When Mrs. Bgddy and I fell asleep last night, I had visions of a group ride dancing in my hea… melon.
I woke up at 4:30am in the morning (thank you Lady Redundant Woman), checked a few emails and promptly fell back asleep – at a few minutes past 6. My wife woke me up with my buddy, Phill on the the other end asking if we were riding. Mrs. Bgddy said it had snowed last night. Not much, though, so I should take a look.
There was only a 10% chance of precipitation when I closed my eyes. 10%, and the roads are covered. And the back roads too.
I’d so thought I was going to be able to crush out the last few days of the year outside – I was actually looking forward to it.
Yesterday was a fluke 52° when we woke up. The roads were wet, bit we never got more than sprinkled on for a few minutes. With the fenders on the Co-Motion tandem (Sponsored by Assenmacher’s Cycling Center*) I didn’t even have to wipe down the bike. And we spent 29.7 glorious miles sweating out an 18-mph average with 15-mph winds from the south. It was spectacularly, fantastically glorious. 18-mph on the tandem at the end of December?! The missus and I are rockin’!
I was just about to throw the good rear wheel on the Trek and get it ready to roll… and now it’ll just be another hour on the trainer.
On the other hand, this is the biggest problem in my life today (that I know of). So that’s not so bad.
Ride easy my friends. Riding hard doesn’t start for three more days.
*Assenmacher’s didn’t sponsor my Co-Motion (or the fenders). The shop did turn the flat-bar tandem into a road tandem for me, but I paid for that. Also, I paid for the fenders, but the owner did have his best mechanic help me install them. It just sounded cheesy and commercialist, in my noodle, to put it that way. I’m a little on the snarky side this morning.
My cycling season ends sometime in November – usually when temps start dipping below freezing. I don’t like riding in the cold – but it’s usually better than riding on the trainer so I put up with it. One thing is certain, though; starting in November, I don’t push the pace. In fact, this year I was slower in the winter than I can ever remember. Rumor has it, Peter Sagan takes a complete month off the bike. I’d go nuts, so I don’t, but I made peace a while back with taking part of November and all of December “easy”. I push easy gears at an enjoyable, comfortable cadence. I go from a 22-23-mph average on Tuesday nights to 15-mph on gravel roads. I enjoy the scenery and the simple pleasure of not being cooped up and riding with my friends. And I enjoy not working at it.
Come January 1st, though, when everyone else is thinking about how they’re going to improve, writing resolutions they probably won’t live up to for more than a couple of weeks, and making plans they’ll abandon within another couple of weeks, I get right to it.
There exists no magic pill, piece of advice, or double-secret pedal stroke that will get me in shape for spring. There exists no magic that will allow one to ride a bicycle down the road at a blistering pace… No, riding fast requires
one two things; pushing hard on the pedals, and not being fat. Even a level of pudginess can be worked around, but fat won’t do.
My plan is very simple – it doesn’t require planning or a whole lot of knowledge. It requires plain old want to.
Come January 1st, my drive switches from enjoying the end of another great cycling season to getting ready for the next one, and I’m already chomping at the bit to get started. I’m actually counting down the days till I can start hammering again.
My training plan is two phases… are you ready?
Come a little closer…. Phase I is…
… push harder on the pedals.
Phase II is…
… push myself away from the dinner table a little sooner.
Let’s just keep this between you and I, eh?
Don’t fart around with resolutions. Push harder on the pedals.
I’m a stove snob when it comes to food. Mainly because I’m a foodie in a cyclist’s body. Some cyclists eat to fuel the ride. I, like many others, ride to eat. I enjoy food immensely.
When it came to breakfast, I always opted for the easy way out in some form of cereal… lately I’m into a hippie maple and flaxseed concoction that, amazingly, tastes quite awesome.
The other day, though, I was in the mood for a couple of eggs. When I have a craving for something good (ie not chocolate, ice cream or Twizzlers) I pay attention. Usually that’s my body’s way of saying, “Yo, we need a specific nutrient down here, get to it, bub.”
I got to thinking there had to be a better way than dragging out a frying pan and making a mess.
I nuked two eggs in a tiny ramekin with a sprinkling of cheese for 90 seconds. Toasted my bagel in a toaster oven for the same amount of time, and slapped the two together.
Perfect. 90 seconds to a hot egg and cheese sammich. Fluffiest egg I’ve ever eaten. Almost souffle quality. Beyond pillowy even.
Wipe the ramekin out, drop it in the dishwasher, done.
My wife’s sister introduced us to meat pies a couple of years ago. First, it was a turkey pot pie the day after Thanksgiving. It was, as one would guess, awesome.
Then my wife dropped a perfect chicken pot pie.
Well, not to be outdone, my wife’s sister dropped a perfect shepherd’s pie on us next.
My wife countered with an excellent rendition of her own and executed a flawless browned cheesy top.
Next her brother-in-law chimed in with a layered shepherd’s pie that looked like it was made directly for Jesus. It was amazing.
My wife, however, just dropped the mic. She cooked up a perfect roast the other day, but we had a lot leftover. It was a big roast.
What you don’t see in that first photo is the roast beef, roasted vegetables, and the gravy.
It was as if a meat and potatoes pie crashed into crack.
Mere words cannot do the amazing dish justice. It was truly restaurant worthy.
So, if you ever see yourself looking at a fair bit of leftovers, put together a shepherd’s pie. It’s fantastic.
I crossed over 10,000 miles yesterday on the way home from a ride with my wife, my best cycling buddy, Mike, and our regular riding friend, Diane. With about three miles to go, we figured out that I’d make the needed mileage to pass 10,000.
I’m five days early. Two weeks ago, I was hoping I’d have a day or two to spare.
On the home stretch, I announced to my friends that I would probably take a few days off. My wife, God bless her, laughed and shouted, “b-u-u-u-u-l-l-l-sh-sh-sh-sh-i-i-it!”
What she didn’t know, actually nobody knew, was that I really was tired. My hip has been bugging me, my feet are a little tender and with five days to spare, I really did think it was time to take a day or two off to get ready for next year.
On the other hand, I feel really good this morning. Maybe it was the entire afternoon lounging around the house yesterday, but my hip pain is gone – entirely, my feet feel good, and it didn’t take me any “warm-up time” to get moving this morning.
The weather this morning is supposed to be great for a ride, too. It’s going to be cold, it’s below freezing, but just barely. Next to yesterday, 30° should feel pretty balmy.
Oh, and I didn’t do myself any favors yesterday by pushing myself away from the table, either.
Meh, I’m ridin’, baby. There will be plenty of days in the very near future where I’ll be wishing I could get outside.
My friends, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year… from the bottom of my heart, thank you for putting up with me. Thank you for riding with me. Thank you for reading my blog and for your feedback.
Let’s all take a moment to remember, not one of us is getting out of this alive. All we have, just before it’s all done, is our experiences. Make them good ones.
Crossed over 10,000 miles this morning. Only 1,800 of them on the trainer. WOOHOO!
I just wanted to send out a little thank you note this morning, as I choose for this to be one of those days of reflection. I wanted to take a moment to say thank you for including me as a member of the Genesee Wanderers, truly an amazing group of people who get together on a regular basis to enjoy the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle together.
My background in cycling followed a long hiatus from my younger years when my parents were cool enough to buy my brother and I each a 1981(ish) Murray Baja 10 mountain bike. That bike represented freedom to me as I rode it to friend’s houses more than a dozen miles away when my parents were too busy carting one of my other brothers and sisters around (there were five of us). I literally rode the wheels off that bike.
Jess and I picked up cheap mountain bikes from Sears early in our marriage, but we rarely rode them – I ended up giving mine to a kid new to recovery who had all of his teeth bashed out and was walking to work every day so he could get dentures… it was one of the saddest cases I’ve seen in 26 years. Anyway, I digress…
Sometime around 2001-ish [Mrs. Bgddy] would be able to tell you better the date) I got into running when I started to fatten up after quitting cigarettes. I wanted to in-line skate my way to fitness because I HATED running, or at least the idea of it, but I lived in Flint and the roads didn’t exactly allow for safe skating – not even in Mott Park. I decided to run because Jess had started running with some folks and I figured that was better than getting fat. Fast forward ten years and I was growing bored. I decided I’d buy a mountain bike and do a triathlon. That would shake things up!
I picked up a Huffy from a garage sale for $20 that probably weighed almost a quarter my own body weight at the time and I started to ride it. It was about three sizes too small, but I managed to push that sucker for four miles at about a 14-mph average for my first ride. My first week riding it down to the running club I participated in, one of the other guys remarked that the bike was entirely wrong and too small for me. He offered to sell me his backup to his backup mountain bike, a 2008 Trek 3700. My first ride on that mountain bike changed my life forever. I can still remember the feeling I got on that bike the first time I rode it… I’d never ridden anything so smooth in my life – and so light! My wife wasn’t happy about the $125 price tag because money was pretty tight back then, but she saw how much joy it brought me, so she went along with it.
I ended up doing two Olympic-distance tris on that bike, but I wanted SPEED and I was gearing out on the 21-speed. I had been into Swartz Creek a few times, having moved there from Flint, and I’d noticed the Assenmacher’s sign a few times. I had a gym teacher in middle school who went by the same last name (he was Mr. Oz for short) and there couldn’t be that many Assenmacher’s in Michigan, so I stopped in to ask if the owner was related. That was the first time I met Matt, my gym teacher turned out to be his brother. The next time I met Matt was when I wheeled in a 1990 Cannondale SR400 that I’d picked up on Craigslist for $400. I’d gone from riding 80 miles a week to 100-120 a week when I jumped from the Trek to the Cannondale, and my average pace jumped from 15-mph to almost 20 on the Cannondale. I loved road riding!
So, I rolled that Cannondale into the shop and Matt asks me, “Whose bike is that?”
“Mine.” I replied. “I picked it up on Craigslist.”
Matt pointed out that the bike was way too small for me. The bike was advertised on Craigslist as a 56cm frame, at the smaller end for a 6’0” guy, so the internet said, but Matt measured it up to find it was a 54 (the size sticker had been removed). Matt offered to sell me a Trek that he used as a loaner for the shop if I was interested. He wheeled it out and I gave it the once-over. I tried to contain my drool. A very long story, shortened, I took that Trek for a test ride late in the season down Miller road. Next to the harshness of the alloy Cannondale, it was like riding a limo compared next to a Chevette. I was cruising down the road, pushing that Trek hard, and I came upon a tall fella on a white and purple road bike – little did I know at the time, it was a Schwinn Paramount. I hollered, “On your left” and passed him. Ahem…. Little did I know, he was a Nationally Ranked triathlete – and he was only three or four years away from being National Champion for Sprint Distance… and that I’d never pass him again. He got on my wheel – I didn’t even know there was such a thing as “getting on someone’s wheel” and rode with me until I went to turn around to head back to the shop. I almost took him out because I had no clue he was there when I stopped pedaling and looked back for traffic. He scared the hell out of me! That was the first time I met [McMike]. I told Matt what had happened when I got back to the shop, and with a smile on his face, asked if I’d really caught him. Then he explained who he was.
Things were starting to look up financially and after a couple of months, I brought home that Trek on the 21st of January, 2012. Matt had asked me, shortly before I’d bought that Trek, how fast I was on the Cannondale and I was proud to be able to tell him I could hold between a 19 and 20-mph average for around 20-ish miles. I’d read on the internet that that was pretty fast. After picking up the Trek, he invited me out to Tuesday night, to ride with the club. I’d never ridden with anyone before bumping into Mike on the road – other than a few friends on back roads when I did those two triathlons with a few others from the running club (and we all rode side-by-side).
The Trek changed everything for me. I started training harder and read everything I could get my hands on about riding in a group. Proper etiquette, hand signals, things of that nature. I practiced riding the white line on the side of the road for a month, so I could hold a straight line. After Matt invited me out a fourth or fifth time, I finally showed up on Tuesday night. To say I was nervous was an understatement. What was I getting myself into? I didn’t even know where we were, let alone the route!
April 3, 2012, I lined up for the first time in Lennon. I wrote about the experience here. We started off easy enough at 18-19-mph but once we made that right turn at the fire station, it was on. The pace quickly jumped north of 20-mph… As sports go, It was the coolest thing I’d ever been a part of. I can remember the precision with which riders would come off the front and fade to the back, the whole mechanics of the pace line – it was just amazing. Then the pace went from 22 to 28-mph once we hit Shipman. I wasn’t ready for it and held on as long as I could. Matt fell off before I did so I knew when I fell off, if I just waited for him, I’d be okay. I saw another rider fall off about a quarter-mile ahead of me, though, so I chose to try to catch him rather than slow up. That rider was Phill and he helped me around the course. We’ve been riding together ever since, and I consider him one of my best friends. We did the 30-mile route at 19.6-mph and the main group (what is now the A Group) finished with a 21-mph average over the 33-mile route. How far we’ve all come, eh?! The A group is now at 25-mph and the B group is at 23 for the same routes!
Anyway, from that day on I was absolutely hooked on cycling. I went from 100% solo miles to 5% over the last six years. My wife has gotten into cycling and become a regular fixture in the B Group with me, and I’ve made so many good friends, it’s hard to keep from getting a little misty looking back. When I didn’t know any better, cycling was all about the toys. Once I became a part of the group, I found the toys were nice but toys didn’t even scratch the surface. Cycling is about friends, fun, and Tuesday evenings with 50 other like-minded people spending time together sharing the load. My friends, you have added a degree of happiness to my life I simply didn’t know was possible.
I just wanted to take a minute, or sixty, to say thank you for letting me be a part of. I appreciate it beyond words.
Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.
I happened upon a Durianrider video the other day – now, nine-and-a-half times in ten I’m going to close that video down before he hits his first “carb the f*** up” but, for some reason, not this day.
In his four minute and change video he claimed that no one has ever been dropped because they were riding Sora components in lieu of Dura Ace, that Chris Froome could win the Tour de France on a Sora-equipped bike, and that if someone does get dropped riding Sora, it is due to their glycogen levels being low, or not properly carbing the f*** up, and that he could flog 99.9,% of all riders on his Sora-equipped steel LeMond… and my mind kinda shut him out after that.
I did pat myself on the back for making it to the end of the video – the guy tends to grate on me a bit. What if you’re not the great carbing the f*** up Durianrider, though?
First, I can tell you that I agree with him that Shimano Sora R3000 9sp is legit. I’ve got it on my gravel bike and it’s just as good as my 10sp 105 and close to the Ultegra line. There’s a weight penalty, but it’s not all that big a deal.
But question was, has anyone ever been dropped because they’re riding a Sora-equipped bike?
I’d argue yes, but not because Sora components are heavy or because they don’t operate excellently. In fact, for the extra Thousand Dollars for Dura Ace, my 23 pound Diverge would only drop down to 21.3 pounds, give or take. What is important is the extra two gears you gain going from 9 to 11 sp. Those two gears mean you’re jumping one or two teeth on the cassette instead of three or even four. Each tooth means about 5 rpm in cadence. Jumping five or ten rpm is reasonable. Fifteen or twenty, well now you’re likely to be in the wrong gear and struggling to spin too fast to keep up or push too hard on too heavy a gear. Pick your poison.
Take my Venge and put Sora R3000 on it, the bike is still only 17 pounds. Certainly no fatass, and definitely not enough weight to slow me down. That missing gear, though, dropping from 10 to 9sp… that would be a bit more problematic. Probably not insurmountable, but simply more work.
And therein lies the rub to Durianrider’s claims; how much more work can you handle before carbing the f*** up just won’t make up the difference?
Take my 15-3/4 pound carbon fiber everything, Ultegra equipped Venge with 38mm carbon fiber wheels, 25mm tires, and pit it against that 23 pound Sora equipped, alloy wheels, 28mm tires gravel bike and the detractors, the holes in the gearing, the extra weight, heavier wheels, and the aluminum frame become too much to overcome. No joke, the same ride on the Venge and the Diverge, you’re looking at another 50 watts to make the Diverge do the same thing as the Venge. Folks, it doesn’t matter how much “carb(ing) the f*** up” you do, you’re not making that up trying to hang with the 23-mph average gang.
I don’t know how big a percentage of riders I can whoop on my Venge, but I’ll guarantee you, it’s a much bigger chunk that I would on the Diverge.
Pass the bacon.