First ride of the year, apparently. Oy. In my defense, it's been quite a cold winter and spring (especially compared with last year), and I was gone for almost a month to APO and Utah. Rode out Ridge Road to Quinnipiac, and then back on New Road and the usual. Felt slow, because it was slow. But also felt good. Just need to keep it up.
Lighthouse point loop, plus a bit of road exploration around Tweed. Lots of things blooming on all the roads. On the way out, I crossed the Quinnipiac on Grand St. Bridge, and went up Quinnipiac ave. A bit after the bridge on the right was, I think, a few huge piles of clam or oyster shells. I guess from fishing? Worth checking out again, though it did smell funny. Not many people at Lighthouse point itself, but there were some folks working on a butterfly garden, which will be neat to see. Was running out of juice at the end: need to bring food, and also do longer rides, as my endurance is probably shit.
Out Ridge Road, back Hartford Tpk, then up East Rock once, in 5:55. Which isn't terrible, considering how long its been since my last hill climb, but I didn't feel up to a second run, so there is that. Ride itself wasn't too bad, but I'm still not able to sustain power for very long.
Solo ride around the north side of Sleeping Giant. The weather had been threatening thunderstorms all day, but we only got 5-10 minutes of hard rain, and then it was lovely again (though quite warm). There was still a fair bit of water on the road in places, particularly the poor-quality roads north of the park. Also: that road surface is pretty bad, and still hasn't been refinished, expect for the new bridge. Bumped into Nathalie on the way back, at Trumble & Orange. Don't think she recognized me right away.
Out Ridge road to Quinnipiac, up the big hill toward Bethany, then further north on Gaylord Mt. Road and up the really steep hill on that, then back on 69, after Downs road. Two hours is definitely a bit of an endurance ride for me now, so need more of these longer things. Also, need to not push as hard at the beginning and try to keep my pace steadier throughout: I tend to push, tire, rest, instead of holding steady. It was very pretty up around Bethany.
Caught the Tuesday group ride out of Cafe Romeo. It felt quite fast as we went along Ridge Rd. Turns out, they split it into an A and B group. Guess which one I was in? I did manage to hang on (barely at the end), though I lagged on descents, as usual. A storm front was on its way to us, and the sky was pretty extiting as we were heading home. Felt a couple drops, but it ended up not raining here, so that was lucky.
Rode out to the second light along Ridge, then back on Hartford Tpke, then up East Rock three times. Took it pretty slow on the way out and back, and then tried to push it a bit going up. Was fairly consistent: 5:40, 5:45, 5:50 for the climbs. There was an older hispanic guy also riding up and down... on an old mountain bike! I gave him a thumbs up each time we passed each other in whatever direction. Should be able to do more of these, now that the bathroom is being put back together (no shower in the house all last week, and now floor in the upstairs bathroom now). Wish I could have communicated with that guy doing MTB laps: seemed like the kind of guy with some interesting stories...
Needed to get some kind of ride in today, while the bread was rising and before the concert on the green. So, went out past lighthouse point to South Beach (ish?) and took random small roads to get back to Hwy 1 and past the airport. There is a nice chunk of road by the airport that could serve well for doing short, flat intervals on. I think there's a long enough piece without stop signs that it could work.
Took Sabrina Cales (new postdoc of Meg's) through West Rock to the 2nd crossroad, before the climb to the top at the north end. She was hesitant on the way out (thinking back, I took that part pretty slowly myself the first several times!), but pushed more on the way back. She nailed several of the harder climbs; I fear for how fast she'll be once she's done the trail a few more times. She told me stories about riding with some pretty crazy folks in Chile and Wyoming... Did I mention we got pastries from a Hispanic bakery in Fair Haven afterward? We were really hungry.
Had to get out and move, so rode up to Hwy 15 on Ridge, back on Hartford Tpke and climbed East Rock twice. First one felt slow, but wasn't particularly, second felt slow and was, so I gave up and headed home. Was quite humid, and I wasn't feeling great anyway, but at least I got up it twice. Still don't have a complete bathroom upstairs yet, and Alina's on the long trail, so I've been herding contractors.
Today's goal: ride the Whirlwind Hill 36 mile route from Yale Cycling's website. I'd done it once or twice before in a group, and thought I knew where to go, after glancing briefly at the map on their website. Turns out, not so much. I turned too early off of Hartford Tpke, so wasn't far enough North, and then wandered around checking out the roads and seeing if I could find it. I was very close at one point, but turned the wrong way. It was a nice ride anyway, through a number of farms, and, I thought, into Branford. Turns out, I'd been kinda of spiralling around, and didn't go nearly as far north or east as I had believed. Ended up coming back via North Haven and Hartford Tpke just below the 91 connector, which is not at all where I was expecting to end up. It was worth it anyway, though I was out of water by the end, and it was midday, so I was pretty thirsty.
Have a cold coming on, and wanted to get a ride in before it got too bad. Was worth it, though nose-runny. Rode about halfway through West Rock Park, taking the white trail up from the lake, and exploring the off-shoot that goes from where it meets the double track fire road; sadly, that just goes down to the road, but it means you can come out the white trail, go straight, turn around at the road and go straight back onto the white trail for the return, which is nice. Didn't get caught out in the dark this time: was home by 8pm, and plenty of light.
Finally found Whirlwind Hill. Took the correct turn off Hartford Turnpike, twisted onto Quinnipiac Road and eventually ended up there. Not sure if it was the "best" route, though: quite a few traffic lights. That said, it's not nearly has rough of a hill as I was expecting it to be. It's labeled with spray paint on the road: "1st part", "2nd part", "hard part", but I found the hard part to be easier than some other hills in the area. I think when I came out here with a group a few years back, they took me on a slightly different hill, and I remember it being worse. The return on Rt. 17 was ok: it's mostly downhill, so you can move pretty quickly. Need to find a better place to turn off there, so I don't end up in the North Haven mall...
Rode up around the West Rock Park lake with Sabrina. I'd missed the start of the usual Tuesday evening road ride, so figured I'd hit the trail before it rains tomorrow. We managed to make it back before dark, but only just. Did the little white+red dot loop backwards (starting at the big log and going to the sharp corner at the washout) and it's a lot harder going that way.
I blame the too many noodles and blackberries and peaches since Friday (deck party!) and Saturday (berry picking!). That was a miserable second run up the hill, and the ride out was slow as fuck too. These interval rides only take 1.5 hours, including the shower: I should be able to do them whenever I have that much time free, even in the evenings. Once a week. Gotta get'er done.
West Rock again. Took the entire white trail up from Lake Wintergreen and tried out a short bit of the purple/white dot trail that goes up the hill. It could be an interesting climb, and a hairy descent: will have to give it another go. Went out to the second road through the rooty section: still haven't got up the nerve to ride over that log pile, even though I know my chainring can clear all of it (yay high ground clearance!). Returned via the fireroad, then around the lake as usual. Two other riders were on their way out of the white trail just as I was entering: think I recognized them from somewhere. Ride felt good, and I tried to push it pretty hard. Note: have to repair my shoes soon, as the plastic sole is coming off!
Got my shoes back from Kelly Cobblers. That guy does good work: should be solid for quite a while longer, though don't know if I'll get another 10 years out of them. Nice hard pushing MTB ride hitting just about every side trail I could. Went up purple/white dot trail up the hill a while, and then continued back down it before it starts the climb in earnest: turns out you can get onto it from either North or South. I actually made it over the big log pile in the rooty section on the way back! Success! Just have to stay balanced and push through. Pretty sore legs, arms, and back afterwards. 'swhat I get for riding hard. Re-glued shoes held up fine, but I probably need some rubber/plastic cleats to keep the front from wearing through: most of the hard plastic front tread wore through long ago.
Nice ride out to Milford and back, along the coast the whole way. Nathalie was going to ride out there with friends, and I gave her directions. Reminded me that I hadn't done that ride in a while, so why not. Quite a wind on the way out, and I really could use a visor for my helmet: the sun was at just the right level to fit in the gap between my sunglasses and the edge of the helmet. Turns out that I probably passed Nathalie et al. on their way back, but they were off on a side beach.
Was going to try to catch the Wednesday Devils Gear MTB ride, but it turns out it was moved to Tuesday! Instead, I stayed on the blue trail at the south entrance to West Rock and climbed up the hill there; it's really gnarly and tough. I hike-a-biked several times. Then went past Judges Cave and down through the trail there, which is also quite a challenge. If you follow it as it trends right, you end up back on the road very near the entrance; turns out that one of the side paths from the red trail continues across the road and goes up the hill. Worth a try in the future, though it's also pretty hard (was hard enough descending!). Also, getting a creak from the bottom bracket: no obvious cracks when looking at it, but I should put it on the stand and check the tightness.
Started out as a nice ride toward Brandford, along the coast. Stayed on 142 most of the way, until it hit HWY 1, where it ends. So, I wandered a bit and ended up at Branford Point, where there were a lot of people hanging out fishing. Took a few random side "No Outlet" roads on the way back to see where they went, and found the Yale Yacht Club! Figured out the spot to do short flat fast intervals by the airport, but it started to rain just as I was going to do a set. Decided to head home, and glad I did so: as I was going into Fair Haven the rain really picked up, and by the time I got home I was pretty soaked. Warning: batteries on my speedometer are running out. Odometer currently reads 3920.2 km. Hope I can make it break 4k before I have to replace the battery. Gotta ride more!
Rode out toward Lighthouse Point, wandered into an industrial park that had no exit (but could be another good place for intervals), and the did some intervals along the road north of the airport. There's a slight uphill as you go "towards" the airport, but the wind seemed to be in my face each direction. Definitely harder to go up the slight incline, though. Well worth doing short intervals here, though, if I'm not feeling up to East Rock. Intervals were between line through the road at "warning stop ahead" sign, and the curved intersection where a road comes in from the north, just as the road I'm on curves south. Odometer now reads 3951.1: better get that last 50km in before the battery goes!
Odometer now at 3989.8. 10km more this ride, and I'd be over the hump! Went up New Road to Quinnipiac, across to Gaylord Mt. Road, and back on Hwy 69. It was getting dark, so I didn't go through Woodbridge, though it'd have been nice and I would have gotten then extra distance. Did try to push hard on the climbs, and seem to have done so.
Odometer at 4017.0. Yay big 4000km! Boo that it took this long to get here. Needed to get out and ride, but was so exhausted that the whole thing was like riding through soup. Took quite a bit of pushing to get even to this level. It's been a rough week. Rode up East Rock for the hellofit, at a relatively easy pace, and it took about 7 minutes. So, pushing hard I'm 1:30 faster. Gotta work on that. When I'm less tired.
Another ride out to Whirlwind Hill. Looking at the previous ride, it appears that the distances were almost the same, I was just a bit faster this time: I thought I'd gone a shorter distance this time! The "hard part" of the hill certainly does live up to its name, but there are harder climbs elsewhere too. Need to figure out a better return route that doesn't send me by the North Haven Mall Complex and its crappy busy road. Finally replaced the speedometer battery, and it's a lot easier to read, though sadly zeroed out the odometer.
Another set of short intervals by the airport. These are surprisingly hard: the slight upslope in one direction hurts more than you'd think, and the corresponding downslope breeds complacency. I never was a good sprinter, and these are basically sprints. Gotta keep that momentum up. Also, summer is clearly over: it's really cooled off, but I still get sweaty!
Climbed the blue trail again from the ball fields. I think it'll be a long time before I can make it all the way up that without slipping out repeatedly. I'll keep trying, though: it's a good workout, if nothing else. Wish I had my speedometer, though, to get a sense of how long the climb takes and as a way to tell if I might get faster on it in the future. To keep the ride short, I didn't go around the lake, but just out to it, and back (via that side trail that ends with a stone wall: didn't drop over it, though it's not too high). Made it up the hill in the pines on the way back staying seated all the way, which was nice. Also saw a guy on a single speed MTB, and asked if he'd ever made it up the stairs: he said not on that bike, but yes on his other geared bike. So, maybe there's hope.
Did the Tuesday night (with loaned light!) ride from Devil's Gear. Group rides always remind me how slow I am by myself. But I did manage to keep up well, especially on the climbs; descending was my usual slowpoke scared-for-my-life thing. Definitely had the oldest bike there: they said they'd be very afraid if I were on a modern MTB. Not sure its worth the cost though. Of course, a 29er or modern suspension might have prevented my half-endo on a loose-rock descent. Went up halfway, bike went right, I went left, with right foot still clipped in. Was low speed, and I got a hand down in time (maybe bruised left palm a bit?). The loaned light was really bright, and I think I might but one from the shop to do more such rides.
Rode up the blue trail in West Rock to try out recording video with my camera on the ground or in trees (via gorillapod, which is definitely rather worn out by now). Bike a short distance, setup camera, ride back and forth past camera a few times, take down camera, move to next spot. Probably amounted to a sort of inverval ride, but it didn't look very fast in the recording. After some editing (and an appropriate soundtrack), the end result was not half bad. Just wish I actually made it up the two rocky bits: would have been a nice "techincal showcase". Just have to suck less, I guess.
Out over orchard hill, around Sleeping Giant, and back on New Road. Felt slow, but I guess that was mostly just the massive headwind from the north. Lots of people around Sleeping giant: cars parked in each pull out, and way down the street at Quinnipiac. Leaves are nicely colored, so I think that's why everyone was there. It was quite cold though, even without the headwind: winter is coming.
Took a long ride out to the far north end of West Rock, turning around where the trail starts to switchback up toward the top. Lots of people out walking dogs: it was a beautiful day, especially for November. I had a nasty cold last weekend, and I'm still hacking and shooting snot rockets (my aim is pretty bad, though), so it was kind of a phleghm-y ride. Felt slow at first, but I got up to speed somewhat. Didn't have the guts to ride over that log pile in the north part this time: gotta keep trying. The loose leaves did make some sections extra slippery, so I can be forgiven for my caution, I think.
Got a ride up to Case Mt. near Manchester CT with some locals, with a plan to do some Black Friday MTB trail riding. As we drove up, the patchy snow became a constant layer. The park had 1-2 inches, but we went for it anyway. It was awesome! Very slow going, high effort everywhere, barely making it up even small slopes, hairy descents, barely-controlled corners. A great time was had, and a full body workout, since steering was more of a suggestion to the bike. Plus, most of the slush was blown off the bike on the interstate on the way home, so nothing to clean up on arrival!
East shore ride, basically to Branford and back on 142, then Stannard Ave. I wasn't sure where I had ended up, but it turns out I was within two blocks of the Branford Pier that I'd gotten to before, I just didn't know it. The rolling hills of 142 are fun, but it was pretty cold. Ended up double-gloving it after I got to Branford, since my hands were cold, and even the booties+wool socks didn't keep my toes from tingling. Had considered doing intervals, but that wasn't going to happen.