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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Broken Speed Limit, More Fun Than Should Be Legal, And Fixing the Camper…

Sunday was a busy day. We rode Saturday morning, then went to my youngest’s swim meet, then to my eldest’s university marching band practice. It was a spectacular day but I didn’t get much done – and there was much to be done.

We rode at 7:30 from a high school 15 miles from the house, and one of my favorite routes. It’s a departure from the slow, rarely traveled country roads we’re used to. We head south to the outer suburbs of Detroit.

We had a great, small-ish group. Chuck, Chucker, Matt, Mike, Diane & Jeff on a tandem and me. Mike wasn’t feeling well so he took his toy and went home… turned out he had a knot in his back that wouldn’t release.

Our route is pretty straightforward till we get far enough south that we’re getting to Kensington Metropark. Then we hit a straight shot 8% descent that, with a little effort, you can briefly break the 45-mph speed limit on. I hammer that sucker till I can’t pedal any faster. 50/11 at 45.4-mph. I pedaled so hard I passed the tandem and topped out at 46.5 with a smile stretched from ear to ear (I did not employ the super-tuck for this one).

Now, if you noticed, I hadn’t mentioned my wife yet, who always rides with us on the weekends… heck, normally we’re on the tandem. She’d fallen ill with sore throat (and you know why I first defaulted to “sore throat”) and was asleep when I left. She was in rough shape. She was also not showing any signs of being under the weather Saturday… when we’d been playing kissy-face all day, as married people do. This meant every time I lacked comfortability, cycling in 85 degree heat and abundant sunshine at high rates of speed, I’d think, “Oh, crap, this is it! I’m sick too and I’m x miles from home… this is gonna suck.” Only to feel better a few minutes later. I lost count how many times that happened.

We stopped for coffee and a snack (I had a fantastic cinnamon roll) which, in hindsight, was a little weird… coffee, when it’s just shy of 90 (30 C)? It was fantastic, though – the perfect “not so hot you have to wait 20 minutes to take a sip” drinking temperature. We rolled out for home after a nice, not too long, rest. I felt fantastic and fast all the way home. I relaxed. We ended up with 52 miles, 1,900 feet of up (a lot for what I’m used to – double normal), and an average speed of 18.2-mph, a perfect Sunday Funday.

I got home, showered up, ate some lunch and took a quick nap. And that left the chores. My youngest helped by cutting the grass – her first time on the tractor, so there was some teaching time involved. She was awesome. While she was on the tractor, I turned my attention to the camper. The front storage section started rotting out under the corners (where water gets kicked up from the truck). The corners were gone. It needed a new floor and I had to cover the two holes from below, plus rebuild the righthand side which had rotted out completely.

I started working on it at around 2pm and by 5:30 I was almost done. It took a lot to figure it out but I’ve got it solid, now. I’d be willing to bet it’s good for at least another decade – and if I ever have to revisit it, I know exactly how to put it back together. It turned out vastly better than I’d hoped it would – I’m enthusiastically surprised, really. I’ll finish it up this afternoon – we had a storm blow through that forced me to stow my gear and I was absolutely wiped out by the time I sat down to eat dinner. I wasn’t about to go back out and get dirty after supper. The last bit this evening should go quite fast as I know exactly what I’m doing.

I slept like a baby last night. Everything got done – or close enough to it that I’ll finish tonight.

An Excellent After-Ride Healthy Dinner That Takes Ten Minutes to Prep and Cook and Is Even Faster To Clean Up After…

On arriving home from the office, my wife was heading out the door to take my daughter to swim practice and my elder daughter was off galivanting about. I asked if there was a plan for dinner, to which she responded that I should have some leftover pizza after my ride. My buddy, Chuck and I were out for a little more than an hour-and-a-quarter and we put in 22 miles and some change and I was feeling pretty fantastic. I was hungry, though. Now, pizza and I are longtime friends. Best friends, really… but I’m tired of eating junkfood. So I was stuck with a dilema… what to eat?

I knew I had a package of individually wrapped salmon filets in the freezer – frozen solid. I thought, well what would happen if I just slapped a filet on the grill? I thought about how I’d make this work as I cut up some veggies for a salad. See, there’s a new fad out there wherein you place your steaks on the grill directly, do not pass go, from the freezer onto a hot grill. This sears the meat and seals in the juicy goodness before it can escape… or so they say.

I spread some butter over one side, then garlic salt (from a grinder) and pepper, and some Italian Herb seasoning… and slapped one for me and one for my younger daughter on the grill. A hot grill, 600 degrees F (315 C) and kept an eye on them. Three or four minutes, then flip (not quite thawed at first flip). Then a few minutes on the butter side, then flip once more for a minute or till flaky. As soon as the filets were firm but pliable, I pulled them. I dressed them with a salt and pepper again, then squeezed a quarter-lemon over them.

Friends, it was heavenly.

Ultra-simple, low calorie, high on flavor, simple goodness and about 600 calories for the meal… and the cleanup was two plates and a bowl (for the salad). I’ll have to get used to eating light like that again (I was hungry as a bear the next morning) but it’s a great arrow to have in the quiver when I’m pressed for a decent, healthy dinner.

The Assenmacher 💯, A Perfect Day and an Attempted PR for 100 Miles…

The forecast couldn’t have been better. 58 degrees at the start, rising to 80, mostly sunny and a whole 1 to 3-mph for the “wind” all day long. We couldn’t even call that a breeze. It was the perfect day for a 100 mile ride…

We rolled out at three minutes after 8, heading for Gaines and a few friends who had rolled early. I told them we’d be passing through at 8:34. We had a massive double-paceline eleven deep and most of us were not only experienced pace-line riders, we’d ridden together for years. And thankfully the Elite riders were off of a race the day before – they didn’t have any desire to hammer the pace. The cycling of the pace-line was smooth and efficient.

And the breaks between pulls were huge. Not only that, with almost no wind, it doesn’t matter as much where you are in the pace-line (in terms of which lane), you get a great draft. Best, everyone in our group took their turns up front. The elite guys a little more frequently than some of the A guys, but there wasn’t much wheel sucking to speak of. And that makes for a smooth ride.

The clock hit 8:34 twelve seconds before we rounded the corner to the first stop – that, we skipped. Twelve miles in is way too soon for a stop.

And so we hammered on, down through Byron, then toward Bancroft. Greg, one of the elite guys, had lamented a week earlier on the pre-ride that we’d changed the route to skip the sod farm leg of the route due to road construction in Bancroft because we’d miss the sunflower fields. The powers that be decided it would be safer to bypass that part of the route so riders wouldn’t be confronted with having to cross a road that had been ground up, with only dirt and gravel remaining. I asked Greg as we rolled on if he wanted to do the original route by the sod farm. I wanted to get that shot, anyway, of the group hammering by the rows of sunflowers, and we had the sunniest day possible. The decision was made on the fly to do the original route.

Sadly, as sunny as it was, the sunflowers hadn’t had time to look up yet. We were simply too fast. We were sitting on a 21.8-mph average at this point and the mood was jovial throughout the group. We talked and caught up with each other until we were third bike or so, when the draft wasn’t quite the help as it was further back. Then we’d get to our turn up front and head back to strike up another conversation. d you’ll see an intersection up ahead. We make a right there and head down, then up a short, shallow incline before we hit a long stretch with some downhill to it.

I came off the back and worked up the group, taking a photo of each pair all the way up the line so I could send them to my friends later. Halfway up the line and I’m thinking, “This is so cool! Charging to the front of the group at near 28-mph, snapping pictures of my friends… I’d always wanted to be able to have the strength and confidence to do this”… as I snapped the last photo, I was ready to head to the back and cough up the rest of what was left of one of my lungs.

Todd was a lot happier looking than I was at that point!

I drifted back and took my place in line.

We stopped for the first time at mile 29, just long enough to get something quick to eat and use the portable facilities. When we were all topped off and relieved, we rolled out easy and steadily picked up the pace till we were back to our 23 to 25-mph. At the back it felt like you could hide a truck in the draft. With the decent group we had and everyone taking their lumps up front, we didn’t have the same yo-yo effect you normally expect at the back with a big group, it was just smooth.

I was on the Venge for this one and I won’t lie, there wasn’t one solitary thought of wishing I’d brought the Trek… and on this route, the Venge could have had a 1x drivetrain. I didn’t drop out of the big ring once.

We stopped for lunch at the 55-mile mark with a 22-mph average. I didn’t eat much, a peanut butter & jelly sammich, a pickle, and drank some Gatorade. I was feeling quite spectacular as we rolled out but I didn’t want to get too cocky… we had a gnarly hill coming up and I about want to lose my lunch on that hill every year.

Except this year. We were down to 15-mph by the time we got to the top, but I quickly caught my breath and we rolled on. After I recovered so quickly from that nemesis hill, I knew I had a special day going. I took my lumps at the front and enjoyed my rests at the back. I’ve been on this kick lately, thinking about how my best days in my early teen centered around riding my bike to a friend’s house to hang out for the day. He lived seven or eight miles away, all on dirt roads.

Here I am now, and not much has changed, though the bike ride is the fun part. Oh, and the bikes are vastly superior next to what I had as a kid.

We skipped the rest stop at mile 72. I wanted to stop but the elite guys were starting to get a little antsy. Heading through the town of Owosso, they raced through a couple of lights with surges from 22-mph to near 30. A few of our guys got stuck at one of the lights, so we decided to just let them go.

And this is where this story gets a little dicey. I knew what they were doing and I was with the lead group that made it through the lights – I’d managed to go with the surges. And I almost went with them. Looking back, I think I had the legs, but not with the surging… and when those guys have one of us on and they don’t want us there, they have a tendency to keep surging till we’ve had enough. Well, I didn’t want to put up with that, either. I chose to stay with my normal riding friends and call it good… after all, we were sitting on a 22-mph average.

The remaining 25-miles were excellent once we got a few issues sorted. Enjoyable, even. The best I can remember feeling on the homestretch of the A-100. Turns up front weren’t too difficult but they weren’t easy, either. Even so, we had at least ten in our single-file pace-line to share the load. They were also slower, so that 22 average slipped to 21.9, then 21.8 as we were approaching Lennon, seven miles from home. We were nearing the Tuesday night sprint point at around 22-mph when Mike says, “Well, go on and get that sign”. I’d planned on sitting in, but you can’t sit still on a prompt like that. I upshifted and hit the gas ramping it all the way up to 32 (52 km/h) and crossing the line before checking to see if anyone had come. I was up the road by a massive amount so I took it down to about 14-mph to let everyone catch up. I went a little too hard and put myself in a bit of a hurt locker. I recovered quickly, though, and we pressed on. One in the group didn’t approve of my sprinting for the sign, but I took it for what it was… we were all a little tired and cranky at that point. Anyway, with six to go, Chuck took a monster pull into the little, baby headwind and we crushed it. Stuck at a stop light with a mile to go, we were looking up the last hill of the day. You can hardly call it a molehill, but that freaking hill will suck the life right out of you that late in the day. I passed the parking lot with 99.7 miles and tacked on another two tenths before turning back. 100.1 Miles in 4:37:06. I was pretty sure that was going to be a PR as I thought my old century record, set in 2013, was 21.6-mph.

After looking it up, that one was at 21.7, also. I missed a PR by 8 seconds (though I really didn’t learn that till Monday morning). The important takeaway is that I felt great when we finished. I had more than the normal fumes I’m running on at the end of a century, and I wasn’t cramping or struggling to catch my breath. It was one of the best century rides I’ve ever been a part of.

I headed home after getting something to eat and showered up. I’d hoped to take a nap but was soaring a little too high. I couldn’t close my eyes, so I got back in the car and headed back to help with the cleanup effort. We finished, dropping off the last truck at 6:45. My daughter, who had been helping since before dawn, was passed out tired in the back of my car. I dropped my wife at her car and went to pick up the pizza, letting my kid sleep. Pizza was the perfect capper to the perfect day. I even remembered my sunscreen so I didn’t get burned. Heh.

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.

Coming Back After Two Weeks Off A Bike In Style

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.

Stay tuned…

Possibly the Best Homebound Ride of the Year (So Far)

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:

CLXL_03

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.

CLXL_02 (2)

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.

Well, Imagine THAT! Mild COVID-19 induces lasting antibody protection

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.

TNIL: Uh, Houston, We Have a Problem

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.