Saturday, April 5, 2008
Well, it wasn't a metric century in Manayunk. But I did pass through this trendy part of Philadelphia. And I did ride 100 kilometers. So the title is partially correct.
The ride began back at the Pawlings Road trailhead on the Schuylkill River Trail in Audubon. My friend JT and I set off at 8:47 AM under cloudy skies to ride down to Philadelphia, loop around the Art Museum, and head back. It's a 49 mile ride, largely off-road with the exception of about five or so miles through Manayunk. It's also largely flat with the exception of several hill climbs in Manayunk. While there is a Manayunk Canal towpath that's flat and reduces the road mileage for the trip, the gravel surface wouldn't have been good for JT's 23cm tires or his carbon-fiber Orbea, so we used the road routing the Bicycle Club of Philadelphia recommends.
The 'inbound' part of the trail is on a slight downhill grade, and there's usually a slight tailwind from the west, both of which helped us make excellent time. We reached the Art Museum and Lloyd Hall by 10:43, taking less than two hours for the inbound trip of 24.35 miles. This included about a five minute rest stop at Conshohocken, halfway to the city, and negotiating traffic and stoplights - I hit every red light I came across in Manayunk. I felt in fine shape, although I struggled to keep up with JT. My extra winter weight was telling against me, along with my spotty riding these past few months. Plus JT is about ten years younger than me, and about 50 pounds lighter.
After hydrating, eating, and 'unhydrating', we headed back at 11:00 AM. All of a sudden the uphill and the headwind caused me problems. My speed slowed to a crawl, and JT pulled ahead, gradually increasing his lead to a half-mile on Main Street in Manayunk. During one of the hill climbs, I had to stop at a red light to make a left turn, and I chose to walk part of the hill because I knew I wasn't going to safely negotiate the intersection. I barely made it up another hill, getting over the crest as my legs began to fail me.
Eventually I got out of the city and back to the trail, where JT was waiting for me. As I pulled up I did what I do best.
"JT, I'm sorry I'm not in better shape. I'm slowing you down."
"Nah, I'm happy to have someone to ride with."
Having gotten my obligatory apologizing out of the way, we continued north and west out of the city, slowly climbing and fighting the headwind. We stopped for an extended break at The Outbound Station trail store in Conshohocken, and again in Valley Forge at Betzwood. We reached our cars in Audubon at 2:00 PM, where JT packed it in for the day with 49 miles ridden.
I felt like packing it in too by this point. My legs were spent, my back was slightly bothering me, and my butt was sore. Still, I wanted to get a metric under my belt, and so I mounted the bike again, and headed off into Lower Perkiomen Valley Park to get more miles. Between riding on the Perkiomen Trail, back down the Schuylkill River Trail to Betzwood, into Audubon, and searching for a decent lunch, I reached 62.20 miles at about 5 minutes to four PM.
Now, seven hours later, my butt hurts, my legs are sore and stiff, my back feels stretched, and I am dehydrated and fatigued. Isn't cycling wonderful?
Friday, April 4, 2008
I rode for about six miles on Neil Fein's homeward commute. Unfortunately I lost my directions and tried to meet Neil being guided by memory and 'guydar.' Some heated cell-phone conversations later, we met and rode to his apartment together.
I look a little more grim than usual in this photo from my ride on March 22. I'm in Highland Park, NJ, with Neil Fein, having hot chocolate outside on a crisp, sunny winter's day. I should be having fun. Instead there's a problem forming in my right boot, and it's showing in my face.
The explanation for that last sentence takes us back to that morning. I arrived on Friday and spent the night at Neil's place. I arose early Saturday morning, and while searching for breakfast tripped on a piece of furniture. I was wearing Crocs, so I didn't bang my right foot directly on the item. Or so I thought.
By the time we left Neil's apartment, I was in a little pain in the second toe, but I'd stubbed a toe before, so I thought nothing of it. Since it was cold, I was wearing one of my pairs of hiking boots - unfortunately boots not of the best quality and probably a little large for me. I was also wearing two pairs of socks. I figured whatever pain I had would eventually pass.
We rode through Highland Park and New Brunswick, and Neil led me onto Rutger's campus. During this time I was growing more and more concerned about my foot. Had I broken something? I'd never had a broken toe, so I had no idea what I should be doing. Wanting to reassure myself it wasn't broken, I continually wiggled and flexed the injured toe while pedaling. Finally, when we reached a nice place to sit down, I told Neil what was going on, and I removed my right boot and socks.
The toe in question had swollen and turned purple and black. After a minute, I redressed and we headed back home as fast as we could. When we arrived Neil's wife could tell something was wrong from the drawn look on my face. Once in Neil's apartment I took ibuprofin, iced the swelling, and spent the next couple of hours with my foot elevated while the toe turned black.
After time and icing, the pain stopped, and since I could move the toe without pain, it apparently wasn't broken. After about five days it returned to a normal color and the swelling went away.
Miles ridden, 14.
During a visit to Baltimore last weekend, I rode a bit more than 25 miles with "staephj1", a poster to Bike Forums. He mentioned there would be a little bit of climbing in the ride, but I was completely unprepared for what I faced. I managed to climb the road up the Loch Raven dam, but it seemed there was just one damn hill after another. Two of them defeated me to an extent, and I had to hike parts of them. My host was very kind and chose to dismount to walk with me, although he was capable of riding ahead and waiting for me at the top. I did walk part of a third hill, but that was more because it had entrance ramps for 695, the 'beltway', rather than the hilliness. All told it was about 2300 feet of climbing in a bit more than 25 miles. Fuel was one water bottle and one energy bar - enough food, not enough water. Afterwards my host and I celebrated the ride by dining on real Maryland crabcakes, a delicacy I'd never eaten before. Having consumed them, I confess they make me regret living on the other side of the Mason-Dixon line.
My legs felt very tired during much of the ride, and while some of it can be attributed to the hills, some of it is probably an after-effect of hiking on Friday. I was stomping around on pavement at the Maryland Zoo, and a couple of miles of that really stresses my legs. Also, I get very stiff while driving long distances, and the nearly three hours of driving Friday didn't help.
Roark handled well on the ride. He's now sporting a 36 spoke rear wheel, a concession to my Clyde-status and my use of the bike as a commuter and tourer. The bike didn't seem any slower or heavier with the new wheel.