Saturday, April 21, 2012

The eagle has landed......

And feels like it went head first into a windshield. We flew overnight from NY and landed in Madrid in plenty of time for our connecting flight to Palma de Mallorca. Sleeping was difficult on the plane, but I managed to get a few hours in. Every once in a while i would wake up and see some strange TV show or movie on the screen and the one character looked eerily like Vladmir Lenin. Why someone would have a character like that is beyond me. Or maybe it was some strange sleep deprived hallucination. Which would probably mean I have some serious issues in my subconscious. I'll just stick to being sleep deprived. On the flight from Madrid to Palma I was out like a light as soon as I sat down. When I opened my eyes we were beginning our descent into Mallorca. Clearly, the highlight of the trip so far was the pat down aka breast/pelvic exam by the Spanish version of TSA in Madrid. Once I got my clean bill of health we continued onward across the airport. When we landed in Palma, we followed the signs to the baggage pickups. We waited....and waited.....and waited, but no bags. We went the customer service area and no one on the plane made mention that international flyers had a different area to get their bags. We scrambled to the area and found my bag but Wingman's was no where to be found. So we waited some more, but no bag. We filed a report with the airline and are hoping for a speedy arrival. In the meantime, we got to our hotel quite wiped out. I fought the good fight and tried hard not to take a nap but I failed. The room is amazing. It's like a two room cottage with a full bath and a bidet!! I don't have the courage to try it yet. Tonight we'll grab some dinner and then head to bed early to sleep. Tomorrow afternoon is our bike fitting and we can take a leisurely spin. Unfortunately we can't do any clothes shopping because most stores are closed on Sunday's here. I planned ahead and brought some sport detergent so we could wash our cycling bibs. Looks like for now we'll be washing Wingman's clothes daily........ Stay tuned........

Monday, April 9, 2012

Veni, Vidi, Vici......

That sums up Saturday's ride at Bear Mountain. This time we brought Wynn and Teresa with us to share in the suffering joy of multiple climbs up the hill. We picked them up early Saturday morning and after a small equipment failure on Wynn's bike, we were on our way.

We parked in the same area as last weekend and unpacked the bikes. With the four of us it was a full house in the Element.  We had 3 bikes on the rear rack, the roof cargo bin was full, and a bike in the back area of the Element. We took a quick warmup ride and went up the hill.

I never realized just how long the climb was in time. On Long Island, a climb may last 3-4 minutes but up here it can last 25-40 minutes depending how tired you are. We made quick work of the 1st two ascents and I'm proud to say I did not cry or sob once on the way down. We gathered around the Element to discuss our 3rd trip up. I have to say that was the most difficult ascent. Most of the ride up wasn't bad, but there are two small steep sections.

As I made the turn at the gate to begin the 2nd half of the climb, the Wingman was not behind me. I didn't wait as I was afraid to lose momentum so I continued up. By now I was learning the terrain of the climb and had a good feeling about where I was. the 2nd half is ~2 miles long but has many turns. It can be deceiving to know where you are in relation to the top. As I got closer, I suddenly could hear Wingman behind me. The hunt was on!! The pursuit to the top just got interesting. I remained calm, not wanting to burn any extra energy in the battle to the top. If I had to stand to accelerate I had to time it right so I wouldn't burn out too early. As we turned a corner I knew we had ~4/10ths of a mile to the top. Wingman thought that was the final turn. It wasn't, there was still another left, then right, then final short climb. He cried out "You've got to be kidding me!!!" and then dropped off my wheel. He rode hard up the previous 1.5 miles to catch me. He had nothing left to challenge me. I give him an A for effort in trying to overtake me.

Once at the top, we planned to ride down to the traffic circle and then just ride halfway up and stop at the gate. When all was said and done, we climbed 4500'. Not too shabby for a couple of flatlanders. Overall we made 3.5 trips up Bear Mountain. I think it's safe to say that we will be able to handle the climbing in Mallorca. The gearing on the bikes supplied by Trek are better for hills climbing than what we have now. We won't be speedy up the hills, but we will make it up there.

what a color coordinated crew.......

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Lions and Tigers and BEARS, oh my!!"

This morning the Wingman and I were going to drive up to Harriman State Park and ride a few loops but instead decided to check out Bear Mountain. It's one of the climbs on the Gran Fondo NY that we're doing in May. Plus it's a long enough climb to give us a good workout prior to Mallorca.

We got a bit of a late start on the morning and wound up getting to the park a little later than I anticipated. We scoped out the route and then parked waaaaay at the bottom to ensure we were doing as much climbing as we could. Where we left the car was a perfect spot so we could swap bottles or pickup more layers to wear if needed.

Wingman quickly unpacked the bikes and I grabbed our bags and got our gear out. We started riding a short route to get a little warmup before the climb began. The climbing started at the base of Seven Lakes Drive and we rode up to the top of Bear Mountain. The first part of the climb was fairly easy. I had it in an easy gear and was able to spin. The road conditions were pristine!! The mild winter we had didn't beat up the roads. I knew the climb had to get harder, I just had no idea when it would. We turned onto Perkins Memorial Drive and this is where the climbing really began. About a 1/4-1/2 mile in it quickly ramped up to a 12% grade incline. The good news was it didn't last too long. Once it flattened out to 6%, it seemed quite easy. I wasn't riding fast, but I was able to keep spinning. I was getting quite warm and was hoping the top was near. I really wasn't familiar with the roadway so I had no reference points to tell me how much more I had to go. All I knew was when I saw the porta-johns, I was at the top. But right now, no toilet in sight.

The road curves mostly to the right as it winds up. I would occasionally look up at the bluffs on my right to get an idea how much higher I had to go. That didn't work either. I had some good recovery sections on the ride where it 'flattened' out a little before the next short climb. There was one more section of 12% before we reached the top. Then, I saw my salvation:

Not the actual porta-johns at the top.....

I was so happy to see them. Not that I had to go, but it meant that I was at the top and could rest a little. The views were nice. Unfortunately it was cloudy/overcast so we didn't get the full effect of the panorama.

 After our 1st climb up.......

Flat lander conquers mountain......

After we took some photos at the top, it was time to ride all the way down. Fast descents always make me nervous. I've hit the pavement once before going fast and it left a mark or two so needless to say I took it easy going down. I have to say, while I was cautious, it was fun. Before the descent I put on another pair of gloves and put the sleeves back on my jacket. That wasn't enough. I was a bit cold on the way down. When we finally reached the car, I dropped off an empty drink bottle, grabbed some arm warmers and a beanie. Then we made our way up for climb #2. 

Again, the 1st part of the climb went pretty smoothly. Until I heard some noise behind me. I heard something along the lines of "Oh crap" and then the noise of something hitting the brush. I stopped to look back and saw that the Wingman went off the road into a small ditch. He was upright and OK, so my first thought after that was "How the hell did he get in there?" His response "I had an itch on my back and when I tried to reach it I saw I was veering off the road so I just decided to ride into the ditch." Oh, OK. 

He got back on the bike and we continued upward. Once again we turned onto Perkins Memorial Drive and started the climb. This time I paid a little more attention to the sign on the road. It's ~2 miles up. 2 winding miles. Problem was I didn't look at my bike computer to see what the mileage was when I started this section. It didn't matter, I just kept riding and was looking for the porta-johns again. I kept thinking "OK, after this turn is the top. Nope. OK, after this turn is the top. Nope. ARGGGH, I swear the top better be coming soon." 

I got through the two steep sections unscathed and it wasn't long before I saw my beloved toilets. I think it's a sad commentary on my day that one of the things that brought me joy was a public toilet. 

Once at the top, I dressed for the descent (long sleeve shirt, cycling jersey, arm warmers, sleeves on jacket, beanie, and two pairs of gloves. The problem on the second descent was I was sweating a little more and my clothing was a little wet. I was shivering on the way down. As I made my way down, I felt warmer. At the halfway point, we turned right to see what the other direction would bring. What it wound up bringing was yet another climb to get back.

We tacked on a few miles to lengthen our day and then went back to the car to head home. Overall, it was a good day of climbing. We're heading back next weekend and will make 3 trips up and down Bear Mountain. Then the rest of the ride will be the up and down on Seven Lakes Drive to get more time in the saddle without any steep climbing.

~1300' climbing on each ascent