Monday, April 30, 2007

Suddenly It Was Green

Annie arrived home safely last night and we rode out in perfect weather this morning, 54 degrees watching the sun come up with no wind. We whizzed through our 13 mile loop and suddenly noticed that both sides of the loop were suddenly over laid with the green and interspersed with the pinks and purples of Spring. I don't think that the colors, especially the greens were even as noticeable yesterday.

Speaking of yesterday. The over 40 mile trip knocked me out and I went to bed quite early. But it made the easy loop around today much more enjoyable. It felt good to have an easy ride and I was pedalling in bigger gears than I have lately without any effort.

The only other notable occurrence was passing beneath the Ringling Brothers circus train traveling into Philadelphia. It was cool and I wished I'd had my camera.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Saga Of The Climb

A fine Sunday morning and since I haven't had a day off in two weeks, I'm taking this one. Therefore I'm up a bit later than usual and on the road at 8 AM, the temperature is 52 degrees with partly sunny skies and plenty of humidity to warm things up.

The opening picture is from this morning's New York Times. Great inspirational reading before a ride: a great article about fixies (fixed gear bicycles) and the accompanying bike culture. check it out

Even better than the article is the video accompanying it. Actually, three short videos, one at a fixie shop, the other on the track and the other from the street. worth watching

With that I set off. Just riding up Lombard Street toward the trail, I noticed friend Mindy with her group of riders down from Mt Airy. They ride every Sunday at 7AM toward a different brunch destination. Today they were in Center city so I pulled off and said hello (damn I didn't take a picture!) And after some chit chat was on my way. My plan was to finally find the road route to the Schuylkill path, having failed to find it twice before. this time I was armed with a hand drawn map from friend George (who I passed quickly going in the opposite direction as I started up the West River Drive.) Indeed, with no trouble this time I found the Umbria Street route and negotiated it despite the traffic and the hill. But when I came to the end of Umbria Street and should have turned sharp left down the hill to Nixon, I went right up the hill on Shawmount. And I mean up the hill! It was my own personal Alp d'Huez It was the steepest and longest climb of my short career and I almost thought I wouldn't make it. Especially as I sort of realized that I must be going the wrong way. I passed Ridge Avenue and managed to turn around and head back down the hill (almost as much work as going up and twice as scary) and found Nixon Street and familiarity. From there to just past the Norristown transportation center was old hat. When I reached that point, after about 21 miles, I needed a break and some nourishment. However, I had forgotten to pack my cliff bars. So I got off the path and wandered into Norristown looking for a place to eat. Not much presented itself, to say the least. I settled for a Dunkin Donuts (tried for a picture and the damn camera didn't work, for a change) feeling bad that I'd have no choice but to eat a sugary confection. As it turned out, I was able to get a bagel and coffee (better than I donut I think,) and had a nice break during which I called Annie, waiting at the airport in Utah to say hi and confirm her return flight information. Then it was back to Philadelphia. A very pleasant an uneventful ride home. Stayed on the West River Drive again figuring there would be fewer walkers, and Sunday folks. And more room to get around them in any case. This was true. There were plenty of people out enjoying the beautiful Sunday, but on the drive you can zip past them pretty safely. Of course, I came around the Museum and back down the trail to Locust and that was packed and slow. Total trip: 42.2 miles and one really big hill.

Friday, April 27, 2007

The Last April Showers? Shrines and Bike Polo

It is 5:26 AM and pouring rain. I may or may not get a ride in.

Meanwhile a few other notes: I have some familiarity with religion, religious thought and religious practice. And, of course I have a wariness regarding the proximity of religious practice and idolatry. So the accompanying picture begs the question: Is this a contemporary form of idolatry? Well, I suppose so, but it sure is fun! BikePortland featured this look at the Eddie Merckx shrine and I thought it looked really cool.

If you don't know much about Merckx, this from Wikopedia:
Successes in stage racing and single day races

Merckx started competing in 1961. Three years later he became world champion in the amateur category, before turning professional in 1965. In 1966 he won the first of seven editions of Milan-Sanremo. The following year, he started his first grand tour at the 1967 Giro d'Italia. He would win his first stage here and finished seventh overall. Later that year he outsprinted Jan Janssen to become world champion in the professional category in Heerlen, The Netherlands. He would win this title twice more.

In 1968 with the rainbow jersey on his back and a change of team to the Italian Faema team, Merckx went on to win Paris-Roubaix for the first time and started his domination of the Grand Tours by becoming the first Belgian to win the Giro d'Italia in 1968. He would repeat this four times.

Starting the 1969 season, he won Paris-Nice stage race. In the time trial that Merckx won in this race, he overtook the 5 time Tour de France winner Jacques Anquetil who over the previous ten years had been the master of that discipline. Merckx went on to win Milan-San Remo and Ronde van Vlaanderen several weeks later. In his Tour de France debut in 1969, Merckx immediately won the yellow jersey (overall leader), the green jersey (best sprinter) and the red polka-dotted jersey ("King of the Mountains" - best climber in the mountain stages). No other cyclist has achieved this trifecta in the Tour de France, and only Laurent Jalabert has been able to match this feat at the Grand Tour level, in the 1995 Vuelta. If the young riders' white jersey (for best rider in the Tour under 25 years of age) had existed at that time, Merckx would have won that one as well, as he had only just turned 24. It was the first time a Belgian won the Tour de France since Sylvère Maes thirty years earlier, and because of this Merckx became a national hero. He would win this contest four more times: in 1970, 1971, 1972 and 1974, equalling Frenchman Jacques Anquetil. Over the next 25 years, only Bernard Hinault and Miguel Indurain were able to equal the five victories. Then Lance Armstrong broke the record and went on winning the Tour for a sixth (2004) and a seventh (2005) time. Merckx still holds the records for stage wins (34) and number of days in the Yellow Jersey (96).

In addition to these well-known Grand Tour successes, Merckx also has an impressive list of victories in one-day races (for a comprehensive list, see lower down). Among the highlights are a record of seven victories in the Milan-Sanremo (which to this day is unequalled), two victories in the Ronde van Vlaanderen, three wins in Paris-Roubaix (the Hell of the North), five in the Liège-Bastogne-Liège (record), and two in the Giro di Lombardia, which makes a total of 19 victories in the 'Monument' Classics. He also won the World Road Racing Championship a record three times in 1967, 1971 and 1974, and every single one of the Classic cycle races, except Paris-Tours. Finally, he was also victorious in no less than 17 six-day track races on the velodrome, often with his partner Patrick Sercu.

Merckx retired from racing in 1978, at the age of 33.

And if we bike worshipers have the shrine then we must also have a book. I know that I have been promising book reviews for months and just haven't had the time or motivation to act on this promise. But in the present context I wanted to report regarding one book in particular. I've read a bunch of bike novels and loved them, despite their varying quality, and I've read Lance's book, which is also terrific but once read stays read. The book that I want to very highly recommend and propose as the meditative text of bike aficionados: "Need For The Bike" by Paul Fournel. This is unlike any cycling book I've encountered. It is written, first of all, by a certified French intellectual, associated with avant-garde French literature; more importantly, it is a truly meditative look at every aspect of cycling and the inner interaction between the soul of the rider and the soul of the machine beautifully translated by Allan Stoekl. It is a series of loosely connected essays many no more than two pages and the longest no more than 4 or 5 pages. The book is published by Bison Books in a soft back edition suitable for carrying in a small day pack, "man bag" or even in a good sized pocket. It is not a book one sits down to read from cover to cover. Rather, one savors an essay or two or three at the most, puts down the book and meditates on where the essay has transported the reader. Not is it a book that should be read once. Each essay seems as fresh and pregnant with meditative possibility at each reading. One simply can pick up the book and open to any page and be drawn in. It should be the sacred text for any lover of bicycling.

Finally today, check out the New York Times polo video in today's paper. It is about 2 minutes long and shows the NY City messenger community playing urban bicycle polo. A very cool video.

By the way (sorry for such a long post) I did get my ride in. The rain had stopped by 6 AM and I shot out having a really lovely ride for the first half of the route. Then the rain came buckets. I actually still enjoyed it. I have more and more trouble getting myself to go out in such weather, but once out - what are you going to do? I must say when the thunder and lightening joined the scene I was thinking "this was a bad idea," but that too passed uneventfully and 13 miles is 13 miles as we get close to reporting the monthly total.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Oldy But Goody After A Great Ride

I'm getting used to waking up at 4:25, about 20 minutes earlier than I usually do when Annie is home. Getting out the door by 5:15 allowed me to ride 21.5 miles on a beautifully cool morning, temperature at 50 degrees. What more can I say?

So instead of words let me share this video I found on I-Tube of a an introduction to Bicycle riding and safety from 1948. It's actually pretty good in the main, with some exceptions especially as regards the equipment. It reminded me of my childhood.

By the way, I finally watched the DVD 2 Seconds last night. Fabulous cycling scenes and fun movie, but not great. Started off being really engaging and then seemed to rush the end, as if the filmaker ran out of money. But the visuals are worth the price of admission and the story is cute/quirky enough to hold you right up until the unsatisfying ending.

Last but not least, this is probably old news to many of you but Rebellin won Fleche Wallonne this week's one day Spring Classic through the Belgian Ardennes.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

One Person's Scary Thought Is Another's Solution

Pretty scary thought, no? I guess not if you're a bicycle commuter. I imagine there will be many more if this prediction in yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer comes true. In the end it may only be the economics that will force people to take the environmental threats seriously. In the end, we may have been able to accomplish the same goal years ago with extraordinary taxes. Then the money from die-hards would at least have gone to good public uses, potentially.

No day off and no day off ride today. Off to NY to teach a class this morning, so up at 4:25 and out of the house at 5:15 in order to return in time to shower and dress and get to a 7:20 train. I'll no doubt be tired, but it was a great ride and a great start to the day.

A Day's Ride and Signing the Schuykill River Agreement

Another wonderful weather day. I had to take Annie to the airport at 5:15 so didn't get on the road until 6 AM. Temperature in the low 60's and on my own I rode at one of my fastest paces of the year. Did the 13 mile loop and arrived home at regular time with an average speed of 12 something mph. That average, of course, includes the slower speeds and stops on the street-riding part of the journey to and from the trail, so I did the trail at a higher clip and loved it.

After the morning at the office I determined to join the festivities at the Locust street entry to the trail. The Mayor, John Street and a representative of CSX Railroad gathered there to sign the agreement guaranteeing access to the trail. That's a shot of the Mayor speaking.

The next shot is hizzoner speaking to one of my congregants who was active in the fight for the park and the final shot is of all the bigwigs gathered on the stage.

After I'd heard enough speeches for more than one day I took off down the path for a quick ride up to Kelly Drive and back and then headed to a local synagogue for a meeting, where I encountered a lovely little street that I'd never really noticed before was cobbled. Funny how a bike puts you into better touch with your surroundings. All this extra riding brought my total for the day up to an even twenty miles!

Also, note the lovely Cherry Blossoms in the background. It is wonderful to have the world re-fill with color!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Almost Too Nice For Words

Annie and I rode 13 wonderful miles around the loop with the temperature hovering around 60 degrees at 5:30 AM. I don't usually have time to stop and take pictures during the morning ride (and up until now it's been too dark anyway,) but only a picture could begin to capture what a pleasure it is to ride now after all those days of slugging through the cold and damp. There isn't much else to say beyond that.

Just came across a post in Bicycle Diaries defining a Fred. I pass it along to you: FRED

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Ride In The Morning, Ride In The Evening

No more complaints about the weather, unless it turns back, or gets too hot too quickly. today was as good as it gets. The temperature was around 50 degrees when Annie and I rode this morning at 7 AM. A late Sunday morning start as we didn't get home from a Sabbath in New York until late last night. Which meant only once around the loop despite the beautiful weather and a really strong feeling in my legs, and the open West River Drive. We rode our 12.1 miles and I headed to a busy day of work, including officiating at a noon wedding. But I was not satisfied. The ride had not given me any kind of a workout going at Annie's pace. So after the wedding, after an afternoon of paper work followed by a two hour meeting, I hit the rode again before dinner. It was now 78 degrees. A very different riding environment than I've been used to. If it weren't for the literally hordes of people out on the trail I would have loved it. As is I pretty much loved it. I rode much quicker than this morning in much higher gear all the away around the loop, dodging people of every stripe and yelling "on your left" until I was horse. For the most part it was great, but a little nerve wracking. The 25.6 miles combined from both rides and the higher cadence of the second ride, left me feeling much more satisfied.

I chose to ride rather than try to follow today's racing, but I'm happy that team Discovery Channel won another American soon-to-be-classic, the Tour De Georgia. That is the winner Janez Brajkovic celebrating on the top and Stefan Schumacher of Gerolsteiner on the bottom, winner of today's Amstel Gold Race, which I can try to watch tomorrow on versus if I have a break in the afternoon.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Here Comes The Sun!

Who can tell how long it will last, but we rode in sunshine today. Not only did the sun actually rise and reveal itself from behind the endless clouds of the last week, but the difference in the time of sunrise is now significant: our lights are necessary and effective for barely ten minutes of the ride. By the time we get past the Art Museum Hill and on to Kelly Drive it is fairly light. By the time we got to the bridge it was pretty much full light, allowing us to continue around the loop via West River Drive rather than turning back along Kelly Drive. That adds about a mile to even our unfortunately quick morning rides like today.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Touch Of Spring

OK, 47 degrees, overcast, streets wet from over-night rain, and a misty sprinkle by the time I rode home; but still there was a touch of spring in the air. An almost inexpressible difference (the calmness of the wind sure helped) from how it has felt over the course of the week giving rise to an extra exhilaration for the ride. Whatever, it was a great ride and relatively pleasant conditions. I was out of the house at 5:30 AM and was able to ride a loop and a half:16.8 miles. Feeling very satisfied.

Accompanying me on the ride, as usual, was my ipod. I am slowly working my way through the entire archives of the Fredcast. I have to say they get better and better. The particular series I've been listening to this week is of reports "live" from the 2006 Interbike Expo. Excellent stuff.check it out

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Another Crummy Day...A Beautiful Ride

Yes, I'm tired of the grey and the chill and the winds, though the latter were less intrusive today, they still made parts of my 30.1 mile ride hard work. And while 45 degrees is not terribly cold considering what I was riding in a few weeks ago, it is definitely not warm, not even comfortable. Not that I felt it on the bike, I was perfectly dressed; not as warmly dressed as yesterday and therefore more comfortable on the bike, but still, when I stopped for a Cliff Bar break and made a phone call, I was really cold. Alright, enough complaining. It was a great ride, I haven't felt as exhilarated since last week, I got in some good miles and definitely could have kept going but for the need to be at home to await some deliveries and appointments and then get ready to head over to work later this afternoon. In fact, I feel so good that it is clear that unless I get a ride of 20-30 miles in I don't feel so good. Whereas my 12 mile loop used to send me into the world feeling great, I'm sensing that I need 20-or 30 miles to do that now and I just won't have time to do that on most days. Could be a problem.

The city or the Fairmount park people did a great job of getting the path quickly back into shape. Everything was open, much debris had been swept off and even the really muddy places had been hosed clean. Kudos to whoever maintains the path.

Along the way I passed a row of artists or art students parked along the wall above the river just below the Falls bridge, painting. Not as close a picture as I'd hoped, but you get the idea. One of the artists has his bike there - a true multi-user of the trail.

Finally, I wanted to share this video from Bike Portland showing scenes from the Tour DE Flanders of Portland. It's kick
take a look

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A Lunch Hour Ride...The Wind Is Wearing Me Out

This time I took my camera! Not quite as dramatic as some of the scenes yesterday, but you'll get the idea. Once again I chose not to ride in the morning. the weather really wasn't bad, but I was concerned with being able to see the debris clearly. So, after a less than stellar morning at work in meetings and teaching a class, I came home and took a slightly extended lunch hour. After a quick bite I went out for a ride. Which brings us to the secondary title of this post; the wind is really wearing me out. It is really beginning to take some of the joy out of my riding. I don't mind it once in awhile; it's even a challenge. But day after day of pushing into these headwinds, is getting old. Of course, there is the exhilaration of the return trip which, at least the last two days has actually put the wind at my back and felt great, as opposed to all the days when the wind seems to be in my face in both directions. Anyway, I was glad to be out, had a good 14.3 mile ride and took some good pictures. Now, about the pictures. The first one above shows the Schuylkill still up over its banks along the new River Park section of the trail.

This next one shows some of the debris washed up at a spot along the same path a bit further on.

This one is a shot of the only spot still closed along the Kelly Drive section of the path. I rode up on the grass embankment where there is a bit of a packed dirt path that joggers often used, but was the only option today.

This one witness the fact that the Johnnies-on-the-spot haven't fared too well in the wind either!

Finally, a public service announcement, if you will, for those who live in Philadelphia especially, but really for anyone in the general vicinity who wants to be part of a great new event: BikePhilly. This is from the Bicycle Coalition of Greater Philadelphia website:

"Philadelphia will close 20 miles of streets for Bike Philly, a family-friendly bike tour celebrating the freedom of car-free Philadelphia streets, bicyclists will ride through historic neighborhoods, take over the Parkway, passing through Old City and exploring hidden corners of Fairmount Park on Sunday September 9th.
You can register online at this site Bike Philly begins at 8AM at the Art Museum Steps."

Monday, April 16, 2007

An Afternoon Ride

I really regretted not taking my camera with me when I decided that the weather had cleared enough today for an afternoon ride. I left work about 4:30 and was home, changed and on the bike at 5 PM with the temperature about 45 degrees and winds gusting to 50 mph. I was stunned by the sight of the bike path. the Schuylkill had crested at about 12 feet above flood stage and must have covered most of the path earlier in the day. When I went out the path itself was clear of water, though still strewn with small debris. but along the banks of the river the water was still pooled over the banks and a huge amount of debris, mostly logs, was caught along the shore, on the retaining walls, etc. It really looked like a hurricane had hit, and I guess this storm was a close enough approximation of one to count. It was raining lightly, and/or water from the trees was being blown against me, but the wind was the real story. I got only as far as the curve in the path just below the statue of John Kelly. The river there was across the path and I turned back; that's only about 3.7 miles from home! But on the ride to that point I had hardly been able to get above 7.5 mph the whole way due to the wind. When i turned around it was a different story: I flew home with the wind mostly to my back until I was back on the river Park section where the wind twisted to my side and then in my face again. However, going much faster also seemed to make me more susceptible to the gusts, so there were a few scary moments when I thought I might lose control. But all turned out well. Only added 7.5 miles to my total but it was good to get out. It is raining again and the prospects for a morning ride are dim. Maybe in the afternoon again?

Meanwhile, I had been looking forward to watching the first stage of the Tour De Georgia on their web site during the afternoon, but neither the audio nor video ever got working. I watched the verbal reports come in on VeloNews, which was OK, but not nearly as satisfying as it would have been to watch the race. Hopefully, they will get their technological act together before the tour ends. Italian cyclist Daniele Contrini from the new Tinkoff Credit Systems team won the stage but I'm not familiar with him, and since I didn't see the race, can't comment on.

Bicyclus Interuptus

It is a good thing I built up some good miles at the beginning of April; today marked three days in a row without a ride and, frankly, tomorrow morning still looks questionable depending on the extent of the flooding around Kelly Drive and the Schuykill path. The rain was unceasing and heavy overnight and then turned to snow -real snow - this morning. At the moment it is quiet, except for the 40 to 60 mph winds, but more precipitation is expected today and into the morning. I suppose I will have to get out the trainer tomorrow as I don't won't to lose another day's workout. Meanwhile, the rest has not been entirely bad as I was a bit sore after the numbers of miles I did last week.

So, last night I attended the annual meeting of the Philadelphia Bicycling Coalition. Since I attend many organizational annual meetings as an occupational hazard, it was a mark of my great interest that I went (not to mention going out in the storm.) I was and wasn't disappointed. The speaker Randy Neufeld of the Chicagoland Bicycle Federation was both interesting and inspiring. Compared to what is going on in Philly, Chicago is like on a different continent. The rest of the program was of some interest in that I'm trying to learn about the local scene and be as supportive as I can. On the other hand, I was terribly disappointed, though not surprised, at the lack of reach-out on behalf of either the membership or the organization. Since I work in a non-profit I am very sensitive to issues of membership retention and hospitality is a big one. Here I am, a new member, attending my first meeting, knowing no one and no one talks to me the whole night. No one asks if I'm new, there is no institutional way of signalling that I'm new, no one asks me who I am, where do I ride, what do I ride, etc. I really tried. Sat down at a table the looked like people who weren't all part of a pre-arranged group, tried a number of times to interject comments into conversations that might have then included me, and failed. The person checking me in at the door obviously had no idea that I was a new member, and regardless, is clearly a very active member of the club and had never seen me before and said nothing to welcome me or meet me when I came in. I will communicate these experiences to Alex Doty, the Exec Dir. later; I just signed up to volunteer to be involved in advocacy issues and nothing on my name label (let's say) identified that interest and the Advocacy director and I had no occasion to either meet or talk. Typical organizational failings and then groups wonder why people aren't active.

In lieu of riding today I'll try to follow the Tour De Georgia. I am rooting for Levi and the Discovery team.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Rained Out For Paris-Roubaix

The expected rains and winds came and I just couldn't get myself out on the road. Hopefully, tomorrow will be a bit better, although very strong winds are still forecast as well as occasional rain.

So today is a good day to be a cycling fan rather than a cyclist in Philadelphia and I finally managed to get (check it out) working and was able to watch the last part of Paris-Roubaix live. Stewart O'Grady's win was magnificent and I hope to watch the recaps again on Versus later today.

Tonight is the annual meeting of the Philadelphia Bicycle Coalition and I'm planning to attend. It will be my first foray into the world of organized cycling support. Will let you know how it works out.

Friday, April 13, 2007

The Wind Is My Friend, The Wind Is My Friend

Or so I kept telling myself as Annie and I did our morning loop today. Lovely temperatures around 49 degrees but the wind was up to around 20 MPH with gusts probably near 40 MPH. We had a great ride anyway and the train that came chugging in just as we approached the Locust Street crossing decided to park before the crossing, allowing plenty of room for us to get by. Strangely, the trip odometer clocked this trip at 11.8 miles and we can't figure how we shaved .3 of a mile off the same trip we take every morning, I'm beginning to question the accuracy of my wireless unit, but I dutifully recorded the mileage according to the odometer. The weather forecast is for continued cold weather and a lot of rain over the next week or more with a really big Nor'easter expected over Saturday night and into Sunday. Riding could be spotty the next few days. Its Friday, the thirteenth no less, and getting to even the best job just feels hard today...perhaps if this graphic could be true things would feel different.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

After The Storm An Afternoon Ride

The rain was torrential this morning and I wimped out and stayed in bed. The result was an unpleasant mood all day. Fortunately my afternoon was uncharacteristically light, so after teaching this morning and spending most of the day at my desk digging out from under all the piled up mail and messages from the holidays, I came home, changed and put the rubber to the road.I felt terrible! At first; my legs felt dead, my thighs were sore from the long ride yesterday and I really almost turned around and went home. But then, I guess, the endorphins kicked in and the soreness passed, my legs felt even stronger than usual and for the last two thirds of the ride my average speed increased appreciably. Best of all, I feel human again and ready to face another interminable meeting tonight. I could have ridden further, but decided 13.1 miles was a good recovery ride after yesterday's near 40 miles.

Not having any good pictures of today's ride here's one that was circulating around the web a few weeks ago: a bike riding bank robber. It's hard not to be a little sympathetic to him despite his nefarious occupation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

My Own Ghent-Wevelgem Or Paris-Roubaix

"Burghardt wins Ghent-Wevelgem." Thus the headline in today's It sounds like an exciting race, with much of the excitement being provided by the famed cobbles which accounted for a fair amount of carnage, as VeloNews reports:

"Wednesday's spectacular crashes on the sketchy Kemmelberg cobblestone descent in Ghent-Wevelgem had some critics suggesting the road is too dangerous to be part of the otherwise flat 220km route across western Flanders. More than a dozen riders crashed in two harrowing descents off the narrow, twisting road. Among the victims in the spectacular, high-speed spills were American Tyler Farrar (Cofidis), who broke his kneecap, and Frenchman Jimmy Casper (, who suffered major cuts to his face and nose. But UCI officials said they had no intention of asking organizers to remove the Kemmelberg from the route for 2008. And most riders said Ghent-Wevelgem wouldn't be the same without it.It's a dangerous part of the race, sure, but everyone knows it's there. Do we take the Aremberg out of Paris-Roubaix just because it's dangerous?" said T-Mobile's Roger Hammond, who finished second. "The Kemmelberg is part of Ghent-Wevelgem."

Well the temperature was 35 degrees when I left my house today for my Wednesday ride at 8:15 AM. Who knows, perhaps the very time the riders were cruising over the Kemmelberg? Despite the still chilly temperatures I did a nice ride, 37.4 miles to the Norristown Transportation Center. That's about 4 1/2 miles short of the Valley Forge ride but I'm glad I turned around there. The head wind coming home was really strong and consistent. My time and speed back was much slower and I had to work harder. Another ten miles total would have been a lot.

On my way out I tried again to find the access to the Schuykill trail without taking the Manayunk tow path and again I failed. So I set out gingerly on the tow path and found that it really is very navigable even with the thinner tires on the Fuji and just kept going. Just at the end of the tow path, or actually coming up from River Rd up to the dedicated bike path but still ostensibly on a city street one turns up a steep incline that twists left then right over a cobblestone roadway which I've wanted to photograph since I first rode it, but have never had my camera with me, or I'd run out of batteries or something. Anyway, today I was prepared and coincidentally I returned home to read about the Kemmelberg. Here are a couple of views from the top and the bottom:

Not a bad challenge!

Sadly, it is still not Spring so the chance to take typical Spring-time photos to brighten the mood (though, I must admit it was plenty bright and sunny today) did not materialize. None-the-less there are some pretty views. this one is one of my favorites just down the road from the Philadelphia-Montgomery County line on the Philadelphia side.Enjoy

Sunday, April 08, 2007

The Snows of April?!

Well, not exactly, though there were some flurries yesterday afternoon. But, man was it cold out there this morning. My muscles have already forgotten how to deal with it, despite having dealt with it all winter. My legs felt dead for a good part of today's 15.9 mile ride. On the bright side, the West river Drive portion of the loop is now closed to traffic for the season and this was the first Sunday one could ride the loop in the roadway rather than on the bike path. That is always a pleasure. I only saw one or two other riders taking advantage of this sign of spring today.

On the other hand, if you were able to see any of yesterday's U.S. Open Cycling Championship from Richmond yesterday on NBC (I set my Sabbath timer) you saw some real snow and cold riding. It definitely changed the outcome of the race in my view but that's what is supposed to happen in racing. It was exciting, interesting and I hope NBC gets good feedback in order to encourage more cycling on mainstream TV and make possible the development of a real racing circuit in the US.

Not much time to blog today as we prepare for the next round of holidays, the last days of Passover. I'll be "off the air" again for a couple of days.

Friday, April 06, 2007

The Lion Of April

What's this about March coming in like a lion? Today, April 6th, was plenty leonine for me! The wind was prodigious, making a day with 30 degree temperature feel like the low twenties. I'd thought I'd folded away the winter gear for good; but it was not to be and doesn't look like it will be for the next week at least. So the wind slowed me in many places and in one place literally almost brought me to a standstill. Still, since I'd taken the day off for a post-holiday ride of substance, I persevered (I AM, after all, a Ludwig) and did 40 miles. Twice around the loop and then down into Manayunk to explore a bit. Stopped on the way back at a place called Cadence Performance Center. Quite the bike shop. Really for very serious riders, high-end machines, accesories and clothing on the ground floor and a performance center: spinning equipment, bio-testing and fitting equipment, on the second floor. A bit much for my needs, but fun to look around. Then I pedaled down the block to Zoom and broke down and bought a side mirror for the Fuji. I've been using a mirror attached to my glasses and it really wasn't working out, way too distracting. Then I took off for home

Yesterday I was browsing around the blognet index on the bottom of my blog page and found that another blogger (named Ludwig!) had discovered bicycle-musings. He was drawn to it because of the fact that his name is Ludwig and then said some nice things about the blog. Thanks to Ludwig at the blog 32 Spokes (new link on the side.) who wrote:

"Every once in awhile you come across a gem of a blog just from investigating who visits yours. Such was the case with Bicycle Musings - (I’m a Ludwig!). Initiaily it caught my eye simply because my name is Ludwig, and therefore am in fact a Ludwig. Though perhaps not by Ira Stone’s definition:.."


"I hope to be a Ludwig myself, more than in name… and hopefully before I hit 84 years of age. Ira Stone, who writes Bicycle Musings is definitely much closer to being a Ludwig than I am. However fantastically amazing Ludwig’s journey from Poland to London seems, Ira’s stories of him and his wife are equally inspiring. Ira’s blog contains the reasons why I love cycling, and I hope that at his age I am not only a Ludwig but also an Ira."

Of course, Ludwig, I'm not that old!

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Back With The Wind and Some New Features

The first part of the Passover holiday is over and was wonderful. Great to be among friends and at least part of our family; great food thanks to Annie's kitchen magic! And the first seder for our Granddaughter!(She only lasted a few minutes before heading to bed, but it was a start.)

And now back to cycling and blogging. Annie is out riding right now, having had to take our son to the airport early this morning while I was out. ( I couldn't do the airport shift due to needing to get to work for some early meetings.) The temperature was around 47 degrees but with a strong wind of over 15 mph and gusts predicted to 40 mph I dressed more warmly than the temperature would have dictated. I was a bit over-dressed (as usual, Annie would say.) But it was a fine ride and despite the slightly slower pace of riding into some pretty strong headwinds I still had the new found time to increase ever so slightly my distance in the given time I have in the morning. I rode 13.9 miles, which if I can do consistently rather than what had been my usual 12.1 represents a good increase in the cumulative miles in my quest to make sure I hot 4000 for 2007. Frankly, unless something unexpected occurs, it looks pretty impossible for me not to hit that goal. I could actually set a higher goal, but I think its best to just leave things as they are and set the 2008 goal more realistically depending on my 2007 numbers. After all, this is my first full year riding.

I am getting closer and closer to having the time to put aside for a big essay on all the bicycling books I've been reading and then I want to do another one on the magazines I've been trying out and which I've decided to subscribe to and why.

Meanwhile, thanks to the improving technical capabilities of blogspot I've been able to add (needing no technical knowledge of how) two new features to the blog that I hope make it consistently more interesting and useful regardless of what I write. First is a random browse of UTube looking for clips related to bicycles and the other is the same for Google News. I hope you enjoy them.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Foggy But Fast

This morning the temperature was 45 degrees and rising. We were out of the house quickly due to the pressures of very busy pre-holiday preparations and limited our ride to the usual 12.1 miles which we did quickly. The house is already crowded with children and the grandchild and blogging will take a backseat along with much else. Here's an old picture of daughter and granddaughter that seems fitting to the season.

Too small a shot to really appreciate either, but the joy of the season is apparent.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

April Shower

So came the first day of April and when Annie and I stepped out at 6 AM it was into an April shower, which caused her to retreat. But I went on and the rain stopped quickly and I rode 22 miles, though my average speed seemed a bit less than it has been the last few days. Tired, I guess. It was a good ride and a good chunk of miles to begin the month. But now, with holiday preparations breathing down my neck, I will have to severely abbreviate this report. I'm really looking forward to writing more leisurely later in the week, including some of those promised book and movie reviews.
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