Friday, August 31, 2012

MS150 Day 1: Captain's Log

The alarm went off early, but we were pretty excited to stat the ride and rolled out of bed at 5:15 am.  Connor was sleeping in his crib in our room, so we carefully snuck out of the bedroom and out to the living room which contained our biking clothes and bikes.  We quickly got dressed and brought Granny over from next door.  Just when we were going to leave Connor awoke in the next room.  Sorry Granny!  But we left the two of them reading some stories and let them know they should try to head over to the ride start by 6:30 am to see us off.

We headed to the ride head quarters in the darkness to eat some bananas, hard boiled eggs, and oatmeal at the ride center with some of our other bleary eyed teammates.  After that there was a flurry of activity of attaching rider bibs, securing Domos to helmets and bikes or stuffing him in backpacks. (Thanks again Val for the cool idea!).  We got a team photo at 6:45 but we probably only had about 20 out of our 31 riders represented.  Such is the chaos of the morning ride.
The official picture, although missing quite a few riders.
The Penultimates more or less left as a pack, with the riders intending to do the slow ride leaving near the end.  I departed with Ali and we cruised by Connor and the grandparents who gave us a warm send off.

And we were off - heading toward Espanola with a cool police escort.  Always fun to ride on the road as if there were no cars around!  Ali told me to go ahead and try to catch some of the riders doing the longer ride, but I am not that fast and ended up riding up most of the next 10 miles solo.  Just as I pulled into the first stop the bulk of the Penultimates were just leaving, with the instructions to plan to stop at every other rest stop (meaning that rest stop 3 at 30 miles was the next rally point).   I let them go ahead and waited until Ai got to rest stop 1 as well.  We spoke briefly, and then I headed off to try (in vain) to catch up to the main group.

I had a nice meditative solo ride for the next 20 miles, catching up with Buddy at rest stop 2.  I biked with him for most of the ride from mile 20 to mile 30.  Near the end, I caught a pace line with a few riders from Los Monos Ayudantes which included a fellow rugby coach from the Los Alamos HS program. We made pretty good time, and I closed the gap between the Penultimate vanguard and myself significantly.  I rolled in there just as the bulk of Penultimate headed off again.  I recovered and waited for a while at there to see if Ali and the other 60 mile riders would get there (Val, Margaret, and Jen) but they never showed up.  So I headed off again and rode with some new friends onto the next rest stop.
Domo hanging out in Buddy's backpack was looking at me for many long miles!
At rest stop 4 (mile 40) I caught up with Larry, John M, and Diane.  At this stop was the decision on whether to head out to do the 100 mile spur, or continue on for 88 miles.  My thoughts were that I could either drop the 100 mile spur, and catch up to the bulk of the main Penultimate riders and try to hang with them, but on closer introspection realized that I would be dropped by them too eventually.  For that reason, and lots of encouragement from the other riders, I opted to go with the 100 mile spur and headed out with John M, Diane, and Larry.  (Thanks for the encouragement guys!)

The spur was a rough ride as the surface had just be redone and consisted off chipped rocks poured into the asphalt.  If a few years it will be smoother, but right now it was the roughest surface of the day.  It also turned out to be mostly up hill for the 6 miles to the turn around (good thing I didn't look at the topo before hand or might not have done it), but we stopped briefly for some water and headed back to main ride.

After a little rest and recovery at stop 4/5 we were ready for the final 10 mile leg before lunch.  We also caught up with TJ, which had missed a turn and had gone out about 6 miles before returning to the course.  So the 5 of us headed out to complete miles 50 to 60.   It started with a relatively steep uphill section.  At about a half mile into the hill, John got a flat tire, which necessitated us changing the tire on the extreme slope.  Luckily, a sag vehicle stopped and helped us out.  John got the tire changed relatively quickly, but then it took us a while to figure out why his brake was dragging.  Finally after about 20 minutes we were ready to continue on.

Field changing the tire.
Both John and I had actually forgotten what this leg was like, as we both remembered it being mostly down hill after the initial climb.  That turned out to be wrong, as it actually was a long slightly uphill ride for the next 6 miles and one of the most grueling legs of the day.  It was hot, we were hungry, and the hill didn't seem to end.  Finally when we made it to the top there was a sag vehicle there that was giving out iced towels.  These things were amazing and just the thing to recover from a grueling segment!  All that was between us and lunch was a 2 mile descent and ride through the tiny town of El Rito.

We had a nice lunch in the shade of big trees with John's wife Mary and his kids who where volunteering at the lunch site.  After a quick lunch of sandwiches and chips, we headed off on the next segment.  According to the rest stop volunteers, we were only about 25 minutes behind the main group when we got there, so that stretched onto an hour by the time we left.  At this point we were 60 miles in, so 40 miles left and 3 stops.

Heading out after lunch.
The next leg was uneventful, a slight downhill the whole way with a few slight uphills.  It is the kind of riding I like, we kept a pretty good pace for the whole leg.  The five of us reconvened at rest stop 7 for  some bananas and gatorade before heading off again.

At rest stop 7!
The last 30 miles is when it really starts to feel like work!  The temperature kept climbing, the energy levels were dropping, and we began the not so pretty ride into Espanola on some rolling hills.  The five of us spread out a little bit but kept within view for most of it.  John noticed his tire was slowly going flat (so this makes two tire problems today) and we covered about 3 miles of John sprinting ahead for a quarter mile, quickly filling his tire, and repeating.  As we rolled into stop 8 (unbelievably without seeing any sag vehicles the whole time we needed them), his tire gave up.  John swapped out his tire again and after a longer rest (they always become longer near the end of the day) we headed out on the last 20 miles.

These passed rather uneventfully, if slowly.  We were just ahead of the van that was breaking down the rest stops (there were only a handful of riders behind us now) as we headed off.  The climb out of Espanola toward the casino was extra grueling, and my cycle computer showed just shy of 100 as we topped the hill.  The last little bit down the hill and to the casino went pretty quick, and we were greeted at the finish line with friends and family.  One thing I am very proud of is that I was the "penultimate Penultimate" to cross the line (the second to last rider for our team to cross the finish line).  Sure, there can only be one person to finish first, but there can also only be one penultimate rider too!

All told a long day - depart at 7 am finish at 5 pm for slightly over 100 miles covered!  We definitely could have shaved about 45 minutes off our time if we would have had better luck with tire, but a finish is a finish.  Take that MS!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The Physics of Cycling II, or Why I am Awesome on the Downhill

[As a few people correctly pointed out, my previous analysis is for constant velocity - these totally neglect acceleration.  When you consider acceleration, more things come into play such as rotational inertia of the wheels, etc..  That is a whole other problem entirely.  Maybe next time...]

So believe it or not, while pedaling my butt around northern New Mexico this weekend I thought about the physics of cycling.   My last post talked about the big disadvantage heavy riders have on the uphill. But for every uphill there should be a downhill right? So this post will talk about the advantages of going downhill when your a big fat guy like myself.

So we will use the previous equation that talks that takes into account such things as rolling resistance of the tires, drag factor due to aerodynamics, the effects of headwind, and slope of the road. That equation still holds, the only difference is that our slope is now negative.

When we plot up some downhill slopes for two different rider weights, we see some interesting trends. As shown in the plot below, you will notice that the power output dips negative before increasing as the speed increases. This means it does not require any work by the rider to achieve speed on a down hill. In the case below, up to about ~12 mph both riders can just coast along using the slope. If the rider just coasts and doesn't pedal (when power output equals zero), this will be his terminal velocity on the slope. In the example below, the heavy 235 lbs riders terminal velocity is 13 mph compared to 10.5 mph for the 140 lbs rider. Supposing they are both cruising along expending 200 W (the output for a relatively fit rider), the heavy rider will go at 23.5 mph, the light rider at 22.5 mph.
 Things start to diverge as the hill gets steeper. For a 2% downslope, the terminal velocities are 16 and 20 mph for the light and heavy rider, respectively. If both expend 200 W, the velocities are 25 and 27 mph for the light and heavy riders, respectively. To think about it another way, if both riders are cruising beside each other at 25 mph, the light rider is expending 200 W while the heavy rider is only expending 130 W.
Things really start to diverge as the slope gets steeper. For a 4% downslope, the terminal velocities are 24 and 30 mph for the light and heavy rider, respectively. If the light rider wants to match the heavy riders terminal velocity speed of 30 mph (which requires no work for the fat guy), the light rider has to pedal at 200 W.  This my friends, is the origin of the phenomena known as "getting Scrymge'd".
Now lets just look a just terminal velocity. Assuming that wind speed is zero, the equation from the previous post can be rewritten as
Vt = terminal velocity in (m/s)
Ka = drag factor (kg/m) typical values 0.2-0.25
m= rider mass (kg)
mb = bike mass (kg)
S = downslope in (%grade) so 4% grade = 0.04
C= rolling resistance, 0.003 typical for road bikes
g = gravational constanct = 9.81 m/s2
which is the equation for terminal velocity of a cyclist.

The terminal velocity of two cyclists who again weigh 140 lbs and 235 lbs is plotted in the figure below as a function of down slope. For small slopes (<0.5%) they go about the same speed but then rapidly diverge. As one can see, the terminal velocity for the 235 rider is much faster than the lighter rider!  For a sanity check, my top speed on the descent from Truches last weekend which had long sections of 10% grade was about 49 mph. I didn't pedal, nor did I tuck that much (which would have reduced my drag or Ka). By the plot for a 10% grade my speed should have been about 47 mph. As we would say in science - pretty good agreement!
What happens if I would tuck compare to cruising down in a comfortable riding position?  In the comfortable riding position, my Ka is approximately 0.25.  If I could myself more aerodynamic so that my back would be the highest point of my body would make my Kapproximately 0.2 (which is the Ka of a professional road biker in a tuck which I probably couldn't achieve).  What happens?  I could squeeze a few more mph out of the descent - my Truces descent of about 10% would go from 47 to about 52 mph.  So tucking actually does make a difference.  To make your Keven lower requires body suits and funny helmets or even teardrop shaped recumbent bikes.
If you are curious about your own terminal velocity check out the 2D plot below. The x axis is rider weight and the y axis is the slope. The color on the plot corresponds to your speed. So say you weigh 180 lbs, to figure out your speed put your finger on 180 lbs and move your finger straight up to see how fast you are going on a given slope. If I head down a long 15% slope, my 235 lbs makes my terminal velocity almost 60 mph.  Yikes!
Google tells me that supposedly the one of the typical fastest down hill speeds is ~74. (rider JJ Haedo did 72.7 mph on the Giro de Italia in 2006, and the fasted Tour de France speed is 74.5 mph - but I can't find any reputable sources on that). Apparently, the pros get a little scared at speeds north of 50 mph so most descents are about that average.

Contact me for the Matlab programs that were used to were generate these plots.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Physics of Cycling, or Why I Suck on the Uphill

For all you non-nerds out there - avert your eyes!  This is the nerdiest post you will ever find on a cycling blog.  The bulk of this post is about the physics of cycling paying special attention to hill climbing.  Bored all ready?  Go read something else - maybe this.

Still with me?  Cool.  I am reading a wonderful book written by David Wilson entitled "Bicycling Science, 3ed".  He must be an OCD physicist who is really into cycling.  This book has everything related to cycling and more including but not limited such interesting/obsessive topics as: fast twitch vs slow twitch muscle fibers, properties of commonly used bike materials, gearing, heating of rims during braking, and the most efficient way that humans move (hint, its the bicycle).

I was particularly interested in the physics of rider/bike weight related to hill climbing ability.  Here is the master equation for cycling which relates rider power to bike velocity with effects such as rider aerodynamics, rolling resistance, wind speed, incline, bike and rider weight included:

W = Power delivered by the wheel (slightly less than what the rider produces due to losses and coupling efficiencies)
Ka = drag factor (kg/m) 0.1 to 0.3 small recumbent rider 0.1 large upright  rider 0.3, typical values 0.2-0.25
V = bike velocity (m/s)
Vw = wind velocity (m/s)
mr = rider mass (kg)
mb = bike mass (kg)
S = slope in (%grade) so 6% grade = 0.06
Cr = rolling resistance 0.02 (racing tires) - 0.08 (MTB tires), 0.003 typical for road bikes
g = gravational constanct = 9.81 m/s2
Before we proceed, it is helpful to discuss what rider power output actually means.  I have never trained using power, so all these values come from the book.  Supposedly a recreational cyclist on the flats usually rides at about 100 W.  A fit cyclist can maintain 200 W for hours.  The power output of Marco Pantani (an excellent Italian hill climber) who climbed the Alpe d'Huez stage of the Tour de France that has an average slope of 0.079 (7.9%) for 13.84 km in 38 minutes, sustained an output of 400W that whole time.  So I am guessing that realistic values for power output to be 200W to maybe 300W for the average weekend warrior.

Playing around with this equation in Matlab lets us play with a lot of different scenarios.  For example, what happens if we swap out road tires for mountain bike tires keeping all other things even.  The result?  For the same power output by the rider, you speed increases by ~3 mph going to the road tires.  [Most of the calculations below are for my weight and best guesses for other parameters, obviously yours would be slightly different, but the trends would hold.]
How about the effects of headwind?  Suppose there is a 10 mph headwind (not uncommon here in NM). Riding on the flat at 15 mph takes about 100W, while maintaining 15 mph in 10 mph headwind now takes 240 W.  Conclusion, wind bad.

What about the effect of aerodynamic drag?  A small rider in a recumbent bike has a Ka of 0.1, while a large rider on an upright bike has a Ka of 0.3.  Most road riders have drag factors of 0.2-0.25, where 0.2 might be for a tucked rider where the small of his back is the highest thing on his body.  So what does going from upright position to tucked position gain you?  For a 100W output, you would jump from 14.3 mph to 16 mph.  Not bad.
Now we get to the meat of my analysis - weight and hills.  My steel frame beauty, Guiseppe, is not light by any stretch of the imagination.  It is a huge frame and has heaver than normal wheels.  What would happen if I found a magic bike that was half the weight of my bike?  On the flats, nothing really.
How about on a hill - a fairly steep 10% grade hill?  If I rode a really light bike what would happen?  Turns out, not much either (plot below).  If my climbing power output is 300W, then halving bike weight would increase my speed from 5.25 mph to 5.66 mph.  If my power output is 400W (which it isn't), then halving bike weight would increase my speed from 7.00 mph to 7.5 mph.  So minor improvements.
Now lets look at the effect of rider weight (plot below).  Suppose we had two riders, one weights in at 235 lbs (me) the other at 140 lbs (not me).  If both riders are pedaling up a 10% incline at 6 mph, the heaver rider is expending 334 W compared to the 216 W for the light rider.  It is hard to be a big fat man. 
With a little manipulation you can turn the above equation around so that you can fix power and see how your velocity varies.  This is done for a heavy (235 lbs) versus a light (130 lbs) rider in the plot below. If you assume that most recreational riders are about the same power output level (which may be a good guess), the difference in speed on the hills solely comes down to weight.  For example, supposing two riders can output a sustained 300W for a hill climb.  The light rider will go 8.1 mph while the heavy rider will go 5.2 mph.  In order for the heavy rider to keep the same pace as the light rider, he would have to have a power output of >400W - or in other words be a stronger rider than Marco Pantani mentioned above.
That's not gonna happen.  So enjoy it you light weight skinny people!  Physics is on your side on the hills!

Enjoy this?  Check out the companion post about why going down hill is awesome for big people!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Satuday's Ride 8/19: Return to Jemez Dam

What a great ride for the final ride of the 2012 training season!  The 65 mile round trip from Nob Hill north to the Jemez Dam (details here).  It had it all - beautiful weather, a gorgeous ride through the lush farmland along the Rio Grande river valley, some ups and some downs, lots of flat fast riding, and of course some great teammates to share the miles with.  It also featured the greatest moment of my training season so far, but more about my victory later... 

Five of us - Gary, TJ, Laura, Eric, and me - rallied at the O'Neill's parking lot at 6 am a little surprised by the darkness and the relative chill in the air (here comes fall!).  We headed out through Nob Hill then up the north diversion channel just as the sun broke over the mountains.  About halfway there I got a call from Jeff, who had slept through his alarm, and plans were made for him to rally with us later in the ride.  After a quick potty break at Eric's office, we continued north to mile ten where we met up with Calvin and Greg who had biked down from the Northeast Heights.

Along the north diversion channel at dawn.
At the rally point, I quickly called Jeff to let him know where we were.  I just redialed the number he had called from before, and was taken aback by his voice, which sounded very womanly and kind.  After a second confusion, I realized I was in fact talking to Jeff's mythical wife.  Of course by mythical I mean seldom spotted and maybe imaginary sort of like a unicorn or a mermaid.  But barring some elaborate setup we have officially confirmed her existence.

Heading north toward Bernalillo
We headed west on the Paseo trail to eventually catch 4th street north after winding our way along Rio Grande, Alameda, and Guadalupe Trail.  Right around the circle (mile 18ish) Jeff finally caught up with us and we cruised north along 313.  We set a pretty nice pace line and cruised along at ~18 mph for most of the next 10 miles.  Getting closer to our first stop, Eric hopped into the lead position and our speed quickly edged up closer to 20 mph.  I struggled to stay on, and our pace line split into two.  But eventually we pulled into our first refuel stop in Bernalillo.  When I caught everyone Eric explained the sudden burst of enhanced performance - he really had to use the rest room.  

The next leg of the ride took us through Bernalillo winding our way on back roads to avoid the high traffic of 550.  From there we turned north and headed toward Jemez Dam - an mile spur up to pretty decent hills with a long descent in the middle ending at a nice overlook.  It was a fun ride as there was a charity run/walk to benefit the fight against diabetes so lots of runners and walkers out on the road.

At the Jemez Dam overlook
After a nice rest at the overlook, we headed off on the next leg.  First up we needed to descend one hill, climb another, then do the long descent down to 550.  As everyone knows, I am what is euphemistically called a "Clydesdale" rider - one who violates the tyrannically body norm of cycling by  weighing over 185 lbs (shocking, I know).  This makes me terrible on the hills but I make up for it on the descent.  So I saw my chance just ahead.  As we neared the bottom of the first hill, most of the other riders were in front of me, so I turned it on and built up a head of steam.  Right as the hill started, I blasted past everyone else like they were standing still - I was going about ~22 to their ~14 mph.  As I screamed past them I yelled out "see you suckers" in a fit of pure cycling joy.

As in real life, victory is often short lived.  True for me as well.  My speedy ascent began to slow I went from fast, to not so fast, to my normal uphill speed - slow.  To add insult, probably within 30 seconds I was overtaken by a few of the hill climbing demons who yelled out gleefully "on your left" as they passed.  Oh well, for short time I passed everyone on the uphill - and you can't take that away from me! My favorite post-script came from Laura who over heard a jogger observing my daring manuever yell out "Don't let the argyles beat you!"  Ha - if only she knew my true cycling style - always last.

The rest of the ride went rather uneventfully as we cruised through roads that criss-crossed the high desert on the mesa west of town.  Heading down Paseo de Vulcan, I kept thinking that this is where they film all the desolate desert shots in "Breaking Bad".  We wound our way back down into the valley to take a quick cruise through the hamlet of Corrales before making our way back to the Bosque trail. At this point, Jeff, Calvin and Greg headed off back toward home by making their way back up Tramway!  Ouch!

The five of the starters at O'Neill's headed back toward Nob Hill along Paseo and then the north diversion channel trying to keep a pretty good pace line.  As we neared the end, Gary's back tire finally gave up after fighting a slow leak all morning.  He phoned reinforcements (Rebecca) for a pick up who was conveniently stationed at Serafin's awaiting our return.  After the rescue maneuver, the five of them finished the morning at Serafin's while I headed home to relieve Ali, who as usual spent the morning watching the Boy-o.  All told a great conclusion to our 2012 training season!

Addendum:  Boo - Yaa!  [The following was written by Calvin who headed from the Bosque trail back up Tramway to get home.]

Three riders originating from the NE Heights broke off from the main pack at the Alameda Open Space, and embarked on a long climb back home along Tramway.  Along the way, Calvin half-jokingly suggested adding on a climb to the Tram Base, which to his unpleasant surprise was accepted by Jeff and Greg.  The joke was on Calvin though, because he was severely dropped halfway to the summit.  So, here we are at the end of a long day (pic) after 10 final miles, 1300 ft of additional climbing, and a couple of minutes waiting for Calvin: the base of the Sandia Peak Tram.  On a side-note, we were almost run off the road at a stop light by a crazy driver honking and yelling "Domo" names at us.  Apparently, these Penultimates (Danny Boy driving a truck with a 1-ton horse trailer) are such punks.  =)

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Penultimates Raffle

For our last fundraiser of the year we will be holding a raffle for some pretty sweet prizes!  We are pitching this as a romantic weekend in ABQ, but you could use this however you see fit (really nice Christmas presents, time with the family, time away from the family, etc...)  

The prize of the raffle is a:

Pretty nice right?  A $575 value!

Tickets will be $20 and can be purchased from any Penultimate (email for details).  All proceeds go to the National MS Society to fund awesome science dedicated to kicking this disease in the nether region.

The drawing will be held on September 7, and the winner will be notified by phone and email and announced on this blog.

The fine print:

Hotel expires on 6/8/13.  Also valid at the Nativo Lodge (ABQ), Hotel St. Francis (Santa Fe), Hotel Chimayo (Santa Fe), the Lodge at Santa Fe (Santa Fe, duh), and Hotel Encanto de Las Cruces (Las Cruces).  Blackout dates are present.

Ballon flight expires on 6/30/13.  Not valid 9/25 to 10/25.

Yoga expires 10/12/12.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Rider Bio: Kenneth

Who you are: Kenneth Douglas (Erica's husband)

Why you ride: When you look this good in lycra, it is a crime not to ride.

Who do you ride for: All my peeps out there (and not just the yellow ones).

What do you ride: I am not going to lie, I prefer fat tires but when I have to roll skinny I ride my Specialized Tarmac Comp with Sram groupo (because Sram is better).

Longest ride to date: I once attempted the Swampman 100 in southern Georgia when I lived in N. Florida. However, my lower back started giving me pain on about mile 70, so I only managed 80 miles. Apparently my lower back couldn't compete with the awesomeness of the rest of my body. I have since replaced it with nanobots.

One interesting fact about you: I can transform into Optimus Prime...but only when you aren't looking.

Best cycling memory: Bombing down the Porcupine Rim trail in Moab

How epic are fig newtons in general: I don't think that the true epicness of fig newtons can be understood by us humans. I am convinced that scientists will eventually find that the cure for MS is in-fact...fig newtons.

Your post ride routine: I sign autographs for my fans.

Your favorite recovery meal/beverage: I drink chocolate milk.

He either pulled this off or crashed spectacularly.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Sunday's Ride 8/12: Ali's first 50-mile ride of the season

[Ali kindly wrote up today's ride, which she subtitled her "first 50 mile ride of the season with seasoned Penultimates".  Her 3 fellow riders had all gone to Santa Fe the day before, but where in the saddle to get used to riding two back to back days.  Ali's write up below.]

That's right! Looking for more pain, Greg, Gary and Jeff joined me bright and early for the big loop around the city. (Insert the photo that should have been taken here...oops!)

Since the other three were in various stages of saddle soreness/recovery, I'd like to think the pace I set was just right for everybody. We made it Smith's in good time and headed up Tramway. No one seemed super excited about the tram spur, even taunts about beer buying didn't work, we kept going around. We said adios to Jeff at the Paseo spur and the rest of us kept heading down the Bosque.

It was a beautiful morning, but when it decided to get hot, it did so pretty quickly. We were slowed down a little due to a race on trail south of Tingley (Was that your race Eric?), and a little more due to my waning endurance. While the last 10 miles seemed to take forever for me, I was continually boosted up by teammate support. I still owe Gary a Slurpee for that!

I just have to say how lucky we are that we have each other to train with. I'm really looking forward to riding with everyone in two weeks!

Next weekend: looking for ideas. Hill workout? Jemez Dam part 2? City loop in reverse? Any ideas let me know.

And thanks again for a great ride!


Saturday Ride 8/11: The High Road to Santa Fe

Wow-za.  The high road to Santa Fe.  From Albuquerque over 65 miles with over 3200 ft in elevation gain.  The first 20 miles alone are entirely uphill.  A long day in the saddle, but a rewarding one!  This ride isn't just a ride - it is an adventure! It involves cycling through spectacular scenery, some grueling ascents, some heart racing decents, a train ride, great food, and of course good company.

Today 8 riders gathered at 7 am at our Nob Hill rally point for the start of the ride: TJ, Gary, Andrew, Jeff, Greg, Eric, Laura, and myself.  We cruised east through the city winding our way toward the mouth of Tijeras Canyon.  At about mile 7 we had a seat malfunction, and we spend about 20 minutes trying to MacGyver Greg's saddle back into proper position.  It proved to be more than we could fix with our assembled tools, so Greg decided to tough it out and ride with us the rest of the day. (Ouch!)

Our first major rally and refuel stop was at the Triangle.  There we talked to a few other cyclists who  were there because the road to the Crest, the ride we did last weekend, was closed due to a motorcyclist who had wrecked on the decent.  (Not a happy ending to this story, unfortunately).  Somewhat sobered, we headed out on the next leg in good spirits after eating many newtons, drinking much water, and slopping on more sunscreen.

Heading out of Sandia Park toward Santa Fe.
On the next leg leaving Sandia Park on the way to Madrid, we all kept a pretty good pace as we started down the first decent of the ride.  It didn't las long as we all started to split up into a few groups as the hills started - a series of four long, long hills, some with grades of 14%!  Eventually we all made it to the top of the last hill at the peak elevation on the ride at a little over 7000 ft.  

After regaining our breath, it was time for the exhilarating 5 mile decent into Madrid!  This was by far the highlight of the ride as we cruised down the relatively straight roads off the top of the mountain pass and toward the valley below.  Only as we pulled into the tiny art community of Madrid did we have to use the brakes.  We stopped at the general store which was stocked with whatever a thirsty, hungry, smelly cyclist could possibly dream of (including a very delicious Twix ice cream bar that did not last long after being liberated from the cooler).

The next leg on the ride was the final 25 miles into Santa Fe.  This is where the ride became work.  We had just passed noon and the sun was out in all her high desert fury.  It was hot - thermometers on bikes registered as high as 106!   We knew were were getting closer, but things seemed to slow to a crawl as we inched our way to the finish.  We rallied in the shade of a tree at mile 52, before the last painful 7 miles.  The contents of water bottles were all hot, legs were tired and burning, and the heat, my god, the heat!
Enjoying the food, company, and shade!
But then we made it - what a sense of accomplishment! We pulled into El Parasol at 1:30 pm tired, hungry, thirsty, and ready for a little relaxation!  We were met there by the significant others of two of our riders, and we all settled down for a leisurely lunch on the veranda.  TJ and Andrew headed home early with Virginia via car, which the rest of us rode the 2 miles over to the train station at 3:15 to catch the 3:45 train south to ABQ.

The hour ride train ride back afforded time for conversation or quiet meditation (read: napping).  After quickly deploying from the train (an highly orchestrated maneuver), we said hello to Ali and Connor who were waiting for us on the platform.  Five riders then headed home toward the diversion channel for the final 10 miles of the ride to get back home.  All told a long day, but a good training ride for getting ready for the MS150.  All told, 73 miles in 5:30 of ride time.  Go Domo!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Rider Bio: Roushan

Who you are:  Roushan G.

Nickname: Scrappy (Dappy Doo?)

Why I ride: I ride because it makes me looks cool and I have AWESOME teammates, but mostly to BTHO MS! WHOOP!

Who do you ride for:  I started riding especially for my aunt, Karen Mumbower, who lost her battle with MS in December 2004.  She was one of the most amazing persons I could ever hope to meet and always had a story to tell.

What you ride:  I ride a womens' Specialized Amira, she looks cool for the both of us.

Best cycling memory: Riding at White Sands during the full moon!  Hanging out on the dunes for several hours, snapping some pictures, and riding with 200 other people with glowsticks was pretty awesome!

How epic are Fig Newtons:  Fig Newtons are really the essence and metaphorical glue that hold any respectable team together not to mention they're just darn delicious in general.  Without Fig Newtons life would be lacking in the arena of yummy fruitness wrapped up in a soft cake-like shell...  I'll stop before anyone tears up.

Best Bike MS memory: The 2011 Bike MS holds many awesome memories, among those is one of myself and Matt singing and dancing at our team tent (Holla!) and recruiting folks to join the Penultimates because as we all know, we're just awesome!

Riding the White Sands moonlight ride.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Saturday Ride 8/4: Peak Assault!

The good news?  Today's ride was only a 27 mile ride.  The bad news?  It is 13.5 mile ride straight up  Sandia Peak with almost 3800 feet of elevation gain.  Details are here.  I had always been scared of this ride - having ridden up to the ski area a few summers ago but starting up to the ski area at mile 35 of a long day of riding.  I was new to cycling and the ride kicked my butt.  But we needed some hill work, and what better way to get some hill miles in?

So the few, the proud, the crazy all met at the Triangle in the East Mountains for a relatively late 7:30 am start time.  There was 10 of us heading up this morning: Greg, Jeff, Calvin, Gregg, Tammy, Peggy, Gary, Matt,  David, and new rider Lisa.  We all started off in good spirits and almost immediately splitting into two groups - those fast, good hill climbers and the rest of us.

A long road up
The amount of exertion required to get up the hill did not easily lend itself to conversing with other riders, so it was a quiet meditative ride up.  A gorgeous morning though, with the cool crisp mountain air keeping you company.  After a quick rally at half way at the ski area, we plunged ahead to the top. One of our other riders, Danny,  riding separately from the main group did a great job of passing most of his team about a mile from the end of the ride.

A sense of accomplishment
We all met up at the very top of the crest at around 10:15, at a whopping 10640 feet above sea level.  Shortly after, Ali and Connor (the littlest Penultimate) met us at the top to share in the spectacular view before they headed off on a hike on the 10K trail.  

After some high fives, many fig newtons, and lots of water, it was time for the fun part - the long 13 mile down hill.  It was a fast one - the ski area is about half way down and offers a good chance to give your forearms a chance to rest from the braking!  I averaged about 30 mph on the way down, with a top speed of 42 mph.  We finished our morning ride with a great breakfast at the Lazy Lizard with some other riders, including fellow Penultimate Geoff, who had done some mountain biking instead.  Overall a great morning!