Sunday, July 31, 2011

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 7 Coralville to Davenport by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 7 Coralville to Davenport by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

The last day was longer than last days usually are, with a lot of hills in the beginning, including a 12% climb on the Iowa State campus. There were no clouds, so it got hot very early. This was a very tough RAGBRAI, with hills, heat, humidity, and a wind from the east for the last three days.

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 6 Grinnell to Coralville by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 6 Grinnell to Coralville by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

Long day, with a wind from the east, and some surprising rollers at the end.

Monday, July 25, 2011

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 2 Atlantic to Carroll by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 2 Atlantic to Carroll by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

Day 2's track. This time our campground is next to a motel with a nice public computer and air conditioning. It was a grueling day, nonstop hills, and the heat index is 100.

I'll start making proper blog postings with pictures if and when my MacBook starts remembering it has an airport card.

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 1 - Glenwood to Atlantic by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 1 - Glenwood to Atlantic by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

Here is the track for the first day of RAGBRAI. The first half was pretty hilly, but the second half was mellow. The heat index was around 100. Luckily our camp site was next to the swimming pool.

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 0 - Omaha to Glenwood by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

RAGBRAI 2011 Day 0 - Omaha to Glenwood by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

Here is the track riding to the start town from downtown Omaha.

Friday, July 22, 2011

RAGBRAI Day -1 Eppley Airport to Downtown Omaha by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

RAGBRAI Day -1 Eppley Airport to Downtown Omaha by drewinbalto at Garmin Connect - Details

RAGBRAI Day -1, Home to Omaha

Debra, Jim and I are at the Embassy Suites in Omaha.

Our room is so huge, you can barely see the T-Bone back there in the other room.

Travel out was good for me and Max. He's staying with his cousins in Chicago while we are riding. He was very excited by flying, he is a veteran air traveler. We had an awesome thunderstorm come in right as we were landing at Midway. Lighning and a wall of rain right next to the plane. The pilot was weaving around the downpours, and there was a lot of turbulence. The passengers gave the pilot a big ovation as soon as we were on the ground.

I had the same flight from Chicago to Omaha as Jim and Debra had as part of their trip from Baltimore to Omaha. We all got in together. Southwest lost Debra's bag with all her bike clothes, so she took a shuttle bus to the hotel with her bike in a box. We still don't know where her bag is. Southwest said it would be on a plane arriving two hours ago, but it did not arrive.

Jim and I put our bikes together at the airport and rode the 4 miles or so to the hotel. The security at the airport were complete jerks. After I had unpacked my bike in an out-of-the-way corner near the baggage claim they told me I had to put it together outside. (Temperature: mid 90s). Then when I did a short test ride to make sure the shifter cable was adjusted properly, they told me I am not allowed to ride on the road by the terminal.

"You can take your toy away from here and play somewhere else." <- direct quote from the security guard. There is no excuse for this attitude.

This is the seventh year I've put my bike together at Eppley Airfield. The first five were no problem, and I remember shooting the breeze with security while I was assembling the bike. The last two have been very bad. I think the security staff has a personal agenda against cyclists.

This excessively posh and silly Embassy Suites did have free tequila sunrises at happy hour. Then we went a couple blocks to our favorite Omaha brewpub.

If only Amtrak would have honored the reservation I made back in January, I wouldn't have had to deal with the jerks doing security at the airport. But Amtrak dropped checked baggage on the train from Chicago to Omaha a week ago due to the flooding (they can't get a train to the station at Omaha, and they are running a bus). So I had to fly. At least I didn't have to go through a porno scanner.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Introducing others to randonneuring

So I know a guy new to cycling who I think would enjoy randonneuring, and I am working on developing him as a recruit to endurance riding.

Today, he was game for a bike ride, and we decided to try an out-and-back route he's never ridden, farther than he has ever gone before.

We set out, and we made our first break stop with no problem. We decided to go for the whole route. I told him to be sure to save enough energy to make it back. There is no cell phone coverage at the turnaround point.

Despite his enthusiasm, he was flagging pretty badly as we approached the turnaround. I wound up pushing him up the steeper hills. (I was on my trike, which is very stable when pushing.) He perked up at our turnaround point, which is very cool and scenic, but about 15 minutes later he was done. And so was my cell phone. And he doesn't have one.

What to do.

We wound up riding back with him riding curled up on my lap while I pushed the bike alongside me with one arm. As we rode back, most of the people we passed stood and cheered.

The ride was from home to the swinging bridge in Patapsco Valley State Park.
7.5 miles, about 2 hours. Max rode 4.5 miles, an all time distance record for him.

He turns 4 on Wednesday.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Bike Ride Report - Solomons Century and the Dangers of Wal-Mart

Yesterday, I made my second attempt at a Crista ride this year. I finished, eventually. Here I am, after 10 hours and 102 miles, in 90 degree heat.

Most of the reason it took so long was because I got hit by a car. This one here.

Driven by her.

As it turns out, if I hadn't got hit by the car, it probably would have taken a lot longer. Here's the story.

So I started out fine, but after 10 miles I got a flat tire. The tube was the second of two new Forte (Performance Bike house brand) tubes I got for cheap last week. The first of the two went flat in the shed overnight, and then again after I patched it. So I decided these Forte tubes are junk, and I put on my last spare tube, which I got with the bike when I bought it off E-Bay a year and a half ago.

At 25 miles, I had some food (ham and cheese bagel) at the Wawa, which was tasty and delicious, and I'm feeling great.

At 35 miles, I'm riding through Prince Frederick on MD 2-4, in the marked bike lane, and the car above does not yield at the yield sign, and runs into me. She basically was going about the same speed as I was, and her front bumper hit around my rear hub and pushed me over. I think I was going about 15 mph, based on the GPS track. Down I went.

After I got done yelling at the girl, I examined myself with the help of another driver who acted like he had first responder training. I have some road rash on my elbow, hip, and knee, and bruise on my shin where the handlebar hit it, and a torn shirt (which was my favorite sweat-wicky Patagonia workout shirt). No damage to the bike.

The girl was very horrified, and profusely apologized, and explained how she didn't see me because her two kids in car seats were throwing stuff at her while she was driving. I took a picture of her and her car in case I keel over dead later. I told her it looks like I'm OK, and the bike is OK. The guy who stop and inspected me for damage agreed. I told her she could go.

So I get back on the bike and keep going. The bruised shin is a little sore, and the scrapes sting, but it's nothing major. Two and a half miles later, I have another flat tire. And I realize the tube is probably as old as the dry rotted tire that blew up on me last week, and I might have a problem since I have no more tubes. So I set to patching the tube.

A few minutes later, a Calvert County police car pulls up, followed by the Sheriff. I told the police officer I have a flat, and it's no problem. He asks if I was in an accident at the Wal-Mart. I said I was. He said an eyewitness had reported a pedestrian hit by a car. I told him it was me who got hit, told him the story, and showed him my various scrapes and bruises. He asked if I got the ID of the driver. I said no, because I think I'm fine, but I took some pictures just in case. I showed him the pictures on my iPhone, he took down the license of the car, and he took my information from my driver's license. I told him the driver didn't attempt to flee the scene, I told her she could go after I decided I was OK and the bike was OK. He asked me if I needed any medical assistance, or if I wanted to file a complaint, and I said no, I was fine. He said he had all the information he needed, and to call the county office if any injuries appear later. I thanked him for following up.

I have to say I think the Calvert County police are first rate, and I really appreciate their diligence, professionalism, and the way they take cyclists seriously.

So as soon as the police pull off, I'm putting the bike back together, and two cars pull over. The one who hit me, and another one. A woman gets out of the other one and says "I'M HER BIG SISTER WHAT WERE YOU TELLING THE POLICE!"

I told her an eyewitness at Wal-Mart had seen the accident and called it in. The police found me fixing my flat tire by the side of the road. I told the big sister what I told the police, that I was OK, and that I told her sister she could go, and wasn't fleeing the scene or anything like that. They both calmed down some, and asked if I was sure I was OK. I said I was, and I started pumping up the tire. They went back to their cars.

And I keep pumping up the tire, but the pressure is going down because the patch didn't hold. Now I am stuck.

Luckily, there were a couple girls nearby who owed me a favor. I explained my predicament, and how I don't think getting hit by the car caused my tire to go flat, but would they possibly be able to give me a lift up to Wal-Mart so I could get some more inner tubes?

They did, and I was back on the road in no time. The girl who hit me gave me a friendly wave when she drove off.

All this flat tire business wound up costing me an hour, so by the time I got to Solomons, everyone else was long gone. Here is the view of the mouth of the Pautuxent from the end of the land.

The rest of the day was very hot, in the 90s, and it was quite exhausting. I stopped for a Gatorade in North Beach, to prepare for the steep hills I remembered from when I did this ride a few years ago. On the way back the route goes up the very cool Leitch Road, through a huge horse farm estate called Tocaro. My GPS claimed at one point Leitch Road has a 28% grade! It was bad, but not that bad, and not for long.

Rooting around on the tubes, it seems Tocaro was for sale recently. It was $5M, but it was reduced for $4.3M, and it's no longer listed. No idea if it sold or they gave up. I'd rather buy Belmont, which is going for about that much, and is much more convenient to work.

Here is a real estate listing site for Tocaro, and a virtual tour. The house is 10,000 square feet, and built in the 1930s. You'd think it's older based on the ancient cedar trees that border the property. The Maryland Historical Trust doesn't have much to say about it.

Here is the GPS track for the day.

Bike Ride Report - DC Rand Croom and Other Delights

This was written a week after the fact. I decided to write a late update on this because I am annoyed that I can tour days on end with no difficulties, and then the first two DC Randonneur training rides I try when I get back turn into fiascoes.

So here I am after the first one, sitting in a park and ride outside Upper Marlboro waiting for Debra to come rescue me.

These rides are organized by Crista Borras for the DC Randonneurs, which is why I often refer to them as "Crista Rides". There is one pretty much every Saturday and Sunday, 100 miles, with short options. My goal is to spend Saturday on yard work, and do the Sunday ride. If I do the Crista ride on Saturday, I'm not likely to get off the couch on Sunday. We'll see how that goes. It hasn't gone well so far.

My first Crista ride this year was in the Prince Georges County, and described as an "easy cruise". (You don't want to know what the DC Randonneurs considers hard.) So I decided to try it on the Z-Bone, which is set up as a go-fast bike. It doesn't have really low gears for climbing up extremely steep hills, but it should have no problems with anything in southern Maryland.

The day started off very rainy. I dawdled at the start for a half hour, until the weather radar looked like it was going to clear, but that was just a trick. It wound up pouring a half hour later. I hid in a Dunkin' Donuts and ate some food.

After that, it cleared up, and I was rolling right along happy as could be. The halfway point was at Merkle Wildlife Management area, which was well worth the stop. They have lots of trails for birds (note for future reference) and a great nature center with displays of all the reptiles and amphibians that live in Maryland, with many of them crawling around in aquariums for you to look at and admire. Max needs to see this.

As soon as I left Merkle, and got through the closed road, which is not really closed for bikes, since you can lift your bike over the four layers of Jersey barriers, I started to hear this thump-thump-thump-thump sound when the pavement was smooth. I stopped for lunch a few miles later, and saw that there was a big lump on my back tire where the tread was giving way. These tires might be a little old.

I was 60 miles into the ride. If I abandoned the ride, and headed straight back to my car, it would be 20 miles. Or I could try to finish the route and do 40 miles. I decided to be an optimist.

I made it 5 miles.

I walked a couple hundred yards up MD 4 to the park and ride, and called Debra to come rescue me, and watched the thunderstorms come.

Here is the GPS track.

On the way home, I went to the Performance Bikes in Columbia, and bought some new tires and tubes. The new shoes I bought there last week are awesome, and were definitely a couple years overdue.

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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Post RAGBRAI Day 9 - Frederick, MD to home.

I'm home.

There is not much to report for the last day. The ride home from Frederick is one I've done plenty of times. It was hot, humid, and hilly, with temps in the 90s, a heat index near 100, and Code Orange air pollution. Welcome home.

I stopped off at Mt. Airy to take a break and look at the bikes. I got home around 2:30.

I ended up doing over 1000 miles in 10 days. Mission complete.

Here is the track for the last day.