Category Archives: bicycles

Richmond Cycling Corps’ 2014 Snowflake Ride

It was a great morning for a ride. Weather was perfect and the route was easy enough that I didn’t want to sell my bike afterward.

It’s probably just good luck that my giant face is right there as the preview frame for the youtube recap. I knew that mean-mugging would pay off.

2013 Bike MS: Ride Virginia

This was my 5th year riding for Team Capital Ale House in the Bike MS: Ride Virginia. It’s a fund raising effort for the National MS Society that culminates with a two-day bike ride from Richmond to Williamsburg, Va., and back. 150 miles over two days is a tough ride but it’s for a good cause. If you’re so inclined, this is my donation page.

There were a couple of big changes this year that made for a different ride than in years past. First, I finished my Whole 30 on the Thursday before the ride so I didn’t have the week of carb-loading that I have used as an excuse for a 4-day pasta binge. I had serious concerns about being able to ride my bike for 4-5 hours in a row because I didn’t know how my deeper energy stores would be after a month of fat adapting. The silver lining of the Whole 30 was that I lost a bunch of weight, mostly fat, so I’d be a lighter rider than I’d ever been on this ride.

Second, I didn’t get nearly enough training miles this year. The weather and schedule this Spring has been tough on our normal riding schedule. 75 miles is tough on my body even with our normal foundation of miles so going into it at 60% of normal training made for extra tenderness in all of my “contact points” (hands, feet, backside). I had a world-class 10-minute massage after Day 1 and I think it may have saved my Day 2.

Day 1 was good enough. I was worried about my energy levels after the Whole 30 but I made it okay. I ate mostly fruit at the rest stops to avoid any trouble that might crop up from bread or whatever. It was hot out, too, which mostly meant drinking lots of Gatorade and water. Everything worked out okay.

I was tired and sore most of Day 2. I had a couple of runs where I was strong but it wasn’t like it used to be before Whole 30. It was a “raw” strength, not a “feeling good” strength (That doesn’t make sense and I’m still working on how to describe this feeling). It was weird. Our group got split a little as the day went on and I got really fatigued/cranky over the last 20 miles. I was over riding my bike and that put a damper on the weekend for me. Lunch at the finish was great and I passed on the pool to get in a lengthy nap when I got home.

I’m reassessing my cycling calendar for next year. I love riding my bike. This was my 5th MS150 and I might need a break. The whole process felt more like a grind than it ever has and that’s not what I want. I’m not making the call today because I’m still pretty beat. I’ve got 6 months to mull it over. I’m a helluva muller.

Bike Crash – update

My post-crash check out identified a scuff on my helmet but no cracks in the plastic. I bought a new helmet this weekend and when I went to toss the old one I noticed some damage I missed last week:


I guess I hit the ground a little harder than I thought. I’m a wear-your-bike-helmet-guy anyway, but this further cements the case in my mind.

I crashed my bike.

An otherwise terrific ride was spoiled by a slow-motion crash inside the last mile. There was a 100-foot-long yellow line separating two lanes that, unbeknownst to me, had 30 feet in the middle that is an elevated curb. I drifted into it and went down hard.


I heard a click when I hit the ground and I was sure it was my collarbone breaking (as that is a very common injury for cycling crashes and among my greatest fears). I’m sure my recollection is suspect, but I remember lying on the ground for a second waiting for the broken bone pain/nausea to kick in and when it didn’t I eased up to my knees. My shoulder hurt from driving into the asphalt but I had full range of motion. Once I figured out that the click wasn’t my collarbone I figured that it was my helmet so I did a quick assessment to see if I was woozy. I passed that test(?) and got to my feet to see how torn up I was. My shorts and jersey didn’t tear but my forearm and lower leg were a bloody, road-rashed mess. I checked my bike which surprisingly didn’t show any signs of damage. The wheels stayed true and nothing was bent out of place. I took another minute to collect myself and finished out the ride. Post-ride beers beers at Adam‘s were welcome. I could feel the pain from the impact echoing through the soft tissue of my shoulder and across my ribs. It sucked. Big time.

I opted for wearing short pants and short sleeves to work for a couple of days this week while my mess dried out. I wasn’t trying to ruin shirts and pants for the sake of a dress code (and I’m fortunate to work in a place where I can make that call). I’ve been Advil-ing like a champ which has kept me from sinking too deep into painville but sleeping has been an uncomfortable pursuit. My biggest concern is the pain under my right scapula. It isn’t as sharp as it was on Sunday night but it hasn’t recovered as quickly as the rest of me has.

I don’t know that I have a lesson to share here other than “Don’t Crash On Asphalt”.

CNC Spring Ride 2013

This was my 5th year attending the Cycle North Carolina Spring Ride. 2013’s ride put Ronan, Ethan, and I back in Edenton, NC, the scene of the craziest weather we’ve seen on one of these rides.

I finally got a bike rack installed on the roof of my little car so I could get myself to the ride. I enjoy a road trip as much as the next guy but I was really looking forward to a couple of quiet hours with a podcast or two for the drive. Driving myself also let me set my own schedule for riding or running errands (or hiding from historically scary weather).

Early Spring brings crazy weather anyway but we seem to pull especially odd stuff when we camp for this ride. We finished pitching the tents just as the sleet started falling. Sleet that eventually gave way to rain but not the 2″ they were calling for. It was still freezing cold. We may have overindulged in some bourbons to celebrate successful tent pitching. Maybe.

Black Ops
One of the things we riders are supposed to do is spend some money in the host town (meals at restaurants, shop at the shops, local hardware store for junk you need, stuff like that). Edenton happens to have a small wine and beer shop with a decent little craft beer selection. The three of us are hiding from the cold and checking out the beers when we see a bottle of Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Ops on the shelf. Some friendly chatter with the shop owner and we learned he had the one bottle on the shelf and 2 more hiding in the back of a cooler. Being good beer nerds we bought them on the spot and asked him to keep them cold until that evening. We rode bikes, showered, ate food, collected our bottles and sat enjoyed a couple of rounds of delicious, rare beer.

Ascent approaching
Friday’s and Saturday’s rides were cold and windy and each night’s sleep (in a small tent on a camping mat) was getting progressively worse. On Sunday the warm weather showed up and we said goodbye to the windswept farm roads to spend the morning pedaling through tree-lined back roads and neighborhoods. When we opted for the 37-mile route it included a sound crossing on a bridge. The view was incredible and I wanted a picture but didn’t want to stop and take one since it was a 2-lane 55MPH zone. So I pulled an Adam and took off a glove, reached back and took my camera out of my pocket, snapped a handful of photos, put the camera back into it’s bag in my pocket, all at 17MPH. Getting the glove back on was the hardest part.

And back across
We stopped after crossing back over to get a quick picture because it was going to be tough to describe. The bridge went out low over the water and then had a high-ish hump in the middle of the 3 1/2 mile crossing. It was far, for sure and a terrific end to the weekend of bikes.

Devil’s Backbone Mountain Cross 2013

This was technically a cyclocross ride but I rolled it with my MTB since I don’t have a ‘cross bike.


Devil’s Backbone Brewery was the start/finish for this 27-mile ride up and over (and up and over and up and over) some tough 17%-20% climbs including a Category 1 summit up and across the Blue Ridge Parkway and Appalachian Trail. This was probably a top 3 most-difficult ride for me. I definitely rate it behind my first century ride but I’m having trouble coming up with another one in front of it.

I walked a decent bit but felt like I got into a good groove on the 5-mile(!) ascent in the middle of the ride. I was able to draw upon my meditation practice this year to keep focused on making circles (pedaling) while on that climb and really feel like it made a positive difference. That was very cool. Rather it was cold. So cold that there was a good bit of snow still on top of the mountain from a snowfall 10 days prior. The descents were a different fish. Miles and miles of paved downhill on a poorly maintained mountain bike are not the sort of thrills I generally go for. I spent the time trying to convince myself that my odds of survival were just fine. It all worked out in the end but goddamn it was scary through a couple of different sections. The cold, dusty air set me up with a hacking cough through Monday morning. Good times.

We followed up the ride with some pints and a sandwich. It’s rare that I come home from a tough ride and say “I’m not sure I’m doing that again”, but that’s where I was on Saturday night. I’m a little closer to being tempted to try it again next year now that I know what to expect. We’ll see.

Taylor Phinney inspires.

I don’t follow a ton of cycling news outside of le Tour (but I’m obnoxious enough to call it “le Tour”) but I know Taylor Phinney’s name from his place as a promising American rider. This WSJ article is about a stage in last week’s Tirreno-Adriatico stage race in Italy. The course was, apparently, too much for even elite riders and half the peloton quit halfway through. Phinney was in the back-half of the race thanks to a mechanical problem but he didn’t quit with the rest of them. His goal was to finish the stage under the time limit so he could take a shot at winning the time trial on the next day. After the race, he said that he thought of his father, who suffers from Parkinson’s disease to motivate him through the 80 miles of cold rain he rode alone:

“I knew that if my dad could be in my shoes for one day—if all he had to do was struggle on a bike for six hours, but be healthy and fully functional—he would be me on that day in a heartbeat,” Taylor Phinney said. “Every time I wanted to quit, every time I wanted to cry, I just thought about that.”

I try to keep a similar thought in mind when I’m out on the course during the MS150 I ride every spring. I’ve found myself at 50 miles into the ride on the second day and my legs hurt and I’m tired and I just want to go home. I try then to remember why I’m riding. I’m riding to raise money and awareness for people who would swap seats with me in a second to be as leg-hurt and as tired as I am. It’s a powerful and humbling idea.

I’d be rooting for T Phinney anyway (USA! USA! USA!) but now I’m going to start keeping up with him outside the grand tours.

[via those Pants Richmond Guys who pass along good bike stuff]

Sunday Rides 3/10/2013


I haven’t been out on the bike much this year and I was worried about how it would go. Luckily the running seems to have kept me in okay shape and the squats have made my legs reasonably strong. The route was generally friendly and it was great to get back out with a couple of the guys. We were flying.

I’ve got a big MTB ride in a couple of weeks that I’m a lot less worried about now thanks to this ride. The biggest discomfort was in the cycling-specific areas of my quads and my ass. There isn’t any substitute for time in the saddle so I was uncomfortable after about 10 miles. I need to get out more often before CNC or I’m going to be walking funny for a week afterward.

Pedal Power 2013

Pedal Power 2013 was a couple of weeks ago. I sit on the board of this nonprofit and this is the annual event where we set up a competition for pairs of cyclists to generate the most watts of electricity per kg. We have modified bicycle trainers that turn the pedaling effort into electricity (that we run into an inverter and then into batteries and from there out to whatever needs powering). Our goal is to illustrate just how tough it is to make electricity in an effort for people to consider being less wasteful with electricity in their homes. One of the features of the event is that we use the power generated that morning to make breakfast to feed the riders. This year we powered a couple of waffle irons. It was tasty.

This year I entered with my oldest daughter. You can see us there in the foreground. I was born to wear spandex. Maybe not as anything more than a base layer, though….


RCC/GroundForce IT Snowflake Ride, 2013


2nd Annual Snowflake Ride from RCC this afternoon. Met up with some of the folks from our normal Sunday Rides and rode to Ashland and back. A terrific hook for this ride was that they offered soup and bread and beer at the end. There must have been 30 Crock Pots with different soup, bags of bread, a couple of apple pies, and tubs full of iced-down beer. Solid times.

As far as the ride went, I was okay for the first time on my bike in a month. My lungs were good thanks to all of the running I’ve been doing. My legs got heavy and tired at the end, though. Running is just different so its not a one-to-one benefit. Still, I didn’t pull anything and I banked enough calories to enjoy a couple of helpings of soup bread and beer. I hope this marks the start of steady Sunday Rides again. I like them.