Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Train Gang: North to New Hampshire Century (5/20/18)


Train Gang:
Andy, me, Gavin and Ben
Ride: North to New Hampshire
Distance: 100 Miles
Route: Wakefield Depot -> Harold Parker Depot -> New Hampshire -> Newburyport -> Ipswich -> Wakefield
Moving Time: 6:28:56
Elapsed Time: 7:25:25

The Charles River Wheelmen offered a new option for their Spring Century - North to New Hampshire - Ride.  The ride director and the sweeper met us at the Wakefield Depot for the check in that normally happens at the high school.  Four of us: Andy, Gavin, Ben and I then rode off with the sweeper onto the ride.  Gavin and Ben were going to do the Metric Century, while Andy and I were going to hit the hundo.  By the time we got to the Imperial Century/Metric Century split, Gavin and Ben changed their mind.  They rode with us through the whole hundred. 

North to New Hampshire Route


While I based this on the words of Sam Cooke, I had the Ladysmith Black Mambazo version in my head.

Wakefield Depot
I hear someone saying
Oh don't you know 
That's the sound of the folks
Riding in the Train Ga-ang
That's the sound of the folks 
Riding in the Train Gang.


Harold Parker State Forest


All day long they ride so hard, 

til the sun is going down
Spinning on the highways and byways
Turning those frowns upside down
You hear as the buffaloes bray
Then you hear somebody say


Riding selfie with the rest of the Train Gang in tow

That's the sound of the folks

Riding in the Train Ga-ang
That's the sound of the folks 
Riding in the Train Gang.



New Hampshire Roads
Can't you hear them singing:

We're riding along all of these ways
Heading back toward Massachusetts Bay
With water so clear
But meanwhile we gotta ride here.


Merrimack River
That's the sound of the folks

Riding in the Train Ga-ang
That's the sound of the folks 
Riding in the Train Gang.


All our bikes on the train heading back to Boston
All day long they're singing, mmm (Hoh! Ah!)
My ride is so hard
Give me water
I'm thirsty, my ride is so hard
Woah ooo
My ride is so hard

It was my first hundred of the season.  Great to finally get onto the road and be prepared for the rest of the cycling season - 3 weeks til B2VT!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

That Was Pretty Epic: Boston Marathon (4/16/18)

Add caption

Race: Boston Marathon
Goal Time: 3:30
Actual Time: 3:54

"You know it's wild when you are wearing a stranger's dirty socks on your hands as gloves" - Deb Downs.

Only 10 months after my seizure, a terrible training cycle coming off an equally bad cycle from New York did not bode well for a marathon.  Which was alright I guess since the weather gods didn't help, either.

Throughout the week, weather forecasts got drearier and drearier.  By Thursday they were predicting 90% chance of rain and 20mph winds.  We all thought, okay this is bad but kinda like 2015 so we should be okay.

Then Saturday morning, it changed again.  Temperature predictions had dropped 10 degrees and now winds were 25-35mph.  And 90% chance of rain had basically become - MONSOON!

Sure enough, marathon morning was dismal and depressing.  My lack of training with nagging injuries just made it worse. If it was any other race, I would not have done it.

Hopkinton to Framingham

Dreams of requalifying for Boston were ephemeral. By mile 3, questions of such a plan began to dominate my brain.  Around the time the questions were in my head, I caught up with Deb; she was still nursing an injury and wasn't ready to run fast.  I joined her and pretty much immediately we were among the stragglers in wave 1.  But that was awesome.  My struggles with training, injury and weight let me join a friend who was also going through the motions and just going to finish the race.

The weather would trade between icy wind and downpours.  I kept trying to have Deb hide behind me (random other people kept hiding behind me without me telling them to).

Natick

By Mile 9, I was warmed up.  Deb was not.  Her hands and legs were freezing.  She picked up somebody's discarded poncho and attempted to make it into a skirt.  When that failed, she found somebody's discarded socks (that they probably wore on their hands) and put them over her gloves.

We did get to see Mama and Papa Downs in Natick Center.  Which gave us both a little pick-me-up since there were virtually no runners around us by then.  It was like running a smaller marathon with so few people around us.

Wellesley

At Mile 12, the first people in Wave 2 came flying by us (including the woman who was 5th fastest in chip time).  Then Meb and his group came by.

Deb and I kept clumping out our 8:00-8:30 pace.  The din of the Wellesley girls rose above the puddled pavement.

The Scream Tunnel was coming. In 2015 and 2016, I had intentionally moved to the left hand side of the road to avoid the tunnel and its accompanying stops and zigs and zags from runners.  This year I did not.

My arm fired my hand out and it high-fived every single girl reaching over the barrier. As I got thru and looked back Deb was doing the same. She had also never actually high-fived the girls, either and it was good that we got to really experience such a seminal part of the marathon.

Going through Wellesley Centre and Hills, we got a high-five from Coach Rick and Nichole Bukowski passed us.  (She also checked if we were okay, we were as good as we could be.)

The dip into Newton Lower Falls was brutal on my stiff left knee and weird lower calf thing.  But we hit that town flags and we made it -

Newton

Secret Hill 
This is where I took my leave of Deb.  8:00/mile pace would be required if I planned to keep moving.  (The old: "I know I'm just going to get slower, so if I start too slow I might actually stop").  So up the first (secret) hill, I ran, fighting to the Hospital and then tto he Firehouse.

30km Hill
The big swooping right turn swept up to the start of the 30km Hill.  I immediately went to the left so I was ready to acknowledge and receive acknowledgement from both November Project and Somerville Road Runners.  With November Project in my rear view, the wall was beginning to shake its fist at me.  I kept it together enough as I ran by SRR.

In the driving winds and pouring rains, SRR was nothing but a jumble of rain jackets and ponchos and trashbags.  Kate and Kari and Emma and Rod and Paul (he had a giant camera), were all that could be made out in the mass of water-beading vinyl.  Blowing a kiss toward Urvi, I went on my way.  But that was it for me.  Most of the fun of my race was over and forced a dejected slump as soon as I got around the corner and out of sight.

Hasher Hill
On the Orange Line en route to the charter bus, I read the latest issue RUSA's American Randonneur magazine. Included was a ride report from a woman who attempted a 200k permanent ride when she first started chemotherapy. By half-way through she had kept herself going by trying to push through for the next 10 miles and then the next 10 miles, etc.  I realized I wasn't on chemotherapy and that unlike many runners I have some meat on my bones that generally keeps me warmer.  So I wasn't too worried about the conditions affecting me medically any more.  So I moved from the next ten miles as she thought to the next "marker."

My first marker was Brendan K. I fought myself through the City Hall area to Brendan. I high fived him and got great chants.  Then it was to fight to the top of the Hasher Hill.  Brendan C. wouldn't be there but it was a marker and a progression.

Heartbreak Hill
Next marker was Heartbreak Hill.  I pulled over to the right and just put one foot in front of another.  clump clump clump.  Atop Heartbreak I pulled way over to the right so that I could adjust the left sock that had curled up and caused a numbness.

Brighton

At the Heights, the BC kids yelled as the sky opened in yet another Noahesque downpour.  It was the first time I acknowledged both a downpour and massive headwind simultaneously.  Visibility got to zero as the headwinds battered my chest.  "All of this misery can be over.  I can just hop on the Green Line and go home."  But the knowledge that after Chestnut Hill reservoir, it would be a point of no return.  There would be no way I could quit with less than 45 minutes left.  So I stumbled forward along Comm Ave and toward Cleveland Circle.

Brookline

I had fallen into dark and depressed place when I turned onto Beacon in Cleveland Circle.  So much so, I don't even remember the turn:

What I do remember is that the flag for Brookline was not right at Beacon but probably 1/10th of a mile ahead.  That means that Maryann's isn't in Brookline but actually in the City of Boston (Brighton).  Maybe that's how they got away with selling $1 Bud Lights to underage undergrads.  I always thought it was weird that the Town of Brookline that doesn't let you park on the street at night and whose cops pull over cars with black teenagers in it for no reason other than to ask where they were going would allow such a thing to happen.  Once I realized Maryann's was in Boston, that explained it.  

This strange digression into underage bars from the mid-90s probably kept me not thinking about running for nearly a quarter mile, which was good. I hit the Mile 23 sign and just told myself, "Just keep running for 35 minutes and you can f'ing stop."

After Washington Sq., my name was yelled from the left. It was Officer McGinty doing a detail with the tactical team.  Cutting across Beacon, my hand gave him a high five and I spoke to him for 30 seconds before heading on my way.

At Coolidge Corner, I found my mother and gave her a hug.  Just 25 more minutes and you can stop. A big cheer from Ray had me stepping a little quicker toward Boston.  I had to avoid a tall guy who had gone from running an 8:00 mile to near dead stop walking.

Boston

At Park Ave, you can see the Citgo Sign.  And at Park Ave, you can see the bridge over Yawkey Station. Crossing the 40km mark my legs tried to get a start over to the bridge over the Turnpike Just 15 more minutes and you can stop.

The overpass at Yawkey is perhaps the ugliest bit of nastiness.  It's the last water stop; it's steeper than it should be; and, at that moment there are only two things that can be going through your head: a) "I'm having a great race and in a little more than a mile, I'll be celebrating", or b) "Make this stop."  (There are surely people who are telling themselves both).  I had been in camp b for quite a while, jogging over to the right with people who were walking as they drank a last gatorade or girding themselves to not stop again.  Never did my legs go into walking mode, but sometimes "running" was far slower than other people's walking.

From the peak of the overpass my legs started picking up speed and thought they could put in one 9 minute mile (They couldn't) and then I almost ran into Tall Guy again as he had passed me running but was walking.  oh my god just run a speed you can keep running or don't stop in the middle of the back.

Crossing the one mile to go mark with the Citgo sign painted on the ground I gave a glance to the left at the sign itself and ahead was the Charlesgate bridge over Comm Ave.  Just get there, I told myself.  I just kept putting one foot in front of another.  Then the clouds opened up again one more time... and Tall Guy passed me and then started walking - fucker.

Gotta make the underpass; gotta make the underpass; gotta make it to the underpass.  I dipped my way under Mass Ave and prepared for the climb back up.  My left knee was find now but my right calf and periformis and hip were not. The downhill was murder.

Right on Hereford. I got ready for the obnoxious uphill.  Nobody was walking now, we were all going to run to the finish.  Here it was.... oh wait, except Tall Guy is in my way again.  It was now comically annoying rather than angering.

Left on Boylston.  I was so unhappy; so destroyed; so done with this miserable deathmarch across the MetroWest.  We hit the turn and I didn't even care.  Just get me to the finish. 5 more minutes and you can stop.  But then something happened.  There were runners around me throwing up there hands in joy and looking to each other and smiling. I realized, this might me their first time here.  Many of these people were fulfilling the dream that I had done in 2015.  This might be miserable and horrible but suddenly Bradley's advice came back to me: I'm in the goddamned Boston Marathon.

I proudly started counting down the blocks Gloucester, Fairfield and then Exeter.  Yeah, we're all going to do this!  We're finishing the Boston Marathon! We're all in this finish together!  Then as we passed Exeter Street, I saw in my peripheral vision - Tall Guy. We're in this together except that guy. I dropped whatever hammer I had left to make sure I went across before Tall Guy did, cuz fuck him.

I crossed the line and stopped running.  The pain was really setting in as  I made my way to the medals, found Freddi and got my medal from her.  Then my poncho and waddled down Clarendon to get to Back Bay Station.

Heading back toward the Park Street and Cambridge on the Orange Line, I texted Brian Lavalle in Vietnam: "Well, that was pretty epic."

Monday, March 5, 2018

Running the Upside Down Cow: Martha's Vineyard 20 Miler (2/17/18)



Race: Martha's Vineyard
Location: Martha's Vineyard, MA (Vineyard Haven to Edgartown and back to Oak Bluffs)
Goal Time: 2:32:30
Actual Time: 2:34:30 (2nd, Clydesdale)

I'm a bit behind on this blog, this is taken from my RunningAHEAD recap:

I had a pretty good plan:

8 miles easy
4 MP
4 MP-5
4 MP-10

Started out with Bolt, CA, Tim, Dennis and Sean, Sr. At Mile 6, I went from easy to less easy. At 8, I was going to drop it down to current MP (7:25). I tried, however, I needed to stop and retie my right shoe. Then I got back on track from 9-12. I was going to make 13 another MP. But that's when drinking til 2:45 with Tim and Scott started to effect me. I had some stomach problems after a chug of water at mile 12.5. Had to fight through that mile and then the next, I overcompensated on 14. It took me a little more than a mile to recover. At mile 17, I dropped to MP -10. That only lasted a little more than a mile. The miles caught up with me. 7:45/mi would be a BQ, so I can't be too unhappy.

Perceived Effort -10 - 20 mile race; really put it all out there. Nearly collapsed at the finish.

Mood - 7 - Man, everything was awesome. Weather; time; wind. Sadly, Scott, Tim and I had decided to drink until way past bedtime.

Pop - 4 - Tired legs from the middle-upper level training week. Each mile where I tried a pickup, I felt the weakness in the calves and quads. But as it got later, the inner quad felt like it was tearing from the tired legs.

I came in at my slowest Martha's ever. However, from my launch point of only Jan 1, I think I'm doing well. This race put me on target for this year's plan.

2nd Place, Clydesdales

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

It's Five O'clock Pils Somewhere: Houston Half Marathon (1/14/18)

Finishing up my race and my beer


Race: Houston Half Marathon
Location: Houston, TX
Goal Time: 1:38:30
Actual Time: 1:43:30

Right after Mile 11, the Saint Arnold Brewery had set up a tent on the left side of the road and were handing out Dixie cups of their clean and slightly hoppy Five O’ClockPils.  Two things went through my head as I passed them: 1) when I went to the brewery on Friday, I had not tried the Pils, and 2) It’s not like I’m going to win or even PR this race.  To quote AlanJackson: “At a moment like this I can't help but wonder, / What would Jimmy Buffett do?

I had already adjusted any plan away from running “fast.”  Instead, I planned to run at goal marathon pace (~7:30/mile) which would calculate out to around a 3:17 marathon (1:38:30 for the half).  Of course, Burns pointed out plans go “aft agley.”  

The sun is not hot, that clock is moving fast,
But my speed climbs.
This race passes like molasses in July
But it’s wintertime.

7 months ago when I registered for the Houston Half Marathon, it seemed like a great idea.  I was recovered from the MaltaMarathon and knew that training could be replicated.  By the time of Houston, I would be 2 months past the NYC Marathon, and 5 or 6 weeks into Boston training. 

Then life happened.  One medical issue, one bad training cycle, two minor injuries later and one terrible NYC Marathon later and I was in heap of crap.  2017 thankfully ended.  I woke up January 1, 2018 with 15 weeks until the Boston Marathon and ready to go.  Unfortunately, I also woke up late – sleeping thru my first planned workout of the year.  Also I woke up 15 pounds heavier than my Marathon PR and 25 pounds heavier than my Boston Marathon PR.  I also woke up with virtually no running miles for the previous three weeks.  15 weeks til Boston could be worked out; 13 days til Houston could not.

Mile 8
Photo by Rod Azadan

The race actually started fine.  Easy first mile followed by building speed every 5k (as I would at a Marathon) worked well.  At mile 8, the full/half split where Emma and Rod were cheering, I was feeling good.  I hit the 15k mark just under 69 minutes. (Two minutes earlier, Molly Huddle had already finished and set the American Record.)

As far as marathon test/ early season evaluation, things were going great.  While I was probably behind where I had been preparing for Malta, I was ahead of where I thought I was for today. 

It’s only half past eight but I don’t care.
It’s five o’clock somewhere.

The vague gameplan had been to drop the pace at 5k, 10k, 15k and then try my best to break 7 min/miles after 20k.  If I continued the rest of my plan, I would probably have gotten in under the 1:38:30 (3:17:00) goal.  But, right after mile 11, I ran past the St Arnold’s tent. 

Running back downtown - 5 O'Clock Pils, in hand

I first just took the Dixie cup size beer.  Then, after finishing that, they offered me a can for the road.  I took it and ran the last two miles drinking a clean refreshing (if not thirst-quenching) pilsner.  It’s only 8:30 and I’m only at mile 11, but it’s five o’clock somewhere.

What time zone am I on? What mile am I at?
It doesn’t matter, it’s five o’clock somewhere.

EnU Shoutouts –
Robbie broke 3:05 in the full
Girl Jesse ran a 1:47 half
Lauren ran a 1:26 half

Medals:
Half Marathon, 5k (Saturday), Houston Double


We also enjoyed the rest of our weekend in Houston,

Lynn, from the Mars rover 2020 team, gave us a private tour of the Johnson Space Center on Friday:

Apollo Mission Control

Engines on the Saturn V rocket

Replica Shuttle with real Boeing 747

We went to three different local breweries:

8th Wonder:
Including actual Astrodome seats and AstroTurf on the walls

Saloon Door:
Operating the Crowler machine

St Arnold:
Collection of faux-Gothic paintings

 On the last day we went to Hermann Park and the Houston Zoo:


Watching kids feed the giraffes 

Playing a ball

Don't move Urvi, there's an elephant on your shoulder

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Muddy End to a Muddled Season: Cambridge Half MudFest

Cambridge Half: The last Medal of the Season

I don't have much to say about this race.  I wasn't fully prepared; I wasn't recovered from New York; I wasn't trained to really run fast.

The fourteen hours leading up to the Cambridge Half the sky opened with rains of near biblical proportions.  (Not really biblical; but it rained a lot).

The two weeks leading up to the Cambridge Half I ran only 6 miles; having run 26.2 miles on two Sundays before.

The two months leading up to the Cambridge Half my training was weak at best.

Five months before the Cambridge Half I had my seizure running to work and haven't quite gotten back into any groove since.

Alas, with my muddled summer and my muddled training, this race was not going to be good. 

It wasn't it fast; but I did kind of enjoy running through the mud and through my town.  If I had started out slower and ran for fun from the beginning, I might have enjoyed it more. 

Coming off the Lars Anderson at Harvard
Photo by Joev Dubach

But now I can close the door on my tough 2016 season. 

November 27th launches my #Mission26 - 20 weeks to Boston Marathon.  I plan more strength training.  I'm taking the 30 day challenge for improved running form.  I plan to lose a few pounds.  But these are all pie in the sky plans right now.  My legs are still stiff and sore from New York and Cambridge. 

Hopefully, I can find that groove again;

hopefully, Baystate Marathon 2016 wasn't the end...




Wednesday, November 8, 2017

26.2 Quatrains of Doggerel: NYC Marathon (11/5/17)

Cool Medal with my middling pumpkin beer at Baker Street

Race: New York City Marathon
Goal Time: 3:12:00
Actual Time: 3:29: something


prelude
Upon the black asphalt road we huddled,
As first elite women ran t’ward Brooklyn.

We waited in the rain for our turn in,
Dressed in matching yellow, me and Tuttle.

i
Then camouflage clad sent a cannon boom,
While Frank aloud sang: “Start spreading the news,”
And up the Verrazano Bridge we flew
Finding our own area, pace and room.

ii
Descending America’s longest bridge
I was running easy but way too fast;
This pace could not continue nor long last,
Down the easy steep pitch into Bay Ridge.

iii
Into the borough of trolley dodgers
I ran first into high fives from Declan
Then further on those of papa Brendan.
Someone was flying the Jolly Roger.

iv
And now us Or-ange joined with Green and Blue
The first hill we would climb was here on Third
Unhuman crowd like a wildebeest herd
Migrating en masse up Fourth Avenue.

v
My pace was still keeping an even keel
No trouble yet from the humidity
My stomach had yet shown acidity
Indeed this may have been the best I’d feel.

vi
Somewhere in Brooklyn was lost in the mix
Another sixteen hundred meters flat
Where there was either or both this and that
But I cannot recall mile number six.

vii
Suddenly I heard someone yell my name
Then to the left I was forced to swervey
For there was Kathy and my wife – Urvi
For a moment I was the Run of Fame.

viii
I slid across the road from Left to Right
But on the left I heard some cheers: Who Dat?
Jumping up and down were Megan and Matt,
Raised arms as if victory was in sight.

Tuttle and I at the start

ix
In Flatbush a band played a song catchy
With its bongo break it had made hip hop
Carrying me briefly from start to stop
Ran with my mind thinking of “Apache.”

x
Up the road as narrow as Tourmalet
Thru wild crowds to left turn in Clinton Hill
With another look and shout ‘nother thrill
Seeing Jason cheer where Jeremy stays.

xi
These cheers took and lifted my spirits high
This may have led me to run too quickly
For my stomach turned and I felt sickly
There in Williamsburg I puked on the side.

xii
Cheers dulled to quiet in Hasidic ‘hood
Ignoring race going about the day
They allowed the runners on their own way
Ne’er looking up from their phones tho they could

xiii
And into the last section of Brooklyn
Before the Newtown Creek that makes the joint
We ran by the cheers of Poles in Greenpoint
Past the flags toward Queens I kept pushing.

xiv
Over the Creek to Long Island City
Is carried by the bridge named Pulaski
(Not as famous as Dave’s New Jersey)
But upon the halfway point is pretty.

Mile 7 in Brooklyn

xv
Off the Pulaski another borough
Down into the town of Shea and Bunker
For only a mile in Queens we hunker
Another trip must to be more thorough

xvi
Over Roosevelt on the Bridge of Sighs
Quiet as church mice alone and desert
The day’s humidity had soaked my shirt
I felt that tell tale burn within my thighs.

xvii
Off the quiet of Queensboro’s skid
And onto First in the center of town.
The Bronx is up and the Battery’s down.
As if: “Springfield’s that away!” “Thanks kid!”

xviii
Into the East Eighties, First carried me.
I had to keep working and not relax
But then I heard a roar behind from Max
Sadly wife was there but I did not see.

xix
When I thought it was time to run faster
It was exhaustion I began to know
Thru the cheers of East Harlem barrio
Alas of marathons, I’m no master.

xx
Over the Willis Ave into the Bronx
I heard my name, just like cherry cola
It was SRR’s first chair viola
That dragged me through an early round of bonks

xxi
Once away the djs sounds faded
My queasy stomach turned and growled again
I hurled on the side finding no trash bin
And onward I continued unaided

xxii
Back into Manhattan on Fifth I ran,
Circumnavigating the Garvey Square
Developing dreaded hundred-yard stare
Hoping I could stop as soon as I can.

At Mile 17 with point of approval from Max

xxiii
The park was lovely and fearful sight
I cannot say that I was not forewarned
That this hill is a bull and I’d be horned
But I tried to put up a mighty fight

xxiv
But farther South into the Ninety streets
Was the mountain I had not been apprised
Its steepness and length became my demise
I had been bullied and I had been beat.

xxv
The next to last mile to myself I talked
Per Mark whom I had not seen nor heard.
Of what rabble I know not what the words
But ‘round the boat house I began to walk.

xxvi
Out on fifty ninth and cutting back in
To Central Park I fought myself to run
It was not fast and no it was not fun
That final mile I took on the chin.

.2
So, Three and a half hours was my mark,
Have to walk miles out of Central Park.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

Downeast Brew-Vay: Portland Express 200km (6/17/17)

Kennebunk Bicycle Company

TOP TRIP
Ride: Portland Express 200k
Location: Woburn, MA -> Portland, ME
Distance: 128 miles
Time: 10:36 (PR!!)
Pivo Index: 6

I awoke at 0 Dark 30 at the Woburn Holiday Inn Express.  I could already hear the hustle and bustle in the halls as riders prepped for the day ahead.  After Pop-Tarts and two k-cups of Green Mountain Coffee, I stumbled my way out the door and into the hotel parking lot.

The 42 people registered for the ride got our cue sheets and brevet cards. Right before 4:00 am, we got our safety briefing. 7 of us were doing the 200 km from Boston to Portland; the other 35 were riding Boston to Portland to Boston (400 km).  

We rolled out of the parking lot and toward the Pine Tree State a little after 4.  It's always darkest before the dawn (is it?), so I stayed back as the laterne rouge through out the first 2 hours, just getting my bearings.  

Not a Monet,
The morning light with condensation on my lens 
Clipped-In in the Clipper City

Last year I had attempted this ride.  But the night before I had bent my rear rim in the rain in Winchester riding to the hotel. I ended up abandoning my ride at the Newburyport train station - only 30 miles in.

Oddly, that wasn't the first time I had done something like this.  In 2013, Corey and I were riding the CRW Spring Century and I hit a Grand Canyon sized pothole at about 25mph - popping both tires and bending the front rim.  Corey and I bailed from the ride at the Newburyport train station.

This year, when we hit the Newburyport train station, it was a double milestone.

First, I made it a quarter of the way through the ride without a major problem; and,

Second, it was now my longest ride "clipped in."  For many years I have cycled with flat pedals. This year with a half ironman on the horizon, I finally followed the years of advice from almost every cyclist I've ever talked to and got clip-in pedals and shoes for my road bike.  I followed that up weeks later with one side clip in, one side flat for my touring/commuter.  The Portland 200km would be my first attempt at a long ride with clip in pedals.

Now as I made the left onto the Clipper City trail, I left both the possibility of a Commuter Rail ride and the without clips ride behind.

Newburyport

Clipper City Trail, Newburyport
 Coasting New Hampshire

The first contrôle was the Dunkin Donuts in Salisbury - the last town in Massachusetts.  I wheeled into there at 6:35.  With some coffee and a sausage sandwich, I was ready to ride.

New Hampshire has 19 miles of coastline and we rode pretty much all of it.  It was still cool and the only people out were surfers and those walking their dogs.  From Seabrook to Portsmouth we got some great ocean views on flat easy roads.  It was a great way to enjoy that period where the legs were finally waking to the level the head had been for a few hours.

As we went into Portmouth, I briefly thought about hitting up the Portsmouth Brewery - then I remembered it was 8:00 am.

Arr... the Sea looked angry, New Hampshire


Entering Portsmouth

Bridge to Maine


The Maine Drag

Across the bridge into Kittery (apparently the "Maine's Oldest Town"), it's mile 57.  We rode west of the coast and into a flat bit of woods.  The sun began to peak out from the clouds and the road started to dry out a bit.  I caught myself cranking out some speed.  (Slow down, buddy; there's a whole lotta hockey left).

The second contrôle was mile 69 and the Nubble Light in York, ME.  I cruised out of there and around the north side of Cape Neddick - where we stayed for last year's Tour de Cure.  The temperature had climbed to a point where it was uncomfortably cool.  I didn't want to take off my long sleeve but I wanted to take off my long sleeve.  I would roll up the sleeves only to immediately be freezing.

Into the Woods

Nubble Light, York, ME

After slow going through brunch traffic in Ogunquit, the route headed back inland.  As we rolled our way into Wells and Kennebunk, I started getting deja vous.  I realized: these are the roads we battled the Zephyr last year!  I was back on the Tour de Cure route.  The winds were much calmer, however. In Wells at Mile 88, I stopped at a gas station to refuel water and gatorade before heading out to Kennebunk.



I stopped at the third contrôle at mile 97 - Kennebunk Bicycle Company - for merely a couple of minutes.  I knew I wanted to push onto Biddeford where I planned to stop at Banded Horn Brewery.

In the process, however, I teamed up with Luke.  He had to get something repaired at KBC and was now getting back on the road for the 400 km.  He and I had a good conversation discussing brevets through the next 10 miles.  I left him once we were in downtown Biddeford; as, I headed to Banded Horn for a mid ride flight:

Smokey and the Banded - Nice light IPA with a hint of smokiness;
Norweald Stout - big flavored chocolatey stout - highlight of the flight;
Veridian IPA - A good well-balanced IPA; and,
Greenwarden - Piney APA with spruce tips.

On my way out, one of the girls from Portland Pie Co awarded me a cookie for my Cookie Monster bike jersey.
Flight at Banded Horn

I might have spent 75 cents on Double Dragon...
Banded Horn

Ride Bike; Eat Cookie

From Biddeford I only had 20 miles left.  I realized I could probably PR the ride with some effort if I averaged 16 or 17 mph the rest of the way.  I figured even on tired legs, I could do that for 20 miles.

Right at Mile 117, however, I had to slow down.  The next 4 miles were the jewel of the ride. First was a mile down Rte, 9 and then 3 on the Eastern Trail within the Scarborough Marsh.  Between the salt water and the sea strand, the beauty of the marsh and the vibrant (not quite deep forest) greens were sights and smells that made the first 116 miles almost meaningless.

Scarborough Marsh

Scarborough Marsh
Once out of the Marsh, there was only 6 or so miles left to go.  At first, I was going to try to speed through the last section of suburban South Portland.  But, I realized I had done my maths wrong earlier and had plenty of time to get into Portland for a PR.  Additionally, 400 km riders were now coming toward me on their way back to Boston.  I gave them acknowledgement and, hopefully, encouragement.

Concern started to seep in after a few miles as I wasn't seeing Portland.  Then there was a left turn and WHAM! I'm on the Casco Bay Bridge.

After crossing the bridge and a quick climb out of the Fore River, I rode up to Ohno Cafe to complete the ride.  Boston to Portland!

Portland from the Casco Bay Bridge

Brevet Card


After signing and turning in my brevet card, I called Grant and headed over to Salvage BBQ for some brisket and a (maybe two) Mason's Liquid Rapture - a dangerously good and easy drinking Double IPA.

Mason's DIPA
Grant and I headed over to Thompson's Point.  To where they have moved the International Cryptozoology Museum and Bissell Brothers Brewing.

At Bissell Brothers I had the flagship The Substance, Lux Rye IPA and Nothing Gold (an incredibly delicious New England Double IPA)
Grant, messing with Sasquatch

Bissell Brothers

Kept forgetting to take pictures of full beers at Bissell
After Bissell, I headed over to the Amtrak to catch the Downeaster back to Boston.  (And 4 more miles of cycling from the North End to Central Square).

Moxie for the train.

Full Circle:
Downeaster in North Station