Gasp…Walking the Ride

For those of you who consider getting off the bike to look around or take a short walk a sin , stop reading here.

To be honest,  (aw, shucks) for Susan and me,* it was not quite getting off the bike.

What did happen, however, was we went on a hike through a woods that runs adjacent Sweethollow Road,  one of our many favorite cycling roads.

In the middle of congested Long Island, there are these gems that go for a mile or three with woods on both sides.

In this case there is woods on both sides and a few houses and businesses well tucked in to be less than obvious.

Anyway,  we wound up, on our hike, on the road.  Rather than back track through the woods, we decided to walk back to our car on the road.

Things appeared that I had failed to notice on the many times I cycled through the area.

The difference between 11-12 mph (going up) or 20-25 mph (going down) and 2-3 mph walking was incredible and thoroughly delightful.

We stopped, look, took some photos and noticed many views for the first time.

Will I try to stop a group of 12 riders?  No, but I have gained a measure of appreciation for the concept of slowing down on some roads, because there is more to see than the road.

Cross Country Skiing, going to the gym (yucch) and Hiking until the weather warms up for our old bones,

* ‘I’ vs. ‘ me’ in sentences

Last Rides of The Season

For me, early November is the end of my season.  The weather gets raw and my excitement level wans until March.

This year, however, Susan and I took some breaks during the season…a vacation out west, some weeks where we only rode once or twice, etc.  So, while I was not “chomping at the bit” I was not yet ready to call it a season.

And I am glad I did.  There were two rides, into the end of November that I really enjoyed.

The earlier one was a true “See The Fall Colors” experience.  Many of the roads on this route were a riot of green, yellow, red, brown and orange.  I would have stopped riding and walked (more on that in a later post) if I had not been in a group.  Temperatures in the 60s did not hurt.

My final ride…the last Sunday of November…included about 12 of us on a looping, weird route.  The trees were bare, but it was sunny and over 50 degrees. It was not even slow flat ride, but it was one of those days that you just wanted to be outside as long as possible.

With these two rides, who knows, give me a nice day in the winter, and maybe I will head out again.

For the moment, however, we are hiking, going to the gym and waiting for cross country ski season.


How many cyclists does it take?

Some Advantages of Riding in Group, Beyond the Obvious.

On a ride the other day someone’s chain broke. The group was large and stretched out over several hundred yards.

Rider 1 blew a whistle so the whole group knew there was a problem.
Rider 2 had a chain tool.
Rider 3 actually had a 10 speed Shimano pin.
Rider 4 was the only one in the group who had installed and repaired bike chains in real time.
Rider 5 knew the route to the rest stop so the bulk of the group did not need to wait on the road.

The only clueless one was the rider whose chain broke.


Or the time there was a crash and blood and one of our group was not only an EMT, but carried a water bottle full of medical supplies.


Or when someone cramped up or bonked miles from nowhere and riders got in front and behind that person to safely ride them back.


Or all the obvious reasons like:

Visibility in numbers.
The ability to draft in windy conditions so slower/weaker riders can stay with the group.
12 people who CAN change a flat in 15 minutes or less.
4 riders who do know how to use the barrel adjustment if someone’s gears are not shifting properly.

Of course there is one bad reason, still and forever: unsafe riders.

Ride Safe, Ride Real

30 Seconds of Fame & A Personal Best Ride

My final blog on riding out west — Grand Tetons — will have to wait until next time.

There are 15 minutes of fame for some people. On a bike, however, it is often more like 30 seconds of fame.
In a good riding season, however, that is coupled with achieving a new personal best, as well.
This is a feel good blog.

30 Seconds of Fame.
Susan and I often join a Tuesday or Thursday AM ride. It is well populated by members of three different clubs on Long Island . We are retired, recently fired, teachers and hooky placers. Susan and I generally ride in back of the group as we are often uncomfortable being surrounded by other riders. While some are safe group riders, some are loose cannons.

So, while we may ride to the front for a short time, we tend to hang behind the other 15-20 riders. The rides themselves are generally rolling to flat and in the range of 40 miles.

There is one section of one road that we are often on that goes for two to three miles without a stop required. (This is Long Island , NY remember. Three miles of road with no stop lights is forever.) The other week, on this stretch of road, I am pulling Susan, as this allows her to ride faster with me. Our normal pace for this stretch is 18 to 21 mph. We are riding in that range behind one other rider in this group, but he is slowing down. Susan says €Go ahead€, which is my signal that she is not riding too hard. I pass and pull her along. Out of the blue Susan says €˜Speed it up€. This is a surprise as we are at her normal comfort zone limit.

All of a sudden I am riding at 23 mph, which is actually above my comfort zone when pulling into a light headwind. Susan is still on my wheel as we pass the whole group. The rest of the group grabbed onto our two person pace line, of course. The unusual thing was, they did not leap frog past us, but hung on behind.

Fortunately, there was a stop light about ¼ mile ahead at this point. I needed a rest.

The 30 seconds of fame, however, does not belong to me, but rather to Susan. Our group has never seen that side nor seen her ride any distance at that pace.

Personal Best Ride.

This must be Susan’s year and in once sense my year, as we both had a personal best of one sort or another.

One of the groups we used to be comfortable riding with had gotten significantly faster. As a result, Susan was reluctant to ride with again. She knows I will always drop off and ride with her should the ride get too hard, but she hates being the last one and possibly holding up the group.

One week, however, our riding was rather light and Susan decided it was time to try this group again.
When we got to the ride, we found that many of the faster riders had recently broken off and formed their own sub group.
The stated pace for this group is 17-20 mph on flat roads (depending on headwinds, of course).
For a variety of reasons I offered to lead, with the admonition to the group that if Susan was on my wheel no one was to cut between us. I like her to be there as a kind of governor on my speed.

As a result of this, I was able to keep the pace around 17-18 mph for the entire 44 miles. The ride, and Susan, averaged 16.3 mph a new personal best for her. For me it was to pull the entire ride (no one came up to help me) at that same speed.

Please feel free to submit your own moments of fame or personal achievements.

Yellowstone Cycling

Yellowstone National Park is over two million acres in size and spreads into three states.  Although Susan and I did not bicycle there, it is a cycling paradise. There are, of course, comfort bike and mountain bike rentals inside the park, as well as short (one to four mile) bike trails scattered around.

The Chicago Crew:
“I was among the group of road cyclists from Chicago that you encountered at Lake Yellowstone in early August. We had a great ride that day from Canyon Lodge to Old Faithful, which included crossing the Continental Divide twice. Our trip began two days earlier at Red Lodge, MT., and we climbed the Beartooth Highway on the way to Cooke City, MT. An absolutely beautiful road, despite the 31 mile climb to the 10,947 ft summit. We then rode down through Yellowstone’s Lamar Valley, encountering Bison on the road just before Roosevelt Lodge. Then it was another climb to the Dunraven Pass (8,800 ft) and a fun 7 mile descent to the Canyon. Your snapping pictures of us was the next day, as we road by Lake Yellowstone. Thanks much, as we would love to collect all the memories of this great trip.” Rick Stevens

Click on photo to see movie.

For road cyclists, however, Yellowstone is a piece of heaven as they ride along the 120 square mile Yellowstone Lake, along roads surrounded by geysers and hot springs, over 8800 foot mountain passes, through open plains with bison, elk and other various forms of wildlife and into high alpine meadows in the north east section. The grand loop is about 140 miles. There are several scenic loops scattered throughout the park as well.

Most, but not all the roads have shoulders. Yellowstone has moderate to heavy traffic in parts from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Some people have told me that the best time to ride is May or later in September.

For the bike rental crowd there are bike paths as well as the roads:

The commercial cycling tours like Back Roads were seen in various locations. However, I did promise 15 seconds of exposure to the following:

I caught these two men riding past me, but also riding through Hayden Plain with a herd of buffalo and one coyote on their right hand side.  They were moving at a good clip, so I did not get to speak with them.

These sisters had ridden from Brooklyn, NY and were on their way to Oregon.

Next blog will be about Susan and me riding in Grand Tetons.

109 Miles or Less of The Black Hills of S.D.

The George Mickelson Trail is 109 miles of hard pack and gravel running along the Black Hills of South Dakota.


On our trip out west we interspersed site seeing with a couple of bike rides. As low landers, we gave our bodies a little time to adjust to the 6,000 foot altitude by spending some time in The Badlands (another beautiful place to cycle) the previous day.


The riding is mostly through uninhabited areas, with a few moments passing limited civilization or a stretch alongside the highway.


Rabbit Bicycle, Hill City, SD


About three blocks from the trail head in Hill City, SD is Rabbit Bicycle. They are real patient and helpful. Susan and I must have tried six different bikes before settling on what to ride. Originally, we looked at the comfort hybrids, but the configuration was all wrong for people used to a more aggressive position. The high end hybrids would have worked, but the additional cost was somewhat steep. We finally rode away on some mid range mountain bikes. Thank you Rabbit Bicycle.


Mickelson Bike Trail


The section of the trail we rode from Hill City to Custer and back was a steady but gentle nine mile climb, followed by a steady but gentle six mile down hill, with the reverse coming back.


The trail flowed through several changes of scenery and was lightly traveled. We started out rather slowly, partially to get used to the different bicycles, but also because of the altitude. The ride up the first nine miles put us in a mellow and pleased state of mind as the views unfolded and the quiet surrounded us. At the top we saw the profile of Chief Crazy Horse sculpted from granite, in the side of the mountain. The ride down to Custer required little pedaling if you were not in a hurry and was a good change of pace from the climb up.


There are more photos here.



After a brief snack in Custer we headed back up the six miles to Chief Crazy Horse. Unfortunately a strong headwind had developed so we had to really work for awhile.


At the water stop the sky clouded over and rain seemed imminent. In a strange sense this was good news for me. Nothing lights a fire under Susan as the prospect of rain while cycling. We flew down the last nine miles and beat the rain that never came. The people at Rabbit Bicycle, however, did tell us it was just as well we were back because they not only get rain….but sometimes hail!.










A great ride in a new area of the the US.

Feel free to comment or tell us about a great ride of yours, with or without photos. If it is interesting and detailed enough, I may publish it as a separate blog.




My mother in law had a great phrase to describe her live and let live attitude:  “Everyone has their own mishigas (craziness)”.

So too with the people I ride with.   While some of it is annoying, most of it is just interesting.

My wife is usually the only woman on our group rides or one of two or three.   Whenever she passes a bunch of male riders, most of them will, invariably,   peel out after her.

This does not happen when another guy does the same thing.   I call it the lemming effect.   She will do this just to see them react.

Many years ago we rode with a man who would always chase you up a hill.   A group of us would take turns making him nuts and exhausted.   On each hill one of us would dash ahead.   By the end of the ride he was shot.   He totally understood what was going on, but that was his mishigas.

I will really bother people about ride etiquette, often with no positive result.   I will continue to do it, because that is my mishigas.

Some riders in our group will only ride in front or back, unless the group is extremely well behaved, because they do not want to be in a pack of people shifting positions at any moment.

What is your mishigas? Share it with us.


In The Beginning Part 2

The New Bikes

. . . after two years or so of riding the hybrids, I finally decided I needed a “real bicycle”. The learning curve was a bit better — regarding what to buy — but not yet all that great.

I wound up with a Raleigh 700, at a modest $1,300, from a local bike store . . . fortunately.

Before I bought the bike from the local store, I had gone to the BIG PRO STORE in the area. Unfortunately they have two groups of sales people — those that know what they are doing and those that think they know what they are doing. I got hooked up with one of the latter. Had I bought the bike from them, it would have been too big.

When I went to the local bike store, they asked me if I knew my bike size. I said 52. One of the owners looked at me and said “I don’t think so.” They resized me to 50, which turned out to be the correct move.

Maybe the bike wasn’t the best, but it did work, except . . . Why was I leaning over so much? My back hurt. I raised the handlebars, but for the duration of ownership I could only ride about an hour on the hoods. Then I had to ride the top of the bar. I just worked with it.

Was this fun — sure was. All of a sudden I did not need to ride with the slowest group in club A and I could keep up the the hill climbing crazies in club B. Life was nice.

I rode one day with a bike club and one day with my wife.

THEN — Susan (my wife), decided that she was getting really bored with the limited number of off road bike trails available in the area — and she was going to start riding on the road.

When we got to road riding, however, it became a whole ‘nother event.

At first Susan did not want to give up her hybrid. With the crazy hill climbing club she spent a lot of time walking the longer hills or lagging far far behind. To help her confidence we started to ride more the the crazy avoid the hills riding club. She was thrilled. A group she could keep up with. She was riding with one group, however, and I was riding with a faster group.

I spent along time trying to convince Susan that she should get a road bike. She liked her hybrid. It provided a certain comfort level. Eventually, however, she made the switch. After much investigation, she found a Fuji Team on sale at Colorado Bike.

The first ride convinced her it was the right choice. The only issue was the saddle — but that was solved with some trial and error.

After she started using the new bike, she eventually became too fast for her ride group. She moved up to mine — fought here way from the bottom of the group, where every ride was a struggle — and found a comfort level at the two clubs we ride with.

That’s how it all got started.