Wednesday, June 4

Rohan's First Ride (Crash!)

I got a chance to take Rohan, my new bike, for its first big ride yesterday. I took a cruise down scenic Route 1A from Portsmouth, through Rye and Hampton, where I met up with my NorEast Cycling teammate Keith Limberg. We continued down 1A, making way for Newburyport, which is basically Massachusetts' version of Portsmouth.

Somewhere in Salisbury, I realized that I had only eaten a banana, a cup of ice cream, and a couple multi-vitamins that day, and I was totally famished. When we made it to Newburyport, we stopped at a soup-and-sandwich place, The Purple Onion. Nothing beats a Coca-Cola and a turkey sandwich when you've depleted your energy stores. The complete 180 from brain-dead bike-zombie to ready-to-GO is immediate upon drinking a Coke. Sugar, caffeine--so good. Check out The Purple Onion on Inn Street in Newburyport if you're ever there.

So we did that, checked out some of the sights and sounds of Newburyport, and made way back to New Hampshire. As we came on to Route 1A in Hampton Beach, and the notorious 'strip,' I said, "hey, get on my wheel, let's do this!" I shifted up a few gears and just cranked it as hard as I could right down the strip until we neared the end, and I couldn't handle the pain in my legs any more. As I coasted on, Keith pulled up aside me, saying "that was pretty good".
"How fast was that," I asked--I haven't moved my cycle-computer over to my new bike yet.
He looked down at his PowerTap speed readout, looked over at me and said "well we're going about twenty-sev--" and then right then, BAM!

Keith plowed right in to the back of this girl's car, took a header over the handlebars, and wiped out right there in the street. Well, he managed to squeeze of some brakes and slowed down to about four or five miles per hour before he made contact, so it wasn't like a huge crash or anything, but it was pretty good. The problem was that it was mostly rear brake, so he skidded and fishtailed.

After a quick check, and only a skinned knee and some other strictly-cosmetic damage, Keith assured her we were alright and so she drove off. But just then a cruiser pulled up. The cop had seen the whole thing, so he had to file an accident report. He took off and chased her down, the poor girl. We went to catch up to make sure she didn't get in trouble or have the cop think it was like a hit-and-run or something.

hampton beach police bicycle crashSo that was pretty exciting. After the whole fiasco, we split off a couple miles up the road to our respective homes.

I decided to take the last 10 miles or so on this 50-miler as a leisurely cruise along the New Hampshire seacoast. Suddenly, around Jenness Beach or so, I get passed at high velocity by a couple guys riding some of the nicest-looking time-trial bikes I've ever seen. I mean this one guy's bike looked like a knife, cutting in to the wind. I jumped up and joined up with them. We rotated who was at the front, facing the wind and doing the majority of the work. This way we made it back to the Portsmouth area much faster than any one of us could have alone.

Anyway, it was a solid ride--a good fifty miles. Route 1A along seacoast New Hampshire also constitutes the bulk of the Seacoast Century, a 100-mile ride billed as one of the flattest centuries in America. The Seacoast Century is in September, and it is the 100-miler I had set my eyes on back in January when I first set a century ride as being one of my cycling goals.

The main thing I learned throughout the course of the day, though, is that this bike is pretty great--it was smooth and generally awesome for the whole day. The seat was a little hot though, and I need to dial in some adjustments (seat and cleat positions) to get it perfect.

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