Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Delightful Giro and Living at the Edge of Anaerobic Oblivion

Sunday's Giro was well attended, perhaps because of the spectacular weather or maybe as a consequence of certain people taking Saturday off due to excessive celebration of the Bashful Artist entering his sixth decade of existence. The pace was fast but not excessively so, although the Far-flung might take issue with that fact as his spotty training regimen in the canyons of the Wasatch Mountains left him alone on the Chef Hwy going out and touring Eastover CC coming home.

Giro heading west on Chef - Oct. 25, 2014

Fortunately, I stayed comfortably with the group for the entire ride, which marks a sort of milestone for me:  the completion of a Giro in my 63rd year. So the pressure's off until next October 16th. I'm just not certain how much longer, even employing my rigorous cycling training of late of maybe one Tue/Thur ride a week and about half of the Sunday Giros, I will be able to ride with this group.

Proceed with Caution? Right.
A case in point is this morning's ride. Being constantly at or near the absolute limit of effort on Lakeshore Dr. in complete darkness is harrowing and there is a sort of balancing of that stress against the considerable pleasure of riding with a group and getting a great workout. I was at the edge of anaerobic oblivion the entire time along Lakeshore and began to wonder when the stress and pain might overwhelm any pleasure derived.  But I made it to West End and onto the path in Bucktown. Several riders were shed along the way never to be seen again, and the Bashful Artist was seen to be looking back toward the east and wondering aloud what had become of his protégé, Steve Tom.

My unease was exacerbated by my free hub squealing like a dying hog every time I free-wheeled while going faster than 25 mph. In bicycle years, my Ksyriums are older than even me but the free hub performed flawlessly for more than ten years, until this problem was encountered about six months ago when I (actually Big Rich) serviced it. Now the problem has apparently returned after only a short respite.

The pace didn't seem to slow in Jefferson Parish, and the group was strung out and accelerating coming off of the bridge across the first canal west of Causeway. There was way too much go-go in the yo-yo, and I killed myself as the back half of the line was racing to make up the gaps caused by the severe turns at the bridge. At Clearview I had something of an epiphany, suddenly realizing that I could just quit pedaling, sit up, begin again to intake sufficient oxygen to sustain life, and ride back to town alone at a comfortable pace. So that's what I did, stopping once to record that beautiful light of the approaching sunrise and observe about 80 or so dabbling ducks in the pond at the end of Lake Villa.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Birthday Beatdown

As I was preparing to leave my house at 5:35 this morning to ride, I couldn't shake a certain apprehensiveness which had been in the back of my mind since I got out of bed. Several factors were contributing to my uneasiness: 1) I had been up since 2:47, so I was operating on about 4 1/2 hours of sleep, 2) I felt an entire year older when I awoke, this new day marking my survival for 62 years, 3) I had been troubled for about three days with a dull ache in the medial aspect of my left knee of uncertain etiology, and 4) I had been watching the magnolia trees in my yard getting pummeled by the wind for two solid days, and I was not entirely convinced that the National Weather Service wasn't just screwing with me when reporting calm winds at KMSY and only the faintest of breezes from the SW at KNEW.

Approaching Williams Blvd. and the Casino
 I arrived at the meeting place first. Actually I got there second, but Brian B (not MD), always being a little on the antsy side, finds it somewhat difficult, I think, to sit on the corner waiting for others and usually does a loop on Nashville from Claiborne to Fountainbleau. I passed him as he was heading back toward Claiborne. Most of the usual suspects showed up. Dragging in last, as expected, was Big Rich. He was tardy enough so that he couldn't use his normal, lame "satellite time" argument and tried to float a scenario where he departed the Pearl in plenty of time but realized while he was passing Audubon Park that he didn't have his helmet on.

When we arrived at West End, only a few riders from Jefferson Parish were rolling east. Notably absent were HL (briefly from JP post-Katrina) and Woody. A birthday present, I thought. But as we neared Elysian Fields, I saw a rider up ahead making a uey in the dark to integrate with the group and it was obviously HL. On a time trial bike. Happy birthday. As we climbed the levee for the last time before the turnaround, I noticed a rider working his way up the left side of the paceline. He was in a dark blue kit with white-rimmed glasses on. Woody. Another B-day present. As a bonus we were treated to a morning of reticent comments emanating from the Bashful Artist on a TT bike.

The speed kept increasing, and in the last section between Canal St. and West End, the group was strung out and fractured into several pieces.

The ride out to the casino at Williams Blvd. was quick but manageable with Matt taking a long,
Selfie taken using voice-activated RBE Remote Control
steady pull at 25 mph for a few miles.  The trip in was also fast, but the real torture was served up by the most brilliant, eye-level sun into which we directly rode for the entire way back to Orleans Parish. It was miserable and trying to see where I was going and who might be coming, I wasn't paying attention sufficiently to avoid ending up in a huge gear trying to climb straight up the levee on the east side of the Causeway. I lost contact going up, killed myself getting back on and was cooked by Bonnabel. So I rode the last mile alone and chased back to the group at a red light in Bucktown.

By the time I got home I was whipped, hungry, and my knee hurt. My loving wife cooked a birthday breakfast for me, complete with toast cut into a little heart. Apparently, she loves me more than Matt and HL and Woody.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fast and Dark

Owing to the marvelous happenstance of the earth's obliquity, i.e. the tilt of its wobbly axial spin, as we hurtle along on our 365-day journey around the nearest star at about 67,000 mph, we are treated to changing seasons and variations in the length of daylight. At the equator, not so much, but in our neighborhood, very close to 30 ° north, it makes for about an hour less daylight today than what we enjoyed a month ago. So the ride out to the lakefront at 5:45 is now getting darker by the day, and while I have started to learn the locations of most of the sink-holes and giant wheel-swallowing fissures in our route out to the lakefront, it still feels like something of a gamble each morning I make the ride.
Oct. 2, 3014 heading out along Wisner
And our circuit along Lakeshore Drive, which, when I first started making this new Tues/Thurs route, was made in that wonderful first glow of dawn, is now conducted in the complete darkness of night. To make matters worse, with the increased hazards of racing along in the dark has come the return of Woody.

Tuesday was crazy fast coming west from the turn near the industrial canal, with Woody and Brian B (not MD) repeatedly surging off the front at 30+ mph. I actually hung with the group being led by HL and Ray. My wheel was bounced sideways by a crack going around the Paris traffic circle almost sending me to the pavement, and I absolutely hate flying through the pock-marked roadway near the Franklin Ave. intersection in the dark. It was a tough ride, as hard as any Sunday Giro, but  I survived it and believe I am regaining some of the cycle fitness lost during my summer layoff.

 Brian B (not MD) had a flat as we were finishing in Bucktown. Brian makes something of a production of changing a flat, a predilection which incited a steady stream of critical and humorous commentary from those standing around waiting for him to finish.

Changing a flat in Buck Town

by David J. L'Hoste (1996)

The tilt of Earth's wobbly spin,
Like child's gyro dancing
On a string to a slow tango,
Slightly askew,

Twenty-three degrees, give or take
A degree or two,
As Fate has deigned it,
Is its obliquity.

This cant which sends our yellow star
South with the birds
In winter
And pushes it

Higher in the sky
To melt the snow
In spring,
Recalling warblers and thrushes,
Is tended by moon's pull.

Without its pearly satellite
Our orb would overlist
Or ride as straight as a
Crisply spun top.

What a world it would be
Without the tug of the moon
Or Earth's obliquity!

- -

 In other news:

Heading home -  Oct. 2, 2014
 Last Thursday's ride was largely uneventful. The weather was perfect: cool and nearly windless. I should mention two incidents which occurred as we were near the turnaround in Kenner. The first, as we were approaching Williams, involved Retail Ray, HL and me. Ray took a nice steady pull and as he got off and was dropping back along the line, I heard HL encourage the group to attack Ray. The group failed to accept HL's invitation, but HL's comment made a couple of things clear to me: 1) he was on my wheel, and 2) he would jump me when I got off the front. I was right on both counts and it was only by a hair, and mostly through a fierce determination not to have HL succeed in his endeavor that I got on the back of the line as HL attacked. As I was dropping back, Retail Ray made an entirely appropriate descriptive remark regarding HL's riding style which I will refrain from repeating here for decorum's sake. The second incident of note occurred just as we were making the turn, although I am not privy to all of the circumstances surrounding the event because HL, Big Rich and I were in the little walkway just east of Williams discussing HL's incredible denial that he had actually jumped me, moray eels and sting rays. But as best I can tell from what I observed, some quite attractive young lady we overtook near Williams had apparently dropped something on the path, and most of our group were killing themselves trying to get to it first to return the item to its comely owner. The whole affair included at least one bicycle dropped on concrete among the knot of cyclists trying to help.

Sunday's Giro was lightly attended due to the MS ride and a century in Mississippi. About 17 or so riders and a reasonable pace made for a pleasant Sunday morning.

I-510 on Giro, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014
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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Wanted: A Good Night's Sleep

I'm too tired to write this. If I begin to make less and less sense and more and more typos and then the text just trails off in an unending stream of whatever letter or punctuation mark my drool bespattered chin collapses upon, please call my wife on her cell and tell her to come revive me. I just haven't been on my bike much for the last four or five months and consequently I'm really not fit enough for the Tues/Thurs ride along the lakefront, especially in a rather brisk ENE wind.

It should be noted that I can't sleep. I'm an early-riser insomniac. It's something I've struggled with
Waiting on Nashville and Fontainebleau for the Group
most of my life, but it has gotten worse over the last year or so. I can fall asleep, tout suite, on a concrete slab, but whether on a slab or in my cozy bed, I awaken after three or four hours and can't get back asleep. My insomnia is one of the reasons, among others, that I haven't been on my bike lately. I can usually gut it out in the pool for 75 minutes on minimal sleep because I know I can be sleeping again in 90 minutes. But 75 minutes into the Tues/Thurs ride puts me about 20 miles from home somewhere in west Kenner.

Anyway, I awakened at 2:10 this morning after almost four hours of sleep, but was determined to ride anyway. I was first to arrive at the start (after all I had had more than three hours to get ready) and tried to stay awake by taking selfies in the dark. Soon, Mignon rode up and began to tell me of her Six Gap Century experiences of the past weekend. Huh, I'm thinking, so what. I drank 15 beers and watched five football games. So there. As usual, Big Rich arrived last and immediately began arguing his Garmin's satellite time supported his position that 5:45 and 55 seconds is on time for a ride that leaves at 5:45.

The new route out to the lakefront isn't ideal. I can't wait for the levee to be finished. I detest riding through commuting traffic, in the dark, across uneven, potholed streets to the lake. Along Lakeshore Dr. it wasn't too bad going east into the wind, but after the turnaround we hit 31 mph and then Woody and Brian B (not MD) just rode away from us, like we were so many Vegas. Speaking of Vega, we got a report from Max that his shoulder is sore and immovable and he is waiting to get into an MRI on Wednesday.

When we were approaching Williams Blvd. and the turnaround, I noticed the OWNHB standing at some benches next to his bike looking down and wildly swinging his leg from side to side. I said there he is, waiting for us, which provoked Lenny to regale us with a story involving his son's godfather at 16, the OWNHB at fifty-something, a stun gun, and a couple of hired henchman. I was too exhausted at the time to retain sufficient details to relate them here without fear of inaccuracy, thereby inviting retaliation or a libel action, so see Lenny for further information.

Heading back into the  wind, everyone was on the south edge of the path, and I very shortly began to discuss with my inner self the proposition of softing it in alone rather than killing myself riding the edge without any draft. So I waved the one rider on my wheel around and eased up. Then Ray came up from behind and asked if I was okay. I lied and said I was fine but probably wouldn't make it home with the group. So for the next mile or so, Ray provided me with a draft and slowly pulled me up to the group. Of course, riding behind Ray into the wind on a hot, humid day is like riding in a light summer shower. But being sprinkled with sweat was a small price to pay for the draft. I don't know if Ray was done or if we were at the spot where he gets off the levee, but he waved me around him when I was still 30 meters or so off the back. Fortunately, with considerable effort, I was able to re-connect and made it home with the group.

In other news, Ray made this report of the ride on September 25th:

           My Hero
Thursday, September 25, 2014 at roughly 6:39 AM
Headed westbound somewhere between the head of Canal St. and Landry's

Anonymous: "Car back!"
Ray: "Motorcycle back!"

Mike Williams continues to hammer away in the left lane on his single gear track bike

Ray: "Mike, there's a motorcycle behind you."

Mike looks over and stares straight into Ray's eyes, almost as if to suck out the youthful, untapped cycling potential that may lie beneath

Mike: "There's a motorcycle IN ME!"

Mike shifts into... I mean, Mike accelerates past the group and dramatically cuts over as if to say, "Eat my dust!"
Mike is promptly brought back into the fold a half mile later

From other rides I made recently but didn't blog about:

Sept. 16th - Robin Making One of Many Points

Sept. 18th - Cloudy Morning Between Williams and Power
Sept. 11th - Keith Flats on Lakeshore Dr.
I hope to regain somr consistency on the bike, but I beliwve I wil need to resolv my sleep problems in order to dddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddddd

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Friday, August 8, 2014

I'm Back, Hopefully

For the record, and operating under the theory that public humiliation can act as a strong incentive, let me reveal here and now that until yesterday I'd only been on my bike three times since June 15th, two of which were largely noodling around the park with a retailer stressed by the pressure of selling to the mothers of runny-nosed little kids oversized shoes so the little darlings won't require another pair until the next school year, and a self-professed world-renowned chef who is in the saddle with considerably less frequency than even me.

The other of the three rides was my last on the levee on July 1st, about which I remember almost nothing but the terror of competing with cars full of commuters and dump trucks for a tiny sliver of asphalt along the broken edge of River Road from Oak Street all the way to the first levee access upriver of the Huey Long Bridge.

Last levee ride - July 1, 2014
I guess to be fair I should mention that the two noodling-through-the-park rides (only one of which was actually attended by The Weak) included several loops along St. Charles and Carrollton Aves. from Nashville to Claiborne.

Noodling in the park with The Weak and Far-Flung

So it was with this solid base of about 80 miles in more than two months that I decided to venture into the Black Pearl before dawn yesterday to meet Big Rich for the new Tuesday/Thursday ride out to, and then along, Lake Pontchartrain to the east and then west to Williams Blvd. Here is the 45-mile route from Big Rich's Garmin feed:
New Tuesday/Thursday Route
I must have really missed riding with this group because I was even pleased to see HL. And he was on a TT bike. It was only on the eastbound leg from West End to the turnaround near Camp Leroy Johnson, when HL declared we couldn't catch Ray (who had ridden off ahead of the group) at the comfortable pace we were enjoying and ramped it up to 28 mph, that he rode like the HL we all know and love. It was my first ever ride along the lake west from West End to Kenner. The path is wide and smooth, with fewer chances to run down an elderly pedestrian than riding through River Ridge, except perhaps during the transition over the levee and under the Causeway.

On the Lake in Kenner
[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Sunday Giro - Summer's Here

Although the first day of summer isn't until next Saturday, the weather for Sunday's Giro was typical New Orleans summer conditions: hot and humid with mild to moderate winds out of the south.

I hadn't been on my bike since last Sunday's Giro, so I was a little apprehensive as I was preparing to go out to the lakefront this morning. My consternation, in part, was engendered by the report of Brian B. that Saturday's ride had averaged better than 26 mph from the Casino Bridge going out to the Seabrook Bridge coming home (1). Obviously it isn't a fair comparison but this year's Paris-Roubaix was the second fastest in history and averaged just over 27 mph. Of course, it is a 160 mile race and there are the cobblestones. But nevertheless.

There were more than 30 riders at the start, including a large contingent from the 4D racing team and several members of the Peake BMW BEC (2).

The pace turned out to be manageable if a little erratic. Very little of note occurred. As I pulled into the shade of the pee tree at Venetian Isles and dismounted, HL rolled by and declared he had been dropped. On the way in, we "noodled," as Big Rich put it, for three or four miles, causing Rich to undertake a troubling assessment regarding whether he might need a supplemental workout Sunday afternoon in the form of a visit to the gym. And the Bashful Artist was uncharacteristically vocal, emphatically imploring most of the group to "get out of the gutter you f**king morons" on the westbound Chef Hwy leg, and then becoming unhinged by what he considered to be an unreasonably mild pace along Dealership Row and screaming "THE PARTY'S OVER!" as he accelerated up along the side of the paceline toward the front. However, I could discern no difference in the pace when he got there. I became a little upset observing a nonplussed and very patient motorist trying to enter the on-ramp from Bullard onto I-10 east as inconsiderate cyclists kept streaming by the right side of the car. Sometimes it gets downright embarrassing.

In other news, regular readers of this space will remember my writing about the incident in which Big Rich and I were subjected to an impatient motorist (I'm being kind here) in a white BMW blasting a  horn for a solid half mile along River Road when the car in front of it, the car behind Big Rich and I, wouldn't pass us because it wasn't safe to do so. Well, although I wasn't present, Rich reports a repeat performance this week by the white BMW which almost caused an accident on Oak St. and prompted him to track down the driver, who, it turns out, is an apparently persistently late real estate attorney (it figures) who works on Maple Street. Rich went to her place of work to speak to her, but she was in a meeting, so he left his card. She eventually called him and tried to deny the incidents and then became smug when confronted with undeniable details. She ended the call by saying she would never take River Road again then hanging up. Here is an email exchange:

From: Kendra Duay [mailto:kendra@crescenttitle.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2014 11:40 AM
To: Richard B. Ehret
Subject: RE: River Road travel

I told you what you wanted to hear so please stop harassing me! Regards,

From: Richard B. Ehret [mailto:Richard@BEULaw.com]
Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2014 11:37 AM
To: Kendra Duay
Subject: RE: River Road travel

Ms Duay, I appreciate the call. Choose anyway you want to go to work. I just ask as the law requires that you please be more sensitive to cyclists. You know what I am talking about! Regards

From: Richard B. Ehret
Sent: Thursday, June 12, 2014 10:51 AM
To: 'kendra@crescenttitle.com'
Subject: River Road travel

Ms Duay, I ride my bike in the morning for exercise. Since the closing of the East Bank Mississippi River Levee because of the topping work, I, along with others, am forced to ride on River Road for several miles. I am told by the Corps that this levee work will be finished by the fall and the path will reopen but I do not believe much of what the Corps says. On several occasions you have rudely blown your horn for extended periods while we are on River Road  either because cars have not passed us or because you do not think we should be travelling there. Last Tuesday you almost caused an accident at about 8:10 AM when you passed us along with a pick-up truck as River Road turns into Oak Street. I followed you to Crescent Title and was about to call police to lodge a complaint when I decided I should talk to you first. I went by that afternoon to Crescent Title and left my card with an assistant. I have also left you several phone messages. Please call me. Regards    
Richard Ehret
= = = =


2.  BMW BEC = Bavarian Motor Works Bicycle Enthusiasts Club

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Monday, June 9, 2014

Is Orange the New Black?

Sunday's Giro was rather small, about 20 riders, but that was not unexpected with the Tour de Louisiana crit occurring simultaneously on the North Shore. The sparse attendance didn't lessen the intensity one iota, with almost all of the cyclists who usually keep the pace high opting to ride on the South Shore. I'm always puzzled by those who apparently feel compelled to ride every ride like it's a race, the last race, the most important race, and seemingly train for racing, but choose not to participant in the Tour de LA.

Warm up on Lakeshore Dr.
When the group got to the casino bridge, the OWNHB was waiting at the top, which is not unusual. What was unusual was his rolling into the bunch helmetless. Someone asked, "Mike, where's your helmet?" He had evidently left it at the top of the bridge and turned immediately to retrieve it. No one slowed, and we didn't see him again until after the turnaround at Venetian Isles.

The only other thing notable about the outgoing leg of the ride was the tailwind, which kept the pace in the 26 - 29 mph range for much of the ride out. Big Rich was on a fancy new machine: an orange Seven Axiom with a custom decal. The decal says Bosko, the meaning of which is a mystery to me and others. In an effort to unearth exactly what is behind the moniker, I did a little Googling after the ride, and discovered it represents a cartoon character(1) from the early days of animation, and is not very PC in this century, to say the least. On the final straight-away to Venetian Isles, I was on Rich's wheel and when the pace crept up above 30, Rich shifted to his biggest gear, but his chain remained between gears and started chattering. So, just about 200 meters before we would have normally sat up, a gap opened. Apparently Bosko needs a little fine tuning.

Heading East on Lakeshore Dr.
On the way home, the pace along Chef was reduced somewhat by the SW wind. That was not the case on the service road, and four or five of us got tailed off the bunch making the transition onto the car dealership section and had to chase back to the group on Bullard.

Actually, I may be being a little unfair to Rich, because Bosko could also be intended to denote the coffee shop in Keego Harbor, MI, the I.P.A. made by Pressure Drop Brewery in London, or the pizza joint in Calistoga, CA.

= = =

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]