I’m back on top for Michigan in the Endomondo/National Bike Challenge stats for Michigan after having to take last weekend off with a cold. I’d written the chance of staying on top off, but I was obviously mistaken. My lead, however, is slim. As of this morning it’s only seven points…
Originally, I was quite fired up because I’ll be riding in the Sloan Museum century that starts in Flint on the last day of the month, so I was certain that I’d have an insurmountable lead with 100 miles worth of points on the last day. Unfortunately the ride had to be pushed back to next Saturday so I was going to be under the gun to make up the miles. Well as luck would have it, my wife is taking the kids up north to go camping with her mother – which leaves me free to ride my butt off over the weekend. I’m going to be heading up north with the fam and bringing my bike with me so from there I’ll head down to Midland to do the Pere-Marquette rail trail again – I’m really excited now, I love that trail and to be able to ride it again so soon is a real treat.
This time I’ve invited my accountant and her husband along for an easier cruise. I won’t be doing the 200k again – depending on whether or not they go my overall distance will change. If they do, we’ll take an easy ride out to Clare, have a nice lunch and head back for something around a 100k. If that happens, I’ll have to go for a shorter 30 miler or so on Sunday. If, on the other hand, I’m riding solo again, I’ll be on the hook for 100 miles, in which case I can probably take Sunday off – if I really want to, and I doubt that I’ll really want to. 😉
Well, here I am, on my couch, dinner digesting, at 8:15…and it’s dark outside. What a bummer, summer is slipping away. I’m now about three weeks passed the one year mark for the purchase of my first road bike and I’m trying to objectively review my season, perhaps a bit early, but not by much. In the next couple of weeks the rain will be hitting us more frequently and I’ll grudgingly move my cycling indoors for another winter of spinning to stay in shape. Here are the results of that inventory:
First, my fitness level this year, when contrasted to last, has easily doubled. I’ve dropped about 14 pounds and I feel awesome almost every day, with the obvious exception of the day after a long ride (70+ miles). That alone has been worth all of the miles, the sweat, and pushing on when I would have rather laid down for a nice little nap. Add to that the fact that I feel like a kid when I’m on said bike and what more can a fella say?
I’m not done though. I’ve met some really great people who are a bunch of fun to ride with. I’ve got a fantastic bike that fits me like a glove (I was going to write “like silk boxers”, but let’s not get carried away) with equipment that is simply fantastic and reliable.
If that wasn’t enough, my wife has not only embraced my love of the new hobby, she’s begun to join me in it. That is worth all of the tea in China to me. I love riding with my wife.
On the actual riding side of equation, we were able to take our bikes on vacation and ride almost every day, in the mountains for crying out loud. I was able to put enough miles that I could have ridden from Michigan to Florida and back again – twice. My speed and stamina have both increased, though stamina quite a bit more than speed.
As far as my physique goes, my legs are lean, ripped trunks compared to last year. I finally have the legs I dreamed of when I started running more than ten years ago, they’re truly a thing of beauty. The love handles that I had struggled to lose every summer are a shadow of their former selves, as is my little 40-year-old man gut. My arms could use a little work, as they’ve been neglected for the better part of six months, but I’ll have a few months this winter to bring them back to their former glory. As far as health goes, I don’t even need to write about that. I’ve recovered from a full-blown, nasty cold in two days – the immune system is kickin’ and when that’s working well, it’s all good. My vitals are on the good side of awesome and I feel better than I did 15 years ago (I’d have gone with 20, but I’d almost drank myself to death – it should be obvious that I wasn’t feeling too good back then – I’ve gotta make the bar a fair height.
To wrap up the good side of the balance sheet, I’ve had an incredibly fun spring, summer and I’ll make the most of fall. It’s been a great year.
On the negative side of the ledger, I have to put my Tuesday night club ride, or better yet, my performance in it. I had high hopes of riding with the big dogs and I just haven’t been able to put together the right combination to bring it in. It isn’t for a lack of trying – well, technically it is for a lack of trying, I’ll leave the bullshit in the gutter where it belongs. I had to work harder to keep up with them. I should have been doing interval training and a friend of mine gave me a great one to do… The only thing between me and finishing with them was air and opportunity. When I boil it all down, I want what I’m doing to be enough, because I like how I train – to me, it’s all fun. And therein lies the rub. I didn’t want to give up the fun to get that fast. Properly stated, I hoped the fun stuff would be enough to get me up with the faster guys. It wasn’t.
Secondly, my knowledge of how bikes work needs to improve in a big way. I’m in that odd position where I’m just about intelligent enough…to be dangerous. Matt has to bail me out far too often. I’ll have to see if I can apprentice for him in the shop for a few hours a week.
Finally, and this isn’t much of a negative, I haven’t run a whole lot over the last seven months. In February and March I was faster than ever and had I kept up with it, I’d be in a much better position going into the winter… On the other hand, I had so much fun, it was absolutely worth it… And I’ve got the cold months to run my butt off.
I’ll have to think a little harder on that negative side, because that’s all I can think of for right now…
There is one last item that I really couldn’t put in either category – it fits in both. Cycling, specifically, has been both good and bad for my recovery. It’s been good because it clears my mind and relieves stress. The positive impact cannot be overstated. On the other hand, I’ve given up time running with several recovering friends on Saturdays for cycling because I enjoy cycling more than running. That’s a bad thing – my continued recovery depends on interacting with other recovering people – both newbies and long timers. I’ve taken steps to balance this out a bit better, but it isn’t quite the same. This will change over the winter, when the bike will be relegated to a trainer and I’ll be back to running weekly.
So, why do an inventory of the season? Folks, I do this for my life in general and again for work – and it takes just a little bit more than I could fit in a blog post to work through…
In this case, figure you’re a store owner for your fitness. If you don’t know what you’ve got on the shelves, how are you going to keep the shop open? I keep stock of where I’m at.
Search term of the day, “Will a 56 cm bike fit a man of 6’2″?
Welcome to my shortest answer, ever:
I’m 6’0” and have a perfectly awesome 58 cm bike, a 56 was too small for me. I believe my ideal size is between 58.5 and 59 cm, but those sizes aren’t available… Other important measurements: cockpit length: the distance from the nose of the saddle to the bar top (some use seat post to bar top). Crank arm length and about a dozen others. Get measured before you buy, then get the bike fitted to you. It’s not a cheap process, but it is worth it.