Our B Group finished the annual Assenmacher 100 miler in 4:55. It was awesome and we all had a good time. The conversation was lively, a few of my friends and I were able to drop back and help friends out who lost parts of their bike on potholes (two water bottles and one drop bar mirror) get back to the group… I participated in each of the three instances.
I know of no better compliment in group cycling than to be asked by your friends to help one of them bridge back to the group.
At no point during that ride did I want to sit up and soft-pedal home. It wasn’t easy, of course, but I wanted that five hour century. Our whole group was at least 20 strong and we nailed it….
We had time for moments like this, whilst still being able to hammer out a decent pace…
With the mild breeze, I managed to head up to the front of the group and snap a succession of photos for the group on the way back….
We stopped, at least momentarily, at each of the rest stops for a quick bite to eat and to refill water bottles. We finished strong, smiling and together. There were laughs and fist-bumps a plenty.
Contrast that with the A Group. They had a different experience. Their finishing time?
4:17 and some change. 23-1/2 mph average on open roads… And they only stopped twice in 101 miles.
Speaking with many from their group, who were sitting in the shade on the sidewalk when we pulled up, you were hard-pressed to find anyone who actually had a good time. One friend of mine said that he rode for a hundred miles and didn’t enjoy one of them. Another said they were riding so hard he didn’t have time to eat anything on the bike. My friend Chuck dropped after just 30 miles saying they were nuts (we caught up to him at the 30 mile rest stop and he rode with us the rest of the way).
I have no doubt some in our group struggled at times. One would expect that in a sub-five hour century. Sure, we were a little slower, but at least we had fun – and that’s exactly why I choose to ride with the B Group. I’d rather be a little slower and enjoy myself than be fast…. And I’m one of the lucky few who could be fast enough to hang with the A guys. I choose not to. This isn’t to say there’s something wrong with racing or riding that fast, there isn’t. The key for me is to be happy and enjoy my time on the bike – and if I’m going to have fun and enjoy the ride, I know I can’t do it at 23+ mph.
To thine own self be true.
That said, a 4:17 on that course is really impressive. Damn, that’s fast!
It is the day before the big ride. 100 miles, you’re shooting for a five hour century. Do you ride the day before or take the day off?
If you’re a runner reading this post, you’re shouting at your screen, “Take the day off, dummy! You gotta taper!”
If you’re a cyclist and you know how to stack rides, you know that the best thing to do is ride, easy and at a moderate pace. The second-worst thing you can do is ride hard, and the worst thing you can do is take a day off.
We don’t have to taper in cycling, dear. It sounds wonderful and lovely but it’s all but entirely unnecessary.
We rolled out at 7:18 am. The days are growing shorter again, so we’re starting out a little later to let it brighten up a bit. There was nothing spectacular or noteworthy about our ride, other than the fact that it was fun….
So here I sit, rested and ready to ride. I’m on my second cup of coffee and I know I’m as ready as I can be to ride my best.
If I’d have ridden hard yesterday, I would be fighting tight legs for the first ten or 20 miles. Worse, with a day off, it would take half the day to spin my legs back up.
I’ve taken two rain off since the beginning of July. Thankfully, in my world the answer to the question in the title us almost always “To ride, of course.”
Thanks for playing.
Setting up a road bike, the right way doesn’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. A good budget doesn’t hurt, but we can work around it.
First things first, pick a color scheme. I was all over the map. For a while, I really liked red, white and blue…
The bike above wrecked my infatuation with that color scheme, so I went traditional…. Then I bought my Specialized and everything went red on black.
The Venge was easy, and I went the high-end budget with that bike. $110 for the water bottle cages, $450 crankarms, $165 stem, $300 handlebar, etc.. When you spend that kind of cheese, it’ll look good.
The Rockhopper is all stock. Simple.
The Trek 5200 took some work though. The paint had been through the wringer and was even scratched off in several places on the frame. The original 1999 5200 is…. well, gaudy. I had to decide, go original (gaudy) with a bunch of stickers, or do I go old school understated. I obviously chose the latter.
The white brake cable housings went in the recycling bin ($10). Almost more important than looks, the real reason for switching cable housings is little known… I went with Jagwire 5mm cable housing. Standard back in the day was 4mm, the extra millimeter gives a lighter feel at the shift lever and a smoother shift.
The next little “attention to detail” piece, another bargain ($12), was the seat post collar. The original collar was a standard aluminum piece with no coating or color. It simply didn’t look right on all of that beautiful black.
There were two places I didn’t skimp on price when I rebuilt the Trek. The first was the seat post. I went from aluminum alloy to carbon fiber, but not for vanity…. The original seat attachment device had teeth that meant the saddle had settings. My comfort spot was literally between teeth. One click down and I was pushed to the front of the saddle. One click up and I was getting some gnarly nether region pressure. The Easton post was the only one I could find that gave me unlimited adjustability.
The second was the headset. I went big with a Chris King headset. The old headset was smoked. Dead. It was so bad, once it was removed from the bike to paint the frame, it couldn’t be reinstalled. King components are known for their longevity and I plan on keeping the bike for a long time. The best one word description is butter.
A couple of years ago, the front wheel blew out at the brake track. Luckily, I’d upgraded the Venge wheels and the original wheels fit perfectly on the Trek’s new paint scheme ($0).
Finally, other than adding a couple of black, plastic Bontrager bottle cages, I had been searching for a saddle to fit this bike. It hasn’t been easy because the Trek is a bit of a harsh ride. On a fluke I tried a mountain bike saddle that Matt had laying around his shop. That saddle transformed the bike entirely. For $30, and it even matched the red of the Trek stickers.
Rounding out the changes to the Trek, one of my shifters gave out after 18 years of hard life. If I had an unlimited budget, and I don’t, I’d have upgraded to a 10 Speed drivetrain. That would have run, maybe $600 – $800 after it was all done. Instead, I went with MicroSHIFT shifters, 9 Speed, for $75 and left the original drivetrain alone. Perfect
My final budgetary concern for the Trek was doing all of the work myself. I saved hundreds of dollars (if not a cool grand), including stripping the bike down and putting it back together for the new paint job. The knowledge gained was priceless.
To put a bow on this post, one can blow a small fortune fixing up a bike, but it doesn’t have to be that way, with a little forethought and some planning.
Either way, ride it hard… and ride that ride with a smile.
#36 in my list of reasons why I’m no longer a runner….
Dude, I love toys!
There are obvious advantages to running, especially for the expendable cash strapped, because cycling can be stupid expensive. On the other hand, done wisely, it’s not all that bad either. The trick, of course, is obtaining the wisdom before one runs out of cash.
I once enjoyed running myself, for quite the stretch of years….
Nowadays I like my toys though.
The billboard on the bike shop says, A bike ride can fix anything.
Ummm… close. I like the saying, of course, because a bike ride fixes a lot for me. It fixes obesity, it fixes my enjoyment of food, it fixes my melon committee, and bikes definitely assuage my need for a midlife crisis hobby (a bike ride ticks every box). There are things a bike ride can’t fix though.
A bike ride can’t fix stupid, that’s for sure, and there seems to be more than enough of that to go around lately.
A bike ride can’t fix cancer, but it sure will help on the front end. A bike ride can’t fix Alzheimer’s, again, except on the front end…
Nuances aside, I look at what is right in the notion that a bike ride can fix anything:
A bike ride will definitely fix a bad day, there’s no doubt about that.
29 miles and some change. 1:21:35. Do the math and that’s 21.1 mph for an average.
I did that in the saddle of this:
That’s a 17 pound, lean, mean sprinting machine. Four years ago it was the most aero road bike on the market.
The entire ride was fun and just challenging enough. I was the lead out for the intermediate sprint, and brought them in at 28.8 mph. For the sprint to the finish, I took the whole ball of wax by jumping way too early and holding everyone else off. It just worked out that way. It was either get swallowed up or go. I went.
None of what I just wrote has anything to do with the title. My best time on that route is 1:19:40(ish). 22 mph.
See if you can pick out the thing that doesn’t belong in this photo*:
Dude, it’s a 26’er too. He had to hide a lot, of course, but he stuck with us for almost 30 miles on a frickin’ mountain bike, often in his last gear. A 21.1 mph average. On a mountain bike. Awesome.
It really is about the engine.
And knowing how to hide when you’re overmatched.
* Typically I won’t snap a photo close to the back of the group. I don’t recommend doing so as it’s unsafe. In this case, I took a chance with the odds, backed off the group a little bit and snapped the photo, quickly repocketing my phone. The total elapsed time to snap the photo was a little less than it takes to get a couple of swigs of water and replace the water bottle.
Reason Number 231 to add cycling to your weight loss plan:
I lost two pounds riding my bike. Sunday.