Sunday, March 29, 2009

Just Trying to Sail By

Even though it is officially spring, as I am writing this as I am thawing out from an early morning slush ride. Sure enough, it is still snowing out there. Today I had a plan. The plan was similar to yesterday. Get out before it gets bad and if it gets bad while you are out there, well, you knew it could happen.

Yesterday it was going to rain, late morning to early afternoon. It was going to rain and be in the lower 40's. Being cold I can deal with, being wet can be very tranquil but when they are combined it is misery. Even through there was a ride that went out early in the morning I had other obligations and wouldn't be able to go out till 1.5 hrs after they departed. So I followed my plan to get out, ride tempo, hurry up the hills, and get in before the rain. Mission accomplished. 3 hours of riding on/off road fixed gear 42-16 and a drop off rain fell on my jersey. It was incerdibly windy though! I went to the store to buy some veggies and rain drops hit the windshield.

This morning. The plan was to get out and ride in the snow. Yeah it is snowing again. Ride easy and enjoy the snow but be back before it turns to rain. Hmmmm. I woke up and started riding well before sunrise. The flakes were big and wet and there were many! The ride itself was smooth. Gliding over freshly fallen snow is peaceful; not being able to see out of my glasses because they are caked with slush, frustrating! I slide my glasses down to the tip of my nose, squinted slightly and rode. It wasn't but 30 seconds later that I took a snow flake to the eye and was seeing double as a tear fell down my cheek and I rode off in to the grass. The road soon turned to slush. I left my neoprene socks at home. My chain started to feel rough. Excuses as to why I should go home flood my brain. But I don't just yet because I knew this was a possibility and I do like to suffer on the bike. It feels good on some level. I do however start to notice a rough feeling in my drive train again. Is the bottom bracket worn, is my rear cog misaligned, is my chain worn? What if my pedals fall off when I am way out here in the snow/slush and I get stranded? Let me just take it on in. Mission failed. I rode about 90min and returned with my tail between my legs but I thought to myself at least I am returning with a bike completely intact.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Spring Has Sprung

In the beginning of winter, well when cyclocross season ended, I started to run. I rode once a week but ran for the most part. After a couple months of running I really got the itch to get back on the bike. There was definitely a transition period where my legs needed to get reacquainted to the pedals. For the last few weeks I have been getting in some base miles with the bike. Which all led up to today. The first test of the season.

The test site is the canal path off Willow Spring Rd. heading west for 10k and back.

The plan.

Ride how I feel. The feeling I was looking for was something hard, comfortable but hard. I was looking for something that would make me work for it but be able to keep a steady pace and just roll.

The results.

Well...I inadvertinatly hit the stop button instead of lap. What was I thinking? I did it on both Garmins! Luckily enough Gary was riding along and he gave me his data which I can work with.

Maybe next moth I will do better...

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Into the City

Getting into the city.

Plan A.

1. Follow the "Q" East to Oak Park Ave.

2. Take it North to South Ave (Turns in to Lake Street but the most obvious land mark is the "EL.")

3. Follow the "El" directly East downtown.

Plan B.

1. Take Ogden Ave north east into the city.


How do they compare?

Plan A is longer than Plan B.

Plan B has a side street less traveled off Ogden Ave.

Plan A has a side street that has medium travel.

Plan B side street is rugged, totally beat up.

Plan A is very "local."

Plan B has one busy section that is not so well lit when you go under the over pass.

Plan A takes you right downtown.

Plan B brings you to UIC.

When you do decide to take a route, plan A, B or the one you make up, go and take a look at the latest headline of the Onion.

This one was located on the North West side of Clark Ave, across the street from Wrigley Field.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Why I like the Country

Sometimes it is worth getting in the van and heading out to the country. Sure you may have to wake up way before the sun comes up and shuffle off to ride at day break but when you're flying down those secluded roads it is almost impossible to tear that smile off your face. So I made a quick list.

1. Farm dogs make unexpected sprints points.

2. Low traffic.

3. The traffic there is, waves.

4. No stopping!

5. Clothes dry on a line.

6. Barns have big old American flags painted on 'em.

Funny thing, growing up I hardly did what I was told. Today was no different. "Road Closed" -eh not for me.

As I headed down the road, which I was not supposed to be on, I came across a flooded river that spilled across the road. After traveling all the way out here, when I found a map online which I downloaded to my gps that led me to ride a course that I have never seen before, I was not about to turn around and go back. So...I took off my shoes, socks, knee warmers; I shouldered my bike and held my shoes in my hands and headed into what would be water colder than than crossing it was worth. If that last sentence made little sense, what I meant to say was... As a waded through the flooded river I came to the realization that it was extremely cold! (I guess there was snow on the groud a few weeks ago) I did a cost benefit analysis (in the middle of the over flow) I came to the conclusion that the water was so cold that it was not worth going all the way through to only have to do it again at the next flooded section soon after. So, I turned around and headed back. Like a big old chicken.

I did find a detour and was back on track soon enough. Soon enough to see this cute little black and brown weiner dog chasing me with its stubby little legs and the high pitch bark. Suddenly I heard some more barks, this time deeper. I saw three dogs. They were black and brown, true. Although they were not cute or had small stubby legs. No they were rottweilers and they were chasing, fast! They wanted blood. My chuckle turn into ah...not a chuckle and I turned on the steam.

Country riding is for me.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Riding into the Countryside with Val's New Energy Bar

It has been a while since I have made my way into the country. Today I headed out with Val's macadamia nut cereal, honey and peanut butter energy bar. The 85 mile ride out to Yorkville and back was as smooth as silk and the new energy bar was a hit!

This route needs some massaging but for the most part it kept me guessing what was around each corner and at each turn there was a welcoming surprise. I have done an out-and-back of part of this course before but since I am for the most part, anti out-and-back, I relied on my Garmin for an impromptu course re-routing.

Val's bar was probably sweeter than the ride but I am up for a re-match! Now I just have to make sure I don't eat them when I am not on the bike!

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Cross Avenger

Finally...I have been trying to fit this ride in since last year. The "Cross Avenger," is similar to a road ride because of its length but more importantly the ability to let it all hang out. This course is mainly on 2 different path systems where no cars are allowed and there is not a stop sign in sight. This is really a luxury since downtown Chicago is only a stones throw to the east. For Illinois, 1440 feet of climbing on a 50 mile ride is also gratifying. You also can fit in the refinery loop in Christain Vande Velde country with out laying rubber on Lemont Rd. Make sure to straddle the cross bike since 1/4 of the ride is off road which makes you work for your money.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Sputtering Out

I drew many similarities between my road ride yesterday and the final kilometers of Stage 3 of Paris Nice.

1. They both were wet. Sure that was lame.
2. My late winter form reminded me of Langeveld off the front with the chase group (summer form) closing in when ever they want. (My summer form, ten fold doesn't come close to any kind of form these guyys have, don't get me wrong.)
3. My sprint resembled Flecha's, sputtering out and like an old Ford Pinto low on fuel. I told my self, as I coasted through the sprint point, that I was sprinting into wind and I went out too soon. Although as I headed back east I was now in the wind. There was no excuss other than I need to work on sprinting.

As for my first road ride of the season I went out disconnected from technology. My wrist had only company of a Casio calculator watch. I have been on many rides this year but none on a road bike. Fixed gear-yeah, Mountain bike-yeah, Cyclocross bike-yeah, Road bike-nope.
I forgot how smooth the Merlin Works bike is. It really rides like silk.
Now that it is warmer and the sun sets at 7 I will be on the Merlin working on that sprint, well among everything else.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Windy Riding.

This weekend the temperature refused to go above freezing and the wind blew like mad. We still rode. On the surly, I put in 120 miles, 90 into the wind. It was a satisfying weekend. The routes we no different than the ones prior but the company was second to none.