Monday, December 31, 2007

The Langster's Last Ride of 2007

It was sunny and above freezing today so I decided to take a bike ride. By the time I got my clothes on and checked the pressure in my tires it was around 10:30 AM. The temperature was in the mid 30s. Originally I was only going to go out for 20 miles but as soon as I got over the Holland - Telegraph Hill Ridge I decided I would go further. The only decision was how far should I go.

The sun was shining and I was feeling good so once I got to Colts Neck I decided I would head over to Rumson and Sea Bright. I figured the ride would be around 45 miles maybe more. The traffic was good since I think most people took today off from work. It was the usual route through Holmdel, Marlboro, Colts Neck, Shrewsbury and Little Silver. I took RT 520 through Rumson and I turned off on Ward Ave and started to make the trip back home.

As I was getting closer to Oceanic Bridge I realised that one of my goals for the year was to ride Navesink River Road from the Oceanic Bridge back to Rt 35. I rode Navesink River Road on the maiden voyage of the Langster from RT 35 to the Oceanic. For some reason I had in my mind that the reverse would be much harder.

The wind was pretty strong today. I had felt the head wind at several points on the ride but once I turned to make the return trip I really felt it. Crossing the Oceanic Bridge was a challenge. I usually ignore the sign at the drawbridge telling me to walk my bike across the steel mesh decking but today I decided it was not worth the risk of be blown over and slipping on the roadway. Even on the paved/concrete part of the bridge I was had to fight not to get pushed into the traffic coming up behind me.

The real challenge of riding Navesink River Road back to RT 35 is that the off ramp of the Oceanic Bridge has a slight grade up with a stop sign where it meets Navesink River Road. Once the left hand turn is made onto Navesink River Road it immediately starts a long steep climb. There is no opportunity to get some momentum going. There is also a switch back that creates a blind spot for the cars coming from behind (I was a little worried since the shoulder is very narrow does not allow any place to bail). While this was the climb I was worried about most it actually turned out to kind of fun. The bonus is that once you get to the top there is a nice down hill drop that shoots by the entrance to the Huber Woods County Park.

My favorite part of riding Navesink River Road from RT 35 is what I like to call the Jon Bon Jovi Drop. This is a really nice down hill section with several S turns that are really fun to hit if the traffic will allow me to get into the middle of the lane. Jon Bon Jovi is rumored to live somewhere on Navesink River Road.

Riding this hill from the other direction is fun but for a different reason. It is the second most challenging climb on the road. Since I really like to climb this is fun for me. Once you get to the top is another nice down hill followed by a shallow but steady climb up to RT 35.

Once I crossed RT 35 it was over the NJ Transit tracks and back to Nut Swamp Road. I have to make a detour back to my house because there is construction by Garden State Parkway Exit 114 which messes up the road the evenually turns into Laurel Ave.

I ended up riding 50 miles. Actually when I got back to my house I had 48.5 miles on the computer so I decided to do six sprints around the lake (~1/4 mile each lap).

Tomorrow I am going get a short ride in during the morning just to kick off the New Year.

Skiing Song Mountain Resort

I drove up to Syracuse, NY this past weekend to visit my parents and get some skiing in. Last year I went up on the same weekend and there was no snow but Central New York had got several inches over the past couple of weeks so I was hopeful. Unfortunately, there had been several warm days as well.

I arrived in Syracuse around 8 PM on Friday. As I was visiting with my parents it started to rain. Since my parents house is on one of the higher elevations in the area this was not good news for the skiing.

The closest ski resort to my parents' house is Song Mountain Resort in Tully, NY. It is not a huge ski resort but it is usually not crowded. Most of the people there are local to the Syracuse area and ski almost every weekend in the winter time. Lots of good skiers but everyone is friendly and there are trails for just about every ability. The ski school is also very good.

After reading the Song Mountain ski report I decided to head over the resort. I have found that the person who writes the ski report is very optomistic. When I got to the mountain I noticed that the coverage was much less than what was reported in the report. Instead of taking out my skis and getting a ticket I decided to walk up to the front of the lodge and get a better view. The first decision was to call it a day and go back to spend the rest of the day with my parents. I called my dad who convinced me to give it a try. I was going to only purchase a 4 hour ticket but and 8 hour ticket is only $3 more for a total of $39 (this is cheap compared to many other places). I was probably one of the few who purchased a ticket since I call these kind of days Season Pass days.

I had been planning on taking a lesson to work on my mogul skiing technique but the trails and snow cover would not support this. I made my first couple of runs on Bali Hai which did not seem too bad. A little icy but not bad for the first day out of the season. Unfortunately, after about the 3rd or 4th run I started to notice that a race course was being setup on Bali Hai. I took a couple more runs but it was obvious that I was going to have to try another trail if I was going to continue skiing.

I decided to give Chopsticks a try. I was a little sceptical since I had only seen a couple of people go down it. I quickly found out why. The trail was very icy. The first run down was a cautious and slow run. However, as I tell my friend "If you want to ski you have to be able to ski on ice" so I decided to try again. The second run was much better. I adjusted to the ice and I started to have fun with it. I like the sound that skis make when carving turns into an icy trail. I spent the rest of the day skiing Chopsticks. It got better as the day when by. The biggest problem was a large smooth icy patch at the bottom of the hill as the run returns to the bottom of the chair. The first time I hit it was not expect the ice and went to turn right toward the chair and my skis came out from underneath me and I ended up sliding down on my rear end.

There was some room between the chair and the race course on Bali Hai so I decided to give it a try. From the chair it looked nice and soft but when I skied it I noticed that it was really slushy crud that was pushed over from the race course. I hurt myself in January skiing in crud at Heavenly in Lake Tahoe skiing in crud so I am still a little apprehensive about skiing these kinds of conditions. In fact I prefer ice to crud.

I ended up skiing till about 2:30 PM. I had been on the slopes since 9:30 AM. I was getting tired and I decided it was time to pack it in before I got hurt.

My parents went to meet some old friends who were in from California at Riley's. I was thinking of trying to make it there but I would have had to go in my ski clothes. I ended up hanging around the house for a couple of hours. I a fell asleep watching The Replacements . We ended up going out for pizza at Twin Trees.

The original plan was to ski Sunday as well but I decided the day would be better spent with my parents so I had a casual day visiting with them. My dad and I watched the Syracuse University Orangemen beat Northeastern on TV and then I packed up my car and got on the road for the trip back to New Jersey.

I was trying to beat the snow. As much as I like skiing I do not like driving down the interstate in a snow storm. The weather was fine until I hit Scranton. It was snowing hard along I380. The merge at I380 and I80 was challenging. I was thinking of taking I80 all the way back to New Jersey but I decided it would be better to follow my usual route of taking RT 33 to I78.

I ended up getting home at about 7:30 PM. It was good weekend.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas

After all the buildup Christmas finally arrived and is now over with. I think that the Christmas season is officially over once the last plate is in the dishwasher. For us it was just a quiet day with a good meal in the afternoon.

I did get a good ride in today. I rode 28 miles. It was a little on the cold side but the traffic was extremely light. In fact there were stretches of quiet that kind of reminded me of cross country skiing the long trains at Highland Forest in Central New York. Since I am fighting a cold and did not get much sleep last night I hit a wall at the 20 mile mark and it was a struggle all the way back. If I had been with a group I would have been getting dropped but I was by myself so it was all good. This time of year you have to take advantage of any riding opportunity.

Even though I am not vacation until January 2 I have a busy week planned. Wednesday is going to be my catch up day. I still have expenses from last week that need to be submitted. I need to get them in before the end of the year. I am planning a trip into New York on Thursday. I am going to try and visit TrackstarNYC. Maybe I can get some ideas for opening a similar shop in Red Bank. I am planning on going to Syracuse to visit my parents. Hopefully I can get some skiing in as well. While I will mostly likely be Alpine skiing I am getting the itch to do some Nordic skiing.

I do not have any good pictures. So I decide to go with the 1977 Schwinn Paramount Track bike. I found this on the internet. The Schwinn Paramount was my Red Ryder BB Gun. I think the Motorola Team or its predessor Seven Eleven Tean rode Paramounts. Here is a really nice picture of a road version.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Birthday Ride in December

Today is my birthday and I have been checking the weather report to see if it would be possible for me to get in a ride. Yesterday was one of the worse days for weather we have had in a long time. While the temps were in the low 50s we had high wind and heavy rain. Today while we still had some of the wind the sun was out and the temps were in the high 30s and low 40s.

I originally wanted to get a 46 mile ride in (1 mile for each year) but my daughter wanted to take me shopping today. We wanted to get the mall early before the crowds so I was not able to get out before the early afternoon.

I rode the same ride that I have described several times. I ended up with 36 miles all together. It turned into a fun ride and I was able to stay warm. My toes got a little bit cold at the end but I think I could have got in 46 if I had enough time. I used my new long gloves for the first time.

I am not sure if I am going to be able to get a Christmas day ride in. Maybe a short one before dinner.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Z100 Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden on December 14, 2007

I took my daughter and one of her friends to Z100's Jingle Ball at Madison Square Garden in New York last night. This is the second year we have gone. Last year I had to become a ZVIP and get a password and then buy the tickets online. I would try to get the best available tickets but all that was returned in the search were "The Worst Seats in the House" that Z100 reserves for their ZVIPs. I have to say that this is truth in advertising since these are not great seats if you are interested in viewing the stage.

Last year we sat in the 400 section (I screwed up and did not take the 200 level seats that came back in the first search). The tickets turned out to be not as bad as I expected. We could see part of the stage but we were in the first row of the section so we had a great view of the back stage which was kind of interesting. The stage rotates and the band's/artist's rigs are setup and configured and then rolled around to the front. We always got to see the next act getting ready to get on. The down side was that we did not have a good view of the jumbo screens that displayed the live feed from the front.

This year we sat in the 320 section. We were right behind that left side of the stage. We had a good view of the jumbo screens but not much of anything else. We had a good time even though it made for a late night since we did not get home until 1 PM. It was an even longer day for me since my flight from Richmond on Thursday evening was cancelled and I had to catch a 7 AM flight on Friday morning.

The girls want to attend the all access lounge at the Hammerstein Ballroom on 34th Street. So we took the 1:03 PM train out of Middletown, NJ. This got us into NY's Penn Station at around 2:30 PM (it is a mid day local that stops at all stations on both the North Jersey Coast Line and the Northeast Corridor.

There is alot of graffiti along the train line. I took this picture at a stop in Linden, NJ.

The Empire State Building from the Secaucus Station. On clear days it almost appears as if everything is magnetized.

Inside the Hammerstein Ballroom and the all access lounge. This was actually the low point of the evening for me but I was trying to make the best of it. In order to get all access it was necessary to get a pass. Winning these passes were tough. My daughter and her friend spent a couple of hours trying to get Backstreet Boys and Jonas Brothers meet and greet passes but it did not really work out too well. Eventually we started looking for a place to eat and we ended up at the ESPN Zone at Times Square. The food is better than I though it would be.

This is the view from out seats. I guess it is all about the scene. The show was much better paced than last year. The acts were definitely better last year but there were some highlights of this year's show. Avril Lavigne was good. She seems to be having fun and played 6 songs which was the most by anyone all night. Most acts only play at most 4 songs. Fall Out Boy played 6 as well. Alicia Keyes was great. Great voice and a great band.

Fall Out Boy was their usual selfs. I took my daughter to the Honda Civic Center over the summer at the PNC Art Center. At list point I am not sure if I am a fan. The lead singer and the drummer (he was playing a single bass setup this time) are good. I am still trying to decide if the bass player and second guitarist add that much to the sound. They do play with a lot of energy though.

I was disappointed with Timbaland's performance. I was really expecting that this was going to be high light of the show and Timbaland would showcase some of his genius at merging genre's but it did not really happen. Timbaland had a tough time keeping the energy level up. The performance would move in that direction but before it really gained momentum it kind of died. The band OneRepublic performed with Timbaland and I kind of felt sorry for them since there big opportunity to play Madison Square Garden was marred by equipment/sound problems that did not effect the other acts. OneRepublic played the All Access lounge earlier and they sounded my better. Really a shame since from what I could tell they had the opportunity to really shine.

However, the mostly early teenage girl crowd was there for the Jonas Brothers. We stuck around for 2 songs by the Jonas Brothers but we really wanted to be on the 11:30 PM train home so we left a little early. Waiting until 12:37 AM was not really a good option.

While the music showcased is not really my type of music I am open minded enough to enjoy whatever music is being played. Just like last year there were some great drummers and I usually listen to the drummers when I listen to music.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

A December Ride

December 1 would have been a good day to get a ride in but I was busy running errands so it did not work too well for me. Sunday December 2 was just not a good day for hitting the road.

December 8 was the day for me. It did not look to promising when I got off the flight back from Richmond, VA on Friday evening and it was snowing. I decided that I would take a spinning class at the gym on Saturday morning. However, I did not get to the gym until 7:45 am and the class was already full. It was very disappointing since the day was looking bleak.

Around 11 AM the sun came out and the roads started to dry up. I started to get excited. I quickly walked the dog, filled up my tires with air and cleaned/oiled my chain. By 1 PM I was out on the road. I had 4 layers on and I was comfortable with the tempurature in the high 30s. I got a good 34 miles in. I may have to invest in some heavier socks and maybe some booties or winter shoes. My toes have been taking a beating.

I am not sure if tomorrow is going to work out since it is supposed to rain. I may end up taking the 8 am spinning class.

Sunday, December 2, 2007

Snow Today - Did not get to the cyclocross race

I did not make it to the Cyclocross race today. I did not bring my 4X4 and this is as close as I got. This house is on the corner of Whipperwill Valley and Bowne in Middletown. The right hand turn that I needed to make was down a steep hill. I made an attempt but I noticed the skid marks from previous vehicles so I turned around. I think I could have got down but I am not sure I could have got back up.

It did not look like it was all that well attended. The snow probably scared alot of folks away. Which is not what would be expected with cyclocrossers.

A little bit of snow usually creates havoc here in New Jersey. Unlike in Syracuse. When I moved to New Jersey after college it felt like I had moved to the tropics. I got so used to the mild winters that I had to move even further south to North Carolina. Of course I started to miss being cold (I think it is in my blood) and I moved back here to New Jersey. The trend indicates I will be back in Syracuse soon.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Walstib Cyclocross (Middletown/Red Bank NJ)

I was at the Peddler today and Mike told me about a cyclocross event in Middletown that is going to be held on December 2 (tomorrow). I might shoot over to watch and take some pictures.

Check out this article in the New York Times about cyclocross. Is it bad the the NY Times is covering it?