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Monthly Archives: September 2019

Trying to Outrun the Rain with the Horses

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.

Making the Most of A Weekend Rain Out…

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.

This Time of Year and Me; It’s All Doom and Gloom

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.

How Not to Sprint; A Photographical (Comical) Example of How to Do It Wrong

I happened on a post on the Map My Run Blog on How to Sprint and the photo they threw up to go with the headline shows exactly how not to sprint.  I laughed out loud.

And I thought I’d make fun of it share it with you for a laugh.  The photo:

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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.

Just sayin’.

What It Feels Like to Be Able to Ride Really, Really Fast

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.

 

TNCR; Our Fastest B-Group Tuesday Night Evah!

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.

 

The Number One Rule of Cycling with Friends; There’s No Politics On Bike Rides.

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.

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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.