Bay State Bike Week: May 17th to 21st

Massachusetts is promoting cycling through a series of events taking place across the state during “Bay State Bike Week.” The effort is being spearheaded by the Massachusetts Department of Transportation and MassBike. The City of Boston is running some events in the city, ending with its first “Bike Friday” of the season on May 21st.  There seems to be a lot going on for bike week, but you’ll need to dig around the above web sites a bit to figure out what you might want to participate in, as there doesn’t seem to be a central web site with all the events/details.

Photo Credit: John E. Lester

The Magic Number: 100

The “century” ride. 100 miles on-bike in a single day. Quite alluring.

There’s something about riding to that big, round, 3-digit number of miles with a simple mechanical device that it totally human-powered. It’s a feat. It’s a great goal.

Completing a century ride is a satisfying accomplishment, and a rite of passage for new cyclists. And, once achieved, is a recurring milestone in each subsequent cycling season. So, when will you ride your first century? Or your first century this year?

Three classics are provided by the Charles River Wheelmen, in the Spring, Summer, and Fall:

CRW Spring Century

CRW Climb To The Clouds

CRW Fall Century

Enjoy the ride.

Photo Credit: bp6316

Look at nothing. See everything.

You’re barreling down the road at 25MPH, pedaling hard. You’re putting out a good effort, trying to keep smooth, steady pedal strokes. Efficiency is key. You focus on it, and your breathing.

Six inches in front of you is another rider doing the same. Keeping your efforts in sync is critical, not only to be efficient now, but also to be safe.

And, of course, there is another rider just six inches off of your back wheel. Doing the same. Trying to keep smooth and steady.

You’re all barreling down a public road, with potholes, traffic, broken glass, pedestrians, and other hazards. So, where do you focus your attention, visually?

“Look at nothing. See everything.”

If you stare at the back wheel in front of you, you may become distracted and miss an upcoming hazard. If you look around for hazards, you may not notice a slight adjustment of the bike in front of you. A subtle slowdown that could cause wheels to touch, or a bit of a speed up that could open up a gap.

You’ve got to somehow take it all in (at once) yet be aware of each individual detail. Peripheral vision becomes part of your primary vision. You discover a delicate balance, soaking it all in, aware of the details. Focused on them without lingering. Seeing each without focusing on any exclusively.

You’re looking at nothing, yet seeing everything. Zen vision can be very handy for cyclists.

Photo Credit: Tony the Misfit

A Mashup of Mass (and NE) Rides

Show me the wayThe folks over at BikeNewEngland.com have put together a pretty cool mash up of bike route resources for Massachusetts and beyond. A nifty little overview shows you graphically where each route starting point is at. The little bike rider icons are color coded for the various types of routes included – their own (it’s a touring company),  different bike clubs, Map My Ride favoorites (that’s a great site – see earlier post), fundraising rides and state resources.

The interface is a bit clunky in that it’s hard (impossible) to zoom in on areas where there are many routes, but if you dig around there are a ton of resources. Because they are gathered from so many sites, you’ll need to deal with getting info in a variety of formats and popping out to different external web sites, but the authors are to be commended for their efforts. I’ve not come across another site that attempts to gather and categorize so many great resources all in one place.

So, go check it out as part of your ramp up for spring and summer riding. The direct link to the map resource page is http://www.bikenewengland.com/bike_maps.html.

Photo Credit: Bruce Berrien

MIT Multi-Sport Expo Fast Splits Indoor Time Trial (and outdoor riding)

Indoor Time TrialA second goal of my winter training came today, the Fast Splits Indoor TT at the MIT Multi-Sports Expo. I like to have goals every 8 weeks or so during the winter. It helps to motivate me to train, to focus my efforts, and to put some effort into those dreary basement workouts on cold, dark winter days.

The Harpoon ITT was my first goal of the winter, and this was my second. But instead of mustering up the motivation to compete (only against myself, really) during a 12-degree January cold spell, today’s challenge was to show up indoors for an event while it’s mid-70s and sunny. I met that challenge by riding to the event. It took just about an hour and was a good warm up, and riding home was a good way to relax after an all-out effort. (And it was great to be riding outside today!)

The race is smaller than the Harpoon event, but it’s surrounded by a fantastic Expo with all sorts of vendors with all kinds of cycling, running, and swimming gear, nutrition, and information. I was happy to have beaten my time in the event last year despite dropping my chain mid-race – the hills of the course (based on Central Park NYC) had me shifting between my big and small rings periodically.

All in all a great day for cycling. Really looking forward to this weather being around more consistently. And that seems more possible now that it’s the first day of Spring.

Spring is in the air! Start planning your first century.

Well, the sun is finally shining steadily here in Massachusetts, and the temperatures are certainly spring-like. Spring, in fact, is just hours away at this point.

So, time for more outside riding! My training program was mostly indoors this year, so I am ready to ride on real roads more frequently. And also to ride outside without tons of layers of clothing.

It’s also time for goal-setting. And a good one to start the season off is planning for the first century ride. A great one to start with might be the CRW Spring Century. It takes place this year on May 16th. That leaves just enough time for training, even if you haven’t begun riding yet this year.

The route starts in Wakefield and travels along the relatively flat northeast section of Massachusetts. The route travel through some great roads in Harold Parker State Forest, Boxboro, and Topsfield. The sections furthest north in southern New Hampshire aren’t quite as good. Still, the ride is usually well-attended so they’ll be pacelines and groups for all levels present. And, hopefully the torrential rain that dampened last year’s ride won’t return. It seems we’ve had quite enough rain for a while.

Ok, YouTubers How About A Good MTB Movie?

The New England Mountain Bike Association is launching a mountain bike film festival in 2010. The announcement just came out in order to allow spring, summer, and fall for filming and editing. Submissions are due on November 1st. The event will be held on December 4th.

The film festival seeks to “feature a wide array of video short features from regional filmmakers that capture the spirit, excitement and pleasure of mountain biking in New England.” Submissions are limited to 5 minutes, and will be judged in several categories: Best Production, Best Action, Best Plot, Best Film Featuring Scenic XC Riding, and People’s Choice Award.

The event will debut in the Boston area and then roam throughout New England, evolving a bit as it travels. Check out full details on the NEMBA web site.

With all the creative talent in the Boston area, some compelling videos should emerge. Of course, this whole topic reminds me of my favorite biking video –

Inspired Bicycles – Danny MacAskill April 2009

Photo Credit: ssh

Shocking: Hostile Takeover of New England Velodrome

Tony Eberhardt, founder of the New England Velodrome, sent out a shocking message earlier this week that described a hostile takeover of the track, including the recently built cyclocross and BMX courses. Tony describes the turn of events as a complete surprise to him, the sponsors, staff and volunteers. He says that they are collectively committed to finding a new home for the New England Velodrome & Cycling Park and Velocity BMX.

I was not a regular at NE Velodrome, but I did visit it a few times, and found it to be a fun place with a great, supportive and energetic staff. Here are a few of my posts on the park:

New England Velodrome Has Launched Its 2007 Season

New England Velodrome Opens! (2008)

Check Out The NE Velodrome Programs!

NE Velodrome Kids Programs

New England Velodrome Expansions

…and most recently: New England Velodrome Gearing up for 2010

This is a shocking and sad turn of events. Tony and his staff have worked for many years to revive track cycling in New England and all signs pointed to their efforts gaining real traction, with new cycling courses and programs being added year after year.

If the statements in Tony’s email (posted here on the homepage of their website) are accurate, I can’t see that the new operators of the track would do well. The knowledge, passion, support and experience of Tony and his staff will be missing. And, more importantly the cycling community and sponsors shouldn’t take kindly to this sort of shenanigans. I know I won’t be going back to that track.

Charity Ride Fundraising

show me the money!I’ve been riding the Pan Mass Challenge for 10 years. It’s a 2-day nearly 200-mile ride, but that’s actually the easy part (with some training).

I’ve been successful in raising large amounts of money for a few reasons, I believe. First of all, I’m very passionate about the cause and I share that passion, and my specific reasons for riding, with my sponsors. Many of them have been impacted in some way by cancer and are happy to have a way to help. Many thank me for “doing something.”

My email list is rather large and all-encompassing. I don’t really group my solicitations in any way, I simply ask everyone. It helps spread awareness, and I’m often surprised by the results — sometimes those who you might expect a contribution remain silent, and those who I might not expect anything from contribute significantly.

I also send multiple requests/reminders. I don’t bug people, mostly because I hate that and I don’t want to be annoying. Generally, I send one notice a couple of months before the event and a second just a couple of weeks before the event. I usually send a third broadcast, which is a reminder as the event approaches. Many contributors often thank me for the reminder.

The week of the ride, I send a note out asking sponsors to keep an eye out for the  local media coverage. It’s another opportunity to thank them for their support, and to keep awareness for the cause up.

Finally, I always send a follow-up letter letting everyone know how the event went, how much money we raised, etc. Think about it, if you put down $50 or $100 or more to support an event, wouldn’t you like to know how it went? I include photos, anecdotes, and a final message about the cause/passion for the event. I think sponsors appreciate it and that it helps them to feel part of the event (which they are! the most important part!).

What are your charity ride fundraising strategies?

Photo Credit: borman818

Check out the Prouty Charity Rides to the North

Alice Nelson 2009 Ultimate
Alice Nelson 2009 Ultimate

I’ve been a committed Pan Mass Challenge rider for 10 years. It’s perhaps the biggest and best cycling fundraiser in the world. That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of other great charity rides.

Charlie Kimbell, director of the Prouty Ultimate and Prouty Century Ride and Walk Challenge, recently told me about his group’s great rides up North in New Hampshire and Vermont.

Inspired by the impact of cancer many years ago, the first Prouty ride was held in 1982 by four nurses, in honor of their patient Audrey Prouty. Monies raised benefit the Dartmouth-Hitchcock’s Norris Cotton Cancer Center.

Each event caters to a different group. “The Prouty Century is the best ride for a first-time century rider.  There are SAG stops every 10 miles, the ride is fully supported and the terrain is not too difficult,” Charlie explained.

The Prouty Ultimate caters to a small group (limited to 150) of more serious riders.  It’s a two-day, double-century ride that is as scenic as it is challenging. Charlie explains, “We took the time to include country roads along rivers and streams, around lakes and through quaint New England towns and farmland. ” And, because the group is limited in size, “There is great camaraderie amongst the riders.”

Check out all the details at their web site: Prouty Rides