Gran Fondo NYC 2012

So, I’m still fat, still slow, and, relative to most folks who’ll set out to ride 110 miles in a day, out of shape. But, I’ve got a couple of great riding friends, Steve and Tracy, both of whom are disciplined and freaks of nature who wanted to give the Gran Fondo NYC a try this spring. Figured there’s worse things to do than to spend a spring weekend in NYC, and a spring day on the bike.

Plus, you never know who you’re going to run into in NYC. Not sure if the D-O-Double G has moved north, or if this was CSIS:

GFNYC 2012 - Snoop

Course is good – 110 miles, 4 timed climbs, one Cat 1 climb, four Cat 3’s, 12 Cat 5’s. Traffic management is pretty much awesome while the route’s open, rest stops were good, and, as far as epic rides go, this fits pretty well. The Hudson Valley is georgous.”

Find more Bike Ride in Stony Point, NY

Start was at the George Washington Bridge, 7AM sharp. With the caveat that there was a staging area that closed at 6:15. We stayed on the Lower East Side, 11 miles from the start, so were on the road about 5 freaking AM, riding up Broadway. This may have been my favorite part of the ride – every corner, there were more riders joining us as we headed towards the start. Nice, relaxed pace. Pretty organized getting onto the bridge for the actual start. Kind of freaky hanging up in mid-air over the Hudson. Steve and Tracy are the skinny guys. For the record, I did pee off the bridge.

GFNYC 2012

GFNYC 2012

Pretty much by design, this was the last time I saw Steve and Tracy – they were much fitter, and I knew I was going to be slogging over the course. Not often I get to spend a day alone with my thoughts. So, I clicked it into cruising mode, as the climbs were the only timed part of the course. Until about an hour into the ride, when I felt my pedal tug back, then start spinning, and – another cycling first, the popped chain!

GFNYC 2012 - broken chain

And, for the rest of the day, I was kind of in catch-up mode. Had to wait about 45 minutes for a SAG, then a ride about a mile up the course to someone with a chain tool and a pin. I was carrying Two spare tubes, CO2, hex wrenches, a couple of zip ties, but had never popped a chain before, so wasn’t prepared for this. Last time I buy a Shimano chain (replaced it this winter) – the link that busted was where the broken pin went in, so it’s possibly mechanic (me) error on the installation. But why fool with breaking pins when SRAM or Wipperman or a couple others have groovy sliding links that avoid these troubles?

The ride was georgous, I was fat and slow. Felt pretty good heading up Bear Mountain, the biggest climb of the day, but when I got to the third and final climbs, I was popped. Part of it was poor training, for which I was compensating by soft pedaling along most of the flat portions of the course, part of it was the heat – I think the temperature topped out about 85 degrees, and don’t think I’d finished a training ride over 60 degrees all year. Climbing in the shade was pretty OK, climbing in the sun just killed me.

In the end, I met my goal of finishing an epic for the first time since I rode the Houston-Austin MS150 in 2002. It wasn’t pretty, but I did get to spend the whole day on the bike, covered 123 miles between the 110 miles of the Fondo, the 11 miles to get to the start, and the 2 miles across Manhattan to get back to the hotel. All in all, a good day on the bike.

GFNYC 2012 Finished

The good:

  • Course support was awesome – cops at almost every turn, much of the course was closed to traffic, great rest stops spaced about 10 miles apart
  • The day was awesome. Gripe about being hot aside, there was little wind, lots of sun, and pretty good roads
  • Ride up the Hudson River Road may be the prettiest road I’ve ridden in a while, and I live in coastal Connecticut
  • The Meh:

  • Lines at the rest stops – the volunteers rocked, but the logistics of distributing water and sports drink to 8K people hadn’t been well thought through. There were huge water bowsers at all the rest stops, and huge lines as there was a single (massive) tap off of each.
  • The GFNYC Jersey. It’s a very nice jersey; however, with every freaking rider wearing the same thing, as soon as you separated from your riding partners, every freaking rider looked identical. Made it tough to regroup
  • No beer at the finish.
  • The Ugly:

  • The last 5 miles of the ride were on an open New Jersey 5 lane (two traffic lanes each way and a suicide lane in the middle) that was backed up due to the traffic control at the ride finish. Most of the trouble was due to idiot cyclists who had been riding closed roads all day weaving in and out of the traffic and running lights instead of being vehicular cyclists
  • Would I ride it again? Probably not – too early in the season, pretty expensive (register today for next year and it’s ONLY $220), and involves a weekend in NYC that doesn’t involve museums and fine dining. But, like running the NYC marathon, I’m thrilled that I did it.

    Marathon Fallout

    June. Man, life is good up here in New England. Blue sky, low humidity, morning fog. Lovely. Ought to be like this for another 4 months. Come visit

    Still way behind in writing up Gran Fondo NYC and another Vermont City Marathon. But, as this is (theoretically) a running blog, here’s some red meat for y’all:

    Marathon fallout

    Usually the nail’s gone before race day. I was hoping I’d keep it this year.

    It’s the freakishly long second toe – I’ve tried shoes ranging from 8.5 – 10, so it’s not a toe-box matter or something like that – I’ve lost nails from both hitting the end of the shoe and having the toe box fold too soon. Just a cost of doing business, I suppose.

    Bike Month Day 4

    Fog, cows, stone wall

    Friday wasn’t quite a work day – had some admin to take care of in Newport first thing in the morning, but made it back to Mystic in time to take another ride with my lovely wife, who’s starting to ride. And was reminded again of why I love riding in rural Connecticut.

    Out of the house, and within 20 minutes, we’re on thin, low-traffic two lane, surrounded by walls of Connecticut’s state flower, granite, and bucolic bovines.

    Rode easy for two hours, fog rolled in off of Fisher’s Island Sound, and back home to meet the kids after school.

    I threw in another 4 miles up to the top of the hill near the house. Feeling pretty good, but dreading the last long runs before Vermont City.

    Bike To Work Month Day 3

    Three days into May and I’m still biking to work. Not dead yet.

    Commuting shadows

    No great insights yet. But I’m loving something to be relentlessly positive about for 31 days. Easy to do that with bikes, spring, and New England. Winter appears to be defeated for another six months.

    I’ve also developed a new Internet crush – BikeyFace. Boston based, funny, bikes. Awesome.

    Bike To work month 2012

    Training for the Vermont City marathon is going … well, it’s going. It’s kind of been nice – my goal has been to just actually run the marathon, rather than getting wrapped up with trying to hit a time goal or anything like that. So, I’ve just been running. Which is nice.

    I’m still up in the air as to the marathon being a good idea or not, but it’s registered, paid for, and less than a month away, so I’m kind of committed now. I’m happy about it – two more twenties, then taper, then run. Ought to be good.

    Wrinkle in the plan, however, is the Gran Fondo NYC – 100 miles on the bike the week before the marathon. Steve R. and I headed out for 50 miles this weekend, felt pretty good, so I think that I’ll survive. I do, however, need to make sure to take advantage of “Bike to Work” month and ride.

    So, I did this morning, despite rain. Felt great to be out in solid spring weather. Looking forward to another two weeks, then some travel, and a solid final week.

    Commuted Joy

    Got my eyes dilated at the optometrist this afternoon. So, no staring at a screen for the rest of the afternoon. Plus, it’s about 5 when I’m done. Hour of twilight left. Hey, why not take the long way home?

    Commute home

    Smugness quotient was in full effect this evening. There was a wreck on IH-95 headed north, so CT-184 was bumper-to-bumper all the way from the Gold Star bridge to Mystic. Went under the interstate by the reservoir – Standstill. And US 1 was also at a standstill. Only had one driver be a jerk and squeeze me off of the road as I passed on the right.

    I dropped onto the two-track at Bluff Point. Did the loop, tore through Haley Farm. I couldn’t see squat. It was awesome. Somehow, being dilated and not really being able to see gave me mystical abilities to pick lines – man, I had FLOW going. Almost like Douglas Adams’ mythical Peril Sensitive Sunglasses – I just felt the trail.

    Man, it just felt good. Dragged along the Amtrak right of way, didn’t have to dab a foot coming onto the pedestrian bridge, and threaded the gate into Haley Farm. Turns out I pulled a couple of mountain bikers back to the parking lots – no lights on them. They scared the crap out of me. But it was pretty cool – love me some cyclists.

    Then up Brook Street, down 117 to downtown, and home along River Road.

    All in all, the bike’s been berry, berry good to me. Love the commute.

    Caso Contador

    So, Contador is officially a doper. I’d be happy, ‘cept, not really.
    On one hand, I’m happy he’s busted – that cycling has absolutely the most aggressive no tolerance policy in all of sport is something to be touted, especially after the legacy of the 80s and 90s.

    On the other hand, the CAS case against Contador’s especially weak – it doesn’t make a clean case that Contador was systematic doping, leaves open the possibility that it really was contaminated meat, and doesn’t make any accommodation for 18 months of racing, lots of testing, and winning freakin’ two grand tours, really decisively in the case of the 2011 Giro.

    24 months seems to be the CAS’ standard sentence for a doping positive. So, it’s not surprising that Contador got the standard.

    On the other hand, CAS left itself open to the counter charge that it’s screwing Contador just to make an example. In which case I’m disappointed – The amount of clenbuterol in his system is a tribute to our ability to detect minute concentrations of anything. Stripping him of two titles earned under extremely close scrutiny serves only to throw closer scrutiny on the existing cycling anti-doping efforts, and impugns every other cyclist currently riding.

    That it took almost two years to come to this decision, during which Contador continued to ride under threat of having results overturned, keeping the entire sport in limbo, is an indictment of CAS process. Justice delayed is justice denied. For a career that really spans from about 24 to 34 for most Grand Tour contenders, two years means that there’s going to be a lot of asterixes as drug tests continue to improve.

    I still don’t like Contador, but he’s getting screwed. He deserves something for popping positive, but two tours stripped, two years late? Not justice.

    Update – The long arm of Justice is still reaching out for Armstrong – WADA requested the evidience the US Grand Jury accumulated while looking for Fraud at US Postal.

    Missed It

    We’re having a really, really late Indian Summer (Indian Spring?) this week. Nine inches of snow this weekend (My lovely wife insists it was only six, but since when did women have a good judge for size?), all completely gone and almost 40 degrees this morning when I woke up. No excuse not to ride the bike, right?

    So, I did, and what a difference it made. 28 and a half minutes for the 7 miles into work, clean lungs, and the best parking spot in the building.

    Run on Purpose had a good post this morning on maintaining mental state for getting out the door:

    One of the things I talk with my oldest son about is the remote control idea to discipline. As any older brother he gets his fair share of being tested by his younger brother. We often talk about who has control of his emotions. Does he give the remote control of his emotions to his brother or does he take charge.

    I’ve used a simlar strategy with my boys, but hadn’t taken at as far as ROP does – and to be fair, the weather, or work, or any number of things get my remote more often than I’d care to admit. One thing I really admire about my lovely wife is that she’s in complete charge of her remote – doesn’t do a thing unless it’s on her plan, or in line with whatever she wants to accomplish in a given day. Wish that I had a tenth of her willpower on crap like that.