Yesterday evening was perfect for cycling. Now, allow me to be very clear here: Any day that it isn’t raining, snowing, sleeting, hailing or blowing beyond what can be considered “Gail-force winds” is pretty much a great day for a ride (notice I left out freezing?).
That said, a great day should never be confused with a perfect day.
A perfect day for a bike ride is thusly described for those troglodytes who don’t ride a bicycle: The good bike was cleaned and lubed early that morning. Not a cloud in the sky. Temperature between 75 and 79 (a perfect 77 in this case). Single-digit breeze between 4 & 7 mph (just enough to feel but not enough to be difficult to cut through).
Last evening was one of those unicorn days. And. It. Was. Freaking. Awesome.
Of course, you can’t win them all… the roads I was stuck with having dropped my girls at swim practice, sucked but I was okay with that. I sucked it up.
Instead of my normal 17 mile course, I extended it by a few to make it an even 20. After a hard 120 mile Saturday and Sunday, and the club ride for tomorrow, I was forced to take it easy and stick to simply spinning my legs ’round. I was a little fast but dammit, it was a perfect day! It’s amazing that I kept it to 18 mph!
Actually, I wanted to blast it so bad that I had to have a fairly continuous smack down going on the committee.
A good, hard day’s work followed by an awesome perfect bike ride… It can get better than that but a lot has to go right.
Keeping my mind occupied so I can enjoy a productive, sober life used to be an order of magnitude harder before I got into fitness. Gratitude was fleeting. Tolerance may have been our code but I didn’t practice it well.
Anyway, with a big long weekend coming up, I’m feeling pretty good about life on two wheels and in general lately. As long as I do the next right thing and “keep my side of the street clean”, good things happen.
My wife and I are growing vastly more competent on our new tandem.
Our test ride (23-1/2 miles) was a little rough and slow because the bike setup was simply “eyeballed”. Still, it was obviously enjoyable enough for us to buy the bike.
Our second foray (44 miles) was awesome for the first 3o-ish miles and a meltdown thereafter. We were both sweating the idea that maybe we’d be better off sticking with solo bikes.
Then we went on two rides during the week, Wednesday and Friday (16 and 30 miles respectively) that were aimed at getting us working together. They succeeded and wildly exceeded my expectations. Our outlook on the tandem improved exponentially.
Then came yesterday’s 50 miler… It started out awesome. We were headed into a stiff cross headwind but we were cutting into it fairly well between 19 and 21 mph. We were working excellently together and our pace was fantastic. I learned too… Where I would normally have worn knee and arm warmers for 58 degrees, I left them home. My wife and I were hiding behind another tandem but we took a nice long turn up front too and I wasn’t having to work as hard as last Sunday’s jaunt. Mrs. Bgddy was cranking out good wattage. I’d also spent some time thinking, the day before, about how I could be a better, more efficient captain – and I came up with a good one. During the group rides I had a tendency to try too hard to hold a wheel. Wind simply isn’t the same on a tandem and there’s a little more room to let a gap form because it’s not all that hard to make it up in a few pedal strokes. The ride went smoother for my lack of urgency – so much that Mrs. Bgddy actually commented about 20 miles in that I was doing a much better job of captaining the bike. Excellent news.
Then we hit 30 miles and my wife started to bonk. It got messy, quick. Not necessarily between us, but she was fading fast. There were even some tears. It got so bad, I was at max power trying to hold the other tandem’s wheel and could barely keep up. When I started running out of juice, I told my wife I was was fading and needed help. She was good for a couple of miles.
I offered for everyone else to go on ahead but they slowed the pace and let us stay with them. The rest of the ride was uneventful and she even came back quite a bit for a strong finish.
We pulled into the driveway, ate, napped and showered… and talked about the ride.
It seems we found my wife’s limit on the tandem – 30 to 35 miles (on a solo bike it’s 40). This will increase as time goes but we’re going to have an interesting time trying to extend her rides in the meantime.
The meltdown did nothing to tamp either of our enthusiasm, of course. We simply know we have some work to do.
I was prepared for this, I’ve lived it for years, trying to get the hydration, nutrition and effort right. What my wife went through was no fun but she’ll be stronger for it in the end. Concentrating on the positive, the first 30 miles were an absolute joy and I am looking forward to getting comfortable with the longer distances (30 miles is nice but it’s not enough for a weekend ride).
All in good time.
I am not a walker. I’d sooner have my butt waxed than go for a walk. I accept who I am.
2:40:12 cycling, 1 minute of walking.
Yep, that’s about right. Technically, that counted a five minute stop but whatever… That’s close enough.
Btw, that’s 48-1/2 miles over that 2:35 on the tandem. I tried to get my wife to take some pictures while we were riding but she… um… was not in the mood. Mrs. Bgddy took a detour through Bonksville. Tears, a constant need to shift position on the bike… I didn’t react well at first but it didn’t take long to realize what was going on so I did what I could to be understanding and a good all-around guy. She came back after a few miles and the ride ended well.
A small group of us rode almost 72 miles yesterday, in 3:45:20… that’s a shade better than 19 miles per hour. The first 65 were easy. At no time in that first 3 hours and change did I struggle to keep pace. I rode that ride with a smile on my face and thoroughly enjoyed myself.
That last seven miles, however, was brutal. I went from positive, happy-go-lucky to “Holy crap, can I crawl home?!” seemingly at the flip of a switch. We only stopped once, about 42 miles in, for a quick restroom/bottle of Coke/Payday break and that was part of the issue.
We went out, into the wind expecting it to push us home. We were not so lucky. The wind shifted on us shortly after we turned for home.
So we cross over 60 miles and I’m still good but I can feel my energy flagging. I decided to push through it rather than fire down a Gu. Sure enough, that was a mistake. Two miles later, my legs hurt, my back hurt, and my butt was more than a little honked off. Should have had that Gu.
Not only that, traffic was getting thick and with a big crosswind, we were all eating it.
Now here’s some context… Next Saturday I’ve got my first century of the year. Not only that, we’ve got some mountain climbs in that one. If I’m struggling on 70…? I played the mind game for a mile.
“I should just sit up.” “I’m just tired and hungry, we’ll be stopping every 20 miles next week so it’s no big deal if I sit up here and spin home.”
Instead, I put my head down, got down in the drops and told the committee to shut up and buckle up, it was about to get bumpy.
I made it back just fine and even started to feel quite a bit better in the last two miles.
All too often, my assessment of my condition on the bike, even after all of the miles (30,000+), is lacking. I have a lot more in me than I sometimes think when I’m in the middle of a grind.
Every now and again I have to will myself home. I have to grit my teeth, grip the drops and grind out some hard miles if I’m going to stay with my friends.
On the other hand, once I give up and leave the draft, there’s not much chance I’m getting back. There is no gray area. I’m either in or out.
Most days it’s not all that dramatic. I hammer that $#!+ out and it’s all good. Then there are days like yesterday, where I have to tell the committee to sit down, shut it and buckle up.
Everyone should be lucky enough to have my problems.
We’ve got 50 glorious miles on tap for today, on the tandem.
I have several rules, irrespective of the greater Velominati Rules, that I live by. I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while and think I’ve got it fairly nailed down, though I’m certain additions will be necessary.
These are not rules meant for you to follow, if you read the title carefully… Did you notice that “I” in there? I am simply offering them so others may digest them as they see fit.
In no particular order:
1. Ride in a manner that puts a smile on my face. I don’t care how anyone else thinks one should ride, or what style of bike should be ridden. I ride hard, fast and on pavement on a ridiculously expensive and lightweight bicycle. That’s what makes me smile.
2. A clean, lubed bike is a quiet, fast bike. I keep my bikes clean and sharp because they look awesome and ride better.
3. Look good, ride good. This is not rocket science.
4. Have a backup bike for crappy weather. This is an important rule for me. I don’t want to gunk up my good bike so I keep a decent rain bike.
5. Saddlebags are ugly. I would keep one on my rain bike but it’s not necessary. I have a pouch that fits everything in my back pocket. No bag necessary. While I am not opposed in the least to them on other’s bikes, they look ugly on my Venge.
6. Rest is what you do between daily bike rides. I believe in rest days. One. A month. Between May and October. And maybe rain days. If I don’t feel like getting wet.
7. Anything less that 19 mph for an average is active recovery. Period.
8. Do thy best to support thy mates in a pace line. One of my favorite lines I’ve ever written about cycling is, “I’d rather flame out, blow up, bonk and get dropped than hide at the back of the pack.” There is nobility in hiding when riding above one’s capability but even so, I have a tough time not taking my turn save a few times a year.
9. Black and Red. It took me a long time to get here, a journey through red, white and blue notwithstanding, the road bikes shall be red on black. That color scheme is amazing. And awesome. And cool.
10. Bikes are the best, most cost effective way to celebrate one’s midlife crisis. I ride the equivalent of a Ferrari. It cost 100 times less than a Ferrari. Oh, and a tune up on my bike costs about a hundred bucks. A tune up on a Ferrari? Meh, about $30,000. In other words, a bike runs on fat. A sports car runs on my wallet.
11. Suit up. Even I, the great and powerful Bgddy, run into a case of the “f*** its” from time to time. Not surprisingly, it’s usually below freezing outside when that case shows up. As long as I suit up, I’ll make it out the door and I’ll be in better shape for it.
12. Spending good money on good equipment is worth it. While deals can be found, spending the money on good equipment is worth the investment. Feeling like I’m riding on barbed wire because I decided to spend $30 on a pair of bottom-of-the-line cycling shorts is not money well spent. That pain is unnecessary.
13. Coffee. Lots.
14. Don’t be an @$$hole. I’d bet every club out there has at least one. Some I’ve read about are infested with them. I shall not contribute to that caucus.
15. Thy guns shall be gleaming. I shave the guns, toes to cheek. It doesn’t matter that it’s faster or “pro”, both of which are true. It looks right and my wife digs it… Until I run her out of hot water knocking down the forest.
16. It’s all about the fun. Life is too damn short to worry about a bunch of damned rules. This post is book-ended by the same rule: Thou shalt enjoy thy ride.
Well, technically it’s 119 but whatever, that’s definitely closer than government work.
Next week is the Horsey Hundred so we’ve got 70 miles on the docket for tomorrow and 50 for Sunday. The weather finally normalized too, so it’s sunshine and 70’s all week long.
I rode solo on Monday, an easy 16. Tuesday was the club ride, so 37 there. Then, for Wednesday, Mrs. Bgddy and I took the tandem out for 16. Yesterday was a fun 20, all after work. This morning, between work calls, which were constant, my wife and I managed to squeeze in 30. Add them up and that should be 119.
It was a perfect morning for a ride too. Sunny, 60’s, with a gentle breeze and my wife and I are making great strides in working together. The local bike shop owner’s wife said today that it seems tandems have a tendency to tear a marriage apart or bring the couple closer. As long as we keep this up, it’ll definitely be the latter for us.
In any event, I’ll end up with about 240 for the week… Then next week is the Horsey Hundred in Kentucky so other than Tuesday night, I’ll be riding easy all week… Till Saturday, then it’s gonna be @$$holes and elbows!