Friday, September 10, 2010

Out of Commission.

What you see here is the left seatstay on my R3.  Yep, cracked.  And no, I do not need to cut back on the Krispy Kreme doughnuts. 

Last night, I was making a left turn at a T-intersection when the car 90 degrees to my left pulled out.  I was mostly sure he was stopped and waiting for me to go by, until he lurched forward as I passed the front of his car.  Thankfully he just tagged the rear end of the bike and I didn't even go down.  He stopped (miraculous, and more on that in a second) to be sure I was okay and that my bike wasn't damaged.  Not only that, he handed over all of his information and asked me to call him if I found anything wrong with the bike. 

I rode home, and then began going over the Cerv.  To my surprise, I noticed the cracks in the seatstay.  There is even a bit of a bow to the stay, letting me know (for sure, I didn't really doubt it) that the structure is compromised.  So I call Steve (the guy who hit me) and let him know.  He literally says "I'm so glad to hear your voice, are you feeling ok?"  I am still stunned at his compassion.  We agree that I'll take the bike to a local shop for their opinion.

I visited Mock Orange, where Charles reminded me that Calfee repairs high-end carbon frames.  Hence, a call to Calfee yields critical info - seatstay repairs are 1/4 the cost of a new R3 frame, and repairs can be completed in as little as two weeks.

Now, the real story here is that Winston is possibly not the death-trap for cyclists that we've all been fearing lately.  While Steve and I were talking, another lady stopped to see if I was okay. My suggestions, having been through a close call here, are these:  Obey the traffic laws, use lights (I was), keep cool, and try not to piss drivers off.  You never know when this kind of thing might happen to you or someone you're with and who's watching or listening.   

A few more pics are below.  By the way, I stripped all the gear off the frame for shipping, and this thing is LIGHT.  Just had not idea as he's not been fully 'naked' since I've had him. 

I'll keep you posted as to the outcome of the Calfee send-off, but as the Cerv is my only set of wheels, I'm out of commission for a few weeks.   

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

2011 Tour of the Battenkill Course Preview

As promised, here's my take on the proposed 2011 Tour of the Battenkill course.  Dieter Drake and Andrew Bernstein took us around the new loop, which turned up at just over 63 miles per my odometer. 

The first 35 or so miles are unchanged from last year.  Following a 1k neutral start, the madness will begin on Rte. 313 as riders jockey for position ahead of the Eagleville Bridge coming around mile 5.  The narrow and slightly uphill lead-in to Roberson Rd., the first dirt section, will give the newbies pause, as they know IT is coming.  A soft landing on dirt and gravel begins the trademark dashes across raw earth between the relatively calm paved sections.  Tooth-rattling vibrations overtake the body as you dare to glance at the speedometer.  32mph, it says.  On dirt.  With 100 of your closest friends.

Once regrouped on Camden Valley Rd. the group's anxiety will build toward Juniper Swamp.  The smart racers will be at the front by mile 10 so as to be near the arrowhead once the rush up Juniper Swamp begins.  The steep, dirt hill will cripple those unprepared, and I predict another single-file line down the other side and into Shushan.  Fortunately, the descent is smooth and holds a gentle curve allowing nearly brake-free insanity.

The route is relatively calm until the assault on Joe Bean Rd. begins.  Last year, the peloton really shattered over Joe Bean as it has 6 or so 'humps' that make it feel like you're climbing stairs on your bike.  Ow.  Make it over these humps with the leaders and you had a good shot of recovering on the way into Greenwich before the feed zone. 

Significant, however, are the changes that follow. 

Last year, racers hung a hard right on 29 and zipped across several mundane miles of pavement until arriving in the town of Greenwich and a big, sweeping left turn toward the last feed zone.  That hard right on 29 came just after a wicked climb up Joe Bean Rd. and rapid descent along Bunker Hill Rd. to the dirt section of Ferguson Rd. 

According to Dieter, we'll hang a LEFT on 29 this year before taking what is probably a 100 degree right turn toward Carney-Cassidy Rd.  This new section, upon first glance, looks charming with its shady ambience and fine gravel.  Wrong.  Coming off of Joe Bean and powering down Bunker Hill and Ferguson is tiring, and the addition of a series of gravel hills (not unlike a dirt Joe Bean Rd.) on CC really tosses in the lactic acid.  Rest assured moves will be made here, as the views from the top will inspire the breakway artists who like to fight gravity.  Here's a peek of the start of CC Rd.  Innocent looking, eh?  Don't be fooled.  She goes up and up and up from there.  Better keep your head down and stay in the pack here or you might be lost and gone forever, son.

The remainder of the roads, as noted by Andrew, are less remarkable than the addition of Carney-Cassidy and serve just to get one back to the crown jewels of the course - Mountain, Becker, Meeting House, and Stage Roads.  Even with tired legs, these roads were a treat to ride with Andrew and Dieter, despite Dieter's bad luck with flats and a snapped derailleur cable.

The 2011 course, as it stands currently, will skip the town of Greenwich due to bridge construction.  Come next April, I might wish for that section of 29 again, but as of now I'm plotting my escape...

Big thanks to Dieter and Andrew for showing a couple of Carolina boys around a wicked course.  The 2011 edition of the race is sure to be interesting, and we all agreed the addition of the new section is an improvement, apart from the necessity of skipping the town of Greenwich. 

Verdict:  An American Classic gets even better with the addition of more of the same madness that makes the race so fascinating and challenging to begin with.  Registration opens in December, so grab some gusto and think hard about it. 

See you in April.

Monday, September 6, 2010

We're Back.

Barry and I are fresh back from NY.  Well, not really fresh as last night's campsite didn't have any showers.  Regardless, what a killer trip.  To say that the weather, the vistas, or rides were anything but spectacular is a crime.  Hurricane Earl stayed away, temps dropped into an autumnal range, and the new folks we met are genuinely kind. 

I'll sum up the trip briefly here, then return in a day or two with a full preview of the 2011 Tour of the Battenkill course.  Dieter Drake, race director, was beyond gracious in his invitiation to show us around the 2011 course. Changes for next year, as judged from my saddle, are significant in effect if not in size.  More to come...

As for the trip, my lovely sister-in-law offered up her Manhattan apartment as our 3/4-way house, allowing us to break up the trip and enjoy a wonderfully schizophrenic combination of city and country.  We enjoyed the surreal views from her balcony and the flavors of Little Italy.

The next morning, we picked up the car from the parking garage.  Let it be known that if we were to park a car at said garage for one month, we would owe them roughly $340.  What is the fee for two bikes, I wonder?

Nevermind that, we had miles to make.  We hooked up with Dieter and Andrew (Andrew Bernstein is from the excellent Goodbye Blue Mondays blog, among other sports-related publications) at the Cambridge Hotel at high noon.  The plan: Recon the course and, if we survived, offer some feedback on the changes for 2011.  Currently, Dieter plans to release the full details of the course and host a supported pre-ride in October. 

Our Cat 2 guides were kind enough to show some mercy on us, and we returned the favor (tongue in cheek, here) when Dieter suffered two flats and a broken rear shifter cable around mile 40. 

This was cruel fate for yours truly as I pulled out of the 2010 edition of this race with - that's right - a broken rear shifter cable at mile 40.  Now I have the pleasure of watching Dieter finish off the course with relative ease in his 11-tooth cassette.  I'll just chalk it up to it being his home turf. 

We finished off the ride and hit up the Cambridge Hotel for lunch.  Great food and cold beer to boot.  The four of us killed a pile of nachos then wolfed down some burgers.  Andrew had to get back to work, while Barry and I needed to get to our campsite and settle in.  As a side note, we 'greased' this whole deal by agreeing to bring some Duke's mayonnaise north of the Mason-Dixon.  I won't name names here, but someone in the Drake family really likes the stuff.  A parting shot from the historic Cambridge Hotel.

Once back at the campsite, we pitched tents and built a fire.  The skies cleared off and the temps dropped significantly, right into perfect camping weather.  We sat for a long while, reviewing the day and laughing at the near-death experiences and ripping-fast descents. 

The next morning, we hit up the roads around Cambridge, Shushan, and even a bit into Vermont for a spin before heading south.  Barry and I were to be found full of oatmeal and french press coffee.  We had time to revisit the first three dirt sections of the course before making tracks back to the south.  A quick shot as we rolled out for the Sunday morning spin, sporting our new lids.

Now pressed for time, we grabbed a quick lunch at the Cambridge Hotel and headed south.  Our journey coming to an end, we reflected on the trip.  So much can be said for the warm welcome we received in Cambridge, and riding the course with the race director was an experience to savor.  Andrew's perspective made for fascinating discussions on the race and cycling as a whole, and Barry is a rockin' road trip partner. 

Tonight, we're back in NC - but already thinking of the journey that will come again next spring.  Until then, there will be many cold days and nights, sessions on the trainer, dietary modifications, gravel grinds and heart rate monitoring. 

We can't wait.