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Monthly Archives: June 2021

While I’m on that feel-good gibberish kick… I Proclaim We Shall No Longer Call Them “Bike Rides”!

Look, I get dressed in my road cyclist “stuff”, slap on a helmet, cycling shoes, slide on my sunglasses and some cycling gloves, and head out to roam the land in speed and comfort on my exorbitantly expensive, and exceptionally rewarding carbon fiber and aluminum alloy bicycle. Technically, you could say I go for a bike ride every evening.

You could, but you would be missing out on a bunch of corporate/millennial feel-good gibberish that takes going for a simple bike ride and turns it into some epic necessity of grandeur and awesomeness. I therefore humbly declare we no longer call them “bike rides”.

Forever more, because America’s corporate/millennial woke culture is so utterly phenomenal, a simple bike ride shall instead be referred to as “Quality me time seized and employed advantageously for the peaceful, sustainable surveyance of the vast beauty that is the United States of America [or insert your country of origin, because this shit is so fantastic we want to export it] via a carbon fiber, epoxy & aluminum alloy and titanium human-powered bipedal, bi-wheeled fun-machine.”

On second thought, maybe we should just stick with “bike ride”.

Oh, hey! While I’m thinking about it, Happy Impregnating Person’s Day. You think I’m kidding.

That’s the establishment donning their full-faced helmet, elbow, arm, shoulder, shin, knee, quad, chest pads and protective gloves, as they clench down on their bite guard and grip the throttle of their eBike , making a horrible, yet hilarious vroom! sound as they lock in their glare at the two-foot high ramp that sits before the kiddie pool containing two week-old small-spotted cat sharks and declare… “I got this!”

A Different Kind of Father’s Day Prayer, From the Perspective of a Man in Recovery

I had a thought this morning and I decided to skip my regularly scheduled post, which will come out at noon our time, instead. This is better. And worth it.

Thank you, God for letting me be a father. Thank you for allowing me to see what it’s like to love someone as I imagine You love us. It was an eye opener, and I understand better what love is for being a dad. Thank You for showing me what “Sometimes you wanna throw ’em like a lawn dart, but you just gotta love ’em” means. Thank You for my sponsor who passed on that on to me. I am thankful beyond words.

Thank You for the hugs and kisses. Thank You for the near misses. Best of all, thank You for giving me the help I needed, when I asked for it, to beat my addiction – because that made everything else possible.

For all of the things I’ve royally screwed up over the years, thank You for the lessons that got me to where I’m at today. Thank You for the peace, contentment and happiness that is my life after addiction and through recovery. We should all be so fortunate.

Thank You for my wife and kids. Thank You for the opportunities.

Most of all, thank You for not turning Your back on me when I deserved it. I’ll do my part as I promised all those years ago; without being a cheerleader, I’ll keep giving recovery everything I’ve got and passing on what has been so freely given to me; that life after addiction is sweet.

Thank you for the opportunity to know joy. One day at a time.

One last thing before I roll out, God; thanks for opening my eyes to the good in the world. There’s so much to be grateful for and I’ll enjoy all of it till my time is up. I’ll continue to do my best to skid sideways into my casket with a leg out, in a cloud of dust, shouting “WOW! What a ride!”

Laughing At Ketel One’s Feel-good Gibberish – A Recovering Alcoholic’s Look at Nonsensical Words Strung Together To Make Sentences.

Ketel One vodka “Botanicals” has a commercial for their vodka. Now, I was a vodka kind of guy back when I was a drunk. When I absolutely, positively had to be hammered right now, vodka was my go to… or rum. I loved the rum, too… well, or Mad Dog 20/20… or Old English 800… wait, I’m getting off track. Let’s stay on point.

It’s rare I ever pay attention to a commercial for alcohol anymore because it’s a little hard to make “hell on earth” look attractive to recovering alcoholic who, against all odds, found peace, contentment and happiness in recovery. For some reason this howler made it through my ignoring the commercial watching baseball the other day; “Crafted to be enjoyed responsibly” they said.

Wait, crafted to be enjoyed responsibly?

Believing it could be possible to craft vodka to be enjoyed responsibly by a drunk is simply “stupid”.

Here’s me, 30 years ago, sipping my fruity Ketel One; “Oh, that’s tasty! But I want to get hammered… Hmmm… I really want to get hammered, but this vodka was crafted to be enjoyed responsibly… perhaps I shall refrain.”

Said no drunk, ever. In the history of history. Ever.

Of course, the commercial begs the obvious question, “how so, Ketel One?” I would like to know exactly the steps that were taken, that differ from the manufacture of any other liquor on earth, to craft your vodka “to be enjoyed responsibly”. The statement is obviously utter, feel-good gibberish because if you think you could do anything, let alone manufacture liquor in a special way, to control my drinking, you’re a couple beers shy of a six-pack.

In non-American parlance, you’re fuckin’ nuts. Well done, Ketel One. Ya dopes. Keep coming back.

Stay tuned…

I Take You With Me on the Best Seven-and-a-Half Miles of My Week; Alternately, “Why I Ride A Road Bike Part 5,748”

It’s rare that an old man in Lycra can feel like he’s riding in a breakaway in a Classic, but every once in a while…

We roll out to a fairly easy first half-mile into a mild headwind and bank onto one of the nastier surfaces we ride on. It would resemble the cobbles in Paris-Roubaix were it not for all the potholes. The best line up the hill is over to the right as far as you can go without getting into the tire-killing detritus on the side of the road. Then down a nice little descent, again, where you have to pick exactly the right line at 32-mph or risk pinch-flatting on a chuckhole. A left turn and another long slog of a climb that we’re pounding out at 17-1/2-mph into the headwind before a long flat respite on a road that’s way too busy with traffic, but has a decent shoulder. Our average pace starts rising with all of that climbing behind us. Even into that breeze we’re pushing a decent pace – but it’s enough you have to ride low to fit into the slipstream or the heart rate will start to spike. We’re being passed by vehicles every ten to twenty seconds.

And then a left turn off the busy road and we’re instantly in the middle of nowhere pushing up a punchy little climb at better than 17-mph. The 7-1/2 miles begins.

I’m at the front, worrying everyone behind me is wishing I’d climb a little faster but I’m just shy of max-power as we crest the hill and my quads are burning and feel almost a little alien.

Once at the peak, the real fun starts. We’ve got a wide, 2′ shoulder to play on and we start a screaming descent – the person up front, me in this instance, has to pedal for all he’s worth while the guys behind coast in the draft beyond 36-mph. I’m down in the drops and leaning into the bends in the winding road. The road pitches up and we prepare for a sharp righthand turn with a little down to it – braking into the corner is a must as you’ll cook the corner if you’re going too fast. If there’s oncoming traffic, you’re toast. Then, a beast of a hill looms before us. When I’m up front on this hill, I always get passed up. This isn’t so bad as we’ve got a regroup about 100 yards from the peak, but today I’m not having it. I’d deftly upshifted thrice in the back and downshifted to the baby ring up front, just as we’d hit the “up” so I was in an excellent climbing gear for a 9%er about mid-way up the cassette. As Chucker started around me, I caught him out of the corner of my eye and stood up, powering my way up the hill as I accelerated. I was certain I’d PR’ed the hill at the crest. We pulled under a shade tree and waited for Joel and Charlie to catch up before we rolled out for one of the best sections of road I’ll ride in a season.

Having taken more than a mile up front, I drifted to the back… only to watch Charlie, with Joel and I behind him, let a gap form. I didn’t have long to react so I did immediately. I got out of the saddle and sprinted for Chuck’s wheel, passing Joel, then Charlie and covering the distance quickly – just before the road pitched downward. We were at 32+ before I knew it and we held 26 once the road flattened out. The speed limit is 25 through the subdivision and cars have trouble keeping up with us around the bends in the road. We also have to watch for oncoming traffic as we’re navigating the tight corners – there is zero room for cutting apexes into the oncoming lane – we’ve had a few guys almost bite it trying to cut corners. The twisty nature of the road is what makes the section so great. With every corner you’re leaning the bike with your knee out to help you through the turn.

Charlie and Joel were far off the back by this point and Mike, Chucker and I treated the rest of the section like we were late for something, crankin’ and bankin’, we rotated our pace-line like the pros do. Smooth and precise movements, an elbow flick here, a tap-ass and point there, we banked and climbed, and climbed and banked our way through the neighborhood.

I’d kept one eye on our average pace which had ticked up to 19.5 from 18-mph at the start of the section. At the speeds we were maintaining, there wasn’t much time for gawking, though I did manage to sneak a perfect peak of the sun over the lake to our left as we hurtled by, between breaks in tree lines. It was a breathtakingly beautiful snapshot that reminded me of our road trips up north on the big lake (Lake Michigan). It was over in a blink, as I was back on the gas to round a corner, then out of the saddle to climb a little punchy mole-hill. It was just the three of us, now. Joel and Charlie were well off the back and we were, all three of us, dancing on the pedals as we rounded a corner into the second-to-last big climb of the day. I always get spit off the back on this hill… but not today. Mike was up front and I was second. We drove into the 6%er and I simply concentrated on holding Mike’s wheel. As my lungs started to burn with my quads, I took as deep a breath as I could and powered through the burn – and I held Mike’s wheel. And I did PR that one. Once we crested the hill, it was a couple of rollers north of 23-mph and we hit the intersection marking the end of our most enjoyable 7-1/2 miles.

We dropped Charlie and Joel again (Joel took a considerable amount of time off to nurse a running injury back to health and he’d lost a lot of fitness) and didn’t stop and the other regroup point. We hammered for home with the tailwind and our rising average showed the effort. We had one last hill and I’d taken the pull to get to it. This time, when Chuck and Mike passed me, I let them go. I’d hit the end of my want to for hills and I figured I’d catch up to them on the downhill.

And that was that. I gave the descent max power and kept it on till I rounded the last corner at the Fenton City Limits sign. I hit the lap button with a 20.4-mph average (Mike had 20.7).

Mike split to go meet his wife for dinner while Chuck and I did a cooldown couple of miles. 20-1/2 on this route is a decent accomplishment for a group of three riders. We’ve got about a 1,000′ of up in 23 miles – considerably more than our Tuesday night. I’m feeling it this morning… it’ll be a parade lap Jimmer Loop tonight as we prep the legs for the big miles Saturday morning (and possibly some golf Saturday afternoon [!]).

Every Day is Leg Day; Warm Summer Days Are the Stuff of the Avid Cycling Enthusiast’s Dreams

It truly is another day in paradise. This is shaping up to be an incredible cycling season.

TNIL; One for the Club Edition

Well, conditions weren’t perfect last night, but they were close when I pulled my Venge from the back of my Equinox and prepped for the warm-up. We’d had quite an unsettling couple of days as weather went but all of that had blown out, leaving mild, crisp (but not in the cold sense of “crisp”, in the clean sense), sunny skies with a decent breeze just cresting into the double digits (in mph). It was quite gorgeous, really. We had a wind from the dead-north which is favorable for the most part, except the long slog north at the last half of the main event…

Dave and I were the only two for the warm-up so we rolled out at an easy pace. I’d taken Monday off for bad weather and my legs protested a little bit as I shook them out. East and west were going to be easy enough but north was going to be ugly. We pulled into the parking lot with an 18.8-mph average for the warm-up and my legs had taken well to the shake-out.

When we arrived back at the parking lot, we had two new guys already and Matt had called earlier to let me know another would be there. Mark was prepping his bike and Clinton knew Allen who was also out for the first time in more than a year-and-a-half (!). I introduced myself to Mark and struck up a conversation to figure out where he belonged in the crew. 18-mph average pace solo, Specialized Roubaix… looked like the 105 edition with disc brakes and it looked to be a 2019 or better… judging by that I figured he could keep up with us if we took it easy. Clinton was definitely a B rider but with no pace-line experience. Larry was a B/soon to be A rider with an old Roubaix with Zipp wheels from maybe 2004 or 2005. Larry looked like a cyclist… he just needed some experience. I picked mark to hang out with because he looked like the freshest of the group. He was going to need some work to bring up to speed.

Mark and I rolled out for an easy warm-up lap around a nearby subdivision before heading back for the start…

We rolled out and I had an ugly feeling I’d made a mistake. Fred showed up and I’d fit him with Joe and Mike – Mike looked like C potential and Joe is a solid, long-time D rider. Fred was new but had a lot of want to and a brand new Salsa Warbird… but I figured Mark looked too fit to be in that group. He wouldn’t get close enough to get a draft, though. A mathematics professor, you could tell he was working the equations on the likelihood of a crash in his head and he didn’t like his odds. Still, he looked strong and had a lot of want to and was holding on to the group. I figured things would work out once we headed north into the headwind (which would slow the group down) and he took to drafting to get out of the wind.

The former happened. The latter didn’t. He was about two feet too far back to get any benefit but he didn’t have much quit in him, either.

Chucker working with Mark with a tailwind

We made it to the tailwind section together and that helped him out considerably. He was looking a lot better and Chuck was helping him as well so I went up to take a few pulls and help out. I had a nice conversation with Mark who hadn’t been out on a Tuesday in forever and took a few turns up front. Clinton and Larry were doing great, rotating through the group and taking their turns up front. The pace, to this point, was easy by our standards at about 20.5-mph, so Mark, Allen and Clinton and Larry were doing really excellently. The group was keeping it civil.

Unfortunately, about 18 miles into the ride, we hit the hills and Mark’s Achilles heel. He burned up and dropped off the back almost instantly. I’d been playing around up front with everyone else and didn’t notice he’d slipped off. As soon as I realized he was gone, I waved off and went back to scoop him up. Chuck was already back there with him. We tried to get Mark back to the group, and actually succeeded after a bit because everyone held up at the regroup point. Mark gave hanging with the group everything he had, but he was too blown up to hang. I told Chuck to head up with the group and sat up to ride the last eight with Mark. I promised him at the beginning I had his back, so I lived up to it.

We spent the rest of the trip back working on drafting and trying to help Mark to be comfortable riding with others. Before I knew it, we were heading down the main stretch to the parking lot.

Now, a note to the Genesee Wanderers… I’d like to help Mark get in with the C Group (I think the Ds are a little slow for him), so all you C Groupers out there, we can get new blood to show up but if you folks don’t ride so the new people can ride with others of their caliber, they won’t bother coming back. Please help us retain the new folks by showing up to ride.

RAT Ride Asks to Avoid “Racing Clusters”; Also, the Funniest Recommendation I’ve Ever Seen on a Ride Advertisement…

In the advertisement for the Ride Around Torch (Lake, Michigan) forwarded to me by a club member, I found a fine nugget of wisdom under the 100-mile route which does include some pretty decent climbing; “Racing clusters are not recommended”.

Racing clusters?

Well, me and my “racing cluster” believe a 100-mile hilly bike ride isn’t for the faint of heart (they do have a 26 or 40 mile option for the nattering nabobs of numbskullery). While I appreciate the recommendation, we would choose to “cluster” anyway. The members of our “cluster” pace-line log more miles in a year together than most ride in a half-decade. In fact, I think I’ve only ridden solo, or not in a racing cluster, three times this year.

Actually, I see this as a nice little window into the coffee klatch brigade, or perhaps a touch more apropos, the kaffeeklatsch brigade. Those who would sit at the local McDonald’s drinking their senior coffee for hours on end thinking of ways other rabble-rousers should behave to better suit their (typically ignorant) sensibilities. “Racing clusters” would be the perfect target of gossiping ninnies. “Oh, we wouldn’t want any racing clusters, now! They look so dangerous.

Getting into proper responses, of course, one would be, “we have no racing clusters here, ma’am! We’ve got prancing pace-lines. We’re good.”

Or, should they catch you in one of those “racing clusters”, “Fear not sir, not a one of us is a racer. We wouldn’t even know how to form a “racing cluster”.

Or better still, “Oh, I’m so sorry, sir! I thought a “racing cluster” was an energy bar or a candy bar or something… this is just a pace-line. We’re good here.”

To take that thought a step further, “Don’t worry, ma’am. The brochure said you recommend against “racing clusters”. This is a pace-line, not a racing cluster. We leave the racing clusters to the professionals. Thank you for your concern.”

The point is, if you know anything about “racing clusters” whatsoever, and the person who chose the language in the brochure clearly doesn’t (perhaps a ploy for plausible deniability should a “racing cluster” crash happen?), racing clusters are always recommended… unless you want to work twice as hard to go 75% as fast all while having 25% of the fun. If that’s what you want out of cycling, by all means, avoid those rascawy wacing cwustews! (That’s “rascally racing clusters” in Elmer Fudd).

Otherwise, Mr. (or Mrs.) Fun Sponge, leave the cycling to the avid enthusiasts. Thanks for playing.

My Idea of a Week Off the Bike (Teaser, It Has Nothing To Do With Time on the Couch)

Two weeks ago, I thought I was tired. Too many hard miles had me a little ragged – or so I thought. Maybe it was just the classic, “my easy days were too hard and my hard days weren’t hard enough” problem. In the end, it really doesn’t matter all that much. I felt like I was toast. Going into Tuesday Night my confidence was shaken and I’d talked myself into dropping.

But I didn’t. We got the B Group back together and I had an excellent ride. 22-mph wasn’t easy, but I wasn’t in a bad way at all, either. Let’s say, a lot better than I’d expected. Wednesday and Thursday were easy days, but Friday was a lot faster than I’d planned on for a solo ride going into a long weekend. Saturday was comfortable but long. Sunday was pretty quick at just under a 20-mph average. I ended up with 277 miles in for the week.

I didn’t have much in the way of aspirations for last week. On one hand, I felt like I was going to have to do something to recover a bit, otherwise I was going to run myself into the ground. On the other, I was riding a bit of a confidence bubble from Tuesday and feeling pretty good about things, especially after Sunday’s ride (55 miles, 19.3-mph avg).

Monday was a day off to attend my eldest daughter’s honors graduation ceremony. Tuesday was right back at it with the fastest TNIL of the season for me, approaching 23-mph (depending whose Garmin we used). Wednesday was an easy day, but Thursday was pretty tough on the usual loop in Fenton – my first of the year. Friday was a hot one – so hot you could feel the heat bouncing off the asphalt and my legs were absolutely smoked. Chuck and I took turns slowing each other down and I pulled into the driveway with a true recovery ride 16.8-mph average for 25-miles. Then, Saturday… with only 4 people taking turns up front for most of the 70-mile ride, we still managed a nice 19-1/2-mph average. I expected to be smoked afterward, but after a 15-minute nap, I was up and about tending to the yardwork for the rest of the day. I loosened right up and felt good by the time I feel asleep. Then, Sunday Funday was just a little faster than expected over 47 miles, but not outrageously so. Two friends went for bonus miles to escort another home but I tapped out and pulled into the driveway… then, my daughter’s graduation and dinner party. I didn’t miss a beat (or take a nap). And I was out before 8 last night.

I ended up with a 235 mile week in just 12-1/2 hours… that’s a decent 18.8-mph average (the week before was 277 miles but took more than 3-1/2 hours longer – 17.3-mph average). I should have been wrecked last week but I ended up feeling pretty fantastic after it was all done.

This post wasn’t supposed to be positive. Sitting on the couch this morning, when I thought back on the week, I thought it was a fairly easy “recovery week”. After looking at Strava (and reality), I really only had two easy days all week long.

That said, it’s supposed to rain this afternoon and I’m not about to kick a day off out of bed for eating crackers.

Possibly the Best Homebound Ride of the Year (So Far)

The weather report was sketchy from days back but once we got to Friday evening, the prognosticators had lifted everything. It also seems they’ve actually learned how to predict Michigan’s weather somewhat accurately… I once joked that when we saw a 14% chance of rain – miniscule, really – we had a hundred percent chance of getting 14% wet. Well, there was some hit and miss to it, but it was quite clear to this weather prognosticator’s critic that if we were going to get rained on, it was going to be light and last a matter of seconds – not a 15-minute deluge we’d have to ride through… but the clouds started breaking up immediately. Better, even better than the fact that the wind was a mild 2-mph out of who cares where, it was cool – a mild 59° (that’s 15 C in Moose Latin)… it had rained the night before but the roads had completely dried overnight. Conditions were perfect for cycling.

We rolled out, just a small group; Brad, Mike, Chucker, my wife and me with Chuck asking where everybody was.  We picked up Dale and Phill along the way and before you knew it we had a decent group.  The pace was easy at first, around 18-mph, as everyone got their legs loosened up, but after Mike’s two-mile pull, I took three and started ticking the pace up to 19 to 21-mph (29 to 34-kmh).  Around the 18-mile mark my wife cut off and took her toy home – our eldest daughter graduates this weekend (I can believe it and I’m over the moon about it) and she wanted to get the yard straightened up for the arrival of family between this weekend and the open-house.  You know me, I wanted the miles – I’ll figure out how to squeeze in the yardwork in the time left!

Brad and Phil were struggling a little with the pace so we let them hide at the back and the four of us remaining (Mike, Chucker, Dale and I) took turns rotating at the front and kept the pace a steady 20 to 22-mph.  We were a mileage machine, the four of us and Brad and Phill hung in tough.  Before we knew it we were looking at a 19-1/2-mph average (30-kmh).  

Conditions took a turn about 25-miles in and it got quite gray and foggy, but the wind remained a gentle breeze and we just rolled through it.  Phill took his toy and went home at 33-miles.  Then, in an unbelievably unlikely event, two friends we ride with on DALMAC and Horsey flew by only 50 feet in front of us as we were braking for the intersection.  I recognized them immediately and shouted out, “MIKE!  DAVE!”… they laid on the brakes and turned around and we pulled up to them.  Dave exclaimed, “What are the odds!  They’ve gotta be close to 2 billion to one!”.  He was right.  The likelihood we’d cross at the same intersection, let alone in the five second window we’d be close enough to holler at them without planning the routes out… it’s staggering.  And fortunate.  It just so happened we were heading their way so we rolled out together, heading for the next town were I took a photo of our rabble when we stopped to water up:


When good and ready, we took off… to find a porta-john because the losers in the gas station lied and said their restroom was out of order (that’d be a violation of so many codes, we won’t get into it). We found one at the local high school by the football field and a few of us took care of business and we all rolled out again.

CLXL_02 (2)

With that faffing about out of the way and five tenths off our average for it, we headed for the next intersection that would take us to our Tuesday night route and the home stretch… and see us part ways with our two friends and they split for home heading the opposite direction.

Brad was ragged but hanging in like and champ as we pounded out the miles. I was in all of my glory, having so much fun, our government would probably make it illegal if the bureaucrats had half a clue – “in these trying and difficult times – we’re all in this together™”, after all.

Anyway, we were at the turn at 49.5 miles on the odometer and I guessed we had about 20 to go to get home.  We said our goodbyes with hi-fives and we were on our way.  Dale, Chuck, Mike and I took turns rotating at the front and kept the pace right were it needed to be to creep that average up.  The miles ticked by and our average increased to a point we got back everything we’d lost looking for a restroom.  I was starting to get tired and thought about the last ten miles ahead of us and how much I was hurting… and I popped a gel immediately.  I always try to gut that part out and I suffer for it.  No more.  The gel brought me back and I went from tongue dangling to ready to take it to the barn in two miles.

And that’s what we did, dropping Brad at his house and Dale at his intersection to head home.  It was just Mike, Chuck and I for the last three to my house.  Then I split off while Chuck and Mike headed for their homes two miles away.  

I pulled into the driveway with 70.4 miles at a 19.6 average (I was Strava’d a tenth) for what was, without question, one of our most enjoyable rides of the year… and we’re going to do it again today – with better temps and no clouds!

I’ve written enough.  Now it’s time to roll.  Ride hard my friends.

A Fantastic Thursday Evening Bike Ride… Part 3,142

Mike, Chuck, Charlie and I rolled out Thursday evening at 6 on the dot. I’d already completed a short warm-up in a hilly subdivision close to the high school and was rarin’ to go. Well, not really. I was a little nervous over the route. With 1,000 feet of “up” in just 26 miles, this a little more of a legit test of a rider’s ability and fitness than the usual flat routes I’m used to… and I had the Trek. With rain in the forecast, the only way to stay dry was to bring the Trek. If I’d have had the Venge, it’s a virtual guarantee we’d be hydroplaning at some point.

And so the four of us rolled out. It’s only a half-mile to the first hill and it’s a doozy, up to 9%. I was feeling like quite the fat ass as I lumbered up the hill as Chuck and Mike pulled away. They slowed at the top and I caught them on the downhill (#fatisfast). We hit a busy quarter-mile section, then down a slight 1% grade to another long half-mile climb (2-5%), but then we get to the gravy – a 2.2 mile run with a -1% grade. The hill at the bottom is payment for the fast descent. We turn onto Linden road, swinging wide before we get into the turn to carve a proper apex so we don’t overshoot into oncoming traffic… and then all that momentum grinds to a halt. The hill starts out at 11% and it’s twice as long as it looks, though it levels out to 6% toward the top. I was spinning up in my granny gear, and I didn’t care a bit how that looked. I wasn’t the last one up the hill, but I wasn’t the first, either.

In the loop around Lake Shannon is where the magic happens. For all of the problems with cycling, the traffic, the pollution, the headaches with maintaining a bike or seven, the next six miles of this route are a cyclist’s dream; lots of shade, rolling hills, and a descent that is about as fun as any in Michigan to start the section. And we put the hammer down requiring knees to be extended when leaning around corners, hands down on the drops to maximize aerodynamics, and lots of speed as we’re rounding tight corners at 30+ mph. I love that loop around the lake. As I see it, that six miles is why road cycling is so appealing. As many times as I’ve ridden it, it never gets old.

After the Lake Shannon loop, we have to pay for all of that downhill glory. We’ve got another brutal climb that Mike and Chuck scurried up… I went max-power to hold wheels but fell off about 3/4s of the way up… I knew there was a regroup about a half mile after, so I wasn’t exactly worried.

The remainder of the ride, till the last mile, is a series of fun rollers, a nice downhill run and little difficulty. That last mile is a bear, though. Around a corner and over a choppy section of road that tries its best to match the cobbles in France and then the climb… after you’ve been bounced out of every bit of momentum you carried through the turn. Remember that 9%er at the beginning? Yep, up the other way to the finish.

We pulled across the line with a 19.5-mph average (anything over 19 is very good, over 20 is excellent and our record best is just north of 22-mph from last year). After, we did a few bonus miles plus a run through a subdivision to check out a guy’s Lamborghini Aventador in his driveway before cruising back to the parking lot.

A few high-fives and congratulations and we parted ways. I fell asleep with a smile on my face and dreamt about how good it is to be me.

And that’s as it should be. Just another day in the life of an avid cycling enthusiast.