It just might be time to embrace the horror; my most awesome “consecutive days of cycling without a day off” streak just may be in jeopardy… At 19!
This is almost a full week better than I’ve ever been able to muscle through without a decay in performance. In fact, I’ve only gotten stronger and faster over that stretch. Better, I had thirteen more days in a row before that so I’ve been working on one day’s rest in 33.
My previous best was 14 days in a row and on that 14th day my performance absolutely tanked. I went from 21 mph averages to 18 being hard work. It was classic overtraining. Last year I actually went with taking one day a week off, no matter what. That worked but it’s always bugged me that the pros could ride so much faster than I do without time off. So I set out to find a way.
Today, overtraining is not an issue. I feel spry, good and strong – every day. This leap is due to one thing: Slowing down a little bit on the slow days. Put another way, I’m able to keep from too much speed on the slow days because I ride with my wife.
I may be facing issues on that front though. Last year, a good ride with my wife produced a 15 mph average. Today we’re up to 17.5 (her hard days jumped from 16 to 19 mph and from 16 miles to 40). The rule of thumb that’s worked so well is to ride slow, two or three days a week, at a pace that would have me embarrassed if my friends saw me riding that slow. 16-17 mph is that butter speed for me.
So, it’s been pouring rain with thunder and lightening since 8 this morning… I can deal with a little bit of rain but the lightening isn’t cool. So my streak may come to an end. We’ll see (it’s supposed to clear up shortly). Either way, I’m happy. I figured out how to beat overtraining so I can enjoy an hour cruising down the road every day if I choose. And I like it. Now it’s time for some much needed tinkering on the rain bike.
Happy trails and tarmac.
UPDATE: Nope! Miracle of miracles, the sun has made an appearance. Time for 20 days in a row!
UPDATE II: Done, 20 days in a row.
As cyclists, we always take the road less traveled.
Don’t confuse the title with the oft cited battle-cry. I’ll take my friend, Grateful Jim’s high road in that one…
People like to talk tough about death until the bus shows up.
46 Miles, a little more than 2-1/2 hours. Slow by normal standards, but fun. We started out at just after 7 am. Mrs. Bgddy, Mike and I. A few miles up the road we picked up Brad. Freshly back from surgery, our goal was to protect him and get him as many protected miles as we can give him so he can get his legs back. We knew we were going to be slow going in. Mike took the first turn up front and I took the second. More than ten miles had gone by between the two of us before I dropped to the third bike position. Brad only took one turn the whole trip.
I have no photos of the ride but I don’t need any. It was absolutely spectacular out. The trees providing a full canopy over several miles of our trip, a minimal 5-10 mph wind, breaking clouds turned to sunshine and it warmed from a cool 60 to 70. We laughed and talked almost the entire ride. My wife made fun of mine and Mike’s friendship by calling it a “bromance” and pointing out on several occasions throughout their conversations how much we are alike. It is funny actually, he is definitely my brother from another mother. Every now and again Mrs. Bgddy would engage the slingshot and fly by Mike and I as we talked, catching us completely unaware.
Then after Brad turned for home, with about five miles left, Mike and I conspired to pay her back. After a stop sign, we kept to the easy 18 mph pace and then… BAM! We both got down in the drops at the same time and Mike took it to 22. Now. He pulled for 3/4’s of a mile and I took over and upped the ante. 23, and dabbling with 24. I pulled for a mile and Mike came up so my wife wouldn’t have to mess with a gap (we’re not heartless). We shook her off the back less than a quarter mile later and sat up to let her catch up… As she came up I laughed and said, “Payback what?” The last couple of miles I didn’t say much, just let my wife and Mike talk, a smile stretched across my face…
I’ve never been on a bad bike ride but that was one of the more enjoyable. In fact, Tuesday’s was stellar as well. The amount of satisfaction I get out of spending that time with my wife and friends just riding bikes has me has me thinking about how blessed I am (I’m okay if you call that “lucky” in lieu of blessed).
I’ve come a long way from gutters and liver damage, baby.
Today is a good day to ride.
Tuesday Night Club Ride: Mrs. Bgddy Rocks It and Being an Amateur Meteorologist on Top of a Decent Cyclist Pays Off BIG Edition
The weather last night was sketchy. We had a line of storms coming in that were supposed to hit between 6 and 7 pm. Many of our group got a text from Dave, “Tandem is rolling tonight rain or shine! Roll with us!”. I’d already talked with my buddy Mike and we had decided to roll out at 5:00 and assess the weather situation to come up with our distance on the fly. One thing was certain: If we got a mile in, it’d be 21. Rain or shine.
When I got home, my wife and I had an interesting conversation. She wanted to know what to expect so she could decide on whether or not to go and I didn’t have any concrete answers. We ended up mulling over the options and she decided to stick with it and give it a go.
We packed up, aired the tires and headed out. We arrived, geared up and to my amazement, our friend Brad was back from surgery after only a couple of short weeks. Our friend Diane, who always rides on a tandem with her man also showed up with her single bike… So we had an excellent group. Mike, Phill and I would handle the work and my wife and Diane could protect Brad. We decided to roll out at 5:10 rather than wait till 6:00 sharp for the group.
Mike and I took the lead and rather than tell you how long our first turn up front was, let’s see if you can tell where we finally dropped back for a rest:
See that long, smooth stretch, then where that starts to get all spiky? Yeah, that’s where Mike and I went back. That’s ten miles into the ride, into the wind or with a tough crosswind, at 18-20 mph. Generally we’d be a lot faster than that on a Tuesday but the goal was to give my wife, Diane and Brad a good workout without working them into the ground – especially Brad.
At twelve miles the clouds started to build and darken to our left… And we were headed away from the ugly. At 18 miles, we were all still feeling good, my wife was hanging strong and we could see the back end of the storm so we actually decided to extend the ride, do the long route to ride right around the storm. We did that mile at an even 20 mph.
Going through the bigger hills, Mike, Phill and I started messing around. Sprinting down hills, racing up hills. Then we’d wait for the others to catch up. In fact, Mike started the whole mess on a downhill that Dave always blows up the group on. I think he figured, “Why let him get away with a free week on that hill.” My wife, when I didn’t move, yelled out, “Go get him, just come back for us.” Did I ever mention that my wife rocks? I did go get him. I chased his butt down though it was not easy.
With 25 miles in, Brad was starting to feel it so we switched from a double pace line to single file so we could make it a little easier on him. At 26, Phill took the lead. At 27 we finally caught a tailwind (we should have earlier but with the storm rolling in the wind shifted a lot) and Phill ramped up the pace. 20.2 for mile 27, 20.3 for 28 and 21.8 for 29… Mrs. Bgddy was rock steady though I’d switched places with her so I’d get more work and she’d have it a bit easier as the pace increased. I kept waiting for Phill to burn out and head back but he stayed right up front. Mile 32 was at better than 22 mph.
It was time to set up for the sprint. With Mike messing with me earlier, I was going to put the hurt on him. I motioned for my wife to pull up a bit so she wouldn’t lose the draft when I put the hammer down. Real quiet like so I didn’t tip my hand… And what did she shout? “I don’t know what that means!” So much for stealth. Rather than wait while Mike figured it out, I dropped the hammer about 20 seconds too early and ramped it up to 30 and held it there till my lungs started calling me names unfit for print. I checked my six with 20 meters to go. Nobody made the jump so I sat up and cruised over the finish line.
We all gave Phill a huge pat on the back for his emense effort bringing us home because that was something special right there. He busted it and that was nothing short of impressive.
And then it started spitting on us. Not enough to get the dander up, in fact it was quite nice for the cool down.
We ended up with an 18.6 mph average over 33 miles and completely rode around a rain storm. Not stellar for Mike, Phill and me but we spent so much time up front, and messing around in the hills, we got a good workout. For my wife, it was a great paced ride with a lot of drafting experience gained. For Diane, a great opportunity to ride solo for once. And for Brad, a triumphant return.
And five minutes after we were packed up the skies opened up… With the main group just 40 minutes into their 85 minute ride.
The perfect cap to a perfect month. 29 of 30 days in the saddle, 850 miles. 13 and 16 days in a row. By the way, that day off was the day I headed south to support my wife for her triathlon. If a fella’s gotta miss a day, that’s a decent reason to do it.
For two years now I’ve had the ultimate race bike. Pared down of course, I couldn’t afford a freakin’ $8,000 race bike at the time… I could, however, afford a $3,000 race bike with a few new bells and whistles. My 2013 Venge Comp (with Aerofly Handlebar):
Ah, to be in the upper crust of cycling’s evolution… Life was good. Then came 2015 and news of the new Venge ViaS. All of my friends, of course, asked how long it would be before they’d see one on Tuesday night:
Now granted, that’s a pretty sharp lookin’ bike. I want one! I just don’t want the divorce that comes with it, so I’ll try to make a little more money over the next year and see if I can’t bonus my way into one. Stranger things have happened (like my Venge).
But we’re not done! Lo and behold, Trek just came out with an ultra-fine new Madone that hides the brake and shifter cables as well! Behold the Madone 9.9:
Now THAT’S a BIKE! And I could get my hands on the Ultegra model (the 9.5) for almost two grand less than the Venge!
Alas, it’s still a sad day. I was at the top of the cycling world, ladies and gentlemen, for exactly one year and three months.
Now if you’ll forgive me… I need a minute, I think I’m getting misty.
*This post is tongue in cheek of course. Please don’t think that I’m seriously bemoaning the fact that I can’t have the newest bike. I’ll live. Besides, it’s all about the engine anyway.
If you’re not sweating buckets when you ride your bike, you’re either on a recovery ride (if so, kudos to you) or you’re not riding fast enough. Being fast takes effort. If you do it right, a lot of effort.
Unfortunately being a cyclist, at least a fast one, makes one stink. Bad.
There are a few tricks of the trade though, and I’m here to help:
First things first is the melon protector. Sweating in the dome cover is inevitable, as Agent Smith told Morpheus. Well, maybe Smith wasn’t talking about cycling but you never know. That sweat, left to fester unchallenged will do some gnarly things to one’s smelling holes once you place that festered brain bucket in its place to ride. To combat this, while you’re in the shower, lather up your helmet, rinse it and towel it dry (and the little foam pads). Funk eliminated. Some people can get away with only washing the cranium cover once or twice a week, I wash mine after every ride.
Second. Wear deodorant. You don’t have to smell like a French whore when you go out for a ride (wait, that cuts both ways…Touché).
Third, and most important of any hygiene tips: Throw that godforsaken unsented laundry detergent in the garbage can – or save it for your street clothes. My wife, God bless her, went through a ten-year-long “unsented detergent phase”. Unfortunately that meant my cycling clothing smelled like sweaty ass and balls within a few weeks. Folks, sweaty ass is bad enough but throw in the meatballs and it gets gnarly in a hurry.
After two years of feeling self-conscious, I finally pleaded my case to my wife. I said, “Wife, oh wonderful wife. Sweet, tender friend… I’m tired of smelling like sweaty ass and balls. Wouldest thou please, for the love of God and all that is Holy, consider picking up some f@€k!n& Tide?
My soulmate, my best friend in the whole world, looked at me like I was friggin’ nuts. However, once I got down on one knee and began to weep, she knew I was serious. And…
Now of course I’m playing loose with the facts and the conversation. My cycling clothes did have a rough tinge to them though, and I was tired of it. My awesome wife has been using the Tide for about two weeks now and I couldn’t be happier.
Finally is the one thing that goes without saying… Dude, shower up after you ride. Unless you live in California. In that case, rub some dirt on it and hang with Governor Brown. Or something. Hey! Kids’s diaper wipes! We use those at hunting camp, they should work to save water. That’s how I roll folks, that’s a lot of “give-a-$#!+” right there!
Happy trails. Or, um, roads.
UPDATE: Michael Cowart dropped in with a comment that it also helps to refrain from leaving the cycling kit laying around for days on end before washing it. This is a very good point because even Tide and Febreeze have their limits.
UPDATE Number II: The Tempo Cyclist added that wet wipes are an excellent item for commuters to keep handy as well, in the event your office/job doesn’t have a shower facility.
UPDATE Number III: My buddy Titanium Henry chimed in. Dude, wash the shorts after every ride. Trust me. Go ahead and read for yourself…shenrydafrankman, scroll down.
I am reblogging this post not only because it’s awesome but because of that Bianchi right there. That bike just replaced the Trek Emonda as the lightest production bike available…by about the weight of a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder (bun included) or the Royale with Cheese for those on the Metric System.
As a special note, look closely at the chain rings.