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Now I Remember Why I Ride a Bike Every Day! Building the Fitness to Be Able to Ride That Much HURTS!
I used to think riding every day was a less painful way of life than taking more than one day off a week (say, ride four, three off). After riding every day excepting rain days (maybe one a week), I took two weeks off for vacation, only two riding days the whole stretch. I was surprised to find I felt really good throughout the vacation.
Now, I wasn’t inactive those two weeks. I swam a minimum of an hour a day, usually a lot more, and we had 68 stairs down to the boathouse… I walked that at least three times a day, plus a day hiking at Tallulah Gorge and walking the neighborhood we stayed in with my wife.
The way I ride, though, cycling fit is a lot more “fit” than what I did on my break. I expected to experience a little pain from slowing down, but apparently I didn’t slow down that much.
Then I went directly back to my normal cycling routine the day we got back. 100 miles Sunday, 20 Monday, 40 Tuesday, 20 Wednesday, 20 Thursday…
I woke up this morning and immediately popped two Tylenol. I even found it difficult to make my coffee – which is why I reached for the Tylenol in the first place. I’ve got a couple of over-use saddle sores that I’m dealing with and I ache down to my baby toes even though three out of the last six days on the bike were relatively easy.
The point is, I know an inactive lifestyle is vastly more painful than that of an active lifestyle, but an exceptionally active lifestyle isn’t less painful than an active lifestyle – it’s simply painful going from active to exceptionally active.
And so I learned something this week. I still love riding every day and I will continue to do so… I just have to watch how I come back from an extended period off the bike. I may have to take a couple of weeks to work back to shape rather than trying to cram everything into a week.
My wife and kids and I were on vacation in Tiger, Georgia for the last two weeks. Normally, we ride almost every day when we’re down there. This year, we had rain every stinkin’ day and night. The real trick is the timing of the rain. The route we like is tree-covered, with a lot of up and more twists and turns than an episode of Murder, She Wrote. Rain makes the route absolutely treacherous and the tree-cover means it won’t dry out. We managed to ride twice in two weeks.
We arrived home late Saturday night with a favorite annual summer ride scheduled for Sunday morning. A 100-mile annual summer ride.
I was pretty sure one of two things was going to happen: 1. My tongue was going to be dangling precariously close to my spokes by mile 50. Or 2. I was going to be Frankie Fresh Legs and kill it. I had doubts it would be the latter. How could someone possibly miss two weeks and come back to a hundred-mile slog in perfect blue skies, a minor breeze and 91 degree weather (31 C)?
I didn’t get to sleep till 11 Saturday and I had to be rolling out the driveway, bike in car, at 7 am so I could have enough time to get ready. I slept great, though, and till almost 5 am. A couple of cups of coffee and I was ready to prep my bike, shower and get ready. I loaded Mrs. Bgddy’s bike on the bike rack for her vehicle (we drove separately so she could take her time and so she could ride a shorter route if she wanted).
made it to our friend’s house at around 7:30. I took my time getting ready. My wife showed up just in time, got ready and we rolled out.
The weather report on Friday showed Sunday to be a washout. Thankfully, Saturday was the bad day and Sunday turned out to be glorious. I had the Venge and as I settled in after five miles, I was feeling quite good. A little to soon for judgement, but I was encouraged. And it just got better from there. We were into the wind or with a crosswind so pulls were fairly short, especially while we were in a double pace-line. That all changed at our first stop, about 35 miles in. The 100k group split from the 100-mile group and we lost about half of the group.
We singled up at that point and hammered for our lunch stop at 57 miles.
At 55-miles I was feeling surprisingly great. I was Frankie Fresh Legs. For lunch our hands were a little tied. The local Subway was closed so we were stuck with McDonald’s. After lunch we took a few miles to work up to pace again and the miles ticked by until we hit the tailwind section home and things really heated up. After 90 miles I could feel my energy level drop. Things started hurting and the ride became a struggle. One of our group started cramping so he dropped off the back to soft pedal home and another was starting to flag. I was ready to take it to the barn but a couple in the group wanted to do a two-mile jog to make up for some lost miles in the middle of the ride that were sacrificed for smoother asphalt. Mike took his toy and went home but the five of us remaining made the turn for the extra miles.
Best I can say is I hung in and got my miles. I stopped my Garmin in the driveway at 100.56 miles at a pace of 19.2-mph. 5:16 and change in moving time.
So here I am, Monday morning and I’m a little sore but a lot better than I expected. I’d say the time off did a lot of good and not much harm… I don’t plan on making a habit out of time off the bike, though.
Laughing At Ketel One’s Feel-good Gibberish – A Recovering Alcoholic’s Look at Nonsensical Words Strung Together To Make Sentences.
Ketel One vodka “Botanicals” has a commercial for their vodka. Now, I was a vodka kind of guy back when I was a drunk. When I absolutely, positively had to be hammered right now, vodka was my go to… or rum. I loved the rum, too… well, or Mad Dog 20/20… or Old English 800… wait, I’m getting off track. Let’s stay on point.
It’s rare I ever pay attention to a commercial for alcohol anymore because it’s a little hard to make “hell on earth” look attractive to recovering alcoholic who, against all odds, found peace, contentment and happiness in recovery. For some reason this howler made it through my ignoring the commercial watching baseball the other day; “Crafted to be enjoyed responsibly” they said.
Wait, crafted to be enjoyed responsibly?
Believing it could be possible to craft vodka to be enjoyed responsibly by a drunk is simply “stupid”.
Here’s me, 30 years ago, sipping my fruity Ketel One; “Oh, that’s tasty! But I want to get hammered… Hmmm… I really want to get hammered, but this vodka was crafted to be enjoyed responsibly… perhaps I shall refrain.”
Said no drunk, ever. In the history of history. Ever.
Of course, the commercial begs the obvious question, “how so, Ketel One?” I would like to know exactly the steps that were taken, that differ from the manufacture of any other liquor on earth, to craft your vodka “to be enjoyed responsibly”. The statement is obviously utter, feel-good gibberish because if you think you could do anything, let alone manufacture liquor in a special way, to control my drinking, you’re a couple beers shy of a six-pack.
In non-American parlance, you’re fuckin’ nuts. Well done, Ketel One. Ya dopes. Keep coming back.
The weather report was sketchy from days back but once we got to Friday evening, the prognosticators had lifted everything. It also seems they’ve actually learned how to predict Michigan’s weather somewhat accurately… I once joked that when we saw a 14% chance of rain – miniscule, really – we had a hundred percent chance of getting 14% wet. Well, there was some hit and miss to it, but it was quite clear to this weather prognosticator’s critic that if we were going to get rained on, it was going to be light and last a matter of seconds – not a 15-minute deluge we’d have to ride through… but the clouds started breaking up immediately. Better, even better than the fact that the wind was a mild 2-mph out of who cares where, it was cool – a mild 59° (that’s 15 C in Moose Latin)… it had rained the night before but the roads had completely dried overnight. Conditions were perfect for cycling.
We rolled out, just a small group; Brad, Mike, Chucker, my wife and me with Chuck asking where everybody was. We picked up Dale and Phill along the way and before you knew it we had a decent group. The pace was easy at first, around 18-mph, as everyone got their legs loosened up, but after Mike’s two-mile pull, I took three and started ticking the pace up to 19 to 21-mph (29 to 34-kmh). Around the 18-mile mark my wife cut off and took her toy home – our eldest daughter graduates this weekend (I can believe it and I’m over the moon about it) and she wanted to get the yard straightened up for the arrival of family between this weekend and the open-house. You know me, I wanted the miles – I’ll figure out how to squeeze in the yardwork in the time left!
Brad and Phil were struggling a little with the pace so we let them hide at the back and the four of us remaining (Mike, Chucker, Dale and I) took turns rotating at the front and kept the pace a steady 20 to 22-mph. We were a mileage machine, the four of us and Brad and Phill hung in tough. Before we knew it we were looking at a 19-1/2-mph average (30-kmh).
Conditions took a turn about 25-miles in and it got quite gray and foggy, but the wind remained a gentle breeze and we just rolled through it. Phill took his toy and went home at 33-miles. Then, in an unbelievably unlikely event, two friends we ride with on DALMAC and Horsey flew by only 50 feet in front of us as we were braking for the intersection. I recognized them immediately and shouted out, “MIKE! DAVE!”… they laid on the brakes and turned around and we pulled up to them. Dave exclaimed, “What are the odds! They’ve gotta be close to 2 billion to one!”. He was right. The likelihood we’d cross at the same intersection, let alone in the five second window we’d be close enough to holler at them without planning the routes out… it’s staggering. And fortunate. It just so happened we were heading their way so we rolled out together, heading for the next town were I took a photo of our rabble when we stopped to water up:
When good and ready, we took off… to find a porta-john because the losers in the gas station lied and said their restroom was out of order (that’d be a violation of so many codes, we won’t get into it). We found one at the local high school by the football field and a few of us took care of business and we all rolled out again.
With that faffing about out of the way and five tenths off our average for it, we headed for the next intersection that would take us to our Tuesday night route and the home stretch… and see us part ways with our two friends and they split for home heading the opposite direction.
Brad was ragged but hanging in like and champ as we pounded out the miles. I was in all of my glory, having so much fun, our government would probably make it illegal if the bureaucrats had half a clue – “in these trying and difficult times – we’re all in this together™”, after all.
Anyway, we were at the turn at 49.5 miles on the odometer and I guessed we had about 20 to go to get home. We said our goodbyes with hi-fives and we were on our way. Dale, Chuck, Mike and I took turns rotating at the front and kept the pace right were it needed to be to creep that average up. The miles ticked by and our average increased to a point we got back everything we’d lost looking for a restroom. I was starting to get tired and thought about the last ten miles ahead of us and how much I was hurting… and I popped a gel immediately. I always try to gut that part out and I suffer for it. No more. The gel brought me back and I went from tongue dangling to ready to take it to the barn in two miles.
And that’s what we did, dropping Brad at his house and Dale at his intersection to head home. It was just Mike, Chuck and I for the last three to my house. Then I split off while Chuck and Mike headed for their homes two miles away.
I pulled into the driveway with 70.4 miles at a 19.6 average (I was Strava’d a tenth) for what was, without question, one of our most enjoyable rides of the year… and we’re going to do it again today – with better temps and no clouds!
I’ve written enough. Now it’s time to roll. Ride hard my friends.
Months after recovering from mild cases of COVID-19, people still have immune cells in their body pumping out antibodies against the virus that …Mild COVID-19 induces lasting antibody protection
We visited a fully free state over the weekend and there was some hand wringing from vaccinated people about all of the people milling about without masks… comments about how scary it was.
I, on the other hand, had read the science and not the newspapers, so I was perfectly content.
Imagine my lack of surprise when Tony wrote the post above… based on science and all we’ve known about disease over the last five or ten decades.
Gotta love the hype. I feel sorry for those who continue to buy into it.
I showed up at 5 yesterday for the warm-up just like I always do. Got my Venge out of the car, got my shoes and helmet on, donned the sunglasses… and we rolled out for the warm-up. I knew I was in trouble the second we turned into the brisk 15-mph headwind. My legs were heavy and sore.
The warm-up was slow but I felt like the legs loosened up a bit toward the end, so maybe the main event wouldn’t be so bad. I wasn’t so pessimistic, at least.
We rolled out from the parking lot a couple minutes past 6 and Mike asked me three times if we should wait or roll. I stupidly said, roll with them. We went out of the gate easy for the first quarter-mile but it got ugly in a hurry. I cycled through my side of the paceline and by the time we were eight miles in I was red-lined. It’d start once I hit third bike back, my heart rate would climb. Then, once I was second, I’d hit red line, so as soon as the guy in front of me flicked off, I was already hurting. After my fourth pull, I simply slipped off the back rather than latch back on. I ran out of “want to”… or maybe burned it up.
Doug went off the back with me and I watched my 23.8-mph average bleed away as we fought the crossing headwind. Just about the time Doug turned for home, Jonathan popped over the horizon, heading our way. He’d fallen off as well. Jonathan and I headed south a few more miles before turning left to take some tailwind help. My legs were protesting the whole way but we managed to keep it fairly respectable as we worked our way back. The home stretch was the one part of that ride that I was pleased with. With a little more than a half-mile to go and Jonathan drafting me for the last mile or so, I wanted to make a run for the City Limits sign but I had to be careful not to run too red, too soon. We’d been cruising around 22 to 23-mph and I decided to start early and build up the pace, hoping I could get fast enough Jonathan wouldn’t bother trying to come around. 25…26… 28… 30… That was starting to burn and I hadn’t hit the usual starting point of the sprint yet. 32… 33… I was seated, but giving it everything I had. I held that for a few seconds rather than trying to accelerate and burn up before the finish. Then I put the hammer down and gained another 8 tenths as I crossed the line, gassed. I took a glance back. Jonathan was 50 yards back.
I crossed the line with a 20.9-mph average.
As he caught up while I was coasting, Jonathan chuckled and commented on how the pace increase snuck up on him. He said all of a sudden his legs started hurting and it took him to notice the speed increase on his Wahoo to figure out why.
Jonathan and I have been finishing TNRs the last three weeks together after falling off the back and it’s been quite nice, actually. He’s one of those guys who makes people better simply by being around them… he’s just really good people and I’m lucky to be his friend. On the other hand, I’m about tired of this falling off the back crap, too. Rather than swing by for my regular burger, fries and a Coke after the ride, I drove straight home and cooked some salmon and had a salad with it. While part of the problem is over-training, the larger problem is my fat fricking ass.
The over-training part is easy. I’ll take a few days off. The weight will take a little more effort and time, but I finally hit “f*** it”. It’s time to do something about what (and more important, how much) I eat. My normal dinner after a TNIL is around 1,200 calories. Last night’s was 400 – and quite a bit tastier, I have to admit. That salmon is some good stuff now that I know how to cook it! More on that another time. Proof positive, though; you can’t outride a bad diet. I’ve tried.
A Damp, Dry, Fast, Wet, Unbelievably Muddy 57 Miles… Followed By a Sunny 22 with Chucker for a Two-a-Day.
The rain started around 3 am. Just sprinkling, really. Nothing to get excited about, but it was steady. When it was light enough to see, about 6 am because of the clouds, I went out to take a look. Wheels were set to roll at 7:30 in the unlikely event it wasn’t actively raining. It was still lightly sprinkling but the roads weren’t all that wet, either. I texted Mike to get his thoughts. He straight-up bailed. Nope, he said. I’m tired and I’m taking the day off.
I figured nobody else would show so I was going to do the whole 57-mile route solo… at 8.
Then Jay showed up. Then McMike… and I was still in my pajamas. I laughed and asked them to hold tight, that I’d be ready in a few minutes. Within ten the bike was ready, I was packed up and out the door and we were rolling on damp roads. We had a slight, barely there cross-wind from the southwest that we were going to eat for the entire first half of the ride. You could barely notice it, though. Sure, we had damp roads to contend with but this was really our first 3-mph wind day of the year and that aspect was glorious. I started out easy for the first mile but quickly built the pace up to 20-21. Jay took over next with a decent couple of miles himself, then Mike, then me again. Our average pace climbed to 20.6-mph by the time we hit our first stop.
We used the facilities and I downed part of a Cliff bar and some water. It was going to be one of those mornings.
We rolled out again with about half of the headwind done. Our pace stayed the same, though we did take it easy on the hills, which was quite unexpected and very welcome. McMike is light and incredibly powerful for an old-timer so normally, he can have a fatty like me gasping to keep up. He wasn’t hammering us on the hills, though. It wasn’t quite a “tandem break” up the hills, but I certainly wasn’t about to kick that pace out of bed for eating crackers (that’s a joke if you missed it). It was on the flats and downhills that we really made time.
We hit our first tailwind 28-1/2 miles into the ride and it didn’t feel much different from the headwind. The pace did increase slightly, though. I was having one of those rides where you’re proud to be fit – where you should have your tongue dangling precariously close to your spokes, but the spring miles paid dividends and you’re just cruising with two of your buds.
Then we hit wet pavement… wet enough we were eating spray if we weren’t careful of our line. The Weather Channel showed a 6% chance for that hour when we rolled out. I think they meant 6 mm of rain. Our pace didn’t change at all. We pounded out the miles in perfect rotation and took it to the barn. Until the wheels fell off for Jay around 45-miles. He said he was going to have to hide at the back or else he wasn’t going to make it – his legs were fried. I took the pace down to an easy 17-19-mph for a few miles to give him a rest and recharge. Our average dropped from 20.6 to 25. Just before I though it’d drop another tenth I announced, “Alright, Jay, rest time is up.” and I picked up the pace again to 21 to 22. We weren’t going to make 21 with Jay in that condition and hiding, but I wanted 20.5. Mike and I took two-mile pulls and rotated well at the front, but we both started running out of gas as we approached the home stretch. Two-mile pulls turned to one. I fired down a gel about ten miles out, knowing I was going to run out of gas without it. I was digging deep to keep the pace up but held up nicely. I was beaming with satisfaction at being able to dig deep enough to keep pace with McMike and equal his pulls at the end. We pulled into the driveway with a massive 20.55-mph average over 56.2 miles with just Mike and I taking rotations the last 16-ish miles.
Sadly, the bike took one for the team:
It took an hour and a half to clean her up. I took a trip to the shop to pick up a couple of tires for the Venge that had come in (there’s going to be a tire shortage, best stock up for the rest of this season and next) and swung by a McDonald’s on the way for a tasty McLunch. I made my way home and took a nap.
Then Chuck called to see if I’d ridden in that morning. I replied I had, but I’d go out again… I texted my wife that I was rolling for another hour and change (she’d taken the girls to get their hair done, an all-day event) and she sent back a thumb’s up and a heart. I hearted her back (gotta love it).
The sun had come out and the wind had picked up considerably, but it was warm and wonderful. I wanted to work on my suntan.
And I knew within a quarter-mile that this was not a good idea. I took the Venge for all the help I could get, but I was on the darker side of crispy… think burnt toast. That was me. Thankfully, Chuck took most of the headwind pulls and kept the pace easy. I tried to help as much as I could but I was hurtin’ for certain.
My legs eventually came around but I had a bad case of baboon @$$. I shifted in the saddle often. And I made it to the driveway, though a little long in the face. My second shower of the day was a cold one and it did a lot to revive me for dinner and grocery shopping with my wife. My heinie calmed down eventually and the rest of the evening was quite wonderful. I’d earned my dinner.
No rest for the weary today. We’ve got a 40-miler on the tandem planned, then I volunteered to lead an easy ride at the club picnic later in the morning. It’s going to be a long day.
To all of the moms out there, on your special day, Happy Mother’s Day.
I’ve taken the weekend off blogging to tend to my wife, the mother of my two almost-grown daughters, to show my respect and gratitude.
Thank you for all you do. Enjoy your day.
Is a Fast Cyclist a Thin Cyclist? Better, Is a Thin Cyclist a Fast Cyclist? I Have Certainly Changed My View on the Subject Over the Years.
I read an interesting article in Cycling Weekly about the drive to be thin, or in many cases, skinny to be fast. The title of the article then teases that you should get fast by ditching the skinny part but doesn’t give much in the way of why or how. Having been a skinny cyclist (<2.2 lbs per inch), and not by design – I rode so many miles I couldn’t eat enough to keep my weight up. I’ve since rectified that issue, thank you BBQ, Roast Beef and Burgers.
The main point in the article was that too much emphasis has been put on cyclists being ultra-thin, old spaghetti arms Chris Froome as the shining example.
The article does a fine job of labeling cyclists as victims of their own dieting at the urging of their (often overweight) managers and, if you’ve read more than a post or two here, you know I don’t subscribe to the “woe is me” blame game, but what about we weekend warrior cyclists? You can’t ride in a pace-line for 50 miles without hearing the fast people talk about weight at some point.
The article doesn’t delve deeply enough into the science of being able to ride healthier, happier, faster, and farther when you’re not a rail. Actually, in my case, I’d instead call me slightly fat and happy. Maybe cheerfully chubby.
Anyway, there’s no question I’m faster today at 178-ish pounds than I was at 154 (though I prefer 165 to 170, or 2.3 pounds per inch but too many of the aforementioned hamburgers have made that weight difficult). Let’s dig into this a minute, though.
There’s no doubt I can ride further with the extra 24 pounds. I can’t remember the last time I bonked completely (it’s been years). Of course, there is that uphill asterisk, but when things are all averaged out, I’ve got one heck of a reserve in the tank if my body needs something to burn. The one time that weight really does hurt a cyclist is on the “ups”, though. Conversely and humorously, on the flat and downhill sections, it’s clear; some fat is fast. If you want to see something funny, take one of those spaghetti people and put them next to a Clydesdale on an 8% descent. Have that little fella draft the big guy, and no pedaling. It’ll be shocking how much faster the big fella is than the skinny one. I see it often in our group. Hills I coast down, the skinnier, smaller girls have to pedal their asses off just to stay in my draft.
Another benefit to having a little bit of weight is overall health. While I wasn’t quite skinny enough to present health problems, I was close. The rail-thin climbers in the pro ranks are always on the razor’s edge of being fairly healthy and sick and they often have a team of people to help look after their nutritional needs (or so I’ve been told by those in the know). While I certainly wish I could climb a hill a little faster, my body’s immune system is absolutely rockin’ and I wouldn’t trade that for anything. As a 50-year-old weekend warrior, I’d never trade my health for a faster time up a hill.
Finally, it’s quite simple, if you want to win in the master’s class races, then by all means, watch your diet and obsess over whatever you have to to stay thin. Me? I will have fries with that. As long as I’m careful about how much I eat, I can maintain a decent, healthy weight and eat some really fun food in the process.
Hell, folks, that’s why I ride a bike in the first place.
The Surprising Consequence of Going Through the Vaccine Flu that Isn’t Talked About (Likely Because It’s GOOD)
What I’m about to describe has happened to everyone I know who has struggled with the first or second shots (or in my case, both). I haven’t heard or read a peep about this – and when I fill out the CDC questionnaire, they really don’t give an opportunity to riff about your experience. I’ll go with my second shot because it’ll make for a shorter, more readable post. For the first, and the long version, stretch the bad stuff out over a full week and add about 20% to the intensity of the symptoms. Thank you, my most excellent immune system.
My wife and I got my second jab Friday, expecting to sail through it because I had such a rough go with the first. My wife felt her symptoms come on first, just three hours after getting stuck. I, however, felt quite good three hours in. I was relieved. For exactly 1 hour and 58 minutes. My symptoms washed over me like the second 10′ wave on an ocean beach… the first is all giggles as it peaks just over your head… you’ve jumped and it catches you a little off guard, but you’re good and you bob down on the back of the wave. Then the second wave smacks you like a train right in the arm and topples you, dragging you across the bottom for a second. In the space of fifteen minutes I went from smiling to a shivering, sore, pile of I’m not moving from this couch, somebody put in a movie, please. Tylenol, or the preferred Advil Dual Action, would take the edge off the symptoms but would invariably lead to me going from freezing with two blankets on to sweating profusely with my robe flung open and both blankets discarded in just a t-shirt and fleece pajama pants. This would repeat every seven hours (and, of course, you’re only supposed to take two ADAs every eight hours). I went to bed Saturday night knowing I’d be a wreck for Sunday as well.
I slept in a couple hours longer than normal and woke up vastly improved and quite happily surprised. I went for a decent, easy ride with my friends but kept it to the couch and rested up for the remainder of the day. I felt better, but I didn’t feel all that great, either.
Then Monday hit. I felt I didn’t sleep long enough, but when I was up, I was up so I just rolled with it. The day buzzed by because I’m outrageously busy and long about lunchtime, I felt energized. It wasn’t emotional relief, either, I simply felt good. I realized I’d been feeling better than normal most of the morning and it lasted throughout the day and night, into this morning (and I’m hoping into this evening because it’s Tuesday night, baby).
I’m not the only one to experience this, either. Every person I know who had a tough time with either of the vaccine pokes has experienced something similar. With my first shot, after the week of hell I went through, the week or two after… well, it was worth it… I’ve got a great description, actually. So, imagine you’re a big rechargeable battery (in a sense, we are, though we recharge with sleep, beef and bacon). Now, imagine you get left on the charger a little longer than normal and instead of the charge stopping at 100%, you actually fill up to 105%. That’s how it feels, like I’ve got an extra 5% in the tank.
It has its limits, of course. By the time I hit 4 in the afternoon yesterday, driving home from work, I was done. I suited up for a ride, but it was a short easy spin (I was supposed to attend my youngest’s honor award ceremony last night but her tennis match went long so she missed it – entirely her choice and I was not bummed she made that one).
Anyway, point being, if you’ve got some trepidation about getting the vaccine in the first place, it’s not all bad news, doom and gloom if you feel symptoms. The feeling of being super-charged at the end is quite wonderful.