Now, because I don’t ride with a power meter, and likely won’t ever bother with the expense, I really don’t have a lot to go on other than what amounts to educated guesses…
My ride yesterday was supposed to be slow but my wife developed a bad clunk in her bottom bracket. Technically, it was several clunks and it got worse, rapidly. My initial thought was dirt or grit in the crank, but the way it came on and kept getting worse, combined with our plans for some serious miles this weekend, I didn’t want to take any chances, just to find out it was something mechanical… I suggested my wife head home immediately so she could take the bike to the shop. She asked if I wanted to ride home or if I would be continuing with my ride. I chose to finish my ride, that personal best mileage for the week won’t ride itself now, will it?
I started off with a decent 18 mph crosswind that I thought would hurt me, but quickly wound it up from our 15-16 mph pace to 21 to 22. About half-way into that first mile, I thought it would be neat to try to race my wife to the bike shop – I had six miles to get there, she had two plus putting her bike in the car and the drive to the shop… And the race was on. A quarter-mile later I turned into the wind, figuring 18 would probably be pretty good. An odd thing happened though, 18 into the wind just felt too easy so I wound it up to 20. Now that was more like it. I held that for three miles, then turned north for the last two miles back up to 21-22. I made it to the shop, a little better than six miles, in less than 18 minutes and beat my wife there by ten more.
I’d called ahead to the shop first, so they were ready when my wife showed up for her bike. Long story short, it was grit in the crank. The mechanic took it apart, lubed it up, put it back together and I was out the door, heading home in less than 30 minutes. Now, the question was, do I take it easy or hammer that last five miles home? My legs, to start, felt really sluggish after sitting around for 40 minutes but after a quarter-mile I was able to spin them up and I put the hammer down. 22 mph with the crosswind…and then…TAILWIND. 24 felt way too easy, 26… Still too slow. 27, 28 on a nasty road surface, I had to bunny-hop a few potholes so took it back down to 26 for safety’s sake and flew for home.
I had my head down, in the drops so I my field of vision wasn’t the best. I noticed a guy walking on the side of the road about 200 yards but decided not to announce the typical “on your left” because I have a tendency to startle people with that and they tend to turn directly into my path as a knee-jerk reaction… Instead, I worked to the middle of the road (back road, no traffic) and picked up speed. As I went by, all I heard was, “… You know what, I’m not going to put that in print – let’s just say the poor fella was startled. And cursing, but I was rolling so fast that I couldn’t make out what he was saying after the first few words that I’d have grounded one of my daughters a month for loosing. Well, apparently stealth doesn’t work either. I suppose it’s not every day you have a cyclist ride past you at more than 25 mph.
I felt like a heel, though not enough to slow down.
In the end, if I look at it as an eleven mile time trial, I’d have easily been between 22 and 23 mph with four miles of headwind, five miles of crosswind and only two miles of tailwind…and I didn’t give it everything I had – I wasn’t close to wiped out when I pulled into the driveway. This season, early as it is, has been remarkable. I’m at or above my tip-top shape at the height of last season. I’ve spent a lot of really hard miles on the road but I’ve also spent many more cycling with my wife at what I consider a really easy pace (between 16 and 18 mph average). I don’t know how I’m still getting faster, but I am and it is good.