Fit Recovery

Home » 2021 » September (Page 3)

Monthly Archives: September 2021

Bicycle Race: DALMAC Day 4 – The Parade Lap to the Sprint In Mackinaw City

Thursday and Friday were beautiful days for a century. Saturday was sketchy but we got away, largely unscathed. It rained Sunday night, but miracle of miracles, it cleared up Sunday morning… and I mean clear.

Paved surfaces showed dampness, but it was nothing to worry about, and the temperature was fantastic, in the low 60s. We ate a hearty breakfast and got ready to roll.

The last day of DALMAC is bittersweet. In a few hours, all of the fun, laughter and good cheer will be memories as we head for home. On the other hand, day four gives a cyclist everything a route could give – it’s one of the most beautiful cycling routes in the country. There’s a “Wow” every few miles.

There’s also lots of up, and we were climbing just 1.4 miles into the morning.

Now, a funny thing happens to we weekend warriors after three speedy centuries in a row… I don’t care how fit you are, a 3 to 6% climb for two miles hurts if you try to push it. Thankfully, we had Doc Mike and Diane on their tandem, so they paced us up the hills and absolutely bombed the downhills. Once out of Boyne City, there’s a section of rollers through Walloon Lake that’s made for tandems – plus you have the beauty of the lake on your left, through the trees.

After Walloon, we go off course and hit an old favorite along the southeast side of the lake, the seven sisters – a series of rollers that starts with a short, steep climb that we dubbed “The Wall Part Two”, then winds and bends its way along the lake shore to the Walloon Lake Country Club. It’s a beautiful, fun section of road (though there is one dangerous corner riders have to watch out for as it tends to get windswept and sand drifts over the road surface – it’s sketchy at best). Once through the seven sisters, it’s more hills and valleys, followed by a fast descent into Petoskey. Be careful of the righthand turn at the bottom – my top speed coming down the hill was 50-mph.

Once through Petoskey, you’re only seven short miles from Harbor Springs and one of the most beautiful stretches of road in Michigan.

Most years, I take photos of everyone as we pass between the beach and the beautiful houses. This year was different. Mike and I split off from the main group to see the houses before the main drag along the beach, so we were behind and had to hammer it to catch up to the group again.

Believe it or not, that selfie up there was at speed… Ken is an exceptional cyclist and managed to get right up next to me as I went to take his picture and said, “No, let’s do a selfie instead!” I was amazed he could get that close while keeping steady – well above my pay grade!

This year, rather than press on after the stop in downtown Harbor Springs, we went back to the harbor to take a photo of the group – something we’d never done in all the years I’ve ridden DALMAC:

Next up is the long climb out of Harbor Springs to the tunnel of trees. When entering the chute, hold onto your butt – top speed is, without pedaling, around 40-mph. The next twelve miles are simply breathtaking.

After Goodhart and Cross Village, we head north again, over inland roads to avoid the choppiness of North Lake Shore Drive – had it to do over again, I’d stay on Lake Shore as the spectacular scenery is worth dodging some rough patches of road.

Finally, we hit Cecil Bay Road along the coast:

If you zoom in on that middle image, you can actually see the top of the Mackinaw Bridge. We’re just four miles out on that last photo…

We hit W. Central Ave and the homestretch with a massive tailwind. Chad came off the front and gave me the leadout. He said, “Take it home, Jim”. I did. I kept the pace reasonable for a bit, but ramped it up as we dropped down a small hill. I took it all the way to 37-ish-mph last I looked and brought it across the line. 75 miles in the books.

That brought our total for the four-day tour to 377 miles at an average speed north of 19-mph. And then, the obligatory dip in Lake Michigan. It was warm outside, but the water took a little getting used to!…

And all that was left was the ride home. Thankfully, we gave two friends a lift so the good times, laughs and stories continued all the way to our driveway.

What a weekend.

Pardon This Interruption Of Normally Good and Insprining Stuff for A Bit of An Emergency: Will Chains and Cassettes Go the Way of Toilet Paper?

Earlier this year I bought a few sets of tires when I heard there would be a run on tires. I’m good through next year. Last night I bought 10 speed Ultegra chain and an Ultegra cassette for each of my road bikes (11-25 for the Venge, 11-28 for the Trek). This morning I found two Dura Ace 11 speed chains and a cassette for my wife’s bike. I now have enough to get me clear to 2024, without breaking a sweat. I’ve got enough shifter and brake cable, I should be good as well. There may be unforeseen issues I won’t be ready for, but I’ve got the normal stuff covered.

I’ve already gotten the gravel bikes accounted for.

Am I being paranoid?

Folks, it’s getting ugly out there. If you have the means, chains and cassettes probably won’t be quite as bad as toilet paper in 2020… but it’s definitely not good. I’m hearing some very bad things through the grapevine.

And I Would Ride 💯 Miles. No Wait! Did! Again. Again. Day 3 of DALMAC.

Day three of DALMAC’s Lansing to Michigan bicycle adventure is daunting. Day two has the most climbing of all four days, but day three has the steeper grades. Plus you’re on legs that have already done two centuries in a row.

Day Two is one LLLLOOOOONNNNGGG climb!

We rolled out with a smaller crew for day three. We left a bit before the tandem and pro crew did, figuring none of us needed the pounding. It had rained the evening before and it was spitting again just before we left. The forecast had worsened, not gotten better as day three approached. It seemed Michigan weather had caught up to us. I had on a light rain jacket, arm warmers, bibs, and normal cycling gloves… I was overdressed. The spray wasn’t bad at all for the first few miles and within three the roads were dried to a point we didn’t have to worry about spray at all, though it was going to be a race to the finish… we had rain due at 2 and we’d finished Days One & Two at around 2:20.

I’d ditched the jacket by this point, as did Dave, the guy on front

Day three’s elevation is quite interesting. The first 20 miles is relatively flat with a few short climbs and descents, but then the elevation drops to the floor over the next 33, with a stretch of 12 miles that simply has to be ridden to be believed. The grade isn’t even that much, -0.5% to -5%, it just goes on forever compared to what one normally gets in the lower peninsula of my home state.

By the time we’d hit mile 80 we were sitting on a 20-mph average for the day. While we were tired, and we all said something about it at some point during that 20 mile stretch after the descent (right about 65… at those small humps – and then the bigger two at 74 & 80.

I was focused on that big sucker at mile 92, though. We’ve laughed for years about “The Wall”. At 18% at its steepest, it’s not even all that steep. It’s the two-mile climb to get to it, plus the 18%… and what kind of sadistic f***er puts a two mile climb with a quarter-mile at 10 to 18% 92 miles into Day Three of a four day tour? I write that totally tongue in cheek, of course. I had been worrying whether I’d have the legs or not for the better part of the day as I started up the ascent to The Wall. I was about to find out just how tired I was… and I could have bailed. Dave, on his time trial rig (one of the few people on the planet I actually trust on one of those contraptions), went the alternate route around the hill. I actually thought about going with him for roughly .074560395 seconds.

Before I knew it, I rounded the corner and that big bastard was looking right at me. Right into the granny gear, I didn’t even bother. Now, truth be told, 34/28 is probably one gear too easy for that hill on a normal day. It’s almost too easy on Day Three, too. About halfway up, after bobbing back and forth in the lane for no good reason, I got serious and got after it. Out of the saddle and one stroke at a time, I ground that sucker down. [Just keep breathing, not too fast, don’t try to race it, you’ll blow yourself up…] and just like that, I was at the top as it flattened out and I had to upshift a few gears. Chad, a climber’s build if ever there was one, was first up the hill and took photos of everyone as the ascended the most famous hill in Michigan’s Lower Peninsula (followed closely by the Seven Sisters, which we’d visit on Day Four). Once at the top, I was surprised at how bad the hill wasn’t. I had a feeling I was being a little silly, but you never know till you start up that sucker, eh? Ah well.

There are a few more hills left before we hit the final descent into town and one of our group, Todd, who comes up from Kentucky, treats our tiny climbs like they’re child’s play (mostly because they are, compared to what he rides on a daily basis). A few hills that we ambled up, he’d blast by us in the big ring like he was going for a KOM. Todd has my respect, but I wasn’t about to chase after him… not till we got close to the Boyne City sign, anyway. We were together at that point and the sign is downhill so you can get some pretty decent speed out of a sprint.

As beat up as I was, and I was tired, I went for it anyway. I always go for that sign, so why not. As we started down the hill, I upshifted twice, switched my hands from the hoods to the drops, and hit the gas. I upshifted twice more, and twice more as I hit 50/11, giving her all I had. I hit 39.8-mph and sat back down as I rocketed over the line.

At that point, that was it. I’d given it all I had and we parade lapped it to the school. 100.1 miles done, a 19.2 average (we hit the City Limits sign at 19.5 and were at 20 as we started up to The Wall, at mile 90).

Day three was in the books.

I Rode 💯 Miles. Again. Day 2 of DALMAC

Day one was a story of fighting headwind for the majority of 100 miles. Thankfully, we weren’t talking about double digit wind. We also had a great group.

We had a better, bigger group for Friday, Day 2. And a tailwind. And a tandem piloted by an astonishing team. And several key pieces of a local masters pro team. I $#!+ you not.

There was no warm-up. No “hey, how ya doin’” phase. We rolled to the first intersection, got through the stop sign on a terribly dangerous intersection and hit it. There was zero letup for 32 miles. We were holding a 22-1/2-mph average by the time we stopped. I’d had to pee for about seven miles, but there was no way I was going to leave that draft go. For the first 12 miles I was about fifth bike back. For years, I’ve taken it upon myself to take the action shots for the group. I figure everyone would like to have a photo they can put on their desk or on the wall of them knocking the miles down on these adventures. I went up to the front and congratulated the tandem on an amazing lead out, then patted the girl on the back in second position who’d been there since we left, then I headed back to take a photo of our pace-line. It was long. I headed back up to take my spot at fourth bike and we rolled on. The couple up front on the tandem, though exceptional, was a (non-married) couple on a tandem. They were fast on the flats and downhills, but mercifully slow on the ups. That’s where we got our breaks.

Another half-dozen miles in, I took another series of photos. This time, one of each individual cyclist as I went up the line (at least the people I knew), ending at the masters pro who had been taking regular turns up front to give the tandem a break from time to time. I was gassed by the time I got to the front so I eased myself to the back of the train for a good rest.

We stopped for the first time at 32-miles at a small trailhead that had a couple of portable restrooms. I made a bee-line. A snack and some laughs later and we were on the road again. Lunch was in 12 miles. We hung on with the tandem and pros until the lunch stop. They’d already had their snacks at our stop but we’d been waiting for the lunch stop. As we pulled to the side of the road, they sped off in the distance. Mile 44-ish. As I walked up to get into the food line, I tried to channel the thought process that had me thinking, “wow, I can’t believe we’re almost halfway already”. It didn’t work. The second day is always the hardest and starting out that fast didn’t help.

After the lunch stop, without our train to draft, we set out on our own, our normal group of six, plus one. The pace cooled a little bit, but definitely in an enjoyable manner. I’m all for the fast rides, but staying within my wheelhouse makes for enjoyable centuries. Over the next 55 miles, our pace dropped from 22 to 20.5 where it stayed.

Toward the end of the day, around mile 80, the hills were a struggle to climb – and there were lots. Day Two has the most elevation gain of the four.

We pulled into a grocery store/restaurant shortly after mile 80 and I purchased a Starbucks Triple Shot French Vanilla. With 225 mg of caffiene, it quickly became my new “go to” caffinated beverage. After pounding one of those, the next 20 miles weren’t near as bad… till that dreaded last two miles where it seems everyhting is uphill, all the way home. I wanted to lay down in a ditch and take a nap, but the group trundled on, and so did I.

We ended up with 101 miles and some change and I was filled with a sense of satisfaction after that century. I had to dig deep a few times to get through that one. Unfortunately, our stretch of good weather was about to come to a close… Day Three’s forecast was not looking good…

377 Miles in Four Days, Another Fantastic DALMAC is in the History Books

We rode DALMAC this weekend, the 50th iteration (the jersey, which I bought, is outstanding).

I’ll start on a better write-up tonight now that I’ve got some time to give the post my proper exuberance. For now, I’ll simply say it was great to feel a little normalcy and crank out three full centuries and a 75-miler with some good friends.

We even had a couple of friends ride home with us, so the good times and great conversation didn’t end till we pulled into the driveway.

What an epic weekend.

It was a time for reflecting on how fortunate and blessed I am. From my wonderful wife, to my good friends, and for the beautiful state we live in.

Most of all, for my recovery. Without that, good times simply aren’t possible. For that, I am most grateful.

More later. I have to get ready to go ride with my friends again now that we’re home! I get to see if I just fixed my shifting issue on my Trek. Fingers crossed!

Thursday: 100.6 miles 18.8-mph avg (headwind almost all day)

Friday: 101.4 miles 20.2-mph avg (winds a little more favorable and a blistering start on the wheel of a stellar tandem)

Saturday 100.2 miles 19.5-mph avg. We had a 20 avg going into the big climbs at mile 90 but if you gun the 2 mile climb to the wall, you’re sure to blow up when you start up it. 19.5 on this day is very fast.

Sunday 75.35 miles 18.5-mph avg. The first half of this ride is very climby and always a bit of a parade lap – especially through Harbor Springs . It picks up after lunch!

I Rode 100 Miles… Day 1 of DALMAC

Not “if”, I did. Again. There was a difference in this century, though. A very special difference.

It was the first time I was ever bummed to see 40 miles go by and think, we’re almost halfway there… already. 60 miles tick by…. “I can’t believe it’s almost over!”

Then, when 80 went by, all I could think was, “I can’t believe how good I feel”… I was really bummed, then.

At 85 miles I had a Starbucks Triple Shot. A Double Shot is awesome enough, but a triple?

The next 8-1/2 miles were fast and spectacular. I could have pushed the pace a little bit. I wasn’t dancing on the pedals, but close to it.

At 99.3 I was ready to be done. A mile later, we were. We had a mild headwind for the majority of the ride, but we had a solid group and we crushed it.

One of the most enjoyable centuries I can remember. You can see below, with the temp in the low 70s, they just don’t make days better than that for a bike ride. And that triple? Rather than shower and crash, I set up the camper while my wife went out for a ride of her own. I didn’t even bother with a nap after I did shower.

I’ll have some more of that, please!

What a day!

Cycling and When You’re Stronger Than You Think You Are…

I’ve felt a little chubby since I got back from vacation, mainly because, while I may not actually be “chubby”, I’m about 10 pounds over my normal “acceptable” weight. I got this way in spite of putting in 6,000 miles on my bikes so far this summer. It’s all eating weight.

I was prepared to struggle mightily due to the extra weight. I’ve even taken to eating salads, for God’s sake.

I was wrong, though. I haven’t struggled for the extra weight near as much as I thought I would. Especially on long rides. Even hills haven’t been too terrible – and downhill has been awesome.

I’ve changed my focus, especially on long rides with friends. When I’m starting to struggle, I do a few special things that have made a huge difference.

  1. I think about how my friends need me, that I can’t feel bad yet… I have to finish strong to help them. This has been the biggest game changer over the last year.
  2. Starbuck’s Triple Shot. French Vanilla. Coke and coffee are great, but when I’m in the pain cave, when I’m really hurting, drastic times, drastic measures. It’s good for the last 23-ish miles of a hard century. You have 26 left? Well, you’ll have to dig deep on that last couple of miles.
  3. Gels, food, moderation… I used to eat way too much at stops. Getting started again was sluggish. If I avoid the urge to eat everything in sight, I’m much better for it.

Finally, as the year has progressed, I’ve realized I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was. Still, I’m definitely sticking to a diet coming into the end of the season. I’m planning on dropping some decent weight over the winter so I can keep the leg strength and hit next spring lighter.

Cycling long distances, 50 to 100-ish miles, is as much mental as it is physical. If I maintain the former, the latter falls into line.

Ride hard, my friends. Because it’s fun.

Another 1,000 Mile Month in the Books

Every winter I set a goal for 6,000 miles for the new year.

July was an off month with only 625 miles. I was on vacation for two weeks and we didn’t ride much. In fact, July was a bit slow, historically, too. 977 miles for July. May was quite good, though, with 1077 miles on the legs. April’s iffy weather is never good for cycling but I did manage a decent 677 miles for the month. I logged 577 in March – historically decent.

So that gets the spring and much of the summer covered, leaving August. What a month. 1,053 miles and the fastest Tuesday night in Lennon for the year on the 31st. I only took two days off all month long, one for my daughter’s move-in at college and one, I think, for weather. I averaged more than 36 miles a day at an average pace of around 18-1/2-mph.

I shoehorned in the cycling around obligations and the month couldn’t have gone better (This isn’t to say everything was perfect, of course – I don’t care about perfect, I care about good, decent and happy. I don’t do perfect).

Best, August was a month of friends, family and fantastic memories I’ll have when they count.

Good times and noodle salad, my friends. Ride hard.

A Paradox in the Recovery; You Want to Go Off On Someone, BUT…

I’ve had it up to here with COVID panic p0rn lately. Especially unnerving are the folks who make stuff up, like “reports that kids are immune to getting COVID were greatly exaggerated”… I can’t think of anyone anywhere who said that – and if there actually was someone, they were obviously stupid. Kids aren’t affected like older folks are and everyone with half a brain knows this. I actually read an article the other day that suggested the only reason there wasn’t a megadeath of kids is that they were kept home last year. This person predicted, with kids back in school, we’d be stacking dead kids “like cordwood”. Preposterous!

On the other hand, I went to a fantastic meeting last night, and as much as I want to channel that pissed off guy in a post, he simply won’t come out to play.

And that’s a good thing. The guy who goes off on people is an @$$hole, anyway.

Meetings, if done right, will wreck your inner @$$hole eventually. It happens to the best of us. It’s a great paradox of recovery. Er somethin’.

TNIL: WHAT A RIDE! Edition

Friends, I wish I could put to words how good I feel at this very moment, just 30 minutes or so after crossing the City Limits line capping, with an exclamation point, a tremendously fast ride. I’m still smiling.…

We rolled out at 6:01 to less than stellar wind conditions out of the northeast. This means two roads on the ride have a fair tailwind. The rest of the course socks you right in the kisser.

We had a solid group, though. The Elite guys wanted to play nice… and we in the A Group weren’t enough to go it alone. The offer of help with the wind was too attractive to pass up.

The start was easy, smooth, and quickly ratcheted up to speeds that had me questioning the authenticity of the Elite Group’s offer… but I settled in and hammered on. We were flying into a steady headwind, 26+ mph.

I took my lumps up front and thankfully drew another A guy in the other lane of the double pace-line so our turns up front was mercifully short. I also managed to avoid riding behind a couple of the guys who are tough to hide behind. Once I’d settled into the pace, which, I $#!+ you not, was insane, I was able to get into it. I want to write, I “relaxed” into it, but that’s a wild mischaracterization… there was no relaxing happening in that group. We were staying between 25 & 28-mph (40 to 46 kph).

Then we hit Shipman Road and things really got fast. A few times a year we are gifted a northeasterly wind which makes everything except Shipman Road suck. The whole stretch we’re on that road, all five miles of it, are flat-out fast with a tailwind. It was a new PR for me last night. Five miles in 11m:18s. That’s almost 27-mph… we touched 30-mph a few times… on flat to slightly uphill road. In fact, the profile of that five miles is slightly uphill for all but a few hundred yards till the last half-mile.

There once was a time 28-mph would blow me up after a half-mile. We held that for five.

After crossing a busy intersection and with a crossing tailwind, we flew south to our rendezvous with the hills. I was certain I’d be off the back and blown up. But I was mistaken. Chucker and I had taken a pull just before the triple-lump and had just enough time to recover at the back that I actually had to coast for a second on the way up the hardest of the incline. We had crossing headwind coming up as we hung a left to the next series of hills, though, and I was certainly about to be detritus strewn about the road. At first, the group tried to echelon and it stretched out from the double yellow to the side of the road in five cyclists, momentarily leaving several, including myself, in the ditch (not the literal ditch, the side of the road in an echelon where there’s no protection from a crossing headwind). The guys at the front surged and straightened the line, though. I survived the next two hills, much to my disbelief.

The A guys made preparations to turn for the short route, positioning ourselves at the back to avoid cross-traffic crashes with the Elite group heading straight. We went up “Shiatown hill” at a ridiculous pace – a 5% hill at 21-1/2-mph and then cruised down the back of the hill to our left turn. We stopped to wait a minute for anyone dropped in the hills and caught our breath. We gave it almost a minute and nobody had come around the bend at the top of the hill so we rolled out – single-file. We had Dave & Val on their tandem, Doc Mike, Chucker, Clark, Dale, Dave and me. We took it easy(ish) up the next hill, then turned on the gas on the way down into town.

I ended up the leadout for the Vernon City Limits sign and gave it everything I had to keep it at 25+ mph over the line. Nobody came around to sprint – I think, with eight miles to go, we were all just content with hammering them out.

We had a nice downhill section after clearing a rough intersection and even with the little headwind left, we made great time of it and kept our speed up. Six to go, an uphill section still north of 22-mph, we were picking them up and putting them down. Five to go we turned for the homestretch, a crossing headwind of a breeze. We kept the speed up, between 22 & 25-mph, taking it a little easy on the hills (what little one’s we had left) and picked up the pace on the flat and downhill sections.

At the turn, when we parted ways with the Elite group, we were sitting on a 24.3-mph average. With the hills and headwind we’d dropped to 23.5 but it was holding steady there. With a mile to go, it was all downhill and we made the most of it, jockeying for position for the sprint finish. I was content to just hold wheels and let the others go for the glory of finishing the ride first. I hammered across the line in the middle of the pack at 28-mph, a solid 23.5 (38 km/h) average showing on the computer.

The ride back to the parking lot was all hi-fives and fist bumps all around. And that brings us back to the beginning of the post. There is something I can’t put my finger on about a fast ride like the one we had last night that just puts a smile on my face. I’m going to have to do some thinking on this because I felt fantastic straight through till my head hit the pillow. What a ride!

28.16 miles in 1:12:03. 430′ of up. 259 watt estimated average power.