Obviously, any day which happens to be dry, above freezing, and with winds under 20 mph is a good day for a bike ride. I’m not talking about good. I’m talking about sweet.
It’s rare, in April, for we Michiganders to get a perfect Saturday for cycling but that’s exactly what we had yesterday.
Single digit breeze, abundant sunshine and reasonable temps. It started out cool, of course. This is Michigan, but it did warm up quickly enough.
We put in two hours and 20 glorious minutes for 43 miles on the nose.
We were heading home, 38 miles on the computer, and I was bummed we only had five to go. It is what it is though. I had grass to cut so I decided to settle for the 43.
The good news is I only need 38 miles to top 200 miles for the fourth consecutive week… and today is supposed to be nicer than yesterday!
It is good to be me.
I pulled the tandem out last weekend, cleaned it up and transfered some measurements over from my wife’s road bike.
I’d been looking forward to putting some miles on it since. I don’t know what it is about that bike but I just love to ride it with my wife.
Wednesday evening was the time. We had some ugly skies to the immediate south but it was supposed to stay south of us. My wife and I mounted the steed, pushed off, and away we went.
First, I’d forgotten how much more work the tandem is than my single bikes. It’s a lot like marriage that way though, riding a tandem: More work but A LOT of fun.
I had to bust my ass for an 18 mph average but my God, I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.
My buddy Mike had decided to join us and provided comic relief by chiming in, “Yeah, I like this [drafting behind a tandem] a lot better!”
I had so much fun, I’d bet Democrats are meeting as we speak to try to figure out how to raise my taxes because it’s simply not fair, in these tumultuous times (that politicians created in the first place), for a man to have as much fun as I did.
There’s just something special about riding that bike with my wife.
Most guys will joke that they wouldn’t want to have their wife that close to their ear but I love it. While I struggle with keeping an eye on the speedometer and thus, trying to push the pace a bit, I really enjoy being able to talk with my wife while we’re pounding out the miles.
After a few funny reminders that we were on a tandem, we found our rhythm and we cranked out some quality miles. While I did have to work a bit harder, the balance to that work is being able to cut through the wind. If you’ve never ridden a tandem, riding one into the wind is truly a beautiful experience. Where I’d normally be in the drops, trying to kiss my stem cap, on the tandem, it’s simply head down and go.
As we rolled home on the final mile we exchanged fist bumps with Mike and pulled into the driveway. Dinner was extra good Wednesday night. And I slept like a baby.
Over the last couple of days I’ve given up trying to figure out why I love riding that tandem so much. I simply moved on to acceptance. It’s good enough for government work.
Brick Breakers: Will You Stand In The Gap – http://wp.me/p309wl-1Tu
No further comment necessary. We men must stand for what is right, good and decent.
I met a blogging couple from Ireland and we quickly became friends, over the web of course. A while back, the Unironedman commented on a post about a phrase I used being made to go on a teeshirt: A High-End Bike won’t Fix Low-End Legs
I responded that it already was on a shirt and that I’d send him one. I also included one for his wife, a spin on Namaste, “Namacycliste“.
He’d asked me to send him the cost and my wife’s paypal account so he could make good on the shipping costs but I simply got busy and forgot.
Yesterday I came home to find a package from my friend in Ireland, which held a wooden spoon that he’d hand made along with a note about where he’d obtained the wood.
Being a carpenter by trade and a wood butcher by choice, words cannot describe my gratitude. While it came with instructions for care should I choose to use it, it has a place on a special bookshelf in the foyer of our house where my wife and I display our memories.
My bike is an exceptionally well thought out work of art.
Everything matches, everything has its place, and everything is as high-end as I could afford.
Now, I realize I lose a few style points for carrying big water bottles, but I ride big miles and we don’t stop if we don’t have to, so complain if you must, I’m okay with it.
With that out of the way, I have two Blackburn carbon fiber bottle cages that match the bike perfectly. As you can see, the red one is the perfect shade of red too… Even the Camelbak bottles match.
Now couple that with my healthy obsession that my bike be perfectly quiet and this gets interesting.
It was with great consternation that I found the red cage creaks when there’s a bottle in it. It creaks over every little bump in the road. Just a small creak, most people can’t even hear it when I’m riding next to them… It absolutely drove me up a wall. I tried three different kinds of high-end water bottles too. Purist, Polar, and Camelbak. The Polar bottles worked the best but they were far from perfect.
It came to a head over the weekend. I couldn’t take it anymore. I thought about buying a new Specialized cage I’d seen at the shop. It was very nice, very carbon fiber and the red was almost as good a match as the Blackburn. The only problem was getting it by my wife. That wasn’t going to happen.
As I rode my solo active recovery ride Monday, every time I rode over choppy pavement, I would place my hand on my bottle and feel where the vibration came from. The upper lip was the offender. I thought of trying anything from foam tape to exotic solutions…. then I decided to keep it simple:
Three tiny pieces of electrical tape on the upper flange was enough to tighten everything up perfectly.
Last night’s club ride was the test. Perfectly quiet, as it should be.
I have a few things going on this year.
Recovery is the easy part. It’s a daily reprieve, baby. Work is work, it’s still there. My relationship with my wife is freaking awesome, and with my kids is equally good.
As fitness goes, I don’t even know how I’m doing as well as I am. I’m well beyond 50 mile shape already. The distance is feeling a little short. 40 miles is almost too short while 50 is feeling like a workout but once we hit 35 miles I’m having to concentrate on not feeling a little down that we don’t even have an hour left. I feel phenomenal, even at 46 days without a day off. Better, I’m having so much fun I can hardly contain myself.
Saturday was our first real “shorts (bibs) and short sleeve” day of the year. Leaving at 11 am (to allow roads to dry out) we did have some fairly extreme wind to deal with, gusting at times to better than 25 mph and sustained winds from 15-20 mph. Even with the wind, it was warm, topping almost 75 degrees. I realize for those in warmer climates, this is almost cause to pull out the spring jackets but for us northerners, it’s time to subject that pasty skin to some rays. I had a smile stretched across my face the entire 43 miles. I did mess up a bit though. I only took one water bottle with me. It wasn’t enough so I ended up trying to play “hydration catch-up” for the rest of the day.
Sunday was a little cooler but shorts (bibs) and short sleeves were still reasonable and comfortable. I was a little tired for the start but felt better as the ride progressed. The wind pounded our group again but we just dealt with it. We did our time into the wind and then let it push us home. My best fitness surprise of 2017 came over the last ten miles of Sunday’s ride. I had been up front for a mile of crosswind when we turned to head east, with a 20+ mph tailwind. I took a minute to let the group catch up and, on carefully checking over my shoulder that everyone was there, started to turn up the heat. I took it to 25 and that was a little easy. Another gear and 27. I could see a Genesee County Line sign ahead so I really put the hammer down coming down a small hill that would barely register as a “grade”… 37-1/2. Interestingly, I found out that one can still smile while pushing one’s bike beyond 35 mph.
My buddy, Mike came up for a mile-long turn up front and as we entered Durand I put the hammer down again and took that sign at 35 mph (dead flat). Rather than drop back after everyone caught up, I stayed up front. 24 mph, 25, 26… And that’s when the howling protests from the back started, asking me to cool it a little bit. I took it back to 23.5 and kept it there. I took it all the way home, more than ten miles, only giving up the front for two miles all the way home. I felt awesome all the way to my driveway – although Sunday’s nap was a fairly deep sleep and I needed it.
The point, however, is that last winter’s hard work on the
hamster wheel trainer panned out better than I ever could have hoped. 2017 has started out even better than last year and I’m happy each morning I wake up to have another day on the right side of the grass, pumping air.
Fixing a Cyclist’s Body, One Season at a Time: What I Did After Losing TOO MUCH Weight Riding a Bike.
I am 6′ 0″ tall. This is me at 150 pounds:
I know, the socks are all wrong (so are the shoes if you want to get technical, and the pedals too). That’s not the point. I didn’t know how to eat for all of the miles in this photo. My legs aren’t great in that photo but they were starting to come along. Fast forward four years and I’ve added 25 pounds:
Cycling will have you dropping weight like it’s going out of style – if one is not eating too much. 20 or 30 pounds a season, easy. Easy. Now, often you’ll read advice on how to cut weight so you can be a little faster up a hill and while there’s something to that, it’s gotta be within reason, Grasshopper! I much prefer me at 175 over the 150 pound me, I don’t care how slow the extra weight makes me climb a freaking hill! I’d rather look like the guy in the second photo any day of the week and twice on Sunday.
So, what happens when you go too far, as I clearly did?
I had to learn to eat to fuel the next ride but not so much that I ended up with unwanted poundage. It’s a delicate balancing act to be sure, but it is manageable, and much more so than it is just trying to manage weight by diet.
The flip-side to this beast is eating too much, and believe me it’s very easy to justify a candy bar or some ice cream after riding 20 or 30 miles. If I don’t resist the temptation to overeat and if I don’t forego the vast majority of my cravings, I will manage to gain weight rather than lose it, even at 200 miles a week.
So what’s the balance? Comfortably hungry. All the time. If I’m not some form of hungry at all times, I’ve eaten too much and I have to cut portions back. If I’m ever “full”” after a meal there’s no doubt I’ve gone too far. Now, being in a state of perpetual hunger can be a serious pain in the butt. I get used to it though, and then that becomes the new normal and it doesn’t bug me so much. Getting the balance right is how I make it work. Well, that and a veritable $#!+ ton of miles. We can’t forget the miles!
Oh, just so we’re clear; The easy part is putting the weight back on after I’ve lost a little too much. Four Words: McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s. They never fail.