Journal: Last updated June 1st


Not much has changed since the last entry. I'm updating the rear cassette on both bikes from an 11-28 to a 11-32. You could know nothing about bikes and notice that what I've done is gone from 28 to 32. The four number difference represents 4 extra teeth on the largest gear on the rear wheel. This translates to an easier gear when climbing hills.  

Easier climbing of hills means....I'M READY!

I tried to do a century ride yesterday, but the Google Bicycling gps took me on dirt roads.  Rootbeer doesn't like dirt roads. Or rather Rootbeers former tires don't like dirt roads.  I got a flat in both the front and rear tires. The second flat happened at mile 30. I had already used my spare tube on the back wheel. The only available bike shop was closed...on a Saturday....REALLY?

So I called J  and called it a day.  This morning I went for a 27 mile ride and ended up jamming my rear derailleur into my new 11-32 cassette! Fortunately I was able to un-jam the chain and derailleur and moved on..

So basically, this weekend has been a test run to iron out the kinks for the real journey. I learned 4 valuable lessons:
1) Do NOT trust the bike mode on Google will take you on dirt roads.
2) My droid phone gps craps out when there is no phone service. I now have a Garmin car type gps that fits nicely on the front pack. It will last 4 hours on it's own battery, and I have a spare battery that can double that time.
3) In case I DO get stuck on dirt road, I've put Armadillo tires on Rootbeer and Jenard will be getting them too. Armadillo tires are made partially of Kevlar. The same stuff that stops bullets. Hopefully these new shoes will stop both puncture AND pinchflats (the kind you get from slamming up and down on dirt roads.
4) The current chain and derailleur on Rootbeer obviously do not work with a 11-32 cassette. Biker's Edge tried to save me some money by adding an extra link to my existing chain and leaving my original rear derailleur on the bike. What I THINK I need is a new longer chain, and an extended cage derailleur.

Finally, I as I've already said, I am very much looking forward to June 21st.  What this day will represent to me, is taking a brief break from all of life's responsibilities, and having just ONE responsibility on daily basis: Getting myself from point A to point B via what to me is the COOLEST means of transportation available: riding a bicycle!!!!!!!!!!!!!

5-11-14 Sunday

Man, life sure does get in the way of training! I am sooooo ready for this trip. The hills seem a whole lot less bothersome now. The only problem is finding the time to RIDE.

Last week and THIS promise to be a fairly busy one for both J and I. Between the classes that we're both taking and the classes that we're both teaching, training has taken a back seat. But in my heart I know I'm ready and could go right now if I had to.

Both Rootbeer and Jenard have flats in their rear tires. I have already procured two kevlar-esque replacement tires. Just need the time to put them on. Hopefully this will give me more ride time in between flats.

5-4-14 Sunday

May the 4th be with you!
Looking at my recent miles per hour performance might not impress you, HOWEVER, what those stats don't tell you is WHERE I've been riding.

Today, I took on Willis street. After that, I continued on down to Waterbury by  the DMV, and then rode back into Plymouth via route 262. 

Anyone from Bristol will tell you that just WALKING up Willis street is an accomplishment and it is rare that you see someone riding a bicycle up it.

The other thing the stats don't tell you is how I am feeling which is GREAT! Hills aren't kicking the tar out of me anymore. My overall body is feeling awesome. Every ride convinces me more and more that the Domane 6.2 is the absolute best bike I have ever owned.

It's more than just a bike. This amazing machine is becoming an extension of me. Transitions between down and uphill are becoming effortless as I determine the exact moment to shift between high and low gears in order to keep my cadence smooth and efficiently transfer energy.

I've ridden over 100 miles in the last two days and am feeling energized, pumped and ready for more! I'm not worried about mph. Speed will come with time. For now, I'm taking the time to enjoy the journey....and what an awesome journey it is!

5-3-14 Saturday
Took a 55 mile ride today. Felt great! It's been a very  long and tough past week for both Jen and myself work-wise and today's ride was a welcome break.

Today made me feel like I'm actually going to be able to do this. I felt strong and as if I'm only going to get stronger. The weather makes  a HUGE difference. I've also relaxed into my old style of riding. I don't ATTACK hills, I work with them. Hills, whether up or down, are actually a chance to take a break. Going up I take it incredibly slow that I could actually sort the mail in mailboxes that I pass. Going down, I get into the gear that allows me to pedal with little effort, and then I alternate between coasting and pedaling.  It's on the even, or near even surfaces that I work the hardest.

4-22-14 Tuesday

People ARE good. Thank you to Paul for pulling over and offering me a ride home.  I got a flat and had forgotten to bring my pump with me!  Just ordered a set of Kevlar tires.

4-18-14 Friday evening

I believe the mph differences I've been experiencing have a great deal to do with the temperature. The fastest average times I've experienced so far have been on the warmest days.

Cold weather makes you bundle up a lot more. This not only adds weight, but it also decreases flexibility.  In addition, you spend a lot more effort and energy on readjusting things like hats, gloves and jackets. You basically begin roasting while going UP a hill, and then start freezing again coming back down. On the coldest days, a lot of energy goes into trying to ignore the fact that your feet are frozen. This entire winter, FEET have proven the most difficult body part to keep warm and toasty.

This fact makes me VERY curious as to what the temperature will be when I cross the Rocky Mountains.

4-18-14 Friday

Still haven't updated the main page to chronicle the acquisition of Rootbeer. Hope to do so soon.

I'm still glad that Rootbeer is part of my current quiver but time trials have so been inconclusive as to RB being faster than Jenard: One time was faster, one time wasn't. 

So why am I still glad to have Rootbeer? Because it FEELS faster! It's turn radius is definitely shorter and when I stomp down on the pedals the machine just GOES......IMMEDIATELY.

That's why I like Rootbeer.

Currently I'm exploring seat heights. I set both of them to 26.5 inches above the pedal axles when the cranks are lined up at the exact same angle as the seat tube. This height feels way too tall on Jenard, and just a tad too tall on Rootbeer. Puts a lot of pressure on my shoulders and arms.

Next ride going to lower the seat by a quarter inch. The nice thing about 26.5 is that my knees feel WONDERFUL. Happy knees is my first priority. The Spongy Wonder ensures that my butt is fine no matter what the height. And as far as my shoulders go, I can build up my upper body. But knees either are or are not happy.  You don't condition knees: you either treat them kindly or your break them. I vote kindness.

Also look for videos and comments on our Portland, Maine exploratory mission. We had awesome food, great service stayed at a uniquely nice hotel and last but not least, we found the exact spot from which we'll launch the journey of a thousand miles (times 3). 

4-16-14 Wednesday

Are you SERIOUS????
It's APRIL...Get over it and get on with it already!!!

4-15-14 Tuesday

Just now returning from an exploratory trip to Portland, Me. Lot's of pics and videos to share.  
Stay tuned! (our Portland trip will be shared on the main page)

Some time later... Ok , the week in recap - last Tuesday to today..

I decided that the Fuji Acer (Gee Force 2) is just not suitable as a back up bike for the Domane. There is such a massive difference between the two bikes that I could physically notice the toll the Fuji was taking on my body. I toyed with getting a different endurance bike, such as the Cannondale Synapse, or Specialized Roubaix, but that ultimately didn't make sense, since I already had the Domane.

Then it came to me: the only justification for getting another bike was if the new bike was suited for conditions DIFFERENT than what the Domane was intended for. The answer became clear: The MADONE.  Domane was made to smooth out the bumps. Madone was made to go FAST.  The stiffer more immediately responsive geometry of the Madone would be perfect for the long, straight and SMOOTH surfaces of the midwest. At least that's the argument I used with my wife.

So on Sunday, April 6th I stopped in to Biker's Edge to check out their Madone stock.  There, sitting right out front was a VERY sharp looking Madone 5.2 from 2012.

(This picture is actually of a 5.1 from 2011, but just roll with it for now.) Anyway, the price was outstanding, and the color was different from most other bikes. Bob called it a "Rootbeer" color.  I had no idea what he meant by this.  Rootbeer is brown, and this bike was orange. But J was so intrigued by the name "Rootbeer" that it made her forget that I was about to spend a bunch more money on yet another bike.  So I waited a few days just to feign disinterest and went back on Thursday to close the deal.

When I got there on Thursday, Rootbeer was GONE.   I had cleaned out my garage, bringing three older bikes, (including the Fuji) in for a trade figuring that I could ease the sticker price with my trade-ins.  But when I got there, Bob told me he sold the bike one hour after I left on Sunday!!

Well, things happen as they should. It wasn't intended that I should have the original Rootbeer. And I paid a premium price for selling my used bikes to a dealer, rather than posting them on Ebay. But in the end, I got exactly what I wanted and needed: an outstanding complement to the Jenard.

The original Rootbeer had components that were inferior to the Jenard. To ease my pain, and perhaps strike a mutually beneficial transaction, Bob brought out a very sweet looking ride that had the exact same components as Jenard. I mean EXACTLY. He showed me a 5.2 that is exactly replicated in the picture below:

The two compelling reasons for me to buy this bike are 1) The components (except for the frame) are exactly the same as my Domane 6.2  2) The geometry was shorter and faster than the Domane.

Those two reasons were good enough for me. I bought the bike Thursday and picked it up on Saturday. Hans once again fitted me to the bike. They strap the bike into a stationery roller thing.  You ride it while the fitter checks out handlebar and seat height.  While doing this, I discussed possible names for the bike.  Rootbeer didn't seem to fit anymore, since this bike was basically jet black. Hans liked the idea of Darth Vader.  I liked the name Death Star. The day before, I put the idea out to my students and they favored The Gerardicus.

All this was turned completely around when I brought the bike home, and J called it Rootbeer. She had taken a shining to the name, and it didn't matter that this sleek black upgrade from the original Rootbeer looked NOTHING like rootbeer....she liked the name ROOTBEER.
It was then that I came up with a brilliant compromise: she had allowed me to purchase this fairly expensive second bike, and I graciously allowed her to name it.
Marriage is an awesome institution!

Later on Saturday...
I took Rootbeer out for her maiden voyage and she performed WONDERFULLY.  With no aerobars to rest on, I still came in with a very respectable 14.08 mph 28 mile ride. 

There are MAJOR differences between the Madone and the Domane. The Madone has a shorter wheel base which translates to much squirrelier riding. But this also means quicker reaction time. When I pushed the bike, it WENT. It just FELT like a faster bike. My maximum speed bore out this feeling. So far, the fastest I've gone on either bike is 37 mph. and this was on the Madone.

All in all, I very happy with this new addition to my arsenal. My current plan is this:
Alternate Jenard and Rootbeer on dry days striking the happy medium between speed and comfort. Gee Force 3 (the Camber) is for rainy days, taking the brunt of the worst conditions.

This concept may change as depending on exactly how many rainy days I face.  But for now, that's the plan.  Thank you again to J for letting me get this new machine.
Rootbeer sits waiting for her next voyage.

Rootbeer front view

Two of the coolest bikes I've ever owned sit waiting to take me across the country!

4-8-14 Tuesday

J and I did the MS walk in Cheshire on Sunday, and also biked 10 miles along the bike path. It is always such a treat to do a workout with her.  She's my best friend, and as much as I enjoy cycling, I simply enjoy hanging out with her even more.  Having her right there next to me at the same time I'm cycling is basically my idea of heaven. 

We had lunch that day at Aunt Chilada's with friends and one of them suggested that we get a set of radio's for the trip so we can share real time conversations. I think this a splendid idea since there may be a few areas that don't have cell phone coverage. That way, I can talk with my BFF no matter where I am! 

4-5-14 Sat.

Although the weather improved somewhat, it has still been in the 40's or low 50's on most of my rides.  I'm hoping that warmer weather will bring faster speeds and overall times.

Test rode a Madone today.  Possible 2nd bike. My current thought is that the Domane will be for most days.  The Madone will be for rides where I expect fairly smooth roads, and the Camber will be for rainy days. The whole purpose behind having a Madone is that it may be a tad faster than the Domane.

That's the plan for now. In terms of the big picture, it would be nice if the weather finally realized that we are now officially in SPRING. J and I are taking a charity walk tomorrow at 9/am and the weather is slated to be 36 degrees!j

4-2-14 Wed.after the ride

Well it's official: Jenard is more comfortable, AND faster than Gee Force 2.  Turns out the road and weather conditions accounted for about 1 mph.  The Jenard itself accounted for the other  1mph. Bottom line is: Gee Force 2 HURTS! After my 16.1 mph ride on Jenard yesterday I felt AWESOME.  No stress, and quite rested.  Today's 15.1 mph ride on Gee Force 2 was painful.  I felt like I was pedaling a tank.

Two years ago, I bought Specialized Camber for about 1700.  That was the most I ever paid for a bike, and it was well worth it. The front and rear shocks made riding over ANY road surface absolutely luxurious.  I thought for sure that THIS would be my long distance touring bike.  To this day, I would still prefer to travel the WORLD on this bike.

Problem is, I don't have that much TIME. The Camber (Gee Force 3) is a sweet bike, but it's terribly slow when compared to a road bike. 

So the compromise is the Domane. As I rode Gee Force 2 (Fuji Acer) today, I was noticing bumps and jolts that just didn't happen yesterday on Jenard (Domane 6.2). The Fuji Acer was slated to be my  Gee Force 2 for this trip. It was to be my back up bike for rainy days. After the Domane experience, I'm seriously considering trading in the Fuji for a used Domane, Roubaix or Canondale  Synapse.  The comfort I experienced on Jenard was as close to a full suspension mountain bike as your going to get. At the end of my 16.1 mph Jenard ride I felt far my refreshed and invigorated than at the end of the 15.1mph Fuji Acer ride.  Turns out Lance was wrong: To a certain extent, it IS about the bike!

4-2-14 Wed.

I'm scared. As you may know, I took the Jenard out yesterday for its maiden voyage and it performed WONDERFULLY.  The ride was smooth, fast and very comfortable. I came in at one of my fastest speeds yet: 16.1mph.

Today I take a step back to answer  few questions:
1) Was my ride faster because it was 61 degrees out?
2) Was my ride faster because there was no snow/sand on the road?
3) Was my ride faster because I didn't have to wear 5 extra pounds of clothing?
4) Was my ride faster because the Jenard is simply the coolest most awesome bike in the world?!

You may think I'm crazy (see prior entries to prove it) however, I HAVE to answer these questions for myself. In order to do this, I am, as I said, taking a "step back".  I'm taking Gee Force 2 out today to see what kind of land speed record I can set. All other factors are the same today as yesterday: weather, road conditions, clothing, etc.  The ONLY difference is that I will be on a circa 1990's steel road bike. It's a wonderful machine, if I do say so myself, but doesn't fit me like a glove, as the Jenard does.  It also doesn't flatten out ANY bumps. 

I know for a fact that Jenard will leave me far more invigorated at the end of a 120 mile day. I just want it to also be faster on the short rides.  But we shall see.  

I'm going to go as fast as I can, and HOPE that I don't go as fast as yesterday.  Is that crazy?  (see prior entries for evidence) 

4-1-14 Tuesday

Maiden Voyage of the Jenard

Just in case you can't read or interpret the pic, allow me:
Distance: 14.63 mi
Time 54:28
MPH - 16.13

I basically added about 2 mph to my speed in the Jenard's maiden voyage.

Other factors that may have increased my speed: the road was relatively dry, and the weather was relatively warmer (61 degrees).
I will ride Gee Force 2 next time to make sure that it was indeed Jenard, and not the impoved weather and road conditions that gave me two extra mph's. 

The ride was smooth and fast. I could simply FEEL how much lighter the Jenard is than Gee Force 2.  When I pushed Jenard, Jenard moved forward with NO ARGUMENT.  Jenard just likes being on the road as much as I do.  It's a good fit.

The independent suspension of the rear seat actually helped me to become more efficient in my pedal stroke. In certain lower gears, I found myself bouncing up and down a LOT.  I took this as a sign that I was in TOO low a gear.  Increasing to a harder gear made me bounce less and go forward MORE.

Also, having the shifting levers combined in the brake handles is AWESOME.  No time wasted in searching for the shifters on the down tube.

All in all, a very pleasant first experience!

March 31 Mon.

I've been struggling with the idea of riding on cold and/or rainy days. It's one thing to WANT to get out on the road, but it's another thing to actually DO IT. Check out my  March 30th entry.

It's been raining the past two or three days, which is good for getting rid of snow, salt and chemicals that will mess up the Jenard.  Looks like Tuesday, April 1st will be the first day I take Jenard out.

I have both anticipation and anxiety about Jenard's maiden voyage.  What if it really isn't that much faster than Gee Force 2?  What if it isn't that much more comfortable?  What if I just spent a whole lot of money on a bike that I didn't need, therefore losing out on the opportunity of eating several hundred really good hamburgers or steaks with that money?

I've been reading several blogs looking for a comparison between steel and carbon fiber bikes.  The general consensus is that speed originates with the rider, NOT the bike.  

I do know that I'm 1 to 2 mph faster on my road bike v my mountain bike.  The big question remains: Will my 2013 Domane 6.2 be substantially BETTER for me overall than my circa 1990's Fuji Acer?
I look forward to finding out!
Yee haaaa!!!!

Sun. March 30

Rainy Days: I have yet to figure out my company policy for rainy days. On the actual trip the policy will be I RIDE.  I have already taken two major and several minor trips during which I rode in everything from sunshine, to torrential rain to blizzard like conditions. On those days there was no question: I needed to get from point A to point B so I simply sucked it up and went.

Training is different: I don't need to get used to riding in the rain, I already know what it's like to ride in the rain. I can handle riding in the ready, and I can even like it, IF I HAVE TO. Today, it is 43 degrees and raining and the bottom line is, I just don't want to be both cold and wet. I don't HAVE to do it, and therefore I will not.

Who's cold & wet?
Later that day....Not sure exactly who wrote that paragraph above, but it wasn't me. I forgot the fact that my favorite activity in the whole world, other than hanging out with J is RIDING MY BIKE! 

Was it cold? Yes.  Was it wet? Yes. VERY wet which made it colder.  Was it fun?  Oh helll yesss!

Sat. March 29  208lbs
50 Minutes Stationary Bike

Note: This ride was the culmination of a very rough week.  My aunt, whose children I am very close to died.  Most of the week has been spent mourning and eating.  Thus the massive spike in weight.  The ride was at Healthtrax for an event called Charity Cycling.

March 8 & 9th

I'm done with snow. I'm done with cold.  I don't care HOW cold it is, from this point on, I'm getting on my bike OUTSIDE.  In the past two days I took Gee force 2 out for a 14 mile ride.  Yesterday the temp was in the high 30's and I averaged 14 mph.  Today it was in the high 20's and I averaged 12 mph.
About to freeze my "body" off.  This is a FAMILY blog :o)

My epiphany and rebellion against the weather comes from the fact that I've been averaging about 20 mph on the stationery bike.  It was a serious letdown to only do 14 mph yesterday.

I understand that there are significant differences between indoor and outdoor cycling.  It is for that reason that I'm heading outside.  I need to train on a bicycle that actually GOES SOMEWHERE!

March 2nd

The Morning After

Got up early this morning to get some work done and discovered that I felt GREAT! I'm not just talking sort of good...I mean the same type of AWESOME that Wall E felt when he got his first morning dose of sunshine...
Here comes the sun!
Why am I feeling so good? There can only be one reason: CYCLING! You have to understand that my brain has not aged much since my early twenties, however my body didn't get the memo. But this morning, my hips and knees walked me down the stairs in a manner I haven't felt in quite a while.  I can only attribute yesterday's 73 mile ride to this sudden improvement. Remember, I am NOT a doctor, 
Joyrider by Moritz Waldemeyer
but my anecdotal testimony to cycling is that it makes you feel GOOD!

March 1st 

Training Day (the reality, not the movie)

First long distance training ride this year!
The Jenard comes with an upgraded navigation system! 
Actually the picture caption is just a ha-ha.  Or maybe just a "ha". What you're looking at is the time and mileage readouts for the stationery bicycle I rode today at the gym.  It's still way too cold for me to take out Geeforce 2 or 3. And the Jenard is waiting for chemical free roads.  So I kissed my wife goodbye this morning and headed off to the gym for a 100 mile stationery bike ride. That was my goal.  I would have been happy with 60 miles.  As it turned out, I did 73.98 miles in 4 hours and 40 minutes.  Average speed was 15.85 mph.

I'm good with this for now.  I've got 3 months and 21 days to improve this. My goal for the trip is 6 hours per day on the bike with an average speed of 20mph.  Add in about an hour of break time and that would have me finishing each day's ride around 4/pm.  This in turn would give J and I plenty of time to catch the local sites and give my body some recoup time. Life is good!

February 25th 

True Confessions

If you're expecting something hot and steamy from this, the best you're going to get will be perhaps a lobster roll with melted butter. This entry is about food.

The truth is that I really do believe my Diet Ideology.  The confession part is that I SUCK at it. It goes like this:

NutribulletAfter a completely healthy day, starting off with my breakfast of raw vegetables and fruits with their nutrients "unlocked" by my trusty Nutri Bullet, J and I went ballroom dancing.  We had both eaten pretty healthy that day and were proud of the fact that we'd be supplementing our good diet behavior with a lively merengue.
(the dance, not the pie)

It was all good till on the way home, we joked about heading over to Chipotle Grill for a nightcap.  Fortunately for us, there was no Chipotle directly on the way home....but there was a Moe's.

I don't want to go into the sordid details of what followed next. It wasn't pretty, but it tasted GOOD!  And for the record, I take full responsibility for the event.  J's resolve was wonderful.  She had already resigned to the fact that we WEREN'T going to have Chipotle when I pulled the truck right up to Moe's and forced her to go inside and order something.  Ok, so maybe I didn't force her, but the truth is I didn't take her lead.

The truth is, we're both strong in different areas.  I'm good with sucking it up, getting out there and exercising.  She's good with eating one brownie and not the whole pan.  We complement each other well...when we LISTEN to each other.  I wasn't listening last night, and for that J, I am sorry....but that cheese and ground beef quesadilla was GOOD!

February 23rd  

The Jenard is here!!!

Not much more to say.  After a very detailed fitting session to adjust seat, handlebar and aerobar settings  (thank you Hans at Biker's Edge!), the Jenard took a ride home in the back seat of my truck. Jenard currently is residing in a comfy spot on my garage wall, about two feet above my snowblower.  As soon as the snowblower is retired for the season, and two or three good rains have washed the chemicals off the road, Jenard and I will take our first training ride.  (no more more snow... just say "no" snow!)
Here's a few pics commemorating Jenard's arrival:
Side Angle

Close Side Angle

Handle Bars

Me Like!!

February 21st
Four Months To Go.....
What the heck was I thinking??

Last July, when J first said she would be into doing this trek (no bike pun intended) you could have knocked me over with a feather.  I was elated.  I was BEYOND elated.  I was walking on sunshine,
somewhere over the rainbow, and ready to go John Travolta taking over the dance floor! Only for me it would be the pitiful stretch of road between here and the west coast.  Like Mr. T, I "pitied the fool" that stood between me and the Pacific Ocean.  I definitely had an attitude about it and was ready to make the road my do I say this politely?  I was going to OWN that stretch of asphalt, dirt, WHATEVER between here and Balboa's pond.

of reality......
in 33 days....
Averaging a hundred miles a day....
Am I INSANE????  
Most people that know me would say YES and they'd be able to provide plenty of evidence beside this bike trip to prove it.  Even I would say YES.  But I'd also admit that this trip is taking it to a new level.

Let's be honest here.  As one of the blogs to which I've provided a link (see "Wait, I'm not the only one who's done this?") will tell you, riding a bike cross country is not that remarkable a thing to do. Lot's of people do it each year.  And as any avid cyclist will tell you, give someone enough time, and they could cycle around the world.  That's the factor that is frankly scaring me a little: the time.

Every other bike trip I've taken has had no particular time or distance limit.  My usual attitude was that I would get there when I got there.  But this one's different.  I have a very finite window within which to accomplish this task - summer vacation, which is only getting shorter as each successive snow day decreases the average fixed
Always studying AP Micro.
cost (insider AP Microeconomics reference) of my snowblower, but piles on an added amount of opportunity cost (AP Micro again) for each snow day.

Truth is, I'm just plain scared.  Training was going fine until I got knock-me-down-and-keep-on- kicking-me-till-I-scream sick in December.  That month and January has been more about recovering than it has about training.  So far February has been spent ignoring my diet ideology (see Diet Ideology tab), and choosing mostly to stay inside and watch for tv for a school closing rather than work.   Does running a snowblower count as working out?  What if it has electric start?

Anyway, today, February 21st is different.  I will be back on my lifetime diet plan and reinstating my workout plan by going ballroom dancing with my
Ready to dance!

wife.  Thus is the dedication I have made to both her and this project.  One must do, what one must do.   T minus four months and counting.

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