Archive for January 2016

Tweed Ride/ Pub Crawl   Leave a comment

And Now For Something Completely Different…

20151206_000316

 

As the year draws to a close, it’s common for friends to come together to toast the holidays, and look forward to the new year.  With this in mind, and while thinking about putting together an end-of-year get together, Eric came up with a novel idea that turned into one of the best “group rides” of the year.

In most holiday get-togethers among riding buddies, the conversation will eventually drift to future riding plans.  Lubricated and emboldened by liquid refreshments, the plans that are presented are often overly-ambitious and highly improbable.  Eric’s idea was to include a ride into our annual outing, so that we’d at least accomplish SOME riding as part of our get together.  There were, however, a few rules.

First, we were going to behave and dress like gentlemen.  Lycra and performance fabrics were to be replaced with wool sport coats, scarves, and proper evening attire.  Second, we were to abstain from using carbon fiber and instead ride kinder, gentler bikes from days gone by.  Steel was the preferred material, and proper flat bars were preferable to new-fangled drop bars.  Full coverage fenders might bring bonus points.  Third, the ride would be taking place at night, requiring that everyone bring and use lights.  With this, the “get lit” ride was born, a course was laid out, and a group assembled.  Along for the ride were Eric, Ben, Benny, Mike, Jason, and myself.

We met at the train station in Port Chester, New York.  Its beer garden was to be our final stop of our two-wheeled pub crawl.  We assembled in the parking lot, looking more like a 1930’s era book club gathering than a group of cyclists, and set off for our first destination, the Rye Roadhouse.  The 6 mile jaunt to Rye took us through the neighborhoods of Port Chester, through the mansions surrounding Westchester Country Club, and back down into Rye.  The route had been planned to avoid traffic, and whenever possible provide as much visibility as possible.  The weather was brisk (45 degrees) but dry and clear.

We arrived at the Roadhouse and immediately got weird looks from most of the people in the bar because we a.) were somewhat overdressed, and b.) arrived on bikes.  Nevertheless, we finally got a table, and sat down to dinner and liquid refreshments.  As happens often, I’m sure, our 70 year old waitress took a shine to Jason.  Bourbon and spicy food eliminated any remaining chill in our bones.

After dinner, the next stop was to be another 6 miles away in Greenwich, Connecticut.  After a hearty meal, and “hydration”, a 6 mile ride to Greenwich seemed like an absolutely stupid idea.  We began to debate calling cabs to return us home, when Jason suddenly suggested an alternate plan:  Kelly’s, a local Rye dive bar less than a mile away.  This stroke of genius was all we needed to remount our trusty machines and continue on our quest.  A five minute mostly downhill coast got us to our next destination where we were again welcomed as only a group of inappropriately-attired and vehicled could be:  with a mix of shock, awe, and confusion.

As we “hydrated” again, the conversations that we’d had in previous years about plans for next season had transformed into a more immediate “where should we go next?”  We were onto something with this whole dressing funny, riding old bikes, and visiting bars thing.  Rather than making bold claims about future endeavors, we were actually riding, albeit in tiny increments.

With a goal of eventually completing the loop and returning to the Port Chester train station, we headed to Sam’s bar in Port Chester, a daunting 2 miles away.  Nevertheless, we rode into Port Chester with the purpose and swagger of men on a mission; true outlaws of the open roads.  Sam’s featured a shuffleboard table, and we cheered on as mighty shuffleboard athletes competed in epic battles of sliding little steel pucks across a table.  It was also at this point that we figured out that Benny had his tie on backwards, which was immediately rectified.

We decided that one more stop was in order, so we pedaled a brisk 0.8 miles (partially uphill!) to Davy Byrnes, a neighborhood joint in Port Chester sporting an Irish theme, where you’re just as likely to run into a group of youngsters with questionable IDs as you would a 80 year old grandmother who’s dancing to Run DMC playing on the jukebox.  Eric and Mike found the dartboard, and again we were making an impression as people around us didn’t seem to know what to make of us.

It was getting late, and we decided that it was time to finish the loop, so we formed a paceline to finish up the final 0.75 mile segment to get us back to the train station and Heartland Black + Gold for a final toast.  As we arrived, they were closing, which was probably a good thing for all parties involved.

Ride Analysis:

Total Distance:  10.5 miles.

Time:  5 hours.

Average speed:  2.1 mph.

Total liquid volume consumed:  Just enough.

 

As I pedaled the one mile “cool down” back home, looking somewhere between “ridiculous” and “dapper,” I was reminded that riding a bike, even in a ridiculous manner, could be a lot of fun, and that I need to find other impractical and silly reasons to ride.  The ancient Roman lyric poet Horace summed it up nicely when he said the following:

 

“Mix a little foolishness with your serious plans.  It is lovely to be silly at the right moment.” 

 IMG_20151205_185855358

Advertisements

Posted January 27, 2016 by bicycleworldny in Uncategorized

Tagged with ,

Our Trip to the UCI World Championships   Leave a comment

UCI World Championships

In my attempt to write a trip report about a guys’ road trip to this year’s UCI World Cycling Championships in Richmond, Virginia, I was well into the 6th page before I realized that severe editing was in order (and that’s leaving out the “what happens in Richmond stays in Richmond” parts).

Rather than providing a highly detailed, blow-by-blow account of the trip complete with the “what really happened in McDonalds?” “what does Lord Baltimore have to say about that?” and “does Rick want to bring the bikes?” episodes, I instead am proud to present you with “Ten Tips for Attending the UCI World Cycling Championships in Richmond.” These might come in handy 30 years from now when the Worlds return to US soil, or if you have a time machine. My ghost co-authors for this piece are my traveling and cycling comrades-in-arms, Eric, Mike, Rick, and Tom.

Tip #1: When in doubt, take a road trip with the guys, especially if it involves a world championship cycling event. Or bikes in general. Or really any road trip.

IMG_0934

Tip #2: If possible, have the good fortune of booking yourself into the same hotel as the German national team (as we did) or any other country’s team. Not only can you scope out their “bike storage room” where you’ll see several lifetimes’ supply of carbon fiber, but you’ll also be able to bump into famous riders like Andre Greipel and John Degenkolb in the hallway on the way to breakfast. You can watch team mechanics working on bikes after the races in the hotel parking lot, score a race-used water bottle filled with top secret Teutonic wonder juice, drink this magic elixir, and immediately have enough energy to pump out 1000 pushups.

Tip #3: Bring your bike and schedule a day for a ride. Mike has family in the area, and knows all about being detained by military personnel for breaching CIA training facility perimeters (true story), so having a local guide is key. Our ride around the Williamsburg area, included a nice lunch stop, occasional tailwinds, views of the James and York rivers, dodging horse droppings in Colonial Williamsburg and almost no hills. It was also precisely planned and timed to return us to our “team car” just before the rain hit. Good job Mike!

IMG_0921

Tip #4: Check out as many races as possible. We caught the tail end of the men’s U23 race, the men’s junior race, women’s elite, and men’s elite races. ALL were exciting.

DSC_0120

Tip #5: Move around the course. The Richmond road circuit was 10 miles long, allowing the riders to pass by every 25 minutes or so. This allows the crowd to spread out very nicely, and allows for you to change locations between laps. In most instances, you could get right up to the edge of the road, often coming within inches of the riders as they passed. Try getting that close in Giant’s Stadium. Our race days started on Libby Hill, a ridiculously steep, heavily cobbled group of switchbacks. It was a natural “stadium” environment with fans scattered all over the hill and in the conveniently placed beer garden. Next was 23rd street, a one-lane, cobbled, 20% incline that’s reminiscent of the famous Koppenberg climb from the Tour of Flanders, with fans packed 20-deep up the embankments on either side, it was a tunnel of noise and energy. On Sunday, an entrepreneurial homeowner opened up a makeshift bar in their backyard (Tip #5a: try the bloody Mary!). After 23rd street, we’d view alongside a blistering descent down Broad Street. With no barriers along the side of the road, riders were whipping past at highway speeds, generating a small windstorm. This spilled out into the hard left turn where eventual champion, Peter Sagan, used his exceptional bike handling skills to establish the gap he needed to win. From there we continued onward until we found ourselves along the finishing straightaway, complete with jumbotron TV and beer garden.

DSC_0080

Tip #6: Be amazed. On a descent down Main Street, the road narrows from 5 lanes down to 2 lanes within approximately 150 meters, and then bangs a hard right in to a narrow road. Looking at this piece of road, it was impossible to comprehend how 150 tightly packed riders would fit into this funnel while descending at 40mph, slow down, and manage the turn at the bottom. Somehow they defied all laws of physics and made it through.

DSC_0200

Tip #7: Never pass a beer garden without stopping in. Hydration is important, and it helps the local economy.

Tip #8: Don’t believe the course profile. On paper, the Worlds’ loop looked pretty tame. In reality, the last 3 miles of the course had 3 back-to-back climbs (Libby Hill, 23rd Street, Main Street) that put a very real sting in the final part of the course. Even the finishing straightaway was uphill, a 680 meter false flat. With 162 total miles of racing, the course was everything a fan could hope for, and a grueling test for the riders. Kudos to the organizers for putting together a great course.

Tip #9: City Diner on Broad Street for breakfast. Delicious way to fuel up for a day of race-watching. Conversely, don’t believe the positive reviews for Extra Billy’s BBQ.

Tip #10: On the long drive back to New York, fun can be had by repeatedly turning on the driver’s heated seat when he’s not looking, and waiting until it’s noticed. It was worth getting punched. In the end, there’s really no way to describe how much fun can be had by 5 grown men behaving like children while on a road trip to attend a bike race. Getting to see, interact with, and finish partially filled water bottles from the same pro riders you see racing around the world is nothing like most stadium- controlled pro sporting events most of us attend in the US. Rick snapped about 10,000 photos, so enjoy!

DSC_0081