Tag Archives: cycling

The Tribe of Solitaire Riders

riding alone

Just read this great piece on Bicycling and the following quote sums up exactly why I enjoy solo riding.  There are absolutely times when it’s fantastic to have a friend or two, but the solo escape, mind flushing capability, mental reset is strong medicine.  Maybe it was years in the pool where you really only hear your own breathing that led me here … or perhaps it’s just the perfect zen quality of an early morning on the road.

Some of us ride to be alone, and others only pedal among others. I’ve never questioned which category I belong to. In the past few years, as I’ve sunk deeper into the regimens of work and family, I’ve come to depend on the freedom of riding alone, the respite from the social world, the thicket of obligations, the anxiety of being observed. If I want to talk when I’m out on the road, it’s only to myself, and I trust the power of exertion and repetition—the spinning of wheels, the steady climb—to push me deeper into that interior conversation. 

Now and then I ride with a friend and value­ the companionship and the break from what can occasionally be a lonely routine. Changing a flat by myself in a cloud of gnats 30 miles from home is more solitude than I’m looking for—but it’s a fair price for the lessons in stamina, patience, will, and clarity that solo riding provides. I’m not alone in my preference for aloneness. I’ve crossed paths with enough riders in the middle of nowhere—always the quick nod, the wrist flick of mutual recognition—to suspect the existence of a tribe of solitaires. – Bicycling – Playing Solitaire

About Strava

Cycling Tips has a great interview with Michael Horvath, the CEO and Founder of Strava.  If you’ve been around me at all you know I love Strava and use it passionately to track and share my rides as well as my (less frequent) runs.

Strava very smartly filled the hole left by Nike+ for cycling though took it up a notch as well given the upper end athletic focus.  The somewhat recent addition of running makes it ideal for the multi-sport athlete and the social features and data viz make it habit forming.   Just about everyone I ride with uses it and speaks Strava as well.  I recommend the interview and of course the service as well.

Strava Pro Pages

 

Just reading Ben King’s latest at VeloNews and caught a link to his Strava Profile which regular users will quickly see is rather different from what we usually get.  And like the rest of Strav’s offerings, it’s very well considered.

While this is clearly positioned as a Pro (athlete) page, it’s really very similar to what you might expect to find as a brand page on twitter or facebook though clearly relevant to the service at hand.

You can follow / fan Pros though unlike a usual view of another rider, you don’t get to compare yourself directly through the side by side view typically found.  I’d actually really like to see this added as it’s a something you see frequently when interacting with others on the site.

There are quite a few new things clearly visible:

  • Rider Bio
  • Map of recent rides
  • Race Schedule
  • Sponsors and links out
  • Fans
  • Twitter content inclusion … interesting!

Strava has been adding features pretty rapidly for a while now and they’ve quickly become the defacto cycling tracking site.  I’d expect to see more around pro tracking and fan engagement as the season starts to pick up.  Adding in more linked riders for teams and pro comparisons on rides and segments would be particularly great to see.  Of course Pro Teams need to buy in with sharing their data, but many do already just not perhaps at the same degree of intensity as the more enthusiast cyclist.

Additional nice to haves … at least from my perspective would be the ability to track and be notified when riders you follow post rides based on their shared race schedule.  Fan discussion / debate could also become a lot of fun as well.  That said, while strava does offer comments and kudos I can’t see it easily evolving into a discussion board and think that would take away from the core function which really is ride data visualization.

Great stuff – hoping to see more soon!

 

 

 

 

 

2011 Tour of the Catskills: Assault on Devil’s Kitchen

 

Yesterday I competed in my second road race, the Tour of Catskills and it was awesome! I chose a one day race option over the 3-day stage and of the two possible days picked the Assault on Devil’s Kitchen which turned out to be the hardest climb I’ve ever tried.

 

My race was a mixed class 4/5 65 mile road race and as you can see from the results, only 36 of the 47 registered riders competed.  I placed 7th which I’m quite pleased with knowing I trained well and raced hard.  We left from Tannersville, NY which is on Hunter Mountain and raced through some gorgeous roads in the Catskills.  There were a few climbs in the early stages of the race, but the Devil’s Kitchen climb at the end would clearly define how things resolved in the end.

From the prior race I had entered I knew I wanted to be up front early to avoid any chaos or potential crashing and while I did not start right in the front, I quickly found a hole on the side of the peloton and moved right up the line.  I guess everyone thought I was crazy, since no one followed and I was easily off the pack and riding alone which was quite exciting even if it was only the first few miles.  Unfortunately my chain dropped after a quick descent as we turned onto Scribner Hollow road and into the first small climb.  It took two tries to get the chain looped back and by that time the group had passed me again.  It took a bit more effort than I would have liked to catch back up, but I managed to reconnect with the bigger group and recovered from my adrenaline burst of nerves.  I fought back some cotton mouth as well and soon enough settled back into the general pace.

Throughout the race I found myself either with the lead group or in the chase group which was generally right behind a small gap.  I was taking note of the guys around as we rode and it seemed there was some aggressive posturing going on with a few guys mainly on the flatter portions but those guys quickly gave way as we hit each of the climbs along the way.  I knew I was in a good position within this group as I felt I was one of the stronger climbers – not really knowing what was in store towards the end of course.  There were a few really nice descents including one amazingly long smooth and ridiculously fast run down where I hit a new top speed (55mph!).  During the descents I was generally careful and more cautious than if I’d been by myself allowing guys to float by and to make sure that I had enough space around me.  I don’t generally ride with too many other people and felt it would be best to be safe here.  During that major descent, I think down County Rt 20, I was able to bridge a big gap which was a pretty exciting moment in the race for me both from the adrenaline pumping at that speed, but also as an achievement to ensure my position.

Over the next 20 or so miles the ride got a bit windy and the group really started to thin out.  We dropped a bunch of guys including 3 in a crash which I think happened when a rider lost his chain and was a standing target for guys coming around the corner.  There was a small break of 2 and then 4 guys and they stayed about 30-45 seconds ahead of us for a few miles, but leading up to Devil’s Kitchen we finally caught two of the guys.  We had a really pace line going and I did a pretty long pull to ensure I did some hard work.  The line up chase group leading to the climb was four guys including myself and then … well then Devil’s Kitchen arrived.  Platte Clove Road is a 5K Cat 2 climb that goes up about 1400ft and appears to be mainly straight up.  There are a few slight steps and a few mild curves … it’s absolutely brutal.  Of the four guys, in my group two escaped and I fought on with another rider until we frankly had to dismount.  I was pretty unhappy that it got to that point, but after about 2.5K of climbing I wasn’t sure I could turn the pedals around fast enough to stay on my bike.  I ended up walking much of the rest of the way to the top – though even when I eventually pedaled across the KOM line, the damn hill kept on going!  Amazingly the guys behind and those I passed on the way up from other groups never caught any time on me and for the next six miles I went into time trial mode, pedaling as hard as I could over the rolling terrain.  As the signs starting counting down the final 5K, I could feel the excitement of finishing my first road race and cornering into the crowded town of Tannersville I fired away my last bit of energy to sprint in.  I heard the announcer call me the Man in Black as I crossed the line and I felt great bringing it all to a close.  Full details on Strava

The event was awesome — well organized, guys were great – competitive, but friendly and I look forward to competing again soon.  I’m hoping to do the Tour of the Adirondacks in mid September which is also put on by the same organization.  I pre-rode the main loop a few weeks ago near Lake George and it’s a beautiful run as well.