Tuesday Night In Lennon was some kind of special last night.
To start, the warm-up was entirely out of hand. With a perfect 75 F (23 C) and a light breeze out of the southwest, I knew it was going to be fast, but I wasn’t quite ready for this. One of the guys, Craig, has two speeds: complete stop and “all go, no slow”. We turned in a 20-mph warm-up – 7 miles in 21 minutes, flat. Who does a warm-up at 20-mph? Oddly, that unnecessarily fast warm-up felt quite good…
We let the A Group, which was substantially larger than the B Group, go and get a minute on us before we rolled out of the parking lot. We were slowed by a car coming up the road that was just enough to keep the group together out of the gate which meant a measured acceleration to cruising speed. I was second bike back and ended up with the first tailwind pull, a mile-and-a-quarter up the road. The pace had been expertly wound up to 22-mph and we took it from there. A quick stop at an intersection for traffic to clear and we rolled out – and found someone had dropped their water bottle on the other side of the road. Jason stopped to pick it up and we waited for him, crushing our average (it dropped from 22 down to 20), but that’s kind of how we roll.
Somehow, I ended up at the front again, so I took another mile. I felt quite good, but I had it in the back of my mind that I could have just screwed myself taking that much time at the front.
The next 23 miles were some of the smoothest, most enjoyable miles I’d ever ridden on a Tuesday Night. Into the headwind down the notorious Shipman Road, crosswind, hills, cross-tailwind – it didn’t matter. Everyone lined up right and we all did our share to get the group up the road. We made it through the hills with the group intact, all but one, who was only fifteen seconds behind. We waited and collected him for the big push home.
The tandem and Joe took us up the hill to the descent into Vernon. Clarke and I were second bike and as we crested that climb, he and I took control of the pace and dropped the hammer. We took the pace from 20-mph at the crest of the hill and slowly built it to 32 (52 km/h). I held on up there as long as I could before my power started dropping and flicked off. I latched on at the back and watched as a small group went up the road for the City Limits sprint.
Until this year, I’d tried to position myself to be in the sprint every week. This year, however, I decided I’d concentrate more on the lead-out and give everyone else a crack at the sprints. I’ve found I like the lead-out almost as much as the sprint.
From that point we had about 7-1/2 miles to go and it was right back to smooth and steady – a perfect rotation at the front (other than one minor misstep by a new kid who just started riding with us last week). The southerly breeze had dropped to a point we were barely stacking against it in the draft. We kept our pace between 23 & 26-mph (37 & 42 km/h), pushing down the road like a finely-tuned machine.
I was third bike, behind the tandem, with a mile to go. The guy up front flicked off and Mike and Diane took over. They started cranking it up with just seven tenths to the finish and I was right on their wheel, down in the drops to stay in their draft. 26-mph, 27… 28 started creeping to 29.
I was in perfect position to launch off the front if they just held out, but with less than a drag race to go they petered out and started bleeding speed. Jason came by just in the nick of time and I went from the tandem’s wheel to Jason’s as he cleared my front wheel. 29-mph… 30… I thought about simply hanging on and giving him the sign, but just for a split-second. In the drops, butt planted on my saddle, I hit the gas and worked around Jason. 32-mph… 33… I was pushing with everything I had to hold him off – the City Limits sign just ahead. Pulling on the bars to leverage against my driving legs I crossed the line first, half a bike ahead of Jason.
I stopped my Garmin and uploaded the ride before starting another for the mile-long cooldown. It was all smiles and fist-bumps as we heading to the church parking lot to pack up and roll home. We came around the final corner to this:
That’s about a wrap on our season. We don’t have much time left and we’ll be knocking the time back by 15 minutes next week so we have enough daylight to finish. Only five or six more Tuesdays until the night ride that’ll signify the end of the year.
We just found out the other day, one of the guys we ride with regularly on Sunday Funday has COVID – the first in our close-knit gaggle. He’s not a fortunate asymptomatic, but he’s nowhere near a hospital, either. More on that in a later post. So far his tandem partner is safe, too – it appears as though she didn’t catch it, even riding with him on the tandem. Fingers crossed.
I arrived home from the office to a perfect evening. A gentle breeze and temp in the low 70’s (22 C). I readied the Venge for duty.
I called Chuck at 4:20 to make sure he’d left work. I didn’t realize the irony until I wrote that… Bad news, he hadn’t left yet. I dressed and rolled early. I was out the door and rolling before 4:40 and I had some time – almost two hours before supper. My goal was to roll into the driveway close to 6:30 – it was roast beef night, and I’d choose roast beef, roasted veggies, mashed potatoes and gravy over cake – of any variety. It’s my absolute favorite dinner – even above pizza.
I rolled almost as soon as the tires hit the driveway, heading north, thankful to be back in short-sleeves and bibs over the leg warmers, arm warmers, jacket, tights and toe covers required over the weekend. We’ve got a bit of a warming trend over the next week until we drop down into the unseasonable cold again so I’ll take it while I can get it.
Within I mile I had to pull back on the reigns a little bit. I was going out way too fast. Tonight’s weather is going to be perfect for a fast TNIL and I was absolutely saving the good legs for that. I don’t ride many solo miles anymore so it ended up being a bit of a treat just cruising around the loop alone.
On the way home I was cruising down a small hill in a residential subdivision about 25-ish-mph and I saw a little boy out of the corner of my eye as I rode by and I heard him say, “Hi” after I was already by him. I almost kept going but I heard this still, small voice in the back of my head that said, “Go back and say hello to the kid, he could use it”. I fought against it for a second, but for those who are lucky enough to be touched like that, I just don’t like fighting it and I didn’t want to end up being a douche in that kid’s eyes, anyway. I whipped around and headed back to say hello.
He was still in the driveway and almost ran his bike into mine as he rolled out of the driveway. I said hello and nodded at his mom in the window. He asked about my computer and how it reads speed and then dropped the question, “Are you wearing underwear”. I think he was maybe five or six. “No, I explained, they’re special shorts with padding in them so I can ride for hours”. His sister strode over. He looked at her, pointed at me and said, “He’s wearing underwear”.
I said my good bye’s and took off for home with a smile stretched across my face. Gotta love kids, man.
I put in a few bonus miles and rolled into the driveway with an easy 18-mph average. I showered up and dinner was ready shortly after I was dressed. I fell asleep early last night and slept like a baby. Good times.
Folks, I just heard about a story about some left-wing zealot who, because his father put a Trump sign up in his yard, decided he should stop visiting and go one step further in not allowing his father and mother to see their grandchildren.
Friends, enough. This is politics. Chuck Shumer and Nancy Pelosi don’t believe in the arguments they use to grapple for power any more than Cocaine Mitch or Ted Cruz do.
Republicans passed on Merrick Garland because they hoped they could get a better candidate through if Trump won (I didn’t like the gamble at the time, personally, because I thought Hillary was going to win). Democrats didn’t mind this either, as everyone was sure Hillary Clinton would win. Oh, sure, they put up a fight against the Biden Rule. Now, ironically, those who fought using the Biden Rule are now espousing its virtue, and conversely, those once pointing out it’s origin are now, humorously enough, saying that they can see the error in what they did, so let’s get Trump’s new candidate through, using Democratic rules changed by Harry Reid.
The point is, politicians simply try to put forward the argument that suits their situation. They have no morals other than to get their agenda through (Lisa Murkowski, Susan Collins, Joe Manchin and maybe one other Democrat excepted in the Senate). Republicans control the Senate and the Presidency. The Biden Rule gets shelved. If Democrats controlled the Senate, I guarantee you they’d invoke the rule. But they don’t. And the reason they’re incensed is because Harry Reid changed the Senate rules to try to stack the court so that only a majority vote is needed to advance and confirm an appointment. Now, you can hate the game, but hating people because of politicians is plain old wrong.
We must remember that the oldest profession in history is the prostitute. The second is politician, and the second isn’t much better than the first – they both operate similarly.
Love one another, no matter what.
My wife and I are living proof a Republican can love a Democrat and vice-versa. We simply don’t talk about politics. Ever.
F*** the politicians. Let them deal with the bed they’ve made. We’ll have to deal with the one we have, and that’s enough.
Just a thought. I reserve the right to be right. Or wrong.
We’d gone from sunny, short sleeve and bibs weather to sunny and digging out the winter cycling clothes in a few short days – less than a week. A 40° drop in temperature is quite a shock on a bicycle inside a week. The muscles simply don’t work the same, cold.
Getting the clothing right for such cycling adventures has always been difficult for me. There’s a razor-thin difference between too cold and too warm, which leads to sweating – and back to being too cold, eventually.
The first couple of weeks of cold weather cycling are always the worst for me because I tend to go too far because I HATE riding whilst cold. I don’t hate riding in the cold, just being cold doing it.
Here’s what I can’t do without when cycling when the temps dip below 55° (12 C).
50 – 60 F (10 to 14 C): Knee warmers, arm warmers, cycling cap, maybe some light wool socks, either light full finger or normal cycling gloves depending on whether or not the temp will be rising.
40 – 50 F (4 to 10 C): Leg warmers, a thin pair of tights over leg warmers and bibs (especially for the lower end of that scale), arm warmers, full finger cold weather gloves, ear muffs (because they can be removed when the temp rises above 50 and easily wrapped around an upper arm for storage), wool socks, toe covers, cycling cap. Finally, I found a pro quality cycling jacket and vest at a swap meet two February’s ago that I can’t live without in the cold. They were insanely expensive new, but I paid $40 or $50 for both. Having experienced “the good stuff”, I can’t live without it in the cold anymore. For the upper end, I’ll wear the vest. Lower end is the jacket. I love Degrees wrap around ear muffs. They allow you to hear while keeping your ears warm. I also love neck gaiters for anything below 45° – a cold neck can wreck a ride.
30 to 40 F (-1 to 4 C): Now we’re getting into gravel bike temps. I start layering for the 30’s. One or two layers beneath the pro jacket, maybe a base layer, jersey, arm warmers, jacket… something like that. I graduate to a full cap under my helmet and some winter gloves. Again, with the neck gaiter (a necessity). The tights are upgraded to a fleece-lined set made for the cold. I also jump from toe covers to full foot covers. At the low end of that spectrum and below, I’ve got a Specialized fleece-lined high-tech jacket I’ve worn for years. It blocks the cold well but doesn’t allow much vapor to escape.
20° and below (-6 C): That’s why I have an indoor trainer (CycleOps Magneto). My desire to ride outside goes out the window. I could, but don’t, use Zwift. I’m happier with a movie, riding next to my wife in the living room.
The one simple rule I always live by is this: You can take it off but you can’t put it on if you don’t have it.
Friends, I passed the 70,000 mark on a bicycle Tuesday. It wasn’t exactly a fanfare moment, I just realized it this morning, but it tugs at my pride string a little bit – 70,139.
Two weeks ago I noticed the shifting wasn’t quite right on our tandem. The front’s always been a pain in the rump but I’d gotten it dialed in. The rear shifting was troublesome, though, so I took to doing some investigating. The rear cable guide had busted on the front cable side so the cable was binding in the plastic guide… that was why the front derailleur was so hard to dial in. I picked up a new one at the shop and installed it last weekend. While detaching the cables to install them through the new cable guide I found the ends had been frayed on the original install – cause for concern. I also found a kink in the rear derailleur cable, and that’s why dialing in the rear shifter was so finicky. I picked up new cables at the shop Friday and installed them yesterday afternoon after cutting the grass and before dinner. The process, from start to tidying up the bar tape and cockpit, to dialing in the derailleur and trimming off the excess cable, took an hour. The bike shifts better and looks better than when I brought it home from the shop, new.
We brought a new guy into our group yesterday. He’s got an S-Works Roubaix from 2014 or 2015 (SRAM Red… it’s quite nice) but has never ridden in a group before. We coached him into shape over 75 miles yesterday, taking turns explaining how group mechanics work and such. I took my toy home after 62, though – I’d run out of gas, entirely (I ended up with 68 – Chucker brought the new guy home). The temp took a nosedive over the last few days – it was freezing when we started and I’d forgotten how much all that cold weather gear takes out of you. We’ve gone from shorts and short sleeves to full winter regalia in a week. We had a small group yesterday, so the ride was a lot of fun. Most everyone else (smartly) waited until the abundant sunshine warmed everything up a bit before heading out. Really, it wasn’t that bad for us, though. I quite enjoyed the cool start, though I was questioning my sanity over the first mile or two.
The last nine years on a bicycle have been life altering – for my marriage, my fitness, my recovery, my relationship with my kids, and my career. For my sanity.
Just shy of 7,400 miles a year, average, cycling has given me a lot to celebrate. Great friends, fantastic memories, good laughs… good times. And toys!!! Oh my, the toys!
In the end, friends, life in recovery is all about the good times and noodle salad… and cycling continues to give me my fill of both.
When I wrote, years ago, that I along with our cycling club could hold a 23-mph average, it blew some skirts up. One fella even claimed I was full of it unless I could show him proof on Strava. The old, “if it didn’t happen on Strava, it didn’t happen”. Well, it’s happened a lot on Strava, and Endomondo, and Garmin Connect… and Ride With GPS.
A few weeks ago we blew the doors off 23 and went straight for 24… ish. And it did happen on Strava. On open roads (opposed to closed). Oh, what I’d give to see what we could do with that loop without the worry of traffic! Anyway, I digress.
This photo was taken at 28-mph by my friend, Joel – and that guy in the blue is on a steel Ritchey with gravel tires… dude is strong.
A 20-mph average in a group, especially on a hilly route, is hard. 21 is very hard. 22 & 23 require a really good group, and a fairly flat route helps. For 24, hold onto your butts, it’s gonna get bumpy. The group will have to maintain speeds between 25 and 30-mph (40 and 48 kmh respectively) to end up with a 24 average – the faster pace cancels out hill climbs and traffic stops where you’re going to lose some speed and average.
The keys to success for that kind of speed are quite simple for us above average Joe’s:
- A flat course – the proper rolling lumpy route is possible but the hills tend to shatter the group – flat is fast. Preferably under 20′ of up per mile over the course (our 30 mile route is around 12 to 14′ if memory serves).
- A good, strong, exceptionally competent group. Averages that high are really tough on new folks because they dynamics change so rapidly, if the group isn’t familiar with each other, it can get dicey in a hurry. However, if the noobs know what they’re doing, there’s no better way to hook a new cyclist than for them to be part of that kind of group ride. I should know, that’s what hooked me.
- Good legs. I’ve gotta have the good legs when going for speed like that. No hammering the day before a big ride – I’ll get dropped like a dirty shirt. Monday and Wednesday rides are always at a seriously easy pace – 16-mph… 18 max.
- Group continuity. A smooth group is much faster than a group that has to deal with constant attacks and shake-ups. Though, every once in a while, there’s no question a shake-up can help to keep the pace up and the group focused. The key will be when – uphill is a horrible idea unless your goal is to shatter the group, downhill or with a tailwind, much better.
- “Want to”. Speed like that pushes a regular old cyclist to the edge. If you don’t have some “want to” to hold on, forget about it.
It’s still striking to me that a decent group of B-Grouper’s managed a 28-mile loop in 1h:10m:and some change. We had some A-Group help and a perfectly placed kick of a tailwind that popped up out of nowhere, but we crossed the line (at better than 32-mph) with a 24-mph average and hi-fives all around.
One thing is for sure; if everyone can keep it smooth and (relatively) safe, that kind of speed is amazingly fun. The difficulty and training are worth it.
Making It Through The Rough Patches In Recovery; It Ain’t Always Easy, But It’s Always Better Than The Alternative.
I’m busier than a one-legged pirate in an ass kicking contest at work, lately. It seems I go from one thing to the next before crashing at night and waking to do it all over again. My wife and I have also been dealing with teenage daughter issues as well, and those are never easy. Thankfully, I’ve usually got a late afternoon, early evening bike ride in there to help keep me level, too. But, I’m also “keeping my side of the street clean” in the process. And that’s the most important part.
Of course, compared to facing prison time, let’s just say today’s problems are a lot more manageable when contrasted against my drinking days. I haven’t got anything going right now that a drink or drug won’t make worse. The literary use of the double-negative, my friends. BAM.
One of the things I got right from the beginning was associating relapse – and we’re talking any mood or mind-altering substance – with increased pain and difficulty in life. That wasn’t too far a stretch, of course, no matter what I tried, that’s always what I ended with. As difficult as early recovery is, adding drugs and/or (usually “and”) alcohol to a difficult situation will only make it worse. Escaping from troubles or difficulties never solved them, it only put them off for a time and made them more difficult to grapple with when I finally had to get around to it.
With alcohol and drugs out of the way and not having an escape from my problems, that leaves two choices: 1) Deal with it and work through my problems. 2) Curl up in a ball on the floor.
Well, two isn’t very attractive, so I choose door number one.
Now for the clichés… I do the best I can with what I’ve got and ask my HP for help and guidance through inspiration. God is either everything or nothing. Which is it going to be? This too shall pass, was ever thus.
As long as I remember that nothing in life is permanent, including troubled times, I know I’ll get through this to my next good stretch… and that’s why and how I remain a happily clean and sober guy. I live my recovery by one rule above all others: Just don’t f***in’ drink.
We’ve used summer up. We’re just a few days from fall and we had glorious weather on our hands yesterday – and it’s not going to be this nice again for the near future (though we can never rule out an early fall warm stretch for a few days). I needed to make the most of one of our last shorts and short-sleeve days.
Chuck was going to be ready at a quarter past five, I was on the road at 4:32, soaking up the sunshine, enjoying a nice, slow spin. Mrs. Bgddy had meetings and the girls had swim practice, so I was on my own for the evening – no time constraints, no awaiting responsibilities (except a meeting a few miles down the road at 8). I simply wandered, enjoying the feel of the Trek under me. I still had 15 minutes before Chuck would be ready so I headed up to loop around a local fire station parking lot before heading south into a cross-headwind, then over to Chuck’s. I did a loop around his subdivision, then turned around and looped the other way. I was lolling into a nice one-way righthand corner when a pickup truck with a trailer cut the corner making a left, forcing me all the way to the inside of the corner. I turned and shot him a “WTF” look and he came to a stop. I looped around and approached his window and asked, “Was that on purpose, or was that an oops?” He apologized profusely, saying I was right in his blind spot (the support arm for his windshield) and thinking back, that made sense – I could barely see his face. I told him all was well, no harm, no foul and went on my way and he on his.
Chuck pulled out of his driveway just before I got there and we were on our merry way. Chuck hit 15-mph as I caught him and he said, “This is about my pace for the night, right here.” And so it was. We got most of the headwind out of the way early and vented about current events and the comical way many issues are framed. The whole ride was chilled out, relaxed and enjoyable… until we noticed clouds coagulating to the north of us. A cold front was moving in and we managed to ride right up to the edge of it.
I pulled into the driveway with a little more than 31 miles and a 16-mph average – which is perfect because tonight will be a fast Lake Shannon Loop. With cool temps and a gentle breeze out of the south, I have no doubt it’s going to be… energetic.
So, what do we do when we’ve got a big ride planned for the next day? We carb load. This calls for pizza (right or wrong, I don’t care – I just like pizza and I’m more than okay with justifying eating it as “carb loading”). And I didn’t mess around last night. I got the good stuff from a local Italian restaurant. My pizza aficionado-ness is well earned – I’ve done everything from delivery to running a gourmet pizza shop when I was a younger lad. I know my pie. So I picked mine up, along with some good, old-fashioned Faygo Rock & Rye to wash it down on the way to my meeting. Only recently have I gone back to Rock & Rye, a favorite of my childhood. There’s something sweet about enjoying memories through the taste of an old soda.
The meeting, as is almost always the case with in-person meetings, was fantastic. I only hope I did someone some good with what I had to say. By the time I arrived home, I was good and cooked. I was asleep eight seconds after my head hit the pillow… and that’s exactly as it should be when you’re living the good life.
UPDATE: Funny how plans change… Can’t ride tonight. My daughters are going for a relay record this evening at swimming and I want to be there for it.
The night started off, humorously enough, with a discussion of politics – but this was a good discussion, like one of those discussions we’re supposed to have. It was the beginning of a discussion that could fix the country if the political class were adults and spoke like we did. When it was time to ride, though, my friend moved to the A group and I stayed on the A- side.
There’s been a lot on my angst lately. Difficult times with our daughter that are going to take some time and a lot of love to fix and a job I’m running that makes that problem look like child’s play, and I’m a little stressed lately. I needed a good hammer on the Venge.
We rolled out about 40 seconds after the A Group into a fairly stiff southerly crosswind 12 to 14-mph. We had a couple of new guys rolling with us – one looked like he belonged with the A guys, another looked like he belonged on a weight rack rather than a BMC disc race bike, and another who looks like he belongs with the D Group but is starting to come around (though he wore headphones last evening, which I explained after the ride wouldn’t work in our group because it’s too dangerous at our speeds).
The next three miles north were unbelievably fast – we were topping 30-mph at times. A mile west, and another fast one north and it was time to pay the piper. The new guy who looked like he could ride had a tendency of shooting off the front as if he were a horse in the Kentucky Derby and after the second time, one of my friends asked me to talk to him. He did it once more, blowing up the group in the process and I had the conversation with him about how we roll. It was smooth after that – until we got to the hills.
Half the group charged up the second set of hills too fast for the tandem, so another group of us, myself included, took to trying to bring the tandem back to the group. We got close a couple of times but never quite made it – we let them go on the last hill and made our way to the regroup point at 20 miles in.
The rest was a blast. We headed north for the intermediate sprint, Mike I. and I up front. Mike looked over and asked if I wanted to try to take the group all the way to the sprint lead-out but I shook my head. I knew I was going to give it everything I had to get the group to 30+ mph and there was no way I was lasting the mile and change at those speeds. Mike read me perfectly and we threw down the gauntlet, taking it to 32-mph with the group in tow. When I was out of gas I signaled to Mike and flicked off, barely latching on at the back. With a quarter-mile to the City Limits sign, I didn’t have a sprint in me. Four others prepped and went. I stayed with the tandem and brought everyone back together. Then, the A’s passed.
Several of the A- guys shot up to latch on to the A Group and we, a group of five, let them go. We only had a couple of miles before a straight crosswind and I wanted a smaller group so we could echelon without taking up the entire road. The strategy worked perfectly. The five mile home stretch was flawless in a heavy crosswind.
I was going to wind it up for the final sprint. We started ramping it up with 0.8 of a mile left, working the pace from 21-1/2 to 27. I waited, as nobody was really going for it, until the last second and dropped the hammer from 27 to 32 and some change, passing the rest of our group. I had some aggression to get out so I stayed on the gas until the sign, letting up and coasting just at the line.
I got a fairly cool photo heading back as the smoke from the Oregon forest mismanagement fires has made its way all the way across the country. It’s way too thin to block the sun, but it’s enough for a spectacular scene. We got back to the parking lot and it was hi-fives and laughs all around. We had a few “herding cats” moments at the beginning of the ride but all’s well that ends well, and that ride did… and I rode my angst right out.
I thanked God more than once on the way home. I needed that.
I prepped the 5200 for duty last evening. It was going to be a slow night and it needed some time in the sun after the Venge took all of the big weekend miles.
After watching that exceptionally geeky video I wrote about the other day that broke tire pressure down into a fairly* easily understandable science, I decided to lower my pressure in both road bikes. Not by much, mind you, I went from 95 pounds down to 90.
On the Trek, left, I’m currently running Ican 23-mm wide x 38-mm deep wheels shod with Michelin Pro 4 Service Course 700C x 25-mm tires. I’m running 175-ish pounds. So, 90 pounds and I ran with it.
The road we live on is fairly smooth with a few wear cracks here and there at the edges, but the road I turn on to get to Chuck’s is gnarly in places and the bike was much more enjoyable over the chatter – in fact, I ran over some of the nastier edges of the road I normally avoid, just to see the difference… it was impressive – vastly smoother. On chip-seal surfaces, cracks, anything I would throw at it over the course of the 28-mile ride, the bike was much more enjoyable… and I didn’t bounce when out of the saddle to climb or sprint (what little climbing there is on that route – not much).
So, the real question is, “was it faster“?
Well, if you get far enough into the video, the science geek guy refers to road noise as a loss of efficiency – and road noise from the tire definitely increased, noticeably. On the other hand, there’s no question the ride, being smoother, was less taxing and slightly less work. That’s really the balance we’re looking for. Smooth, but not so smooth it’s squishy. I think I should go another five pounds, though, just for $#!+$ and giggles, to see if I go squishy or keep 85 psi… There’s no question, even at 90 there will be more smiles per mile.
*”Fairly” should probably be barely.
Then I’ll have to dial in the Venge using the same process – though I’ll absolutely be going with 90 psi for tonight’s Tuesday Night in Lennon… I’m running 26-mm Specialized Turbo Pro tires on a 25-mm wide rim – shouldn’t be any question 90 will be better than 95.