Archive for July, 2015

Crash, Rash & Burn

Today was an interesting ride, to say the least. First I cancelledĀ a “touring” ride because temperatures approached 100F and that ride was going to be long and totally exposed. Then I set out at 6:30 AM with Omar and Gavin for a relatively routine ride to The Orchards. The goal was to get back near noon to avoid the worst of the heat and we only missed by 45-minutes, but what happened in between was worthy of a narrative, so here it is.


Our first 20-odd miles were pretty ordinary – nice pace, casual conversation and heavy air, but nothing crazy since we started early. But then we reached a heavily trafficked merge, and I made a costly miscalculation. For those local riders, where Greenbush briefly merges with 303 before heading up to Bradley, that’s the merge. For others, basically we merge onto a two-lane roadway very briefly, but without much of a shoulder the merge needs to be carefully calculated. Omar was leading, and slowing as he looked back over his shoulder at the traffic. I, too, looked back and noted that there were too many cars to easily merge and looked forward to find that Omar reached the same conclusion. But I didn’t slow down enough and was right on his wheel, so I jammed my brakes. My front wheel locked and I went head over handlebars. A few things about this crash:

  • Thankfully, Omar was still rolling ever so slowly, so I didn’t land on the back of his bike.
  • According to Gavin watching this unfold, I never let go of the bike.
  • I naturally “tucked and rolled” so my contact with the pavement was relatively gentle – at least I didn’t hit my head.
  • Gavin would have found the perfection of this crash more entertaining if he wasn’t worried about next hitting me and going down. (He did not.)
  • I came away with some notable road rash but little more – and no bike damage.

After the crash I realized the almost comical progression of events immediately after a crash:

  1. Am I conscious? Is anything on my body severely broken? (By the time I thought this I was standing, so the answers were obvious. And I number this ZERO on purpose – it happens subconsciously.)
  2. How’s my bike? Is my bike OK? I really hope my bike is OK! (It was.)
  3. How about my kit? Did I tear my kit during the resulting road rash. (Remarkably, no damage. Only my cheap-@$$ sun sleeve was torn.)
  4. How about my helmet? Can’t ride if I cracked my helmet. (Helmet was fine.)
  5. How about the rest of me? Am I hurt? Am I bleeding?

(I challenge you to find a road cyclist that lists #3 before the others. If we’re conscious, we must be OK.)


By now the “rash” part of this equation should be obvious – road rash. My lower leg took on a few shallow lacerations, my inner leg must have clipped the chainring and had a small but swollen bruise and my elbow took the worst of it – about a 2″ section of shallow but complete skin removal.

Once realizing that I was in pretty decent shape, we decided to proceed to Toga bike shop which was already on the route and would likely have disinfectant spray. None of us had just water in our bidons, so the only cleaning was using the torn sleeve, but that at least helped remove the grit and some blood. Turned out Toga was still closed, so I cleaned up in the rest room at Rockland Lake.

Along the way I made a funny observation – this was my first road rash since I started shaving my legs, so I was going to test the theory that it makes for easier, less painful cleaning and better healing. I can confirm the first part, but it’ll be a few weeks on the second.


11751885_10102515976215346_2754584496988269131_n[1]There were three instances of burn involved in today’s ride and the first was self-inflicted. We decided to ride up Little Tor and since I’m preparing for Devil’s Kitchen climb at Tour of the Catskills in two weeks, I decided to do this in the big ring as a sort-of simulation. (I know that nothing can simulate Devil’s Kitchen other than, well, Devil’s Kitchen, but we take what we can.) I did the bottom half in 50/23 and the second half in 50/27. Omar took this photo after the first turn and I’m already dropping back. (I’m barely noticable in the distance at the very left of the frame.) I have no idea how much longer it took me, but I made it. Undoubtedly the hardest climb I’ve done to date. Tower Mountain was naturally worse, but with the heat, this took the prize.

And that leads to the second burn – the heat. Man, it was a scorcher out there today! And with the crash and a route change, we were out a little longer than planned.

Burn #3? Cleaning my woulds. ‘Nuff said.

It was still a great day on the bike, but definitely a story I wanted to share in detail.


161-Mile Ride & MAPLE POWER!

A quick follow up to yesterday’s post about my 161-mile ride. First and foremost, folks keep asking me how I feel today. Surprisingly good! I feel no more or less sore than after an “ordinary” century ride. In fact, my legs feel pretty limber – perhaps the best they’ve felt in weeks. My backside is definitely a bit tender, but nothing outrageous.

1[1]And now for something a little different – MAPLE SYRUP! I know, right now you are saying, “what does maple syrup have to do with this?” Well, a lot, in fact. Fellow cyclist, Gavin, carries nothing but “real food” for energy on rides, so he carries things like Go-Go Squeeze apple sauce and Untapped Maple Syrup. In the interest of full disclosure, Go-Go Squeeze is kids’ food! But, heck, Gavin has about -2% body fat, so I guess he’s got something right in this formula. Not to mention that real and natural is in fact better for your body – but can it provide the fuel needed on a long ride? Well, Gavin donated a handful of Untapped packets to my cause and I saved these for later in the ride when I knew my body would start revolting to the regular intake of barely tolerable energy gels.

VERDICT – I am instantly in love with these! They go down easy, taste great, and absolutely provided the energy I needed when I needed it. It’s hard to argue with pure maple syrup in terms of taste. My only qualm might be that they can get sticky if any of it drips. But, truth be told, the same is true of gels – so just be sure you aren’t sloppy. And while I haven’t done further research, there’s evidence that there’s some electrolyte benefit from these as well. Either way, they are probably going to be my new go-to for on ride fuel.

Thanks, Gavin.

A “Super Century” (161-miles) on the Putnam Trail

Croton Bridge 2Today was the Three Bridges Century ride that I enjoyed so much last year. But, alas, I could find a way to get there, so I decided to do my own century ride. Then I decided to set out on more than a century with the goal to at lease beat my previous longest ride of 140-miles and a stretch goal of a Double Century (200-miles). In the end I did 161-miles and my legs could have done more, but I miscalculated a few things that I will know better for last time. And, in the end, it was a really terrific ride, so that’s what matters.

First, logistics… I originally planned to leave right around sunrise at 5:30 AM but later figured that 6:30 was early enough. Then a fellow rider said he’d join me for 100-miles if I started at 6:45 AM. No big deal there, happy to have the company. I also estimated that I could average overĀ 16-mph for a 6-hour century and a 12-hour double. While my legs might have been able to handle that, the Putnam Trail has lots of casual traffic, so we could only average closer to 14-mph. When you add in breaks, that’s about a 16-hour ride and we’d be out of sunlight way before that. So even if I started at 5:30, I’d probably need a headlamp and I didn’t have one. Not to mention that the trail gets dangerously dark even around 6:00 PM due to the hills and trees to the west.

Croton Bridge 1So when Gavin and Alberto met me for the first of two laps, I hadn’t figured out the math (yet) and originally set out for the Double Century. We started on Broadway in order to hook up with the trail in Van Cortlandt Park. Then the trail is about 3-miles of packed dirt and, in a few spots, mud – some of which is barely navigable on a road bike. We got through it, but this isn’t s great way to start a long ride – muddy, tense and slow. We picked up the pace when we reached the pavement, but with the long ascending false flat over much of the northern route, we realized that our street averages wouldn’t apply here. After only about 30-miles I already conceded that I wouldn’t do 200-miles, but aimed for 150-175 instead.

Croton Bridge 3We motored on enjoying the notably non-urban scenery and saying hello to lots of friendly people. (And screaming ON YOUR LEFT to a few knuckleheads with earbuds in that couldn’t hear us when we announced ourselves at a civilized volume.) One of the highlights of the trail is the bridge over the Croton Reservoir. It’s probably the most photographed spot on the trail and we, of course, stopped on the bridge to take many photos including this one of folks in a rowboat. Such a peaceful scene! Much of the trail is peaceful other than the fact that it can get really bumpy in sections and that was another miscalculation. To do a super-long ride, smooth pavement is greatly preferred since the body part that generally hurts the most after a long time in the saddle is, well, the body part that is in the saddle! And if that part keeps getting abused by the bumps, well, it makes for a long day.

Speaking of saddles and adjacent body parts… any road cyclist that does distances is familiar with chamois cream and I can’t emphasize enough how important this can be. And one of my proper calculations was bringing an extra portion of chamois cream that I used around mile 110. It made a huge difference. Another proper calculation was that I brought an extra set of gloves to wear after the first ones got nice and sweaty and slimy. Again, huge difference. Next time – I’ll add a second pair of socks. All easy to pack and all make you feel fresh over the miles.

IMG_1563After 50-ish miles we reached the end of the trail in Brewster, got snacks and water, and headed back south. This section has the only real hill on the trail, and even it isn’t that bad. The first time over it was rather pleasant (but I felt much differently on my second lap when it was mile 115.) On the return trip, we stopped at a place called the Trailside Cafe and I really recommend this to anyone looking for a meal off the trail. It’s right off the trail in Yorktown Heights, it’s laid back, they are super friendly to cyclists and there’s nice outdoor seating. Oh, and they make killer smoothies in addition to wraps, paninis, salads and stuff like that.

We finished lunch and I did a little back of the envelope math. Accounting for current pace, a few additional stops and some padding time in case I slow down, I was looking at about 165-miles if I wanted to get home before dark. So I rode on southward with Gavin and Alberto to Briarcliff Manor before turning back for my second lap. So here I am just past mile 80 and heading back away from home. No matter how hard I tried, this was a psychological obstacle that challenged me for about 15-miles. Hot, sweaty and tired, I was wondering why I wasn’t riding toward home. But I guess like any long ride, there’s always a section that feels like it will never end, but it does – and this was that section. From about mile 95 until I reached Brewster again at 110, things felt good again and I was enjoying the ride.

In Brewster I ate a slice of pizza (I couldn’t resist), drank a Yoohoo and filled up the bidons. The next 10-miles were tough if only because they included the one notable hill. It was a hell of a lot harder this time! Once over the hill, I really got into a rhythm and was actually pacing at my fastest speed of the day. I was surprised by this but then realized that despite my fear that the trail would get more crowded late in the day, it was actually quite empty allowing me to motor on with little in my way.

Ultimately, I did 161-miles (details below) and I wish I had more time. My legs were tired, but not finished and, mentally, I wanted to continue. But, again, you need to be prepared for your conditions and I simply was not prepared to go another few hours into the dark. Maybe next time…