Highlander tour: the most grueling 100k of my life

Well, Mollitor and I were looking for some biking fun, so on Mark Sorrel’s advice, we went to do the Midlander Tour in Canandaigua NY.  100km with 6000ft of ascent should be enough – and we were rather late in getting there (we arrived about 10am, roll out was at 7).  The weather was overcast, and occasionally lightly raining, but the temperature was good, right where I needed my jacket for the descents, and would cook on the ascents while wearing it.
6000ft of climbing is quite a bit- and it was steep.  one hill was 23%, and I would rate it HC (hors categorie, hardest possible class of hills).  I had to pull myself down to get enough torque to climb it with the 40t elliptical /27t gears.
All in all it was a good day, although mollitor and I didn’t run into anyone until about 5mi from the finish.
If you want a challenge in the finger lakes, try this one out.  just bring a triple, compact, or a 32t mtb cassette!

sounds like a Swan story to me

Friday, I stopped by Carl Hart cycles to pick up some stuff, and asked about racing for the weekend.  the mechanic told me there was a race that night at Suffolk Community College in Riverhead, not too far from Pete’s place in Sag Harbor.  So I cleaned and lubed my chain, bought a pair of cycling gloves (half price! cheap insurance) put on my venerable Cornell kit and drove up to the college.
the course was pretty flat, fully closed, and with no turns-a big circle basically.  About 20 guys ranging from a high school junior to the father of a guy on the Cornell team saddled up for the B race, and we were off.  I didn’t have a computer, nor the Speed Weaponry, but 4000mi of training is a pretty good thing to have in the arsenal, so I was feeling pretty good about this.
The race started fairly easily, i just keep in 3rd or 4th wheel, taking a few pulls when necessary, but people weren’t working efficiently.  I tried covering break attempts, and launched a few myself, but no one would go with me, and they all failed.  On the Prime lap, the high schooler and a few others broke away to score the prime-  i couldn’t cover them.  they were reabsorbed into the pack soon after.  when the A breakaway passed, a guy in a yellow jersey rode their draft to a lead of about 30s, and the high school guy and another guy bridged up.  I was able to bridge up to them, and started instructing them in how to race effectively: 15s at the front, pull off to the left.  After they got the hang of pacelining, I fell off the back of the train, and couldn’t catch back on.  I held them to about 20s for a long while but eventually they pulled further ahead than that.
So I’m stuck out in no-man’s-land, time-trialing for all I’m worth–and about 9mi to go.  I was able to keep the power on for 9 miles, which is very impressive, fending off the pack, and barely kept an ex-Colgate rider away for 4th place.  Had I been more tactical, I probably could have won it, but 4th on a super TT isn’t bad.
Needless to say, I didn’t hang on the A’s in sag harbor too long saturday morning.  But I did well riding with Flint up at Dartmouth on sunday-over 3 wicked climbs (with a 25t cassette on instead of my usual 27t for hills)
I think i’m pretty ready for Bear mtn this sunday, we’ll see what happens!

I’ve been everywhere, man

Johnny Cash does a pretty good job up there (see video), but I have my own story to tell
We biked about 4000mi, longest day was 118mi (at 18 mi/hr avg speed) for the 3 amigos:me, Mollitor and Nate.  we climbed to 12,100ft in Rocky Mtn National park, crossed the plains and the desert, and had a grand ol’ time doing it.  Although I’m back in NY (i.e. the real world), it was a great experience, most importantly in terms of changing my worldview.  On the trip i was more laid back, and I plan to keep that going forward–getting sprinklered wasn’t fun at the time, but it makes for a good story.
so to tell that story:
We were camped out in the city park in Battle Mountain, NV (home to the world’s fastest man challenge course … the record stands at 81.00 mi/hr in a full bubble-bike).  And it wasn’t too bad by city park standards- crummy bathroom, but a nice lush lawn to sleep on, especially considering this is the desert.  Unfortunately, the train tracks were right on the edge of the park, and [dingdingingding HONK HONK chugchugchug HONK HONK] freight trains came by every hour, all day and all night.
About 4am, I heard the signature pop-hiss of pop-up sprinklers, but quickly determined that they were watering the far end of the park, and went back to sleep.  About 20 minutes later there was a louder pop-hiss and then … water pouring through the open top of the tent!! (Mollitor didn’t put on the rain fly… why should he, this is the desert!)
Me: where’s the rain fly?
Mollitor: in the bag!
me: where’s the bag?
Mollitor: outside!
I struggled mightily with the rain fly, trying to turn the sprinkler head away from the tent when it threatened to soak it more, but that was a losing battle on both fronts.  At least I evacuated my bag from the tent before that got wet.  After about 10 minutes of getting soaked and struggling with the rain fly, I gave up on that plan and shouted to Mollitor: we’re moving the tent to the parking lot!  and we picked up the tent, soggy sleeping bags and all and hauled it to the parking lot, which is for obvious reasons not covered by the sprinkler system.
Climbing back into my sleeping bag, i found that fiber-fill isn’t very warm when wet.  And my fleece jacket cum pillow was soaked through and useless as insulation as well.
Fortunately for me, I packed heavy and brought some other cold weather gear: on goes the thick shirt, gore-tex jacket, beanie hat, cycling cap, tights, jeans, double-layer socks, and magic comfortemp gloves.  At this point the desert sun was beginning to rise, and I fired up the camp stove for some much needed hot cocoa and oatmeal, which was much appreciated.
Fortunately for most people, we evacuated most of the gear so it stayed dry… unfortunately for mollitor, his stuff was outside and we missed it in the dark, and his bag was about as full of water as a non dry-bag can get 😦 but in the desert things dry quickly and it wasn’t so bad after stretching everything out in the sun at the end of the day.
There are of course other good stories to tell, and 1000 pictures to upload, stay tuned!