Sunday, June 5, 2011


I have been neglecting my blog lately. I think I have had 14 hour days 4-5 days a week for the last 2 months and trying to write as well as work as well as train has been incredibly mind boggling. Sometimes training has been left by the wayside to get other stuff done or because I am too damn tired or stressed. Don't get me wrong I have been able to meet the 4 days a week on the bike rule, just feel like I am a bit behind where I should be. OK, that is the end of my whining.

So what has been up lately? After my meet up ride on the mtn bike I basically had to take a week off, I looked like I had stood on a turntable point blank in front of a pitching machine set at 100 mph. I was covered in hematomas that made riding a bit too uncomfortable. I was itching to get out there though.

In that time Kenny and I headed to the Blue Ridge to see Anna and my oldest friend Joanne and her husband Mark. I find it kind of interesting that my daughter is living about 35 miles from them. When she was little (about 4) she used to tell me that she was going to live in Va near Sammy (J and M's youngest son). She loved that area. We had a great time. One thing we got to do is relax, a lot! We mostly stayed about the house in Piney River but took a side trip to Roanoke to see Joanne's sisters and their family then there was that one special trip to see Kevin Crowe at Tye River Pottery . Kevin was having an open studio sale last weekend. The funny thing is that he is good friends with my friend Joanne but he is also great friends with my friend Steve. Joanne has never met Steve and yes its one of those really small world phenomena that you always hear about (6 degrees of separation, however in this case I feel like its 2). I bought a teapot and came home envious of this elusive form, but that is another story.

I also had an interesting visit to the Metropolitan Museum of Art this week. I love Friday nights. They are open until 9. This time I met Arnie there. We went to the Alexander McQueen show, which of course was way to crowded to enjoy, then meandered into the Richard Serra show, and spent a great deal of time contemplating the work. We then headed to the roof in search of seeing Anthony Caro's work and a drink. The roof was so crowded, like it was the new hotspot to meet after work. We bailed to the wine bar, sat and drank martini's while we discussed art and influences. I was glued to my seat as he indulged me in his adventures as a young clay artist. He worked as an apprentice at 17 for Phylis Hammond, a local sculptor and he also headed to England to find a pottery to work in before going off to art school. What an incredibly inspiring gap year. We eventually went off in search of a burger before heading home. I really love hanging out with Arnie. He motivates me to work. Watch soon for a feature article.

This past week, I rode a bit, but the one ride I would really like to elaborate on was the ride I took on Thursday. I had a headache all day, migraine in fact. It was one of those really long days too. At 5PM I was still at school but I had enjoyed a conversation with a colleagues daughter who is currently training for the Lake Placid Ironman. We talked riding, and hill training, and KEELER. Keeler is this road that is between North Salem and Ridgefield, CT that has this incredible pitch, similar to one of the climbs in the high peaks just not as long. It was a place that Bud and I used to ride until the pain would eat us up and then go back for more. I remember this one time when I came up with this killer hill training route, 45 miles with a serious climb (longer than a mile, steeper than 12%, with pitches of 18%) every 2. When we went to test it out, we rode up this driveway to look at the view. I was so nervous we would be caught that I didn't enjoy it. Then, to turn the tables, a week later we rode to New Paltz just so I could return the favor. We caught it on top of Mountain Crest Road heading down towards Accord. Wow, I was pining to be in that kind of shape again and to ride that route, or at least a good part of it. At 6PM I headed out, pumped to at least try some of those climbs, first one, Bogtown, then Delancey, then Guinnea, but I left Keeler Lane for another time. I knew I wasn't ready for that one. I returned home 25 miles later with my headache gone and my resolve renewed. I marveled at how I could still climb despite being close to 50 lbs heavier than I was when I was riding with Bud. The intriguing thing, they didn't hurt as much as I thought they would. I remembered a time, when I first started to get back into riding, 18 years ago, when Pete and I would escape the world. I couldn't ride up any of these hills. I had to get off and walk 1/2 way up. There is something to be said for muscle memory.

It was with this thought that I left my house this morning. I wanted to see just what I had in me, so I went off to find 2 things, some hills and some unseen territory. I found myself meandering along Star Ridge, then I thought about Brewster Hill Road, another climb that used to kill me. I headed in that direction and came to a fork in the road...hmm...Tonetta Lake Rd...which way should I go? Up Brewster Hill? Around the hill, which is still up, just not as long? I took left at the fork onto Tonetta Lake Rd. and as I started to climb, there was this building with a sign on it which read Breath... How ironic. How inspiring. How incredibly motivating. As I rode along I was finding myself so happy to be out there training. After about 35 miles I made the turn for home, down the path where I expected to encounter some cyclists and walkers with no trail etiquette, after all, it was a bright sunny Sunday. Usually this is random groups of families that really don't understand that a trail is like a roadway. Quite honestly though this is a great place to get kids used to riding longer distances as well as have quality family time. I usually just chalk up all the dodge or burn maneuvers to normal expectations on a bike path. Today however was a different story, it was the day that the I Challenge Myself Century was taking place. This group's leaders, not the riders, got me so flustered that I had to come home and figure out who they were and why they chose a bike path to ride 100 miles. The thing is, that this was a group of about 40 riders, and the coaches with them were really loud, barking out orders, obstacles and motivation as if they were trying to scream them to someone standing on the other side of 57th Street during the height of rush hour. Geez, didn't they know we were in the woods and in a park where maybe people were trying to get away from the stresses of the world? They were behind me for a long time, a good football field and a half between us most of the time, longer at some points. They were so loud that I was having trouble focusing on my workout so I decided to slow down and let them pass me. This took a good 15 minutes of forever. The issue with them was that they would come up on people and rather than have the decency to let the people know they were coming they would just point them out to the group as if they were debris in the road. The group would then pass at a very methodical pace. As they came by me, I hear there is a bike on the right. I mentioned to the announcing ride leader that the proper way to pass someone was to give them the courtesy of letting them know that they were passing on the left first and then to let the group know the rider of walker was there. He said excuse me you are correct, then passed two girls walking within the next 50 feet by letting his group know that there were walkers ahead. No warning to those girls, who were so startled and not to mention afraid to move that they stepped off the path and waited for the long line to pass (imagine how a little kid who is new to riding would respond? My heart is in my throat thinking about it). This was also a group that would fly through intersections 50 deep yelling clear. Some of the intersections on the trailway are really blind and cars seem to forget that there might be bikes crossing.  Why am I mentioning this? I guess the parent, teacher and coach in me sees the welfare and safety issues that arose in that few miles of nerve-wracking company and only hoped that those kids would learn better if they continued to ride. You see, there are places that locals won't ride on the weekends here. Mostly because rude riders like this have created such a BAD name for cyclists that it has become dangerous and costly (try doing a track stand in Peirmont, Alpine, Bedford, Westport, or Ridgefield at a stop sign or light in front of a cop and see how much it costs you for not putting your foot down and coming to a complete stop). I hope those kids made it home without getting hit! I hope their coaches read this! CONGRATS to the kids though RIDING 100 MILES is an ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!
So how did my ride end? 45 miles and then a mechanical in which I had no middle chain ring. I bailed 7 miles from home as the issue continued to worsen. So, its the mountain tank for the rest of the week until I get up to see Tim, maybe I will even brave the woods with it again.
Pedaling onward and upward! (pics to follow)

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