From The Saddle: Salmon Kill Road 06/02/2011
Lat 41.9709 / Long -73.4125
I love this beautiful poster for the Tweed Run in London (shame I miss it by a week) by the talented Zoe Barker. I managed to catch this event by complete accident in 2009 when I spotted some guys riding down the street sporting a couple of serious mustaches, tweed jackets and some nicely restored bikes. When I asked them where they were heading, the one with the pipe (yes pipe) said “The Tweed Run of coarse!” Since then it has gone on to international fame and has inspired a Brooklyn version. This years ride is sold out already. If you are around Shoreditch on the 9th of April you should try to catch the “knees up” at the end, and if anyone wants to share some pictures we would love to publish them.
This post started out as a stab at documenting the Rapha 500, but quickly turned into a lament on riding in the east coast US during the winter, and an ode to cabin fever spurred on by the turbo trainer. In the end despite everything I still managed to get about 350 KMs in, although mostly done indoors, but also managed to do some nerve damage to the tip of my little finger because of riding in the cold.
Day 1 / 12.24.10
This is all pretty new to me up here in Litchfield County, CT, and in retrospect considering this may have been the only day I’ll get that stays above 3oºF (-1ºC), I probably should have picked a flatter route to eke out as many miles as my fingers and toes could cope with. Instead I ended up going over what seemed like endless hills, and whilst beautiful, were not helping me much in my R500 challenge.
Avg Speed: 20.96 kph (hills will account for the general slowness)
Feet climbed: 3040ft
Temperature: 3oºF (-1ºC), with wind chill 21ºF (-6ºC)
Calories Burned: 1516 cal
Wine Consumed: Half Bottle of a Cab and 1 glass of Argentinian Malbec
General Mood: Despite the cold, happy to be out
R500 Prediction: Optimistic
Note: Wine consumed was not done during rides, please remember to ride responsibly.
Day 2 / 12.25.10
It just got colder, a lot colder. The air temperature was 27ºF (-3ºC) and the wind chill brought it down to a finger-numbing 17ºF (-8ºC). It is amazing how much difference the sun makes when it is shinning on your back. On the suggestion of a neighbor who thought I was insane for going out (I explained that there may be Rapha kit at the end of all of this as a logical explanation, didn’t seem to cut it, obviously not a believer) I went along the valley floor to hopefully clock more miles and less hills. Unfortunately leaving my embrocation back in Brooklyn meant my legs never seemed to get moving in any sort of fluid way. I dropped down gears to ride at a high cadence to try and elevate my circulation, which just proceeded to frustrate me at how slow I was covering ground. Alas, one hour out and my fingers had completely gone, to the point I was finding it hard to change gears, so I headed back. It is beautiful around here, but it is f#*king cold this time of year.
Avg Speed: 22.5 kph (legs frozen will account for that general slowness)
Feet climbed: 1633ft
Temperature: 27ºF (-3ºC), with wind chill 17ºF (-8ºC)
Calories Burned: 866 cal
Wine Consumed: Half Bottle of a very nice Chateau Leoville Barton
General Mood: It’s Xmas! How could you not be happy?
R500 Prediction: Semi-Optimistic
Day 3 / 12.26.10 / Snowopolis
It just got really white and unridable around here. In the evening things weren’t looking too bad, and then we saw the “Severe Weather Warning“. The first picture above was just before it started, and the second picture is the 18 inches of coverage we got in one night. The day fast became a day of drinking coffee and sanding and painting walls.
Distance: 0 km
Temperature: 26ºF (-4ºC), with wind chill 17ºF (-8ºC)
Calories Gained: Lots
Wine Consumed: Other half bottle of the very nice Chateau Leoville Barton
General Mood: Hibernating
R500 Prediction: Doubtful
Day 4 / 12.27.10 / Snowopolis Day 2
It is amazing how quickly they clear the roads around here in Litchfield County, but still not enough to ride, so some indoor trainer time ensued. Looking out the window into this winter wonderland got old really quickly.
Distance: 51.4 km
Temperature: 72ºF (22ºC)
Calories Burned: 926
Wine Consumed: Started in on a nice Malbec
General Mood: Still Hibernating
R500 Prediction: Fail
Day 5 / 12.28.10 / Snowopolis Day 3
We decided to take on riding of another type and take advantage of essentially being snowed in. We broke out the snowboards and hit the local hill for an afternoon of “Cross Training”. I crouched as low as my very tuned snowboarding style would allow to get as close to a squat simulation as I could. It didn’t work, but I did enjoy the snow.
Distance: 10 km
Temperature: 3oºF (-1ºC), with wind chill 21ºF (-6ºC)
Calories Burned: I think I may have added some by getting a Hot Chocolate
Wine Consumed: Finished the Malbec
General Mood: Optimistic Again
R500 Prediction: Maybe I should just try and do it all on a trainer….never going to happen
You would think there would be a closer, more convenient beach to Stuttgart, than Barcelona. This sounds like a pretty amazing story, 11 days and 1500km on fixed gears. The route squeezed them around the end of the Pyrenees at Perpignan, so no major Cols, but it was hardly flat with gradients reaching 16%. There is also a lot of mentions of “damaged knees“, which wouldn’t surprise anyone who has tried to grind their way up 16% gradients on a fixed wheel. I am not sure what is worse, grinding up the slopes, or skidding your way down them without brakes, so much so that your tires are blowing whilst avoiding oncoming traffic (check out time code 1:58 on the teaser above, a nice way to avoid a head-on). I am really looking forward to finding out more about their journey when the full DVD is launched. Watch out for the launch details here.
Note: Kit was supplied by the guys at Pistard. Looking pretty sharp.
Read it again, it isn’t a typo. If you were to start in Sydney and head south, and more or less hug the coast all the way around Australia, that gets you to 15,700km. Riding in support of the Smile Foundation six riders will head off on June 30th to complete a coarse 5 times the length of the Tour. They are doing this insane route to raise money for children suffering from rare diseases. If you want to show your support and donate you can do that here. The route is detailed here, with the towns they will be passing through and the dates. Check out if they come close to you and get out there and ride with them for a bit. I am sure they would appreciate the support and someone different to talk to. Can you imagine talking bikes and cycling for 80 days with the same six blokes….ok yes I can.
Coming out of winter hibernation and more or less 6 weeks off training is probably not the best way to introduce yourself to a Specialized lunchtime ride. I knew the previous week they had all been riding with HTC or competing at the Cross Nationals in Bend so it was definitely going to blow the cobwebs away, if not a lung. I was spending the day with what could be best described as my dream client, and as Sean said, “everything from noon to 1.30pm can go on the blog, everything else stays in the building”. So that is what I will limit my account to, and based on that, the “dream client” tag was a little tarnished post ride.
Now you know that a bunch of guys that work for a bike company and live and breathe the sport of cycling, coupled with a ride like this 5 days a week, is going to be a “spirited” outing, so you are kind of hoping for a little help. Mine came in the way of my ride for the day, a beautiful SL3 built up with SRAM Red. That has to be the best “loaner” I have ever thrown my leg over. They are blessed with some pretty beautiful riding right out of the headquarters’ doors, and after a few car park pleasantries and traffic lights, a pace line soon developed. I was feeling surprisingly good until Ben rolled up next to me and pointed out that the approaching kickers is where it would “heat up” – I was already pretty hot. And just as I was coming off the front in a very short period in the wind, it got hotter.
For those of you who usually ride Shimano (me) and have not used SRAM before (me), beware of what I call the “brake and change“. In those moments when you are a little cooked and changing down a gear, that same brake lever shift on a Shimano actually more or less pulls the brake on SRAM. Not what you need when your elastic is stretching. I would like to have said I saw the town line sprint at the end, but they were small colorful dots in the distance by that point. So now I know what to expect and I can only get better from here. I also picked up some very special kit. A Prevail helmet, which if the weather gets above freezing your feet off I might actually get out to try, and a pair of the very cool Miura team issue optics. We will get a review up as soon we actually get out to test them.
A photo essay of some of the highlights from the course is here.
This summer I got to ride on the course of the Tour Of Lombardy after nearly a 2o year wait, falling in love with it all while watching it on TV from afar. Not that the riders this weekend will be doing much sightseeing, the course has to be one of the most stunning in the world. The climbs and roads of the route have a historic and poetic ring to them, in an area that is passionate about its riding. That coupled with the cool breeze that comes off the lake as you ride, makes this race and the area one of the pros’ favorite places to turn their pedals. From the busy town of Como up towards the village of Argegno along the west shore of the lake. Past millionaires row and George Clooney’s villa. Along by the cafes and hotels of Argegno, then left up a punchy little hair-pinned climb and over the hills to Intelvi. After the village at the top, a bumpy descent down to the shore of Lake Lugano. More hills, and then down again to the beautiful village of Menaggio (where we witnessed the worst thunderstorm we have ever seen from our camper) and around the top of Lake Como. Then down the valley to Lecco, to get onto the peninsula and towards the finale. Up the east side of the peninsula on the stunning SP583, with the view of Varenna in the distance. Then the legendary Ghisallo. Not the longest or steepest of climbs, but deceptively hard. Past the shrine to cycling at the top and right over the Sormano climb, the highest point on the circuit. Down to the lake again and the finish. This is a hard course, and one for riders that have saved a little for end-of-season glory. Always animated. Always beautiful to watch.
A second essay climbing the Ghisallo is here.