Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Cycling - 2009

2009 has been a good year for cycling. No accidents (as of today).

Miles for 2009 will total around 4,500. Less than I planned, but why complain.

I am happy just to be turning the pedals. I passed the 120,000 miles (since 1991) mark during September.

I hope to keep spinning in 2010 for another 5,000 miles or so. Maybe a trip to France for good measure to see the TdF and ride a few miles.

Keep spinning.

Culpeper, Virginia

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The 2009 Reston Century

The 2009 Reston Century


How much Frost can I drink and still ride my Bike?

23 August 2009

“Where’s Peterson?” I asked. The group was preparing to leave Hamilton Park for the last leg to Reston Town Center. It was our third visit to the park on the ride and I was happy it was the last for this ride.

“I haven’t seen him. Is he here? Bill asked.

“We biked in together,” I replied. I looked around. The crowd was thinner than on the two previous visits.

“I’ll take a look,” Bill said and disappeared. I was holding Lou’s bike while he refilled his bottles. I took another swig of Frost. Steve pedaled up to the group.

“Hey, refill, grab a bite before we head home,” someone told him.

The southern leg just competed – about 25 miles – was full of rollers, the relentless ups and downs which sap the legs and tire the spirit. But we had completed it –in separate groups- the fast young legs ahead of me and Peterson who was worried about his upcoming marathon. Now that Lou and Steve had rolled into the park the group was together again. At least it was not as hot as 2008.

“Look there,” Dave said and pointed .

Sitting in the grass, a solitary cyclist relaxed and took a drag from a cigarette.

“You don’t see that every day,” Steve laughed.

“No, we don’t,” someone added.

“He must be French,” I replied after studying him for a few moments. He looked like a Euro and we all know more of them smoke than Americans.

We were in the park for the first time. Hamilton Park was our oasis with water, food, toilets, and the almighty Gator Aid in various colors: red, orange, yellow, and one color somewhere between blue and gray called Frost. I like Frost. Frost is good. Frost keeps me spinning. Long live Frost!

Another activity in the cycling oasis is watching other cyclists. We look at their kits; jersey, shorts, shoes,, helmet, and their source of locomotion, their legs. Don’t tell me we don’t. Of course, we are kindergarteners compared to our women who make a science of studying other women.

“Gravel,” riders called.

The heavy rains of the previous days had washed sand, dirt, gravel, and other debris onto the roads. We were happy to have the rain, but sand and gravel present a danger to cyclists. I crashed at Clarke’s Gap years ago when my front tire slid out under me on wet leaves. The grandkids love to admire the scar on my left shoulder from that incident.

The group was working its way north on Loyalty Road headed for the first test of the day: Taylorstown Hill. We had company. A tiny blonde woman and another woman and man had joined us as we bounced along the rough road. I was sitting near the back of the peloton watching and conserving energy.


We met in Reston Town Center at 06:45. Although the temperature was projected to be lower than recent days we wanted to hit the roads by 07:00. Stacy, Kevin, Buster, Dave, Bill, John, Steve, Lou, Mitch, new to the group, and I rolled out searching for the perfect bike ride. I had biked the Reston many times since the early 1990s and knew it was a tough ride. The route had been changed from previous years. Instead of using great roads to get us to Leesburg we took the W &OD Trail west dodging foot traffic, other cyclists, and runners. Because of the serious accident on the Stumptown descent in 2008 (one person was reported to have a broken neck) the route had been reversed which increased its difficulty. Most of us learned the previous weekend how difficult the Taylorstown Hill was.

“Why did they change the route?” Stacy asked me as we neared Ashburn.

“I don’t know. I prefer the route from last year through Lansdowne and Battlefield Parkway. It is a lot safer off the trail, in my opinion.”

“Yes, I agree. Well, at least the pace is moderate and we can conserve energy. I will need it for my return trip to Warrenton.”

“Did Lorrie drop you off?” I asked.

“Yes, that way I don’t have a choice. I should finish with around 150 miles.”

“Wow. If I feel good after we return to Reston, I’ll ride with you to Leesburg.” I knew that would add another 18-20 miles to my total.

“Ah, the fun begins,” I said when we turned left onto Woodburn Road. The Woodburn Road climb was short but steep. Once the young fast guys went up the hill I knew I wouldn’t see them until the rest stop at Hamilton Park. Oh well, that is the price of old legs.

The rollers of Harmony Church Road never change. Six or seven rollers and a couple of fast descents took us to the village of Hamilton. I needed to pay my water bill and refill my water and Gator Aid bottles.

Hamilton Park served as the western hub for the Century. We visited it after 26 miles, after the Taylorstown Loop to the north, and again after the southern loop which included Purcellville, Lincoln, Snickersville Turnpike, Route 690 back to Purcellville, and the trail to Hamilton.


We turned right and headed for the nasty hill. Ahead of me legs flashed in the morning light. The first part of the climb was gradual as the road twisted. I bounced on the patchy surface. Too bad the road is not smooth. Climbing this is tough enough on a great surface, but the uneven, cracked, and potholed asphalt made it even more difficult.

The youngsters moved ahead when we reached the steepest section. I reached for the pace that would take me safely – without blowing up- to the top. My HRM flashed 150! I passed Steve, Lou, and John. The road turned and I knew after the punishing section the grade returned to around 10 percent. My legs barked. I ignored them and kept the cranks going. At the top I picked up speed and wondered how far ahead the others were.

A two mile section separated the Taylorstown climb from the Stumptown hill. Although they were about the same length, Stumptown was easier. I looked at my computer on the descent of Stumptown: 44 MPH; Without trying I had reached the top speed of the day.


We flew down Dry Mill Road. I wondered how long my legs could keep this pace. After all, I was 85 miles into the ride. At the bottom of the Route 7 overpass, Lou attacked and gained 5 points for being first over the bridge. We eased through Leesburg using the trail, avoiding runners, walkers, and others out on a Sunday afternoon.

After Belmont Ridge Road I slowed for traffic and the young legs flashed ahead of me. Unable to reach them I relaxed and pulled in the Ashburn rest stop to wait for Lou.

The post ride meal was great. I felt good. Because of user error my Garmin failed to operate properly and I had no stats for the ride.

I took a pass on another Frost.

Oh, Peterson?

We found him on the masseuse's table at Reston Town Center.

Keep spinning.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Stop Sign

15 August 2009
The Round Hill Stop Sign
A Cycling Story

Buster led the pace line down Dry Mill Road at 30+ mph. Ahead of us I saw a line of 10 or so cyclists and I knew we were bound to catch and pass them. Earlier in the ride a three man breakaway from the group had been overtaken just before the second rest stop in Lovettsville.
We were biking a 70 mile ride through western Loudoun County. Lou and I met Buster, Kevin, Bob, and Andy at the parking lot of Loudoun County High School. Bob and Andy were new to the group although they had raced the recent crits with Buster and Lou in Warrenton. Kevin was a regular cyclist in the group with whom I had biked 130 miles for the 2007 Reston Century.

We spun up Dry Mill Road to meet Steve, Dave, and Bill at Clarke’s Gap. Then we went west on old Route 7 through Hamilton to Purcellville. After the village of Lincoln the rollers came one after another in the early morning fog. The fog would burn off quickly as the sun rose. There were advantages to starting a bike ride early in the day: Low traffic and cooler temps to name two.

The steep rollers of Snickersville Turnpike never change. They are numerous, short, and repetitive as we worked our way toward Airmont. At the store we refilled water bottles and Bill suggested we do Mt Weather.

“Mt Weather?” I asked. “Do I really want that this morning?”

“I will hear about it later if you guys ride Mt Weather. It is not on my ride list today,” Steve joked.

“Nor on mine,” I replied. “The 70 miles coming up will be plenty for me today. Do you really want to tackle Mt Weather today,” I asked the group.

“You are the ride leader so you decide“, Bill said. ‘We will follow your lead.”

I turned right on Airmont Road and headed for Round Hill. Mt Weather was for another day.

In Round Hill a siren blasted away behind us. Oh geez, what have we done I thought although I knew what it was.

We gained on the group in front using the power of Bill, Dave, and Buster. Quick glances at my computer revealed 33 MPH. My legs were still turning although they felt as if they were pasted on. Well, it was near the end of the ride and I could rest later.
We pulled to the side of the road and halted. A Loudoun County Deputy Sheriff’s car pulled over, blue lights flashing. A burly deputy approached us. I knew we were in for it.

“All ten of you deserve citations for failing to stop at a stop sign. I saw you. I was behind you. There are no excuses. I don’t want to hear any. We have dead people in the county because they failed to obey traffic laws. Our deputies are out in force and will give tickets to cyclists. You are a vehicle and must follow traffic laws like everyone else on the road”.

The deputy was agitated and we were quiet. I nodded while the deputy spoke. I knew he was right. Jay and Dave nodded while we were lectured.

“There are court cases right now where cyclists were cited for failure to stop. So you must obey traffic laws or you will get caught.” The deputy moved toward his car and I realized he was giving us a pass today. Whew. That was close.

“Those cases were thrown out of court,” Lou said

“No, they weren’t,” said the deputy sheriff. He slammed his hand on the roof of his patrol car. “Only one case was dismissed and the others paid fines and got points on their licenses. I can still give all of you tickets and your friends can thank you for that.”

“Quiet, Lou,” several of us shouted.

“But…,” Lou started.

“You want to play lawyer. I’ll give all ten of you tickets and you can argue their cases.”
“Lou, quiet,” I yelled along with several others.

“Yes, sir. We will put a foot down at intersections for safety.”

The officer pulled away and some of us yelled again at Lou. One thing I learned years ago was to never argue with a police officer who could hand me a ticket.

We quietly spun toward Hillsboro. We placed a foot on the ground at all Stop signs. “Look, there is an officer in the bushes,” Kevin joked.

In Hillsboro we stopped to adjust Buster's rear derailleur. Steve and Jay peeled off to ride Route 690 to Purcellville and home. We headed for Lovettsville on Mountain Road. It had warmed considerably and I appreciated the shade. Ahead of us was the dreaded Taylorstown Hill. It was a climb of 1.2 miles with grades up to 14%. It was also the descent (coming from the opposite direction) where Stacy crashed in 2002. Luckily, someone found Stacy, out stone cold, and called an ambulance. Stacy had a broken collarbone, a concussion, and the normal road rash and a dinged bike.
Although my legs were barking like run away dogs it was great fun to chase down Dry Mill Road. We were nearing the group in front. At the top of Clarke’s Gap the group had a quarter mile lead or so. Now the gap was down to 50 yards and we were gaining.
The 7-11 Store in Lovettsville was a welcome sight despite all the Stop signs. A cold Gator Aid hit the spot while I contemplated the upcoming climbs of Taylorstown and Stumptown. A fast descent took us to the bottom of the road at Taylorstown. A good Samaritan had stopped in the road to escort a terrapin across the road. That was something I had done in the past. No point in having a terrapin or turtle run over.

The road surface was rough and patchy adding to the difficulty of the climb. I passed Lou, then Kevin, and saw one of the new members of the group, Bob, struggling ahead. Sweat poured from every pore of my body. Lord, what am I doing here? It hurt. My spin was now a square. The steeper section pulled me down to 7 MPH. Wow. I forgot how tough this hill was. But I knew if I made it through the steeper section the grade was 8-10 percent higher up.

And we have this climb next Sunday I thought. Maybe I’ll skip the Reston. I am getting too old for this suffering.

The climb eased a bit. I gained speed, up to 8 MPH, Hoorah! When I reached the top I shifted to the big ring and took off forgetting the misery of the climb. The road was smooth and I flew down the other side and found the bunch in the shade at Stumptown Road.

“That was a nasty climb,” I exclaimed when I joined them. Kevin and Andy joined us shortly. Lou came in a few minutes later.

“If I had my cell phone I would have called Amy to pick me up on that climb. That’s was the pits.”

I handed Lou my phone. The next climb was also just over a mile, but not as severe as the first climb. The Stumptown climb was the site of a bad crash from last year’s Reston. The road had been blocked with ambulances and we were forced to walk our bikes around the crash scene.

I reached 44 MPH on the Stumptown descent. The leaders, Bill, Dave, Buster, and Bob had disappeared into the Loudoun countryside ahead of me. I waited for Kevin and Bob at Loyalty Road and we made sure to stop at the two STOP signs in Waterford.

When we reached the top of Clarke’s Gap Road we were almost home. The group waited for us at the Route 9 intersection.

We reeled in the front group at the bottom of Dry Mill. Then it was a dash to the unofficial sprint line at the bridge over Route 7.

Good ride!
Keep Spinning
Culpeper, Virginia

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Good Ride

Today, July 18, was a great day on the bike.

I had good legs and felt great.

Stacy drove down from Warrenton and we biked the Graves Mnt Loop -same ride as June 27 with the group.

It was by far the best day of the year for me.

On the TdF front, George missed the Yellow Jersey by 5 seconds. So close. Garmin chased the last hour, they say to stay out of trouble by being on the front, but I think their feud with Columbia HTC had a lot to do with it.

Too bad George could not pull on yellow today.

The fast boy was relegated to 154th for irregular riding and lost 13 points.

Such is life at the TdF.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

2009 TdF Predictions

The 2009 Tour starts July 4th. It is just in time for the big holiday.

Make a prediction as to who will wear the different jerseys: Yellow, Green, White, and Polka Dot.

Do not dismiss the old guy!

My guesses are:

Green jersey (Sprinter):

1. Cavendish

2. Hushovd

3. Farrar

Polka Dot (mountain goat):

1. A. Schleck

2. Sastre

3. Levi

White (Best young rider):

1. Martin

2. ?

Yellow (GC)

1. Armstrong

2. Contador

3. Menchov

Keep Spinning.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cycling - 2009

2009 is off to a tough cycling start for me. Low miles, weather, and a virus have conspired to prevent me from building an adequate mileage base. So I will need to push it for the next few months to regain condition for the longer rides of late summer.

Too bad no coverage of the Giro. It would have been great viewing with the 100 year thingy and LA competing again.

The TdF is just around the corner and I can't wait for it to start. I received my TdF Guide from Velo News so I have something to read and drool over during June.

Keep Spinning.