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Monthly Archives: March 2021

For My Irish Friends

With all the Irish blood I’ve got, don’t ask me how I turned out to be an alcoholic. It beats me. But hey, as the great Donald Duck Dunn once said in the greatest musical in the history of humankind, “If this shit fit, wear it”.

I do, Donald Duck Dunn. I do.

Doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good meme and share it with my friends.

Back On the Road Again… Though No TNIL Report Today

The weather was quite lovely yesterday, if excessively windy. Actually, it was really windy. I was still feeling a little run down from my vaccine and almost thought about taking the night off riding entirely (it’d been a couple of days, no ride Sunday or Monday). Then I went outside after a nap on the couch which had the affect of making me feel several dozen times better. The sun was shining and it was warm. I prepped the Trek. I thought about the Venge for a minute, but with 20-mph winds and gusts even higher, the Trek was the right bike.

I wasn’t taking the trip up to Lennon, though. First, I didn’t want to fight the wind in a group. Second, I didn’t want to work that hard feeling the way I did. Chuck didn’t want to mess with the wind in the group, either, so he rode with me.

It started out fantastically with crossing tailwind all the way to Chuck’s house. Then, Chuck took the lead heading out of his subdivision and chewed up all the headwind miles. I took over as we headed north, then a loop in a small sub followed by another half-mile north, followed by my only full-mile pull into a headwind for the whole ride.

Chuck and I had been talking regularly over the last few days and he knew I’d been hammered by my first shot and wasn’t feeling well, so he took every headwind mile except that one. He’d just stay up front till we hit a tailwind stretch then he’d fall back so I could take my turn. Folks, that’s a friend right there.

I ended up with 25 miles for the evening at an average pace of 16.8-mph and, while I felt slightly nauseous at times, I did have a smile on my face when I pulled into the driveway. I brought my bike in, uploaded my ride to Strava, found out I’d gotten Strava’d…

Then the chills hit. I was warm but felt like I was freezing. I was petrified that I’d done damage and maybe even set myself back. I shivered through my hot shower. I was just about to curl up in a ball on the couch when… after I dried off and put some fleece pants and my robe, bam. I felt marvelous. Just like that, I warmed up and felt wonderful all evening long.

I did take an Advil Dual Action (acetaminophen plus ibuprofen) before I went to bed – actually, 20 minutes before I laid down… don’t ever take a pain med then lay down for bed right after, supposedly that’s bad for your stomach. Anyway, I did sleep like a baby for a little more than 4-1/2 hours but I woke up a little sore. I went out to the pantry and took a regular Tylenol then fell back asleep in my recliner on the couch.

And here I sit at work, properly medicated, feeling quite good, actually. With temps approaching 50 this afternoon, I’ll have to evaluate how I feel later today. I’d like to get out for an afternoon ride, but I’m not going to push it, either. We’re in for a cold spell tomorrow, followed by a wonderful weekend for cycling. I want to be 100% for that, so I’m not going to mess around with trying to do too much, too fast.

Fingers crossed that I’m through this – I really do feel quite well this morning. Fingers crossed.

The COVID Vaccine Flu; My Experience (Spoiler: It Sucks… But It Beats Dying)

Being an exceptionally healthy fellow, I anticipated an easy time of my first vaccine shot. After the first 24 hours, all I had was a bit of a sore arm. I figured I was in the clear.

I was mistaken.

I felt decent much of Saturday, riding 42 miles with friends in the morning and taking my mom to get her second shot, but as the day wore on, the vaccine caught up with me.

Sunday felt like I’d been hit by a linebacker (I almost went to get tested). I slept most of the day, taking in the neighborhood of five or six naps throughout. Monday was slightly better but I still felt run down and sore all over, though concentrating in the shoulders and I was exceptionally discombobulated. To give you an idea of how bad I was, for those who’ve been following this blog, it was almost 60 degrees (15 C) with a mild breeze, and not a cloud in the sky sunshine. I didn’t go for a bike ride. Monday, having been jabbed Friday evening, was day three. I showed up for work but left for home after 3-1/2 hours. I was too cooked. I napped a couple of times on getting home and spent the entire time on the couch, working or watching TV. I went to bed praying this funk would break overnight. I could only go three hours between Tylenol (one at a time) when my head hit the pillow.

And sure enough, it broke last night. The discombobulation is all but gone, though I’m still feeling worn out. There’s still some soreness, but I’m five or six hours between Tylenol now. I feel better with every passing hour… at least for the time being. With decently warm weather, but high winds in the forecast, I plan on riding tonight though I’m going to skip Lennon and ride by myself. I don’t need to push it that hard right now.

My experience follows a lot of reports. The vaccine either gets you on the first one or the second (sometimes not at all). Many of my friends experienced exactly what I’m reporting here. Now, in terms of actual sickness, how bad was it? Well, I had the flu a couple of years ago, whichever kind was going around, and that was much worse. The down-time was about the same, but with the vaccine flu, I didn’t actually feel sick. Just sore, discombobulated and extremely tired. Some report headaches and a fever, I experienced neither. In fact, my temp yesterday was a healthy 97.4 (36.333 C), my exact running temp, I don’t fluctuate more than a tenth or two either way.

For the record, I received the Moderna vaccine, though friends have reported the same symptoms and duration with Pfizer (without having to worry about a 3 to 4 hour erection – a little Viagra humor).

So, I was absolutely shocked I had such a tough time with the vaccine. I expected to fly through it. However I look at it, though, it sure beats getting the actual virus (or so I assume).

In a study of healthcare workers, both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines were 80% effective in preventing COVID after just the first shot. The success rate shot to 90% after the second. This is fantastic news, and according to the article I read (and linked) it was good to see that they used words like “immune”, not focusing on just “protection”. I’ve got a couple of friends who got their first shot shortly after my wife and I did (an hour or two later). We’re all going to get our second shot together and we’re making it a date and going out to dinner.

Normal is only a few months away, worldwide. Don’t let the doom and gloom bullshit get you down. When it’s your turn, get your shots and give a friend a hug. And don’t be afraid of the vaccine flu – getting the actual virus is worse.

How To Know It’s Time To Spend An Outrageous Amount of Money for a Race Bike 🚴

First, most of us have started cycling with the hope we’d find the mother of all deals and get started with a $400 race bike that would have us keeping up with the cool kids. I was mistaken when I hoped for exactly that. My $400 race bike was from 1992, a Cannondale aluminum bike with a steel fork. It was, being generous, very stiff and came with down tube shifters and the original wheels… there was no way that was going to work (though it was a lot faster than my mountain bike – and enough to get me hooked on road bikes).

I have refined my propping tool since this photo was taken… as well as chosen proper saddles, ahem.

As we grow in the sport, we learn that no, down tube shifters aren’t good enough to hang with the A Group (or B Group for that matter). Carbon fiber deep section wheels are spectacular and worth every penny. As frames go, steel is still pretty cool, titanium is great, aluminum isn’t all that bad (with the right wheels and tires) and carbon fiber is every bit as glorious as you’d think (no matter what the neigh sayers try to claim).

And so we buy something a little better. In my case, a used Trek 5200. The Trek was fantastic and I rode it hard for years (it still pulls winter trainer, rain bike, and cooler spring cycling.

Then I saw the bike that ticked all of the boxes for me… and it was expensive (or at least my approximation of expensive); $3,100 out the door. The component groupset was legit, but bottom of the line for a race bike (Shimano 105). The wheels were horrendous and heavy while the crankset was… well, not very good and quite heavy (anything that requires a wavy washer for pre-load on the bottom bracket bearings, I don’t like – that wavy washer lets dirt into the system).

Fast forward eight years and upgrading almost every part on the bike (going around the horn, wheels, rims, wheels, wheels, crankset, front derailleur, rear derailleur, brake calipers, seatpost, saddle, spacer stack, stem – then back to the original stem, handlebar, shifters, bar tape, cages, cages, cages, cages… and that about does it. I figure I’ve got a little more than $6,000 into the bike and it is/was/ever shall be, without question, worth EVERY penny:

Day one – 18-1/2 pounds (8.4 kg). Today – a touch under 16 (7.1 kg)

So, to the question of the day! How do you know when it’s time to drop the big bucks on a bike? For me, it was easy; love at first sight. Once I found cycling, though, it was really a matter of picking road cycling or mountain biking. I picked road because I loved riding in a group and the speed of it. Mountain bikes are great, no question, but my Venge is a rocket ship next to my Rockhopper. With that decision out of the way (God help you if you can’t decide and go for both), the real question is how fast do you want to go. If you want to get every last bit of speed out of your bike, don’t dawdle. If you want a solid commuter that’ll last you years, don’t hesitate. If you want to hang with the fast kids, you’ll need a decent bike to do it (there’s a reason they all have expensive bikes… that they’re fun to look at is only small percentage of it).

Here’s the done of it, though; if cycling is going to be your main fitness outlet and you’re serious about it and have the money*, dropping major coin on a nice bike is worth it. It’s not entirely necessary, of course, available cash should always be top of the list when the debate begins.

*IF YOU HAVE THE MONEY… means if, and only if. Don’t ever hurt your family or yourself with a purchase you can’t afford. In the end, you may have a cool whip, but you can’t eat carbon fiber and it makes a lousy frame for a tent. Just sayin’.

UPDATE: The Unironedman says, “Every cyclist should have a steel frame bike with down-tube shifters. That way, you can appreciate the fancy-pants bar shifters and super slick gear changes on your fancy bike.”

I do agree.

The COVID Vaccine, Exercise & Symptoms; My Experience (Updated)

After being stuck late Friday afternoon with my first vaccine shot (Moderna), I rode my bike 20 miles at an easy pace for me, averaging a touch better than 16.5-mph for a little more than an hour. I felt a couple of minor muscle pains toward the end, a slight stabbing pain in my quad, then one in my forearm – both on the side I was injected. Other than that, for Friday, nothing any different.

I am not the only one of my friends to ride shortly after being stuck, and a friend who happens to be a well-respected pharmacist was one (he rode through both shots).

Saturday was interesting. I woke up with a surprisingly sore arm. That my arm was sore was not the surprise. That’s expected. It was the degree of soreness that was surprising. It was not enough I bothered with pain management (not even a Tylenol). I went about my morning as I would any Saturday with rideable temperatures and sunshine. I prepped my Trek for the chilly start 36 F, or 2 C, but with the sun rising quickly. We’re upping the mileage as spring takes hold and we had a nice route on tap for the morning; 41 miles and some change on what we call the sod farm loop (a favorite of mine). My friends started showing up shortly before 9am and we rolled out with six in our group, picking up two on the road. We managed a lively, enjoyable pace for the course just shy of 19-mph. Other than feeling a little discombooberated (a variant of discombobulated) at times when my heart rate went up with my effort, I felt no ill-effects on the ride other than my sore shoulder.

It was a special day, too. My mother, who lives about 45 minutes from my house, was scheduled for her second shot and, with my sister’s family busy, I was taking her to get it done. I showered immediately on getting home, got ready, slid into my vehicle and headed down to pick her up. I also picked up lunch along the way and ate while my mom was in getting stuck. Shortly after eating, I hit a wall of sorts. I was tired. I almost took a nap in the car but didn’t want to miss my mom coming out. Her second shot was administered at the University of Michigan’s stadium, the Big House – with all of the people roaming around, I just wanted to make sure she found the car because I’d moved to a closer, better parking spot.

Everything went fine and I got my mom back to her car without incident. Then, I got my butt home, where I took a nap. Then I watched some TV… and took another nap. And another. After that third nap it dawned on me, it was the vaccine that had me drained.

My daughters had their boyfriends over in the afternoon and my wife and I cooked dinner for everyone. It was an enjoyable time – my girls choose well.

I watched a movie and one-quarter before wanting my bed. Sleep took me quickly and I slept wonderfully, through the night.

On waking this morning, there’s rain in the area so the ride is a bit up in the air. It just may be a day off, but only for the rain – the vaccine wouldn’t sideline me a bit. If it dries out, I’ll ride. The soreness in my arm has subsided greatly and I can’t tell how tired I am quite yet, but appears to be the extent of my first shot symptoms. I ran an interwebz scanner over my arm and apparently Bill Gates forgot to load the tracker into my vaccine. Lucky me. I also haven’t lapsed into an autistic ball on the floor or turned into a zombie, thank God. I am, however, thankfully well on the road to normal. I’m expecting a bit of a tougher time after my second shot, but I have no doubt I’ll ride through it. My pharmacist friend did.

My experience may differ from others. I am exceptionally healthy and firmly believe I’ve just hit middle-age at 50. My immune system is, and always has been, excellent. I am slightly overweight, because I love food, but am still on the good side of the Body Mass Index scale. I’m also quite exceptionally fit. While I could drop a few pounds, I have no doubt they’ll be gone before summer hits. Excess weight tends to burn off when you’re riding 200 to 300 miles a week.

UPDATE: Sunday was a little rough. Thankfully, the weather sucked. Cold, windy and raining, so I was quite happy to spend the day lounging around. Unfortunately, I got so much sleep during the day, I found it impossible to fall asleep later that evening. This morning, Monday morning, I simply feel discombobulated and a little sore all over. No fever, just random body pain (mostly in the shoulders) and feeling a little run down. I did show up for work this morning, though I don’t know if I’ll stick it out or just go home and sleep it off.

A Celebratory Stuck 20 Miles

I was home from the office early yesterday. After a rough week and all of four hours of sleep the night before, I was exhausted. I flipped my phone to vibrate, sat on the couch, turned on Diners, Drive-ins & Dives and I was out like a light. Put a fork in me, I was done. I woke up an hour later, somewhere around 3:30 and had to deal with some work, then more work, and a little more, but was ready to prep my bike to ride shortly after 4 – Chuck was on his way home and we were going to ride at 5:15… and that’s when the text came in from my wife.

From Brett (my neighbor across the street): Kroger (one of our local grocery stores’ pharmacy) has COVID shots till 5pm.

I immediately got on their website to try to schedule an appointment but the system was down. I called my wife and asked if they were taking walk-ins. She didn’t know, what she’d forwarded was the only info she had. I thought about it for a second. I don’t like rushing around, and what if I get over there to a madhouse with people milling about? I didn’t want any part of that. Better judgment hit me square in the mouth. Normal is six weeks away (two if I get the J&J version). The politics alone prompted me to get in my car and head over there immediately; politicians messing with my freedom strikes me that way.

There were three people in line ahead of me to fill out paperwork and a bunch already stuck, waiting their 15 minutes. Just as I was about to get my paperwork to fill out, my wife walked in and got in line, too. The line went fast and before I knew it, I was sitting in the chair, thanking the lady who was shooting us up for doing what she was doing (interesting side note, she said giving COVID shots was the nicest she’d ever been treated by people as a pharmacist). A few minutes later, my wife and I were sitting next to each other waiting to make sure we didn’t have a reaction (not even a little one). I think I was in the store for maybe 20 minutes total. I also received my second shot schedule date.

And with that, I was on my way back home. I had just enough time to get ready and head out the door and meet Chuck on the road.

With a full weekend of cycling ahead and 108 miles on the week already, I didn’t “need” much. Also, I don’t know what it does to the vaccine if you get right out and hammer out a big ride a half-hour after you’ve been stuck… I’m sure it wasn’t tested for that. We ended up with an easy 20-miles – and sure enough, in the last three miles I got a few strange muscle pains (left arm, left quad – stuck on the left side) that I’ll attribute to riding immediately after the vaccine.

My arm is quite sore this morning, but that’s the only side-effect I’m feeling. We’ve got a 40-miler on the books before I take my mom to get her second shot (and possibly out to lunch). “Back to normal” is only a couple months away, my friends.

And, for a humorous note in the post, I want you to think about something if you’re against the vaccine: your unwillingness to take the vaccine is the one thing far right and far left extremists agree upon, 100%. Chew on that while I laugh, thinking about the blood rushing to your melon*.

The point is simple; live with your choice. I will mine. And if you think I’m running around with a mask on my face in public for the rest of my life because you want to be protected from the choice you’ve made, you’re completely f***ing nuts. You’ve got six weeks, because once the 30 year-olds get their shots, I’m officially done with this shit.

Get the vaccine or get the virus. Choose.

*For those not familiar with American politics, our far right and far left are a ball of fun. Members of each think the other is comprised entirely of idiots, meanwhile completely lacking the ability to realize they’re side is a bunch of idiots, too. Watching each accuse the other of being stupid is one of the great joys in American political life. Better is when a left-wing extremist catches a whiff of their own arrogant aroma as they’re putting down a right-wing extremist. Puts a smile on my face just thinking about it.

The Noob’s Guide to Cycling; Taking a Road Bike’s Intended Use Into Account When Setting It Up. From Tandems to Gravel Bikes to Road Rocket Ships.

When I brought my Trek 5200 home for the first time, the setup was nondescript from most any other road bike you’ll see coming out of a shop. Handlebar a couple inches below the saddle, an ergonomically correct setup for a decent run at speedy, though lacking in aerodynamics which creates extra work in the wind.

I set to changing it almost immediately after getting home. I dropped the stem, put a decent saddle on the bike, and have gone through several upgrades since, but the handlebar has remained as low as I could get it since.

Fast forward just shy of a decade and 73,000-ish miles and I’m still learning about what I like and can tolerate with the setup of my bikes. Where this gets fun and interesting for me is not only in the differences in our tandem, gravel and road bike setups, but in the differences between my road bikes as well.

I’ve got the tandem set up so that my posture is a little more upright than that of the road bikes. Same for the gravel bike, though that’s slightly more aggressive. Next is my rain bike, the Trek 5200, with my Specialized Venge taking the top honors, slightly, as my most aggressive setup. This is as it should be, of course.

Now, it’s worth noting that I’ve got four slightly different setups on four very different bikes and I don’t experience any of discomfort while riding any of them. Even going from one bike to another – say from the Trek to the Venge or the tandem to the Venge (I’ve done both). The main reason for this, though there are slight variations in drop and reach, is that I’ve got the saddle height and fore/aft positioning almost (if not) identical for each bike. The key, then, has been suiting the setup to the manner in which I’ll ride the bike. For the tandem, I want the most control possible. Captaining a tandem feels like driving a semi-truck so I’ve got more of an upright posture. Also, with two people providing the power, cutting through the wind isn’t quite the same worry it would be on a single bike – you’re basically two people punching through the wind of one because we’re stacked so close together. For the gravel bike, I went with a 10mm shorter stem (it should be a 120, I’ve got a 110 on it) so I’d be able to see obstacles coming a little sooner. I tend to feel a little crammed into the cockpit, but not enough I don’t forget about after a few minutes.

On the road bikes, I want those to be as aggressive as possible. I ride with fast groups and the better I can cut into the wind, the more manageable the ride. I have to be careful, of course, because going too far will mean an uncomfortable ride and the only thing worse than bad aerodynamics is trying to ride uncomfortably for the sake of aerodynamics. We amateurs should never sacrifice comfort for an aggressive posture. So, the Venge is almost identical to the Trek, except that the handlebar is a quarter-inch lower (6 mm). Amazingly, due to advantages in the geometry between a compact and classic frameset, the Venge is actually more comfortable to ride than the Trek, as far as looking up the road goes. The Trek requires me to crane my neck just a little more than the Venge, even though the Venge is a little lower in the front end.

To wrap this post up and put a bow on it, it’s fairly simple to set your bike up taking into account how you’ll use it. The important numbers are the saddle height and fore/aft position of the saddle. After that, you can change things around in the cockpit to suit your needs, to an extent. Just keep watch for any pains that pop up. If the setup on one bike is causing pain you’re not experiencing on other bikes, you’ll have to change something to rectify that. Or, heaven forbid, if you’ve only got one bike, you’ll have to be very keen on diagnosing little issues so they can be fixed.

Cycling, Wind and the Joy of Low Expectations

I used to hate cycling in the wind. No matter how hard I tried, the tailwind sections never made up for the headwind sections and my “average” always suffered for it. That reality drove me nuts….

Backing up, in Michigan, springtime means wind. Lots of it. Always. Between the beginning of March and the end of April, we’re lucky if we see ten days where the wind isn’t in the double-digits (mph, too, not km/h). When I was a runner, you just sucked it up and ran. As a cyclist, well, wind can be more of a pain in the tuchus… if you suffer from high expectations.

I almost chose to skip riding last evening. Work was busy and my phone rang right up to 5, I was stressed, it was sputtering rain on and off, and it was windy. 16-mph sustained, gusts north of 25-mph (25 km/h to 40 km/h). It was also 70 (20 C) when the sun was out… You don’t pass up 70 in Michigan, in March unless it’s pouring rain. I prepped the Trek, suited up and rolled out. I chose an easy route that would split up what little headwind there would be (only three miles total in the sixteen mile route) and stack it more toward the beginning.

And I took it easy.

Big ring heading north, east and west. Baby ring heading south – and that baby ring was quite necessary. The tailwind sections were absolute pleasure, the crosswind sections were only a pain when I had to lean my bike into a gust, and the headwind sections were about what you’d expect. And my last mile was dead into it.

I pulled into the driveway wishing I’d chosen a longer route.

Oh, of course I long for those wonderful, warm, still summer mornings where we roll out at 7am and it doesn’t matter which way you go, it all feels the same… but, as my dad always said, “Son, wish in one hand and $#!+ in the other and tell me which fills first”. I can long for those days all I want. Given another three months, they’ll be here. In the meantime, I’ll dance with the girl who brought me, as the saying goes.

See, there’s a linear measurement of “suck” that we can look to. Call it the cycling suck spectrum. On one end, you’ve got a whole day off without a care in the world to ride as many miles as you can, 77 degrees (23 C), sunshine and it’s calm. Folks, that’s about as good as it gets. On the other end, you’ve got snow, sleet, ice and a driving 40-mph wind. You’re polishing the couch with your butt. A plain, old-fashioned windy day with comfortable temps is actually on good side of the suck spectrum when you think about it.

The point is, sure wind sucks, but I t doesn’t suck bad enough that riding the couch is better, and you can take that to the bank (that’s a saying… really, you can’t actually take “riding on a windy day is better than riding the couch” to the bank… best case they laugh at you… worst case, you leave the bank with ugly bracelets and a legal bill the size of Kentucky).

TNIL: Too Hot in the Hot Tub Edition (Pace, Not Temperature – It Was Gloriously Mild but the Wind Decimated the Group… Or… Was It the Pace?)

The warm-up should have told the tale of the main event – not necessarily difficult, and actually quite speedy as warm-ups go and it was just Chucker, Jonathan and me. Three B guys and we managed an easy 19-mph average on the warm-up. Even into the 15-mph crossing headwind we were pretty speedy. The trick was all in the direction of the seven mile loop we do for the warm-up. Southwest, then west, then north, then due east… we were never dead into the southeastern wind. Or heading directly south. That would matter later.

My wife showed up for the main event but misplaced her car keys, causing us to miss the roll out of the group. It was almost too late when she told me to go, that she’d find her keys and meet us on the road after she found them. One thing’s for sure, my wife can’t be on time for anything and the group doesn’t wait. I rolled out and had to hammer it to get caught up. The A’s and B’s, though there was enough of each group, rolled out together. Now, a southeasterly wind is very rare in Michigan. Northeast, quite normal. Anything out of the west, normal. Southeasterly winds destroy our groups. Smash them into little, tiny, bonking pieces. I knew before ever leaving the parking lot this was going to get messy. I was out of the saddle and sprinting at 26-mph right out of the gate to catch the group. Last year, I’d have been dropped before I started. I caught the group within a quarter-mile… and quietly thanked God for a productive winter.

Things got messy in a hurry after the first mile and some change. Heading due north with a crossing tailwind we were at 30+mph (48 km/h, briefly rubbing up against 50). I should have been smoked within a mile or two, but not this year. I stayed with the group and the pace moderated to 27-ish before heading east at 25 (40 km/h). Another mile north at 27 and it was time to pay.

Shipman road is a rare southwesterly/northeasterly road. Most roads are a simple one mile grid, north/south, east/west. Shipman, with a southeasterly crosswind, crushes a big, reasonably paced group into little, tiny fragments, mile after grueling mile. Last night we were north of 25-mph with a group of A riders hammering like they were paying penance or something. I still did my turns up front but they were short – and those turns were becoming disturbingly more frequent… I hazarded a glance behind me and it was just Jonathan and me left with about a half-dozen A guys. That was all that was left of two-dozen and we were only eleven miles into the ride. I told Jonathan I was going to wait for the tandems and eased off the gas as the small group of A guys motored on.

In hindsight, as fast as I am this spring, I should have tried to stay with the lead group but I was thinking about the crossing headwind section coming up after the hills, plus the fact that we were rotating way too fast with only three bikes in each side of the double-pace-line. That was going to be too much for me. I do think if we’d singled up I may have had a chance.

The tandems caught us at a crazy intersection and we continued on, heading south. Then a mile and some change west and the real ugly punched us in the mouth.

We had the hills, dead into a brutal 15 to 20-mph headwind. There were points we were down to 15-mph. We lost Jonathan at some point, and a couple of others, so it ended up being the two tandems, Dale, Chucker and me. Rotation was pretty quick at the front and we were thankfully single-file. We picked up my wife at about the 18-1/2 mile mark… she was going to ride west to meet us but realized she was going to have a mess heading back so she wisely waited for us.

Heading north was a relief, with a little help from the wind, but the home stretch was gonna suck. And it did. The group splintered up a little bit and I wound up waiting for my wife and Mike & Diane on one of the tandems. I easily could have stayed with Chuck, Dale and the other tandem (for all the “brutal” adverbs, I was feeling quite strong and spectacular), but I wanted my wife to know I wanted to be there for her.

We ended the ride with just under a 21-mph average and took it to the parking lot easy for the last mile. Unfortunately, we had to wait on a few stragglers. Jonathan bonked bigtime. A few others were dropped in the first three miles, and several others rolled in shortly after we got back – the road was littered with dropped riders. The weather was nice enough after that many of us stuck around to talk, be social and wait on everyone to get back before heading our separate ways. The whole drive home, all I could think about was how lucky I was to be a part of such an excellent bunch of friends. It sure is some kind of awesome.

I slept like a baby last night.

An Early Spring Teaser; Shorts and Short-sleeves… and Wind (and Finally Feeling Like ME Again)

Chicago may be the “windy city”, but Michigan holds its own during the spring months. If we get anything approaching warm weather, you can bet there’s a good bit of wind in there with it. The only time we don’t have much is when it’s so cold, usually early in the morning, you’d rather wait for it to warm up – and, invariably, the wind to kick up.

On weekdays, I don’t have a choice. I ride when I get home and I have to take what I get, or take a day off. As this season has been oddly dry, we’ve ridden almost every day, though there were a few days on the trainer due to exceptionally high winds (30+ mph or 48 km/h).

Well, yesterday we had one of those rare 70 degree days (21 C) days where you don’t care how windy it is, it’s 70 freaking degrees and you can ride in shorts! Chuck was home early, as was I, so we made plans to meet up at 5 to roll. I had a bit more time so I got in a few extra miles before Chuck was ready. I took the good bike, which in hindsight, probably wasn’t too smart – but I just couldn’t fight it. I don’t get many legit chances to ride the Venge in March so I sucked it up and dealt with the wind (the lower-profile wheels and round tubing of the 5200 are much better in the wind).

In a word, it was glorious. A little on the breezy side, but the sun was out and I was working on my tan (which is woefully inadequate at this juncture). It’s been five or six months since I was last able to ride without long-sleeves and knee warmers, let alone short-sleeves and bibs.

With TNIL later this afternoon, we were more interested in a parade lap last evening, than giving the ride any muscle. And so we cruised. And cruised. And cruised. I had to get home for supper – my in-laws are both vaccinated so my mother-in-law came down for an appointment and to stay at our house for a night (we hadn’t seen her in more than a year), and I was told dinner was at 6:15 – that I had to be showered, too… so we were just about to take the short way home when a slow-mover of a train started through the intersection. We’d have been stuck FOREVER waiting for that thing. So we went the long way. Heh.

I ended up pulling into the driveway with 26 miles and some change, right at 6:15. Thankfully, dinner wasn’t anywhere near ready so I had time to shower and start a game of cribbage with my MIL.

We had a wonderful dinner and a great visit and, sometime shortly after dinner, I fell asleep on the couch. My wife and her mom deep in conversation in the dining room. As tight as my wife and her mom are, I was so glad she could come down to stay. It actually felt… normal.