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Monthly Archives: May 2014

The Number One Reason to Buy the Best Bike You Can Afford…

There are a lot of opinions out there about high-end bikes vs. entry-level bikes vs. Big Box specials (Huffy, etc.).  When I started cycling, I was into only my fourth year of owning my business.  The five year mark is a big milestone – something like 95% of small businesses fail in the first five years, and I can guarantee you, I don’t want to go back to working for someone else so I kept every extra penny I could in my company. 

I was making decent money but we didn’t have the cash to drop on what I thought was an expensive ($1,500) bike.  I started off with a $400 used bike I found on Craigslist to see if I’d even like road cycling, I already loved mountain biking and triathlon but I wasn’t sure how that would translate to the road.  Within two months of having that first road bike I was hooked but it was too small (I ride a 56-59 cm frame and I had a 54 – noob mistake).  I bought my Trek 5200 shortly thereafter (a 58 cm frame), used, from the local bike shop (it was their loaner) and put a lot of love into that 13-year-old, full carbon, bike.  I spent hours cleaning it up, repairing chipped paint and tearing it down and regreasing everything.  While it is used and old, it is a legitimate race bike and it was absolutely the best I could afford at the time.  I paid $750 for it (not bad for a 20 pound bike with the full line of Ultegra components).

Then came my Specialized Venge, the bike I splurged on.  Now, the leap could be made that I could have saved $1,100 if I just went all out and picked up the Venge first but what can’t be argued was that the money was not wasted.  First, now my wife (who is 2″ shorter than I am) has a great rain bike (the Cannondale) and I have a tremendous rain bike in the Trek, that I’m comfortable on and know my way around.

That said, when you take into account all of the money I’ve put into cycling over the last three years, we’re talking about a pretty penny (or 800,000).  First, I don’t look at any one of those pennies as wasted and here’s why:  I don’t drink, don’t smoke, don’t cheat, don’t lie… I eat right and work hard.  I deserve one thing to splurge on. Due to the choice to take up cycling, I’m so fit that at my last checkup my doctor said:  “Jim, whatever it is you’re doing, just keep doing it”.  This didn’t occur by accident or just because I have good genes (I do)…  It’s because I took a need to be active and a mid-life celebration (others call it a “crisis”, but considering my past, reaching anything beyond 30 is a miracle so I’m celebrating mid-life). Finally, cycling is just a cool hobby and if you’re going to drop some cash on a hobby, cycling is cheap compared to most adult hobbies.

Now where this can become controversial is with the type of bike I chose for my “A” bike, the Venge. The Venge is a straight up aero race bike. It has, by necessity, a stiff frame. As I do not race, have no desire to and the only thing I enjoy more than a good 100k ride is a good 100 miles and at an overall average pace of 21-22 mph, we’re not exactly burning up the roads… to put it simply, one of the squishy bikes (AKA endurance bikes) like a Trek Domane or a Specialized Roubaix probably would have made more practical sense. Without getting into the minutiae of the type of carbon used on my Venge’s frame (which is a bit more forgiving than the S-Works frame), those who hold that view have a point.

There’s one small factor that changes the whole, entirely: Desire. To call what happened occurred when I first laid eyes on my Venge “love at first sight” wouldn’t be right or fair to my wife. It was more like “lust”. If I was going to blow a bunch of money on a nice bike, not only did I want a comfortable ride, I wanted something that I liked to look at as well… And that’s exactly what I got. The Venge, for me, is the perfect balance of speed, comfort and sexy.

So everything considered, what’s the Number One reason to drop some coin on a nice bike?

Because I love me – and I’m worth it.

Happy 3rd Cycling Anniversary: It’s Been A Big Week… Cycling and Sobriety

Today is my third cycling anniversary, so that means that my brother from another country, BikeVCar, is celebrating his shortly as well – in addition to celebrating he and his wife’s first child.  Happy anniversary my friend.  As for me, I’ve never been happier.  Cycling has made every aspect of my life happier.

It’s been a big couple of weeks… I’ve picked up an absolute ton of work and one of my guys had his vehicle motor blow up on him.  Because of that I made a decision: I went to my local car dealership yesterday and bought my first brand new vehicle – ever, so I could sell my old truck to my supervisor.  The only question was should I pay it off when I pick it up or make payments for the tax advantages of doing so (it’s a company car)… They’re polishing and gassing it up so I can pick it up later on this morning.

I’m going to keep this post pretty short because I’ve got a lot of work to do to get ready for this holiday weekend but something struck me as I was heading out to my Thursday night meeting: I wish my dad could have seen this.  He’d have been proud to see me waltz into a dealership, sign my name on a piece of paper (no co-signers, trying to come up with financing or high interest rates) and drive out of there with a new ride. I’ve always been pretty cheap so having a new car seemed pretty silly.  I always thought it much better to buy a used car and let someone else pay the depreciation, but my dad was always a new car kind of guy.  He placed weight on the quality of life inherent in being able to drive a new vehicle.

So rather than dwell on his being gone, I called my mom and told her about it.  We talked and had a good laugh reminiscing about my dad and a few recent political items that drive her nuts and how ironic it was that she’d shifted to an understanding my father would have cheered.

If you’ve followed this blog for any time, you know that my drinking past was a terrible mess. To keep this simple and short for those who haven’t, I was one step from the gutter before I got sober. By that I mean as close to homeless as one can be without sitting in a gutter, morally and spiritually bankrupt.  It took years to learn how to be responsible, productive member of society, to learn how to have a fun life without king alcohol.  It took decades to build a really good life for myself. It took risks and sacrifice and gray hair and the support of the most awesome match of a wife I could ever have asked for. It took getting off the couch when I’d rather have slept in, it took digging in when getting hammered to escape would have been easier… It took “want to”.  Every now and again I get one of those moments where I can look back over the last 20+ years and say, “wow, this sobriety thing is pretty awesome”.  This is one of them.  Even though my dad passed away knowing I’d be okay, this day would have put a smile on his face.  It does mine.

Want To Ride Faster? Buy A Bike… For Your Spouse.

Absolutely, positively, the most difficult “cycling for more speed” tip I’ve found to adhere to is this:  Your easy efforts are too hard and your hard efforts are too easy.  I’ve read that simple tip from pros more times than I can count.

The hard efforts being too easy is simple enough to understand and do something about, it’s the other part of that equation that I have a tough time with.  My easy efforts, on average and historically, have only been a couple of miles an hour slower than my hard efforts – and therein lies the rub.

The problem I’ve always had, since day one, is that when I’m about an eighth of a mile into an easy training ride and my legs loosen up a little bit, I get to thinking I should be putting more of an effort into my ride, that I might be misusing an opportunity to accomplish something if I go any slower.  To make matters worse, 18 mph really did seem easy. Unfortunately at 22, I was really working.  If that wasn’t enough, I get the ego involved as well.  My ego chimes in and says, “you’re not going any slower than 18 and that’s about all we have to say about the matter”.  The trick to the recovery ride, as I’ve seen aptly stated from a pro, is that while you keep your cadence right around 90 rpm, you should be embarrassed if one of your friends sees you riding that slow.

So this year my wife catches the cycling bug (thank you baby Jesus!) and we start riding together once or twice a week and her working pace is around 15-16 mph.  This means simply by riding with my wife, my easy days are really are easy.

So here we are, it’s only mid-May and I’m flying – my legs feel awesome and I’m already able to do things that I wouldn’t think of trying in the peak of my season last year.

Admittedly, attributing a fantastic jump on the season to riding with my wife is highly subjective.  There are several things I’m doing better this year.  First, I have my nutrition and hydration down to a science where last year I was just getting everything figured out.  Second, my weekend long rides are quite a bit longer for this early in the season.  Twenty-five miles longer, every week.  On the other hand, the weather this year has absolutely sucked until this week.  In fact, yesterday was the first shorts and jersey club ride of the season (!). That’s right, mid-May, the first Tuesday this year that arm and leg warmers weren’t required.  Of course, now we jumped right into summer, but beggars can’t be choosers.

Still, what I cannot deny is that my easy days are easier and the reason for this is that I’m riding with my wife.  Without her, I’d still be at that 18-19 mph average.  So, if you’re training and you have a tough time keeping the lid on your enthusiasm or if you have a problem with your ego burdening you with guilt for riding too slow, get your spouse on a bike and ride with them so that they can provide you with the distraction and reason to take it easier and enjoy the scenery.  Of course, the only problem there is that eventually they may become fast as well and you then may have to worry about the easy days becoming a competition…  But let’s deal with one problem at a time, eh?

Gluten Sensitivity: It’s In Your Head.

Are you one of those folks who, even though you don’t have celiac disease, feels much better having shunned gluten from your diet?

Unfortunately the science shows there’s a 100% chance that’s either in your head or something else in your diet, entirely.

I know, you’re going to say that an Australian scientist showed that gluten sensitivity is real. Unfortunately that very same guy just reversed that study with a new study that showed respondents, not knowing whether they were on a gluten free, low gluten or standard diet, reported the exact same symptoms for all three diets… And the best part is that the scientist went all “next level” on the study. If you wish to know just how far he went, check this article out.  In a stroke of genius, the scientist also made each person their own control.

Here’s the important sentence: “In contrast to our first study… we could find absolutely no specific response to gluten.”

So there you have it folks, that gluten sensitivity is in your head.  You don’t really feel better than me, you feel better than you, because you quit the gluten.  The power of the mind is an amazing thing. Your brain makes it so.

The important thing, ladies and gentlemen, is that you can once again enjoy that burger on a bun.

The Best Club Ride of My Short Cycling Life: A Kid In A Candy Store

In yesterday’s post I explained in detail why I choose not to race, one of my favorite cycling posts in quite a while, written on a fluke even but percolating for up to a year now, I made a fair case for why I don’t get into racing…

Then I have an evening ride like last night.  I had more fun than a guy should have with his clothes on.  I attacked the group solo, twice (truth is, we all knew I’d blow up so nobody bothered coming with).  Once approaching 40 mph on a 30 mph downhill.  I wasn’t off the front for long, only a couple of miles the first time and maybe a mile for the second… Not much, but I’m a guy who is clinging onto the back by my teeth when the lead group starts thinning out.

The funny thing is after that first attack, I was sure I’d fall off the back to ride the rest alone… Imagine my surprise when I talked myself into latching back on and stayed with the group.   The attack was ill-advised and quite noob-ish as we were only ten miles (16k) into the 30 mile (48k) ride and I knew there was no way I was staying up front.  What started this whole thing was after a pull I signaled I was done and started to fall back, only to have the third guy from the front open up a hole for me… There were six guys behind him and he wanted me third from the front.  I dutifully took the spot before thinking better of it…  It was too soon to gas myself and I was already riding on hammered legs from Sunday – and I didn’t bother to take a day off on Monday because the weather was too nice.  If I stayed up front I doubted I’d have the legs for the hills coming up in another ten miles. I announced “not tonight boys” and fell to the back for a needed respite.  Unfortunately the back was a discombooberated mess.  Single file, stragglers all over, yo-yo-ing… So I sat back there long enough to catch my breath and much to my surprise, I recovered quickly.  I thought, “the heck with it”.  I pulled out to the left, near the yellow, while upshifting…  And I put the hammer down.  I went from dead last all the way to the front and flew by the leader.  I’d guess somewhere around 27-28 mph on the flat and with a crosswind from the left – and I just kept going.  I had to wait at a stop sign for a car to pass and the gang darn near caught me.  The second the car passed I hit the gas and pulled away with a tailwind. I managed to stay up for the next mile before getting swallowed up.

I was 👌this close to sitting up and I had a change of heart. I simply thought, “nope, I’m not giving up tonight. It’s not happening”.  I stayed in the rotation, doing my duty up front, and I felt good.  Go figure.

Then we got to the start of the hills.  I figured I was done for but I was mistaken.  We hit a long, decent downhill where Dave, one of the masters racers attacks when he’s on his tandem to carry momentum to the coming uphill (climbing on a tandem, in case you didn’t know, sucks).  Last night he was on his Merckx and he was up front so when he didn’t go, naturally I thought it would be funny if I did.  So again, I went all the way from the back and flew by the leaders with a smile stretched from ear to ear. I don’t actually know how fast I was going but the normal speed down that hill for the group is around 32-34 mph. I had to be close to 40 (64 km/h).

Then I finally let myself blow up.  I pulled way to the left and let everyone go by.  On the way up the hill a few more guys fell of, three and a tandem.  I caught my breath for a few seconds and set about reeling them in.

I caught up and we took the shortcut (keeps the ride at 30 in lieu of 33 miles) and we set about getting home with the sky starting to threaten a wet finish.  Between Mike and I and the tandem we kept a pretty decent pace going into the last mile when Phil came up from the back and started an attack with a cross-headwind.  I joined and went by Phil, way too early for a sprint finish.  I did my best to stay off but they reeled me back in at over 30 mph (according to Mike’s computer)…

Now, I had more fun on this ride than on any previous Tuesday night since my first club ride.  I should have dropped off the back three times but I managed to stick with it…  And it was almost all mental.  I simply refused to give up.  I don’t always have that in me but at the same time I proved to myself that I’m a lot stronger than I give myself credit for.  I was the kid in a candy store and it was a blast.

By the way, for each of these little attacks, I made sure I didn’t leave anyone behind me in the lurch before I went.

 

Cycling and Why I Choose Not to Race.

One of the kids who works at the bike shop and who is working on his pro card invited me to compete in a local mountain bike race a couple of weeks ago that was to be held at my favorite single-track. I can pretty much fly on it, especially through the climbs. He asked my time on an average circuit and said that I’d have a good shot at the podium based on that time. He added that I probably wouldn’t win but second or third was definitely possible. His dad races with him and we’re in the same age group so he pays attention to the winning times.

I passed.

I am an okay road cyclist, some say pretty good, and if I gave it some serious effort I could probably race my road bike and win too…

Here’s the problem: I love cycling, a lot more than beating people. I like to be fit and I like to eat and I love it that, just last Friday, my wife and I were cruising down the road and she announced a car back and with two turns of the crank I was ahead of her, single file. When the car passed, I fell back side by side and she said how cool she thought it was that I could accelerate like that and make it look so easy.  That’s a big enough cheering section for me.

The old me, the young me, would have to take that racing. The old me would have to seek the adulation, the cheers due those on the podium. To win!  Now here’s my past pattern with competition:  I’ve been pretty good at a lot of the sports I’ve tried but unless I can win I will eventually lose interest and have to move on to something else.  With a wife, two small kids, two businesses and all of the other normal responsibilities an adult has, I can’t dedicate enough time to catching up to the racers at the local club ride let alone beat them.  In addition, having started to train for a half-ironman in the past, if the training becomes too much like work and wrecks the fun (it was actually the training for the half-marathon that did me in on that), I’ll get bored.

The person I am today simply loves to ride bikes.  Solo, with my wife or other friends, it’s all good.  If you’ve ever seen Miguel Cabrera on the field, the man is the best hitter in all of baseball but he doesn’t have that intense scowl that many other great players have. He is the best…and he looks like a kid in a candy store with a hundred-dollar bill in his pocket on the field. Hi-fiving kids, laughing and chatting it up with other players on the field. The fact that he’s that good and still manages to love the game that much is a miracle.

That’s how I feel on my bike – and I don’t have to win to feel that good.  I’ve played baseball, basketball, tried football (too small) and hockey when I was a kid and golf when I was older.  I competed in all of them and unless I (we) won, my performance was I was very hard on myself about it – especially if I made a mistake.

Folks, I won’t risk that with cycling. I won’t risk not feeling like a kid in a candy store every time, every single time, I ratchet my shoe straps down (well, except cold rides, they suck till the second or third mile but I’m smiling at the end). The new me is all about the joy of riding a bike.  The new me is happy with the small cheering section I have: My wife and my kids, because they let me know on a regular basis that I’m a “shiny, awesome unicorn who shoots rainbows out his butt”, my cycling buddies and my blog friends.

I don’t need to be the fastest 40-50 year-old on a bike to be happy. I just need the bike (and the shoes, and the helmet, the socks, the shorts and jerseys… Oh that could go on for a bit).

The point is my friends, be happy first. Compete second.  The only people who remember the name of the person who won last week’s local race are those dedicated to racing anyway.  Be the kid in a candy store with a hundred bucks to blow on bubble gum and candy… Because dusting off the trophies when you’re old and gray won’t fill the void left by “I wish I would have had more fun”.

So You Want to Be a Cyclist: You Want to Ride Faster: What They Really Mean By “Pedal Harder”…

So you want to be a cyclist.  You want to fly down the road with the big dogs, having women swoon (or men cross their hands on their lawn rake with a slack jaw at your awesomeness) and children stare in awe as you fly by.   Fantastic!

Now, before you get too cocky there are a few things to understand before you find out the hard way that, while all of those articles written about getting faster do help, they amount to, in total, maybe a half mile an hour over your normal average.  That means if your current pace is 16 mph, once you perfect all of those tips you can look forward to maybe 16.5.  Seriously.  Also, before you drop ten grand on that superbike, you might want to consider that it’s only worth another half mile an hour.  No kidding, a whole half mile an hour for ten grand.  That’s $2,000 per tenth of a mile an hour (I spent about $750 per tenth, I know what I’m talking about).

It gets better…  You know how, after your four-hour long 100k, you’re hungry for like a day and a half?  Double those hunger pains.  You’ll wake up so hungry that you’ll contemplate eating a rhino’s ass-end for breakfast (if you could just find one to hunt down).  All of that crap you think you’ll be able to eat because you’re burning tons of calories on the bike?  Forget about it…  You get to eat, sure, but it’s not like you might think.  You might think it’s Big Mac’s, brownies, ice cream and soda as far as the eye can see for eight months out of the year but it’s not.  You get to eat a little bit extra, sure, but only on the long ride days (long is defined as 60 miles or better, not 15) and you still have to stay away from most of the crap anyway if you happen to be over 30 years-old.

Then there’s the pain.  After a long day on the bike, no matter how well it’s set up, you will hurt if you really pushed yourself.  Your shoulders, arms, neck and especially your legs.  That’s just the way it goes.  You have to get used to it, even learn to enjoy that feeling knowing you’ve done something.  Of course, that’s not even the hard part, the “after”.  No, the hard part happens while you’re out on the road and you just want to quit hammering so you can take it easy for the rest of the ride back because you’re legs quit working normally ten miles ago, your shoulders have been hurting since three miles ago and…  Wait a minute, now you can’t feel your toes…  Great!  Well folks, that’s the edge.  Not the “time to slow down” edge, that’s the “kick it for ten or fifteen more miles because now you’re going to make some real progress” edge.

Then there’s the dedication…  Yeah, those days when you’d rather kick it on the couch?  They’re gone.  No more procrastinating, screwing around with cleaning your bike for the third time this week to waste time until it’s too late to ride (admittedly, I’m not afflicted by this performance killing condition – I actually can’t wait to get out on the road, but I figured I’d throw it in there for others).  You don’t want to ride in the snow but you find the trainer boring?  Tough titties boys and girls, because while I hate it too, I know there’s only one way to hit the spring rolling:  Workouts in the winter.  Of course it’s boring and mind-numbing.

And here’s the real crappy part:  All of that only gets you up to 20-23 mph.  To beat that, you only have to push harder, eat better and ignore more pain.

Now, the more miles you put in and the faster you go, the less difficult it becomes to push yourself, so it’s not all bad news.  The reality is though, if you want to go faster you have to push harder on the pedals.  That’s all there is to it.  Speed equates to time and effort.  The more time and effort you put in, the faster you go.

I promise I’ll be looking for the magic silver speed bullet (that doesn’t involve an electric assist motor) and the second I find it, I’ll post it here.  I wouldn’t hold my breath though.

A fellow who goes by the name “Fossilcyclist” added:  “And just don’t even think about ageing!”  Too true!

 

Bicycle Helmet Care: How I Keep My Melon Protector from Stinking to High Heaven

Proper maintenance of the cycling helmet, at least as far as I’m concerned, is a big deal.  I am hyper-sensitive about keeping my dome cover from getting too funky because nothing can mess up an otherwise good ride than being able to smell the stink emanating from my cycling helmet.  For that reason I go to great lengths to keep it smelling as fresh as possible.  Technically, I’m overdramatizing that just a wee bit, it’s really not that big a deal.  However, I have been experimenting with different soaps and I can share a new one that sticks out above the rest.  Now, a new helmet can last up to a month or two without a washing and without stinking – as a noob (and I mean brand noob), I didn’t think to wash the brain bucket out and for a month or two I was just fine letting it dry out…  Then, all of a sudden, while out on a 30 miler I noticed a mild but persistent stink that I couldn’t place.  When I got home and I took my helmet off, oh dear God did I come to know just how bad a sweaty helmet can stink.  It was then that I hit the web to find out how to quash the funkiness.

The secret to keeping my melon protector fresh is washing it after every ride in which I break a sweat.  There are those times when it’s cold enough or the training schedule calls for an easy day, so I won’t break a sweat.  On these rare days, I can just hang it up in its spot and forget about it.  On the other hand, if I sweat I simply take the dome cover into the shower, soap it up, let it sit for 1-2 minutes, rinse it and squeeze out the water from the pads, dry off the top, dab the inside to get most of the water out and hang it to dry overnight.

Now, I’ve tried quite a few soaps though I’ve never bothered with the products that are marketed specifically for the purpose.  The non-scented soaps work, but not all that well.  Eventually I’ve found that without the scent to knock the odor down, the stink wins.  While almost any body soap will work, I mainly use the liquid versions anymore (that’s what my wife buys fellas).  Old Spice works quite well, but I happened on a new one lately:  Irish Spring Gear.  It is, not exaggerating, spectacular.

Now, there is one more small but important piece to this:  You must make sure you rinse the soap out completely, otherwise the next time you break a really good sweat, you’ll have soap dripping into your eyes.  For this very reason I used to use Johnson & Johnson No More Tears (when my daughters were younger) as that was suggested on another blog.  As long as I’m sure to rinse out regular soap, going to that length isn’t necessary (and the J&J didn’t do a very good job of knocking down the stink).

 

 

Frankenmuth Fahrrad Tour 100k. Hurtin’ for Certain…

I signed up on a whim for the Frankenmuth Fahrrad Tour 100k knowing that it was going to be a tough ride – plenty of horses and it’s a notoriously windy ride.

Fortunately, two of the horses had races today so they couldn’t make it. Unfortunately Dave brought his significant other and they’re hell on a tandem together. We had another tandem in the group and they’re exceptional together as well.

We started out at 8am on the nose, taking it pretty easy through the town of Frankenmuth so the group could organize, without a hint of a breeze. It was chilly but I had high hopes with the still start that we’d be spared from too much wind. As soon as we got clear of the slow starters it was on. We had maybe eight solo cyclists and the two tandems and everything was awesome on the way out – I took all of my pulls up front and was feeling fantastic – and have absolutely no idea how fast we were going but we passed a lot of riders.

I couldn’t believe how fast we got to the first rest stop at 25 miles. We spent ten minutes circulating through the porta-johns and topping off H2O bottles and hit it.

We were in a relatively sheltered area so I didn’t even notice that the wind had started to spin up… Fantastic, six miles from the turnaround and the wind starts picking up. Oh well, it was only a breeze, maybe 5 mph, how bad could that be?

We pulled out of the rest stop and were right back at it, and hard. Within five miles we were down to seven – five solos and the two tandems. Somewhere before the turn I started hitting my redline and fell off. We were flying. Much to my surprise though, they weren’t pulling away so the second I caught my breath I poured it on and managed to latch back on (they held up for me).

Then we hit the turn and what started out a gentle breeze turned into a brutal, soul sucking, leg burning wind – and we turned straight into the teeth of it. Folks, there was no shelter. None. Open fields as far as the eye could see so that wind had miles of space to pick up steam and hammer us right in the chest… You want to know how bad it was? There were dozens of those big-ass windmills dotting the landscape and horizon. It was so bad, hanging out in the back was only a slight advantage. We pulled into the next rest stop and I was praising Jesus for his mercy. That was at mile 45, I think. We spent a bit more time at that second one to eat a bit before heading out… Call it 15 minutes.

I stayed with the lead group till somewhere between mile 53 and 54. I was gassed and wound up behind another guy who was struggling as well… I second-guessed my judgment – I thought he was looking rough but I thought, “Nah, he’ll be alright”. Then he let a gap open and I lost my will to live. Seven miles to go and I was off the back because I picked the one guy who, rather than just warn me that he was falling off so I could go around him and stay with the group (if you don’t do this for others behind you, your etiquette sucks – you need to look at that), he just slowed down.

I managed that last seven miles but I was pretty bummed. And cooked.

I crossed the finish line at exactly 11:35, so subtract 25 minutes for stops and it was, with 30-32 miles dead into a brutal headwind and seven miles of that on my own, 3 hours, 10 minutes for 62.4 miles – do the math and I was still just shy of 20 mph.

Without the math, we hauled some serious ass.

So, I was hoping to hang on for at least 50 miles and I made it 53 or 54. Success. I’d hoped to hide for a bit of that ride but still pull my share for the majority of the ride. Check. I’d hoped for a time of less than 3 hours. Failed, to an extent – though that hope, considering the wind on the way back, was way over zealous… So I can live with that.

My legs are absolutely smoked. That ride was the best thing I could have done for myself this early in the season. I am quite pleased and exceptionally thankful that I ride with such a fantastic group of guys and ladies and that I have a wife, so supportive of my hobby/passion/midlife crisis, that I can do this kind of thing on a fluke and she’ll wish me luck and happiness as I’m walking out the door. I am a lucky guy. Of that, I am certain.

Oh, I almost forgot! This was, traffic-wise, the best organized ride I’ve ever done. There was so little traffic that when we had a crosswind, we could stretch our echelon across both lanes of the road, from one white line to the other – for miles. The roads were in fantastic shape, and it was not pancake flat – maybe chocolate chip cookie flat would have been a better description. And aside from the brutal headwind for the last half, it was quite the pretty ride.

Time to Shake Things Up…

I registered for a ride on Sunday on a whim, called the Fahrrad Tour in Frankenmuth, Mi.  It’s “only” a 100k so that’s not exactly shaking anything up.  What’s new is the “who” that I’ll be riding with.  It’s considered a racing tune up ride so I’ll be riding with the big dogs.  Daddy’s stepping off the porch.

Generally speaking, it’s historically a windy ride but according to the weather channel, we’re finally going to get a breeze break so we’ll get a good draft out of it at least.  Also, and this can be a good or a bad thing, it’s a pancake flat circuit.  The roads won’t be closed so I’ve been told to expect speeds to be “relatively tame” at around 25 mph (40 km/h), until they kick it in gear for the last 20k or so.  “Kick it in gear” will translate to averages around 22-23 mph (35km/h) for the first 50 miles and somewhere near 27 (43 km/h) for the last twelve miles.

Generally speaking, that kind of speed has proven to be a little bit over my head unless we have a huge group and I can tuck in about half-way back and hide.  I did that last year for the Assenmacher 100 and we did the first 58 at just shy of a 23 mph average (37 km/h), but when I say “hide”, I mean it.  I didn’t take a pull up front after the sixth mile.

Sunday’s ride will be a different story.  Because it’s a short ride, I’ll take a few pulls early, then hide for a bit to recover, but that last half, I’m going to give it hell and if I burn out, so be it.  Funny how 62-1/2 miles, after a few year’s worth of 100 mile rides can be referred to as “short” or “only”.  That is how it goes though.

Fortunately I’ve had a lot of rest this week.  We’ve had rain every day since Monday – it’s been nasty so I was off Monday and Tuesday, got 22 in on Wednesday and I was off yesterday.  The Mrs. and I will be going out for an easy 25 mile ride today and I’ll do something easy tomorrow (25-35) so my legs will be spun up but relatively fresh for Sunday.

I’ll be sure to post something about it Sunday afternoon or Monday morning.