PMC 2020.3 Fast Jeff in August

This is the story of my third PMC for 2020. Jump here to start at the first ride, and an explanation behind the madness.

In the Before-Times, the Pan Mass Challenge was always held during the first weekend in August. Originally, I was going miss the 2020 PMC as I was planning on camping with my son and the Stow Boy Scouts in Colorado. Of course this is not a typical year. Back in January, everything was open and there were no travel restrictions, so I flew to Galveston for a long weekend with my cousin Jill. She had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was going to start treatment soon. We visited the local aquarium (see the picture) and went out for a great dinner at a surf & turf joint. Ah, those pre-COVID times. She was successfully treated in March and is now cancer free! Of course I brought my bike to Texas. I pedaled 40 miles in Houston with a Space Shuttle Commander.

Once everything shutdown, I wanted to pick a special ride for Jill that mirrored her quick recovery, and so I chose a shorter adventure. On Saturday August 1st, I rode 30 miles around Myles Standish State Park in Wareham and Plymouth. In the parking lot, I ran into Susan and Evan, who were riding by, and Chrissy in the parking lot. We were all riding our own PMC Reimagined. And just to show what a small world it is, the guy who took this photo rode the first four PMC rides, starting back in 1980!

Susan, Evan, Chris, and Chrissy

For my second day, I picked “Fast Jeff” from Team Lick Cancer. While I was noodling around Plymouth, Jeff rode 120 miles solo from his home down to Bourne – wow! On Sunday, August 2, we met in Bourne at the Dunkin Donuts at 6am. All he had for breakfast was a cup of coffee. After his long ride, I expected him to take it easy going up to Provincetown. Even though he is 3 years older than me, he trains very hard, and never let up. Wouldn’t even walk over the Bourne Bridge as it would hurt his average speed on his bike computer.

Fast Jeff under the Bourne Bridge, about to fly down the Canal Path

Unlike my previous rides, Jeff and I rode over every hill including the Rt. 6 service road, and Truro’s infamous Corn Hill. Don’t let anyone tell you Cape Cod is flat. Even with all the extra climbing, we easily topped 18mph and made it into Provincetown by 11am.

As you might expect, after 5 hours on the bike, I was a little ripe. My lovely wife, Laura, drove out to meet me and was looking forward to a nice lunch. I needed a shower, a rare commodity in a pandemic unless I wanted to book a room. However, the Race Point beach did have an outdoor shower, except it had no walls. Laura watched from the parking lot, laughing, as I scrubbed up while still trying to keep my bike shorts covering certain bits. Not that anyone gets arrested in Provincetown for public nudity! While not totally clean, at least I was less funky.

Thank you for reading through all this, and an even bigger thank you for supporting the Pan Mass Challenge / Jimmy Fund. Let’s find a cure, plus keep Chris off the roads, and away from outdoor showers. If you enjoyed this blog, feel free to make a donation to the Pan Mass Challenge. 100% of your donation goes to the Jimmy Fund to fight cancer.

PMC 2020.2 – The classic route in July

My second PMC ride in 2020 was the classic Wellesley to Provincetown, Done over one weekend, July 18-19. This attempt was for my cousin Nancy who successfully fought Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia a few years ago. She doesn’t live in Massachusetts, and so was not treated at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, but the DFCI does a lot of research on this particular cancer, so I imagine the funds raised by PMC may have helped her indirectly.

Jon, Moe, and I started on a Saturday morning, just a day after receiving our 2020 jerseys. Moe (orange helmet) is a “Living Proof” rider who was successfully treated for cancer five years ago, and still puts in big miles on the bike. Jon was my office-mate a few decades ago, and has remained a close friend, and constant cycling companion.

At the starting line
Our unofficial starting line in Needham

We wandered down to the South Shore, sometimes following the official route (shown here) and then diverting down Rt. 28.

We are not getting lost this year!

Normally we end up in Bourne at the end of the first day, however the Mass Maritime Academy, along with most everything else, was closed, so we stay at my weekend house in Wareham, giving our feet a much needed break. My wife Laura made about 15 different dishes, and we made it through at least 13. Just gotta ask, who matches their sox, mask, and helmet?

Three guys who need showers

The Sunday forecast look hot, so we started early that morning. The hardest part was the Bourne Bridge as you are required to walk over it. With a 2 foot drop to the highway on the left, and a 200 foot drop to the canal on the right, walking seemed a good idea.

We followed Rt. 6A along the northern coast of Cape Cod, stopping for water at … Cumby’s in Brewster! We had tickets for the 3pm ferry, and skipped the worst hills. However, we couldn’t resist taking our picture, proving that we were the first riders in 2020 to make it to Provincetown. The streak continues.

It’s not a race, unless you are in first

Watch at least the first two minutes of the PMC Reimagined video. We are in there multiple times.

PMC Reimagined Virtual Start (replay) from Pan-Mass Challenge on Vimeo.

It was a long hot ride, so we cooled off on the front lawn of the Town Hall before our ferry back to Boston. Yes, Jon is not wearing a mask, but in his defense, neither is the dog.

While Jon and Moe made new friends, I took a quick spin to the Provincetown Inn, the traditional finish line for the Sunday ride, then out to Race Point Beach. Little did I know I was going to be in a very embarrassing situation here in just two weeks.

Read the final edition of my PMC 2020 ride from August. Go back to my first pass in June.

PMC 2020.1 – Out and back in June

A year ago, we all had a vision of 2020, how things were going to be better. This is the story of my PMC ride for three people who have been touched by cancer.

Quick background: The Pan Mass Challenge is the largest athletic fundraiser in the USA, raising money for the Jimmy Fund which supports the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Since 1980, the PMC has raised an incredible $750 million. With over 600,000 people dying of cancer in the USA every year, the need is still there, even with the pandemic. For 2020, the PMC was reimagined. Instead of 5000 riders gathering for one big ride, there would be 5000 different rides, socially distant, and still with the common goal of ending cancer.

I rode this year for my cousin Nancy who fought Waldenström’s Macroglobulinemia, helped in part by research done at the Dana Farber’s Bing Center. I rode for my good friend Jim, who has been fighting liposarcoma for a dozen years and is currently undergoing chemotherapy. He is at a very tough stage in his treatment. And I rode for my cousin Jill, who recently was successfully treated for breast cancer recently, giving us a little more hope. Since I am dedicating this to three people, I did three separate rides

The one good thing about the shutdown is that cyclists had lots of time and empty roads to train. My riding partner this spring was Kent, 20 years younger, and very strong. By June we were ready for the LONG route to Provincetown. I dedicate this ride to Jim, who has been fighting cancer for over a dozen years. Over this long haul, he has forged his own path, with a mix of unconventional therapies that has enabled him to survive about a decade longer than expected.

Sunrise on the ride
Sunrise on the Assabet River

We left Stow at 4am, well before sunrise, riding down Rt. 27, stopping at Dunkin Donut shops along the way for water. After 70 miles we reached Plymouth and the Atlantic Ocean, then headed back inland, over the Sagamore Bridge, and onto Cape Cod. I knew there was a Cumberland Farms store in Brewster, at mile 112, which was good timing as we were running low on water. The Cumbys also had an outdoor table and a bathroom – what a luxury! (We wore face masks whenever off the bike, not shown.)

Brewster Cumbys
Safe dining outside in Brewster

Well hydrated, we pushed on to the tip of the Cape. We had a strict 3pm deadline, to catch the fast ferry to Boston. By cutting off the worst hills, we were at the town line by 2pm, and at MacMillan Wharf shortly afterwards, with 146 miles under our belt.

Town line sprint

The 90 minute boat ride to Boston was a good chance to work on my “eye exercises”. Even though I drafted behind Kent about 80% of the time, I was exhausted.

Imagining a cure
No party ferry for 2020

Waiting for us at the Seaport terminal was … no one! We wanted a self-supported ride, and so rode through the Financial District, Comm Ave, Rt. 20, and back to Stow. After 10 hours of pedaling 172 miles, it was time for a well deserved shower.

Jump here to read about my second PMC ride. If you enjoyed this blog, feel free to make a donation to the Pan Mass Challenge. 100% of your donation goes to the Jimmy Fund to fight cancer.

Pan Mass Challenge 2019 – Nothing Went Wrong

The big weekend came and went, and the good news is that everything went well. No rain, no flats, and no taking the Green Line to the finish.

First, the best news. My cousin Nancy is doing great – read for yourself:
I completed my fourth and final chemo cycle six weeks ago (didn’t need to continue through six cycles). We knocked out those pesky IgMs and B cells so now it’s “watch and wait.” My next blood check is August 21 and will show whether bone marrow is manufacturing white and red blood cells again. Anemia continues but I’m able to get out of the house and live like normal at home. The piles of sorted mail on my desk are because it’s more fun to ignore them and read!

I can’t thank you enough for dedicating your ride to the Bing Center (At the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute). Recent research shows positive results in oral drug maintenance studies and new drugs that almost double time-to-next chemo therapy and overall survival prognosis. I plan to be blue-haired and spunky well into my eighties!

Nancy and I have a date to see the next solar eclipse April 8, 2024 in Cleveland or Vermont, when I will have white hair – all 3 of them.

Once again I rode Saturday with longtime friends, Jon and Moe, from Wellesley to the Mass Maritime Academy in Bourne. Here we are at the start, on Friday afternoon before the crowds started.

We made great time on Saturday morning and finished in time to have lunch before and after the requisite massage. My wife Laura spoiled us rotten by picking us up from the MMA so we could sleep in real beds in our Wareham house. She baked several home made pizzas for dinner, and then got up at 3am Sunday to make a full breakfast, then drive us to the MMA start.

I waited for “Fast Jeff” from Team Lick Cancer, but he was waiting for someone else. So I took off in the inky darkness, over the Bourne Bridge, along the shadowy canal bike path where we had to dodge fisherman on their tricycles. I pulled a few riders along, but they kept hopping off at the water stops. Finally, with nothing left but a few miles of Rt. 6 and the rolling dunes Provincelands, a group of 5 guys let me recover in their wake. We were the 10th riders to finish this non-race, more a testament to insomnia than raw speed. If you have ever walked along the breakwater in Provincetown, you will recognize this background.

Thank you to all my donors who have contributed $7000 this year, and over $200,000 over the last 31 years of riding. Next year I will miss the actual PMC as I’ll be camping in western Colorado. Instead, I will do a virtual ride to raise funds. Are there any good hills out there?

PMC 2018 – the return of Rosie Ruiz

A big THANK YOU to all my Pan Mass Challenge donors who have contributed over $6000 this year to the Jimmy Fund, which supports the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (DFCI). The real challenge to the PMC is all the fundraising, and I appreciate everyone who has chipped in for this great cause. After months of asking, the actual weekend feels like a reward. You can still make a donation – not too late!

For the second year, my ride is for my friend Jim. He is doing OK after the latest  surgery for the cancer growth in his abdomen, however at some point the doctors can only remove so much of his digestive tract. He finds it hard to keep up with his middle-school kids, or even the day-to-day routine, but keeps trying. Recently, his son helped with the Jeep’s oil change, learning new skills from his dad.

Back to the PMC – my 30th year of riding for this cause. I started my training in January with Zwift, an online game played by indoor cyclists, watching their virtual selves pedal on streets and mountains with thousands of other riders. Speaking of mountains, March was Bike Camp in South Carolina, trying to keep up with a dozen racers. No surprise, I didn’t, but only had to get in the van once, still suffering from jet lag as I was in Shanghai the previous week.

My feet have been a real source of pain for the last decade, caused by a neuroma, like  Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, down under. I couldn’t ride for more than 3 hours / 50 miles at a time, which was not going to work for the PMC, which is 200 miles over 2 days. So I switched to a shorter route (80 miles each day) and picked up a new set of insoles from the doctor (not Scholl’s). The double rainbow after my cycling team’s dinner was a sign that this year’s ride was going to be great!

Double rainbow before the 2018 PMC ride

The shorter ride starts Saturday morning from Babson College in Wellesley and heads to the Mass Maritime Academy (MMA) in Bourne. My friend Jon Gordon has been riding the PMC for over 20 years and gave me a room Friday night. Here we are bright and early the next morning.

Jon and Chris – destination Bourne!

When you start this early, the “lunch” stop comes at 9am. Mike (below) is a big supporter of the PMC and has chosen this orange cheerleader costume. In the background you can see the vehicle than he “pedals” around. I always give a loud, “WILMA” whenever I spot him.

Chris and “Fred” at the Sat water stop of the 2018 PMC

Before the next waterstop is a quarter mile of photos of “Pedal Partners”, the patients at the DFCI who have been adopted by PMC teams. I ride with one of the largest, Team Lick Cancer, with over 100 members, who have several partners, including Hailey.

Hailey – the reason Team Lick Cancer rides the PMC

Speaking of getting in the van… I made it 70 miles to Wareham where Laura was waiting at the last waterstop. My feet were throbbing, and my tank was empty – time for a break. She drove me 8 miles to the last corner before the finish. I hopped back on my bike and rode in, not mentioning to the check-in crew than I used a “cheat-code” to get in before noon, aka. Rosie Ruiz. Jon rode in a few minutes later and we stuffed ourselves for a few hours at the MMA where giant tents were filled with recovering cyclists. (Recovering from the ride – they were not recovering from their addiction!) The skies opened up, with not only rain and lightning, but a few tornados. Laura rescued us, taking Jon and me to our lake house in Wareham.

On Sunday Jon and I got up hours before sunrise to start the journey to Provincetown. The PMC organizers want the 3-4000 cyclists off the Cape Cod roads as early as possible, which are clogged enough with summer traffic. I was feeling much better, passing dozens of team members. Here are a few at the “lunch” stop, 8am at Nickerson Park in Brewster.

Fellow Team Lick Cancer riders at Sunday lunch stop in Brewster

Cape Cod is flat – everyone knows that, right? Except when it isn’t, starting in Wellfleet at the Beachcomber and continuing in Truro at Corn Hill, which looks like a wall after you get used to level bike paths. Then come the rolling hills of Rt. 6. I always look for that one corner where Provincetown suddenly peeks out from behind a hill, the Pilgrim Monument standing tall, marking the finish. For the first time in recent memory we did NOT have a headwind slamming us as we rode into the dunes.

Jon and I rode through the Provincelands, by Race Point, and into the Provincetown Inn finish line.

Jon & Chris at the Sunday finish

Jon Gordon and Chris Spear at the Sunday PMC 2018 finish at the Provincetown Inn

This is the classic finish line, with no parking. So we then cycled to the “Family Finish” at the Monument where Laura and our dog Snickers waited for us with a change of clothes. It was great to see her, bringing the ride to an end. But first, a quick bite. I picked an Alaskan lunch, salmon burger and mousse (chocolate). Maybe not what you would have picked, but I thought it was just the right combination of protein and sugar to recover from 150 miles on the bike.

Another shoutout to my donors! See you in 2019 for my 31st ride, all part my the Best Year on a Bike. Even with foot issues, bonking, and months of fundraising, It is all worth it, to help Jim, Hailey, and others who are battling cancer.

Thanks!
Chris Spear

PMC 2017

A big Thank You to all my Pan Mass Challenge sponsors who have contributed over $7000 this year and $200,000 over the last 29 years to the Jimmy Fund to support the Dana Farber Cancer Institute. The real “challenge” in the PMC is the fundraising, and you all make it easy. Well, not “easy”, but certainly very doable. Many of you donated before I even sent out my spring letter. The actual 200 mile bike ride felt like a reward for bringing so many people together to support a great cause.

First of all, my friend Jim is doing much better after surgery. The doctors removed a large mass from his cancer in his abdomen that had been pressing on his digestive track. The operation was successful in the short term, but the cancer will eventually come back again. He is grateful for getting another 6 months to a year with his family. They just went to the Maine coast for his birthday weekend. I hope he gets to visit there again in 2018.

Here is a quick recap of the 2017 weekend. I am on Team Lick Cancer, 167 riders who support the PMC. On Friday Aug 4, we headed down to Sturbridge Host Hotel to join thousands of cyclists all on the same mission. Even the bike parking was amazing! The organizers gave everyone a plastic seat cover to keep it dry overnight.

 

There is a saying that no one loses weight on the PMC weekend, as you are constantly carbo loading. More pasta, more cake, and even a few veggies. What better way to dine than with the sounds of a steel band riffing on Cold Play.

 

The Team Lick Cancer logo is the lips logo from Mick and the boys, and it makes a fine tattoo. For a buck you can get one on your calf, to flash riders as you pass, or get passed. See how many you can spot in these photos. Just another way for TLC to reach their million dollar goal.

 

 

We all turned in early as breakfast starts at 4am. Volunteers stayed up all night laying out bagels, bananas, cereal, muffins, OJ, milk, and about a swimming pool of coffee. The best part – it was all donated! We lined up for the 5:30am start. Everyone was a bit nervous when it started to sprinkle, then we rolled out of the parking lot, greeted by the Sturbridge High cheerleaders.

Why so early? Because 3000 cyclists on Rt. 20 could lead to a huge traffic jam. Luckily we have the support of the Mass Police Chiefs Association, plus apparently a few fire fighters too. The road was damp, and some corners a little tight. I saw several riders crash when they bumped into each other.

The ride itself seems to go quickly, as I constantly joined up with other riders, then lost them at the rest stops every 20 miles. Here I am with Mike who is a member of Team Lick. He is a throwback who prefers to be a cheerleader than a rider – to each his own! You have to admire a guy who spends his weekend bringing smiles to others, and posing with his home-made Flintstones car. All the water stops are staffed by dozens of volunteers who work long hours to make sure we are well fed and hydrated. Behind the scenes are hundreds more who are working with the state police to ensure our safety.

 

The “lunch” stop was in Dighton, 60 miles into the ride. (This is one of many south shore towns that I have only seen while on a bike, never in a car.) At 9:30am I was chowing down on a turkey wrap with extra mustard and a moist brownie. Here is a shot of the peanut butter and jelly crew assembling sandwiches, one loaf at a time. In the back is my friend Hans who is my oldest friend from working at Digital Equipment.

I was in a rush as I reserved a massage for 1pm and didn’t want to be late, so I skipped the last water stop that was less than 10 miles before the finish. Bad choice – my wife and daughter were there to surprise me. Sorry!

 

I reached the Mass Maritime Academy a little past noon after 110 miles. Therapists from all over New England volunteer to help us recover – as we are only halfway! Afterwards I hung out and connected with friends including our team leader, Dave Christmas, here with another rider, Shayla.

The PMC is not a race, but it is always fun to see how fast I can go. On Sunday morning I hit the road by 4:45am with Jeff, a team member who is in great shape. In the pre-dawn darkness we rode over the Bourne Bridge, where one lane was blocked off just for cyclists. (Now you know why the PMC starts so early – we want to avoid blocking the Cape Cod roads, during the busiest time of the year.) Along the Cape Cod Canal bike path, Jeff and I passed a line of cyclists all in black. They had a total of 3 lights, not much for 8 riders! They stuck with us for 10 miles, then the first gradual climb. I dropped off immediately as I knew what pace I could keep for the 70 remaining miles, and Jeff was hammering! He soon disappeared with the line of riders behind him. When I got to the corner, there was the team in black, all off their bikes. As I passed by, one said, “What the heck were we thinking?” I never caught up with Jeff, and never saw that team again. Here is Jeff at the finish line.

One of the great thrills on Sunday is the Cape Cod Sea Camp where the kids stand along “Da Hedge” to cheer us as we ride by. Their energy is the perfect boost when you still have 40 miles to go. You would never think kids could scream so loud before 7am on a weekend! Here you can see our team jersey, though I wear a short-sleeve version.

I’ve been to Provincetown many times, and always look forward to the first time you can see the Monument as you come around the bend in Truro on Rt. 6. It is there in the middle of the picture, all that is missing is the smell of the salt marshes and the howl of the wind. The last 10 miles felt like an endless climb as we rode in to a mid-morning blast out of the west.

We had a short break when we turned out to Race Point, then back into the wind. The finish at the Provincetown Inn was very welcome with more volunteers, friends and family cheering us at the end, and more food! Here is our team photo on the breakwater. I am 23rd from the left, 3rd row.

Laura drove us home and I dreamed of the weekend, legs still sore, tattoo in place. It has been a great season of training, fund raising, and enjoying the annual visit to the very tip of Cape Cod. Many of you have sent your thoughts and prayers to Jim and his family and they are very appreciative.

Thank you all for supporting my 2017 ride of the Pan Mass Challenge! 100% of all your donations go to the DFCI and Jimmy Fund, supporting research and treatment. The PMC has a goal of $48 million this year, and I expect they will easily surpass it.

– Chris

Worst Year on a Bike

OK, it has not been the worst year. My Pan Mass Challenge virtual ride was pretty epic. However, that was the last great ride, and it was in July. Since then, not much.

The x-rays after my July accident didn’t show a break on my left hand, so I wore an ace bandage for a few weeks. In August my left wrist was still sore so I went to my ortho. I go there a lot. How much? Well, they have not named a wing after me, but the X-ray tech remembered my hip issue better than I did. (This may say more about head injuries than broken bones, but I digress.) The x-ray showed nothing, so the doc gave me a splint suitable for carpel tunnel syndrome. When I got home, I found two more of the same splint in the closet. Maybe they are reproducing?

2016-07-14-11-20-59

Late August I rode the Ride to Thrive, a fundraiser for a great local cancer recovery center in Harvard MA, which I had helped plan. 5 miles from the end the skies opened up for the first rain in weeks. Just my luck. My wrist complained and I felt overweight, but I was the first to finish. Maybe because everyone else took shelter in Stow.

In September I rode Hub on Wheels, a great Boston tour that includes several miles on Storrow Drive, luckily closed to traffic. Paul and I rode about 40 miles through many parts of Boston I had never even driven on. Highly recommended!

2016-09-18-11-28-13

My wrist was still sore in September, post-ride so I went back to the doc who ordered an MRI. I stopped by his office a week later to get the results, on my way to airport. I left with a big orange fiberglass cast to accompany me on my trip to Austin. Fabulous! A broken scaphoid can take months to heal, and I just wasted 2 months dangling my wrist around with no appreciable support.

One high point – I did get the cast signed by Bernard Hinault. Don’t know who he is? You are reading the wrong blog.

dinner-with-bernard

The cast came off a month later, replaced with a new splint. Hopefully it will be gone by 2017. Jim just invited me to ride the Triple Bypass in Colorado. Actually the Double-Triple, which is a little there-and-back spin over a few passes in the Rocky Mountains.

Spring is in the air?

After last winter’s record 9 feet of snow in Boston for 2014-15, we are being treated to some very mild temps. Here are some ideas on how to take advantage of the unseasonable weather. (And don’t get me started on the difference between weather and climate!)

What to do now?

Ride! With weekend temps going up to the mid-50s, hop on your bike. Without Greenland-size snowbanks, the roads are fairly dry with only a little sand, and most of the salt has washed away. Pump up those tires, put a little lube on your chain, and wipe it clean as you are going to have some fun.

Now is the time for LSD – Long, Slow, Distance rides, though you might want to go easy on the Long part. Unless you have been on your wind trainer or doing spin classes this winter, your legs are not ready for the stresses of a typical summer ride. Go up a few steep hills and your knees could be complaining for a month, and you don’t want to sit around waiting for that throbbing to go away. So pick some short flat routes for the first few rides. Keep off the hills for the first 200 miles.

And then what?

This is New England, so old man Winter still has a few more tricks up his sleeves. If the forecast calls for snow, especially mid-week, head to your local bike store and get a tuneup. Avoid the warm weather crush by taking your favorite steel / aluminum / carbon fiber / titanium friend in now for a mid-winter makeover. Trust me, those shop mechanics are just as stir crazy as you, and can probably get everything done in a day or three. Pick up a rear fender so you can ride even if the roads are a little sloppy.

I’ve seen dozens of cyclists in the last few weekends – come join the crowds. Just start slow and steady. Those mountains will still be there.

2015-09-20 11.00.00

 

Find yourself by getting lost

It’s 3am and I can’t sleep. Laying in my bed, my mind races over bills, kids, jobs, and that dream I just had with Pee Wee Herman and Selma Hayek. So I do the same thing I do every night, pretend to ride my favorite routes through Harvard, Stow, or Bolton. I know these roads so well, every turn, dip, and town line just flows through my mind. In a few minutes I’m snoring again. (Sorry Laura!)

Today I rode some new roads, through Miles Standish Park, Plymouth, Bourne, Onset, and who knows where else. Stopped 4 times in 30 miles to check my phone to find where the heck I was. Rode 3 miles under power lines. The good news is that I had a MTB, the bad was that I had my bald tires pumped to 60psi for better traction on pavement, but terrible handling on gravel and sand. Didn’t matter. In the end I rode almost 45 miles and probably knew where I was less than half the time. Didn’t matter. Followed markers for two different club rides, not sure where they went. Didn’t matter.

Now is the time of year to take it easy, recover, and enjoy yourself. Who needs goals when it is freezing outside yet you hop on your street bike rather than the trainer.

Consider getting a mountain bike or fixie for winter riding. The fixie has no derailleurs and is much easier to clean, and encourages you to ride smoothly. Best of all – your LBS (Local Bike Shop) is almost deserted so you’ll get great service and a nice price.

Go out, remember what riding a bike was before you learned about training, heart rate zones, and carbon fiber. Enjoy yourself and get lost as you can’t ride fast if you don’t know where you are going.

40 is the new 60

Don’t look now, but the forecast for eastern Mass for Saturday is supposed to be not too bad, high around 40 in the afternoon. “Brrr!” is the first reaction from most of you, but don’t give up yet. With just two more layers you can easily ride at this temperature and stay fairly warm. For $100-200 you can easily add an extra month or two to your riding season.
The goal for winter and spring riding is LSD – Long Slow Distance. Save the town line sprints for summer; you want to burn off some of those Christmas cookies and keep your legs in shape.

40 is warmer than you think

40 is warmer than you think

I rode both days last weekend and hardly felt chilled. Start from the top. Get a thin cap made for cycling that fits under your helmet. Its main goal is to keep the wind from cooling down the hottest part of your body, especially for those of us whose hair has become more theoretical. As long as it is above freezing, I don’t bother with a balaclava. Or baklava. Carry a headband in case the cap is too warm.
For your chest, try something warm such as a base layer or synthetic sweat shirt like Under Armor. (When it is in the 50s, I just wear a v-neck cotton shirt. Cheap and effective.) On top wear a good cycling jacket, perhaps with some lining.
For gloves, head over to EMS. They sell a great glove liner that slips under your regular cycling glove and keeps your fingers extra toasty. Also get some Wind Blocker outer gloves that you can take on or off as the temps vary. These layers don’t add bulk and are very flexible. I once tried lobster gloves and after 5 miles my hands were sweating like Nixon under the lights.
I have a heavier pair of tights that I wear to keep my legs comfortable. The PMC leg warmers are in the back of my closet and may never come out. Not my speed. Poly or wool hiking socks in my shoes and either booties or just toe covers and I’m all set.
Lastly, chose your route well. I like to start with a modest climb up Rt. 62 in Stow to get the fires stoked. Avoid exposed areas where the wind can hammer you, like that stretch of 117 I rode Sunday that was a hair too chilly. Dunkin Donuts is always a great destination as you can fill your insulated water bottle with some hot cocoa. Just watch that first sip – it might burn your tongue.
Sounds chilly? Beats the alternative – spin classes or pedaling in your basement!
(Thanks to the Lexington PMC team for the title inspiration.)