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Cycling and Some Down Time, the Good, Bad and Painful.

November 2015

August and September were huge cycling months for me, more than a thousand miles each month.  August was a perfect 31 for 31 days,  averaging more than 30 miles a day. And it was good.

Then came October and hunting season I went from 200 miles a week to 50 or 60 on alternating weeks… I wasn’t sedentary, of course, I was hiking anywhere from an hour to an hour and a half a day, carrying anywhere from 20 to 60 pounds the whole time. Still, it wasn’t the same as rocketing down the road on the Venge.

The end of October into November, we were up north hunting two weekends in a row… Throw in some rain days and my mileage plummeted… 400 miles in October and I’ve only got 125 so far this month…

So, the bad and the painful of this little saga (and I do mean little): It never ceases to amaze me how much slowing down hurts once I’m used to riding on a daily basis. My back started hurting first, but not so much a simple pain reliever couldn’t knock it down… There were other little aches and pains too but nothing that amounted to more than thinking, “This aching sucks”.

There’s a good side to this though…

Now I’m back into decent mileage again… I rode Monday and Wednesday… 40-60 mph wind gusts Thursday and Friday meant off days but nice, if cold, weather meant my friends and I were getting some miles in this weekend. Now, like many amateur cyclists, I was all kinds of nervous about being able to keep up. My friends, who don’t hunt, have been riding while I’ve been up in the great outdoors. I assumed I’d lost some fitness to them.

I was wrong.

We started out heading dead into a gnarly 10-15 mph wind, me first. I was on my Venge and pulled for two miles and headed back. My buddy Chuck, on his brand new stealth Giant TCR Advanced Pro kept my pace and I’d really been working so it appeared as though my fears were confirmed. Mike did the same but Phill dropped us back 1 mph… For the first ten miles or so I thought I was going to be bummin’ but I just kept cranking on the pedals. Mike started struggling first. We were still heading dead into the wind and it was starting to pick up. He was staying up front for a mile or two but his speed was sagging. Then Phill… Chuck and I however, kept our normal pace. 25 miles in and I was still taking two mile pulls and we finally headed for home with a tailwind.

I was feeling surprisingly good. Strong even. I found myself pedaling easy at 23 up front, with plenty left but I kept it there so I wouldn’t blow Mike up.

At least for yesterday, I was completely wrong. The break did me well. I came out of the rest in better shape, rested and rarin’ to go.

Go figure.

I can’t help but wonder what that ride would have been like, had I thought myself into struggling rather than keeping an open mind.

You might want to read that last sentence again.

Now we’ll just have to see how today goes.

UPDATE: Even better than yesterday… Bridged a couple of gaps, easily, and just enjoyed the ride right up until I parked my bike. 42 miles and some change. Perfect weather and good friends.

Our friend Greg snapped this:

That’s my wife, up front with Dave and his wife…. She does a fella proud. Enough cyclists for a double pace line in the middle of November?! Unprecedented yet awesome.


  1. velo26 says:

    I always used to laugh when the older guys moaned about aches and pains. Now that I am there it’s not so funny.

  2. Dan says:

    Do a study on muscle memory. You were experiencing that. I used to not ride in the winter, even when I was doing, for me, serious miles. (translated that means about 4K per year). I’d get back on the bike and always be surprised how easy my first rides were. I’m hoping that stays true through my current deal. I only did 200 in October and only 20 this month. If you ride today, you may be slower, but so what! You’ll ride and love it anyway!! RIDE ON!

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks Dan, I think it was more a need of some down time… I’d been going at it pretty hard for five or six months on very short rest. Either way, it’s all good.

  3. Tony says:

    Thanks for this write up. It was interesting and instructive to me in a number of ways. At 75 I find that I mostly ride alone, although lots of times my dog joins me in her basket on the front. So, I don’t have much experience of riding with others and having others pull in front to draft. Because of my age, I can’t ride for miles into a 15-20 mph wind any more. My alternative to that is ‘circuits’ or ‘horseshoes.’ What I do is ride a quarter to half mile into the wind at a good (for me) speed. Then I turn 90 degrees and ride a short distance with the wind across my bow. The I turn and ride a quarter to half mile with the wind at my back. I find I can still get in 20 miles or so this way no matter how bad the wind is. I think this is a variation on High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) that works very well for conditioning athletes. At any rate, that’s how a lone rider does it. lol An old lone rider.

    • bgddyjim says:

      Thanks Tony, glad you liked it. We’ve got an older group too, guys in their late 60’s to late 70’s. I think it’s awesome that you’re riding still at 75… My great aunt rode will into her 90’s. Keep up the good work, sir.

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