my helmet, sunglasses and shoes then grab the notebook I record my ride data in. When I start copying down the stats, it's been about 5 minutes since I got off the bike so I take a post-ride heart rate measurement to gauge my ability to recover. Usually, this reading falls between 95 and 100 bpm but today, with the lighter effort, it came in at 80.

NOTE: The title for today's post came from a radio show I used to enjoy when I lived in CT, "Spinning On Air" - and now I see I can listen online!

UPDATE: Upon checking my riding log, my SPIN ride today was faster than the first two NON-spin rides for this course four weeks ago and exactly the same time as the third time I rode the course on May 14. Now that's progress!



The Round Bits Belong on the Road

Distance: 52.3 mi.

Time: 2:51:50

Avg. Speed: 18.26

Weather: 51-59º, 79% humidity, calm

Song stuck in head: The Gates of Delirium - Yes

Went for the two-lap MRC Saturday loop today, we were able to form a nice 18mph "B" group of seven riders for the start: myself, Tony W, Scott S, Gary D, Mike Z, Rebecca and (yikes) another woman who's name is now escaping me... I think maybe, "Diane"... sorry! It was not terribly cold but the humidity was high enough to make it feel colder than it was.

We rode out from Stow Plaza just behind the 20 mph squad who grew progressively distant, the closer we got to Oak Hill. We kept a good pace the whole way there and the climb was the usual challenge but uneventful, if you don't count the wobble that put me perilously close to a pile of cut tree branches laid by the roadside like punji sticks. I was about 100 yards behind Tony and Mike at the summit, not bad.

We paused a bit at the Pinnacle intersection then started down the other side toward Harvard Center. I hit my top speed of 43.3 mph along this stretch as Gary and I ripped our way down. Another moment to regroup at Harvard Center then on to Bolton Road.

As I've mentioned before, Bolton Road is that extra something special climb after you've done Oak Hill. Sure enough, I plodded my way up and met up with the group at the top then we bounded down towards Stow Road and back towards Stow Plaza. We fully regrouped along Red Acre Road and at that point, I showed us having a respectable 18.7 mph average for the first lap.

At the parking lot, we said goodbye to Rebecca, who headed off to home and picked up Jen who was there waiting for us. A few minutes of water replenishment and then we were off on lap 2. I was still feeling stiff, like I had never quite warmed up (shoulda had some tights on) but kept with the group nevertheless. As we got into Boxboro, Diane peeled off for home. I felt good all the way to Oak Hill for the second climb and actually beat my previous best for the climb by 15 seconds. I crested, hoping I didn't spend it all there.

The second Bolton Road climb, I gratefully clung to Gary's wheel for the placebo effect draft he was providing on the way up. Back down Stow and onto Eldridge we went. Jen had been out of sight behind us for a while and so while Scott when home for more water (we were quite close to his house), we doubled back to see if we could find Jen.

Near Old Harvard Road, Tony, Mike, Gary and I were turning small loops in the road, trying to figure out where Jen might be. At some point, as I made a tight turn to change direction, I caught a pedal on pavement and did one of my patented slow speed rollovers. As I fell, I got my left leg out just far enough to provide a fulcrum to pivot the whole bike/body combination around and then pretty much momentarily end up on my back. Water bottle rolling one way, baggie with phone/money/ID/pump going the other.

Oh yes, there were plenty of witnesses, not only my fellow riders but a motorist and a few people out power-walking. Everyone's asking if I'm ok. I was. Well, I earned a little road rash on my left calf but it hardly bears mentioning due to how I got it. Scuffed my left pedal a bit and abraded my bar tape a little near the end. Otherwise, no damage except perhaps a bit to my pride. I think this one was more spectacular than the one I did last year with Ted, Della and Pattie in Ayer.

Moments later, Jen comes along and so we head up Taylor to look for Scott. As we poked around on Taylor, bits of the 20 mph group appear and soon enough the lot of us are headed back to Stow Plaza. I settled in with "the other Gary", Len and Smudger as we went along S. Acton Road. I got the feeling something was up when Smudger broke from the pace line and started riding first left, then right of us and then suddenly he jumped into a sprint.

Somehow or other I was ready and took off after him as did Len and then Gary but only moments later, Smudger popped out of his cleat and I think Gary did too. Len and I kept it up a bit longer but suddenly, Len was off the shoulder riding at 30 mph in a sandy little gully parallel to the road. With a fairly big lip to jump to get back on the pavement and a tangled mess of brambles and trees to his right, Len had to do his best to hold his new off-road line. A couple of hundred feet later his was back on the road, with a look of astonishment on his face.

Len's stunt didn't erase the memory of my flip-over hi-jinx back on Taylor and so I got a good ribbing when we all finally got back to the parking lot. A few of the 20 mph folks plus Tony and Gary headed out to add another 35 miles to their ride while I headed home to get the pancakes started.


Words All Fail the Magic Prize

Distance: 26.1 mi.

Time: 1:24:26

Avg. Speed: 18.55 mph

Weather: 74-76º, 32-31% humidity, calm-WNW1

Song stuck in head: Add It Up - Violent Femmes

Rode one of my old regular routes this afternoon, "route G" that runs up Stow Road across Slough to Pinnacle, down Old Littleton/Oak Hill then up Taylor into Boxboro. After that it goes across 111 onto Summer, runs into Central then right on Main St. and back home again. Two good climbs, nice descents and rollers all in a 90 minute or less package.

I won't go into much detail except for a few points:

  • I confirmed that I merely wasn't paying attention yesterday as I came down Stow and went all the way to 117. I made sure I found a landmark to recognize at the Wescott/Stow intersection (a boulder) when I do the ride on Saturday.
  • I ran out of my regular "bug juice" yesterday and had only water today... could that have had a significant effect on performance?
  • My time up Stow was my typical 6' 30". Felt faster, I guess that's a good thing.
  • Checking my 2008 log, I completed this route in under 81 minutes, on my Bianchi. In fact it was the last training ride I did on that bike before buying the LeMond I am riding now.
  • I made myself laugh during the ride as I imagined a mashup of yesterday's SSIH with today's.


Bonus Miles

Distance: 33.1 mi.

Time: 1:36:58

Avg. Speed: 20.5 mph

Weather: 71-68º, 35-49% humidity, wind NW6-WSW9, overcast

Song stuck in head: The Things We Do For Love - 10cc

Goal for today: ride the Saturday MRC route with a moderate effort (had moderate to hard effort yesterday) so that I could do some climbing as well as familiarize myself with route because I volunteered to lead a 18+ mph group, should one form.

MAINTENANCE: Pulled cranks, cleaned, greased, reinstalled them. Cleaned, lubed chain. Adjusted FD (chain rubbed when on largest freewheel cogs). Still getting some noise from "down there"...

BRIEF ASIDE: I must comment on the my brain's radio. Years of photographing weddings, bar mitzvah's and corporate parties repeatedly exposed me to the canonical playlists of party DJ's which has embedded the worst of the worst earworms in my cerebral cortex. On today's ride, I noticed that the song that propagates might be one that has a rhythm that closely matches my pedal cadence. This requires continued observation...

Back to business. Here's the route: clicky. I rode the same roads as shown on the route, in a slightly different sequence. I set out without my usual 3 lap warmup around the streets of my neighborhood, intending to take it easy for the first 10 minutes or so. Well, that went out the window as soon as I crested Pompositticut, less than a mile from home. I hustled to my first waypoint (the intersection of Red Acre and S. Acton Roads) in just over 12 minutes, not a bad start.

OBSERVATION: Just as riding with others helps you to "get over yourself" and ride faster, it seems I may need to ride with others to do those "spin" or "recovery" rides. On my own I just seem to end up pushing hard even when I don't want to. Next scheduled recovery ride, I'll target a really low HR, like 130 or 140 and see how that works.

The turn put me square into a moderate headwind, I kept low and made my way over the little rollers that lead to W. Acton road where I was able to take advantage of the wind at my back and cruise along at 20+ mph the whole way to the left onto Summer St. Summer St. took me across Rte. 111 onto Liberty Square Road and the increasing taller hills it presents. I typically dog a bit along this stretch and sure enough, my speed dropped a bit as I worked my way up each incline.

Over the top and down the other side (now Taylor) at a decent 33 mph clip towards Littleton Station, turn left and the right to head up Oak Hill Road. I noted my elapsed time when I passed the stop sign at the bottom: 00:45:36

So up the long climb of Oak Hill I went, feeling pretty strong. I switched my comp. to monitor my cadence instead of HR this time, knowing that my HR would probably max out but wanted to keep my rpms at around 90 or better if at all possible. I climbed while doing what I call "tractoring" - where I pedal continuous effort circles while sitting pretty far back on the saddle, hands on the bar tops. When found a flatter spot, I'd drop down a gear, get out of the saddled, spin up, sit and "tractor" at this new, faster speed until it got steeper again. This worked really well all the way up and my speed only dropped below 10 mph for about 30 seconds or so about 2/3 the way up.

I was huffing and puffing hard, but concentrated on getting deep breaths via my diaphragm rather than just expanding my chest. I got to the mailbox at 233 Old LIttleton Road in 10' 35". I'll call that a baseline time to beat as the season goes on.

Across Pinnacle and down the other side towards Harvard Ctr. where I hit my top speed of 41.2 mph. A short section on Rte. 111 and onto Bolton Road where I'd have to pay attention to the turns I then made as this is the part of the route I was only vaguely familiar with, having followed others every time I'd done it before. The climb up Bolton Road is not too steep, but I plodded along below 15 mph apparently having blown my wad on Oak Hill.

Left on E. Bare Hill Road, left on Cameron (turns into Westcott) all descending nicely with curves that keep things interesting... and then I spaced out. I guess I was enjoying all the speed but I didn't realize I was already on Stow Road when I passed under Rte. 495. I felt like I'd missed a turn, but just didn't recognize this familiar stretch that I almost always ride in the other direction. Need to look for some landmarks next time. Anyways, I stayed on Stow as it became East End Road and dumped me onto Rte. 117. Hehe, oops!

I'm not fond of riding 117 and here it was approaching 4 p.m. and traffic was pretty heavy but the last look at the radar map before I left showed approaching storms (of course as I write this at 8 p.m. it hasn't rained yet) so I buckled down and cranked home all the way on 117, maintaining a nice 20+ mph clip, getting some help from a school bus and a couple of tractor-trailers.

I was very surprised to find my average speed for the ride to be above 20 mph (I just checked my comp to be sure I didn't misread it), considering how much of the ride was sub-20 climbing, but then quite a bit was either descending or rollers which brought the average back up. Saturday morning, it will be TWO laps on this route...



Distance: 34.3 mi.

Time: 1:45:58

Avg. Speed: 19.49

Weather: 64-71º, 67-57% humidity, wind W8, sunny and clear

Song stuck in head: Stupidly Happy - XTC

I set out today intending to see how quickly I could do my rollery route that goes through Littleton, Carlisle, Concord and back home. Last year, I did it a few times averaging 20 mph. I would have been happy today if I broke 19 mph. After a 10 minute warmup around the neighborhood, I got going.

Knowing that I'd have to pace myself, I started off with 150 bpm as my target heart rate. Soon enough, I "renegotiated" that to target the mid 150's as I felt like limiting to 150 was not allowing me to apply the effort I felt that I had in me. The adjustment seemed suitable as I cruised up across Rte. 111 and into Littleton. I don't monitor my average speed on these rides, I just gauge my effort via heart rate - and it seemed like I was on a pretty good pace

I knew that I was going to get some help from the westerly wind once I got onto 225 but it didn't seem to impede my progress much as I was going north into Littleton. As I got to the town center, I was heartened to see that they seem to be paving Goldsmith Street - long in need of an overhaul. Out of downtown and past Kimball's, I was able to keep my speed above 20 mph and beyond as the road slopes down for a while.

Up that short hill to the 225 turn, I was able to bound pretty quickly out of the saddle and then get a touch of recovery at the light where 225 crosses Littleton Road. Across 225 into Concord, I felt very strong but also able to modulate my effort to hold onto some juice that I would need later on in the ride. The three hills along this stretch seemed like less of a problem than usual, even with my two largest cogs being out of the mix (need to tune up that RD!). Again, out-of-saddle climbing did the trick - I really feel like my legs are starting to develop some power.

Right turn on Concord/Lowell and I was still able to bound up the rollers without flagging. Across the flats, I was maintaining 22-24 mph - it was on this part of the ride that I realized I was now averaging 160 bpm. It's so easy to pour on the gas and use up stamina you'll need later on those days where you just feel really good. So I eased up a little bit as I came into Concord Center.

I expect to put-put a bit for that block or two in downtown Concord, but since there were (untypically) no jaywalkers or drivers having trouble parallel parking, I got through there without much of a delay. But now I was face on into that slight headwind of 8mph. I made sure I kept into the drops or low on the hoods as I worked my way towards the Rte. 2 intersection.

Instead of coasting up to the light at Rte. 2, I pedaled hard right up to about 60 feet away and then braked to a stop. Once the light turned green again, on I went into West Concord. I was just beginning to feel a bit fatigued but was able to keep my speed over 19 mph until the hill on Lawsbrook Road. Up and over I went, pretty winded at the top, and pedaling hard down the other side.

The last stretch down Parker is where I usually start to flail on this route but I still felt pretty good and cranked over the various rollers all the way to where the route crosses Rte. 27 near home. At this point, I took a peek at my elapsed time and saw that I was off pace from my best from last year (no surprise) but on track for a respectable time nonetheless. I spun up and shifted down a few times as I turned down my street and crossed the "finish" in a not-quite-sprint.

I really pleased with how I was able go regulate my effort to match what was needed to get a decent time on this route today.

Looks like I'll have to game the weather again for the rest of the week. Aiming to lead a 18+ mph "B" group through two laps of the MRC Saturday Stow ride... so it would be a good idea to ride the route tomorrow so I have all the turns down.