Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Half Century and 24HOA

You are probably thinking that this post is about riding some epic 50 miler, right? ….Well, not quite. It’s more about living a half a century. .....August 22, 2008 marks the day that I pass the half century milestone. I don’t know if this should be something to brag about, celebrate, or deny. It just sort of happens at one point if you do not die before then. The 24 hours of Allamuchy also falls on the same weekend, and my female teammates were looking for me to join them on a relay team. What better way to spend my 50th birthday, than to spend it with these special women, riding our bikes at Allamuchy. It also was sort of cool that we spanned four decades in ages being 24, 36, 40 and 50 years old. Although our official team name was Team Campmor, we made up an unofficial name of: Cheetah, Hotwheels, Firecracker and Cougar. Laura and I didi the artwork to create the tattoo labels on our calves.

Friday (the big day): Packing the car with what seems like way too much stuff, Art, Laura and I start our day nicely. Laura needs to get to a compressor to seat a new tire on the rim, so we stop at a gas station. I hear a big bang and lots of commotion, and turn to see a bent wheel, tire in shreds and Art and Laura covered in stans sealant. Faux pas #1, and all that extra stuff we packed is already coming into use.

There was a huge accident on the highway, causing massive traffic, but eventually we all made it to Allamuchy Boy Scout Camp to set up camp and take a lap on the course. The course was faster, shorter, less technical and unusually dry. I should have been more excited about the course and conditions, but having Lyme disease was paying its toll on my energy and enthusiasm. I suppose I still felt pretty good for a 50 year old, I just was hoping to go into this race in better health. I had a very enjoyable birthday dinner that night with friends in a Thai restaurant that actually caught on fire during dinner. Hot night for sure! Thanks to all that joined me for the celebration.

The Race: Hotwheels led us off with the first lap. Our plan was to ride double laps, but to be prepared to be flexible on the first rotation. She comes in with her first lap at 1:01 with a broken seat post and sends out Cougar. Cougar (1:15) and Firecracker (second fastest lap at :57) also opt for one lap each, pre-race nerves, I guess. I head out for my two laps, and felt like crap. Struggling with low energy, and determined to stick to my two lap plan being the veteran, I finally settle in at about 6 miles. I finish my two laps (1:04 and 1:07), eat, shower and put my feet up in my tent for a cheetah nap, as my legs were feeling shot, probably from the Lyme.

Hotwheels put in two more good laps, 1:04 and 1:08 nearing dusk. Cougar, not being used to racing the extra distance, puts in two impressive night laps (1:27 and 1:40) to continue the double lap rotation. Later on, I come out of my tent to find a disco ball and strobe light in the campsite. The Jorba crew certainly like to keep the atmosphere fun. I take a chair and join them on the knoll to watch the racers come in. I notice a campmor jersey go by, screaming “whoopee!” It’s Fircracker starting to ignite in the night. She pulls off 1:10 and 1:08 night laps. Awesome stuff!! If you saw a girl with a Campmor jersey and firecracker tattoo flying by, that was Laura.

Now it’s time for the tired cheetah to head out for a night lap, and I let them know, that I may only do one lap. Waiting in the transition area, Tom tells me he saw a bear on course on his lap lap. This is not what I need to hear. Once on course and all by myself, I notice a fresh bear scat on the trail. Every rustle in the woods makes me think, but I keep pedaling. Feeling tired, I still notice that I am passing many solos. I also noticed many mechanicals along the trail with someone already stopped to help. It is great to see this sort of support amongst fellow racers. At about 8.5 miles I see a lone mechanical, and as I did for all the others, I asked if he needed help and he said yes. So I stopped to help him. About 10 minutes later, I was on my way and finished my single night lap at 1:27. Showered and went sleep.

Hotwheels back on course, forgot to get the co2 back, that she had lent to Firecracker. Hotwheels flatted for the 1st time ever with tubeless, and could not fill her tube. She walked for several miles before Wendi came by and lent her some air. She calls it a night with 1 lap (1:48). Cougar is ready to go and pushes herself and her dimming lights to the limit with one more lap(1:38). She wakes up the Firecracker, and shortly later gets her onto the course for 2 stellar laps (both at 1:02).

Hotwheels, perhaps a little frustrated with her 2 mechanicals asks to ride my moto-lite and to switch with me in the rotation. She goes out for a lap, and if two mechanicals isn’t enough, she now breaks her chain. She uses a quick link to put it back together and is in (1:10). Back on course I rode very steady and smooth. Although I wasn’t real fast, I felt better than any of my other laps. I got in with a 1:08 lap at 11:44, but was reluctant to take another lap because of my health.

We finished up with 18 laps as the only women’s team, but more important than the result was the experience of working with these three women. We had quite a few challenges this year other than the weather, and the team did very well dealing with them. I think we all may have held back a bit, with my health and two of the girls heading out to Shenandoah 100 the next week. My only real disappointment was my health, and I hope that starts to improve soon.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Tandem X 3

Riding a tandem is like dancing with a partner. Put three tandems together and it is like a dance party on wheels. Yesterdays ride was one to remember. Moving together in a rhythm of tandem, Laura, Howie, Dar, Willy, Art and I rode 59 miles and 4700 vertical feet of climbing on some of the areas most scenic roads, and all paired on tandems together.

Our adventure started in Tuxedo NY, back dropped with a number ten type of day. We climbed up Rt 106 into Harriman State Park, and then headed north up Seven Lakes towards Bear Mountain. The lakes were sparkling in the sun and turtles were out sunning on the rocks. We decided to take an impromptu visit up Perkins Memorial Dr. to the look out. Here we encountered many cyclists challenging themselves on the ascent, only to be rewarded by the view and the gentle cool breezes at the top.

From there, we continued north and were able to bypass West Point traffic, by cutting through the military buffer on Mine Rd, another scenic quiet road that connects close to the incredible Rt 218 section that winds along the Hudson.

After our trip along the Hudson, we stopped in Cornwall to re-fuel and rode back south over some nice long climbs and descents on Angola/Mineral Springs Rd into Monroe and East Mombasha Rd. back to Tuxedo. It was a very enjoyable day, and great to see some new people get turned on to riding a tandem. The group dynamic was a perfect match.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Feathers and Butterflies

Todays finds ...

Ornate feather display at a passing trail head.

One of many butterflies sharing the nectar of a bush.

A beautiful sky ends the day.....