It’s July 11th, one full month ago and I’m on vacation. Mrs. Bgddy and I decide to take a day off of the bikes to swim and tube on Lake Burton. We had a blast and didn’t miss our short ride one bit. Fast forward to yesterday, August 11…
It was a perfect, if windy, day for a bike ride. 80 degrees (F), obviously sunny, and wonderful. Um, did I mention it was windy? Something about Tuesdays and wind this year… The rest of the week, no wind. Tuesdays? Windmills start to make sense, but only on Tuesday.
The warm up was spirited, Mike was feeling feisty, Phill was feeling like a million bucks and my wife and I were a little haggard but I was up for Mike’s cat and mouse shenanigans. So was Phill. The wind was odd though… It wasn’t heavy, that’s the best way to describe it… There are those days when a 14 mph wind can hurt you, even in the drops but last night it felt as though I could get low and cut through it. 19 mph wasn’t feeling difficult at all.
We laughed and chuckled and snapped a few photos at the starting line before setting out at an easy 18. Then 19 and we settled out at 20, Mike and I in the lead. We fell back after the first mile, about eight or ten guys before the folks who hide opened up a hole for me – plenty of time to recover before my next tur… And all hell broke loose.
The pace instantly jumped to 23 and it was on. 21 to 23 after our turn into the wind and it was ugly – tough to find the draft. We were headed north, dead into the teeth of the wind and I didn’t miss a turn up front (you get faster up front). The turnover was a lot faster due to the wind and the torrid pace… I can’t even tell you how fast we were going because I didn’t think to look at my computer, a telltale sign that we’re cruising hard.
One more turn up front and a hard left and we had a cross tailwind. 24 mph and we were rocking. We still cycled through the order too fast. Then I found myself up front with Greg. If there’s a fastest guy in our group, he is him. A veritable hammer. 25 mph, 26… I did my level best to match him – and that’s the pull that burned me. Oh, I hung on for another five miles but I was torched.
I dropped maybe two-thirds of the way up the first set of hills, and I wasn’t the only one. Matt and I rode together, then we picked up a third, and dropped him on the fourth climb. We sat up and tried to wait for him but he wasn’t coming so Matt and I pushed on. Then one of the mechanics from the shop, ironically named Mike, came cruising up, having ridden the course backwards.
We formed up and Mike, normally a “C” cyclist, put the hammer down on us. Matt took a shortcut to split up the headwind and I let Mike go, guessing he’d be back… I was right, so I passed him and kept it pegged at 20-21, fairly decent into that wind.
I was leading for a mile and a half when we turned right, for home and a tailwind. I kept at it for another two miles at 22-24. Normally that’s a lot longer than I’d spend up front but I’ve been working on pushing past that point of uncomfortable resistance where I normally drop back for a rest… it turns out, in certain circumstances and at tightly controlled speeds (21-23 mph flat, no wind, 19-21 headwind, 23-25 tailwind – give or take of course), I can actually recover quite a bit at the front if I just keep at it for 20 or 30 seconds after reaching that point. Now, if I try that going a little faster, if I’m too close to that anerobic zone, I’ll cook myself and I’ll be out of it for several miles… Still, it’s interesting stuff.
I crossed the finish line alone, at 21.5 mph average and considering how much time I had to spend cutting my own air, I had only dropped a couple of tenths of one mile an hour from my average when I dropped with the group… Only two minutes slower over the 29 miles when we had six guys sharing the effort.
The final bit of “neat” to cap the evening off, goes back to that first paragraph… It’s been 30 straight days since my last day “off the bike”. I’ve averaged 33.76 miles per day for a grand total of 1,013 miles in that month-long stretch. Now, I have no idea how long I’ll be able to keep this pace up… That’s a long time to go without a day off. I suppose we’ll see when rain gives me an excuse to do so. I thought that was going to be a couple of days ago but it cleared up and I went out for a nice little jaunt with my wife on the mountain bikes.
I need a day or two, there’s no doubt, but I’d rather wait for weather to force the rest.