I’ve been cycling rather slowly for more than a month. Whether I’m out with my wife, or my cycling buddy, Chuck, I’ve had good reason to take it kinda easy. It hasn’t been all easy, though. I’ve been hogging headwind for the better part of three weeks to at least get a better workout from my rides. Still, I wondered if the easy miles weren’t to the detriment of speed. It was through that filter I rode yesterday evening…
It was sunny, a light northerly breeze, and temperate, if below average. I started out into the wind and my average crept up to 18-mph. Then 18.4… 18.6… I was into my second mile, 18.8…
It was then I thought, “well maybe I go for the [19.75-mile] Jimmer Loop in exactly one hour.” It’s a really tough route to hold a good average on because there are so many turns and intersections so if I can squeeze close to 20-mph out of an average, I’m happy… 19.2, 19.3, 19.5… and I was into the wind. Heading west I was holding 22-mph on a horrible stretch of road, and fairly easily. 19.8-mph average. Another mile north, into the wind again, and I was holding 21. 19.9. Then there’s a mile loop around a subdivision that resembles a lollipop. It’s almost impossible to hold a good average through that stretch because there isn’t much good… bad pavement, crosswind, tailwind for 20 seconds, headwind for another 20, then crosswind again, then bad pavement again… but I still had a 20-mph average turning back onto the main road.
And that’s when I started thinking about a PR over 20-mph average. If memory serves Chuck and I never broke 20-mph on that loop. We’ve been close a couple of times, but it’s just a horrible route for average – there’s no way to hold any momentum until you’re 14 miles into the 20-mile route.
After a short stint north, about a half-mile, it’s west again and a beautiful mile-long stretch of perfect pavement. I was instantly up to 24-mph, flirting at times with 25 with the mild crosswind. 20.1 and 20.2… A quick quarter-mile north followed by more bad pavement and then it gets tricky. We go into a subdivision that starts out with a punchy little climb over a third of a mile that just saps you, and today it was into the wind, too. A couple of tenths east, followed by more north, but flatter. Then, a couple of tenths west, but you have to slow considerably for an intersection where the cross-traffic doesn’t stop. More west, a jog south (my first tailwind of the ride), more west, then a straight three-quarter mile south and all downhill after a quick climb after the turn. I was up to 26, easy, and I’d only lost a tenth off my average in the subdivision. I gained it back when I turned east… for my second lap through the sub. When I saw my average tick up to 20.2 before the second loop I knew I was going to challenge the 20-mph barrier for the route. It was almost all crosswind and tailwind all the way home… if I just didn’t poop out.
20.3… Heading north again wasn’t all that bad. The wind died down to almost nothing and I was still feeling pretty lively. I held 20+ to the next sub before a nice downhill and some momentum. A left turn and up a rise and out onto a main road with a bike lane… a little up and a nice downhill that helps you keep a great 25-ish mph pace for the next mile. If you don’t get caught by the light, and I did. A handful of brakes to slow down and stop, a quick drink, and I was hammering on the pedals immediately after the green. I took it up to 22-23 and held it there in the crosswind. 20.4… and then south and tailwind. 20.5. I was starting to fade but I only had three miles and change to go. I kept my pace over the next two miles. 20.6… a mile in the crosswind and kept the pace just fast enough to keep from dropping the average. Then a final three-quarters of a mile to my driveway and a new PR. 19.75 miles in 57m:47s. 20.53-mph average.
Here I was, worried about being hampered by too many slow miles and I completed that route faster than ever before.
I spent the rest of the evening with a smile on my face and a spring in my step. Nobody knew why I was so chipper at the bandit AA meeting last night, but I did.