Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Tour Du Monde

Getting ready for my annual bike tour with bike buds where I'm sure most of the tour folks will be a high ticket bikes. These photos brought back the reality of how utilitarian a bike really is.

Click here for Tour Du Monde in a separate window.

Here's the first photo

Monday, April 12, 2010

Back To Brevets

What was that movie: "Back to the Future"? I'm beginning to look like Christopher Lloyd. Now if I could get "back" to having 30 year old legs, brevets would be so much more fun.

Almost a year ago I had a liver transplant which meant limited strenuous activity. While I was approved to cycle about 8 weeks after the surgery, any long distance rides such as this were verboten.

Scheduled 200km rides for January were scratched by nurse Toni, who when told that temps would be in the high 30's with possible rain, said: "I know you love cycling, but tell your bike friends that "Mama Nurse Toni" says "NO". What Mama Nurse Toni says, I do. Faithfully. I like being around.

With the Central Florida Randonneurs 300km brevet on my calendar I kept looking at the weather forecast and thankfully even though a "cold" front was coming through the evening temps would only be around 50 F degrees.

One of the "going to be fun" things about this brevet is that a bunch of my recumbent buds who ride Bacchettas would be attending, John Schlitter amongst them. John is one of these long distance intrepid souls who started racing sailcars across the plains of Kansas. A racer at a young age, as he (ahem) matured, he got into long distance events, RAAM included. He currently holds the RAAM record as the only cyclist to complete RAAM on a recumbent. I knew I'd see him at the start and that would be it. These cyclists will complete a 300km ride (180) miles in about 10 to 11 hours.


I have to keep telling them: "It's not a race. It's a brevet". Can't take the heart out of the lion.

When I started the 300km it was 5:00 a.m. in the morning, coldish, and we were going against a cross headwind out of the WNW at 20 to 30 mph with gusts to 40 mph plus. So I pondered: "And Joe, why are you doing these?" I got the same answer when I started in 2003: "Ummmm I don't know, but I really like 'em." Although this time I was questioning my sanity.

Most of the brevet was on either lightly traffic roads or back roads with the surface from "wow" to "ow", especially one 20 mile section that looked like something from a war zone. I'm sure it was used for either bombing or strafing practice. I came to realize the benefit of my titanium trusty steed and wondered what that road would have felt like on a standard bike.

Usually I'm the "Rouge Lanterne", but this time there were one or two riders who rode with me for awhile or lagged behind at the control. So I didn't finish last on this one, as I normally do.

One third of the way into the race, cycling head first into that headwind and lucky to maintain 9 to 10 mph I was sure I would never do a long distance brevet again. Why need to? I'm not qualifying for anything or going for a medal. Turning back into a cross headwind my legs had nothing...I mean nothing. It was all I could do to turn the pedals and move.

Then it happened.


On my last brevet I also went from "lunch legs" to "energizer bunny". How or why I don't know. All I know is that the next 100 miles were "well...let's just keep going..." and I felt like I could ride forever. That's usually my style: Just keep pedaling in a spin and grin gear. It works.

Finished in about 15 hours riding time which is standard fare of about 12mph to 13mph overall average for me on these long distance rides.

Have a 400km coming up in two weeks and I'm sure I'll ask myself the same question: "And Joe, why do you do these ridiculously long bike rides?'

Same answer: "I dunno.". Wait. Yes I do: "Because they're there."

P.S. The ride back went through Titusville on the eve that the last night shuttle launch was to take place. Took my time looking at the hundreds upon hundreds of campers, vendors, food stands, etc. being established overnight: A veritable city popped up.

Shelly's Blog: A New York State Of Mind

I met Shelly in NYC in the mid to late 90's. He owns (or did) a bike messenger company and has been carless for I don't know how long. His blog urbanmobilityproject.blogspot.com/ is a door into the biking culture of NYC.


Worth The Read

Well worth the read washcycle.typepad.com/home/2008/07/the-myth-of-the.html it am.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

A Bit of Philosphy

Roland Provost writes a great blog. Until recently he has written under
eBent Recumbent Cycling at ebent.wordpress.com.

Philosophy from Provost's Blog:

As Groucho said "These are my principles and if you don’t like them, I have others".

1. We are doing this for fun. Anything that prevents us from having fun should be avoided. If it isn’t fun why are we here?

1A. We are riding for the fun and adventure not to ride.

1B. We can ride anywhere; we are here for another reason.

2. The faster you go the less you see. I have seen birds of prey circling and ants building mounds as I ride in the mountains. I tell myself they find my bike interesting.

2A. A great trip is full of little discoveries. These discoveries happen when you stop to look.

3. Everything is easy if you aren’t in a hurry. I met an 80 year old woman who had just ridden from California to Maine, her first cross country ride. She walked over every railroad track and up every hill. She told me this and I believe she was right.

4. Remember The 7 Ps – Proper Planning and Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance or A Ride that Sucks!

5. We plan so that we can understand the consequences of changing the plan.

6. The plan was made so that the Ride would be fun. If what we are doing now is fun, we are following the plan, no matter what the plan said.

7. Enjoy what is here and now. Tomorrow may bring rain and traffic, don’t rush towards them enjoy this moment.

8. Keep your head up and your eyes open. There is very little interesting on the road and we won’t see what is interesting if we don’t look.

9. In Of Human Bondage, Maugham said, "The meaning of the Life is in the Persian Rug." This is also true for Bicycle Tours.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Amsterdamn Spring

Dozens of women posed naked on their bicycles on a bridge over one of Amsterdam's historic canals on Sunday - a unique sight even in a city famed for its relaxed attitude toward nudity and sex.

They were among 2000 men and women who participated in a series of four nude group photos in the city in the early hours of the morning as part of the latest project of US photographer Spencer Tunick.

The first and largest composition was in a decidedly prosaic location: a parking garage on the outer ring of the city.

But what the location lacked in romance, it made up for in style.

Participants lined the railings of the garage's twin circular towers, creating a pattern of multicoloured stripes against the white building and an overcast sky.

The women on bikes were selected from the larger group and posed with their chins pointed triumphantly upward toward the sky.

Other compositions included a group of men posing together near the parking garage and a mixed group of men and women on another bridge.

Tunick, from Brooklyn, New York, has become famous for photographing thousands of naked people in public settings worldwide, from London and Vienna to Buenos Aires and Buffalo.

He set a record for naked photography with a photo of 18,000 people in the buff in Mexico City last month.

Photos from Sunday's session are being exhibited at an Amsterdam club.

From the Associated Press

Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 SEBRING: 12/24 Hour Endurance Race UMCA

Many of my recumbent online bike buds have done this race. In the past I was overseas unable to attend. So this year with being in the states, I decided to "volunteer to crew" for Bacchetta riders. About Bacchetta

"Crew"ing for ultra distance riders means you do whatever it takes to keep your riders on the course. Time off the bike is lost time and less miles. These riders are there for a few reasons: (1) To qualify for RAAM (Race Across AMerica). (RAAM QUALIFYING) Various ultra races around the world are qualifiers for ultra distance ride of rides (2) To set a PR (Personal Record) or (3) Just to see what the heck it's like to ride 12 hours or 24 hours or as long as possible.

What made this year's race especially difficult was the unusual cold Florida weather coupled with the Florida hills, which goes by the name of wind!! The high temp on Saturday was about 47 degrees and as the sun dropped on the horizon so did the temperature until it bottomed out at about 35 degrees around 4:00 a.m. on the 14th. The hills/winds? All day over 20mph with gusts of 30 to 40 mph

One of the racers who set a record in 2007 had this to say: "I was pushing 250 watts and doing 11 to 17 mph into the wind." Okay says I. What does that mean to me, the layman? He told me that at 250 watts he is usually riding at 25 to 27 mph. That brought home the impact of the Florida "hills" on the riders this day. Record hopes were dashed or well, blown away.

I had the pleasure of watching a new female recumbent rider on a Carbent About Carbent smoke the course. Her name is Sandy Earl and she will be doing a solo RAAM (About RAAM) this year. Sandy rode 415 miles in 24 hours in just miserable conditions to set a new women's record.

Ultra distance bike rides take many shapes and forms. One of the most common is a "brevet" done by randonneurs.About Randonneurs

People often ask me why I do long distance rides and brevets. I put the question to one of the Sebring riders and her answer rings true. She wrote (with some minor editing by moi):

"Why do I do this race (you asked)? I do it because of all the Bacchetta people there in Florida and the route itself. It's not particularly tough, it's beautiful, and I love the camaraderie of like-minded people. I do it for personal satisfaction AND.... I really DO want to RAAM qualify and this is the one race where, unless they up the mileage requirements, I know it is possible for me to do so. I am already planning for next year. I could have hit 350 miles, for sure, had I had some training (and I didn't) ....... if there had not been all that wind. I was 98 miles short of my goal and quit 3 hours early.... even with a 15 mph average I'd have been within 55 miles of the goal and without the wind I know I could have gotten those 55 miles in over the previous hours.... Yup. I had 300 miles in 2008 in the socked bike and I spent a LOT of time in the pits.... way too much.

The Little Train That Could. That's me."