CRAP! I’ve Finally Done It. My Backup Bike Is Too Utterly Fantastic… (P.S. I don’t mean to virtue signal, but I will, this is above even a First World problem… Not quite a Bill Gates problem, but let’s not split hairs)
In my quest to make my classic 1999 Trek 5200 everything it can be with modern parts and tech, I may have gone one step too far…
For only the second time (the first was fleeting and gone too quickly), my Trek is just a shade more comfortable than my 14-year-newer aero race bike. The Trek is so good, I’m actually picking it for windy rides and active recovery rides just so it can have its day in the sun… and I can put some enjoyable outdoor miles on it.
I’ve been trying to get the Trek close to the Venge in terms of comfort for so long I can’t believe I’m actually here. And that I’ve gone too far!
Thankfully for the Venge, it’s a paragon of aerodynamic awesomeness, seductive speed and svelte weight wienieness. Its Ultegra drivetrain also shifts a lot better than my 5200’s 105 drivetrain. If not for those four formidable points… well, not much would change. Because that Venge is supremely fun to ride.
The main changes that brought the Trek up a few notches centered around the 17° flipped stem that helped to get the setup a little closer to my Specialized. The “best find” piece of the puzzle was the Bontrager Montrose Team Issue carbon fiber saddle. On a fluke I found the saddle on Trek’s website for just $120 and jumped on it. I should have bought two. That is one amazing saddle. The final piece of the puzzle was the upgrade to carbon fiber Ican 38 mm wheels shod with 25 mm tires. Dropping the alloy wheels and the 23/24 mm tires improved the Trek’s ride characteristics immensely. Interestingly, because of a clearance issue at the rear chainstays, I couldn’t use 25 mm tires with 19.5 mm wide wheels (alloy wheels are typically 19.5 mm wide – or they were). With the light bulb effect, the tires would rub the chainstays just behind the bottom bracket when I would climb a hill out of the saddle. The Ican carbon fiber wheels are 23 mm wide so the 25 mm tires now fit perfectly, no rubbing.
Anyway, point being, it’s a good day for the 5200.
Even when life gets difficult, recovery lights the way. With 201,000 miles on it, my Equinox is finally starting to nickle and dime us to death. It’s been paid off for a year and some change so we’re in that trap; is it better to fix everything that’s going wrong and not have a payment, or just pony up and buy a new vehicle? Either way, it’s been the best vehicle I’ve ever owned, by a long shot.
The hard part is, it still runs like a top.
Anyway, enough of that doom and gloom, crap. We’re experiencing some of the best cycling weather in years, we just had our first cookout of the year, and other than my once outrageously reliable Chevy Equinox, life is fantastic. Whatever we end up doing, this too shall pass.
Friday afternoon was a quick, and I do mean quick, ride with my wife just to get our miles in before our dinner party. We only logged 19-3/4 miles and made it back with just enough time to shower up and I ran to the convenience store for a bag of ice. Our friends showed up shortly after I got back.
Saturday was a perfect day for a long ride but we didn’t have many takers show up. My wife and I rolled out alone and picked up Phill and Brad along the way. That ride had a bit of everything. Slow miles, mid-range, and we even got into some speed every now and again. I pulled into the driveway with an enjoyable 100 km.
Sunday’s have been deemed “Sunday Funday” for a month and a week now. Rather than push the pace, we just go out and have fun riding with friends. My wife and I have been taking the tandem out the last five Sundays in a row and we’re enjoying it more than in the past. First, we’re working together better, and second, when I don’t have to worry about pushing the pace to keep up, I don’t worry about working so hard – so I’m not fighting against my wife with every pedal stroke. We’re still working through some communication issues that come with noob tandem riders, but those communication errors make up about 5% of a given ride. In other words, they’re minimal (and usually funny).Yesterday’s ride fit that norm – 95% great, 5% working on the communication skills. We rolled out to sunshine and a barely there breeze and temps in the low 60’s – perfect cycling weather. We warmed up in a hurry, though. I hadn’t noticed but we crept up from an easy 18-19-mph to 21-1/2. I’d changed the nose angle on my saddle a little and I put a different saddle on for my wife (at her request) and we were both having a much better time producing power. In fact, we had to dial it back a time or two to keep it “Sunday Funday” pace. We even added miles on – about six at the half-way point.We stopped in Flushing and had a much needed Coke.
We rolled for home, shedding riders as we went. Phill took off first, then Big Joe, and that left Jeff & Diane on Diane’s tandem and Dave. We kept an easy-ish clip the rest of the way home and I let our friends know I’d cut watermelon up and had it waiting in the refrigerator.We pulled into the driveway with exactly 46.57 miles… and this is important because I found out a few hours later that if that had been 47.07 miles, I’d have stopped exactly at 1,000 miles for the month. Instead, 999.5. Crime in Italy, Chuck. I was also 9 miles short on my 250 mile goal for the week. I thought about heading back out after I cut the grass, but thought better of it for once. I’ll top 1,000 for the month today and add to that total in Lennon tomorrow evening (we’ve got a spectacular forecast all the way through the weekend). I simply didn’t need the miles.
Later, after dropping my daughter at a friend’s house, we worked through those communication issues I mentioned earlier. We had some big laughs and sorted a lot out. I didn’t have any noodle salad for dinner last night, but did have a tasty pizza. Hey, I just had the thought maybe I should change “good times and noodle salad” to “good times and pizza”.
Noodle salad is good, for sure… but pizza, now that’s happiness and freedom on a plate.
Due to anonymity issues, I have to be very careful with this post. For that reason, this will appear a little vague. If you’ve read one post of mine, I like to be descriptive to a fault, because being clear helps newcomers. Sadly, I simply can’t be perfectly clear about the “who and where”. I’ll be all over the “what and why”, though, as is par for the course.
I stumbled into a very special group of old-timers when I moved north of my native Brighton – Howell zip code as a young lad. They were Flint’s “rat pack” in sobriety, the same as Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop in Hollywood. My sponsor, for a short but influential time before his death, was “Frank Sinatra”. He was such a good sponsor and man, he’s still talked about fondly and regularly a decade after his death. If you ever talk about a legacy, especially for a person in recovery, that’s as good as it can possibly get for just a normal, everyday person. My sponsor could make anyone feel instantly better about being themselves just by greeting them. It was an amazing talent and use of an enormous heart. He loved every lost soul who ever walked into an AA meeting and he was going to do his level best to make sure they felt welcome and knew that he was there for them if they decided to stick around.
We had “Dean Martin” over to the house, Friday night. I’d say he was Sammy (my favorite), but Peter is unquestionably Sammy. Dean was a close second favorite for me because I drank like him and related to his sense of humor. That quality my sponsor had, rubbed off on Ian. Ian, almost by chance and luck, had a huge influence on my wife and was a big part of her life growing up. My current sponsor, Greg, is “Joey Bishop”. Roger is “Peter Lawford”.
And so here we were, having a small dinner party (very small, so it could be held outdoors, socially distanced, because Ian and his wife are of that age that Covid-19 ravages). Ian’s been sober 44 years. I was five when he put a plug in the jug for good, 17 years before my sobriety date.
And so we group of sober friends and family ate together, vegetarians and balanced eaters alike, and it was wonderful. We all laughed. Ian, my wife and Ian’s wife cried. And in the course, Ian brought up how well he thought we were doing, and how happy we appeared. He related that back to his life and success, and we both related that back to our working a program of recovery.
And that brings us ’round to the main point of this post.
Within recovery, I am a decent example of a good human being. I’m not great, yet, I think I might need that 17 more years to touch that, but I’ll keep trying to get there. I have a chance to get there because I know one very important point down to my baby toes; sobriety and recovery aren’t an on-again, off-again experience. I don’t get to the good benefits by straddling the fence, one foot in recovery, the other in addiction and on a banana peel. And there exists a simple explanation for this truth…
In recovery, there is a progression to health that is very clear and if one hopes for the full benefits afforded by recovery, none of that progression can be skipped. It’s cumulative. First, we work the steps to become free of the grips of addiction. Once free, and with a basic knowledge of “how it works”, we go on to practice those steps and principles in all our affairs. As life continues, we lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows – helping others becomes a part of our life. Helping others naturally helps us grow in the steps and principles and life improves. It doesn’t get easier, of course. There are trials and tribulations, but we handle them better than we ever could, because the steps and principles we’ve been working for years have become second nature. We intuitively handle situations that once left us baffled, cursing the universe for having shit on us one more time. Now we roll over those issues as if they’re minor speed bumps. We have to slow the momentum a minute so we don’t bottom out the car, but we absolutely keep rolling. And life continues to get better.
Before you know it, you don’t need meetings anymore – if you’re so blessed, you keep going simply to see how good life can get and to help others get to the same place you’ve been for years. And this gets to my sponsor’s legacy. This will be Ian’s legacy, and Peter’s… and Greg’s and Roger’s.
And if I keep it up, possibly mine.
With on-again, off-again sobriety I can never fully release myself from the grips of alcoholism and addiction. I can’t recover. If I can’t get out of that fly-paper, I can’t move on to the next part of the progression so I never really get to the sunshine of recovery. I’m held back. Retarded from the growth necessary to help friends and fellows – because you’ve gotta have something to give away to be able to freely give it. If I can’t get there, I’m blocked off from the really good stuff.
I keep coming back because I want to see just how good “good” can get. Without recovery, all I’m capable of is “meh”. That’s just not good enough – it hasn’t been for a long time. Good times and noodle salad isn’t arrived at by chance. We have to work for it.
Top Speeds And Understanding Road Cycling Gear Combinations: The Compact Double, The Pro Compact, And The Big Dog 53/39 Pro Chainset Compared and Contrasted
For this post I won’t be looking into the newer, smaller large chainrings. Truthfully, with the exception of gravel riding, I think they’re useless – especially when you pair a 48 tooth big ring with a 35 tooth little ring. Why, when you can have a perfectly fantastic 50/34 compact combo, would anyone ever pick something that has less high-end and low-end speed?! It makes absolutely no sense to me when you consider that on a road bike we want to keep the cassette cog size jumps to a minimum. And if you go with a 46, without a 10 tooth cassette cog you’ll surely gear out in a halfway decent sprint. Not ironically, some people will think I’m nuts – and that is perfect! Because that’s how you know all is well in cycling. If everyone agrees, Houston, we have a problem.
Let’s get our hands dirty. I used to think the upper escape velocity limit for a compact double (50/34 chainset) with an 11t big gear was 40-mph. Escape velocity is the speed at which you can’t pedal faster to make the bike go faster – you’re geared out. Used to being the operative portion of that second sentence. One of my favorite rides has a straight shot descent down an 8% hill on good asphalt and my wife and I rode the route with a couple of friends a while back. I can tell you, with utter certainty, with a 50 tooth chain ring and the small 11 tooth cog on the cassette, you can reach 45-mph pedaling:
I can also tell you, the upper limit of a 52/11 combo is about 53-mph. I can also, also tell you, at 45-mph with a 50 and 53-mph with a 52, your legs are going to be pumping!
So this will properly lead to the question (and subsequent discussion), how much gear is really necessary when you’re looking at recreational road cycling?
In order to really break this down properly, we’re going to have to classify us some road cyclists. Starting from slow to fast, you’ll have the recreational cyclist, the enthusiast, the avid enthusiast and the pro cyclist. Within those four categories, we should be able to pigeon hole everyone into gearing that will suit their needs.
For the recreational road cyclist, and we’ll lump gravel in here, too (and smaller chainrings do work for gravel, as do 1x drivetrains), you won’t need anything more than a 50/34 compact. In fact, with cassette choices, anything more than a compact is a waste of gearing. For you, because you’re a special breed of cyclist, the 48 and even the 46 can be a good big chainring for you. For the recreational cyclist, gearing out is usually not an issue.
For the enthusiast, the 50/34 chainset is a good combination. Fitted with a decent 10, 11, or 12-speed cassette on the back, you’ll be able to go just about anywhere the road takes you. My favorite cassette with the compact is the 11-28. Enough high-end to get you to 45-mph and enough low end to get you up a 25% grade. That’ll do.
For the avid enthusiast, where I reside, it’s going to be a tossup between the 52/36 pro compact and the 50/34 compact. I happily rode with a 52/36 on my good bike and a 52/42/30 triple on my rain bike for years. Then, I decided to try the 50/34 on a whim, when I swapped out the drivetrain on the rain bike and I chose the 11/28 cassette over an 11/26… I liked the 11/28 so much I put one on the good bike as well, and that’s where I saw the flaws in the 52/36 combo – there were massive cadence holes between gears at the exact speeds I liked to ride – between 18-1/2 and 22-1/2-mph. Between that 4-mph stretch, I felt like I was in the wrong gear – either too easy or too hard… I went back to an 11/25 and was happier, until I ran out of gears on the way up a hill, but that was rare. After last season, I decided to change the Venge to a 50/34, simply by changing chainrings – it cost me all of $75 for a couple of SRAM Force rings:
Sure, I lost a little in top-end speed, but what 50-year-old (or almost 50-year-old) needs anything more than 45-mph anyway?! I can’t get that fast without a downhill, anyway! I’ve only ever been above 50 a few times (45-mph = 72-km/h, 50 = 80 km/h) so the 52/11 was really a wasted gear. I gained a bunch for climbing with the new combo, though. I can climb anything Michigan can throw at me, including easily climbing a nice 22% monster in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park. On the other hand, the 52/36 with an 11/25 or 26 cassette worked just fine for anything up to 18%.
Lastly, we’ve got our amateur racers and pros – those who actually choose a cassette to fit the conditions they’ll be riding in. Flat? They’ll be going with a corncob 11/23 cassette. A little climby? 11/25, maybe 11/28 (many pros use the 11/28 – the cadence holes are at speeds below their normal pace). The two chainring combinations of choice are the 53/39 and the 52/36 – except for the pros who dabble in the bigger combos. Peter Sagan’s 55/42 on his sprint bike, for instance.
The point is, it appears to me you really have to be in the upper crust to need more than a 50 tooth big ring and 34 tooth little – and as avid as I am about cycling, there’s no question the 50/34 is an easy favorite. It’s got everything I need and is almost as good as my old 52/42/30 triple… and without all of the gear overlap and the finicky nature of a triple.
Halfway through the year, I’m sitting on 4,554 overall miles which includes 953 miles on the trainer.
I started out the year down on mileage and feeling pretty fat, but COVIDcation turned that frown upside down. March was up by around a hundred miles but my April was up 400 over 2019. May was up another 200 and I should end up around 400 up by the time June’s done (a 12-day vacation meant no cycling miles last year).
What really had me freaked out just before our lock down started was my weight. I’d gotten a little bulbous over the winter and was only a few pounds beneath my heaviest ever in 2001. As one would expect, though, a few one-thousand-mile months can go a long way to fixing a few too many 1/2 pound burgers. For those across the pond, I don’t know how burger weight translates, but a half-pound is a BIG f’in’ burger.
So I stepped on the scale the other day, expecting to, at the very best, be pushing 180 but I shocked to find I was all the way down to 175 already. Better, if I just keep at it a little bit, I think I can pretty easily get down to 170, maybe even 165. I can tell you this, wherever I end up at the end of September, I’m going on a freaking diet so I can lock this in over the winter.
I read a post yesterday in which the author lamented still being on lock down (or what’s left of it), calling it a terrible time for everyone. If you’ve read any of my posts on the subject, you know where I come down on that. It was the best month-and-a-half of my life… in fact, the only thing better is a real vacation.
Today I’m grateful for my attitude and outlook on life. There once was a time I wasn’t capable of finding the good in what I’ve got and I thank God I’m not so afflicted today. Recovery brings with it more peace and contentment than I ever imagined possible, and that’s exactly why I keep coming back. I am intensely interested in seeing exactly how good life can get.
I’m definitely buying some noodle salad this weekend.
We gained a new guy a couple of weeks ago on Tuesday night. I’ve never seen someone show up for their first group ride and hang with us all the way to the sprint finish 28 miles (and change) later. He did it the first night, with no wind, but we dropped him last Tuesday on the home stretch after a few miles at 30-35-mph (48-56 km/h).
I stopped by his house whilst riding over to pick up my buddy, Chuck for our evening ride and Jayson was grinning from ear to ear when I pulled up. He’s a hardcore mountain biker who just made the jump to road cycling. We spoke at length about the differences (I started on a mountain bike as well) between mountain biking and road cycling and we both came down on the same line with road cycling: the speed is awesome.
I let him go on about how much fun it is riding in a group, to be a part of that speed, rocketing down the road at 30+ mph with a bunch of other riders… if you’ve never participated, if you’ve got the lungs and legs, it’s exhilarating. And that’s putting it mildly.
I am increasingly grateful for living where I do. We have cyclists from all over the country who wind up in our group that can’t say enough about how special it is to ride with us. We had another fella just Tuesday who’d ridden in groups all over the country say that he’d never run into a group of cyclists so welcoming and fun to ride with (at least not when you’re talking about the upper echelons of speed and fitness – my wife and I rode with a fantastic C group down in Georgia). Most come off aloof and stuck up, where we welcome most new folks as if they’re long lost friends.
Thus, the affable in Affable Hammers. We’re not perfect, of course, but we do our best.
Jayson and I concluded our conversation and I rolled out to pick Chuck up, grateful just to be me. My wife and I sometimes kick around the possibility of moving, just for a change of scenery. I’ve gotta tell you, though, leaving what we have wouldn’t be easy. You don’t see too many people writing or talking about how great it is to be a cyclist where they’re living.
Thinking seriously about it, I really don’t know if the grass can get any greener somewhere else, and that’s a good feeling to have. Come to think of it, I just might have to go the the grocery store and pick up some noodle salad tonight.
WNW wind, 18 knots. My buddy, Kurt titled his warm-up lap “This is gonna hurt”.
We rolled out with the A Group into the teeth of the wind, single file, 20-ish riders deep. Every one of us down in the drops to stay hidden. The A-Train led out at 23-mph into that headwind.
Eight of us disengaged as we turned the corner to head north. A perfect number for a double echelon so we actually fit on the road (!). I won’t lie, it was tough sledding for the first half of the ride. There were times we were struggling to hold 18-mph. The wind was soul-crushing. It was like getting smacked in the head trying to keep a decent pace. Brutal is a good fit.
But after 14 miles of that nonsense, tailwind. And that’s where this tale picks up…
Before said tailwind…
We picked up four A guys who’d been spit off the back of their group at the intersection where we transitioned from headwind to tailwind (it’s a hairpin left). We were up a hill with the wind pushing us and it took a few seconds to get situated but once we crested, we hit it. And the ride got fun in a hurry.
The photo above was taken at 27-mph with a 20-mph crosswind by a friend… I’ve taken some tough photos, but this one takes the cake!
The cruise into the first sprint was among our fastest ever (though not by much) and I stuck to not participating (besides, when you’re already going 33-mph, how much do you have to sprint?) and we held our line crossing the City Limits sign. To tell the truth, I knew what was coming and I didn’t want to stupidly burn any matches I didn’t need to. In town we cool down a little bit and collect ourselves before hammering out the last eight miles.
Surprisingly, we had an excellent pace heading north with a 20-mph crosswind and I had no problem keeping with the group and taking my turns up front, though they were short. We were north of 25-mph down a shallow decline, then 20-22 up the next minor incline (<1% if I had to guess). We were set up for the final five mile push home… with a 20-mph tailwind the whole way. We turned the corner and the lead guys gave everyone a chance to latch on….
And all hell broke loose. We went from 15-mph at the turn to 27-mph in two-tenths of a mile, and the speed only built. Within a half-mile we were pushing 31-mph. We hit 35-mph going down a slight decline and you could see signs of people starting to crack. I took over once we crossed a clear intersection at speed and took the group up a hill we normally do at 18-mph, northwards of 25. I was down in the drops givin’ her everything I had before flicking off at the false flat (where I knew I’d be able to latch on). After the hill the pace went nuts. We topped 36-1/2 mph on flat ground. Faster than I’d ever been without the aid of a serious hill. The four A guys and two of us B’s were taking the rounds up front but it was starting to hurt as we neared the finish line for the night. I noticed our group of nine was down to five and I was at the end of my rope. I popped with a quarter-mile to go and let Chuck and Joel catch up so I could cross the finish line with them. We still maintained 25-27 all the way to the line (and Chuck narrowly avoided a crash with Joel who was absolutely popped in the process).
We completed the 4.6 mile stretch in 9m:08s – the fastest four miles I’d ever ridden, with an extra 0.6-mile cherry on top.
We had just under a 20-mph average when we hit tailwind. We finished 21.6-mph and some of the most enjoyable, toughest miles I’ve ever had the pleasure of putting in on Tuesday night. It wasn’t our fastest Tuesday night, but it was absolutely one of the toughest.
Chuck summed it up best: “That was just like getting hit in the head with a hammer… it sure feels good when it stops.”
UPDATE: It’s hard to tell from the photos unless you know what you’re looking for, but I almost forgot… I did that ride on this:
That’s a 21 year old Trek with standard round tube carbon fiber construction. Heh.
It is a well-known fact that my favorite breakfast in the whole wide freakin’ world is biscuits and sausage gravy.
My brother from a different cycling mother, down in Tasmania, asked on yesterday’s post, “biscuits and gravy?”
Well, brother, that’s it and my daughter made the best, most perfectly seasoned sausage gravy over the fluffiest biscuits I’ve ever eaten in my entire life. And that includes drunk 3am breakfasts back in my drinking days. The best.
I only had to put in 40 miles on the tandem to earn the breakfast. If ever there was a way to pay for a breakfast!
Biscuits and gravy is a puzzle of flavor perfection. The biscuits have to be fluffy while sufficiently heavy. The gravy, creamy yet sufficiently peppered. The real trick is getting the salt right. Too much is gross, too little and the gravy lacks pop. My daughter, who happens to be an excellent cook/budding chef, got the puzzle pieces to fit perfectly into a bite of heaven every thirty seconds or so.
That, my friends, is good times and biscuits and gravy.
Mrs. Bgddy and I took the tandem out for Sunday Funday yesterday. We’ve been on a fantastic stretch for the last month cranking out great ride after great ride. We were bound for a little bit of a struggle sooner or later, and we got it yesterday.
First, I am a little beat up. I’ve only taken one day off the bike in more than a month. I’ve been handling my fitness well, though, making sure I use my active recovery days properly and so forth. Add to that, my lovely wife was beat up, too. She’s been putting in more miles in a week than I do… and Diane and Jeff rode Diane’s tandem for the ride yesterday. Diane and Jeff are strong on a tandem. Outrageously strong. This means I have to try to keep up because I lack the ability to ask, “can you dial it back a notch”? I simply can’t put those words together into an intelligible sentence when on an actual bicycle… unless I’m truly cooked.
With my wife tired, she was looking for excuses to slow down right off the bat and as soon as my buddy, Mike would slow down, she’d ease up on her pedaling to try to let him catch up. This meant I was pushing harder to keep up with the bike in front of us while my wife was easing up to let my buddy catch up. Tandems don’t work that way and I grew frustrated when I could feel her lay off the pedaling.
And that’s exactly when I realized I was going to have to pull up my big boy pants and stifle that negative $#!+ and have a conversation if we were going to keep our positive tandem rides going. Normally I’d have had a miniature blow-up and things would get messy. Instead, we talked it out and the last stretch of the ride was exactly as the last three rides were. Well matched, enjoyable, and fun.
Tandems are a tricky machine. They have a tendency to enhance what’s happening in relationships. If you’ve got a good streak going and you’re working together, they’re fantastic. If, however, you’re enhancing a bad time in the relationship? Good God, Almighty. In my case, keeping the spotlight on myself, riding the tandem can enhance my mood negatively just as it can positively. If I allow myself to blow up on our tandem, I’ll spend days trying to put the pieces back together so I actually have to think through what I’m feeling and what I’m going to say before I actually open my mouth. I’m not very good at that.
But I’m learning and getting better.
And so it was yesterday and our 40-mile ride progressed and ended on a positive note. The tandem enhanced the good.
We arrived home to our eldest daughter preparing biscuits and gravy (homemade) for my father’s day gift. They were the best I’ve ever eaten… and I’ve eaten a lot of biscuits and gravy in my day. I did a little yard work and watched a couple of movies and had a wonderful day. Every little choice matters and I always have to remember: “Jim, sometimes you wanna throw ’em like a lawn dart but you just gotta love ’em.” And so it is.
Yesterday was an interesting one. It was warm when we woke up, for June’s standards. Our longest day of the year, it was a balmy 64° when I rolled out of bed (early as usual). I’d picked my Trek for yesterday’s ride to give it a day in the sun and readied my our bikes when the time came at around 5am. We were rolling out at 7 to beat as much of the coming heat as we could.
We started out slow – and for once, I had no worries about pace. Only three showed. With my wife and I we had five and I’d planned on taking a lot of the headwind up front. I’ve grown to enjoy those days, actually, settling in for a five or six mile pull before making it back to the front after seven or eight more (Chuck took another five or more, Mike, my wife and Phill would take one or less, then it was my turn again). Once Chuck and I get done with the headwind the others take longer turns up front and we can relax a bit.
Our route yesterday, a fantastic ride down to Oak Grove, with a little ingenuity, was extended from its normal 47 miles to 60. I rode my cycling buddy, Mike home to make it 64 miles and some change. The ride was pre-loaded with headwind and after a few miles heading west, we got right into it. The wind, thankfully, was still on the gentle, enjoyable side so we made excellent time riding into it. With the temp in the mid-60’s (18 C), the cycling was absolutely perfect. It started out as one of those days where you’re simply thankful for being on the right side of the grass, pumping air. If ever there were a two-wheeled Hallmark ride, this was it.
At 22 miles, we were almost completely done with headwind. We had a few miles toward the end of the ride to contend with, but other than that it was cross and tailwind all the way home. And the temperature started climbing. 44 miles in, it was hot. We’d just stopped at a cyclist-friendly convenience store and I picked up an ice-cold Coke for my wife and I. It was nothing short of spectacular… and after ten miles, that and the gel I’d taken in were kicking in. I went from dragging a little to feeling fantastic. The rest of the ride was pure joy on two wheels.
After cleaning up, some lunch and a 20-minute nap, it was time to tackle the grass… thankfully, on a riding mower because my yard is WAY too big for a push-mower. The grass took a couple of hours.
After, with the yard looking fantastic, I had a creak to address in my wife’s bike. She had complained about it during our ride and I had no clue what I was getting into. I kept my tee-shirt on and donned an old pair of very nice Specialized RBX Pro shorts I keep in the drawer for trainer season. It only took a quarter mile to diagnose the problem; the seat post securing aperture. I took the bike into the house, removed the seat post, removed the securing mechanism, cleaned it, lubed the bolt and reinstalled it. Perfectly quiet… a new record.
My wife had taken the girls to the lake so I was on my own. I could have sat down on the couch and put my feet up but I was overcome with a desire to ride again. Tinkering on my wife’s bike set me off. I decided to take the Venge out for a parade lap around the neighborhood… and so it was. I didn’t even bother changing my shirt. I just popped on a helmet and rolled out. It took me seven miles to realize I’d walked out the door without my spare tire kit because I had no back pocket to put it in. And a parade lap it was. I was very tired and hot, but the ride was great fun. Another 13-1/2 miles in just shy of 50 minutes (I really took my time).
When I pulled into the driveway, I was ready done. Put a fork in me. 100+k bike, mow the lawn, and another 21 k’s, my first bikeathlawn.
Another shower, some dinner, and I was down for the count. I slept like a baby and dreamt of sunshine, carbon fiber and noodle salad.
It’s as good as it gets.
To all of the dads out there, happy Father’s Day! May your day be the best of days.