Saturday, December 12, 2009

Wind Power vs. Pedal Power

My body was in a wretched state when I got up this morning. Saturday's skate ski was a punisher. Even though my technique continues to improve, Brett can still put the screws to me on flat terrain. His V2 is so efficient, barely breaking 140bpm, while I flail away to stay with him. Head up something steep though, I sometimes return the favor.

I certainly was in no condition to race. Not even doing it "just for fun." Frankly, I really don't see the point of racing if you aren't there to give it a decent shot. Why bother. That's what organized fun rides are for. I do a number of races each year when I'm not 100%, like Fat Tire Classic after Turtle Pond, or Bow after Equinox. I can still be competitive in those cases while having fun. There's nothing like a ski workout to leave you lifeless the next day. Performance on the bike is degraded far more the day after a hard training ski than the day after a hard training ride. I wonder if this still holds true for skiers that cross train on the bike in summer.

Saturday looked to be a spectacular riding day, so a ride was still in the plan. Single-digit wind chills ruled out a road ride. ATVs had been on the powerline trails by my house, but I think only limited terrain would actually be rideable. Thoughts drifted further south. Was it Cape time? I really planned to get new tires on my Matrix today. Hmmm, bare dirt singletrack for a few hours or sit around at a tire shop for a few hours. Singletrack won. I can be irresponsible like that. I threw the Titus dualie in the xD and headed to Otis.

Total of collected GPS tracks from myself, Colin R and others.
The Goggle Earth KMZ filed can be downloaded from here.

There were about a dozen mountain biker cars at the Otis trail head. It was so warm on the Cape, I thought about going in short sleeves. Not really. It was about 29F and windy, 10F warmer than at home, enough to dress down one layer. In nine months, I nearly forgotten the lay of the land down there. It is easy to navigate though. A spaghetti maze takes you anywhere from anywhere. Sound of cars on Rt 28 forms one boundary. Rotary to north, base to east, powerlines through middle, and brilliant sun all keyed me in to my whereabouts at all times. I managed to hit bits I never rode before. The few spots that can be muddy were frozen solid. And of course, there was no snow. Except for lots of tree debris, conditions were wicked fast.

Attempting to track stand waiting for shutter to go.

Coming onto the Cape, I noticed a new, huge wind turbine on the base. I knew for years they have been trying to get a large wind farm started off the coast. Way too many people objected. People want "green" energy, but "not in my backyard." Mighty hypocritical. Well, the military base is a totally suitable location for wind energy. You have some big ridgelines in there, and big buffer zones from residential properties. Personally, I think wind turbines look pretty cool. I figured the one I saw from the highway was on Deer Horn Hill. Close, but not quite.

Two forms of renewable power from Mt Zig.

I didn't get to the turbine until late in my ride. My legs were entirely lifeless, so the hills in the area were really dragging me down, even with gears. I normally ride singlespeed in Otis. The wind was still blowing pretty good today, and you can hear the wind turbine a ways off. When I finally figured out how to get right up to it, I was amazed at how big it was. After research, I learned it is almost 400ft tall and generates 1.5 megawatts of power. That is over 5000 cyclists at threshold on ergs. The blades make a very distinct swooshing sound coming around. I bet the tips are moving 100mph. It doesn't turn at very high rpm's, but due to its enormity, the tips are moving faster than you think. The base must be 20ft in diameter. I shot video with my Lumix LX3, hoping to capture sound, but the wind was blowing across the microphone and drowned the turbine noise out.

This turbine went on line in just the last month. 17 have been approved for the site, but now I read the FAA is putting a stop to most of the turbines, citing aviation concerns. Wind power has been around for centuries. You'd think by now we'd get it. But no. A pittance of power is generated by wind in the US. This single turbine increases power generated by wind in Massachusetts by nearly 25%.

First time seeing this one. Stuff like this is scattered all over Otis.
Last slat before 5ft drop said "Good Luck!"

I rode over 2hrs, covering just 21.7 miles, probably my shortest Otis ride ever. I did seek out the most technical terrain though, and did more than usual climbing with 2400ft. With my daulie, I was able to clean sections I've never cleaned with my singlespeed. Good thing, else I have no business owning a daulie. I saw one person the whole time, a walker. Have no idea where the other bikers were. Many of the same cars with NEMBA stickers were still at the trail head when I left. Plan to hit snow again on Sunday.

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