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Monthly Archives: March 2021

Best Weekend Since Last Summer… Miles, More Miles and Family Time

My buddy Chuck and I rode Friday after work, a doozy for a Friday afternoon at 26-1/2 miles. The pace wasn’t anything crazy, but for early spring base miles, it was quite enjoyable (as early spring base miles should be).

Saturday was a good one, too. Chilly at the start but it warmed up nicely and we had a blast. 46 chilly miles on the 5200, but oh my was it sunny. I was absolutely spent at the finish… spent enough I didn’t want to bother getting another four to call it 50. Another 16 was entirely out of the question for the 100k.

Then came Sunday Funday on the tandem. It was supposed to be about 10 degrees warmer at the start according to the weather channel the night before, but actual temp was only a few degrees warmer when we rolled out. It was just 34 or 35 (1 to 2 C) when the pedaling started but it warmed up quickly. Just 14 miles in and I was thinking about taking off my vest. I could have gone either way but opted not to – a decision I’d regret on the way home. We put in 36 miles on the tandem and I switched shoes, bikes and dropped a layer as my wife was about done, so I could ride Mike home the long way again, adding another 12 miles. The ride to Mike’s was slow and we dropped from just shy of an 18 average down to 17.3. I wasn’t quite as cooked as Mike, though, so when I turned around I wound up the speed heading for home. I had my average up to 17.6 within five miles and opted to go another 3/4s of a mile out of my way to get 50. I almost stayed out longer, but decided 50 was good enough. That decision proved to be a good one.

After a shower, lunch and a nap, my daughters headed out to practice tennis. Tryouts are next week. Mrs. Bgddy and I decided to join them, so we hopped in the car and headed over to the high school courts. We played out in the gloriously warm sunshine for just shy of two hours and decided to order Chinese takeout from our favorite spot. I had no desire to sit through cooking dinner. We were all famished.

I fell asleep on the couch, about a half-hour after my after-dinner coffee. I don’t know if I had an actual smile on my face when I fell asleep, but it sure felt like I did.

The one thing the reaction to the WuFlu did was to bring our family together in a way I couldn’t have hoped for when this all started. Out of this whole mess, I still have something to be grateful for.

Put a Fork In Me, Done: 46 Miles of Happy

I lobbied for 10am Saturday morning but was overruled. Chuck had to work and Mike won’t leave that late unless he’s waiting out rain. Add to that, my wife wasn’t going to want to wait, so I caved and we braved the cold. It was well below freezing leading up to our departure, but with amazingly abundant sunshine, it warmed up well. Within the first hour, the chill in the air had warmed off and that “just on the edge of cold so I don’t sweat” feeling you should have when you’re riding in old weather, melted away.

It was a perfect morning of early, first day of spring base miles with a little bit of wind, a whole bunch of sunshine and good friends. The pace was pleasant the whole ride and it was decided we’d cut it a little short so we could get Chuck home as he needed to get work.

One funny little moment comes to mind. Mike had taken a turn into the wind that started up a long hill climbing out of Vernon. It’s the better part of a half-mile long (keep in mind, a quarter-mile hill is exceptional in these parts). He came off the front as soon as things started going up and that left me the entire hill, into the wind. I’d been in the big ring but decided I’d get into the little and spin my way up. It was a wise choice. The group blew up on the way to the top but we regrouped on the way back down… and I was glad I’d been at the front having to coast to wait for everyone to catch up. I was a little spent.

With a left turn a little more than a mile later, and the end of my turn up front, the headwind for the day was over with.

Now, I’d taken a few sprint signs early to be funny, but had settled in since. We were on our way into my second-favorite sprint town we ride through, though and I was trying to decide whether or not I’d go. Then it occurred to me we had a decent crossing tailwind. The speed limit going into town is 35 but it changes to 25 at the City Limits sign… and it’s slightly downhill. I was going no matter what – just in the hope I’d get pulled over for speeding as I crossed the line. As we crested the molehill, I went for it, quickly accelerating to 30-mph. Sadly, on the Trek and this early in the season, my sprinting legs are crap and I couldn’t sustain it. Also, I wasn’t lucky enough to have an officer in his cruiser sitting on the spot waiting for an unsuspecting speeder to get caught in his radar web. Still, there was a speedo sign that picked me up and 29-mph lit up while the sign flashed “Slow Down” as I crossed the City Limits sign. Good enough for government work, I suppose.

The remainder of the cruise home was fantastic and enjoyable but 34 miles wasn’t going to be enough. I’d been talking about taking Mike home the long way which would add twelve miles to the journey. My wife rode with us the first mile, then doubled back. Mike and I rode home, talking about your normal cycling stuff. Who looked strong, the overall ride in general, and his perspective of the ride. This early in the season, things are always a little dicey. None of us are in great shape yet, so we’re all looking for the perfect draft so we don’t blow up on our mile up front. Well, with people sometimes forgetting how we do this over the winter, getting the perfect draft isn’t always easy – sometimes it’s impossible. So nerves fray.

I’m in pretty good shape out of winter so I only had a couple of minor gripes early in the ride. Others struggled toward the end as they tired out.

Mike and I slow-rolled it all the way to his road, a quarter-mile from his house. I turned around and headed back (his road is dirt) as he crossed and took his toy home. With six miles to go, I was hungry. Check that, I was “I should have eaten something ten miles ago” hungry. I wanted to make it home without eating, though. Why? Got me, it just seemed like the thing to do. The first three miles were crossing tailwind, but the last three were all crossing headwind.

You know that part in Despicable Me, where Gru’s nemesis, Vector uses the shrink ray on the toilet, then taunts said toilet only to get sprayed in the face? He points at the toilet and says, “Curse you, tiny toilet!” That how I felt in the headwind. “Curse you, tiny headwind” was all I could think. I chuckled as I tried to keep my head and shoulders down. I was hungry enough to eat the ass-end out of a rhino. Well, maybe not quite that hungry, but close. The first mile heading west went well. I started bonking on the second and by the third, I was spinning at 15-mph with my tongue dangling.

I was “put a fork in me” done. My nap was spectacular. I wore a smile most of the day when I wasn’t sleeping, and performed a few bicycle maintenance items that needed tending to before dinner. My wife’s gravel bike was skipping in one gear when in the baby ring up front (rear derailleur adjustment), my wife’s road bike was a little slow going from the little to the big ring (front derailleur adjustment), and I cleaned up my eldest daughter’s old road bike so we can sell it this spring. It’s in immaculate shape… with COVID supply issues, we’ll never get a better return on it than this spring.

Today, we do it all over again – this time on the tandem. We’ve got a 35-miler planned, but I’ll have to see how I feel when I get back. It’s supposed to get up to 60 today (15 C), so I just may switch bikes and go out for bonus miles.

The problem I have with blaming my faults and troubles on “society”… and why it never works.

Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate.  Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.

So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making.  They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an example of self-will run riot, though they usually don’t think so.

Page 62 Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

So here’s a little secret; your average person isn’t any better than the alcoholic when it comes to stepping on the toes of others, then blaming them for the reaction.  We recovered/recovering drunks and addicts keep it simple by keeping it about the alcoholic or addict, but normal folk can benefit from this simple truth just the same.  When I lay blame outside myself, I take the emphasis off of the one person on this rock I can actually change; me.

If I’m worried about what “society” does or doesn’t “think”, I would suggest I’ve got a bigger problem in the first place!  First, what society says or thinks is nebulous at best; usually thoughts or sleights made up by those who want a good excuse to blame someone else for their troubles, faults or lot in life.  The best part is, there’s no solution, no way to actually fix the problem.  You say “society” profits off of people’s insecurities, right?  Let’s delve into that a bit.

Say we see ourselves as, or we “feel”, fat (when I “feel” fat, wouldn’t you know, my scale backs that “feeling” up).  We typically don’t like that we ate enough to get that way, but guess what; not liking that we did ain’t gonna change that we did.  It’s not fair that chocolate makes me fat if I eat too much of it, right?  Fair or not, doesn’t matter.  If I eat too much, my big ass will weigh heavily on the scale.  Society doesn’t make me feel one way or another about being overweight.  The scale and mirror do all of the damage.  Oh, I can blame society for how I feel, sure, but that’s a donut shop lie.

For those who haven’t frequented this blog for years, what’s a donut shop lie?

That’s the lie you tell everyone else sitting with you at the donut shop counter, knowing the they won’t call you on it.  Worse, that donut shop lie is a pernicious little bugger, because once the teller of that BS believes it, they’re absolutely screwed because in real life, you can look at “changing what society thinks” like this:  whilst, and at the same time, pissing into the wind and howling at the moon, yell at the top of your lungs that society should change its attitude and be nicer to you.  Now, let me know when you’re tired of pissing on yourself because you’ll drown before anything outside your own gray matter changes.

This comes down to one simple question:  Do I want to be right, or happy?  I can’t have both.  If you want to be happy, and I surely do, I can explain a two-step process that will release you from the bondage of “society”.  It did me.  Ready?

  1. Don’t lie, cheat, steal, or hurt other people.  Do the next right thing in any given situation.
  2. Here’s the important part, repeat after me; as long as I’m doing the first item honestly and fairly, nobody else’s opinion of me matters.  This includes society, because I know I’m doing what’s good, fair and right.

Now, I’m going to ask you a question.  I’m one of the happiest people you’ll ever meet and I work in a meat grinder of an industry.  I have an extremely stressful job.  Do you honestly think I spend one second of any day giving one, single flying f*** what society thinks about anything?  F*** no I don’t.  Think of these little, rich ninnies and politicians talking about the ills of the world over a French Laundry meal with their $600 bar tab that some special interest is paying for as a soft bribe… oh, things would be so much better if everyone would just live like they think we should.  Meantime these corrupt, conniving motherf***rs are bending or breaking every rule they think we should live by because they honestly believe those rules shouldn’t apply to them.  And you want to worry about what that thinks?  Folks, when you look at it that way, trying to follow that nebulous horseshit is, put simply, bat-shit crazy.

Don’t participate.  Live your life well and come to find you don’t have any time or place in your life for what “society” thinks.  You’ve got better things to think about.

The Full Peacock Road Bike: The Delicate Balance Between Flash, Class, and Crass

I always assumed everyone wanted to be their closest approximation to a peacock for their bike until I found a friend who wants his equivalent of the anti-peacock bike because he doesn’t appreciate “fast” colors. He likes the more subdued hues that match his cycling style.

Folks, I didn’t even know there was such a personality. I always looked at cycling through the golfer’s lens; if you can’t play good, look good playing bad. Never mind proper English (there’s none in the saying), you get the idea. With cycling it would be, “look fast… even if you’re not”.

Well, the bike is a part of “looking fast”, or “good” through the golfer’s lens, so that’s what I always went for.

When I saw what would end up being my Venge on the main display atop the back wall of the cash register, I was struck by the beautiful paint job on the bike, the aero frame with its “everything is a foil” design… let’s just say the bike fit my cycling personality. It fits that even more today, after numerous upgrades.

Getting to the point in the Title of this post, getting the balance between stately road bike and full-blown peacock without going over the line into full-blown gaudy is a bit subjective and the line is thin.

Here are a few things that could take you well over the edge if you’re not careful (and I only know this because I’ve tried most of them:

  1. Shift and brake cable housings are typically black. Extreme caution should be used when switching to colored cable housings – if your bike lacks color, you can absolutely gain some here, but colored housings are very hard to pull off well. Look at it this way, the last thing you want the eyes drawn to is the housing for the cables. You’re up against that.
  2. Bar tape. This is another of those “tread lightly” items that, if pulled off properly, can add a finishing touch to an awesome bike. If taken too far, as I did with my Trek 5200 when it was red, colored bar tape makes a bike pop too much… see below. The bar tape looks better when it matches the saddle.
  3. Brakes. I picked up a set of caliper brakes from FSA for my Venge that match the bike (and the shade of red) perfectly. I took a big chance on this, but pulled it off well. The trick here is I didn’t change the color of the bar tape or the cable housings. That would have been a bridge too far.
  4. Pedals. I’ve got black pedals on the Trek and Red on the Venge. I tried the red pedals on the rain bike and… it looks “forced”. There’s not enough red on the Trek to fight through the black, so having red pedals on the bike just looked… off.

The big one is going to be the bottle cages. Now, everyone goes to the bottle cages for a little flash, but one must be exceedingly cautious about taking the cages too far. I’ve gone to great lengths to get the cages where I liked them on both the Specialized and the 5200. I went with one red cage for the Trek, rather than two, because I really liked the red cage against the red “Trek” lettering on the downtube:

Having another red cage would, in my humble opinion, just bring too much splash to the party. Again, I love splash, but too much can make a mess. With the Venge, I went a little lighter and more flashy – because that bike, not being a classic like my Trek, can take it:

Originally, I’d picked up those cages for the Trek – the black and red Blackburn cages were going to stay on the Venge. When I installed the new space-age design to the classic Trek’s frame, it looked completely off. With the black to red fade and the newer design of the cage itself, it just looked wrong. The cages that are now on the Venge didn’t last a day on the Trek.

Now, the cages can get rather expensive in a hurry if we’re not careful. Cages are the one thing I really messed up on in the last ten years. I’d be willing to bet I’ve got at least $400 into cages, half of which are sitting back in my bike shed, never to be used again. Either the reds didn’t match, or I didn’t like how bottles slid out of them, or I just didn’t like the way I’d gone with them (design didn’t match the bike I wanted to put them on). The point is, it will save you money to really think about what it is you want your cages to do for your bike. Make sure they complement the bike or you’ll end up tossing them.

To wrap this up, peacock bike or not, be thoughtful about what you’re trying to achieve when customizing your bike. Go for bold, definitely, just not Elton John flashy.

A Little More Enthusiastic Than Necessary…

I took the Trek out yesterday, though I could have taken the Venge. I figured if I took the Trek I’d be able to better hold my pace down after the previous night’s gloriously cold romp around Lennon, the opening TNIL of the year. This early in the season I have a tendency to, having just thrown off the shackles of winter, go a little too “all out” rather than ease into the new cycling season.

The weather was absolutely perfect. Upper 50s to low 60s (14 to 15 C), barely a breeze from the north, and the sun was shining brilliantly. I knew it was going to be hard to keep my speed down on the Trek – impossible on the Venge. And sadly, Chuck had to work late, so it was going to be a solo night.

I rolled out right around 5pm and threw out any idea of riding slow within a quarter-mile. Leg warmers, a long-sleeved jersey over an Affable Hammers summer short-sleeve, and a light Headsweats cap and I was feeling fantastic, if even a little overdressed. I figured I’d keep it moderate and see what kind of speed that would produce. I could still feel Tuesday night in my legs, so I didn’t want to get into red-lining it.

As I rolled on, the north wind picked up in speed to a point that heading north was getting ugly. At one point, maybe six or seven miles into the ride, and with a good bit of the headwind out of the way, I had a 19-1/2-mph average. The wind picking up knocked that down a good bit, but even into the wind I was having more fun than a kid in a candy store. After a short stint heading northeast that was just brutal (I actually laughed when the wind punched me in the mouth after turning from east to northeast), I turned south for home and picked up the pace. By the time I hit the driveway, 22 miles and some change done, I had an 18.9-mph average. The ride was a little more enthusiastic than was probably necessary given Tuesday night’s hard ride, but my God, was it fun.

That ride did more for my mental health than a full month of “mindfulness” practices. In the end, that meditation stuff is great and all, but give me some sunshine, decent temperatures after a long winter and a bicycle, and I’ll show you happy.

TNIL 2021… “This is Tuesday Night, Baby! You Gotta Bring All Of Your Bullets!”

Todd sent out a message through Strava that, being so early in the season, we should keep the first Tuesday Night in Lennon civil, and together…

Now, without exception, we B Group folks are civil – very fast, but civil. The A guys are very, very fast and there are two civil guys in the whole group of them. This isn’t a bad thing and this paragraph shouldn’t be taken in a disparaging way – once they get wound up, if one guy attacks, just a little bit, it’s on. They are why we formed the B Group in the first place, so we could have a club ride on Tuesday night, instead of a race in which we get dropped in a scattered mess on the 30 mile route. Every time the A Group says, “Hey, let’s keep it civil tonight”, every time, they’re great for fifteen miles, then someone attacks on a hill and the ride blows up. I had that in mind as I prepped for the first TNIL of ’21.

With chilly temps and a decent northerly wind, I was tempted to take the Trek, but opted for the Venge instead. I had a funny feeling I’d need all the help I could get.

I showed up at 5 for the warm-up and was the only car in the parking lot. It was chilly, but nice when the sun came out from behind the clouds. McMike and Craig showed up while I was resting my eyes for a minute, so I got ready. We rolled out at 5:30 for a spirited warmup with a crosswind out and back north of 20-mph for the average. The Venge is absolutely perfect. I’ve had the bike for eight years and I’ve never had it dialed in so perfectly. Wheels are light, deep and fast, drivetrain is crisp and perfectly dialed in, and the cockpit changes I made over the winter are surprisingly excellent (I though I’d had it about as low as I could comfortably get it before – I am happy to have been mistaken).

As we were rolling back to the lot to start, I could see the vehicles pulling into the parking lot. A. A. A… A… A…. Then, my buddy, Chuck. And John, a new B guy… three of us and a lot of them. And Dave and Sherry on their tandem. Sherry never rides this early, so they brought some hope that the group might actually be civil – especially on the climbs.

We rolled out at 6 in a double pace-line and the pace was fantastic right out of the gate. I was matched with Craig – he’s got one gear (I mean that metaphorically, he’s got a brand new S-Works Tarmac with a Di2 drivetrain) and he can push the pace with the best of them. I looked over and said, “I’m glad I brought the good bike!” He responded, “It’s Tuesday, baby! You gotta bring all your bullets on Tuesday!” He’s not wrong.

We turned north and kept the same pace into the 9-12-mph (15-19 km/h) headwind, about 22-mph (35 km/h). The rotation up front was faster than usual, maybe a half-mile a turn, and we were up front before I knew it. Craig and I took a little more than average, about 3/4s of a mile and it was back for a rest. We caught another pull a few miles later, then settled in for some tailwind. The pace pushed from 22 to 24-25-mph (40 km/h), but I was in the zone and feeling fantastic. Surprisingly so. We were well into the tailwind with a 21-1/2-mph average in the middle of March with the cold weather gear on and my tongue wasn’t dangling in my spokes! Without question, even though I’m a little chubby, I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been in this early in the season – it’s not even close.

We handled the hills with ease, special thanks to the tandem for keeping it reasonable. The pace was astonishingly reasonable all the way through to the turn-off for the short route (which we all took). Every one of the A guys we had in the group was treating it as a club ride. I’ve never been so happy to be so wrong about their ability to do this. Some of the guys who normally hammer the group in the hills were talking about how nice it was in early March to focus on the club aspect of the ride, to save the racing for later in the spring. Indeed, with the exception on one guy who dropped early to ride a shorter route, we were a whole group.

With just a few miles left, the tandem was struggling into a brutal crossing headwind. I’d been hiding to make sure I could make it through the hills, so I came around and got on Todd’s wheel to give them a bit of a better draft. It was here the group split in two. Todd is a battleship of a guy. Tall and big and he’d earned the nickname “Watt King” years earlier (dude regularly pushes 450 watts on training rides for hours). I think he was growing a little itchy as the lead group was pulling away. He has that same “chase” bug I’ve got, but he can chase people down a lot better than I.

He ended up saying he was going to chase the lead group down, so that left Chuck and I to pull for the tandem. Chuck took a good turn, then I took the rest. We pulled across the line with a 20.8-mph average (by my Garmin).

It was all hi-fives and fist-bumps in the parking lot. Everyone had broad smiles stretched across their face. It was that kind of ride. I couldn’t have possibly been happier – if I’m pushing a 19-mph average this early in March with the cold weather gear on, I’m happy. To have ridden like that, I am excited for the season. Better, to ride with guys I normally can’t keep up with and catch up after the winter was something special. A thoroughly excellent first edition of TNIL.

The Nine Most Terrifying Words in American English

This post is political in nature and funny as hell. If you lack a sense of humor or are a virulent left-wing extremist, this post may anger you. Don’t bother reading any further. Hit the X and don’t let me mess up your day. It’ll be okay. You have been trigger (heh) warned.

Ronald Reagan once famously said, the nine most terrifying words in the English language are, “I’m from the government and I’m here to help”.

Something about history and being doomed to repeat it. Or something.

Now, some will try to say that the saying is pernicious and destructive to the good government tries to do. I’ll try to remember that whilst those running it are trying to convince me men belong in the ladies room with my 14-year-old daughter… then call me a bigot because I enthusiastically disagree.

While the sentiment is nice, I would rather suggest government’s continuing effort to outdo itself in earning the quip might be the real issue.

Just a thought.

Let Tuesday Night In Lennon Commence!

And so it is, with the clocks changing to Daylight Saving Time, we are now in the Central Time Zone and it’s time for Tuesday Night In Lennon to begin again.

As with last year, the cycling club will shy away from sanctioning the ride, but the end of this madness is nigh – May 15th we go back to normal (or, at least that’s the plan as of right now).

I’ve been struggling a little, with which bike to take tonight. Normally, it’d unquestionably be the rain bike, but this spring is a little different. It’ll be on the cool side, for sure, but with a mild north breeze, it will almost make sense to take the Venge. Normally, I wouldn’t balk at taking the 5200, but I’m chubby enough to need the advantage gained by riding the Specialized.

I love having this dilemma, actually. It’s a much better conundrum than, say, “should I eat this grub or that worm?” [are we still allowed to appreciate being advanced enough to not have to eat grubs and worms? I believe so… 🤔🤫. If not, let me know and I’ll invite my friends Smith & Wesson to a squirrel plinking party in the back yard – tastes like chicken].

Anyway, I digress… whatever the case with that lunacy, I’ve registered to get stuck. All hand wringing aside, it’ll be nice to put all this crap in the rearview mirror.

In fact, I really shouldn’t be all that concerned, I suppose. With rare exception, I’ve been back to normal since long before summer, last year.

I even got a haircut regularly once I figured out I could meet my barber at the salon with my tool bag, hang a few pictures and charge her a haircut as my fee – I just gave her a $20 tip. All perfectly legit and legal… construction and home/office improvements were still legal while salons and barbershops being open were not. While everyone else was shaggy and tangled, I was high and tight. The American spirit was ever thus; you can tell me what you want me to do… and I’ll let you know if I’ll comply. If I can find the loophole you politicians will use to skirt your own rules, I will use it too.

So, I have a little laugh when I hear politicians and news personalities who have been holed up in their home for the last year comment on “finally” going back to normal once we’re all vaccinated (sometime in mid-May by the time everyone’s had their “two-week effective” date). I was very close to “back” almost a year ago, and without a vaccine.

Oh, Tandem Bicycle, How I Love Thee… The Good (And Potential Bad) Of The Tandem in a Marriage

My buddy, Mike, who rides everywhere on a tandem with his wife, likes to say of the bicycle, “they’re either marriage makers or marriage breakers”.

Truer words have never been spoken.

When my wife and I picked our tandem up from the bike shop, the owner, a good friend of ours, handed me a laminated, printed sentence that read, “The Stoker never makes mistakes”. He was letting me in on a very difficult lesson to absorb and live with.

When I ride with a group I’m capable of hanging with, I have a “keep up” drive within me that I find difficult to let go of when I’m on the tandem. The tandem is a lot more work (especially in the early spring when my wife and I are both winter-heavy). I’ve got all the responsibility of a single bike, plus I have to keep the bike on the road if my wife fidgets (as she sometimes does), then add in the crazy braking distance, and having to pedal harder… it’s a lot of work.

My wife, on the other hand, loves that bike early in the season because all she has to worry about is putting power to the pedals. She doesn’t have to worry about keeping her line or the distance from our front wheel to the wheel in front of us… it gets her ready for single bikes later on in the season.

On the other hand (that may be one too many hands… on the one foot…), while it’s more work and a little slower, riding with my wife on the bike with me is incredibly fun. We don’t have to worry about wind noise as much, or shouting so the other can hear… and she’s always there to give me a little pat on the backside as a way of saying, “Nice job, tough guy”.

And so we rolled out yesterday morning to a bit of a blustery start… sunny, for sure, but windy and a little chilly. Thankfully, the tandem warms you up in a hurry, so only the first mile was on the brisk side. In the group we had five singles and my wife and I. We cruised north for 14-1/2 miles, then let the wind push us all the way home. It was a true “Sunday Funday” on the bike. A little slow for my liking, but plenty of work for the early spring. The best was that my wife and I used that ride to set the mood for the rest of the day.

That’s what tandems do well for a marriage, when used for good. When each does their part on the bike, it’s a reminder of just how important it is to work together. It sets you up to be content together for the rest of the day. Good stuff… and I decided not to get into the bad stuff in this post. It’s a long season and there will be plenty of time for that rant. Unless, of course, I remember that the Stoker never makes mistakes.

Gratitude for My Cycling Friends is a Tremendous Feeling

We rolled our Saturday morning at 11 am with five in our group, and a possibility of meeting another on the road. One A guy and four B’s, dead into the wind. It was cool, and definitely chilly into the wind. I was stoked we waited so late – it was downright cold when the sun came up, well below freezing.

We took our time letting everyone get warmed up. About eight miles in we turned south into what had shifted into a crossing headwind, but not before picking up two more A guys and a new runner-turned-cyclist (ironic!) before the turn. With eight, we had a decent group.

The pace picked up as we headed south. We all caught up after winter and helped Kevin with the intricacies of group cycling. Kevin is one of those rare runners who bought a gravel bike to recover some leg strength during a running injury and did the equivalent of, “Where have you been all my life?!”. He was hooked almost immediately (a lot like me).

As we were heading north, my favorite lesson of the day popped up by chance. Chuck, my normal weekday riding buddy, likes to pull back on his bike when he gets out of the saddle to work his way up a hill. This causes his bike to fall back six to twelve inches. If the person behind him isn’t paying attention, he’ll pull back straight into their front wheel. This is incredibly dangerous in a paceline. I’ve learned, from a hundred minor heart attacks, to stay back a little bit as hills approach, but yesterday he had me lined up perfectly and chose to grind for a half-minute out of the saddle in the headwind. I don’t know how we didn’t touch wheels, he caught me completely by surprise. Immediately after, I could hear Greg detailing to Kevin what had happened because I’m sure my little veer to avoid my friend’s wheel had ramifications behind me. I showed Kevin how to mildly accelerate as one gets out of the saddle so they don’t create a problem behind them.

A mile later and we had all of the headwind out of the way for the day and we were all set for the cruise home. A few miles later, the three who joined us were going to split to head home after asking which way we’d planned on heading back to our start. I planned on a more direct route but didn’t want to split the group up, either, so I asked if anyone objected to heading all the way north to keep the gang together. It was agreed we’d stick together. The next four miles are among my favorite to ride when we have a southern tailwind. The four miles is almost entirely downhill with just one little blip of a climb in the first mile. With a even a mild tailwind from the south, it’s easy to hold a 24-mph average all the into town. With a crosswind, the pace wasn’t near as fast, but it was unquestionably enjoyable.

Our two groups split with ten tailwind miles left to get home and I couldn’t help but think, all the way back to my driveway, and long into the evening, how lucky I am to be a part of our group… I’m so fortunate to have the cycling friends I do. I’m grateful to be an accepted member.

I also found I’m thankful that, while I have gained way too many pounds this winter, I’m not too fat to ride in the drops… and that was good news into that headwind!