Bruce Romano Takes Master’s Podium at Mass Road Champs


Bruce Romano sporting a shiny silver medal after finishing second in a bunch sprint in the Masters 45+ (Cat 1-4)  race at the Massachusetts State Road Race Championship on Sunday morning.

Bruce emerged from the peloton during the final grueling climb of the final lap of the fifty five mile race which included approx 4500′ of climbing.

Ripper Riding Safety Observations – Spring 2015


With the rain, the respite, I wanted to get this out tonight.  Our groups are growing and that is great – and I have also been seeing and hearing a tweak of buzz.  So here’s my take (and I am not perfect just cause I wrote this!):

Despite everyone’s best efforts – peloton riding can have its “moments”.   I don’t think for the most part it is intentional – but we do have to be extra mindful to be safe.  Our record is very good – and we want to always be striving to improve – the vets and our new riders.

So a couple of tips, simplified:

  • Riding multiple abreast.  It can happen in several ways due to a quiet road and a good conversation. Or it happens with overlapping speeds.  Most of our roads we want to be single file.  There are some where it is safe to be two abreast (and legal).   But there are none that are good with three or more.  Having said that it can happen (speed overlaps) – so everyone stay chill (drivers too, man) and let the overlapping thread, cycle through.
  • Passing a group of riders or one rider – and you are by them by plenty (at least a half a bike length), slowly move to the right/side of the road, don’t keep that line.  Why? Cause if they in turn want to pass you (new draft, new energy) – they have to go too wide to accomplish that.  Signal your intensions too or at least show it and slowly in your actions so it is obvious. But get closer to the inside of the road.
  • Car Back. Along this same line, when you hear “car back” the idea is to smoothly move into single file or whatever is called for.  You can’t rush it especially if we are packed in (start of a hill) – but we do get some “hanging out” where I see riders not really moving right.  Space there and everything.  Let’s get er done. Smooth though.  Riders trailing a rider “hanging out” can help by communicating.
  • Be patient. Get boxed in as the peloton accelerates on a hill (happens to me a lot) – stay cool.  You may get separated but stay cool.  It will all work out.
  • Make your intensions known to those behind or even in front of you.  About to pass on a hill, say something, move a hand in that direction, whatever, and do is gradually.  (I know it can be hard/dangerous to look back).
  • Careful with “Follow the Leader” – don’t assume the “coast is clear”, the light green, the arrow in your direction, just because the person in front of you is cycling through a turn or intersection – you have to make the safe call on your own too.  Seen some close calls on “following the leader”.
  • Front part of the pelotonbe extra safe around stop signs, signals.   Some of our quiet roads it is easy to “roll” and may be safer but also be thinking on the conservative side v aggressive side of how to handle.  We’d prefer to have Rippers stop, generally.  (Note: I know that signal at the bottom of Whipple Hill in Lexington is a bugger. Light is quick or doesn’t move.  Each rider needs to get through their safely but you are on your own too.)
  • Middle Part of the Peloton – communicate backwards the information the front should be saying about road hazards and changes in direction.
  • Back of the Peloton – your job to communicate forward about “cars back” etc.   Also if the peloton is making a turn (great example right before Page Hill on the Ripper Tu/Thurs ride) – you are the best person to signal clearly to drivers who may be approaching us from the rear.
  • When our peloton is medium to large, be careful about populating the entire lane when we come to a red light.  It is easier to “reassemble” and negotiate the intersection if we “keep our shape” – two or three across max. Plus we know some cars want to squeeze by etc – and so it is just better road courtesy and safer too.  Again the exception during the week is that Whipple Hill light.  Just need to get through safely and you have to see to do that, so creeping up is cool, there.
  • Left hand turns, don’t cut the angle/tight.  Go wide. There could be a car there.
  • Find yourself leading or take over the lead. There is some times a tendency to accelerate.  I mean you are the man. You want to show you are worthy. But remember taking the speed up will break down the group, probably will definitely drop the  person that was just leading (they need time to recover).  So this is often when a peloton starts to “yo-yo” meaning the speed goes up and down especially back in the pack.  Be smooth, keep the peloton’s speed consistent.  If you can see you are about to be the leader, check quick the peloton’s speed and retain that speed when you take over.  Unless you are one of our racing riders – don’t hang to that lead for too long. You will be long gone after your blow.
  • Out in front and you are out of gas. Unless you know the peloton has set up a counter clockwise rotation (where you move left, further out into the road) – you should slowly, predictably move to the right/ edge of the road  to allow other riders, the peloton to overtake you – on your left side.  If you don’t, don’t panic, hold your line and the peloton will make the move. Stay on that line as they come around you.
  • Please don’t pass on the right, silently. It is a racing thing that leads to that – but our group rides are not races. Smart to say something in races too.  Most times our passes should be on the left but it does happen on the right at times for a variety of safe reasons. Talk it up.
  • New Rider? New to peloton riding? Rusty?  Riding in groups is like playing doubles in tennis.  You need to learn your partner’s moves.  And visa versa so there is always a degree of space and getting to know each other going on.  That’s cool and necessary.
  • We want to be smooth.  We want to be mellow in a aggressive safe kind of way.  We want to communicate a lot.  We want to be good.  We want to “pound”! YB! (or new is “Mach Schnell”! J)

There is no greater thrill than riding in a group. It is so much fun!  Let’s strive to keep getting better and make it feel inclusive always too.

Thanks jd

Winter Cycling Footwear

DISCLAIMER:  I’m not promoting a shoe company, just promoting winter cycling footwear.  Anything you read below is ATMO or observation.  These are shoes, you need to try them on in-store and find what works for your feet!  

ALSO: I’m not writing about winter shoe covers.  They exist, and I believe winter cycling shoes are worlds better than shoe covers in freezing situations.

I inspected and/or tried on a number of shoes where sizes were available.  Also, Some Rippers emailed me their thoughts on what they have.  Some I only saw on the Innerwebs.

I really only looked at mountain bike cleat compatible shoes because I ride with those systems in the winter.  Most of these shoes come in a road version.  Snow in shimano road cleats is an awful situation, difficult to remove and soils your gloves in the process.  Now on to the shoes!

Mavic Drift ( $200ish )

Mavic DriftFondled these. Wind/Water resistant. Velcro clasps. These have some insulation, but not the inner boot/outer boot like other offerings. Mainly they have a neoprene ankle warmer ( like a gator ) and gortex. I think primarily they would keep out wind and water spray while riding. They also make a road cleat specific one.

45NRTH Wolvhammer ( $300ish )

Wolvhammer1I tried these on. Wind/Water resistant. Inner/outer boot. All synthetic for low
maintenance. Snowboard boot style cinch up. You pull up on the string and it tightens the inner boot down the middle. Then you fold the flap over and go. There is a ring on the toe for attaching gaiters to keep out snow melt. These things are billed as fat biking boots, I imagine because with gators they would keep snow out the best of all of them. The low maintenance of being synthetic was interesting. Vibram soles.

Lake MXZ 303 ( $280ish )

y2IyH80lwbHtJZwqZiroYEar92HBwWCMo52ZmfFah3sI tried these on. Wind/Water resistant. Inner/outer boot. They do have leather outers that require maintenance to endure the salt and what not. Vibram soles, I’m told a newer version of the vibram sole in the Wolvhammer, but who cares? They use an external wire cincher called BOA (, kind of like snowboard boots but on the outside. You turn a knob to tighten, pull it out to undo. They pull the top of the boot OVER your foot. I think this makes for a more snug feeling for cycling.

Lake CX145 ( $250ish )

CX145  001Probably look the coolest. Comes in mountain and road form, is more light duty than the MXZ303, more like the Mavic Frost/Drift. Slick BOA cinching system mentioned above. No inner / outer boot. Leather and water resistant requires maintenance.

Ripper David B. has these and says they are reasonably warm for two to three hours down to 25 degrees or so.

Northwave Arctic G.T.X. ( $230ish )

Northwave-Celsius-Artic-GTX-Celsius-Artic-GTX-BlackBlue-Size-435Wind/Water resistant. Inner/outer boot.  Uses the snow boot style cinch string on the inside boot. I have not seen these in a store.   Ripper David B. owns these for colder conditions.  He says they are more water resistant and substantially warmer down to 25F than the Lake CX145s he also has.


Giro Alpineduro ( $200ish )

8a393333-d61f-4c7e-bde1-522ad9246366These are roughly the equivalent of my first solution only with clipless cleats. If you own hiking boots, then I think you know what these are like. I checked them out back before the winter season and liked them for a chilly commuting scenario. What you see is what you get, lace up hiking boots with a cleat mount. This belongs in that category of cycling gear you show up to dinner at a decent restaurant wearing, and that is cool in my book.

Sidi Diablo GTX ( $320ish )

I didn’t see these in the wilds.  Velcro straps. Gore-tex. Optional toe spikes for ice dogging in the tundral plains.  Ripper Craig M. has these and uses a sole insert to increase the insulation.  They look about on par with the Mavic or Lake CX145 for insulation.  They are Sidi so you know… Sidi.

MCR Safety Toasty Feet ( $20ish )

Toasty FeetRipper Craig M. likes these to add additional warmth to your shoe.  Interesting idea!


Toasti Toes Toe Warmers ( 72 pair for $56 )


Last but not least, no winter shoe would be complete without toe warmers.  These adhesive version of the hand warmers will stay in your shoe, under your toes, and deliver a campfire like warmth for several hours.



Keep Your Shoes On Top Of The Water Heater ( Free )

Might as well start the ride warm, eh?  That is where I keep mine as it is on the way to my bike and the warmest place in the house at 5:30am.  Assuming your water heater or ( hot water closet ) isn’t a rubber melting temperature, this is a nice way to start the ride.  Maybe just in the vicinity of the water heater or boiler…

2014 D2R2: Climb! Climb! Climb!

Last year I planned my whole season for the D2R2, doing seven 80 to 120 mile rides out and around Harvard. I road the 180k with Bruce P. I’ll never forget the I am dissappoint look he gave me when I bailed out around mile 55 or so. My knees had blown up on me as they had done on all my previous rides to some degree.

This year I was back and more prepared. Physical therapy had strengthened my knees and given me knowledge to take better care of balancing out the quad-blasting cycling with strength building exercises for my hamstrings. No more knee problems.

Continue reading

Jay F.’s Winchester to Ipswitch Route


John’s New Whip: Seven Evergreen “Buttercup”

This gallery contains 3 photos.

Welcome from The Rippers!

Rippers_logo_black_150The Rippers are a Winchester, MA, based cycling club.  Check out our Weekday Rides page for details on our monday through friday morning rides. Also, our Weekend Routes occur regularly on the weekends. We have a the Rippers Google Group to for discussion and to plan rides.

2014 Raid Lamoille Ride Report

Raid Lamoille

60ish mile groomed gravel road ride starting in Stowe.  Cool bikes, swimming holes, read on!

Continue reading

Pioneer 111 + 20 Ride Report

The Pioneer 111 route done solo, was an RSC ride I missed. This was revisiting the course alone, and I had a blast! Read more about this quest for water…
Continue reading

5 Notches from Jay’s – Franconia, NH

Jay’s 5 Notches Route