If you’ve been around for a while, you may remember I’d taken a fondness for the Ten Commandments of Cycling… well, I felt yesterday’s ride rose to the level of a Commandment, and lucky number Seven at that: Thou Shalt Not Squander Perfect Days on the Couch.
My lovely wife had board meetings that I had a feeling were going to run late. Still, I thought, what if she actually gets to come home between them, as she normally does? I don’t want to miss her, I thought (I’d gotten home from the office just in the nick of time to give her a kiss before she drove off to that first meeting). On the other hand, it was perfect out. Barely a cloud in the sky, a barely there breeze… and the temp was even reasonable in the low 80s (probably 27 or 28 C if memory serves). It was literally a perfect day. There’s no way my wife would want me to miss riding in that, not today. Not the way we’re doing today. I reasoned, if she wasn’t on the way home at 5, I’d ride (she had another meeting start at 6).
I threw my leg over the top tube and was off at 5:10.
Tuesday night’s ride on the tandem had been hard. Strava and Garmin showed an estimated power output of over 360 watts for the hour and twenty minutes and I’d actually woken up the next morning with shaky legs, adding weight to the guesstimate… so I chose easy, recovery pace… for maybe one or two miles. It was just too perfect!
And just like that, at 5:20-ish, my wife texted me a simple, “I love you”. I took a quick selfie video from the bike and said, “I love you” whilst pedaling and sent that. Technology is grand. And I pedaled on.
I had a busy evening ahead so I had to shave the route and cut some corners to get done in time to pick up pizza for dinner and drop a love note off on my wife’s car on the way by, but I filled every spare minute I had on the Venge. I’d even dressed in my best Specialized peacock kit, with my racing helmet, S-Works shoes, and the whole getup. I was feeling quite spectacular as I rolled down the road.
I pulled into the driveway with just shy of 16 miles and a little better than an 18-mph average. It was no ride on the tandem with my wife, but it was a lot better than polishing the leather on our couch with my butt, too. Thou shalt not squander perfect days…
Well, every once in a while a small miracle happens and Jess and I hit the perfect night on our tandem. The weather was wonderful. Partly cloudy, just a slight breeze out of the north, and my wife, the Rear Admiral to my Captain of the team, made the command decision that we should try to hang with the small-ish A-Elite/A-Group as long as we could. And I executed that decision.
We rolled out after fixing a timing chain issue – it pops when we take the bike out of the back of the vehicle every now and again. It’s happened twice, now, so I’ll have to be more mindful when taking it out of the SUV. Anyway, without a warm-up, we rolled out and went from easy-going out of the parking lot to 23-mph in a half-mile. Originally, I’d thought about staying in the rotation and taking our lumps up front with the rest of the group, but thought better of it. I chose, instead, to stay at the back… for two reasons. First, so I didn’t mess anyone up if we fell off the back. Second, well, it’s a lot easier at the back. Every time someone peeled off the front, I’d make room for them to slide over in front of us.
And we did well.
I’d anticipated we’d hang on for eight or ten miles, but I didn’t hold out much hope beyond that. I undershot our chances by a lot. Staying with the group, even at speeds upwards of 26-mph wasn’t nearly as bad as I’d anticipated with the gentle breeze and a whole train of cyclists ahead of us… and my wife absolutely killing it. I kept looking down at my computer, wondering if my wife saw how fast we were going. We worked together perfectly, that’s the best way to put it.
15-miles in we were still with the group and had a 23.1-mph average, but we were closing in on the hills. We rounded the corner on Lytle Rd and headed downhill for a quick few seconds before the pitch turned upwards… and just as my buddy Chucker took the front… and slowed the train down from 22-mph (which we normally climb those hills at) to 18-mph. Just enough for my wife and I to hang on. Unfortunately, we got stuck with a few other riders behind a lady in a Cadillac who decided it would be a good idea to text someone whilst waiting at the stop sign, so we got separated from the group who went around her rather than wait.
Once we were off the back, that was it. We never came close to catching up with the main group but we didn’t call it quits, either…
With 13-miles to go, we gave it everything we had and kept our average over 21-mph. We’d catch and lose the wheels of the four riders ahead of us several times but when we hit the City Limits sign, we cruised across the line with a cool 21.4-mph. The fastest average we’d ever held on a tandem… and about 3-mph faster than our normal Tuesday night club ride.
We were both exceedingly happy with how we did, and my wife put it best when she said she didn’t think she could have done that on a single bike, but when we’re on the tandem, she knows I’ve got her back when she needs me and she’s got mine when I need it. And that’s exactly it. I won’t lie, either… I got more than a little misty when she was talking about how she knew I had her back and that she had mine. We’ve worked really hard on our marriage to get to that point. And the hard work is clearly paying off.
We do well on the tandem because we are the definition of a tandem team.
Good times, noodle salad. I slept like a baby last night.
I’ve always, since I started cycling, been on the extreme side. Most will ride a thousand or two miles in a season and be happy. I would average a thousand a month through the summer season. Last month I didn’t even make half that. Now, in fairness, we went on a cruise and brought Covid home with us on the last day, so my wife and I were out a few more days just shaking the fever. Don’t get the impression I’m kicking my own ass for only racking up 474 miles in a month where we didn’t ride half of it, I’m not.
I am as strong as I’ve ever been, though. I’m riding very well. The tandem takes a lot more effort and attentiveness than that of my twitchy, ultra-sleek, race bike. And the quality of rides… well, I can’t even quantify that. Enjoying riding with my wife on a tandem is a gift beyond description. Hell, loving my wife enough to enjoy riding on the tandem is pure awesome sauce – having my wife feel the same (at the same time), well that’s just over-the-top.
I’ll have a lot of miles to ride this month and into next, though. Most will be on the tandem with the love of my life, but some will be on my Venge, or maybe my Trek. I am thankful our marriage made it to where I’d rather the former than the latter two. It’s taken a lot of want to and work to get here. I’m glad we made it.
Incidentally, I raised my wife’s bullhorn up a little bit so she’s a little more upright. I’ll write up a post on fitting her to the tandem in the coming weeks. It’s an interesting tale.
I didn’t intentionally blow off a meeting to ride with my friends, but that it wasn’t intentional didn’t mean I didn’t blow off the meeting. I did.
My wife had meetings in the morning so the tandem was out. Originally, I was just planning on riding with my buddy, Mike but Chuck and Phill showed up, too so it was a picture of the good old days when the four of us would ride all over God’s creation together. My mind drifted back to the heady days of Mountain Mayhem: Beat the Heat when Mike managed to pause his Garmin on the way up Brutus Road, while Phill tried to see exactly how slow he could go without tipping over on his bike (1.2-mph). Ah, those were the days!
Mike and Chuck showed up early so we rolled out well before 7:30, our scheduled departure time, and picked Phill up along the way. It wasn’t long before we got into a great rhythm heading into the wind in a tight pace-line. Unlike the pros, where they take twelve seconds of headwind before rotating to the back, we were up front for several miles at a time (we were also well short of the pro’s 30-mph pace).
The sun shone gloriously and the breeze was mild… and the four of us had our fun.
My 16-pound Specialized Venge was all pleasurable business, a model of mechanical perfection as we strolled down the road at a brisk (but fun) pace. Mike, Phill and Chuck had their “good” bikes as well. Phill has a Fire Engine Red Specialized Roubaix, Mike a Trek Emonda 7.0 and Chuck a Black on Black Ghost Giant TCR Advanced… We talked and laughed and caught up… and I pulled into the driveway with 35-ish miles at 18-mph and a smile on my face.
It was perfect Michigan summer cycling. With friends. The only way it could have been better would have been if my wife and I were on the tandem. There will be plenty of time for that, though.
I always used to filter everything through how it benefited me.
Now I think about how I can act to better benefit the marriage.
It ain’t easy. But it’s good.
Just a thought for the day.
Folks, I’m heading back into the office again this morning for the first time since the 14th. We stayed at my sister-in-law’s house for the 14th, 15th & 16th, then went on a six night cruise to the Bahamas that ended with us coming home with Covid as an uninvited guest… which meant another five days working from home (technically, I could have gone back Friday, but my coworkers suggested Monday was best and safest, and far be it from me to argue).
The last couple of weeks and a few days have been fantastic. I was able to get a lot of work done from home (I’m surprisingly efficient here) and was able to nap when Covid got the best of me and I needed it. Sadly, all of that freedom and good stuff is about to come to a screeching halt.
Still, I’ve got a ton to be grateful for and getting back to some semblance of normal should be nice. There’s not much I can do about it, anyway.
The reality is, there isn’t much normal about my “normal” anymore, though. My wife and I are comfortably head over heals in love with each other and I’m no longer an observer in the stands watching the game from… well, safely over yonder. We’ve actually entered a zone in our marriage where we’ve stopped trying to cause resentments in the other with quippy, snarky, cutting comments. We still try for highlights on the gag real but we’re healed enough where we don’t have reason to harm the other to get one up. I have to say, it’s nice not having to get even. More on that another time.
The important thing is my wife and I are on the best stretch of our marriage. The best news there is we know how to keep that going. So, it’s back to normal-ish today. And it sounds wonderful.