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Tuesday Night in Lennon: Yo-yos and Tandems Edition

Okay, my friends on single bikes! What’s the one thing you can’t have fun with on a club ride whilst riding a tandem?

Yo-yos!

That’s right, ladies and gentlemen. Yo-yos.

My wife and I are quite keen on trying to hang with the A-Group on the tandem of late. Believe it or not, I didn’t instigate this. It was my wife’s idea. I’ve evolved to accepting whatever pace we can crank out on a Tuesday night. If that’s 17-mph, great. 19? Fantastic. 20? Wonderful. Whether we ride together alone or with a few friends, I’m a happy dude… though admittedly a little happier alone of late, but we ride with others a lot so I like being able to put some slow miles in talking as we roll. That’s not for a Tuesday Night in Lennon, though.

We’ve had a successful week and a few fantastic attempts with averages ranging from 21.5 to 22.5-mph for the 29-mile loop. Those are some pretty fantastic numbers on a single bike. For my wife and I, a 20-mph average used to be about as good as we could hope for, so breaking into the 21 to 23-mph range is a big deal.

Last night, with upper single-digit winds out of the west, I had hopes for a long ride with the group for the first 20 miles followed by a nice ride in with the short route crew to the finish.

We rolled out of the parking lot on our newly maintained and fantastically well-appointed Co-Motion Periscope Torpedo tandem. The thing is silent, fast, beautiful and heavy. A steel frame with decent-ish wheels (Velocity Dyad wheels – they’re absolutely BOMB PROOF – best wheels I’ve ever owned, and they’re damn fine on a tandem… put it this way, in six years they’ve never had to be trued. They’re still straight as an arrow). And it’s more fun than a couple should be allowed to have with their clothes on. Spirits were high and we were ready to roll. A half-mile in and one bike from the front (on purpose), the two tandems were side-by-side heading for the first turn. Todd and Dave were up front and we had Todd to hide behind. Todd is 6’3″ tall and can put out enough watts to break a bike… he’s like drafting a battleship. I reached back and my wife placed her hand in mine. I gave it a gentle squeeze to say, “I love you. I’ve got you. You’re wonderful”… which elicited a shout from Doc Mike on his single bike because his wife and Rear Admiral was up north tending to family matters, “Hey, that’ll be enough of that! There’s no hand-holding on a bike ride!” I smiled and gave her another gentle squeeze before tending to the brakes.

We had the north mile and we hit the gas, taking it up to 25-ish-mph. Jess and I both love that section. After a half-mile we headed to the back for our rest but that was short-lived as the group started to yo-yo. The one thing a tandem is terrible for is a yo-yo in the group. The acceleration just isn’t there.

Every time we answered a surge and caught back up to coast, the group would surge again, leaving us three bike lengths to make up. This happened three or four times and we were off the back. I just didn’t have enough to answer the constant surges. Unfortunately, Clark had come off a pull up front and was behind us, so when we dropped, we got him dropped, too. In hindsight, I should have asked my wife for one last surge to catch Clark up to the group but I just didn’t think we could do it.

We rode with Clark for all of Shipman road before catching up to Dave & Val on their tandem and Chucker waiting on the side of the road for us… they’d gotten spit off with the yo-yoing as well. We teamed up and hit the hills as hard as we could, heading for Shiatown. We’d gone from a 22.6-mph average to a 20.4 when we caught up with Chucker, Dave & Val…

After the hills, the ride home was fantastic and fast. Clark and Chucker, both of whom ride tandem, know how to take hills with a bus. They were smooth and steady for the tandems. We hammered all the way home to the City Limits sign and raised our average to a 20.7. A wonderful effort after a bit of a sketchy start.

It fills my heart with joy, captaining that tandem with my wife.

How far we’ve come.

How to know if you’re an @$$hole in a group ride…

We had a 14-person deep pace-line going on a quiet country road. We were crushing it at about 23-mph when we passed a decent cyclist riding with a friend. Those of us who have put in tens of thousands of miles riding in groups know a legit cyclist from a noob, usually, with just a quick glance.

In this case, the fella may have been a decent cyclist, but he showed himself to be, unquestionably, an @$$hole. All of a sudden the yahoo starts passing up the right side of the pace-line, on the white line with barely enough room to operate. He’d work up the line a few cyclists, then fall back a little, then work up a few more in the line. I saw enough of that crap and decided I’d put an end to it. I signaled and pulled out of the group and headed up on the left (where normal American cyclists pass – right for those in left lane driving countries). I passed the lead cyclist and told him to keep the pace steady as I passed him. I then went to his right as if I’d completed a turn up front. I effectively flushed the jerk out the back. Thinking my job was done and that he’d gotten the message, I got back in the draft of the pace-line.

At which time he announced, “passing on the right”.

I moved right and said, “Like hell, you pass on the left like a normal cyclist, or did you just learn how to ride this year?” He started complaining and I cut him off. Whether he was butt hurt that we passed him or he was just looking to be a jerk, I can’t tell you. I can tell you this, you don’t pass on the inside of a pace-line… and everyone worth their clipless pedals knows this.

Later, same tour, same day, another guy decided he’d join our group. He started at the back but started leap-frogging up a few riders, squeezing into a gap less than a foot between wheels by “pushing” the rider behind him to the right. He did it again. And again. Three people complained to me about what I’d just watched.

I rode up along side him and asked, “You don’t ride in a group very much, do you?”

He replied, “Actually I do.”

I said, “Well if you do, then you know better than to do what you’re doing. You don’t leapfrog the group like that, and you certainly don’t cut off other riders to do it. If you want to get to the front to take a pull, get up there and do it. If not, get back to your place in the pace-line and wait your turn”.

He went to the front and took a pull. We rode his wheel for something like five to seven miles before we wore him out completely. Then, the next guy in line hit the gas and we dropped him off the back of the group.

Later on that evening at dinner, the guy’s dad (the son was just a few years younger than me) complained to a friend of ours in the group that I bullied the guy and made him feel unwelcome. We had a fair chuckle over that – because who would welcome someone who cuts off other riders at 23+mph to leapfrog up the group?!. In truth, he wasn’t exactly wrong… though I was the only one to speak to him, the whole group dropped him.

Now, here’s the point; if you’re in the group for your own selfish aims and you don’t know how to look out for the rest of the people you’re riding with, you’re the problem.

That’s a period at the end of that last sentence. Don’t be that person.

80,000 Miles On a Bike in Eleven Years… It’s More Than the Miles, Though.

I decided to do a quick tally on my miles for my last post, so I’d be accurate (I actually have a record of my yearly cycling miles on an excel spreadsheet). Originally, I’d written that I’ve got more than “70,000” miles because I was fairly certain of that. Well, I sold myself very short when I looked up the real total on that spreadsheet… then I found an error in which I posted 7,621 miles for “Cycling Sport” when that was my total mileage for the year – so I thought I had 90,000 but it’s actually a little more than 83,972 (I’ll cross over 84,000 miles tomorrow as it turns out).

I’m sitting on 83,972 glorious miles at the moment. On a bicycle.

Now, as early as last year even, I’d have felt differently about crossing that mark. I was a miles whore. I derived a lot of pleasure from how many miles I’d ridden. I’d check stats at the end of the year when it was cold, snowing and ugly outside. I’d have been infinitely bummed that I’ve only got 4,100 miles so far this year… in fact, I’d be trying to figure out what went wrong and where – I’m down about 25 to 30% from last year.

A Massive Change of Perspective… And Heart

While it seemed fun at the time, chasing mileage was really a giant drag. Oh, there were momentary feelings of accomplishment and the like, but at what cost? It’s not just the time I spent out on the road away from my wife and kids, either. I can only imagine how the resentments piled up, and I had to own my part in that mess.

This season was a major departure from the norm. As I wrote above, I’m down 25 to 30% in mileage, but there’s a flip-side to that coin. I’m not piling up resentments anymore and with my wife and I putting in the miles on the tandem, we’re closer than at any other point in our marriage since we were newlyweds. There has to be a balance, but that balance was seriously off when I was off chasing 10,000 miles a year.

In the end, rather than lamenting lost years, I’ll celebrate them. If I hadn’t been chasing miles, what’s the chance I’d have seen the light and made my marriage the priority over pedaling a bicycle?

It takes what it takes, and I’m grateful for where I am today.

Are Tandems the “Better” Way to Bike? I Can Make a Compelling Case…

My wife and I rolled out on the tandem for an easy ride Tuesday after work. We decided to skip the Tuesday Night ride with the club as I was absolutely beat after riding from Lansing, MI to Mackinaw City a few days prior. Three centuries in a row will put a hurting on a fella who isn’t quite ready for it.

We cruised and talked the whole way, not worrying the least about the day past. I looked up at the driver of a pickup truck in a driveway as we passed… a grizzled fellow, unshaven, in a tank t-shirt that was white at some point early in its life. These are the pickup truck drivers who generally make a game of messing with cyclists in one obnoxious (and illegal) way or another. As my wife and I rolled by on the tandem, his eyebrows raised and a smile stretched across his face and he raised a hand to wave. I smiled and waved back.

Folks, I’m here to tell you, even the most obnoxious of drivers will cut a tandem a little more slack than they normally would. I’ve seen it too many times. I don’t know why, necessarily, but I’d imagine it has something to do with the assumption (correct in our case) that there’s a husband and wife on that bicycle… take them out and you take out a family – and they’re likely just out to justify a decent dinner with some exercise. I don’t know, I could be wrong. Having put more than 90,000 miles on bicycles in the last eleven years, I can tell you without hesitation, my wife and I are treated better in traffic on our tandem.

Just something to chew on for a Sunday morning.

The Solution to the Age-Old Cycling Club Question: Why Won’t the Racers Slow Down to Take Care of the Noobs on Club Ride Night?

I get pounded every year at the annual cycling club membership meeting because certain slow riders think new prospects to a cycling club are turned off by fast riders and that those same fast cyclists should give up their ride at some random, unspoken, unknown interval (anything but “all the time”, of course) to make those new leisure bike riders feel comfortable and welcome.

Now, for the time being, let’s just ignore the obvious, laughable omission that a noob would be intimidated beyond words to ride along with a racer on a $12,000 rig who would be coasting most of the ride while the noob is pedaling away furiously, anyway. We can pretend that wouldn’t be so.

Let’s look at the real problem, because if you believe the reason your group is having membership trouble falls on someone else, well, it’s going to be a bumpy ride. The real problem is, just as in politics, the extremes rule the day and frame the discussion so both sides refuse to talk about a real solution because angry is always easier.

If you think, as a fast person, you don’t have any responsibility for bringing up new, slower cyclists, you’re as ignorant as those who say a club’s ranks would improve if the faster folks rode with the slow leisure riders every once in a while.

The real solution is much simpler; each group in a club should take care of and help the group below them. For instance, our Elite bunch, when there’s a light turnout, will team with the As and Bs and take it easy until we split for the long and short routes. After that, they go their fast way and the rest of us do the short route at our pace for the last ten miles. While there are those who can’t keep up (the A-Elite, A, and B rides are all “drop” rides), the vast majority can – especially when the Elite and A groups will take the majority of the time up front, allowing the Bs to sit back in the draft (or pull through to a very short turn up front).

The Bs should look out for the Cs and help those who aspire to ride with the faster riders achieve their goals. The Cs take care of the Ds, and so forth.

The idea that an A-Elite rider is going to give up riding with their friends to shepherd a newer rider around the block for a one-hour ten-mile loop has to be discarded. It’s simply not going to happen with any regularity. At the same time, every group in a club should be willing to help swell their own ranks by working with those one or two tiers below them.

The important point here, is that what I’ve described above actually works.

The 2022 DALMAC, For Our Group, Was A Tour for Friends; We Had A Fabulous Group For This One…

I’ve held nothing back when writing about my wife this last six months. The changes we’ve gone through have been nothing short of miraculous. Even with those changes, I never expected they’d mean having such a good time on our Lansing to Mackinaw tour, though. What became evident on the tour, though, was that the changes my wife and I made would have an effect on how I felt about and treated my friends on the ride. The bond I felt riding with my friends was much greater than before, and I have no doubt that was a result of the work Jess and I have done in our marriage.

And maybe a little luck with the weather…

I can’t ever remember having such a big group for the start of our adventure – and I can’t remember having that many stick together till the end. We had two new guys for this one, too. One was a friend of ours who has ridden with us on Tuesday nights and sometimes during the week for years. The other was the son of a long-time part of our group (who pre-dated me by almost three decades). Doug’s son, in fact, had a pretty sweet GT Edge (steel) from the early 90s with first gen Campagnolo integrated shifters, but the seat tube cracked at some point on Day One, so his mom (who was SAGing for Doug) drove him home so he could ride his fixie for the rest of the tour. He did the whole tour, minus walking 100 yards of the wall, on a 48/15 fixed gear bike, sometimes reaching speeds in excess of 32-mph on downhills. His cadence had to be in the 180s to 200s and it did not look fun (though he did have brakes on that bullhorn handlebar). Let’s just say, he’s one of the few people who could legitimately say they won DALMAC… he took the fixie division. I think he was the fixie division.

Anyway, we had a text group 17-deep for that ride and it could have been in the 20s if I included everyone. Usually it’s around nine or ten.

We ate together, walked to ice cream shops together, rode together, and helped one another with mechanical issues as needed throughout the ride. We showed up to ride our bikes but got so much more… and I got to experience all of this with a healed heart with the love of my life SAGing and riding with me.

There were a lot of comments on that group text that mentioned, or came close to, “best DALMAC ever”. I can tell you for sure, this was the best I’d ever been a part of. And for that I am grateful. One of my wife and my favorite songs of late is Pearl Jam’s Just Breathe. I usually can’t make it through the song without tearing up. There’s a line in the song that, I realized just a couple of days ago, applied to this year’s DALMAC (and many of the previous iterations):

Oh, I’m a lucky man
To count on both hands
The ones I love
Some folks just have one
Yeah, others they got none

Google “Pearl Jam Just Breathe Lyrics”…

I can’t count the friends I love on both hands. I need my toes, too. And Jessica’s fingers and toes. And maybe yours, too, when you factor in recovery. I am a lucky man.

And with that new tandem due to show up in four or five months, I can’t wait to see what comes next.

Thanks, God.

DALMAC 2022 Part Four Day Four: The Parade to Mackinaw City… and More Than Enough Headwind for One Trip

Day Four of DALMAC is always tough for me. I don’t want to be done, especially this year as it was the best DALMACs ever, but I’m glad for the day because the ride is epically beautiful. Some of the best scenery Michigan has to offer.

And so, with a semi-heavy heart, we rolled out of Boyne City high school for Mackinaw City, just 73 short miles away…

The morning was crisp and the forecast called for a windy, partly cloudy, cool ride. The second mile of the ride begins a miles-long climb out of Boyne City that culminates in a mile-long descent later on. We never made up the We enjoyed sunshine for much of the first 40 miles but the cloud cover increased as we headed north to our destination. There was lighthearted banter, periods of fast, periods of slow, and a lot of “up”.

We go off-course to do a series of rollers commonly known as the 7 Sisters along the shore of Walloon Lake, then pick it up again the Walloon Lake Country Club. The next big “this is so freaking incredible” sight is the Harbor Springs tour of the bay. Utterly gorgeous, and my favorite mile of the year.

After Harbor Springs, there’s a long climb out… followed by another climb… and another… and one more, still… but with all of that climbing comes a payoff; we call it The Chute, where we hit our top speed of the day, north of 40-mph. The Chute drops us onto South Lake Shore Drive, and it’s exactly what you’d expect from an epic road name like that along Lake Michigan’s coast that we call “The Tunnel of Trees”. It’s world famous.

We stop at Goodhart for a wonderful lunch before pounding out the last 30-ish miles to Mackinaw City. This year, that last hour and change was brutal, with a nasty headwind out of the northeast. Still, it’s a sight to behold.

We had two DALMAC rookies in our group this year, and they were both given the honor of leading the group home on the last mile. I captured them in the third photo, before drifting to the back to watch them take it to the finish line.

My wife, who has supported me on seven DALMACs and, as I wrote in a previous post, each one was always a self-centered affair for me. This year, as we approached the finish and my wife cheering us in, I pointed to the right to clear the lane and pulled my bike off onto the gravel shoulder. Once I hit grass, at full speed, I unclipped my left foot and skidded my bike to a stop just as I passed my wife. I unclipped the other foot and placed my bike on the ground to turn around to embrace her and plant the biggest kiss I thought she’d be able to stand after 74 hard miles. I hugged her tightly and thanked her for being there and told her, specifically, exactly how grateful I was.

Later, she said it was one of the sexier things I’ve done… especially the skid.

And so it was, another DALMAC in the books. We loaded up the bikes, along with Matt and Jonathan, and headed home. It was a perfectly awesome tour and weekend. 4 days, 372 miles, and a pile of fantastic memories.

DALMAC 2022 Part Three Day Three: Moses Meets a Thunderstorm…

Everyone was fairly freaked about the weather forecast – I was, and I was fully prepared. The forecast had improved, though mildly, to show showers in the morning in our northern destination of Boyne City, then showers later in the afternoon in the town we were departing from; Lake City. Well, any budding weather aficionado will tell you this means a line of storms descending from north to south – the line of storms, typically, will extend from the southwest to the northeast across the mitten as it drops down. We were supposed to ride through it between 20 & 40 miles into the 99 mile route.

However, if you know the topography, right at that zone are a bunch of hills and valleys… and a long study of the radar futures showed the storm had the chance of splitting in two at the hills… exactly at the time we should be riding through.

I had a vest laid out, just to be sure I wouldn’t need it. I helped my wife, with whom I’d snuggled all night long as if we were newlyweds, pack up the camper before heading in for breakfast at 6:30. I headed to the back of the line and saw, much to my shock and chagrin, a motherf***er in white shorts. I stared aghast.

“WHITE SHORTS? TODAY? Are you f***ing kidding me?!” I exclaimed.

The jackass just smiled. One guy just ruined our chances of getting out of this one dry. Not a chance a guy in white shorts is getting through a 4% chance of rain dry, let alone what we were facing! A female friend of his laughed, “Yeah, he just wears those nasty things on this tour because his wife isn’t here”.

We rolled out to sketchy skies to the north, but a mild to fair temperature. It was quite wonderful, actually… though ominous. Most of the jovial banter was missing as riders envisioned vests and water resistant jackets. I kept the faith, though. The storm would split… and I was feeling pretty spectacular, anyway. I took the front and cranked the pace up – looking down at the computer a few times, seeing “25-mph” in the current speed window.

We had periods of sun, then some thicker clouds, but all seemed quiet on the northwestern front… until it wasn’t. The ugly clouds started to gather and it was looking really sketchy. While we were at the famed “pie stop” at a local church, Chuck got word from his wife that it was raining not far up ahead in Kalkaska…

We took our time eating our pieces of pie. I didn’t lose hope, though. Between the trees, every once in a while, it looked like I could see the storm splitting… and as we neared Kalkaska we could see the drying remnants of the rain on the road. But no raindrops. And just like that, the clouds started to break up again. We hammered it for lunch at the local Subway in Bellaire.

The photo above was take heading north with Torch Lake on our left – Mike was up front, though his monster pulls were limited to no more than a few miles at a time by day three. You can see the last vestiges of the earlier rain on the otherwise dry road…

We Moses’ed the rain. The storm split in two in the hills, just as predicted, and we rode right up the middle of the split without getting hit by a drop. It was quite the jovial mood as we climbed into Bellaire and could see blue sky to the north. Lunch was extra good.

After lunch, we have to climb out of Bellaire on a series of low grade but loooooooong hills. They wear on you after a bit, especially knowing you’ve got the climb to the wall to look forward to in about 20 miles. This year, though, we we dodged a rainstorm and had settled on easy-pedaling the “up” sections and saving the hammering for the flats and downhills. We had a wonderful rhythm going.

That’s Sue up front, with the clouds left behind.

We pulled into East Jordan with a fair mood about us and sunny skies (most manhole covers and storm grates for city sewer systems in the US are forged in East Jordan at the local foundry). Talk centered around dodging the storm bullet and the few of our group who were going to do the wall had a soda in preparation. The vast majority of the group was doing the mile-longer bypass, but I was meeting Jess on the wall and I wanted Jonathan to be able to do the full route with the wall for his first. Chuck, Doug, Chad and Phill went with us.

And my wife, the love of my life, as had been the case all weekend long, was there to record our ascent. She’d walked, in her road shoes and cleats, quite a way down the hill to get the best shots of us coming up because she’s awesome. I PR’d the wall this year, even though I’m fatter than normal (around 185 pounds) because my wife and I have spent so much time on the tandem together. For the first time in the five times I’ve climbed the wall, I barely struggled. I was astonished I did so well, even passing Chuck on the way up… Phill was a minute behind us. I’m always the last one up the hill! Well, not this year.

The ride into Boyne City was awesome and I spent a lot of time talking with my wife as we rolled over the rollers to town. We pulled into the high school parking lot with smiles on our faces and a good bit of satisfaction over a ride well ridden. 99 Miles with an 18.9-mph average… and more good times than a fella could shake a stick at.

DALMAC 2022, Part Two Day Two: More Great Weather, Tailwind and Great Miles with Friends!

Leaving Vestaburg for Lake City is always a little bittersweet for me. Leaving is sweet because we’re well into our four-day, 370+ mile adventure. It’s bitter because the second day is always tough. The profile isn’t exactly what you’d call pretty.

Unlike previous years, I’d taken to helping my wife break the site and camper down. I ate breakfast double-fast and headed back out to the camper to help my wife get packed up. I felt fantastic about the change of heart (or possibly for removing my head from my ass… jury’s out). My wife was moved to tears several times over the course of the weekend at how much better the trip was because we were a team, more than ever. It was certainly about time. Anyway…

We rolled out into a beautiful morning; moderate 64 degrees under partly cloudy skies. Saturday’s weather prospects were looking grim and they loomed on the horizon in our minds. Still, with a decent amount of tailwind, we hammered on to certain glory. I took the lead after a mile or two and picked the speed up, hitting more than 25-mph a few times but setting in around 23-ish. I was feeling it and our massive pace-line was on cruise-mode… though I heard it when I got to the back, the pace didn’t slow after I came back for my much needed rest. I’d set the pace and it was quite fast.

By the time we’d hit the first stop at 32-miles we were sitting on a 22.6-mph average.

I called my wife to let her know where we were, fired down a gel, and we rolled out. I’d let her know that, while we were fast at that point, the pace would be coming down. We had too much “up” in front of us to keep that up.

The story of the day, one of many, was Mike S. The man takes turns up front that can only be classified as “epic”. On day one, he was up front for 30 of the first 34 miles. Unlike previous years, where he’s done for the rest of the weekend after a pull like that, he took a lot of the work on Friday as well. He’s riding like a beast this year.

The pace did steadily slow over the next several miles, but the weather held and spirits were high. I had another 5-hour Energy at the lunch stop and enjoyed the jolt. After a wonderful Subway Lunch, we were off and uphill again. The group was fantastic, tight, and we stayed after it.

Now, the story of my day, of my DALMAC, as I mentioned before, was my wife. The first day is relatively easy. Everyone’s spirits are high, there’s a lot of adrenaline, we’re all happy to see and ride with each other again… there’s a lot of good nature to be spread around. The second day is where it really gets tough… and this second day was no different for me. I was beat as we climbed a couple of decent “almost” granny gear hills.

And, just as the day before, I saw my wife, about a half-mile ahead, turn as she saw our group. She was in her matching Assenmacher’s jersey and my God, was she a sight for sore eyes. When we caught her, she asked where she’d be best suited to ride and I simply asked if I could draft her for a bit.

She got in front of me and didn’t let me off her wheel… and I took it.

My wife is my partner. She’s my best friend. She’s my confidant. She is my Sunshine. And, for the first time on a DALMAC, we both helped each other out. The deeper story on this DALMAC, for my wife and I, was that this is no longer The Jim Show with Jess helping.

This year, our DALMAC became The Jess and Jim Show. God help us, so it shall ever be.

DALMAC! One of Our Best Yet! Part One, Day One: Wonderful Weather, Fast Miles and a Whole Pack of Friends.

When we rolled out Thursday morning for Day One of the Four Day West tour of Dick Allen’s Lansing to Mackinaw City bicycle ride, we were all nervous about Saturday’s forecast. It had been showing rain all week long and it wasn’t improving as the day drew closer. Still, we had work to do and clear skies with a tailwind with which to do it, so we set out from Michigan State University in Lansing on an unapproved route that a buddy who lives in the area made up to avoid much of the city traffic.

The first third was relatively flat to downhill, but we were slowed by intersections as we left our State’s capitol, heading for parts north. We had a big group, filled with cyclists who’d put in some serious miles together… with two DALMAC rookies. One, the son of one of the longtime DALMAC riders. The other a friend of the group who rides with us often, when his important profession allows – the man who renewed my wife and my vows this past June.

Once out of the City proper and onto decent, paved farm roads, we had a long downhill section and we just hammered it. Our average speed went from 18-mph to well over 20 as we took advantage of perfect DALMAC Day 1 conditions. We rarely have it so good. “Perfect” isn’t an over-exaggeration.

We’d skipped the first rest stop because we were all pumped up on DALMAC adrenaline. That meant we were 52-miles in before our first real stop. Thankfully, I have enough reserves in the form of stored fat, I could have made it halfway to Mackinaw City before eating. Some of the others, not so lucky. We stopped at a little Subway in a fueling station like a pack of ravenous dogs.

After lunch, I pulled out my DALMAC secret weapon – I’d brought a 5-Hour Energy for each of the first three days and downed my first waiting to leave. The kick was awesome and I set to burning it off before we met my wife on the road somewhere around the 85 to 90-mile mark.

Sadly, and I had no idea of this at the time, all good things must come to an end and our downhill to flat profile turned to a bunch of uphill, all the way home.

We met my wife at mile 90 after some difficulties trying to find each other over Google’s GPS location system, but find her we did and she was a sight for sore eyes.

We were on a trail at this point and heading into Vestaburg and I was tuckered out. The 5-hour energy didn’t last half the time its name suggests, but we were into some decent elevation gain and it was only my second century of the year (normally I’ve got seven or eight by the time DALMAC rolls around). My wife offered for me to ride ahead with the group but I was sufficiently happy just to ride along with her and told her so.

We cruised along, not being dropped but certainly not gaining on the group for a mile when my wife got out of the saddle and commenced to chasing the group down. I held her wheel and we caught the group with a fair effort.

We were cruising along at the back of the group when one of the guys kicked up a stick and it flung head-high into the air and landed smack dab between my fork and rim. The sound it made was horrible and I feared the worst as I signaled to stop and pulled over. The group didn’t let up… they left us, probably figuring we’d be able to chase back.

The stick had wedged itself in so tight, there was no removing it, front or back. I literally had to break it in two and pull it from the fork before we could get rolling again. The group was still in sight as my wife and I started rolling, but neither of us had it in us to chase them down. And I got what I’d been hoping for since I clipped in that morning; 90% of the ride with my friends and a nice, enjoyable 10% of the ride with my wife. I recounted the ride to her as we rolled along at a reasonable, enjoyable pace.

We pulled into our camping spot and I grabbed a few things for a shower, before heading into the school. Once cleaned up, we sat around talking for a bit and I offered to ride six blocks to the local pizza/ice cream restaurant to get my wife some dinner. She found this quite romantic (as had been intended). We slow-rolled it to the restaurant, stored our race bikes in the bike rack and went in to order. They had us out the door in fewer than ten minutes and I carried my wife’s dinner back to the campsite.

Then, it was my turn. I went in and ate my free meal with our gang and talked about the day’s events. There was laughter and good cheer. I’d decided when we separated not to be butt-hurt about being dropped. I’d wanted to ride alone with my wife, anyway.

After dinner, we walked down the the ice cream shop and had some ice cream. I chose the Ripe Raspberry/Chocolate Chunk and it was fantastic.

And so ended Day One; we walked back to the campsite and turned in for the evening. I slept like a baby.