My, “I’ve woken up, watched some news and had a cup of coffee” heart rate is 42 beats per minute.
Sad fact is, I can’t measure my “haven’t rolled out of bed yet”, real resting heart rate… I’m too tied up looking forward to that first, glorious sip of coffee…. ah well, good enough for government work.
The Tempo Cyclist reminded me this morning that it’s been a while since I measured my “resting” heart rate (RHR), almost a month. I have always been on board that the RHR is a decent measure of general fitness, so the fact that it’s dropped by 10% in the last month is welcome news.
I rode this morning with my wife, Mike and Brad. 38-1/2 miles, at an average of about 17 mph. Two long days in a row for Mike, so I took the tempo down a bit. I spent a ton of time up front again and did it on two sips of my wife’s Gatorade… I’d given Mike my bottle because he was so excited to ride, he accidentally left his on the counter at home.
By the time I dropped Mike at his road, I was hit. I spent a lot of time in the headwind on the way home and I was cooked.
That said, man was it a nice ride. I love fall cycling.
My buddy Mike is well into his recovery from his open heart, triple bypass. He’s been riding, on the road, for almost two weeks.
Yesterday was to be a new milestone for him and while my wife has had time to ride with him throughout the week, I finally got to tag along yesterday… Nine weeks after getting sewn up and he was jumping it up to 30 miles.
My wife took the first mile up front while I became acquainted with their normal pace. Just a mile and a quarter from our driveway is our first Township Limits sign so I took that. My wife has been paying attention though… I soft pedaled waiting for them to catch up, but when they did, my wife got right on my wheel and said something to the affect of, “You want up there so bad, you can pull”.
So I did. I got in the perfect gear to spin between 18 and 18-1/2 mph and kept it there. Five miles went by. Ten… 18 to 18-1/2 mph, the whole way. 17 uphill, 20-24 downhill. Coming into Byron, the halfway point, my wife launched a sprint for the sign and I let her go… Too early I figured – but she didn’t quit, she just kept after it and absolutely smoked Mike and I. It was rather impressive.
We stopped at the gas station for a pit stop, then headed out on our way again. I took the front and quickly realized it was going to be a bit of a long ride home. The wind was starting to pick up and was right in our face. Same story though, I kept it around 18-ish. We rolled over 24 miles before my wife came up and took a mile. Mike took a mile a little bit later then I took the rest. I pulled for 28 of the 31 miles.
Mike would comment on the fact that I’d been up there so long but with all of the riding I’ve done this year, holding a steady 18 mph pace for my friend was easy. There was something else to it. I said, “Mike, you’ve pulled for me over more miles than I care to count. I’ll return the favor any time.”
This is how we roll.
The one thing that really makes me pause to think is that this can’t last forever and that reality really bums me out. I try not to think about what it’ll look like when we can no longer ride together, but I’ve gotta tell you, it’s just too damned depressing to think about. So I don’t. I simply can’t imagine it getting any better than this, so I push pondering about what I can’t possibly see aside and focus on enjoying every mile I get with my wife friends.
One time, long ago, my sponsor’s sponsor gave me my six month coin and said, “I promise you, if you keep coming back [read that “stay sober and work the steps”], your life will become so good you’ll think it can’t possibly get better. Six months later you’ll realize it has.”
I love it when this happens… and that it still does.
34,000 miles, I’ve only found the end of the road once. So I turned around and started looking for another with the hope that last one was an anomaly. After all, have you ever tried riding a road bike with 24 mm wide tires through sand?!
Before I sobered up and started living right, it would have been a different story. I’d have kept going till I drowned in the lake under the delusion that my eyes were surely deceiving me.
And for that, I am grateful.
The sun was hitting my office funny late Monday morning. I made it to the office early so I could take some time to clean my bike after the weekend before work and thought it would make a neat picture as I was plunking away on my keyboard.
One might think I would grow tired with snapping photos of my bike. Not so! I liked that one enough to make it my new lock screen photo. Something intelligent about shadows, blah, blah, blah:
Thou Shalt Learn to Draft: How NOT to be seen as a Twatwaffle During an Advanced Club Ride. A Guide for Noobs.
When I ride with noobs to our group, I go out of my way to make sure they feel welcome and comfortable… Until they show me who they are. I know of only one person I will consciously run into the ground to drop. I will put myself so far into the red to drop this guy, my little brother, sitting at home 1,800 miles away in Florida, will feel the ache. He is known on this page as Time Trial Bike Guy. He is the very definition of a twatwaffle. I would have written a hole of the butt, but twatwaffle sounds a lot funnier. And TTBG deserves that.
The following is a list of things that, should you do them in an advanced club setting, will guarantee you’re riding alone after the weekend invites go out.
- Launch a snot rocket when you’re at the front of the group. Duh.
- Constantly leave gaps in the pace line because you don’t know when to shift or can’t shift because you’re riding a freaking time trial bike (electronic rigs have shifters on both the aerobars and next to the brake levers btw). If you can’t hold the wheel in front of you, you belong at the back. Getting others dropped because you can’t keep the draft is not a good way to win friends and influence people.
- You don’t pull all the way through when you get to the front of the group. What this means is, as soon as the person in front of you taps out, you (being next in line to pull) tap out and drop to the back with the person in front. What this shows everyone around you is that you expect to be pulled around by the group but not only are you not willing to do your part, you don’t care if you screw everyone else behind you. You shouldn’t be surprised if nobody wants you to ride with them… who would want to ride with a person when there is literally no benefit to having them there?
- Don’t hold a decent line. If you can’t hold a decent line the people behind you can’t get a good draft because they’re too busy trying to keep you from crashing them. If they can’t get a good draft you make yourself useless. Literally. Useless.
- Disrupt the general awesomeness of a ten-person-deep double pace line with your lousy riding. One poor rider making mistake after mistake can make a group of twenty people who ride three times a week together look like a bunch of noobs.
- Pull back on your bike when you stand on your pedals to adjust your ass whilst, and at the same time, going uphill… in the middle of the pace line. You don’t know it, because you’re dim, but your bike drifts back about eight inches when you pull back on the bike to stand. Stand and adjust when you get to the back or, if you absolutely can’t wait, accelerate just a bit before you stand… Otherwise, everyone behind you has a heart attack because their 20 cm buffer just became 3 mm. As a reaction, everyone has to grab a handful of brakes and you’ve unwittingly put everyone at risk of an accident.
- Stop pedaling to take your water bottle out of its cage. Dude, you can only get away with that at the back. Do everyone you’ll ever ride with a favor, learn to remove the bidon (H2O bottle) whilst, and at the same time, pedaling. It is not impossible.
- Stop pedaling at the front of the group (I did this once, just once, and almost wiped out six of my best friends). Don’t. FREAKING. Do. It. Put your hand out to signal you’re slowing.
- Speaking of hand signals, know yours. They vary by location, so to detail them here would be futile. For instance, a left arm flick can mean “I’m out, come up on the left of me, or “I’m out, and exiting on the left”, all depending on the Town/City/State/Province you ride.
- UPDATE: From The Tempo Cyclist: Don’t pull too long at the front. It’s a club ride, dude. You’re not the lead out for Mark Cavendish… Know when you’re done and get your butt to the back to recover.
- The main theme of ALL of these bulletpoints is simple: Think of the others you’re riding with. If you don’t, or worse, won’t, you’re not worth having around. Or worse, you’re dangerous to have around.
Consider this: At just 25 mph, you will travel almost 40 feet in one second. In a tight group, there will be less than a foot between your rear wheel and their front wheel. You travel that gap in one fortieth of one second. There is no room, literally, for a member of the group to disregard safe riding practices.
Every cyclist has experienced the perfect ride. They are few and far between.
I was ready to roll at five minutes past five. Five minutes early. The parking lot only held two cars, other than mine. No worries, the weather was absolutely perfect. Upper 70’s (that’s 25 for you folks across the pond), not a cloud in the sky and a breeze that was struggling to make it to 4 mph if you could feel it at all.
McMike pulled into the lot and readied himself, then Phill. And we rolled.
Rather than blow words on a warm-up, I’ll simply say that it was stupid fast. Fastest of the season. Eight miles and I just ticked past 25 minutes. Oddly, I was up front the whole way…. I never pull that long at that speed for a warm-up.
The parking lot started to fill up with fifteen minutes to go. As has been the case for a month, we had more B guys than A guys. They rolled as we sat on our top tubes talking about the last weekend’s rides. After a couple of minutes we rolled. My new friend Doug and I up front with the group forming up behind us. We took the first two miles and worked up to 22 mph before heading back for a rest. That first quarter mile was the last time we saw a speed under 20 mph till we hit the hills.
We had two new guys with us and they worked into the group seamlessly – at least from what I saw but I spent most of the ride up front.
See, with no wind, riding even four bikes back, if you tuck into the draft just right, it feels like it pulls you down the road. Recovery from a decent turn up front is easy and quick. Eight miles in, Phill and I took a monster three-mile pull north of 22-23 mph and I was recovered within a mile.
So it went for the entire rest of the ride. I was feeling like it was the beginning of the season. My legs felt vibrant and strong – in fact, everything was working right last night. Lungs, heart, even my melon committee decided I felt good and just sat in the background chanting, “Go. Go. Go. Go.” I took the first sprint point at 22 miles without a challenge at 32 mph and I had plenty left in the tank. I stayed up front and pulled the group for another mile and a half.
I spent way too much time up front over the next eight miles but didn’t care, I was on. Approaching the finish line I found myself up front again, at 24 mph and decided rather than push it too hard, I’d keep it there and see if I couldn’t sprint off the front for the City Limits sign. I launched at exactly the right time and left everyone flat-footed. I only needed 28 mph to create an insurmountable gap and I coasted across the line.
We managed our best time of the season last evening and we were all smiles as we pulled into the parking lot. The two new guys worked out great and even took a few turns at the front – and were both stoked to come back.
I would say, without a doubt, that was the best weather we’ve had all year long on Tuesday night. Add to that the two new guys who rode quite well and the fact that I felt so good… Well, let’s just say it’s even better than noodle salad.
That is, of course, a gender-neutral “b!tch” because the title is roughly the argument I present to that @$$hole in my melon committee who is incessantly nagging for a day off.
This is what I thought on the way up “The Wall “, long about the time I wanted to walk it up the last half: “F@ck you, motherf@cker! You will push those motherf@ckin’ pedals around till you’re on top of that f@ckin’ hill. Now MOVE!”
That is not a happy-go-lucky smile on my face. Happy showed up at the top of the hill.
I know most people want pretty happy talk nowadays. Nice, little motivational quotes like… cripes I can’t even think of any right now. The Web oozes with that bullshit. Oh, here’s a good one I read the other day:
Our Existence is our presence that the world can see, feel and experience through our work, our impact, our presence.
What a crock of $#!+. If one were to speak to oneself like that, well, just plan on riding with the D group I guess.
Dude, I truly believe that had I thought that gobbledygook, I wouldn’t have walked my bike up that hill. I’d have taken the old-timer’s route around it.
I’ll never understand all of that silly happy talk, and for that I am grateful.
Ride hard my friends.