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Monthly Archives: October 2020

TNIL: A Little Help From My Friends Edition.

‘Twas the last hurrah for the Venge

I readied my Venge for what was likely it’s final evening in the sun for the year.  This year’s upgrades were a new saddle and a set of sweet Ican Fast & Light 50 wheels (50-mm, carbon fiber, 25-mm wide, 1,470 grams for the set, very fast, amazing value) capped that bike off – it’s perfect.  Mechanically, at seven years old, it’s the best I’ve ever had it.

I was on my way to the church early enough I’d get a decent warm-up in.  It was chilly, just 50° (10 C) with a mild, single-digit breeze out of the east.  The good thing about an east breeze is there’s technically only eight miles of straight headwind out of 28 miles and some change.  The bad is that most of that is at the end.  We rolled out for the warm-up at 4:57 with the main event due to start at 5:30.  With limited time, we headed west for a couple of miles then turned around to head straight back.  I was caught in the wrong gear on the turnaround and almost thought about staying in the back for the headwind but that seemed a twatwaffle thing to do, so I took my lumps.  The headwind was surprisingly heavy.  Of course, with Pickett up front next to me, we were heading up a slight incline at 20-mph into that breeze.  Who does that on the warm-up?!  I flicked off the front after a mile and went back to hide.

The main event started out pretty quick, A’s & B’s rolling out together.  Our first tailwind mile was at around 25-mph, I was up front with Dave.  The next three, heading north, were no problem with the mild crosswind at 23 to 24-mph.  I took the next mile with Dave, again.  We had a tailwind mile and took it between 25 & 26.  No problem.  Then Shipman road, and we had a quartering tailwind and some help for once (normally we’re dead into a headwind on that road).  The pace was being held between 25 & 28-mph (41 to 45 km/h) and toward the end of the stretch I started running out of “want to”.  After a pull up front during which I burned too many matches, I slipped off the back figuring I’d just take a shortcut.  I’d have eight miles dead into a headwind, alone.  

I kept my pace steady, between 21 & 24-mph and caught my breath.  The group wasn’t pulling away from me as fast as I figured they would.  They stopped for traffic at a crazy five-way intersection and I had a decision to make; relax and let them go, or pedal a little harder and catch up… if traffic held them long enough.  I decided to give it some effort to see if I could get back on.  As I closed it looked as though there were no cars holding them up – quite a few were looking back at me.  They waited.  That doesn’t happen too often, my friends and as I closed the gap, I have to admit, I felt like a Hundred Dollars.

The next six miles were pretty brutal in the hills but I managed to hold on.  I took my lumps up front but tried to keep my turns short so I didn’t fall off the back again.  I hate having to do that, but my legs were fighting me a little bit.  The temp had dropped down to the low 40’s and I just don’t do well in the cold – never have.  I stuck with it, though, and up the main hill before the B’s and A’s separate, I was still in contact with the tandems and a few others.  

Four of the A’s continued on for the long route while two tandems, a couple of A’s, and four or five B’s waited for Clark to catch up at the regroup point.  He’d fallen off in the hills (which was easy to do with a headwind).  He was about a minute back and once he caught up (and his breath), we rolled out for the eight mile home stretch.

The remainder of the ride was more my pace.  Single-file pace-line and in the low 20’s in the head wind, mid-20’s with a crosswind, with a nice buildup in the last mile.  I was second bike behind Mike & Diane’s tandem coming in the last mile and they were absolutely taking it to the barn, dead into the headwind.  I couldn’t believe how long they stayed up front but they just kept going.  Approaching the sprint point, after hiding most of the ride, I decided not to go for the sprint.  My legs were suckin’ anyway, and Mike & Diane earned the sign season’s final.  

We hammered across the City Limits at 29-mph into the wind, just shy of 50-km/h.

And that was that.  I stopped my Garmin and recued another workout for the cooldown mile back to the parking lot.  I ended up with a 22.1-mph average because I fell off the back for that mile or two but the group finished with a 22.4 – fantastic for one of the last TNIL’s of the year.  It was hi-fives and laughs all the way back to the parking lot.

It’s a rare day I struggle like that.  We all have them, I suppose.  Thankfully, I’ve got some great friends who got me through it.

The Simple Pleasure of an Easy Ride with a Friend at the Twilight of the Season

Work just keeps on coming at me lately. Early in the am to late in the pm, weekends, even Sundays… it’s tough sometimes, but if it was easy, anyone could do it.

Yesterday was a good, but exceptionally busy Monday. The text messages started at 5:40 in the morning and were still going at 5:30 – about 45 minutes after I rolled my bike out the front door to ride. I got home quite early but Mrs. Bgddy had gotten a flat earlier and my buddy, Mike had a rough time changing the tire on the road so my daughter (home because the school was locked down for two weeks because of a high COVID case count) had to pick her up. I gave her the pointers again, on how to change the tire herself (we’ve been over it several times, don’t start on me) while she did all of the work… I figured I’d be done in ten minutes, it took 30 before I could get dressed and roll my bike out the door. Chuck, for once, was waiting at my driveway.

I was a ball of stress as I threw my leg over the top tube.

Chuck, God Bless him, took us out at about 16-mph. I took over for miles two & three and notched the pace up a little bit, but not by much. We were fairly bundled up as we were about 15 degrees below normal (47 F or 8 C). I was in shorts, leg warmers, arm warmers and a thermal long-sleeved jersey and I was perfect. We did our normal loop at an outrageously relaxed pace, talking about the topics of the day… and I have to be careful not to get me going on that note. I’ll just suffice it to say we had some spectacular laughs.

And so it was.  I pulled into the driveway with a perfectly slow Jimmer Loop; 19.75 miles and we didn’t even crack 16-mph for an average.  Chuck rolled on for a few laps around the block while I cleaned up and prepared dinner for my wife and I.  

So there I was, making dinner, smiling at how much fun I had out on my ride.  There was no training value to it – I won’t be faster in any way for having gone on that ride.  I thought about how awesomely comfortable my Trek is now that she’s all done – it truly is, finally, an amazing bike and a joy to ride.  Most important, my stress level went from about a six or seven down to a one over the course of just under 20 miles and one hour, fourteen minutes.  

I was able to relax at dinner and have a decent conversation with my wife where, without that release of steam, I’d have been a terrible dinner partner.  Just like I can’t do without meetings for recovery, my bikes make everyday stress manageable… 

And for that, I am grateful.

DIRT! With Friends

Five of us went out in the early, sunny cold morning for a bit of an adventure. We knew there was one particular road we wanted to ride that we pass on one of our favorite paved road rides. The trick was figuring out how to get there.

Diane and I started out a little quick, opening a bit of a gap on the group because we started talking about work. Once we realized what we were doing, we sat up and let the others catch up. I didn’t spend much time up front after that as every single time I got up there I pulled away from the group. I didn’t pick the pace up, either… somebody would take a turn and I’d be next, holding the same pace and I’d just walk away. So I stayed back and let everyone else keep the pace.

And we explored.

New roads, places we’d never been before, places we’d seen and wanted to ride once we had the gravel bikes out. It was so much fun you couldn’t call it a “workout”.

Mike started out with a goal of 25 miles. He doesn’t like his gravel bike because it “beats him up”, so he likes to keep his mileage short when we pick dirt roads. Unfortunately, his bike beats him up because he over-inflates the tires and no amount of explaining how air pressure works on dirt roads seems to help. I’ve got the same gravel bike and mine is infinitely comfortable, as long as I keep the pressure between 45 & 50 psi (3.0 to 3.4 bar). I go above 50 and all bets are off (I’m running 32’s, the widest I can fit between the rear triangle). He also has a couple of fit issues and a saddle problem, but I don’t want this post to get into 4,000 words… so moving on.

This day was different, though. We had 16 miles in before we were even thinking of heading back.

We stopped in what was likely the most beautiful half-mile of the entire ride and had a snack and snapped a photo before rolling out for home. The pace was easy and relaxed the whole way. I thought about extra miles but in the end opted to ride home with Phill and my wife, calling it a day.

I’d surpassed last years total mileage earlier in the week and there’s simply no reason to get greedy at this point.

With a trainer day on Sunday, it’s time to start watching what I’m eating. We’re a little early this year for diet time, but it is what it is. Looking at the weather outlook for the next couple of weeks, it’s not going to be terrible, but it isn’t going to be warm, either. Project “Don’t Get Fat This Winter” is underway.

Oh, and for projects this winter… I’m thinking about converting my mountain bike to a drop bar. A friend of mine did it and it’s awesome.

Bring In the Gravel Bikes!!! First Trainer Ride of the Winter Season…

My friends, it’s a sad, sad day. We’re bringing the gravel bikes out this morning. And not because we’ve got some great new roads to explore (we do), but because it’s so cold out this morning, we don’t want to take the fast bikes out. The year is ending just like it started; cold. It’s not all bad, of course – I do enjoy this time of year. All of the records are in the books, the mileage count is where it’s at (good or bad – this year was absolutely good). Now it’s time to simply enjoy pedaling with my friends. In the cold (remembering, there aren’t bad rides in the cold, just bad gear).

Tomorrow’s prospects, if the rain holds off till we can get a ride in, look much better in terms of temperature. Road bikes for sure.

So, as the Title says, last night was my first postseason ride on the trainer. Riding on the hamster wheel wasn’t exactly necessary as much as it was convenient. It was windy and cold when I got home from the office and the temp was dropping rapidly – and it had rained just after I pulled into the driveway. It wasn’t exactly wet out but it was damp enough I didn’t want to psych myself up enough to don the entire cold weather wardrobe to ride outside. Just couldn’t do it. Plus, we had some exceptionally high winds the other day that ripped a piece of flashing off the garage, so I fixed it to avoid damage to the wood – I was running low on daylight.

So, Star Wars: The Last Jedi it was. With Mrs. Bgddy out with our youngest and the eldest at the football field for marching band, I cranked the Bose surround system and settled in for my 45 minutes. As it is with riding the trainer, there was a lot to be desired, but it was simple. No layers, no cold first couple of miles, no traffic… and my workout took an hour and a few minutes, from dressed to dressed and ready to go.

And so it is, the official start to my gravel bike cross-training season starts in an hour and a half from this post publishing.

My Idea of a Perfect Day In Recovery Isn’t Exactly What Many Might Think – And It’s Definitely Not All That Sexy.

I’m fortunate enough to work from home one day a week. Wednesday. Technically, I’m at the office about 6:10 am, but I’ve got a meeting at a job just 14 miles from home at 9, so rather than drive all the way back to the office after the meeting, I work in my home office for the rest of the day. Yesterday was particularly awesome. And by awesome, I mean hard. I fixed my estimating software with tech support, wrangled a few jobs, worked on some estimates and, with the exception of a nice lunch hour, was busy an hour-and-a-half after I’d normally leave the office.

That lunch hour was special, though.  My wife is running for the local school board so she’s always busy lately.  While she was on the phone, I got her gravel bike out of the bike room… it’s been put away wet so many times the rear brake cable was frozen inside the housing.  It was so bad, I had to cut the cable and housing up by the handlebar to get the cable out of the shifter.  Worst I’ve ever seen.  Now, for most this would mean dropping the bike off at the shop.  Mechanical disc brakes, new cable and housing, internally routed.

I won’t lie, I put the repair off almost a week because I was nervous about running that cable housing through the frame.  In the end, after a few different tricks failed, I got it through the little opening down by the bottom bracket with some luck and a pair of needle-nosed pliers.  Once the housing was through, the rest of the repair was pretty straightforward.  Not exactly easy, but I did a very nice job.  Now her “other” gravel bike (she has two currently) is good to go, 100%.  Then it was back to work, right up until I threw my leg over my top tube just before 5.

I almost didn’t bother with the bike ride.  I know, I know, but it was a little chilly (low 60°), windy, gray and cloudy… it wasn’t exactly a day suited for an enjoyable ride.  That’s exactly what I got out of it, though.  I took the Venge for a two-mile spin to check out the saddle position and decided I needed to change it a bit after getting back to the house.  I put on a vest and moved my Garmin and Varia taillight to the Trek and took that for the rest of my ride.  I let the tailwind push me and picked an easy gear for the headwind.  It should have been a junk mile ride but I had a fantastic time.  I was smiling when I pulled into the driveway.  Never would have seen that ride coming.  Not in those conditions.

Then, with my wife at a board meeting and my kids at swimming practice, I cleaned up and picked up pizza for supper.  Eating was a little quiet and lonely, but as soon as I was done, I had to hustle out the door to make my Tuesday night meeting.

Best meeting I’ve been to in months.  For those in the program, you know those superficial meetings where people talk about anything but recovery?  Like anyone gives a shit about how difficult their life is because the groomer didn’t cut the dog’s hair right, or the lesson someone learned in humility because the pool guy messed up the pool’s pH at the second home in California, but they were able to control themselves and didn’t yell at owner (no kidding, I actually sat through this a few years ago – I actually laughed out loud at the “humility, living life on life’s terms” part). 

No, last night’s meeting was one of those where you really get down to what’s going on and how to get through life on life’s terms, both from a noob’s perspective, and then from a seasoned AA’s perspective, and finally from the perspective of someone who’d relapsed after 42 years of recovery.  We talked about what mattered.  It was one of those meetings where everyone walks out feeling better about their recovery than when they walked in, no matter where we are on the path.

I left shortly after the meeting and was asleep by 9:30, and I did fall asleep with a smile on my face.

My friends, true peace, contentment and happiness – the best recovery has to offer – isn’t about enjoying the huge victories and the big leaps in progress.  It isn’t about winning the lottery.  It’s about finding, appreciating and making the most of the good in normal day-to-day life.  

Yesterday wasn’t spectacular because I hit a homerun.  Yesterday was spectacular because I saw the good in everything life gave me, from the moment I woke up till the second I fell asleep.  If you want to slow time down, so at the end of 30 years you’re not saying “Where did it go?”, but “Wow, what a ride!  What’s next?!”, this is my secret:  Do the next right thing at any given moment, then find a way to enjoy that moment for what it is.

It isn’t easy, but it’s worth it.  It just takes practice.  Lots of it.

TNIL Cycling with Friends: 10 km in 15 Minutes

It never gets old, my friends.

We rolled out last night to one of our last, last best evenings for TNIL-2020. This late in the season, though, if it’s warm, it’s due to the warmth being blown up to us. We had a stiff southwest wind to contend with. That’s good and bad… half of the ride is really hard – the other half is mildly hard. But the last 10k, it’s all tailwind all the way home.

It’s that last 10k that this story is all about.

I broke rule #1 in Tuesday Night in Lennon. I hadn’t brought my good legs. I left them somewhere along a 20-mph century Saturday afternoon. The slog into the wind was absolutely brutal. Still, I did my best to do my part. I knew I’d be alright if I just hung on till the tailwind.

We turned the corner, a hairpin righthand’er and… we had a tandem up front so the first hill was mercifully reasonable. Once we crested, though, the tempo picked up.

The next three miles is simply getting to and through the next hill till the fun part. Over the last hill we had the whole group together so there was no regrouping, we just rolled on, the two tandems up front and pulling hard. Over the crear and with some down and tailwind we went from 21 on the way up, to 27-mph (43 km/h) in a hurry. With the second tandem up front, it was like they were taking it to the barn as the passed 31-mph (50 km/h). I made a quick motion to everyone behind to stand down for the sprint so we could give it to Mike and his wife. They’d earned it. They selflessly lead us out all season long, they needed one after that effort.

We slowed a bit through town, but once across 71, we were right back after it. Chuck was in the lead and I was second. He took it up to speed and I held it through my turn. Up an easy incline at 22 to 24 and we were on the homestretch with a cross-tailwind.

We put on a clinic in smooth, steady speed. I knew the A Group would be right on our heels. We only dipped below 23 once at an intersection, to wait for a farmer to complete his turn. That stop cost us some time.

Chuck and I were one, two again. He led up the incline and wound the speed up and I took it up a notch to 26 before flicking off to the back and a rest. Clark was next, then David, then the tandems took over with under a mile to go. Dave and Val put in an excellent effort and flicked out to Mike and Diane, who put the hammer down. They “took the baton” at 25-mph and started working the pace up. 27… 28-mph… 29… Unlike previous weeks, I knew I was going for this sign. I was second bike behind the tandem and they appeared to have plenty of leg left to get to the end so I shifted to the drops, chose the right cadence and upshifted, waiting to come even with the farmhouse that signifies 20 seconds to the City Limits sign.

I could feel riders jostling in the back and tried to hold back so I didn’t burn my matches before crossing the line… I jumped 20 meters early, starting at 30-mph, and put everything I had into the pedals. My Venge leapt forward, hands in the drops, ass-high, head-low. 32… 33… 34… I shot across the line and looked back. More than a length, and the A Group was just coming across the line.

It was all fist-bumps and laughs on the cooldown mile. Another fantastically satisfying Tuesday night in the books. It wasn’t the fastest we’d ever done, but there was smooth and fun in spades. It was one of those nights that, in the dead of winter when I’m longing for a good ride outdoors and there’s a yard of snow on the ground (call it a meter), I’m going to remember that night.

We rode the last 10 km (6.2 miles) at a 24.25-mph average. , or 39 km/h. 15m:23s… Not our fastest 10 k, but definitely smokin’.

It’s Good to Be Me. Part 23,578

I clipped in, right first, push off, left, and rolled out. I was in Funkier bibs and my Assenmacher jersey, just barely warm enough to justify the getup. The clouds had rolled in hours ago and the wind was… incessant, and from the south.

I let the wind push me north, slowly picking up speed till I hit my first turn to head east. East sucked, wind out of the southeast. I bent my arms to lower my shoulders and head and casually spun into it. With the big ride on Tuesday, I actually had a goal with this ride and average pace wasn’t it.

Still early, I passed Chuck’s street to get an extra couple miles. It wasn’t looking too promising with the mounting cloud cover. I turned south and hit the real wind. And fresh chip-seal, still with gravel piled in the center of each lane and the middle of the road… half a mile, I gave up and carefully turned around. Heading north and west were much better.

I pulled into Chuck’s driveway just as he was coming out of the house. We rolled out. We had a nice crossing tailwind and talked about current events. Three miles later we were headed north and it started spitting on us… the old Michigan curse: 19% chance of rain means a 100% chance of being 19% wet.

Still, it wasn’t all that bad, so we pedaled on… 5% wet. A loop through a small subdivision for an extra mile and back north… 10% wet, and that’s when I saw what was coming. I looked for hope of a quick shower and respite. There was none. We were getting wet.

15% wet.

I told Chuck what was coming but we decided to ride it out a minute… more tailwind. Two minutes later, “spitting” became constant drizzle. 20% wet. A quarter-mile later, I threw in the towel. I told Chuck I was taking my toy home. He said he was going to ride it out.

It got dark in a hurry and I ground it out into the cross headwind, keeping my pace around 20. 30% wet. I concentrated on my pedal stroke, getting the most out of each revolution, while taking care to keep it right on the edge without going over. The pavement was wet, as was I. I tried not to think about the five miles ahead, all headwind.

Then south. 40% wet. It wasn’t so bad at first. I managed to get the pace up to 19 before a gust hit me, kicking me back to reality. 16-mph, then 17… 50%.

I turned east to dry pavement and the rain slowed to a spit… before picking up. Again, concentrating on the pedal stroke. Powering to the ground and around… 20-mph… and spitting became rain.


I pulled into the driveway after the hard grind into the wind and unclipped. Not drenched, but far from dry. I spent the next 20 minutes cleaning and drying my bike.

My wife was out and my eldest at the gym. Swimming practice had been canceled for the storms and my youngest left for a 4-mile run. I showered and readied my supper, a leftover burger from Saturday’s cookout.

Then, Star Wars The Last Jedi and sleep. I was out like a light, dreaming about drier days on two wheels and other happy thoughts. The last thought that went through my melon before sleep took me was how lucky I am to be me.

That’s a good way to end a day.

Just Shy of a 150 Mile Weekend and a Sunday Epiphany.

I rolled out Sunday morning with my buddy, Mike at 8am sharp. A stark contrast to Saturday morning, it was 45° (7 C) with barely a breeze. We don’t have many days left suitable for the Venge so, after quite a bit of consternation, I readied it to go. I wanted to take the Trek but I had wanted to see how my new saddle would do on day two in the midst of a raging saddle sore. I settled in as we slowly made our way up the road, just Mike and I. I can’t remember the last time we only had two of us for a weekend ride.

Mike and I needed some catch up time, anyway. It’s been months since we’ve ridden, just he and I.

Two miles in and I was settled right in, with the exception that my legs felt like I’d put them through a meat grinder. I was tired, and it doesn’t happen too often that I’m content at 16 or 17-mph. We chose a north/south route because an easterly breeze was due to kick up and heading east really isn’t an option – too much traffic. A couple of miles up and I saw another rider up ahead, the red Specialized was unmistakable. Phill was joining us.

The next 30 miles were complete, relaxed autumn cycling enjoyment. We each took our lumps up front and talked about anything but the ridiculousness of politics.

The sun was blazing, though it’s now low enough on the southern horizon it doesn’t help much to warm things up without some slipstream help. I’d dressed perfectly, though, so the cool temperature wasn’t a factor. We rolled on, alternating between conversation and quietly enjoying the fall morning and the lack of traffic.

Phill split off to head back to his daughter’s house while Mike and I had about eight miles left for home. We kept our pace up for the north/south roads but took it easy for the few miles we had left heading east. The wind had picked up and my legs were starting to feel heavy. You know that point where you can feel the pre-cramps in your quads? That’s where I was, like if I dared try something as simple as a sprint, I’d be done for. Mike was more than alright with taking it easy, though. He’d worked hard the day before as well.

We laughed and talked on the south roads, then knuckled down for the few miles east – we couldn’t have heard the other in the wind, anyway.

I pulled into the driveway with 46 miles and some change, while Mike headed for home a couple of miles up the road. I cleaned up, had some lunch and settled in for a needed nap. Waking up a half-hour later was slow and I seriously thought about going back to sleep… but duty, in the form of the lawn, called. Sadly, it won’t mow itself. Even if it barely needed it.

Out of the blue, whilst using the lawn sweeper to pick up a layer of pine needles on the front lawn under our massive pine trees, I had an epiphany. My wife and I sit on different sides of the aisle politically and it gets tense in our house every four years – especially ’16 and this year (as one would imagine). I expect my wife to withdraw considerably, as she always has, until well after the election (unless her side wins, then it’s miraculously all okay again). It’s been this way since we were married and I’ve learned to accept it for what it is. The sun rises and sets on her for me, so I’ll live with a little crazy every four years.

So there I am sweeping up the debris out of the lawn and it hits me; what if I change during an election cycle, too? I never thought I did, but it’s distinctly possible. Probable, even. This will take some thought and action on my part. I wouldn’t go so far as to say this is “if you spot it, you got it”, but it’s close.

Point is, I always want to be a better me. Without that attitude and work, a drink and oblivion aren’t far behind. I’ve had a lifetime’s fill of that misery. I don’t need any more.

With Cycling, the Toys are Fun, the Fitness is Great, but What Really Make the Pedals Go ‘Round are the Friends

My friend, Chuck, was excited. He was all set to ride his 25th century (100 miles, not kms) for 2020 yesterday. The weather was going to be perfect, too. Sunny, 65 at the start, 75 at the finish (18 to 24 C)… a slight chance of rain. 25 centuries in a year, for a working guy, is a big deal. So I made a big deal about it. I sent out an announcement at the beginning of the week to all of our friends that Saturday was the day, hoping we could get him a little help to make the ride a little easier.

We started out with six. One of our friends drove a full hour to get to my house for the 8 o’clock start. We rolled out in the mild, clear sky morning dead into a 10-mph (16 km/h) headwind. Slow going at first, but the pace picked up nicely. The rotation was fantastic; my wife, Mike, Diane, Mike, Chuck and I – we’ve put in countless miles together – there’s just something spectacular about a group of seasoned, tightly knit cyclists riding together. There’s no wrangling to it, we all know what we’re doing.

Michigan’s natural fireworks show is in full swing and, while it’s sad to think how numbered our outdoor days are, (the boys and girls at Zwift have to be excited the winter membership spike is right around the corner) Saturday was to be the last great day of the year. Being able to start and finish a long ride in shorts and short sleeves in October is rare.

We followed an old favorite route, the Assenmacher 100, because we know it like the back of our hand and there’s a lot of great pavement. Of the 100 miles, less than 5% is of the “is my ass going to fall off because of the horrible road” variety. Most of the roads are out in the middle of nowhere, too, and that makes for a quiet, enjoyable ride.

We also picked up Greg and his son, Eli on the way out. Greg is a cycling yeoman. That’s the most apt description of how one of the classiest guys I know will meet up with us just to hang out with friends and perform some of the best “into the headwind” turns we’ll see all year long.

Yeoman’s work: performed or rendered in a loyal, valiant, useful, or workmanlike manner, especially in situations that involve a great deal of effort or labor

Greg led us out for much of the headwind. Diane dropped off at 28 miles to head home and my wife and Mike dropped at 32, leaving the five of us to duke it out with nature’s equalizer. Greg cranked up the heat. By the time he and Eli dropped off to head home at 42 miles, I was vastly grateful for Greg’s effort, but I was a little glad that none of the three of us could match his intensity. We still had a lot of headwind left, but it would be much less intense slogging into it.

And then there were three of us. Chuck, Mike and I. We each took our lumps in the headwind for miles at a time. We pulled into Laingsburg at 45 miles with a 19.3-mph average (31 km/h). I bought a lemon-lime Gatorade and a Cherry-Vanilla Coke (one of the best flavored Coke’s in the history of Coca-Cola – second only to Orange-Vanilla) and a Twix candy bar. I needed the caffeine and sugar, STAT. We ate and drank and took a minute for a breather before rolling out into the wind that had been steadily picking up. We spent another eight miles duking it out with the wind, before we finally hit tailwind. And it was glorious. Each of us took three to seven-mile long turns up front and kept the speed pegged between 22 & 27-mph.

We stopped at a Subway for lunch in Owosso, the now famous town where a barber stood up to the tyranny of a governor and her bureaucracy to, of all things, cut hair during a forced lockdown… and won. Chuck, to our surprise, bought. He thanked us for riding with him. Sadly, we were eating when it dawned on me why he bought. I let Mike know my hypothesis; Chuck was going to ride us like rented mules all the way home. We had several great laughs, finished our lunch, and rolled out for home.

We had a tailwind for all but seven of the last 27 miles and we made the most of it. We absolutely pounded out the miles, often north of 25-mph raising our average speed from 19-1/2 to 20.4 as we went. With just four miles to go, Chuck ran out of gas. He’d taken the lead, heading south and up a tiny 2% speed bump of a hill, but his legs doth protest too much and he tapped out after only a quarter-mile up front. My Garmin was next. Fortunately, I reached into my back pocket and pulled out my phone to start up a Strava activity on the fly – I still managed to track my last three miles and change.

After we ticked over 100 miles, we sat up to spin home. I was at a 20.4 average when my Garmin died. We congratulated Chuck on his 25th century of the year and split off for the last mile to my house, recapping the ride as we went. I thanked Mike for driving all that way to join us, it would have been a much longer ride without him. And to illustrate just how awesome that tailwind was, we did the final 50 miles in 2h:18m:03s… we didn’t hit tailwind till 53.

I spent the rest of the day grateful for my friends and for being me. Being a member of AA, I’m used to being a part of a brotherhood where we share each other’s burdens for the betterment of the individual and the group. It’s second-nature to me. However, it’s strikingly awesome to have that in a fitness-related hobby as well.

Cycling never gets old.

P.S. The new Bontager Montrose saddle on the Venge was spectacular. Exceedingly comfortable, though I believe there’s some room to dial it in and make it even better…

An Experiment In Saddle Width: Initial Findings Are… I Have a Narrow Keister

Friends, yesterday was new saddle day and new saddle day was good.

I won’t lie, I was expecting the worst and hoping for the best when I rolled out yesterday to pick up Chuck, my BRB, on my brand new Bontrager Montrose Pro Carbon 128-mm saddle. I was measured nine years ago and it was concluded I’m a 143 after starting on a 155 that had me in substantial pain. I was measured in a fairly upright position, though, and it’s suggested that the more aggressive the riding position, the more the hips rotate, the narrower the area of sit bone contact on the saddle. This hypothesis makes my experience make sense.

I took a few minutes to dial the saddle in before rolling and opted for a less stretched out, more forward position.

The first mile was… tenuous. Once I got my stride, though, every mile thereafter was better than the last till I pulled into my driveway giddy, with 27 miles and a happy heinie.

I am not a 143, either. It’s clear that, while a 143 can work, I’m better suited to something in the 138-125-mm range.  I have a narrow keister, to put it simply.

One thing is certain; that saddle is staying!  I can’t remember such an enjoyable ride on the Venge… a little tinkering and I just might forget it’s there.  And now, because I’m me, today will be the big test.  I’ve got a hundred miler on the docket for the day.  Because, you know, if you’re going to test something out, nothing is better than diving in headfirst, right?