Monthly Archives: March 2009

MS training ride…or “shoes…I don’t need no stinkin shoes” ride.

Me, John, Nathan, Jill, Doug, Tony, Brian and a group that shows up every week.

The day was beautiful, the temperature was perfect, everyone was there and excited to ride. We were chatting and getting ready when …….wait….shoes….WHERE ARE MY STINKIN SHOES…….NOOOOOOOOOO! This can’t be happening! The guy who always comes prepared to ride forgot his SHOES. THAT CLIP INTO MY SPEEDPLAY PEDALS. Okay. No panic I’ll figure something out. “Hey buddy”. “Who me”? “Yea you. Got any flat pedals in your car”? ….And so it goes as everyone in the parking lot mutters “schmuck” under his or her breath. John graciously offers to go home (he drove) and ride near Tolland. Nope can’t do that because we are here and so darned excited to ride. Oh well this won’t be bad in sneakers on Speedplays. A 30 mile ride will build character and be a story to tell to my grandchildren.

Dave in Sneakers

Dave and his famous sneakers, before he realizes that he forgot his cycling shoes

Well not that big a deal but you get my point. So I decide to take a spin around the parking lot and feel it out. I don’t get three pedal revolutions from the car when my sneaker lace gets caught in my chain ring and I almost go down. I stop, look around, no one looking…. phew. Ok I climb off and tuck my laces in so that nothing can catch. I try it again. Off we go and although it feels weird and very insecure not being clipped in, it’s not bad. Nathan has a good time ribbing me which is fine because it has to be karma that’s coming back to me in a not nice way. The ride is flat which is a good thing because the first slight hill I came to caused me to lift my left leg sharply to get moving and I wobbled a bit when my foot came off the pedal. The pace was very moderate for ¾ of the ride which gave us time to chat with the other riders. They are a good bunch of folks who love to ride and for some it is still early season conditioning. Doug did an awesome job keeping a steady pace and doing his fair share of pulling at the front. He said that this ride was his first big group ride and I think he enjoyed it. Nathan is riding stronger with every mile that he rides and with every inch that he grows. He had enough energy to sprint at the finish and gave John a run for his money up the last hill. A woman in the group thought that Nathan was 23! He won’t even need a fake ID in a couple of years. (Sorry John) We all stopped at “the barn” which we found out is a traditional bathroom and feed stop. I just wanted to get peddling again because everyone was staring at my sneakers. The ride leader Billy came up in back of me at one point and said” oh I’m in back of the sneaker guy again”. Yea….karma! I felt much more comfortable by now and was standing on hills to keep up with a lead group that picked up the pace. The group split up a bit and we didn’t realize that John was helping Brian fix a flat. They caught up at the end. While we were waiting the colorful and bright Nerac Earth kits were discussed with the consensus being that they sure are easy to see from far away on the road. Jill told everyone how they light up at night and in the woods. Go NE. Conclusion: I do need stinkin shoes! The only pain that I suffered was to my feet from cramping around the little lollypop shaped pedals, my thighs which did all the work, and my pride for riding in sneakers. Overall fun day and great ride. –Dave F.

Nerac Earth West Coast Reporting In

Just caught up on the blog posts. Sounds like I missed some fun lunch rides this week.
I’m roughing it in the west coast office this week. Rentals are expensive and hard to come, need to buy a beater to keep in the office here. I was able to get my hands on an old steel Oschner road bike for a one day rental. I road from Solana Beach south along the coast to Torrey Pines.
There are two paths up the hill, one through the park and the other one the main road. I’ve been up the main road before and it was hard, so this time I tried the park road. It was about a mile and averaged 8% (max 14%), but the views were great. I felt so good when I got back down, that I decided to do the main road climb as well. It’s a very long 1.5 miles averaging 5%. The winter workouts must be helping, didn’t seem as hard this time.
The weather is great and it’s awesome having designated bike paths everywhere, plus there are bikers everywhere you look. I love it out here.
Still hoping to find a bike for a ride tomorrow. Then I’m heading to Houston with a ride scheduled on Sunday.
Catch you (or most likely chase you) in a Tolland TT soon. –John R

Lunch Ride Time Trial

Sandbagger is correct! I think this hanging behind on lunch rides was a ploy….right Jill?   We can’t actually verify when Jill left, but if she left at 1:10….she did an awesome job. I never saw her until I reached the Nerac parking lot. Jill is so right about the adrenaline and drive when you know you are being chased. I kept a race pace through the top of Broadway and couldn’t even say hi to Nick when I passed him. I kept looking back at the end of every long straightaway for the Guldens Mustard Yellow windbreaker and purple tights of John the flash Sattar. When I finally caught a glimpse at the top of Broadway it kicked me into overdrive. I knew he would catch me but thought it would be sooner. When he passed me on Dunn I could tell he was hurting(first time I’ve ever witnessed this with John) so I tried to push to stay with him. When he stood to go over the top of the little rise by the farm I could tell he had recovered from Broadway and he was gone, and I was toast. The drive thing left and I settled in to an easier (more sustainable)pace. I started recovering going down Gehring Rd and pushed pretty hard the rest of the way. I passed Susan on Cider Mill but I think my brain was oxygen starved at that point and I was almost by her before I realized who it was because she was on her mountain bike. That was the first lunch ride time trial for me and it was a blast. Next time a warm up(the first hill cold hurt) and a fair start(5 seconds Jill) and we’ll be good to go.

Broadway Lunch Loop

Riders:  John S., Dave F., Jill
Drive-by’s:  Nick, Sue, Doug

Today we decided to time trial our 14 mile Broadway loop.  So the plan we came up with was me going out first, Dave after 2 minutes, and John 5 minutes after Dave.  I got out to the parking lot first and started to ride at 1:10pm.  I was supposed to wait for Dave and John to come out but I was afraid they wouldn’t give me my full 2 and 7 minutes and I started getting anxious so I decided to just go.  Something about a time trial and knowing there are riders behind you who’s only mission is to catch you creates a special kind of power/panic/adrenalin combination that only the truly cycling obsessed can appreciate.  It also motivates you to ride as fast as you possibly can, cut the corners as close as you can, and gun for the intersections before the lights turn red all the time looking over your shoulder though fogged up glasses that you can barely see out of anyway because your heart rate is in the 180’s and your body is screaming at you.  So I didn’t get caught today but I felt a little guilty because I took off early.  As soon as I rode up to my car I saw John pulling in the driveway, then Doug (who rode the Dmitri’s loop but caught up with John at the end), then Dave.  So Dave and I ended up being only 5 seconds apart (guess I don’t get a jump start next time!), and John beat us both by almost 9 minutes!  Sick!  Then I got called a sandbagger all afternoon.  Classic.  While we were out there I saw Sue over by Crandall on her mountain bike and John and Dave saw Nick out riding too.  Thanks Nick for slowing down John a little when he stopped to chat with you.  Next time grab his wheel for like 5 minutes!  Ok, although this is only about 7 rides in, this was my favorite ride so far this year.  -Jill

Letter from Nick

Nicholas C. Willette
3 Dogwood Road Tolland, CT

March, 2009

Dear Members and Supporters of Nerac Earth,

I am writing to you today because I need your help. This summer, I will be riding in a bike tour called the Pan-Mass Challenge (PMC). It is a two day, two hundred mile trek across Massachusetts. More than that, it is the largest single event cancer cure research fundraiser in the United States. All of the ride’s fundraising efforts go directly to the Jimmy Fund. Last year, the gift of $35,000,000 that the PMC gave to the Jimmy Fund, accounted for over half of its annual earnings.
I have chosen to ride and raise money in memory of the people in my life that have died of cancer. Three of my grandparents passed due to cancer. More recently, my Uncle Frank and my Uncle John, both in their early fifties, also were victims of it. Take a moment and think about the people in your lives who in one way or another have been touched by cancer. I ride not only in their memory, but also that one day in our life-time there will be a cure for this deadly disease.
When the Pan-Mass started, the survival rate for children with cancer was merely 20%. Four of five children died. Thirty years later, the survival rate is 80%. Now, four out of five children will live, but this is still not enough. I turn to you, in hopes that you will join in the fight against cancer and help support me in my goal to reach $4,200. Together, we can make cancer HISTORY one mile at a time.
I will be accepting donations of .20 cents per mile ($40) or more. Please e-mail me back at for further information and be sure to visit the PMC website at You can also make an e-gift donation by going to and clicking on the e-gift link in the left corner. From there, click “sponsor one rider with one donation”, then click “search for a person by name”, and type in Willette. Next, follow the provided directions. If you would like to mail a check, checks can be made payable to The Jimmy Fund. Mail to

The Jimmy Fund
C/O Nick Willette
3 Dogwood Road
Tolland, CT 06084
I thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you.

Nick Willette

Nerac Earth Ride Tolland, CT

Riders: Brian, Dave F., Ken, John and Nathan, Dave and Taylor, Cliff, Lisa and Guy, Sue, Steve, Robert, Jill

Well, this was our first Nerac Earth road ride of the season so we kind of expected around 3 people to show up so when the cars started piling in I was very surprised. We advertised a moderate ride and ended up with beginner, intermediate, and advanced riders. A challenge to make the ride enjoyable for all but we worked it out, kind of… So we begin, we’re in Tolland so it’s going to be a climb to get anywhere and a climb to get back so we head up 74 to route 30 and take 30 all the way to Stafford. Route 30 was in pretty bad shape with deep potholes and cracks the entire stretch. It looked good on mapquest though! We will avoid 30 in the future. John and Dave rode ahead with the faster group and I rode with the newer riders to give them tips and show the value of working a pace line by taking turns leading and conserving energy. This only worked on the flats so once we got on 319 it was sort of a free for all. We regrouped about half way up 319 and a group decided to head left on 19 out toward Mass to add some mileage and the other group decided to head right on 19 to make it closer to the 30 miles we promised. The weather ended up being perfect today, it was even comfortable in the parking lot getting ready. So halfway through the ride layers were coming off, especially when we hit 140 and the hills started rolling by. It was great catching up with everyone after this snowy winter, I’m hoping the weather continues to get warmer so we can enjoy more of these rides. So although this ride wasn’t perfect and we need to work a bit on trying to make the ride enjoyable for a varied group of riders, I don’t think anyone hated it… At least I hope not. –Jill

Plainville Series

Hey all Week 2 of the Plainville series reminded me what racing Cat 3 Crits is all about; sit in, stay out of trouble & with luck and a good sprint you’ll be on the podium. Short story for me is that I had everything but the luck; I went left into & out of the last corner & I should’ve gone right and inside like last week. Pretty cold at the start at 9:00, but the sun was out. I guess about 30 degrees; yeah fahrenheit. I wish I’d have bought one of the club jackets in the fall, but no worries, just lots of layers. Basically I just sat in, I was in the top 10 most of the last 5 laps. Moved up into the top 5 with 2 to go. Got a bit swamped as we got the bell. Made a big move to get to the last corner in about 5th; I would have preffered to be first or second into the last corner. I was following the series points leader out of the corner and he got pinched/hooked into the curb on the left by my old buddy Mike Norton. Unfortunately, I was coming by on his left, so I had to shut it down with about 50 meters to go. Mike ended up “winning”. I came across the line in 8th & got 7th when they DQ’d Mike for not holding his line in the sprint. The road has a slight bend to the right, and Mike basically went straight & drove the guy into the curb. The rule is that you have to hold your line in the sprint, which means generally parallel to the curb. Kinda of a tough call as I don’t think Mike did it on purpose, but he really did slam the door on the guy. Nerac Mtn biker Dave Hildbrand continued his fine results from last week. He was 3rd last week and got some points from the preme sprints as well. This week he had a strong sprint (he went right out of the last corner) to take 4th place, moved to 3rd after the DQ. He’s probably close to leading the overall now. Unfortunately he rides for CVC on the road, so no help from me. The cool thing is I’ve got 5 more weeks to get it right. — Dave

Pictures from Plainville Race

Pictures from Plainville Race

MS Training Ride in Windsor, CT

Riders: Tony, Dave F., Jill, Frank, Ken, ???

Soooo, first official group road ride of the season and as I head out to the kitchen to let the dogs out I notice that it’s 19 degrees. I am determined to ride so I get ready and head over to Fluckiger’s house and see that his truck is started and his bike is loaded, a good sign! I follow him to Windsor and we are almost an hour early, are we geeks or what??? So we wait in the empty parking lot for what seemed like eternity and slowly riders start to show up. At 9am there are 6 people for the 25 mile route and 4 for the 10 mile route. The first stretch is a little rough, it is absolutely freezing. After the initial shock wears off and my body accepts that I am not getting back into my toasty warm car the fun begins. Tony our ride leader was a great host and lead us through a rolling, scenic route with little traffic. At first we were all just kind of trying to find our legs, it’s pretty early in the year and I’m guessing like me it’s only the first or second time riding outside. But as our legs warmed up and the route flattened out we pace lined a bit then stretched out again on the hills. The cold was actually exhilarating, the air was so crisp and fresh, the company was good, and it just felt good to be outside riding again. This was a great ride and I can’t wait to go back and ride again with this crew. I imagine the group will get larger as it warms up but this week I really enjoyed the small numbers and relaxed attitude for a stress free group ride. And thanks Dave for not bailing due to the sub-freezing temps! -Jill

Plainville Spring Series

Boy that seems odd to say; first race of the year in March. I think in over 25 years of racing, I’ve never raced in March more than a couple times, if at all. Anyway, I did the Cat 3/4 race at the Plainville Spring Series (no Masters race there).

Beautiful day; 50+ and sunny. We started about 60 riders. It felt great to be racing again. I pretty much sat in as it seemed obvious nothing was going to stay away. I did get off the front for a lap once by myself; why I have no idea. Took me a while to recover from that-not a bright move on my part. Coming in to the last couple laps I was a bit far back, but managed to move up pretty good on the last lap. It was pretty strung out the last half lap which kept it safe. The last corner was just over 200 meters from the finish. I squeezed into a gap on the inside curb just before the corner & got into 6th position into the corner. I jumped out of the corner and passed 2 guys to end up in 4th place. I’m real happy with that. For not doing any sprints in training, my sprint was pretty quick.

Ciao -Dave

They count points for the series and have prizes for the overall so I’m going to try and move up a bit.