5000 Miles or Bust: Survey of the Order of the Cast-Iron Crotch for 2015

by Dan Lehman, Road Captain, emeritus 

Belatedly, here’s annual review of some of those long-mileage riders during 2015. Again, statistics are like those of past years for ages (2014’s in parentheses), the Mean = 61 (60) and Median = 62 (59) & Mode = 55 (59) (x4, with 3x@75, 61, & 60). The oldest & youngest ages (1 each) are 75 & 47 (avg. 61!), and across the 40s..70s the counts are 1-13-17-9 (with one unknown to bump a center group a older-biased bell. Regarding gender, things remained in proportion, with women being about 10% of the group.

Four riders amassed double-CIC mileage (10,000 or more), with one close to it. Riding to the top of the chart with a gain of over 3,700 miles past his 2014 riding comes Davey Hearn, who began his “first year of bicycle racing, and the second full year of a fairly serious bicycling habit. A streak of riding a century per month whether I needed it or not, started in May of 2014, morphed into 2 or 3 per month this summer and fall, resulting in 21 for the year.” These included “Mountains of Misery in May (the final climb was interesting!) and the Frederick Gran Fondo in September. A unique and unexpected thing happened on Egypt Bend Road at the Page County Grown Century in October. As I came around a bend in the road, riding solo at the time, I suddenly passed 2 vultures feeding on a deer carcass just off to the right and downhill from me in the woods. The vultures were startled by me, and took off into the air. One happened to be trying to gain altitude along my path, at about the same speed, and it to my surprise crossed just 3 or 4 feet clear of my front wheel at handlebar level, as I prepared to avoid hitting the 5 foot wingspan beast. It would have been like having a heavy, smelly blanket full of umbrella struts thrown onto me. Another reminder to be ready for anything on the road!”

Keeping to his double-CIC goal, Tandem Ride Coordinator Don Schneider had whined about 2014’s needed December riding and gotten an old friend’s “rational albeit unsympathetic [advice to] plan better and accumulate some reserve. I did as instructed and managed 10K on December 12. My stoker surprised me by volunteering us for an early season century in April, which thanks to a finishing tail wind we managed. Our big ride for the year was Athens to Istanbul, island hopping, with ample climbing, including the 900-foot caldera face of Santorini. 2015 was a fine year!”

David Berning rose into the top tier with another 30% jump in mileage — and a jump Ride Class! Equally impressive, he has a tale to tell! “What does a mileage junkie do when his bike computer has a power failure and drops all records of the hard work the cyclist has done, midway through the season? This happened to electronics engineer David Berning in May. Dave’s computer is an old Avocet 50 that gets its power from a big lead-acid battery” [yes, you read that right: Dave is not some ounce-trouncing, carbon-ated, spokes-deficient-wheels racer wannabe!] “he uses for his lights, GPS, and whatever else he needs. And the wire broke. Upon restoring power, the odometer came up with goose eggs” [<- for non-farmer, urban readers, think ‘hubcaps’] “instead of the 3800 or so miles he’d accumulated since January. So, Dave built an oscillator circuit with an electromagnet that transmits pulses to the sense coil on the wheel hub to fool the computer into acting like he was riding the bike. He found he could tune the oscillator so that the Avocet would record up to 120mph. He settled into a more comfy oscillator setting of 80mph and just let that go for a couple of days.” [No WONDER he moved from C to B class! (120mph would be AA class.)] “The critical thing was to stop it at just the right time. Dave insists that he really did make that double-CIC total.” — and who wants to challenge a guy packing lead-acid voltage (talk about “feeling the Bern”(ing))!!

Fourth comes Ron Altemus, who for 2014 opined “it’s all about the mileage.” In 2015, he “had a Day of Calamities on the Bike Virginia tour. Had a flat early in the day which was quickly repaired, though we didn’t find anything in the tire. After repairing the flat, started up a hill and the cable for the rear derailleur failed during the climb. I was able to pedal up the hill in the worst possible gear, but, after reaching the top, it was apparent that I wouldn’t be able to ride farther w/o repair. So a call to SAG and a ferry back to the rest stop where a new cable was put into place. Since at this point, my fellow riders were miles ahead of me, I decided to cut my day short and head back. Approaching the next rest stop, I had another flat — same tire as the first one. Fortunately, Bike Ed was at the rest stop and this time he was able to find the culprit: a tiny but beautiful piece of purple glass shaped suitable for an earring or necklace if it was just a bit bigger. Only two-flat day of my cycling history.”

And nearly there — a metric century shy–, again the intrepid Rickey Davis notches another (nearly) 10k, and “during the year, I crossed 100,000 miles since I was age 65 [a decade & a year], joining the late Al Jones as the only other rider whom I’ve known to do so. (As of Feb. 18th, I’ve 376,365 total miles.)” Great going, Rickey, but watch out for Dave & his Magic Oscillator!)

Then come eight with over 8,000 miles. “All” Nicholas Clements “can say is that I rode through a lot of pain!” Mike McCarley’s highlights were “a week in the Pyrenees, including watching 2 stages of Tour de France.” Now he’s full of grand ideas, no doubt. Gary Reid “moved to Chicago in July, and did a solo tour of northern Sierra Nevada, Southern Cascades, Trinity Alps, then down the Oregon & California coast from Coos Bay to just inland of Paso Robles, then over to Bakersfield — great fun!” (And, no doubt, w/few flats, per usual.) Norman Rasmussen had only “four 0-mile days,” and hadn’t “missed a day since 2015-03-05,” though he doubted riding in the then-forecast 2′ of snow. “All my riding is done with my 3 old bikes from mid-1980s. The vast majority of miles were done on a 1986 loaded touring bike customized with 28 gears (4×7) that weighs in at about 40 pounds.” Even sans battery, feel the Bern! Barry Sherry “was riding the Jeremiah Bishop Alpine Gran Fondo in September near Dayton, Va., when I came upon a young Amish family, Mom and Dad with baby in bike seat, on their way to church. Dressed splendidly in their Amish Sunday best and me in my, well, Lycra, I slowed down to talk with them. When Mom told me her name was Julia Wenger I told her we were distant cousins. I descend from a Wenger line originating in Lancaster, Pa., as does she. They immediately became suspect and probably wanted to speed away on their steel 3-speeds. Advantage: me. They did have the advantage, however, if they turned onto a gravel road. I quickly traced my line back to my Wenger ancestors for her. I rode with them to their church then bid them a good day. I was excited to meet them but not so sure it was reciprocated. When I got home I contacted my 5th cousin, a Wenger Family researcher, who confirmed we do share a connection. For a day I rode with my Amish cousins.” — ah, routes with roots! Meanwhile, Stefan Ventura had “another boring year with no exciting riding stories.” Well, with only 3% PPTC (and 0% Ride Leading), what’s the obvious solution? Same as last year’s, tell him, Karen!

And a couple of 8000 milers got that mileage despite health issues. Robert James persevered through “two major injuries, in February & July,” and faced another medical challenge, but “I joined the National Bike Challenge (NBC) and our DC team the Washington All-stars finished in 2nd place. I think participating in a sport like Biking with its community events and various challenges such as NBC were a big factor in not letting things slow me down. Instead I had my biggest year for miles ridden to date. Steve Palincsar “had a rough time getting back on the bike after a partial knee replacement. It was painful getting the pedal all the way around the circle, and attempts to adjust my fit … merely rendered several bikes virtually unrideable. Things were going from bad to worse — I could barely finish a 13-mile ride–, and then I went to Planet Fitness and on a whim decided to try the stair-climbing machine. Two seconds in I could tell I couldn’t keep up with it, so I hit the red Emergency Stop button; it didn’t stop. Instead, it drove me down into the ground: the right leg went under the machine and in a flash of horror I imagined whirling gears ready to chew it off; the other leg — where I’d had the surgery– was severely bent. The pain was excruciating; every muscle in my leg cramped, and I could hardly walk. Fortunately, I’d already re-started physical therapy, and after a couple of days they relieved the distress and found I’d gained 10 degrees of movement in the knee. They theorized that the stair climber, in acutely bending the knee, had broken loose scar tissue adhesions that had been limiting my range of motion. The surgeon was sure that was what had happened, and if I’d have come to him he’d have done the same thing, only he’d have given me anaesthesia first” [and a bill second!].

Slipping into the 7,000s, we find Timothy “Old Man” Barry, who writes of “August 6: With several stops for photos, summiting the Passo Stelvio took me just under 2 hours and 45 minutes, mostly in my survival 34×27. The climb from Bormio is not too steep, averaging 7.1% over 21.5 km. Somewhere in that 5,030′ ascent was a pitch over 16%, which I don’t remember. Despite the difficult Dolomite climbs I had survived earlier in the week, the iconic Stelvio had me the most anxious — I’m a horrible climber. I was told to be prepared for lots of sport motorcycles whipping their way through the 48 numbered turns (there were a zillion of them) and for cold, wind, and possibly snow, at the 9,035′ summit. My anxiety gave way to the best climb I have ever done; Passo Stelvio is simply stunning. At the summit, I was greeted by a circus of cyclists, short-sleeved sausage, & beer vendors, motorcyclists, and tourists. It was wonderful.” Also venturing overseas, Sergio Leon’s notable event was “participation in L’Etape du Tour 2015,” where riders tackle some of the tour’s stages (perhaps on a rest day).

A dozen riders had totals in the 6000s, including this trio of new-to-this-Order riders. Robert McMillan “did my first competitive cycling ever: King’s Gap Time Trial in Pennsylvania.” And he “thanks Janice Stoodley and all the other Weekday Pedalers who taught me the joy of riding with a group.” (“Why Ride Alone?” — isn’t that the PPTC’s raison d’etre?!) Mike Skinnell highlights “getting my son into bicycling and being with him when he did his first metric century and English century on back-to-back days” — a notable achievement! And welcome here James Nach, who at 74 boosts our senior ranks. Several other, continuing members moved up. Timojhen Mark raised his bar (past 6,000mi), crossing the CIC threshold a few weeks sooner, and although he had “the lowest century count …, knowing that the 0-mile week datum [shows in the CIC table] kept me” riding each week! (We aim to motivate.) Ernie Hazera similarly upped his total, and reached CIC territory in September vs. November. He “spent a lot of time in New York — Auburn, Skaneatles, & Watkins Glen– riding the relatively flat northern end of the Finger Lakes east-west, and the hillier north-south routes: best biking I know of that’s close to home. Live to bike, bike to live. I’m back on the road again now in March” (i.e., with warmer weather). David Helms made a big jump (1,500mi+), and Jeanne Harrison, although she had “no super strenuous rides for me this year (Randolph rode the Andes in July without me — somebody in this family has to work), but we did do a self-guided/self-supported leisurely 12-day, 420mi ride from Miami to Key West and then from Ft Myers to St. Petersburg & Tampa over Christmas. Two of the Europeans with whom we rode in Costa Rica last Christmas joined us and it was loads of fun (and HOT HOT HOT). This summer [about now] we’ll be doing a 3-week ride in France from St Malo to Nice, so I’m trying to re-learn my high-school French, and hopefully will …” have done “a bunch of PPTC rides in Spring early Summer.” Howard Spira, though, nearly dropped out of the 6k group, but with some strenuous riding. I.p., he recalls “walking about a quarter mile at mile 101 at the Mountain of Misery Century at Blacksburgh VA –my leg just totally cramped up, and I couldn’t sit without my leg uncontrollably bending. A car kept coming by and asking if I needed help. What the heck I was screaming to myself? — that I didn’t climb this [bloomin’] mountain to ask for a ride! I was so angry!!! Then I saw the balloon arbor of the finish line, got back on, and pedaled in standing position across the finish line. Swore I had nothing to prove. What did I do? — entered that [dagnab] event again! (Going to destroy that mountain this year!)” We’ll read about this “destruction” next year. Tim Guilford had a year like his past two, also with a performance notch of note: “set a KOM on an uphill, still have it, and can’t believe someone has not taken it from me.” His friend Karen Berlage “had an accident in 2015, so [mileage] is not so great” — no, about the same as Tim’s, a couple thousand off her stride.

Speaking of friends, this Survey has recently featured the good-natured competition to (dis)prove the assertion that 1x JBoarman < 2x JQuinn, at least in mileage. For 2015, Jeff Boarman “indicated my goal for 2015 was to ride fewer miles than Jim Quinn [as opposed to double!]. But, for some reason, when I returned from San Diego in October, I surprisingly found that I was a couple hundred miles ahead of Jim. For the life of me, I could not find it in my good heart to let him catch me — maybe this year, Jim! For me, 2015 was rewarding — definitely not like 2014, but a good mileage year none-the-less, despite a few health issues that kept me sidelined for weeks at a time.” Yes, Jim Quinn “worked hard (best year ever!) and almost caught the infirmed Jeff Boarman. I guess I’ll have to break his leg to beat him. That San Diego winter head start is just too much to overcome [indeed, January was Jeff’s Big Month, 1,086mi!]. I rode about half of my rides on scheduled PPedalers rides and the other half with a group of old retirees and lucky flexible scheduled workers. We had some really good rides including my favorites from north of Frederick to Taneytown or up to near Rouzerville, Pennsylvania.” And, to the club’s great benefit, Quinn “spent lots of time planning, driving, and riding the routes for the new Back Roads Century rides in Shepherdstown West Virginia. I had a blast searching for the shorter routes, and meeting up with Eric Pilsk’s century route to share the beauty of the valley west of I-81.” We must wonder how their respective mileages look at this point of 2016.

Now we’re left with the 5,000s, which riders include some with December drama in reaching the CIC goal. New to the Order comes Bob Claude, whom I had the pleasure to meet occasionally at my mid-week rides; he sometimes has ridden one of those up’n’down ski-bike things — quite an upstanding fellow! New also is Richard Loudis, just making it; I hope he further strengthens our 70s group for 2016. Richard notes that when “riding the Civil War Century in the rain, a fellow next to me noted that there were soap suds coming from my bib shorts. Now, I use the double-rinse cycle on my washing machine.” Ha! I’m happy for his “hope to ride with you this coming year,” as so do I, and I’ll bring some laundry! Randonneurs and racers are not new here, and “R” class’d (but 2015 lacks a double metric?!) William Dennen puts in another CICrotch notch, and Kenneth Rowe “had my best season ever as a bike racer and a triathlete. I did two weeks at a bike race training camp in the mountains of North Carolina near Ashville. For the camp, I road 624 miles with 56,000′ of climbing. Doing the Cayuga Lake Triathlon was the highlight of my season. I accidentally registered for the elite class. We were the first group to start the race and I noticed that the guys around me were somewhat buff and young; one guy said the group was a bit small. I asked what group he was referring to and he informed me that I didn’t belong there. This was true, but I managed to finish ahead of one or two of the guys. The reason why this event was so fun is that the run goes upstream to the lower and upper Taughannock Falls: it is breathtakingly beautiful. The ride is also beautiful since it follows Cayuga Lake. See my blog: http://KenTheCat4.blogspot.com.&#8221;

More for sightseeing than performance, Ken Berman joins the Order, and “rode across country, full self-supported, no support vehicle, with a group of 9, from Yorktown to Oregon, crossing five mountain ranges (Appalachians, Ozarks, Rockies, Cascades, & Frontal Range). We crossed paths with the racers doing TransAmerica, but they were going from West to East. I took 93 days, the winner of that race completed it in 17! Just when you think you did something great, there is someone doing it better/faster/whatever. Most of us on our ride were in our 60s, and we had perfect weather, with tailwinds and no tornadoes in the Midwest. We camped 85 of the 93 days, and did our own cooking — grew sick of oatmeal and PBJ sandwiches, but dinners were fun, with Pad Thai, steaks, or pasta. Small-town America was welcoming, but looked at us folks in our spandex as if we were from another planet!” Returning to the Order with like figures to 2013 is John Lynn, who “was on top of Mt. Baldy for finish of the Queen stage of the Amgen Tour of California in May. Hundreds of riders rode on the race route, prior to the race that day. Temp.s were predicted to be in the low 50s, but turned out to be in the 30s (!!) with snow still on the ground. Not only did hardly anyone have a triple chainring for the mile-long 15% grade near the top, but most of us were in short-sleeved jerseys. When many of the riders reached the top, in spite of the temperatures, they stood around talking for a quite a while, apparently impervious to the conditions. These people were tough! (but my friend and I were freezing our asses off!).”

Jack Buresh (another of our growing stronger 70s division) enjoyed “bicycling tours of Puglia, Italy, and the three Baltic States. Although after biking 5,000 miles in 2014, I told myself that I would never want to do that again, but I did.” Keep it up, Jack! Meanwhile,Randolph Harrison (whose wife Jeanne points to this indulgence, above) did a British company’s tour in the Andes in July, with a “50-mile, ~12k’ climb up Alto de Letras in Colombia. That took me nearly 7 hrs of riding; there were some tough spots, but it never felt not doable. And we got a (colombian) coffee stop (or two) and some of the most gorgeous mountain scenery along the way. It was one of several highlights of ten days in the Andes — worth every minute, highly recommended.” (I’m still stuck on “50mi climb” — avg. 4.5% grade!) “Never felt not doable”?! Well, Linda Bankerd seems to annually “really thought that you wouldn’t be hearing from me this year. I only got in one ride in January, and we went on a 2-week-plus vacation in October sans bikes. Luckily, November & December were plenty warm, so I did it!”

The 5000s group also faced health challenges. Gene Ostin remarked that his 2015 was “very little different” from 2014 — same figures, same health issues (“the knees are going”). But Gene’s knees went another mile of miles, reaching the CIC mark in November. Joe Eisch “was hit by a car that ran a red light and broke his leg in ten places in 2014, so he was unable to ride 5,000 miles; but he recovered and returned stronger than ever in 2015!” — including two centuries (vs. 0, 2013). Joan Oppel “was 765 miles into my 2015 cycling year when I fell during a ride and broke my upper femur. After 16 days in hospital, then rehab, I went to work really hard at physical therapy. Therapy included some indoor cycling as well as a lot of walking (with a cane). I took my first outdoor bike ride May 29 — 2.5 months after the accident– and kept going! There were still some limitations, but I rode six days of Bike Virginia, Mountain Mama, and a week at Bike Maine.” And although her total is the least in several years, “the thrill of getting to 5,000 was probably more of a thrill than the first time I did so.” Bravo, Joan-O!

Last & least — but verbose–, come we squeak-over-the-threshold (“December drama”) riders. Tom Roman “had reached and maintained CIC status for 2013 & ’14, but due to bad roads in the winter and a bad body in July-August, had 13 0-mile weeks and only 2,211 miles by the end of August. Wondering what happens when a cast-iron crotch isn’t maintained (turns to rust and flakes away …), I modified Mark Pankin’s mileage-log spreadsheet to show miles needed to reach 5000, number of weeks remaining, average miles needed per week, miles over / under that average, etc.; retaining my CIC seemed possible even though highly unlikely. Fortunately for me, I’d several use-or-lose leave days that allowed me to ride during the week, the weather cooperated for the most part, and I averaged almost 750 miles per month for September thru November, and then rode just enough in December to reach the 5K goal. During this last quarter of 2015, I rode the bike almost every day when I wasn’t at work, and by doing so I neglected so much: leaves weren’t raked (still aren’t but too late now), cars went unwashed for weeks + weeks (and me, on occasion) causing co-workers to wonder if I was okay, social opportunities were declined, et cetera. But in the end, once this or any goal is reached, the inevitable question arises: was it worth it? NO! There were way too many days when getting on the bike was just about the last thing I wanted to do, way too many miles when I wasn’t enjoying the ride and the only thing being accomplished was watching the odometer roll over the miles.” [Tom, we’re feeling the wrong Burn, here] “However, I’m glad I remained ‘cast-iron’. 5000 miles is a worthwhile goal for me and I certainly hope I can reach that again this year, as long as I have closer to a year to do so instead of just 9 months.” I, Dan Lehman, has less excuse but equal drama. Among the notable things of 2015 was having a pair of international pros — viz., Scott Sunderland & Mitch Mulhern of Team Budget Forklift– attend my Annandale Evening Speedworks ride, the week of the USAF Clarendon Cup & Crystal Challenge races — first time I had someone sign in with a country code phone number (You’re not from around here, huh?!). They came with their local host, of WWVC; they were able to hang no problem.

Honorable Mentions

I thought I’d give a bit of “honorable mention” status to two fellows who were joined in last year’s Survey, and who fell shy of the CIC mark. Peter DeNitto felt that 2015 “was working to be a really good year: I joined a racing team, got fitter and faster, and was working my way up to Cat 4. My wife and I were registered for the Sea Gull Century, and I was registered for the Amish Country Bike Tour over in Dover, and had left the house to go put in 50 miles in finishing up the training for both, when just a mere half mile from the house I had to decide whether to get hit by a truck or slide into it. In sliding into the truck, I broke my acetabular joint in my pelvis (where the femur and pelvis meet) and was off the bike for 4 months. I got 4,198 miles in before the crash on Sept 5th, but not much afterwards. I’m hoping to make 5000 this year (2016) … my physical therapists are amazed with my progress. I’ll be doing my 4th Storming of Thunder Ridge century again this year — I’m not going to let a cycling injury keep me from riding up mountains!” And when it comes to mountains, Mark Hemhauser continued to climb a lot last year. “With Grizzly Peak out the door, there’s always an 8mi climb just waiting for me. But alas, a congenital heart defect caught up with me last year. Doctors all said back off the hard cycling or risk tearing the aorta — fun concept, not. I had a really crappy October, November and December for riding. I wrapped up the year with 4,672 miles and 376,000 feet of climbing. That’s an 80′ per mile average for the year. The Tuesday night ride averaged 98’/mile which included climbs of 3.8-, 1.2-, 3.9-, a finishing 1.4-mile climb, and various rollers on the ridge. Those sustained climbs seriously brought down my average speed.”

Finally, let me give here another tribute to a long-riding CIC couple Lynne Rosenbusch & John Fauerby whose generous sharing of their love of cycling has touched many fellow riders: may they rest in peace, their memory long with us (I met them on their Frederick Fall-Foliage Frolic ride Sore & Glide, in October 1993).

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