Last night’s ride was one of the nastiest of the year in in terms of wind. Phil and I made plans to drop off the back early – in part because the slog into the wind was going to be nasty at a decent pace, and even worse at 23 mph. We also knew that with the wind would be just as bad. Sure enough, with a tailwind we hit 30 mph on the flats and sustaining that is just a little too tough for me. Those speeds don’t bother me so much in June, July or August, but in October? I’m just a little too tired to mess with that – and I knew what was coming after that – 22 or 23 into that 17-20 mph wind.
I motioned to the guys behind me that I was done and bowing out so as not to screw them up, checked my exit route on the off, ridiculous notion that somebody was passing on the left, and made my exit from the group, not even four miles in. I didn’t do this without a little forethought though – I knew a bunch of people dropped before me so I’d have some help coming up behind me and after a mile or so of easy spinning, they showed up. My buddies Phil on his Domane, Brad and Joyce on a tandem and another guy I’ve ridden with a couple of times on an old (but immaculate) steel Assenmacher.
Brad and Joyce, God bless them, have a tendency – I haven’t figured out what it is – to let us pull, but only one at a time before they charge up, off the back of the pace-line after a short rest to pull again – they race passed everyone else, take another mile pull and then repeat this until they’re burned out… Then they fall off the back. So that left three of us to fight the wind for what seemed like forever. Finally, about three quarters of a mile from when we’d finally have a tailwind, it died. Not completely, though it went from 17-20 mph down to about 5-10… Robbed in the last few miles, again.
So after the ride Phil and I got to talking and decided that we needed to make our own sub-group. Rather than mess around with getting dropped every week, we decided that for next season we’ll form our own group between the racers and the slow guys, 21-22 mph (where we end up anyway, only solo because we fracture off at different times.
So in the end, we had a great ride and got a great workout in, without all of the attacks and counters, and stuff that goes on with the big dogs trying to kill each other. Much more enjoyable – and only four more weeks left.
Folks, I’ve been at this for two years – I’m tired of trying… In cycling I’ve come to believe that if you can’t join ’em, beat ’em, so we’re forming a new class for us tweeners.
Cycling, done properly, is a sport of endurance, stamina, pain, drive and passion with a fair bit of hunger thrown in there. The key for this post is pain and the shorts that we choose to ride in. I started out cycling in the cheaper $30 cycling shorts hoping that technology in shorts was overrated. For my whole first season and a half I got by on two pair of ultra cheap shorts and I muscled out some serious miles in them. 5,400 miles, several centuries, a few metric centuries, a 200 km solo ride, dozens of 20-40 mile rides and scores of 15-20 mile rides.
This season, however, marked a full transition – from just getting by to doing it well. Now, to be certain, if need be and one is willing to overlook some pain, expensive cycling shorts ($80-$150 per pair) can be done without. I did just fine (though I did end up wearing compression shorts under my cycling shorts to minimize rubbing and hot spots on really long rides). This practice is generally thought of as a no-no, but typically we’re talking about underwear or cotton. That said, in March I picked up my first pair of really nice cycling shorts and gave them a glowing review – Specialized RBX Pro shorts. They retail for $150. I’ve worn that same pair of shorts on most long rides (30 miles plus) I went on this year, and what a difference! No after ride creams necessary, no painful showers (if you’ve gotten a hot spot during a ride or even a long run, you know what I’m talking about).
The other day, in the middle of an easy 16 mile ride I stopped by the bike shop on the way home and picked up a pair of Specialized BG Comp shorts:
Unlike the RBX Pro’s (Specialized’s top of the line), the BG Comp’s are a middle of the road short, priced a bit more reasonably at $80. When I first got them home and tried them on I had a feeling I was going to be pleased with them – they feel fantastic on… What I needed to find out was how they felt on a decent hard ride so I wore them for yesterday’s club jaunt.
They’re perfect, and the chamois feels better than the pro shorts! Now, going by the website, they don’t make the BG Comp this year, so if you’re in the market for some shorts, get a pair before they’re gone because these things are some kind of spectacular. They’re so good I’m going to stop the post right here so I don’t blab on like a teenager.
Oh yeah, and for those in the US… Both the RBX Pro and the BG Comp shorts are made in the USA.