Straight off the trainer I rode 17-1/2 miles on Thursday, 35 Friday, 50 Saturday, and another 52 Sunday. Not a bad four-day tally this early in the season, especially after the never-ending winter. Monday seemed like a good day for a day off, or at the most, an short, easy active recovery ride….
There was a problem, though; it was 71° (21 C), sunny, with a light breeze. The first shorts and short sleeves day of 2018.
So, scratch the day off. No chance I’m polishing the leather couch with my butt when it’s 70° outside. I called my buddy, Chuck and Jonathan had asked by text if I was riding at 5… We got lucky and moved everything up to 4pm as well – bonus miles.
We started with a mild tailwind. 22 mph was easy, 23 took some effort, but I’d promised Chuck we’d take it easy after the stretch of weekend miles. I kept it around 22 and we just rolled down the road. It was wonderful to be outside minus the thermal layers!
I took the first two miles, then Chuck took a turn, then Jonathan. We kept a nice turnover going and every one took long turns up front. We were riding like a finely tuned machine. Heading south we encountered our first bit of headwind. We did quite well with it, though. We managed two mile turns at 19-20 mph. We stopped at a gas station at mile 14 because Jonathan’s rear derailleur needed to be indexed to get the clicking out of it… I showed him how to do it in ten seconds, we took a drink and rolled.
For the next ten-ish miles we had one form or tailwind or another – mostly cross, but every once in a while we’d hit a stretch with a dead-on tailwind. We rolled pretty fast through there, taking care to maximize the draft – there wasn’t much riding on the hoods, it was all drops and all go.
The final twelve were always going to be the toughest, we knew that going in. In my neck of the woods, if we want to get to the quiet roads during the week, we have to go south and west… When we’ve got a southeast wind (as we often do during springtime) that usually means the last bit of the ride is going to be mostly headwind.
Fortunately, Jonathan is a pastor of a local church and he isn’t able to get out in the morning on the weekends… so he had fresh legs. I let him know right up front that we were going to ride him like a rented mule and we did. And he stayed took us home like a champ. Chuck and I would take a mile or two but Jonathan was taking 3 & 4 miles at a chunk, and at almost 22 mph at times.
And that’s where we come to the title of the post. I rode outside four days in a row, now five, fresh off of the trainer and we were crushing out some really tough miles into that cross headwind with nowhere to hide, really. Traffic on that stretch is notoriously bad so we kept it to the shoulder, often riding in a 1′ strip of asphalt, into a cross headwind, at 22 mph. To say it was tough is an understatement, but I was fit enough to hang.
If I hadn’t trained like I do, without fail, without hesitation, and without waiver in intensity, there’s no way that ride goes off like it did. Either I’m looking at the best day of the year from the couch in front of the TV or I’m riding alone because I got dropped (or we’re riding a lot slower as a group, there’s a fair chance Chuck and Jonathan would have waited up). Instead, we got a great workout, in only bibs and jerseys, on a perfect day for a bike ride. We ended up with 36-1/2 miles at a 19.1 mph average pace.
My friends, it doesn’t get any better than that.