Where’s John?

Still here! Mostly hiking and killing myself with indoor training, although I’ve gotten a few good rides in.

Yesterday, my wife and I and our two minions hiked to the top of Aumick in Minnewaska preserve. It was slippery, foggy, and generally a glorious hike, made five times harder by the slippery slush–particularly on the way up.

I also bought a new bike, but it doesn’t arrive until mid-April.

This last year was a bit of disaster in terms of riding: only 3500 miles. I blame the big move and tons of travel for work. For comparison, I rode over 8000 miles the year before.

My primary goal for this year is a reasonable 6000 miles, with a peak 300-mile ride. I think that should be relatively easily accomplished if I can keep the work travel miles under 100k this year. I’m also going to focus on increasing speed–not because I care about winning a race, but because that means I can expand my range. If you’ve been following along on the blog, you’ll know that my usual approach to 100-mile plus rides is puttering around at 15 mph or less and exploring all the side roads, with lots of breaks for pictures and food. More focus is desperately needed, and that’s part of the reason why I’m staying indoors for a few months and focusing on intensive training.

I’m going to be building up to weekend centuries starting at the beginning of March. Provided work doesn’t interfere, I should be up to centuries again by the second week of April. I’ll announce where and when prior to each ride, and if you want to join me, please do!

John

medicalwriter.net

PSA: Have you Gotten a Flu Shot Yet?

A brief digression from your regularly scheduled programming.

Those of you who know me know that I do a considerable amount of work on vaccines. Among all the revolutions that have come over the past century in modern medicine, I think I can safely argue that–at least from a public health standpoint–vaccines have had the greatest impact on disease burden.

I normally don’t write posts on health topics, but here’s why you should get a flu vaccine this year, aside from the obvious reason that you don’t want to get the flu: The symptoms of the flu mimic the early signs and symptoms of Ebola. Depending on how bad the situation gets (or, alternatively, how paranoid your local health authority gets), you could walk into the doctor with the flu and end up getting screened or even quarantined.

If you live in NYC, go here and follow the instructions to find a vaccination site.

If you live elsewhere, go here.

At most, it’s $35 for a shot; you can even get them for free at some clinics.

Even though I work on vaccines, I’ve never gotten a flu shot before. I’ve scheduled an appointment for Friday!

John

medicalwriter.net

Fin

The Gunks 10,000 happened.

Photo: Larry Chapman

Photo: Larry Chapman

Let’s back up a bit. Last year my friend and teammate Larry thought up a ride that would do almost every climb along the Shawangunk Ridge, totaling over 10,000 feet of climbing.

In my memory, I was involved in the very first spark of the idea, maybe during an on-bike conversation with Larry. But I think that’s just how memory works. Ten years from now, when the Gunks 10,000 is bigger than Burning Man, there will be hundreds of cyclists who were part of the original conversation that birthed the Gunks 10,000, and thousands of cyclists who participated in the very first incarnation of the ride.

Photo: John Cullinan

Photo: John Cullinan

In fact, in 2013, only 6 cyclists were there for the first Gunks 10,000 (or “G10K” as those of us in the inner circle, friends of Larry (FOLs), call it). I wasn’t one of them, although I did go to Larry’s house for beer afterwards.

Larry's yard.  Photo: Andrew Williams

Larry’s yard. Photo: Andrew Williams

This year was different. Last Sunday was the second annual Gunks 10K, and 24 cyclists showed up. The day was perfect, the route was gorgeous, and the event went off perfectly. It had the distinct feel of something that could become a much bigger event in the future, if Larry decides he wants to go that direction.

Photo: Larry Chapman

Photo: Larry Chapman

The expectation at the start was that the ride would split into two groups: one racing, and one at Sunday-ride pace. On the first big climb of the day, a 2-mile 8% classic just a few minutes into the ride, it became clear that just about everybody had come to race. Despite my intention of keeping my own effort throttled down to a level I thought I could sustain for 6 or 7 hours, adrenaline got the better of me, and I put down a personal best on the climb. Pathetically, that personal best was demolished by over half the riders, with the fastest guys beating me by almost 2 minutes.

The day went on like that. The fastest 5 cyclists were all legitimate climbing specialists, including, as it turns out, two former Tour of the Catskills GC winners, and a former New York state masters road race champion. And this despite the fact that Bicycle Depot, my own team — the home team — had two of our best climbers cancel at the last minute, one with the flu, and one with a hamstring injury.

While the skinny guys duked it out at the front, the rest of us settled into our own grooves and enjoyed the beautiful day. Larry and I started our own little competition with one another, which would end with him beating me by 6 seconds out of 2 hours of timed climbing. By the time the 6 1/2 hour ride was over, Jonas from Brooklyn had opened a 22 second gap over his buddy Pablo, to claim a permanently engraved spot on the Gunky Chunk, the handmade conglomerate-and-steel trophy. Larry and I were 18 minutes back, right about midpack; the slowest finishing time of all was only 36 minutes back, which is really not much, considering the epicness of the event.

I predict Larry will be turning people away at the next G10K.

Photo: Larry Chapman

Mid-ride break at Lake Minnewaska.  Photo: Larry Chapman

Larry himself.  Photo: Andrew Williams

Larry himself. Photo: Andrew Williams

Gunks 10,000 route.

Gunks 10,000 route.

That was last Sunday. Yesterday I rode with a friend up to the groundbreaking for the Kingston Point rail trail. Ulster County has an ambitious plan to connect all of the various defunct rail lines into a network of multi-use rail trails, with a hub in Kingston. Some pieces of the puzzle are farther in the future than others, but there is real progress happening. This will be a Good Thing.

On the way home I had to stop to photograph this ridiculous Mount Doom sunset.

Sunset over the Rondout Creek.

Sunset over the Rondout Creek.

Continuing the trend this morning, the weekly Bicycle Depot team cyclocross ride was somewhere between “breathtaking” and “whoaaa.”

Sky Top.

Sky Top.

Copes Lookout.

Copes Lookout.

See you next time.

– John S

Return of Rene

I took Rene out for a 20-mile shakedown spin today–it’s been over a year since the last time I rode this bike.

RIMG0123

Fop chariots are very convenient for late fall, winter, and early spring because there’s enough space for changes of clothes and lots of food. I have a few 200-300 mile rides planned for this fall, and there are few places to stop at 4 am in the middle of the Catskills for a snack. The Berthoud lunchbox and generator-powered lighting are very convenient for all-night rides.

Although I feel slower because I can’t feel the road through the 38-mm tires, I seem to be at least as fast, if not a little faster, on this bike than on my narrow-tired bikes.

John

medicalwriter.net

Local Events: Field + Supply Arts and Crafts Show in High Falls

I know this blog makes me sound unidimensional (bikes). Or perhaps bidimensional (bikes and pets). But I do have other interests, one of which is design.

On October 11 and 12, Field + Supply will be holding an event that is intended to “modernize and elevate the traditional arts and crafts fair” in High Falls, a small town to the north of New Paltz. Some of my favorites will be there, in particular Asher Israelow, among others. Plus BBQ and oysters!

The website provides driving directions…for some reason, though, they did not provide a GPS cycling route. I can’t imagine why.

Never fear, here’s how to get there from Poughkeepsie by bike.

If you don’t want to take the bike path, this is the way to go. Or at least this is the way I’d go:

That’s 52 miles, with the first 2.5 and last 5 miles on dead flat, paved bike path (trust me, it’s better than riding on 299). Twenty-five more amazing miles to High Falls, eat BBQ and buy cool stuff (presumably they’ll ship it to you), and return via a very pretty 20 miles route to Poughkeepsie. The route passes my house, which–according to my blogging colleague John S–much resembles a door stop. You’ll know it when you see it.

Just as a note, at around mile 38.5, you may not be able to take a right because it leads right into a religious community. If that happens, just take 213 one more mile and take a right on Cow Hough and you’ll be back on track.

If you want to take the bike path, here’s an easy route. 39 miles of bump and grind:

Unfortunately, I’ll be in Boston on Saturday for work, but I will be attending on Sunday. I’ll ride there, of course!

John F (aka the slow John)

medicalwriter.net

The Plan: Tuesday, September 23

So here’s the plan for Tuesday, September 23. 110 miles, around 6600 feet of climbing. This should be very significantly easier than last week’s distance ride–after mile 52 there is a distinct downward trend to the route.

If you want to join me, let me know. 7 am, my place. Just as a warning: a 110-mile ride with me tends to be an all-day experience. I’m slow and I stop for pictures and food!

The following Tuesday I’ll be doing a shorter ride (only 94 miles) with lots of gravel that is routed through Poughkeepsie–an easy place to meet if you are so inclined. Plus, if you start from Poughkeepsie you’ll only have to ride 64 glorious miles.

John

medicalwriter.net

RTC on LSD: Touching Massachusetts

That’s LSD as in long slow distance, you.

Forgive me in advance, please. This isn’t going to be my most elegant post–it’s 8:30 at night and I’m still working, and I sadly did not get around to taking too many pictures.

On Tuesday, two-thirds of your RTC bloggers–John S and I–went for a ride that crossed Dutchess County, entered Connecticut, and then headed north to Massachusetts and then back.

The day started out wet and cold–in fact, if I hadn’t been obligated to meet John at the pedestrian bridge across the Hudson, I might have stayed in bed. I initially left the house in just a light long-sleeve jersey, bib shorts, and a light rain jacket, but quickly turned around and put on a real coat, some legwarmers, and a lot of embrocation. A quick 15-mile trip from my house to the bridge, where John S showed up precisely on time.

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From there, we headed north and then across Dutchess toward Pine Plains. I vaguely recognized the termini of some of the roads we passed, and I realized later that they were part of the Brewster-New Hamburg classic. I crashed at precisely 0.5 mph while climbing when I encountered a deep patch of very soft sand.

John had to be home much earlier than me, so he turned around and returned home via a different route at about mile 50. That left me to face the first real challenge of the day solo: WInchell Mountain Road.

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On the plus side, the day got progressively nicer over time.

4

Now, I thought that was a challenge, but it was nothing compared to what was coming up. After crossing into Connecticut, a left turn led me onto Factory Road, which ultimately turns into Mt Riga road and then to Mt Washington Road. A source of some confusion because I hadn’t turned on my GPS and was looking for Mt Riga–and, of course, none of the roads were clearly marked. And then the real climbing began. I am not ashamed to say that at this point I was tired enough to get off my bike a few times. It was getting hot, and when I unzipped my sleeves, I found that my elbow was bleeding from my earlier crash.

The rest of the ride was largely uneventful, which was great because I had a slowly growing contusion on my hip from my uncoordinated fall earlier. But not entirely uneventful: As far as I can tell, I took a wrong turn around mile 100. Because I’m stubborn and refused to retrace my route, I ended up navigating by cell phone back to Poughkeepsie, where I wandered around for more miles than I care to admit in the not-so-nice parts of town trying to find where the bike path crossed at grade so that I could get back across the Hudson.

All in all, a successful, beautiful ride that ended up (with getting lost) at 138 miles. After all, you’re not really having fun until you’re so tired you don’t know how you’re going to make it home!

Here’s the route, for those of you are interested, just keep in mind that I didn’t ride anything past mile 100 or so.

Finally–I’m considering making Tuesdays my day for regular 100 mile+ rides. I’ll publish the routes in advance, and if you want to join me, let me know!

(Just FYI, if you haven’t read through all my posts on the blog: I’m slow, I like to stop to take pictures, and I like a good meal. So no worries that it will be a hammerfest!)

John

medicalwriter.net