For those who didn’t know, Jens Voigt rode in his final stage yesterday as a pro and he did so in typical Jensian fashion, he was out front in the breakaway until the last of four 10 km loops around the finish in the USA Pro Challenge in Colorado. He dropped ten of eleven in that breakaway before being swallowed up by the peloton himself.
And unlike many in a breakaway, he didn’t fall away to the back, or off the back entirely (as can so often be seen in other cyclists). No, he stayed right out front and smiled, offering a thumbs up and pointing to his mate as his teammate tried an attack of his own while the lead chasers tried to catch their breath.
Part of the commentary towards that last lap at the lead for the Jensie eluded to many of the domestiques being glad for his retirement because he hurts them when the job of chasing down his breakaways falls on their shoulders…
This is, perhaps and in my opinion, one of the greatest compliments in cycling. Many people mistakenly believe that respect is given to the horses, that it’s all, “He’s great” or “She’s tough”… That’s not the case at all. No, it’s backhanded compliments that show your place in the group, whether the pro peloton or your local club ride. If the group is giving you a tough time, if they rib you, that’s when you know you belong. That’s when you know they care.
Celebrate it… Enjoy it… Revel in it.
One more time folks, shut up legs!
Don’t let that one die – it should be just as common as LeMond’s “it doesn’t get easier, you just go faster”.
And congratulations to Jens Voigt on an awesome 17 year career… Thanks for making the sport more fun to watch, and thanks for making me feel like a wuss, ya jerk… I’m only a year older.
Mike, Adam and Diane (on Adam’s awesome Cannondale tandem) and I did 60 miles this morning in just over three hours and it was good. We broke a road rule and rode three abreast for the majority of the ride (only when traffic wasn’t present), at least until the tandem team decided to pick up the pace at miles 37 and 38 where they upped the tempo to 23 and 24 mph respectively – at that point Mike and I simply tucked in behind and held on.
I felt strong for the first 45 miles but I started fading so we stopped in at a gas station at my request and I picked up a Coke and a Snickers (if you want to go fast, you need sugar). I felt quite excellent after that and the rest ticked away easily.
Mike and the tandem left me at mile 55 for home and I kicked out the last five alone.
No bonking, no worries about wanting to quit – and this was after volunteering at the Crim running race again yesterday. I won’t say that I’m back to July’s form, which was spectacular, but I’m getting there.
Oh, and if a 60 mile bike ride wasn’t cool enough (it is), my phone didn’t ring once on the ride. It’s all good.
For we avid cycling enthusiasts are a Blessed lot…
I arrived home from work today, absolutely stressed and questioning the wisdom of my career path. It was one of those days. Technically one of those months.
Too much work and too few guys to get it done in the little time we have left to get it done. That’s not the half of it.
One hour on the bike and I’m back, recharged and in charge…
“Maybe it’s not so bad after all. Of course it isn’t, we’re almost there. One day at a time.”
Nothing, and I mean nothing, can bring me back like 20 miles in an hour. There is a bunch of science out there that explains why but in all truth, I could care less – I just know it works and that’s all that matters.
Thank The Lord for carbon fiber, aluminum, stainless steel and rubber.
I’m in an interesting spot in fitness right now. I ride my bike more miles in a year than many drive a car (6,000+ this year) and even a slow ride tops 18 mph (29 km/h), yet I am feeling fat, lazy and slow after a month of taking it too easy. The notion occurred to me after a bonk on a century the other day. Now, a hundred miles on a bike is hard. That same hundred at 20 mph is really hard and beating 4-1/2 hours is flat-out tough… Even so, I should have been more than up for it and I bonked out after only 45 miles.
This can be hard to grasp and many might wrongly believe that I’m being too hard on myself. The truth is this: I am not any of those – for 90% of the population. For that upper 10% though, I have been. In other words, I’m talking about my approximation fat, lazy and slow – and therein lies the rub.
What this boils down to is a very delicate balance between enjoying a bike ride like I would a Sunday stroll around the block or being at the top of my game without overdoing it. I like to be fast, there’s no doubt about that, but I also enjoy a nice bike ride with my wife too (who is actually catching up – she did her 34 mile leg of the Assenmacher at just over 17 mph average). To make this harder to diagnose was the fact that I had gotten stronger than many of the guys I normally ride with over the last couple of months – I had a perfect storm of awesome going all at the same time. What I did as a result of that proved to be my undoing… I took my foot off the gas and tried to coast. That worked for a week or two but then I was passed up by the same guys I could put the hurting to only a few short weeks earlier.
So be it.
Starting the very next day after that calamitous bonk – my favorite ride of the entire year, I got back to working a level that I can be happy with again.
Now, for those who have found this post but haven’t been following for long, I have been physically active, non-stop (either running or cycling) for the last thirteen years (maybe fourteen now). I’ve been eating right, or my approximation of that, for years and I am not, in any measure of the word, fat. That doesn’t change the fact that I know when I’m phoning it in and when I can do better… In other words, being fit and losing weight doesn’t have a finish line. It doesn’t have a point where I can spike the football and take it easy. Physical fitness is a constant, a way of life. It always gets faster and better, or it gets worse… I didn’t get in this predicament overnight and it’ll take a few weeks to come back, but the important point I must focus on now is that the very minute I recognized a flaw in my routine, I set about fixing it. I can sleep easy knowing I did what was right today. Where I struggle is when I choose something less.
Being fit hurts, though the dull pain lasts only a short while – especially when compared with the brutal sting of complacency…or worse, of lethargy. As long as I am doing the next right thing at any given moment, I have the ammo needed to fight back that stinking thinking committee that says, “I am not good enough” or, “I am not worthy”. I only get into trouble when the committee in my melon says I’m a slacker and I have to agree. Being fit is all about honesty with oneself. We can claim a gray area, we can obfuscate and manipulate, hoping that pacifies the melon brigade, but it never will. This is depression wearing a different cloak.
There is a bright side though! Once you shed the lying and lethargy, then learn to beat the melon committee, there’s no handhold left for stinking thinking.
The only constant in life is change. As our lives change, we adapt to that change, often with a skill-set the we learned as wee lads and lasses. As we shed those childish skills and come to find a new way of life, happily fit, we develop new ways to adapt and life gets better. Unfortunately, every now and again we choose the old way to cope and that causes problems which must be overcome if we are to grow. This is where I was on Sunday. By Monday I was back on the bike.
Feeling (or worse, being) fat, slow and lazy isn’t a sentence, it’s a call to action.
The question is are you paying attention, because the response counts.
I sucked on Sunday for the Assenmacher 100… The first thirty miles were excellent, my legs loosened up after the first ten miles or so and I felt good. There were small problems though, like the talent pool was more like me and less like the twenty racers we had to hide behind last year…and the pace was still pretty close. I took a few short-ish pulls up front but spent a lot of time hiding.
I was smiling as we pulled into the second rest stop (we always skip the first). I topped off a bottle with Gatorade, had a couple of PB&J corners, a white chocolate & macadamia nut cookie and was ready to go.
The next fifteen got progressively worse. I switched around my saddle a couple of weeks ago and when I hit a pothole that felt more like a fjord, it nosed down about a half inch. I tried to eyeball it and nosed it up too much by about three millimeters…which meant I couldn’t ride in the drops comfortably. Add to that a nice little bonk and I was off the back before I knew it. Fortunately, Matt went first so he led us out on a shortcut that put us in front of the group so we could latch back on. I stayed with them for another four miles or so before falling off the back again, this time for good… As the group faded, I knew I was in trouble. 45+ miles out and bonked. Then I came to an unmarked intersection… I should have gone straight but I was distracted by a work call (on Sunday) so I was sure they turned. Oops.
Ten miles later I knew I was in trouble, bonked and lost. I programmed in my home address and got to creeping home. Five miles more and after I completely ran dry of Gatorade in the middle of nowhere, I called my wife. I quit.
Waiting on the side of the road I had a come to Merckx (so to speak) moment, and a much needed discussion with my inner punk-ass-bitch. The main gist went like this: There were a few minor issues I had to work through but the sad truth is it’s been a month since I really busted my ass on my bike – sure I worked some in the mountains, but when I started surpassing my cycling buds I got complacent on my training rides. Sure I still worked hard and I went pretty fast, but I didn’t keep the pressure on and that led to the one big problem with cycling fast: Everyone who can ride fast knows, including me, that if you’re not getting faster, you are getting slower. So the question was, do I want to live with the slower me or do I want to buck up and start working again?
Basically, with a whole bunch of explicatives in that inner discussion (I’ll leave those out), I kicked my inner punk-ass-bitch’s ass. When I got home from the office yesterday, I really went to work on him. I set out to make the first ten miles of my ride hurt. With the club ride tomorrow, I wanted to leave the last six to spin my legs loose. Now this isn’t really recommended – after a long, hard bonking ride, to go back out the next day and hammer, but I needed to kick my butt a little bit.
The idea was simple really. I started out fast and every time I wanted to slow up a bit I pedaled harder until I hit the ten mile mark, then I sat up and cruised home after stopping at the shop to let Matt know I was good and to level out my saddle (forgot before I left so that ten miles was quite rough).
For those who might wonder about saddle tilt, the concept is simple. Nosing the saddle up helps you to sit more upright – it supports that position best. On the other hand, nosing the saddle down promotes riding low but too much and you have to work to keep your bum on the saddle. Most suggest, and I agree, that perfectly level is best though there is certainly room for disagreement.
More on my mess in the next post…
For the last week I’ve felt like I’m pedaling through two inches of mud. I’ve had a tough time getting comfortable in the saddle and my power is, put simply, still on vacation in Georgia.
Speaking of vacation in Georgia, I was excited to come home – I was feeling strong driving home after an excellent week in the mountains. I’ve been stronger down there, I had a tough time on my nemesis climb (it kicked my butt this year) but I still felt great.
My first ride back home was strong and was very fast – faster than normal by maybe a mile or two per hour. Good news going into my big “A” ride of the year, where we should average 23-24 mph over the first sixty on open roads (open roads shave 2 mph off of the average at that speed, having to stop for traffic signs and lights) and drop down to 22 going through the hills after that. That’s this morning by the way, the Assenmacher 100.
After a rain day on Tuesday, I hit my normal route feeling like I had tar on my tires (Mrs. Bgddy felt the same way) on Wednesday. At first I didn’t sweat it, but when I felt the same on Thursday I started getting nervous. On Friday I was frantic. Yesterday, panic… Then I realized, about 3/4’s of the way through my ride, that my sweat wasn’t salty. Light on electrolytes. Then I started thinking back: That whole week in the mountains I drank maybe two or three small Gatorades – and my struggles started to make sense.
Add to that the fact that I ate a lot on vacation and I’ve been feeling a little chunky all week long (and this “feeling” was exacerbated by what turned out to be an electrolyte imbalance). So until yesterday I was going into this ride thinking I was in deep trouble, even if I hadn’t written about it this week. Yesterday I started pounding Gatorade as soon as I got back and I’m hoping that helps (I do feel a little more normal today but let’s face it – with your confidence in the crapper, the last thing you want to do is go straight into a fast century).
So, what to do? I’m going to suck it up and roll, because that’s what we do. I’m going to give it my best to get to the finish line and if I bonk, I bonk. More after the ride. Right now, it’s time to get ready…
So, what do you do when you’re feeling fat and slow leading into a century? Three Ups.
Suck it up, suit up and show up.
I’m not going to shake that fat feeling on the couch.
You’ve finally found the aerobic exercise that you can love and you’re pumped. You’ve got yourself a decent bike and you’ve got your eyes on another steed – this next bike is pure eye-candy, like this one:
Yes, you’re well on your way. You’re up to a 18 mph average and you feel stronger every day… Better yet, you feel healthy and it is good. Life is exciting and far less stressful.
If that wasn’t enough, you’ve got diarrhea of the mouth, your spouse is going to spit fire the next time you mention new wheels and you’ve resorted to hiding receipts from the local bike shop(s).
Yeah, I know… My wife caught up to me with the bank statement. Damn bank statements.
Anyway, after dropping about ten grand on bikes and gear and having gained a sh!t-ton of knowledge in a relatively short period of time, I figured I’d share a few tips – some that I wish I’d heeded, others I’ve seen. Oh, don’t worry, I’m sure you probably won’t get caught at any of these – who knows, maybe you’re more wise than intelligent. Or maybe not and three years from now you’ll be like, “Oh yeah…”
For riding in a group
1. You don’t have to announce to the group that you’re a noob, we already know.
2. Don’t announce that you’re slow. Yup, we know, but that’ll change (different rules for a no-drop ride).
3. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Nobody else does, why buck the trend?
4. Don’t, under any circumstances, be an asshole or a whiner – if either is the case, prepare to be tore up every time you ride with the group. Even I, the great and powerful BgddyJim, cannot resist tearing up a whiner.
5. Don’t be cocky. There is a veritable phonebook’s worth of people, locally, who will happily hand your ass to you. Seen it and it is funny.
6. Use the arm flick with your wife (husband) at home. Watching TV and you want your wife to flip to the game to check the score real quick? Classic arm flick opportunity. Just remember to duck immediately afterward. Time for hubby to cut the grass or make the bed? Arm flick. That shit never gets old. Funniest example I’ve ever read: “I use the arm flick to let my wife know it’s time to make me a sammich.”
7. If you’re a strong climber, back off a little on the hills for the group (guilty as charged), that is unless it’s a competitive club ride. In that case, kick their asses (just be prepared for the attack after you drop off the lead – it will happen).
8. You will look like a doofus every now and again. Don’t be punk, laugh at it because it’s funny.
For riding solo
1. Obey the rules of the road. You’ll be hated by an alarming portion of the community just for being on the road, no need to make that portion larger.
2. Ride hard.
3. Stats are cool. Being someone everyone wants to ride with because you’re fun to be around is way cooler.
4. Use the metric system if you can because “I hit 90 kilometers an hour” sounds way cooler than “I hit 56 miles an hour”.
At the bike shop
1. Mess with the mechanics. When they recommend an excellent product (tires, new crank, tire pump, chain lube, etc.) ask, “won’t that make me slower?” Case in point, kid at the shop is two minutes away from his pro mountain biking card – he knows his stuff, recommends a new tire for me because the new minimal tread design is a vast upgrade on wet pavement… “Won’t that make me slower?” It’ll be good for a laugh – unless he’s witty and catches you… IE: “Nah, not enough that you’ll notice.” Dammit!
2. Don’t mess with other customers, no matter how stupid they are. “What? WD-40 is awesome for chains!” Don’t go near that guy. The shop owner has to service dopes too – and there are a lot of them.
3. Unless you’ve spent a considerable amount of cash at the shop, try to avoid taking your internet purchase to the shop to be fixed – or be prepared to pay big to have it serviced.
4. Stop in every now and again just to say hi.
In the general population
1. Don’t get diarrhea of the mouth. Nobody gives a crap that you’re a cyclist so keep the stories to a minimum, two minutes max.
2. Nobody is listening to you after five minutes.
3. Your spouse loves that you’re healthier – at first. Next comes indifference followed by anger and jealousy. Don’t push too hard – he/she will come around after the anger and jealousy turn to inspiration.
4. If your wife won’t get into cycling, buy her a really nice bike. It worked with mine.
5. Don’t talk, ride. Nobody, and I mean nobody, likes a braggart.
6. Get used to believing this: What I do is neat but it’s not all that big of a deal. I am a member of the cycling community and I must add to that great group, not detract from it.