It was close to 75 when cleats clipped into pedals, at 7:15 am, in Michigan, that’s kind of a big deal. The temp was forecast to top 90 well before we returned to the parking lot. In Florida that’s Tuesday, we only see a handful of those days way up here just a couple hour’s drive from the 45th parallel. That means one thing for me: A lot of work cycling with my friends. For some crazy reason I’m blessed with an amazing body temp regulation system when I’m on a bike. While others are struggling I’m usually having a fine ole time of it. On hot days, when I’m with my friends (in this case, Mike, Phill and Carla) I spend an inordinate amount of time up front or second bike.
Every once in a while I can form a minor resentment at having to do all of that work… Until I get home and complain to my wife who promptly reminds me that I love being that guy. And she’s right, I do. Today was not one of those rare days. I was happy with my role as that first drop of sweat hit my top tube. I was still smiling when we pulled into the parking lot 65 miles later. I do love being that guy. The uninitiated would ignorantly write that off to an over-inflated ego or a superiority complex but that’s not it at all. A guy with an over-inflated ego or superiority complex would bury everyone in the group so he/she could then listen to everyone talk about how strong he/she is. For some, a minority, that may be the case.
To the initiated, we’re happy to be that person. We’re glad that we have the ability to help our group – to be of use. Two days before I came home from vacation, my compadre Mike called and told me that I had to come home, that he needed me to help carry our group because he was tired. That was music to my ears. It does me good to know that the people I ride with can ride just a little faster and a little farther because I’m in the group.
So halfway through the ride, well a little more than halfway, we stopped at a convenience store and I picked up what has become my favorite mid-ride snack, one of those tiny bottles of Coke and a Snickers (I prefer a Payday because they have more peanuts but the store we stopped at didn’t have them in stock). For Noobs, before you recoil at the horror of drinking a soda and eating a candy bar, relax. There’s a method to the madness: The caffeine and sugar in the coke provide and excellent, quick boost. In the Snickers, you’ve got the sugar boost and some decent longer burning fuel in the peanuts. If you’re feeling it a little bit, that combo can absolutely turn you around. The trick is not tapping that resource more than once or twice in a long ride.
The temperature was already well into the upper 80’s and it was getting to a point where I could feel the heat radiate back off of the road surface no matter how fast I was going… That’s when you know it’s hot.
I did my part for the rest of the ride. I took 6-10 minute turns up front, kept a consistent pace, didn’t cook anyone on the hills* and when one of the others looked like they were flagging a little in the heat, I went around to give them a little more time to rest at the back. We made a command decision to cut the ride a little short because Carla’s got a sprint Tri today at our last stop… I chose a cold fruit punch PowerAde that absolutely hit the spot. I topped off one of by bottles with PowerAde and drank the rest and we were off..
The wind had not been favorable to our choice of routes though it wasn’t really all that strong (only about 5 mph). We started out with the wind at our back and ate it all the way home. With about ten miles to go though, I noticed some clouds building on the horizon. They were not the pretty, wispy clouds. They were the “it would behoove you to pedal a little harder” variety. We did, and pulled into the parking lot with just five minutes to spare…
Last week, with vacation, I ended up with only 60 miles for the week. After yesterday’s 67 miles and today’s 50 (give or take), I’ll cap the week with a minimum of 220 miles – right back on track. Yesterday’s ride wasn’t very fast, we only averaged 18 mph when it was all said and done but considering the heat and the finishing temp of better than 90 degrees, I was more than happy with it. In fact, I had a fantastic time. It’s good to be back without missing a beat.
*I have a tendency to push too hard in the hills and I end up dropping people, unintentionally. I’ve had to really pay attention to who I’m riding with when we get into hills… It’s a delicate balance. Of course, on Tuesday night I get dropped in the hills, so there’s that too.