Friday, June 21, 2013

Making Progress

It is Friday morning at 11AM. So far I have been at it pretty straight, chipping away at the massive list of chores that need to get completed in order to keep this summer of fun on track.

My Reynolds 46mm carbon cyclocross front tubular wheel from my single-speed cross bike, which had massively corroded internal alloy nipples that had begun to break apart and fail, has been torn down, cleaned out and rebuilt with new nipples. I have also cleaned the glue track and have applied one coat of tubular cement to it.

The RockShox Reba from Cathy's single-speed mountain bike has been removed from the bike and received a new set of seals and oil. It still needs to be re-installed but in the meantime I have put my spare Fox F29, which received new seals yesterday, on the bike.

I have Tung Oiled the bike vault doors in the basement as they were raw fir and OSB and I have also finally added a coat of sealer to the front bench in the entry way at the front door. It has been in need for some while now.

In terms of the garden, I have weeded it and watered everything. I've also thinned out the Romaine lettuce to promote growth and tossed the unlucky leafs into the leftover salad from last evening. I also finally gave up on some of the seeds that we planted over a month back in a couple of freshly tilled beds to the back of the lot. As such I raked them over and flattened them and will throw some grass seed down. The reality is that they just didn't get enough sunlight I suspect. Either that or something got the seeds, pumpkin and squash.

The poop has also been scooped and I have contacted the real estate agent to make sure that we are on target for closing in a couple of weeks, less actually.

Yesterday I put together a mini-deck platform/stair for the shed in Maine. I needed a transition for the existing deck between the house and shed and the new part of the shed. I built a platform that is a right triangle whose legs are 54". It is framed with some of the last 2x8" PT leftover from the old deck I tore off the house years ago. For decking I used some of the scraps of composite decking left over from the deck and sun room we had put on a couple years ago. The thing weighs about 250# and took both Cathy and I to move. Should be a treat getting it into the truck to take up to Maine. I do love a challenge though.

All I need to do still is to go for a short easy ride to spin the fatigue from my weary legs. Two hard nights on the road bike spanked me pretty hard. I suspect that despite a couple days of relative downtime this week on the bike, I was still in the hole from the past couple of weeks. The big ride last week really took a toll combined with a back to back hit on the weekend. No surprise. Easy today and tomorrow then the first MTB race in a while on Sunday.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Weekly Whirlwind

BSBL 45+ Team
Wow, the past week has so has been crazy busy. We have a ton of stuff going on and between projects here and projects in Maine coupled with the normal chores of the summer, we have been flat out. The week, last week that is, started out with a road race.

Why a road race when neither Cathy nor I really dig road racing that much? Well, in case you haven't been keeping track of the weather of recent, the region has surpassed Seattle in terms of rainfall. Unless it stops raining all together for the remainder of the month, it is likely that we may set some all time records as well. In the past couple of weeks we have gotten nearly double digit inches of rain. Keeping up with the lawn is a challenge not to mention that we have two of them we are trying to wrangle. Anyhow, the road race was hard and as always I was amazed how fit people are. Ultimately, a slew of guys were fitter and faster up the final climb than I. That said, it was legit racing with a bunch of folks from the team, including Cathy, so that was good and my bike wasn't wrecked after the race requiring an hour of washing and a hundred dollars worth of parts to fix. Such was the case with the Scalpel after the last race I did on it. The PF30 BB was toast and needed to be replaced along with the brake pads.

Current state of the garden
The garden has also needed some tending, not much but a bit. The tomato are going nuts and taking everything over as are the peas for which I finally built a trellis for them to climb. Hopefully that takes them up rather than out. I also needed to thin out the beets, which are doing great. Planning to throw the greens into a salad and see what happens there. More than tending though was the addition to the garden that we put in last week. Basically, we doubled the number of raised beds which meant more lawn prep, more soil needed and of course, more beds needed to be constructed. Now with all of the rain, the new beds are basically floating. Hopefully the seed will germinate rather than rot.

Desk space in Maine
In addition to those projects I've also been going nuts trying to get the Maine based projects squared away. Last time that we were there we realized that Cathy really needed some desk space if she was going to work from home. Sitting on a stool at the bar didn't work for an extended period. Problem is that space was at a premium so I decided a wall mounted desk that mirrored the bar but was normal desk height would look OK and work fine. I built it the same as I built the bar, using hardwood flooring banded by maple and supported by 4x4 fir legs. It went in easy, looks fine and works great.

Shed progression
The other big Maine based project is the shed conversion. I managed to get a bunch of work done on it even though I am slightly behind where I'd hoped to be. The project is getting rid of a bunch of junk I had lying around though such as an old exterior door and vinyl window. Hopefully I can finish the final end up easily during the next trip. It is all framed and I just need to side it but first need to finishing rebuilding the shed doors that I'm reusing off the other part of the shed. They need to be slightly re-sized to fit the size limitations of the end. Getting those doors meant tearing them out of their previous home in the end of the old shed, re-framing that hole and then re-siding that end with the materials I'd removed from the back side of the shed, which will now be the inside wall of the new portion of the shed.

Before the ride, all smiles
Along with the work I also took a day off and did a monster ride with Kyle and Ben, who came up Wednesday evening and stayed over. I planned out a few different loops but decided on one that did many aspects of loops we had done in the past, taking us out Intervale Road to RT232 and then to Rumford, up bu Black Mountain which is a nasty little climb, then to RT120 and over Roxbury Notch. Though I'd climbed it a bunch of times in the past, this time it hurt. We were hauling. I blame it on Strava. From there we went into Andover and up over East B Hill Road into Grafton Notch. That was the killer. Those climbs just did me in. From the notch we headed to Errol on RT26, which had more rollers to add. From Errol we headed back RT16 to Gorham and to RT2 to North Road and back to Bethel.

View from atop East B Hill Rd
On paper the loop was big, but not all that terribly bad. The truth would reveal a slightly different composition than evidenced by the map, the elevation plot, or my experience. Of course we also moved along pretty well and hit the climbs, which in some cases were pretty brutal, with some vigor. By the time we were half way in I could tell the second half was going to hurt. By the time we hit 90 miles I was digging for answers to the simple question of how I was going to finish the next nearly 40 miles. Fortunately, I wasn't alone. Kyle who had remained strong and sure all day was starting to wear and starting to go for the granny as well as make some interesting noises. Meanwhile, Ben who had hung back all day and gone a bit easier was starting to perk up a bit. Of course we ended up making it home safe and sound but we were all pretty tired, well, except for Ben who won the hill sprint back to the house uncontested.

Friday was a work day so I got after the shed work and the only ride that we did was a short local loop. Unfortunately, the big news Friday was a tragic accident just outside of Bethel on RT2 where a young man from Watertown, MA taking part in the Trek Across Maine was struck and killed by a transport truck. It put a really sad note on the day and in all honesty, really hit me pretty hard given that we both ride those same roads all the time. Our hearts go out to the friends, family and loved ones. who it turns out, we actually know some of. The cycling community really is a small family.

Ascending Kirby Mtn Rd
Saturday Cathy and I planned a sampling of some of the dirt roads in VT from my folks place, many of which we had ridden in the past. We also coordinated this with checking out some property in the area. Our ride included some stellar roads with great views, a Thanksgiving sandwich for lunch from the East Burke general store and some stout climbs as well as a wonderful gently flowing downhill from Victory to North Concord through the heart of the bog and the wildlife preservation area. We dug into some new sections not only in East Burke but in East Haven, Granby and Victory which we'd never done before. As a result we took a few wrong turns, mostly thanks to the infinite optimism of the Google maps road recognition algorithm. It seemed to think that there were connector roads in a number of places where said roads did not actually exist, or were in fact old snowmobile trails.

Ridge Rd in Kirby
This was most evident after starting the climb to the old radar base in East Haven. The reality is that the public roadway does not go through to Victory. We discovered this after exhausting all of the possible alternatives. We also found a few sweet dead ends near the tail of the ride, in North Concord. Other than that though a great day on the cross bikes. For most of the ride we were above the coveted 100 feet of elevation gain per mile mark, a mark used as a quality of legitimacy gauge for a ride by at least some of our friends. I was feeling remarkably good so was OK with it but Cathy wasn't as fond of the ratio.

We rode the Cannondale SuperX disc bikes with clincher wheels and file tread cross tires for the first time outside of a cross race. Excellent, excellent choice as they rolled well but still stood up to some of the rocky, rutted gravel roads of the depths of the Northeast Kingdom. I'm thinking that they may become a staple bike for us for this type of riding, of which I'd really like to start doing more of. Will see how that property turns out as it may be an enabler.

Much of Sunday was spent working on the shed again but later in the day we tried to salvage a shorter ride. I'd been thinking of dirt roads in Maine and the reality is, there really aren't as many as in VT. I did know of some that we could try for my days of snowmobile trail grooming, located in Milton Township. Most folks probably haven't heard of Milton, for good reason. Not much (anything) there save a couple of ponds, Concord and Shagg. So again we headed out Intervale to RT232 but took a new road to get to Milton. It was paved for a long time but then turned to dirt. Almost as soon as it turned to dirt, the threatening skies gave way to rain. I toyed with turning back but pressed on.

I'd never been on this route and was heading to places that I'd never been at all, save dirt biking years before. It was raining with a chance of thunder and there were no short cuts home. I was a little anxious. Actually, I was a lot anxious. When I get anxious on the bike, I tend to go faster like that will somehow fix things. So from there Cathy and I basically hammered for what seemed like an eternity on roads we hoped connected to where Google maps said they connected and would eventually lead us home. The rain got harder, the roads we often excellent but often really poor. I misjudged multiple segments which turned out to be longer than expected but eventually we made it to know territory. In the end it was a good ride, though stressful in more ways than one.

It also seems to have fried my Garmin Edge 500 which recorded just fine but would no longer communicate with my PC. No incarnation of fix helped it but the nice folks at Garmin offered me a warranty replacement, which is on the way. Many thanks.

Another excellent adventure and another great week. This could be the best summer ever. Actually, I'm pretty sure that it already is.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Weekend Roundup

A fish's view
Actually, it is more of a long weekend roundup which includes the start of the week and the end of last week as well as the weekend proper. What the weekend did not include was any racing. No, we decided to forgo the race scene in favor of some fun rides and some much needed house work based from our northern office in Bethel, Maine.

We haven't really spent all that much time in Maine since we got heavily into bike racing really. Between that and work, which for the past few years for both Cathy and I has meant traveling to and from an official office moist every day, it has been tough to find the time, or make it. Doing the whole weekend commute and fighting traffic to and fro to get to and then from the vacation home is a huge drag. Add in the racing, most of which is not near Maine anyhow and there you have it, the house sits vacant far too often. Regardless, with each visit we are reminded why we bought the place to begin with and why we have not sold it. We love the place. Bethel is a really great town with some really nice folks.

Sunday River in the distance
With Cathy working 100% from home and me "working" 100% on the homes, the time was ripe so we packed the cats and a van full of junk and headed north last Wednesday evening. My big project for this trip was to get a good start on the first of the two part shed renovation I have planned. I checked much of that work off Thursday and Friday. Next on the list was some weekend fun including a trip to KT for some MTB adventures.

What we didn't count on, despite the weather forecast, was just how oppressive 94 degrees and humid is when earlier than same week you were shivering while wearing your down jacket. I literally was melting down. I'm usually pretty good in the heat but not this time. It wrecked me. The manual work outside all day Thursday followed by the hard Gorman->Bartlett->Gorham Pinkham Notch effort that night had me reeling Friday. It was all that we could do to muster the energy to ride to Frenchman's Hole up in Newry and go wading.

Recurring theme of the weekend
Saturday was not much better and the heat was cooking my noggin and sapping my ambition, even though we were riding KT. We fought through and got in about three and a half hours and just over 30 miles but it hurt a whole lot despite not going all that hard. The one bright spot was the short interval I did go hard on; a climb out from the river on the far side of Darling Hill on the River Walk trail netted a Strava KOM. Possibly an indicator that the fitness was starting to come back around, I hoped?

Sweltering @ KT
Sunday we once again had 90 plus degree temperatures, humidity and wind so we naturally decided to go for a road ride. I planned a route that would take us south then west to Freyburg then north through Evans Notch and back. We had done this 75 or so mile route a few times in the past, but never in that direction. After fighting the headwind out Vernon Street then going into the wind and baking sun up the Hunts Corner climb and turning onto RT118 and then RT35 we decided to cut bait on the long loop at the famous world points sign. Instead we headed back via RT35 onto the Forest Service Road, a sweet gravel road that connects to the Flat Road. Something about riding gravel on my road bike encourages, no, commands me to drill it. We flew up the rise and just after the top I promptly smacked a rock and pinch flatted the front tire. Dumbass! From there we came back Grover Hill Road, which we rode as a TT from start to finish. Solid effort and a great road which is now immortalized in a Strava segment.

Cathy finishing the Jordan sufferfest
Monday was back to work, both for Cathy officially making money and for me, officially spending money. That money was squandered on PT 4x4's and 84' linear feet of ship-lap. Most of the day was spent again working on the shed improvement. The bonus was that with the huge front and rain that moved through Sunday evening, the temperature and humidity subsided. The weather by Monday mid day was fantastic.

After the days labor we decided to do a short ride with one interval, a climb up to the Jordan Grand at Sunday River. In all my years riding the area I'd never done that climb. Cathy did years ago but not me. Don't know why. I researched the climb on the Strava and found it was a solid Cat3 gaining 1500' in under 4 miles. Top times were just around 20 minutes so I knew that it was a good solid interval for sure. We fought brutal headwind over and brutal head and crosswind up. The climb was horrific, steep enough that the 39x25 was arduous once the legs loaded and crushing in the one really steep section, which also had really bad pavement. At the top it flattens to maybe four or five percent for the last quarter mile, fooling you into thinking you should be going faster than possible. Finally at the top is the hotel and relief, which was short lived once the black flies found you. Cathy soon emerged and finished and we made our way precariously back down the slope, fighting the winds and gravity all the way to remain in control.

The shed project continues
Yesterday we planned to head back home in order to do some chores there but also had some tree work done in Maine. This involved removing two huge and nasty pine trees in front of our house. These trees just made a mess and blocked the sun from reaching that section of the house. The result was lots of mildew and pine needles everywhere. Watching the removal was impressive and though it was expensive, I think that it will make a huge difference. It will also let some of the other trees fill in and grow a little better. Once the tree work was done most of the day was as well.

Int'l flair in ME
I'd planned to ride toward home and have Cathy pick me up on the way somewhere. Optimistically I'd though of riding all the way home but we'll save that stretch goal for another day. I settled on leaving an hour before Cathy and riding Vernon Street to RT35 south to RT302 east toward Portland. These are all secondary roads with posted speed limits from 30 - 50 mph, traveling by numerous lakes and ponds. On the map it was basically a straight shot. I started out and quickly noted the favorable cross/tail winds, so treated Vernon Street, which used to be one of the Maine TT series courses, as a TT. I was working really hard but moving really fast. This continued all the way along Vernon and onto RT35 where I was moving well on mostly flat terrain. Suddenly as RT118 forked off and RT35 veered right it also pitched up for what looked like a good climb. Having never traveled it before I had no idea how long it was but with legs loaded for effort I nearly came to a stop. A little over two miles later I finally crested the top and rolled quickly down the back side. That hurt. The rest of RT35 was scenic roller coaster of gentle grades and quaint lakeside communities.

Not happy being rescued on Vernon Street
My realistic goal for the ride was to make it two hours before Cathy caught me, which would mean it took her an hour to do so in the van on the same roads. I'd hoped that I could make it to RT302, which was just about 40 miles. What I hadn't counted on was the favorable conditions allowing me to go faster than I'd expected. I treated the first hour as a TT and told myself I'd ease off after that but because I was moving so well, I continued working pretty hard this far into the second hour as well. I soon found myself at RT302 well before the two hour mark.

Two moose on RT2 Concord, VT
Once onto RT302 I was blessed with wide open road, a HUGE shoulder lane and a pure tail wind. Long stretches of 30 mph just cranking the pedals over. Before I knew it I was at 47 miles. Around this point I started to wonder if maybe I could make it the whole way and beat Cathy to Portland. There were only 15 miles left to go and at the speeds I was going, maybe I could.

Shortly there after I hit Raymond and a myriad of endless traffic lights. The up side was that there was still a shoulder and I could actually go faster than traffic. The down side was it was really, really dangerous. It wouldn't matter as literally within a mile Cathy caught me. I told her I needed another mile to make the 50 mark, which I did and then willingly got in the van, satisfied and tired. Secretly, I think that she may have been speeding trying to catch me though.

All in all a great trip, a great weekend and a great block of rides. I'm thinking more time will be spent there in the near future. Much more time in fact. After all, I still have a whole list of projects that I need to work on there and with the time spent at the house, the list just seems to get longer.