Monday, April 23, 2007


One week ago today, I got into work late because I had to shovel snow and string up a downed cable line in freezing temperatures. Today, it's 82 degrees outside. Welcome to Syracuse. If you don't like the weather in Syracuse, wait 15 minutes, and it'll change.

What's really freaky is standing out in 82 degree heat and seeing a pile of snow on the other side of the parking lot.

I had a good, hard ride with the club yesterday and reminded myself about eating properly on a ride when I bonked just as I was getting home. I stumbled through a shower, chomped down a tuna sandwich and drank some recovery fluid, then passed out on the couch for a nearly two-hour nap. When I came to, the blood sugar was coming back up nicely and my systems were rebooting. You might think that I'd know better.

Note to self: a 60-mile ride with several hard, sustained efforts, especially when one has only about 270 miles in the legs for the season, requires consuming more than a single packet of energy goo.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

April... um, Showers?

We returned from Asheville, NC just in time to get beaten down by a late-season snowstorm. It's great to be back. The heavy, wet snow accumulated on tree branches and power lines and after several electrical blinks throughout the night, we awoke at 5:10 AM Monday when the power went off and stayed off until after 2:00 PM. The furnaces never turned on for the day of course, and without the water pressure booster pump, the morning showers under a trickle were quite chilly. School was cancelled for Sue, though she still had to go in to get a staff day counted on the books. Shortly after she left, the still-falling snow got heavy enough on our television cable line to yank the support screw eye out of our house. It remained connected where it entered the basement, so it drooped leisurely at windshield height across the street next to our house. I had to run out and pull it taught so the snowplow could get through. I looped it over a plant hook on our porch which lifted it just enough for most vehicles to clear. I spent much of the morning shoveling, putting the perishables from the fridge outside to stay cool, and doing my best to knock snow off the branches in the big tree in the backyard. While I was outside, a large branch high up in one of the big pines snapped with a loud crack, but didn't fall. What fun on a Monday morning.

The Asheville trip was great, as usual. The weather was far cooler than normal, with highs only in the 50s. Still, it rained only on one day, and we were ready for a rest day by then. I personally put in about 235 miles, and several of the fourteen other people who went put in quite a few more. I felt pretty good despite having only 35 miles in my legs for the year, but I clearly had no ability to maintain any big wattage for more than about fifteen seconds. Large climbs there that I have usually attacked at 280 to 300 watts, I climbed this year slogging along at just over 200. Still, the superb roads there and the good friends I got to ride with provided me with another great Asheville experience. We rode "Bear Creek, a.k.a. Beer Creek", a new Potato Gap and Jenkins Valley loop, buried ourselves climbing Rt. 276 to the Blue Ridge Parkway and flew down the tight turns of Rt. 151, spun through the always amazing "Old Fort-Hickory Nut Gap-Bat Cave-Lake Lure-Shriner's Hill-Broken Road" ride, and then an intrepid five in the group attacked the Ox Creek to Mount Mitchell out-n-back climb fest with its thirty miles of uphill. I already have my eye on loops around some new area roads with great names like Possumtrot, Lickskillet, and Locust Grove for future trips.

Besides the rides, the atmosphere of staying in a big vacation house with fourteen other people who understand the love for punishing themselves on long climbs, rocky trails, and hair-raising descents is always a big rush. For a week, we get to hang with common spirits and prove to each other that we're not crazy for loving the incredibly demanding sport of cycling. This year we also had an Asheville trip first which made the trip really special. One couple rode off by themselves up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and when they returned, announced their engagement! The fella in the couple had found the perfect spot (the Blue Ridge is filled with them) and popped the question. It's truly a magical place down there.

See you on the road...

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Raising the Driveway

I finally got the new 18" feet on last night, and I think they're looking pretty good. It took me a long time to find something I liked and could afford. Most of the wheels out there for sale scream "pimp" or "rice" with lots of chrome and shiny bits. I looked at BBS wheels which are pretty common among Audi enthusiasts, but they're well above my price limit and I actually think they're a bit ugly. The O.Z. Ultraleggeras are silver rather than chrome, have a nice open look, and they're far lighter than the stock wheels. The gas savings from having lighter wheels and lower profile tires should pay for the wheels in no time...

There are only two problems with the new wheels. The brand-new finish is perfect of course, so I'll live in fear of the first scratch. Secondly, the car now cries out to be lowered a little. Something about having nice wheels accentuates the unattractive gap between the tire and the fender. I have two obstacles to overcome before lowering the car, though. The first is that I need to save up some buckaroos. The second is that I need to raise the driveway. The short little driveway we have goes up a hill and into the barn, creating an angle that makes clearance a problem. As it is right now, the gravel in the drive has settled so much that I'm already occasionally touching the board on the edge of the floor. I can't go lowering the car by an inch until I jack up the driveway at least an inch and a half or more. Who would've thought that improving the suspension on the car would require a load or two of gravel?