Tuesday, June 14, 2016

An Odyssey into Zephyros Megalyeri: Tour de Cure Kennebunks (6/12/16)

Emma, Victor and I dance to show tunes at the start while Dan from St Louis looks on
photo by Urvi
Event: Tour de Cure Kennebunks
Location: Wells, ME
Distance: 100 miles
Time: 6:59:05

We turned into the third rest stop at Hollis Elementary School and I bee-lined the bike for a patch of grass in the middle of the parking lot.  Zephyros Megalyteri (“Greatest Zephyros,” the mighty West Wind) had battered and beaten and blasted us for the past 19 miles or so.  I flopped to the ground and laid in the grass for a few minutes before refilling my water bottles, refueling with Cape Cod chips and resuming onward back toward Wells.


Three Hours earlier, and not long after Eosphoros rose, no winds had been problems.  I had had an emergency tire replacement at the start area and missed the start of the Century by 10 minutes.  This was probably fine, since I was told by Jason and Victor that everyone else started out too fast.   Soon, I was riding with one guy – Dan from St Louis – who had also gotten a late start.   

The first 40 miles of the ride winds its way along the coast from Wells up to Scarborough.  And while the sun was probably rising up over the coast, we saw little of rosy-fingered dawn. Instead, it was fog as thick as pea soup. 10 miles into the ride the fog had gotten so dense that I could not see more than five feet in front of me.  I was worried I would have to stop.  It was then I realized that while it was really foggy, my glasses were accentuating the fog.  So, I removed them and it was much better.

Dan, who was riding the Tour de Cure in his Seventh State, and I rode into the first water stop.  We met Victor and Jason.  Jason had already done the Biddeford Pool loop, but decided to do it with us again.  The fog had begun to burn off and we got glorious views of the sea and shore.

Biddeford Pool

Dan had dropped off while Jason, Victor and I continued our journey.  At mile 28, Gaia-ochos (“earth-shaking”) Poseidon struck us with our first mechanical issue.  I looked back and Victor was stopped about 400 meters behind us.  Jason and I looped back around and tried to assist.  Victor’s rear derailleur had stopped derailing.  He couldn’t shift at all.  Jason tried to help.  He did get it to move one gear.  I was absolutely no help in this situation.  Eventually the bike was “good enough”; and Victor was going to go back to the 100k route and follow it and if it was too bad he’d drop.

Jason pushed on to the second water stop at the Clam Bake in Scarborough as I would follow and tag along on his work.  After walking about ½ mile through the depths of the Clam Bake for the bathroom, Jason and I were ready to head off. 

Homer warns of Zephyros in the Illiad: "As two winds rise to shake the sea where the fish swarm, Boreas and Zephyros, north wind and west, that blow from Thraceward, suddenly descending, and the darkened water is gathered to crests, and far across the salt water scatters the seaweed."  Unlike the Illiad, however, we were heading away from the sea when we met the mighty blows of Zephyros.

What had been nothing at 7 and a breeze at 8, by 10 am was a steady 15 mph wind blowing right at us as we headed west.  Although, gusts were only 20 mph, at this time.  For the next 20 miles, I largely just got in front and Jason tucked in behind as I drove into Zephyros Megalyteri.  This furious headwind coupled with climbs found only in rugged Ithaki, was the toughest part of the ride.  From mile 40 until mile 55, we went from 30 feet of altitude to 375 feet.

Jason on the road
My exhaustion at the third water stop was understandable and my few minutes in the grass was excusable.  In fact, including the stops we had done miles 40-60 faster than the flat windless coast roads from 20-40. 

Wind graphs from weatherundergound.com

The nearly forgotten Oppian, attaches the epithet “rapid” to this West wind in his Cynegetica: "The swift tigers, the offspring of rapid Zephyros .”

After we left Hollis, there was a brief respite from the headwinds.  But it was brief.  And despite his cycling acumen, Jason is no into the wind cyclist.  So, each time we would hit another headwind from rapid Zephyros, our speed would go from 17 to 11 or 12 mph.  When this happened, I would jump to the front and try to drag us back to the 15-16 range. 

The problem of course is calculating your ideal speed with so much wind and so much distance to go.  Fortunately Dr. Brad Anton has determined how to calculate the proper speeds and power based on given conditions:

Dr. Anton's model from "Optimal Time-Trial Bicycle Racing with Headwinds and Tailwinds"


P+= Power output into a headwind
CD= Drag coefficient
A = frontal area
p = Air density
v = constant speed
w = speed of rapid Zephyros

Unfortunately, I both understand little of this math, don’t have a power meter for output AND I didn't have an anemometer handy to get anywhere close to an exact measurement of wind.  So instead, to paraphrase last week's race: JKP - Just Keep Pedallin'.  

York and Beachhouse we rented
photos and collage by Urvi

At mile 75, Gaia-ochon Poseidon struck again.  This time he hit Jason's tire.  Jason slipped through a turn to find he had lost pressure on his rear tire.  We were about 4 miles from the next water stop, so Jason decided to just pump up his tire and see how far he could ride.  We had to stop again at mile 77. But this time it was a quick stop.  I handed him the pump, he got the pressure back up to 60 or so and we made it the last two miles to the 80 mile stop.

Our plan had been to change the tube there, etc.  Fortunately, there was actually a volunteer bike mechanic at the stop who just replaced Jason's tube for us.  (Take that Earth-shaker!)

Jason at Mile 60
In Theogony, Hesiod says that when Dawn and Dusk mated, they had two children – the strong-hearted winds.  The first was Boreas, the North Wind and the second was Zephyros, the West Wind. Parts of the last laps saw the two teaming up on us.

The final section took us on an extra 18 mile loop.  At mile 82, the 50k ride turned for home while the 100k and 100 mile routes still continued.  From 82 until 87, I basically said nothing.  I just put my head down into Zephyros with Jason following.

Miles 88 and 89 however were what we'd been waiting for all day.  We headed ESE back toward the ocean and Wells.  This meant Boreas and Zephyros were pushing.  But, as we know from experience (and as Jobst Brandt shows in "A Practical Analysis of Ærodynamic Drag"), tailwind - not even "strong-hearted winds" - help as much as they hurt as headwinds.

Laura, Lisa, Emma, Ryan, Amy, Amie, Robbie, Jason, me, Victor and Urvi at the end
But it was short lived.  I was now heading generally North and Boreas was kicking my ass.  Jason began yo-yoing off the back.  He would pedal hard into the wind to catch me and then drop back again.  This is where we caught Urvi and Lisa who were on the 100k route.  When we got to mile 94, Jason called it.  "I'm toast; I'm on mile 99 for my day."  We gave our regards and I moved on.  The next two miles might have been the toughest of the whole day.

Boreas and Zephyros were blowing one last hurricanic blow.  In fact, Mile 96 was the slowest of the day outside of those Buxton hayfields at the halfway point (where we saw neither big oaks nor pieces of black volcanic glass).  I pushed and struggled through it to the "4 miles to go" sign.

Carrie-Anne at the Reservation after the finish
photo by Urvi
Soon it was a right turn with just over 3 miles and I was on my way into Wells.  the last three miles were a blur.  I was just riding as hard as I could for two reasons: 1) I could beat 7 hours and 2) more importantly, I just wanted to stop riding.

I came into Wells Reserve and passed a few people.  I crossed the start line for one last little Ronde type hill as Cyclotrons who had finished cheered me to the top and got my medal - 55 seconds under 7 hours.

Finished - medal and all!

As I drank my celebratory beer - fittingly it was none other than a Rising Tide Zephyr IPA - Victor told me how he gutted it out on only three gears with the hills and the wind to ride the whole 100k. Amie, Ryan and Carrie-Anne finished the 100k together.  Emma had ridden the 100 miler in just over 6 hours, while Robbie had done it in under 5.  Yes Robbie rode it in 4:52!

We cheered in Jason as he finished right behind me and then Lisa and Urvi as they finished despite Zephyros Megalyeri accentuating various injuries.

Alehouse mussels from Portsmouth Brewery - yeah, baby! I had their Diggler DIPA as the accompaniment 

Monday, June 6, 2016

JKP - Just Keep Paddlin': Glen Doherty Cup & Freedom Run (6/5/16)

Start of Kayak Race
All photos from Cambridge 5k and Alan Scherer
Part 1
Discipline: Kayak 
Distance: 0.75 miles
Goal Time: 8:00
Actual Time: 8:02

Last year, I got boxed in at the start.  This year I was determined for that not to happen.  So I made sure I was on the front line at the horn.   Basically, there are two strategies I can think of for a 0.75 kayak race.

1) Mark Cavendish Strategy - Attempt to keep with leaders and sprint to the finish.
2) Fabian Cancellara Strategy - Get out front, put your head down and treat it like a time trial: Just Keep Paddlin' - JKP.

Last year, within a few hundred yards I was in third and stuck behind a tactical battle between first and second.  This year, I didn't want that to happen.

At the horn I put in 15-20 sprint strokes and got myself into the lead.  I made the turn off the Broad Canal and onto the River with at least a couple yards of lead.  At this point, I made up my mind.  I was going with JKP.

Joe and Andy were acting as my spotters.  10 meters behind... Great, I can't let him close - JKP

By about 4 minutes in, my pecs and trapezii were on fire.  I glanced at my watch and thought two things.  First, it's like running the mile and I made it to lap 3.  Second, JKP!

At the turn off the river and into the Cambridgeside Canal, I got: "You're opening the lead." But I wasn't sure if Andy had said opening or closing.  So I went with JKP.

I went under the Cambridge Parkway Bridge and ready to gun the sprint. It's much further to the finish line on the river than it is on the bank...  Oh well, JKP.

I pulled my way through my burning trapezii, built into 5-10 intermediate paddles and into 10 or so sprints to win the kayak race by 14 seconds! 

Finish and roaring to victory!

Dana - third master in run

Part Two
Discipline: Run
Distance: 5 kilometers
Goal Time: 18:30
Actual Time: 19:22

Yeah, this didn't go as well as the kayak race...

But, in the end, the guy who finihed seconds behind me in the kayak race beat me by 3 minutes in the run to take the Glen Doherty Cup.  

SRR - Team Champs!