Monday, April 27, 2009

Dover recovery ride

After a fantastic weekend of racing at Turtle Pond and the Quabbin Reservoir my legs were cooked. Saturday's race was a scorcher, it may not have hit 90 degrees (maybe it did, I really don't know what the high was) but being the first hot race this year it felt like 110. Quabbin on Sunday was no joke either, the weather was a bit cooler but the course was demanding and the pack was there to race. The average speed over 63 miles and 3000ft+ of climbing was about 26mph.

I planned to take today completely off the bike but the nice weather, 65ish and blue skys, persuaded me to go for a ride. I started off with the plan to go do the shortish Dover loop, 28 miles I think. Rolling along very easy my legs slowly began to open up. There is some construction going on one of the roads on the loop and I was dreading hitting it. I knew there was a way around but I couldn't remember it and I didn't feel like getting lost today (I've been getting lost a bunch lately for some reason). I started noticing that the route had been remarked recently and as I rolled to an intersection just a turn or two before the ripped up construction road I saw, in blazing white fresh paint, 'Alt'! I was so psyched that someone marked an alternate route around the road from hell. Then my ride turned awesome. The street sweepers had been out and the road was totally clean, my legs were feeling great and my shuffling music picked three fantastic songs in a row that worked for me at that moment. Nobukazu Takemura to Philip Glass to Patsy Cline (these may or may not be the actual songs, but they could be). I rounded corners to fields of grass split by rows of trees in full bloom, white clouds of flowers tree trunked to the ground. Farmhouses seemed idyllic with horses grazing contently. I passed 3 separate houses with dogs lounging in the front yard, not one barked or gave chase, instead they smiled in the way dogs do as I coasted by. The roads were clean and smooth but the route markings once on the 62 mile loop began to be faded, the fresh tags have not made it this far yet apparently. I got a bit off route and ended up at a shopping center ending the surrealism of the ride. I backtracked and found I missed a right turn onto Causeway St. The rest of the ride was still good including the sandwich I got at the Dover sandwich and ice cream place. Go do the long Dover loop as soon as possible because its so nice out there right now!

I don't think there is a cue sheet for the Dover loops online and there are a few other unmarked turns worth mentioning. After being on some more major roads there is a left turn onto East St (or something similar at a Labor place) you go up and over a climb and on the way down there is no marking but you need to go right on South St. The only other turn that's no longer marked is as you meet up with Western Ave (St, Rd?), you are supposed to go left. If you do go right you'll notice (maybe) about half a dozen tags on the opposite side of the street saying to go the other way.

Belgium ride reports still on the way soon... but here is some stuff that may or may not be new to you.
Guy from Rouleur did awesome write-ups on our rides of Ghent-Wevelgem and Paris-Roubaix.
An article on Zolder by someone I was not traveling with. I was really hoping to jump into this but it didn't work out. I don't know if I would call it zany but it sounds amazing.
Finally, one more bit of Belgium. Cyclingnews did an interview with Joe Parkin, the author of 'Dog in a Hat'. Absolutely love his book.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

USA is not Belgium...

And that makes me a little sad. As I ride around the Boston area I keep searching for things that are the same between the two. We have the lightly traveled back roads that meander through farmland and orchards. Sometimes as I ride around the city I marvel at how many other people there are riding around, going to work, school or the market. Even occasionally a car will yield for no reason other than to give the confidence that they are not planning on running you down.
I can't seem to find a parallel for the overall atmosphere though. It seems like the whole country of Belgium has grown up riding a bike and there is no way to replicate that. After riding some cobbled path to and from school everyday, to see PRO's flying smoothly along at top speed over those same cobbles makes them super-human. I wonder if some day we will have our own spring classics, not ones that try and be the Belgian classics, but races over our gouged, potholed and patched roads destroyed from winter.
I'm not trying to whine here, I'm really glad to be back home racing and among friends. Before I left though, I did take a deep breath of Belgian air. I've been holding my breath ever since.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Am totally partying *right* now

Actually not partying so much as hanging out in the airport in New Jersey. Will begin part 2 of the trip in a few hours. Izzi, however, is totally partying right now.. I'm sure of it.

Izzi killing the Labbit

When she was a spry young pup and I rode mountain bikes, we would tear up the woods together. One rainy day we actually came across a grazing deer while at full speed. In the deer's startled acceleration, it was matched bound for bound with izzi. They flew off into the woods together and I'm sure that was one of her happiest moments ever. Wild, free and traveling at high speed. Now that she is more mature she restrains herself to destroying stuffed animals and barking at pigeons.

I've received a mission * I can't tell you about it * it will, of course be completed at any cost.

I'm getting picked up in 2.5 hours to go to the airport. I've just gotten home after some gentle libations with a few friends. The bags are not packed and my list of things todo still has many unchecked items. But I've just raced a new Vespa scooter home down Rutheford Ave (and won mind you) and dodged a Chinatown crackhead or two. I did it on my old Indy Fab rebuilt on its inaugural run. With its not-so perfect chain that I made 'work' after breaking not one, but T W O chain tools. Its bar tape done in a flash so I could make it to the bar in time. Untested wheels. Untested gears. It felt great. The point is this : The flight will be made, the bags will be packed. Grab the midnight air. Take the time to celebrate, the send-off is so sweet and so necessary. Those good tidings start the trip on a positive note. 2 hours now.... time to get to work.