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.
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.
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.