Saturday, July 28, 2007

Last ride before the adventure begins

The SWC ride Thursday evening was in Glenville. We climbed Snake Hill Rd, went up Ridge, then a fairly easy rolling rest of the ride. It was slated to be 18 miles, but since I only needed 20.6 to go over 1000 for the season, I added on a few and got there. This is going to be a good year!

Tomorrow, I leave for Crown Point, camp overnight, and then begins the year's big adventure. I'll head out Monday morning on the Tour de Champlain (see link in sidebar), a 250+ mile 6-day circumnavigation of the northern and more interesting part of the Lake. I'm carrying everything and camping, weather permitting, so this will be my first real loaded tour since 1973. With any luck, I'll be updating that other blog as I go along.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Not Crawford, but...

I seriously considered climbing Crawford Road today. Then I looked at the profile - it's about 2 miles and 1000 feet of climbing, averaging about 10%. Given that I'm working up to next week's tour, and the worst hill on that route is about 6.7 miles and 1000 feet, averaging less than 3%, I decided to try something more closely matching that, and giving me a longer time climbing instead of something short and mega-steep. So I set out to climb NY160 from Pattersonville to Mariaville. That's about 6.5 miles and 1250 feet, with one 8% section in the middle, so it seemed like a good match. My only mistake was misjudging the overall distance of the route I had in mind. I was thinking a total of 18-20 miles, so only brought one large water bottle. When I got to Mariaville, and the odometer said 16.3 miles, I realized my error. Had a Diet Pepsi and some chips at the store as I rested and regained my legs from the climb, and then headed on. But first the climb...

This was really not bad. Even the 8% section didn't get me down to my lowest gear. I did the bottom 3 pitches without any trouble, and stopped at Thayer Road, as it leveled out, for a quick standup breather and drink. There were several more (3-5) climbs after that, but only the first one had any length to it. These were interspersed with short downhills, which I coasted to conserve the legs for the climbs. When I got to Mariaville, I felt a little wobbly, but the break there at the store recharged me.

So now, seeing 16.3 to this point, I'm thinking maybe 25 miles total, as I climbed Weast Rd. and then headed down the Kelly/Scotch Ridge/Currybush descent route back to NY159 and Putnam Road. 25 miles came and went, but I was feeling great and it didn't matter. Even the few remaining uphills on NY159 and Putnam seemed easy. I had an interesting thought, that of continuing back up to Mariaville, to test doing another 1000-foot climb after having already done 30 miles and some significant climbing earlier. That's what Day One next week offers as a choice. But it was getting late, and I really wanted to be done, so I skipped it.

Overall the day came in at 31 miles and about 1800 feet of climbing. And for once, I feel great! No late-day cramps or residual soreness, and even some energy left once I got home.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Feeling strong

Tonight's SWC ride was the Grant Hill loop that I've done a couple of times already this year on the touring bike, 18 miles with some good climbing in the middle. Because the old bike was in the garage and ready to ride after Tuesday's commute, and because there was a pretty good chance of rain sometime this evening, I went with the old 10-speed, knowing I'd be doing some climbing with those not-so-low gears.

Well, aside from a couple of front shifting problems, it was a pleasure and a piece of cake. I not only kept up on the flats, but pulled ahead on the climbs. And I added a short segment of my own to the end of the ride where I was steadily hammering near 20 mph for a mile or two. On the old steel 10-speed. This put me at 916 miles already for the year, with the Tour de Champlain coming up next week, and all the climbing that that will entail. I gotta say, I'm as ready as I'm ever going to be. The piece de resistance would be to squeeze in a climb up Crawford Road sometime before I go, but time is definitely limited and I don't know if that will happen. If not, then definitely when I get back. And this could also be another good year for a century attempt, either full or metric. Feeling good!

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Stop and Go

After over a week off the bike, because of pesky thunderstorms and other commitments, I did the SWC ride on Thursday, and it felt good. It was the usual "long way" around Galway Lake, with that nasty climb right at the end, but I made it up with a gear or two to spare. Then I cranked it up as soon as I topped out, and continued on my way. I'd been riding alone for the entire second half of the route, having left many others behind on a previous long gradual climb. Good ride, about 18 miles.

Yesterday, I felt the need to uncork a relatively big ride, so I did the Mariaville/Esperance/Duanesburg loop. This one is about 45 miles and 2400 feet of climbing. From the river up to Mariaville, it's a 9-mile 1200-foot climb, but fairly gradual aside from Weast Road near the top. There's another relatively minor climb on NY 30, and a couple of long gradual ones on US20, especially the long grind up out of Esperance eastbound. I made a point of drinking often, and stopping for a break now and then, so no cramping, but I finished the ride about the time I'd had enough.

In Mariaville, I had an apple pie from the store there, and that seemed to fuel me pretty well for the next segment to Esperance. There, I stopped for a "sodium supplement", some teriyaki jerky and some Combos. Then came the long climb. In Duanesburg, I stopped for lunch and had a very large pulled pork sandwich and a strawberry shake, and this may have been a mistake. I'd forgotten about the climb eastbound from Duanesburg, and with the heavy stomach and the long-ish lunch stop, my legs were like lead. I recall this same phenomenon after a heavy lunch stop in Brewerton when circumnavigating Oneida Lake a year or two ago. I think a carb-laden light lunch might be a better idea than a heavy pile of meat as I did on the two rides, and will need to keep that in mind.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Windy Hills

Yesterday, I set out for Canajoharie to do a 34-mile ride with 2400 feet of climbing. I was combining two tours in the Cranks from Cooperstown "50 Bike Tours in Upstate New York" book. Tour #15A is a 19-mile loop including Canajoharie, Sprout Brook, and Ames, with about 1100 feet of climbing. The plan was to do it CCW, starting in Canajoharie. I planned to add on pieces of tour #3B, climbing from Sprout Brook to the bottom of the Cherry Valley hill on US20 near Judds Falls, heading west and a BIG climb to East Springfield, then coming down Dugway Gorge back to Sprout Brook and rejoining the original loop. This second loop would be done clockwise, for an overall figure-eight ride.

In the first 6 miles up from Canajoharie, I climbed 850 feet as I fought a big NW side wind going up Clinton Road. Despite the forecast of 5-15 mph, it was easily gusting over 20 much of the time. When I got to Sprout Brook, I looked again at the ride profile, comparing what I had done so far to the second loop that lay ahead. That was enough to convince me that I didn't want to even try the big US20 climb in that wind, which would have been a headwind. In fact, I didn't want to do that loop in EITHER direction in that wind. I decided to bail, and head for Ames, a relatively level ride to the east, and then head back to Canajoharie, doing only the #15A loop.

Most of this ride was on narrow county roads, and the grades were much steeper and more plentiful than on state routes, so even "flat" was a very relative term. Compared to weekly SWC rides, they would definitely be called "very hilly", and I chalked up another 250 feet on the way to Ames and on to Canajoharie's Wintergreen Park. I stopped there for lunch at the top of the gorge, and decided to ride down the hill to the picnic area and rest rooms. How bad could it be on a paved road? Well, it became a single-lane loop, and my brakes were barely enough to hold me back on the steep descent. Nice little park down in the gorge. After rest room, climbed steeply about 100 feet back to the rim, and continued downhill to Canajoharie and the car. Total ride was 20.25 and 1250 feet of climbing, not a bad day all things considered.

Before I headed home, I drove the outer loop that I had skipped, still wanting to see it for real. It wasn't all that glamorous as I had possibly imagined it to be. I think I can now cross it off my "must do" list, and leave last year's attempted tour behind me once and for all.

Another commute today, and probably tomorrow as well. Felt a little sluggish pedaling down Kings Road this morning, almost a gear lower than usual. Made it to work in the usual time, but didn't quite feel in top form, maybe a little fatigued from yesterday's ride. The ride home went better, and I felt more normal. Caught a lot of green lights, and traffic was lighter than usual because of the holiday mid-week, so a good ride.