I rolled out solo yesterday with 30 miles in mind. The weather was vastly improved over the day before. Cloudy, still, but seven degrees warmer (48° or 9 C), less wind, and an improved “feels like” temp. I opted for my Specialized. The Trek is a gloriously fun ride, but the best way I can think to put it, the Specialized feels like a fast, smooth, badass guilty pleasure next to the 5200.
With the north wind, I opted for the exact same route I rode the day before but I wanted to throw in a few hills I hadn’t bothered with the day before and because I didn’t have Chuck with me (a normal world friend), I decided I was going to stop by my sponsor’s house to say Hi. I normally see him once a week without fail and I hadn’t seen him since this whole coronavirus mess broke (we normally go out to dinner for tacos at a local authentic hole-in-the-wall every Thursday).
The route is heavy with headwind for the first 15-ish miles – only two miles of crosswind the whole way out, and they’re early. The headwind is relentless and sometimes hard to handle, mentally. Once you get to that point, though, it’s a party for all but a mile and a half all the way home… My original plan was to get to the top of the hill and the end of my headwind, then head over to my sponsor’s house, but after 11 miles dead into the wind, I wanted a break – and it’s a good thing I did, because his wife came to the door as I was just about to call his cell to let him know I was outside. He was at his pole barn a few miles up the road at his rental house. If I hadn’t stopped, I’d have missed him altogether. My sponsor’s wife and I exchanged pleasantries and I was on my way.
Down a hill, up two more to the top of the big climb (or at least what passes for a “climb” in my neighborhood), and I was heading to the rental house and two more short climbs.
My sponsor is an older fella, in his early 70’s, so I doubled the 6′ (two meter) distance and we spent about fifteen minutes catching up. It was like seeing a long-lost friend for the first time in years. We had some laughs, talked a little politics, some recovery and promised to meet the first Thursday after this thing breaks for tacos.
One nice climb on my way out of town and I was on flat ground, headwind almost all of the way home… and that’s when the ticking sound started. I quickly went through my internal database of ticks and clicks… no rhythm, only when I pedal, doesn’t matter load or no load (it wasn’t louder or more frequent under heavy load)… and the frequency was picking up as the miles went by – not the intensity, the frequency. It was one of two things: Seat post or chainring bolts. Other than the ticking, the rest of my ride was fantastic (and thankfully it wasn’t loud enough to be too annoying).
First, I was a little bummed that I spent so much time farting around bopping from my sponsor’s house to his barn… I lost almost a full mile an hour off my average – I managed to pull an 18.1 into the wind and I was down to 17.2. On the other hand, at a time like this I’d like to say I really don’t give a $#!+ about average pace… but I’d be lying. Ish.
I pulled into the driveway with just a shade under an 18.3-mph average for 35 miles. Had I skipped my sponsor’s house, 19, easy… but I’d have been worse for it. Recovery isn’t a solitary thing, at least not the way I play it. I need others around me who are going through the same thing so I can stay on the right path. So that whiny part of me that cares about average pace was sent to the corner to sulk. He shortly rejoined the committee, apologizing for being a knucklehead.
After cleaning up and eating, I started systematically checking things with the bike. First was the spokes. I didn’t think it was a busted spoke nipple, but you never know unless you check the tension. Both wheels came up negative for an issue. Stem was tight, per specs. Handlebar bolts, tight per specs. Chainring bolts… the first one told the story. The second was tight, the third lose, and the fourth tight. Problem solved. Probably.
I’ll know more today… because it’s going to be perfectly sunny and almost 60-fin’-° today! If ever there was a Venge Day Part II, this is going to be it! Happy days and sunshine, baby! WOOHOO! Oh, and a bike that doesn’t click anymore. That too.