I had a decision to make. The Weather Channel said rain at noon. Our loop was set for between 52 & 56 miles and we were rolling out at 8. Plenty enough time. I chose the Venge, having just cleaned it from stem to stern. Writing that out so I see it, now I know how stupid that choice was.
It was a chilly, cloudy, but decent morning. Not much in the way of wind.
We rolled out late, waiting on Winston, as is usual.
The pace was easy starting out, only 19-mph after the first mile, but that didn’t last long with a slight tailwind. We picked up Dave and Sherry on their Co-Motion Macchiato (look them up if you’re curious, that’s one badass tandem). The pace steadily increased thereafter to 22. Then 24. I had just come off the front and Winston wound it up. I took a minute to recover, then rode the side of the pace-line to ask Winston to keep it between 21 & 22…
I can remember years ago, when I was just a rook, watching guys ride up to the front of the pace-line along the side of the group, wondering how they could possibly do that without the aid of the draft… and there I was, without a concern, doing just that at 28-mph. A smile of satisfaction stretched across my face.
The next 30m miles were thoroughly enjoyable. Fast, but enjoyable…
And then the first raindrops. We only had twelve miles to go. The sky looked fine, too. Normally you can see the rain coming. Not this time.
Before we knew it, we were sucking road spray. We kept after it, though.
Dave and Sherry thought they had a flat, so they turned into a party store two miles from home. Winston had to head for home, so he and Chuck split. Mike, my wife and I stayed to keep them company through the change. It was a false alarm, though. They were just struggling in the headwind.
They headed north for home, and the three of us pushed for home through the spray. The bikes, already cleaned and lubed, were trashed.
After a hot shower and a nap we tended to the bikes. It always bums me out having to clean the bikes so soon, again. I wouldn’t have traded it. We really had a good time… I’d have picked the Trek, though.
56.46 miles in 2:45:58. A 20.4-mph average. Not bad for a rabble of Sunday drivers.
Well, it started raining Friday afternoon, shortly after I walked in the door. Now, some who live in gnarlier climates would simply don the rain gear and head out. Thankfully, rain rarely lasts more than 16 hours here in Michigan, so I choose to wait it out – and the Weather Channel said it’d be over by 9 or 10 am Saturday, anyway.
Well, that assessment was a little rosy. I think it rained till just after noon, so I used the whole morning for some maintenance. I cleaned the drivetrain on each of our road bikes and took Mrs. Bgddy’s gravel bike wheel in to get it trued because I found it to be NASTY when I put new tires on the gravel bikes Friday evening… and came to find out, cracked at several spoke holes. A new rim was ordered (incidentally, Velocity sells a rim that’ll work perfectly if the shop can’t get a matching rim from Specialized).
My wife decided I should get a little DIY bug and decided it was time for a modern toilet. The old one it replaced was, well, it’d seen better days and was going to require an immediate and complete overhaul so we went big on a new one. An American Standard with all of the bells and whistles, including modern waters-saving features and vastly improved flush technology. Being an office guy, it’s rare I get into the whole DIY scene, but I always manage to surprise myself… I’m not bad.
Anyway, it dried up at 2-ish and I was tempted to ride. I should have ridden at four, but everyone was leaving with friends to various evenings out, and I wanted to see them off. Well, “could ride” turned into, “I’ll get a pizza and watch John Wick 3”.
That’s the first time this year, and I mean this year… 2019, that I could have ridden and chosen not to. Surprisingly, I didn’t burst into flames or balloon up to 195 pounds in one day.
Turns out we’ll have to shoehorn in a quick ride this morning, though. My buddy, Mike needs 50 miles to get 1,000 for the month and we’ve only got four hours to do it before the rain shows up again. Plenty of time, of course. I’m not even close, but if things work out, 800 shouldn’t be attainable between today and tomorrow. Good enough for government work.
We’re only a month, maybe a month-and-a-half, from putting time in on the turbo trainer. There’s no doubt, I’ll be spending as much time outdoors as I can and I’m a little bummed… but at the same time, I’m tired. It’s been a long season of trying to work it out so I’ve fit in absolutely every last mile I can. And unlike what the hype of the day says, this winter is supposed to be brutal. Lots of cold, lots of snow.
Trainer season is easy. Rides are shorter. There’s no traffic. I can ride and clean up in slightly less than an hour. The temperature is constant. No chance of rain inside. And if I decide to take a day off, I’m not missing much. It’s just a day off. Better, when trainer season truly hits, I’m done until January. Sure, I’ll still put time in on the trainer, but I take it very easy till January 1st. Everything has some time to heal up.
The last road trip of the season is coming up, just a quick jaunt up north for Chuck’s birthday ride, maybe one or two final supported rides, and just four more club rides – and that’s if the weather cooperates.
One thing is for sure, I’m ready to hibernate for a bit.
You may have come to the astute conclusion that this doesn’t sound quite like the Title suggests… Folks, I’ve been through hell once already. Even my doom and gloom is pretty good.
And I thought I’d
make fun of it share it with you for a laugh. The photo:
Now, it’s not the first guy that’d be going for the sprint. No, he’s the lead-out. You’re looking at the second fella. So, first things first, when you take off for a sprint, the last thing you want to do, Captain Obvious, is apply the brakes. Worse, of course, is both brakes. Brakes kinda defeat the purpose of “sprinting”.
Second, as their post says, it’s a good thing to get out of the saddle when you launch your sprint. It doesn’t tell you how to do that, but the dude in the photo isn’t doing it right. The guy should be out of the saddle before he ever leans that bike to overtake his lead-out.
Now, this part is important part – as if not applying your brakes wasn’t but let’s not get lost in the weeds – you’ve gotta know your limitations. If you go too early, you’ll run out of gas and you’ll be passed up by those sucking your wheel. Preferably not by someone in their saddle and applying the brakes, however.
See also my post yesterday, from the club ride. That notwithstanding, Monday…
Chuck and I were out on a perfect day for a bike ride. Well, perfect except the 16-mph (call it 26 km/h) headwind straight outta Chuck’s driveway. I’d been out early for some bonus miles, so I knew the ride west was going to suck pretty bad, but the ride home was going to be fun. We’re never looking to push it on a Monday because we’ve got the big Tuesday night main event to save the legs for, but…
The weather for Tuesday night’s edition of the club ride is supposed to be perfect (it wasn’t quite perfect, but it was close). It’s going to be fast, so there was a lot to save for (it definitely was that).
The headwind portion of the ride was front-loaded – everything was packed into the first half of the ride, which is the way I like it. We were still in “take it easy” mode through the first subdivision with a tailwind. Then we popped out onto Miller Road, our first long stretch with a tailwind and a bike lane. Coming down a shallow hill, I had to feather the brakes a bit to let a stoplight change back to green… coasting… coasting… and green. I started to put the hammer down with just 100′ of down left. Nothing too serious at first, but I just love getting my pedal bike up to the speed limit (30-mph). I kept it at 27-mph to remain in the realm of “kinda takin’ it easy” and took the full two-mile tailwind, then another mile of crosswind, with a hint of tail at 20-21-mph before relinquishing the front to Chuck. He took the next mile and change.
We came up to the corner for the start of the single Strava segment on the route. Almost a full mile long, I hold the KOM at 1m:59s and I wanted to get Chuck second place. Our friend, Mike I. has had second place, 11 seconds behind me, for a while…. We rounded the corner hard, leaning into it at better than 21-mph and Chuck hit the gas, taking it to 26. I let him pull half a mile, then came around and picked up the pace. I was still accelerating as we started uphill to our turn, and the end of the segment. I had my head down, hands in the drops, pushing with almost everything I had as we passed 30-mph….
Traffic picked up at the intersection as we approached just over 30, so I signaled a slowdown and started to back it down. And we were on the home stretch, back to taking it easy again.
Chuck and I were three seconds off getting him second place, and I was kinda bummed. We held a 26.3-mph average for the mile but needed 28, methinks. I should have taken the front with fresher legs a little sooner.
There is nothing like cruising down the road, well north of 25-mph, tailwind or no. Just remembering the exhilaration has me smiling as I type this, ten hours after I pulled into the driveway… and I get that on a daily basis, whenever I want. All I need is an hour and my bike. Tuesday night,
I’ll get my fill I ate at the damn buffet as we hammer(ed) like that for 30 28 miles in less than an hour-twenty an hour-twelve and change, and I’ll be smiling again, tomorrow morning, as I write my post about the experience (that definitely happened exactly as I imagined it). [I know this is a little hacked up – I wrote this post on Monday for publishing on Tuesday, but I had so much fun on the TNCR, that post took precedence. I apologize for this.]
The point is, I’ve never regretted how hard I had to work those first three years to get this fast. I’d go out three days a week and push the pedals on my old road bike till I puked in my mouth… then I’d let up for a mile and try to do it again. Oh, I’d ride all seven days, but three were for excessively hard “workouts”. Now I reap the benefits of that hard work. I get to feel like a little kid again whenever I throw a leg over the top tube… and that’s as good as it gets as I wrap up my last year in my 40’s. I never hoped I’d be having this much fun at my age. Nothing I saw out of my parents as I grew up would have led me to believe it was even possible. Here I am, though, and it’s sweet.
It was an odd evening. A little cloudy and breezy, but decent as temperature goes, around 73° (about 23 C). The 7-mile warm-up was easy and enjoyable, even into the wind.
With the beginning of fall, and the sun withdrawing earlier each week, we haven’t had the same numbers on Tuesday nights. This week, we would barely have enough time to make it back before the sunset at 7:30, so the decision was made to ride with the A-Group until we hit the hills. I was with the few who wanted two groups, because Mrs. Bgddy made the time to show up. While it was a little breezy out, I knew it wasn’t windy enough to effect the ride speed. Either way it was going to be fast.
We rolled out at 6 on the nose. The first mile-and-a-quarter was as sedate as I remember a Tuesday night start being. Then all hell broke loose.
The pace jumped from an easy 19-20-mph to 27 (43 km/h) almost immediately. I was on the wrong side (the wind side) but didn’t have any trouble finding a draft. After the initial mile at 27, the pace calmed down to a more reasonable 23-25, and that’s where it stayed until the A-Group dropped us in the hills just before mile 15. Unfortunately, Mrs. Bgddy was dropped somewhere along the way. I came off a pull up front and she was gone… and nowhere in site once I got to the back.
We did the hills, after the A’s tore up the road, perfectly with the tailwind. I can’t remember a Tuesday where someone didn’t try to hammer up the hills which invariably smashes the group apart into little pieces. Well, Tuesday night was our nirvana. We were certainly speedy up the hills, but there was a flow to it – no yo-yo. Then came our descent into Vernon. Nine times in ten I’m going for the sprint, but this time we were just going too well. We had a 22.8 or .9 average at that point and I wanted to be able to give it everything I had with the hope we’d be able to hit the elusive 23-mph average.
We went through town faster than I can ever remember and I tore off the front to clear a busy intersection for the tandems. It did no good, though. We had cars coming from both directions so we unclipped and waited our turn.
The wind had died down considerably by that point, but it was all tailwind anyway, so we picked up the pace to a lively 25-29-mph. A couple of times, one of the guys up front would pull a little weak every now and again and a tandem would shoot up from the back to correct the pace. We rolled hard for the finish line. Our group at the start was 30-strong and we were down to, after ten or so from the A Group split, around ten or twelve with two tandems.
The home stretch
Our pace, after the final intersection and two-and-a-half miles from the finish, steadily increased from 24-mph to a crescendo of more than 30. We’d smashed through the 23-mph barrier miles ago, but at 30-mph, there just isn’t time to think about anything but staying with the pack. I’d wanted to go for the sprint, after skipping the intermediate sprint to help keep the pace up, but it just wasn’t in the cards. The tandem couple in front of me tapped out at 27-mph about 750′ yards before the finish – which meant too long a turn up front for me.
Rather than try to ease the pace, I took the job of lead-out. I put the hammer down and raised the pace from 26-ish to better than 30 before I flicked out just before the normal start of the sprint. I rolled over the line at 27-mph with a 23.2 average – our fastest yet, Tuesday night for the B-Group.
We rode just over 28 miles in only 1h:12m:36s (moving time – elapsed time was 1:12:47).
I can’t recall if there was a moment during the entirety of that hour and twelve minutes that I wasn’t smiling, but I don’t think there was. It was hi-fives and fist-bumps all around when we got back to the parking lot. Even a few handshakes. Those who were able to hang on to the end had to work hard together to make that happen. It was most excellent to be a part of it.
Trigger (heh) warning; I’m going to break the number one rule of cycling with friends in this post, but for good reason, and for the last time… I’m going to drop it. You have been trigger (heh) warned.
I was all set to strike against Specialized’s hitching itself to the Global Climate Strike, a movement advocating the destruction of the planet. Calling for an end to fossil fuel use by 2025 would require the planet be blanketed with solar panels and wind turbines to supply enough power to keep everything from reverting back to the stone age – the earth, blanketed by “clean” energy implements would mean an end to most life on earth – let’s just suffice it to say the movement wasn’t thought through very well.).
I’d taken the wheels off my Specialized Venge and set it in the corner. I was all set to cover all the Specialized logos on my other bikes with tape, and I was going to make a stink about their idiocy on this blog, regularly. How dare Specialized hitch themselves to an ignorant political movement and f*** up my enjoyment of such a fine bicycle… and mess with the number one rule of riding with others; no politics on bike rides.
However, I had an epiphany on my buddy’s birthday ride; I was invariably breaking the rule myself. I already had, and more than once. Even though I was frustrated, I was dragging my own righteous indignation into bike rides. While I wouldn’t try to equate guilt, because Specialized’s infraction is so egregious it boggles the mind as to what they were thinking, I have to look at my part in this sordid little tale because my part is the only part I can really do anything about.
I quietly put my Venge back together Sunday afternoon.
I don’t know how I’ll take action in the matter, I’ve got a few ideas floating right now, but in the end, I’ve gotta obey the golden rule; I can’t drag politics into bike rides. As I mentioned in a previous post, we need some things to be devoid of politics because the issues, especially this one, are so badly misused and abused by special interests and politicians it’s almost impossible to have an intelligent conversation with a true believer. We need refuge so we can remember what’s most important about being human – that we work best together, that we need each other, it’s important to rely on each other, and better, why we need to care for each other.
I can’t very well do that by pointing out reality to Kool-Aid drinkers on a bike ride, either. They’re normally too lost in their own hate-filled ignorance to see an issue clearly, anyway. Worse, everyone else, who would rather not be dragged into that mess, gets sucked in. Who would want to spend their weekend free time like that? Not me, so I’ve gotta stow that $#!+. Put simply, I’ve gotta make my peace with it and leave it be. If someone brings up the Specialized kerfuffle, all I have to do is explain my bike was bought long before they advocated for an end to life on Earth, and other than pointing out that simple reality, I’m not getting any deeper into politics on a bike ride.
That said, I don’t find myself particularly wanting a new “woke” bike, either. I prefer a manufacturer that just sticks to making bikes.
Finally, if you want to know how a Climate Crisis is created, watch this:
After listening to Greta Thunberg address the UN, my worst fears have been realized with that poor, brainwashed kid. She’s a true nutter and probably doesn’t even know that she’s being played.
We all encounter that motorist who insists on ignorantly telling us how to ride our bikes while munching on their third donut from behind the wheel of their pickup. Or better, how about that random person who yells at you to “get off the road”…. and you fail to come up with a quippy comeback so their taunt just wafts out there like a stale fart.
Well, this post is for you.
- Let’s start with the best; “Get off the road!” The easiest I’ve ever come up with for this one actually elicited a shocked, “wha?!” from the person who yelled at us. I simply shouted back, “Oh, shut up”. It was beautiful. This works for just about anything. It’s super easy to remember, and quick.
- “Don’t you have to put a foot down (when you stop)?” I love this one. They saw you stop at the stop sign, but can’t simply be content that you did… so I like this response: “Do you?” Or, “I will when you do… you first.”
- “Single-file!” Oh, how I love this one, because a person really does have to be stupid to yell this one out in my State. We don’t have much time for our quippy response – it’s gotta be quick and it’s not like we can quote the two-abreast section of the law in two seconds. For this one I like, “Read the law.”
- “Wear a helmet!” “Where’s yours?” is a fantastic response. Look, I almost always wear one when I ride. I always have one on when I ride with my friends, but I ride like a pro rides. Safer, yes, we don’t race, but we are bar to bar and wheel to wheel at great speeds. Helmets are a necessity for us. On the other hand, if I’m testing a repair I made, there’s no way I’m donning a helmet. If you don’t want to wear one when you putter about the neighborhood, that’s your choice. Besides, you don’t wear a helmet to go for a walk, and driving is certainly more dangerous than riding a bike and I don’t see a helmet being a requirement for driving any time soon!
- Now, before we go any further, you can add “dummy” to any one of these for a little punch. It’s a little mean, yes… kinda like yelling “get off the road” to a complete stranger, but let’s remember it’s better to be attractive than an @$$hole. Still, “read the law, dummy” is a lot better than just “read the law”. Just sayin’.
- “Don’t you have to stop at a stop sign?” You want to wrankle someone? “No, didn’t you know they changed that?” It will only be true if you live in Idaho, but it’ll be funny. Incidentally, there hasn’t been a reported accident attributable to the Idaho stop since it was enacted in 1982. Again, just sayin’
- Finally, be fair… a buddy of mine almost became someone’s hood ornament because he took a turn too wide, once. The motorist said something and he simply said, “You’re right, I apologize”. He didn’t drop dead from admitting he was wrong and apologizing. The motorist’s jaw dropped, though. He didn’t expect my friend to admit to his mistake.
- Speaking of, a friend of mine blew through a stoplight a while back. The motorist next to me rolled down his window and asked, “Aren’t you guys supposed to stop at red lights? Could he have gotten a ticket?” I simply smiled, and said, “Absolutely he could have, but that’s not why I stopped. I stopped because I don’t do well against a car.” We both chuckled and he drove on when the light turned green.
- When we are wrong, we can be pricks or ambassadors. Most times it is wise to choose the high ground first because being an ambassador will go further than the other option.
We don’t have to be a doormat to anyone, just because we ride a bike. Just remember, before you decide to get too angry; you’re not only responding to a jerk to satiate your own righteous indignation. Your reaction to a motorist will probably have an affect on the next cyclist that @$$ sees as well.
If you have a favorite, leave it in the comments and I’ll add it to the list with a link and hat tip.
Last year on my buddy Mike’s birthday ride, he had a heart episode (he went in to have a stent put in a fourth artery shortly thereafter), Jonathan got stung by a bee at the halfway point, and had a severe reaction (just hives, thank God), and I hit a squirrel – dead nuts, square in the ribs.
Yesterday, our luck was much better. Mike’s ticker is fixed, Jonathan had an itchy afternoon but was no worse for the wear, and while that squirrel managed to run to the side of the road, I have a feeling he didn’t last very long after. Sadly, most of our normal group had other things going, so it was just Mike, Diane, and me. We picked Phill up on the road and Greg met us a few miles after that.
We picked the Assenmacher 100k for our route, because it’s almost four miles more than 100k, and Mike needed to hit 69. Greg was our horse and took most of the first… um, carry the three… 57 miles up front? It turned out to be a perfect morning. A few clouds here and there, but wonderfully sunny for the most part. Warm, even balmy for this time of year, temperature, and calm winds rounded out another great morning for cycling.
hammered (hammered is really not the word – there was no hammering going on, we kept it at a smooth 21-23-mph… the uphills were easy, at worst, and there was a very nice flow to our ride, but how do you put that into an adjective? The proper word escapes me) cruised (thanks Omil – see comments) out the miles, quickly raising our average from a meager 16-ish mph when we met Greg, to a quick 19.8. Our first stop for the day was at 30 miles. I didn’t need more than a restroom break and to eat the banana I had in my back pocket. It certainly wasn’t a long stop and we were off again.
From that point on, we simply had a nice ride. We didn’t stop again, which in hindsight was a mistake – 70 miles is too far with only one stop, for me anyway. We hit headwind at the 50 mile mark and it got a little ugly for a bit. Greg kept the speed at 20, which was good for me, but we were too far to the right with a headwind off our left shoulder, meaning we were all in the ditch. Mike and Diane were in the pain cave and off the back in a hurry. Greg eased the pace up and I moved out left to give Mike and Diane a draft. I had my radar on the bike, so I could move right whenever traffic was picked up. The headwind went on for thirteen miles and I was getting hungry. I’d survived the trip, and it was starting to heat up, on two small bottles of water and a banana. I could have downed a gel at that point, but left it in my pocket.
The final seven miles were fairly easy, around 20-mph with a crosswind. I was tired but I was up front for much of the trip home. It was Mike’s birthday, so I figured I’d give him a break. He came up for a pull somewhere in that slog home, for a mile or two, and I took the rest. I was tired and a little dehydrated when I pulled into the driveway – enough I had hot spots on my feet (this only happens when I’m undernourished and dehydrated) and didn’t even bother to check my distance before I stopped.
I turned my computer off at 69.98 miles. Oops. I was inside the house before I realized what I’d done. I contemplated going back out for the last two hundredths, but decided against that foolishness. I added “good enough for government work” on the Strava ride description and took a shower.
All in all, it was an uneventful but incredibly enjoyable ride – exactly as it should be, considering the previous year’s events… The most interesting conversation of the day went to eBikes, and I’ll have more on that at a later date.
I’ve been struggling, a happy struggle mind you, with the saddle on my Trek 5200. Specifically, the height of said saddle on said 5200. The fore/aft location is darn-near set in stone, as I prefer my kneecap to line up with the pedal spindle per the normal setup of a road bike.
First, that Montrose Pro carbon saddle is one fine saddle and some the best money I’ve spent on that bike went to that saddle. It’s got the perfect blend of lightweight, flexibility, and padding for a long distance saddle. I can even wear my thinner chamois bibs for 70+ mile rides on it – bibs I once only wore for 25-35 mile rides on inferior saddles.
My biggest issue has been getting the height dialed in so my Trek feels like my Specialized, though. So, second would be the disclaimer that I’m notoriously picky about saddle height. Obsessive isn’t really a good word, but it comes pretty close to reality.
When I picked the saddle up, I first set it just a touch too high (my measurement is exactly 36-3/8″). I lowered it once because my keister was hurting. Then I lowered it another bit because it still hurt my heinie and by that time, my back was hurting and starting to seize up on me every now and again. The second lowering did the trick, and that’s where I left it for DALMAC. I rejoiced for the weekend because the saddle felt excellent, with only a minor flareup of baboon @$$.
It wasn’t until I got back and rode the Venge a few days, then took the Trek out once more, that I realized the saddle on the Trek was a little too low. It felt it at the time, but in reality, it wasn’t by much. It just felt… off. It felt like I wasn’t getting my full leg extension, that I was working just a little too hard.
Well, Saturday afternoon I raised the saddle up to test my theory, thinking maybe I lowered it too much the last time. I didn’t raise it much, maybe 1-1/2 to 2 millimeters:
With the heightened chance of rain on Sunday, I rode the Trek. At first he saddle height felt right, or better at least. I was definitely getting full leg extension, and I felt a bit stronger. 40 miles in, I was antsy in the saddle and my back pain started in again. I knew I’d raised it too much. There was too much pressure on the sit bones. On coming back, I split the difference and lowered it by about half… and nirvana!
I rode with my buddy, Chuck Monday night, picking my lightest pair of bibs, and I could tell instantly, I nailed it. Finally.
I almost can’t believe it, the infinitesimal amount I’m talking about, but I’m here to tell you, that millimeter made a difference (actual difference once I lowered the saddle is half the gap shown above between the seat post and the marker line).
So here’s what was messing me up; having the saddle high helps keep your butt up and your head down – it’s aerodynamic. Having the saddle up also allows for a stronger pedal stroke. Unfortunately, having the saddle too high also hurts like hell.
Does it help that I’ve got the Venge to contrast what I’m feeling on the 5200?
*Does it or doesn’t it help to have a phenomenal race bike to contrast my other bikes against? Look, this is going to be a matter of perspective. It’s more a blessing than a curse as I see it. Having the Venge to match the Trek to has made the Trek a significantly better bike. I never could have gotten it to where it is, as fast as I did, without the Venge. Mrs. Bgddy might disagree with that assessment as it pertains to cash, though. Ouch.