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I like to ride stupid at least once a year. That was yesterday.

I wanted to ride my mountain bike so bad I could feel the grips in my hands before I rolled out of bed. It’s a rare day I’m hankering for that bike, so I wanted with everything I had for the forecast to be wrong.

Rain rolling in at 7am, possibly snow… and the temp was 2° above freezing (1 C). At 7:30 it started snowing, lightly though. Just flurries. A few calls between friends and we prepped to roll out, hoping it would stay flurries. We were on the damp road at 8:30, but the dirt wasn’t that bad at all. And I was in all my glory.

My wife had to ride her mountain bike because I messed her gravel bike up trying to fix a bent chainring (it came like that, very long story). I’d had it pretty close but had to get it perfect… alas I went too far and now the pros will have to fix it. Point is, there was no way I was going to ride my gravel bike while my wife had to ride her mountain bike, anyway. At 8 miles my wife said, “You guys are freaking nuts. I’m taking my toy and going home.”

She wasn’t wrong. It was nasty.

A little on the slow side, but fun.

As we rode on the snow intensified and it seemed like all of a sudden the roads went from “not too bad” to straight up “baby $#!+”. We had snow caked on us from head to toe – actually, that says a lot about our gear when you think about it – if snow can stick to the outside of your clothing, there isn’t much heat escaping. With just over a mile left Chuck made a joke about Mike looking like he had an “ass-splosion”. I chimed in with a crack about being on the wrong end of a bean burrito. We were a mess and our bikes were absolutely smoked and grinding all sorts of grit. We were a sight.

I’d pushed it as hard as I could after my wife turned off early and turned that 10.8 average into 12 by the time we rolled onto my paved road. I was soaked to the bone, but from the inside. Now I remember why we bought those gravel bikes in the first place. That bike is work.

I didn’t even bother going inside. I took my bike straight back to the hose and rinsed it down before taking it inside to dry if off and clean and lube everything. I had to strip off my outer layer before my wife would let me in the front door. Her top layer lay in a heap on the floor, puddles formed under the tires on the wood floor.

We had a lazy day, watching it snow, and life was good. Every once in a while I like to ride stupid. Too often would get old, especially with the maintenance. Once or twice a year, though, makes me feel young and dumb again. That’s definitely a good thing.

Have Bike(s) Will Ride… For Sanity and Happiness. And Friendships.

I sent out the invite to our cycling friends Friday afternoon, hoping five would show up for our Saturday morning ride. It was due to be cold and quite breezy, so I figured it would be a small crew. The text list has grown in the last four years since I began putting rides together. It started out as a twelve-person text. The list has more than tripled.

My hope of five was vastly underestimated.

Friends started filing in around 8:20… Phill, Brad, Joel… then Mike and Diane rolled up. Then McMike… my wife and I made it a gaggle. We rolled out, heading west to unknown territory, roads most of us had never seen before – we ride paved roads out that way all of the time, never dirt. We were out for a straight up dirt road adventure.

We picked David up along the way, maybe five miles up the road, to make nine.

The ride was, for the most part, moderate and fun. There were times when it got a little fast, but as soon as someone fell off the back we’d hold up. We had almost every style of dirt bike there is, from mountain bikes to entry-level gravel bikes, right up to a $4,500 epic, a Crux and a Salsa Warbird. It was a diverse group, let’s say that.

Late fall in Michigan can’t be beat for dirt road cycling. Mountain bikes, gravel bikes, cross or fatties, and this autumn has been utterly spectacular. Cold, most of the time, with a few warmer days, but mainly dry. The “mainly dry” is the important part for me – I can ride in the cold, I hate riding in mud.

And so we rolled down the road, keeping a decent pace but certainly not crushing it. We laughed and caught up, told jokes and poked fun at each other as we rolled along. We simply had a good time in the cold sunshine.

Cycling makes things seem normal again for me. COVID, politicians, shutdowns, the utter silliness of politics, uncertainty… and the frustration of a nation, myself (obviously) included, that gets sucked into arguing the extremes to the benefit of politicians who consistently lie and flout their own rules and regulations to illustrate just how silly the rules, regulations and politicians really are… it all goes away for the time it takes to make it around a 35-mile dirt loop on my gravel bike with my friends.

Thankfully, talk of politics on bike rides is fading and turning to more pressing topics, like “where does that road go?” Here we were, nine friends out for a late autumn two-wheeled adventure. So it was yesterday morning for more than two glorious hours. When we pulled into the driveway, I couldn’t have been happier.

And I was so excited to see so many mountain bikes, I pulled mine out of the garage and got it ready to ride in case it was possible this morning. We’ve got a rain/snow mix moving in just about the time we’d clip in, so doubtful… but that mountain bike sure cleaned up nice. I just may pull her back out for a ride over Thanksgiving weekend.

Having so many bikes to choose from presents a fun problem to have; which one to choose?!

I Rode in the Snow Last Night and It Wasn’t… Horrible!

Chuck was late getting out of work, so I was hoofin’ it to his place at ten after five. It was cold and we were due some rain, possibly snow, later in the evening. I won’t pull any punches, I hate the cold. Hate it, despise it, don’t like it (if your sensibilities are a little too frail for “hate”). I can live with it, I can even enjoy it from time to time, but for the most part, I’m supposed to be a semi-tropical person.

On this particular occasion, however, I dressed correctly – and by correctly, I mean I dressed to be comfortable in the cold. My Specialized Element 2.0 jacket (I’ve had that jacket for eight years now and it’s still spectacular), a thermal running shirt, neck gaiter and hat that has the little ear flaps. I’d had a thin long-sleeve jersey on but once I stepped outside and felt the cold, I marched directly back into the house to switch base layers.

I had a crosswind the first mile to Chuck’s, then a fantastic tailwind for the second (that we’d be eating shortly). I was up to temp after the first mile, and that mile wasn’t even bitter.

Normally, I dress a little cooler so that I can ride a little harder without worrying about sweating (sweat wicks body heat away something like 25 times faster than air, if I remember my Survivor Man correctly). Last night, I dressed warmer and rode for the temp, which meant a little slower… and I really had a good time.

Once the sun went down, traffic thinned to a trickle. By the time we hit dirt, we were all alone. We had a few laughs, talked some about current events, and spent a bunch of miles silent, enjoying the ride… and then everything changed.

I was feeling surprisingly awesome for a cold night ride, but then the wind picked up enough that it was surprising. We were back in our normal “Jimmer Loop” subdivision, going for a “Chucker Bonus Lap” when what to my wondering eyes did I see but little droplets in my headlight… then one hit my cheek, but it melted. It was starting to snow. We were headed for home at that point, about six miles from home, so I picked up the pace a little bit, trying to push it to get home.

Then something surprising happened… I realized I wasn’t cold or miserable. I wasn’t in a bad way at all. We had a tailwind for four miles and we enjoyed the boost. With two miles to go my Garmin died (it had warned me the battery was low at Chuck’s house so I turned off the backlight, hoping it would get me home). Not even eight minutes from the house.

Ah well. The final shot to the house, I was ready to be done. I pulled into the driveway with 23-1/2 miles and a smile on my face. Whatever I did last night to get my temp right, I’ll have to try that again. I hate the cold… but I didn’t last night.

Dear God, Brent, I may need to look at a fat bike.

A Perfectly Lazy Weekend, Wrapping Up My Wife’s Gravel Bike, Wind, Rain & Cold

I love this time of year. It seems like we’re on the go all year long and when the weather turns cold and nasty in the fall, it’s the perfect time to be a little lazy.

Saturday was cold, but dressed properly, the cold only hurt the five square inches of skin visible between my neck gaiter that was pulled over my nose and my cap… not much. It warmed up pretty well, too, at least enough to take the sting out of the air. We got an even 30 miles on dirt roads, and it was fun. I started my wife’s gravel bike drivetrain upgrade, grilled burgers for dinner, and fell asleep on the couch watching… something.

Sunday wasn’t fit for man nor beast outdoors, so we rode on the trainer after a lazy morning in which I completed everything on my wife’s gravel bike but her last brake cable… I had a couple, but they were regular road bike length (the cable set that came with the shifter lever set was for a standard road bike with rim brakes as well – too short for a mechanical disc brake). Fortunately, a friend had one, the required 6′ length, at home and was going to be out for an errand later so he offered to drop it off.

He showed up three minutes into our ride. I thanked him profusely, and off he went. After our ride, a shower, and some lunch, I went to work on that brake cable. Fifteen minutes later, the drivetrain upgrade was complete and her gravel bike is spectacular.

With intermittent rain, wind gusts topping 40-mph (60-ish km/h), and wet roads, the best thing to do was sit down on the couch and enjoy some (American) football. Mrs. Bgddy made some slow cooker chili for dinner, followed by more football and falling asleep. I woke up for a bit to watch Spiderman (Tom Holland is my youngest daughter’s crush) and then went to bed for real around 9.

I have to be very careful with weekends like this. I truly believe I was meant to be a man of leisure. While some people would get stir crazy with nothing to do, I’d be able to give it a good run. Left to my own vices (I know that’s the wrong word), I can become complacent. Lazy. Useless. I have it in me to do nothing… and so I can only enjoy weekends like that sparingly.

To thine own self be true, they say… and I am that. I know who I can be and who I want to be, and complacent and lazy isn’t it. My only defense is to keep moving. Thankfully, it looks like we’ll have a pretty decent week for some evening rides. Though this is Michigan. I’m not holding my breath.

There’s No Such Thing As Bad Weather, Just Bad Gear (And Other Nonsense Having to Do With Cycling In Bad Weather)

There is such a thing as bad weather for cycling. Let’s see if you can guess which photos best depict this simple truth:

Friends, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist. When you have snow stuck to your eyebrows, that’s a pretty good indication you’ve just ridden in weather bad for cycling. Let’s say you know someone who’s extra-dim, though. Have them ask anyone who lives in Ireland (or most of the UK for that matter) and they’ll be more than happy to tell you all you need to know. Sadly, in such places, if you want to ride, you’re going to have to come to grips with a popup rain shower. I’d bet my lunch the saying originated either during a Minnesota winter or anywhere in the UK. There once was an All Seasons Cyclist who loved that saying (and did more than his fair share to prove its plausibility). There’s just one problem: real bad weather sucks. All good gear can do is make bad cycling weather suck less.

Let’s just say we’ve got, for comparison’s sake, on one hand, a sunny 80° day with a gentle breeze.  On the other, a windy, 34° (1 C) day with a smattering of rain/snow mix.  The first example, if you hadn’t guessed yet, is a good day for cycling.  The second would be bad.  You can’t put enough lipstick on that second pig to make it pretty.  

BUT WAIT!!!

See what I did there?  I took a perfect day and compared it with a perfectly lousy day – I took the two extremes as examples to bolster an obvious statement so as to create controversy in the middle by playing the poles.  That, my friends, is politics.  Let’s look at a simpler scenario.  Let’s take out the wind and rain and just go with a chilly night for a ride.  I had one just the other night as a matter of fact, that provides an excellent example of how not to dress for the cold

When I walked my bike out the door at 4:50 pm, it was 54° (12 C).  Not exactly balmy, but pretty normal around here for mid-November, average.  I rolled out over to Chuck’s house and found myself riding a little faster than I’d planned, to stay warm.  I had on arm-warmers, a short sleeved jersey, and a nice long sleeve that I love for 50° rides – it doesn’t block the wind at all, though (thus, the jersey and arm warmers).  For below the belt, I went with wool socks, mtb shoes, leg warmers and bibs.  Again, normal for 50.  I should have been fine and was quite flummoxed as to why I was cold.

In hindsight, once the sun started going down, the temp went with it, and the Weather Channel completely missed this happening. It had us in the upper 40’s till 9pm) but that’s not what we got.  It turned cold.  By the time I had four miles in it was down to 45° (7 C).  Just two miles later, 37° (or 3 C).  I was on the bad side of cold most of the ride (though it wasn’t too horrible as long as I didn’t coast much).  I didn’t know why I was so cold while I was riding, but now that I can see the temp reading from my Garmin on Strava, it makes all the sense in the world.  I should have had a thermal vest on as well, and a second layer down low, with either foot covers or at least toe covers.  And that’s exactly where the saying “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear” makes sense. 

There’s no question I was underdressed for that ride. In a case like that, the gear selection made for a chilly ride, even if it wasn’t technically my fault.  The prognosticator at the Weather Channel wasn’t riding my bike, so “blaming it” on him does about as much good as $#!++!ng in my hand to prove a point.  It wasn’t a “bad” ride by any stretch, either, but the right clothing would have made it vastly more enjoyable.  And that was my first poorly judged weather scenario of the fall season.

In cases like that, good gear choices can absolutely make or break a ride.  Getting closer to the bad pole, though, sucky cycling weather is sucky cycling weather, was ever thus.

Suffice it to say, some frickin’ days are meant for Zwift.  Or a good movie.  And jammies.

The Hardest Front Derailleur I’ve Ever Confronted; And How I Vanquished It!

I run a Shimano Sora drivetrain on my gravel bike. 2×9 sp., 48/32 up front, 11/32 in the back. I had to compromise buying the bike because I bought one for my wife at the same time. We simply couldn’t justify laying out the cash for two high-end gravel rigs when we really didn’t plan on using them in a manner that would require a high-end steed. That is, until a couple of my friends whom I can normally hang with put a hammering on me on their high-end horses. It was only then I thought, “I should have known better! Why, oh why didn’t I buy a better bike?!”

Whatever, it’s water under the bridge. I have to work a little harder to keep up, it is what it is.

That said, the Sora Drivetrain was a nice surprise. I was expecting something well below the quality of the 105 line on my Trek and the Ultegra on my Venge. The shifting and overall feel of the drivetrain is exceptional. I never thought I’d write that sentence.

It wasn’t all fun and games, however. Since I brought the Diverge home, the front derailleur gave me fits. At first, I thought there was a noise from the chain rubbing the derailleur, both at the big and little gears. Getting the cage to handle all of the gears was not easy – but I always assumed whoever set it up at the shop got the set screws right, and you never touch the set screws so it had to be a barrel adjustment issue, right?

Wrong. I spent the better part of a season (which sounds long, but really isn’t, I only put a few hundred miles on the bike the first year) monkeying with the barrel adjusters hoping I’d be able to luck my way into getting it right. I could get it close, but there was a rub when I trimmed the front cage for the two smallest (hardest) gears, then chain rub on the biggest gear without the trim.

That’s where this gets fun.

I’m going to condense two years of consternation into two paragraphs, but keep in mind, being only a junior bike noise sleuth in good standing, it took a minute to figure all of this out – and it wasn’t until I decided I had to play with the set screws that everything finally came together.

The first problem was that the chain wasn’t rubbing the front derailleur cage in the two smaller gears, with the cage trimmed. It was the crank arm that was hitting the cage when it was trimmed all the way out. The trick, then, was getting the derailleur cage in, toward the chainring, but not too far it that it would rub the chain. As it turned out, there’s a fine line between the two. A very fine line.

How fine? You can’t measure the clearance in millimeters. Tenths of millimeters.

Now, this crank requires a wavy washer, so technically, because the wavy washer is for preload, I could install the washer at the drive side. This would push the chainrings and crank arm to the right and allow a little more clearance for the cage at the crank arm. But, that thinking is a little flawed and, as you can see, I made it work. Barely.

In the first photo, you can see I couldn’t fit more than a business card, folded in half, betwixt the crank arm and derailleur cage. The second photo shows the clearance for the chain. Again, not much… but enough.

When it comes to set screws, I tend to create more trouble than the problem I fix, so rather than mess with this with YouTube videos, which are great, but tend to lack the finer points, I went straight for the Shimano front derailleur installation manual. The manual shows precisely how to install a front derailleur properly – and if you use the full install instructions from the beginning, you don’t have to worry about narrowing down and fixing a flaw, you just set the derailleur up correctly. The instructions start on page 10. I read through them once, then did everything, step-by-step, using the manual as a guide… and a short while later, I had the derailleur set, perfectly. After that it was just a matter of tinkering to get it dialed in so everything worked without rubbing. And Bob literally is my uncle.

And so there it is, the perfect setup on my Specialized Diverge (mine’s the one with the red helmet hanging from the shifter lever.

The main thing I learned through all of that is, the shop’s mechanics aren’t always perfectly right, and I can be if I seek out and follow the proper instructions.

Unless we’re talking about a suspension fork… in that case, it’s going to the shop. That’s a period at the end of that last sentence. Some $#!+ I just don’t need to get into.

My Legs Catch Up To Me, And I Traded That Struggle For An Amazing Lesson Later, At A Meeting…

I was all set to ride with my regular riding buddy last night. We decided on the gravel bikes, but on paved roads. Our warm snap is over and we’re freezing colder than we were the day before, or, as has been par for the fall, 10 degrees below normal (4 C below normal, about 6 C yesterday).

We started out the first mile and Chuck asked if I could hold his bike while he messed with his cable so the cage wouldn’t rub the chain. I suggested we just take it back to my house because I had the stand set up and we could work on it proper. We had him set and rolling in five minutes.

We rode side-by-side for the first mile and Chuck took the next up front into the wind. He was at about 18-mph into a pretty stout wind and I wasn’t liking it. My legs doth protest too much. Chuck took the next mile, and I let him, still into the wind. And the next, and the next… and I’d have to rewrite that “and the next” several times because I didn’t take a turn till mile 14. I still hadn’t warmed up and I just wasn’t feeling it at all. All of the miles over the last week and some change finally caught up to me. Throw in the cold on top of that and the ride hurt.

I did end up helping for the last third of the ride, but I have to be honest here, I was pretty useless… It was a good ride, but I’m definitely going to need to chill out tonight.

Now to the lesson, the important part of this post. Last night was my brick & mortar meeting for the week (we’re all socially distanced, etc., etc., mea culpa, mea culpa) and a guy came into the meeting before the meeting complaining about his new job, that he felt his new boss hired him into a position that might be one step above his comfortability. This guy has a history of mentally screwing up a perfectly good situation.

So I chimed in and not gently reminded him of something a good friend of mine (who usually offers really bad advice) once shared with me; God is either everything or nothing. Take your pick. I’m easy. God is everything. In fact, ask most who mind f*** themselves and they’ll say the same thing.

Where the rubber meets the road, though, is if God really is everything, that fella is in exactly the position he needs to be in right this very minute. Don’t question it, don’t fret about it, and certainly, don’t work yourself into a damned panic attack over it. Just do your best and be happy.

Then the meeting started and I read the Daily Reflections… and I’m not making this up:

We know that God lovingly watches over us.  We know that when we turn to Him, all will be well with us, here and hereafter.

Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 105

I pray for the willingness to remember that I am a child of God, a divine soul in human form, and that my most basic and urgent life-task is to accept, know, love and nurture myself.  As I accept myself, I am accepting God’s will.  As I know and love myself, I am knowing and loving God.  As I nurture myself I am acting on God’s guidance.  I pray for the willingness to let go of my arrogant self-criticism and to praise God by humbly accepting and caring for myself.

Well, you can imagine the laughter as I read that last sentence.  A few who came in a little late missed it, but I quickly explained why three of us laughed so hard.

Next week will be 28 years in recovery for me.  In all that time, the number of conversations at the meeting before the meeting that matched a reading, usually a random passage from the Big Book, are too plentiful to count.  None, in all those 10,220 24-hour periods was as perfect as that one.

Boiled down, the message is quite simple: God wants us to be nice to others and to be happy.  Get on with it, and stop letting that mush between your ears get in the way.

 

Tuesday Night B Group Gravel – Everything You’d Get On Pavement, On Dirt

At the request of a couple of friends, I opened up my house so we could still do a Tuesday Night Ride, but on gravel roads.  Last night was our last day of our Indian summer.  It was above 70° when we rolled out (about 22 C).  In November, in Michigan.  I wasn’t expecting much of any turnout because a couple of people texted that they wouldn’t be able to make it this week, but the future looked good.

I prepped my bike and waited for my regular riding buddy, Chuck to show.  I was early and decided to do a couple of warm-up miles.  David texted asking that we not leave early as he was cutting it close.  With that, Chuck and I weren’t riding alone, but Mike and Diane pulled into the driveway shortly thereafter with their mountain bike tandem in the back of their SUV… and just like that, we had a ride.

We rolled out into the wind at a decent pace for the headwind.  David picked it up for the next mile and some change with a crosswind from the left and gave me the next mile into the headwind.  I was of two minds as David faded to the back… I wanted to keep the pace up, but 19-mph into that wind, on a freshly graded road, simply wasn’t happening.  I got to 17-ish and that was just enough suck – maybe too much.  A half-mile later and I knew I was hurtin’ for certain.  And just then, I got word from the back that the tandem had fallen off the back in the headwind.  Sweet Mary have mercy!  When they caught up, Mike apologized for not keeping up, but we all made it very clear we were happy to slow down.  I almost dropped myself, for God’s sake.  The rest of the headwind section was awesome.  Right on the edge of “hard” but not so bad you were questioning how you get yourself into situations like this.  We each took mile-long turns and shared the load.

And just like that, we were into a 17-mph (27 km/h) tailwind.  And it was awesome.

We had some crosswind, then tailwind again, some more cross, then tail again.  We decided to add on a couple of more miles on a paved road and that ended up being my pull – tailwind on pavement, what a gift.  We flew, hitting speeds in excess of 27-mph (43 km/h).  David got hit with the headwind mile back the way we came, then the tandem for the crosswind, then me, and I gave Chuck the final pull home.  

Chuck put the hammer down and our pace rose steadily until we were 28-mph down a slight hill.  We were going so fast, you couldn’t really ride anyone else’s wheel, you had to ride a little off to the side so you could see bumps coming up.  Being in the back, I could see everyone throwing rooster-tails in the dirt.  It was special to be a part of that pace-line.

And just like that, we were done.  24-ish miles at just shy of 17-mph for an average.  And in shorts and short-sleeves.  In November.  In Michigan.

Folks, that fair weather stretch will live on in my memory for years to come.  What a fabulous cap to a great cycling season.

So here’s the interesting thing to think about: Riding in a pace-line is tricky enough in broad daylight. At night, it’s downright discombooberating. At night on dirt is downright crazy. Thinking about it, I’m actually quite impressed with us… I’ll have to be careful not to pull a muscle patting myself on the back (patting my friends on the back isn’t much of a problem, except to do so socially distanced… now that’s a feat).

A Perfect Night On Gravel… Except For That Old Man Who Almost Got His @$$ Kicked…

You ever have one of those Mondays where you need that bike ride to bring you back up from the depths of despair that was your workday? Chuck and I were both living that Monday… and on top of that, Chuck’s brand new light mount wasn’t cooperating (noisy, kinda squeaky over even the smallest bump, so you can imagine what it was like on the dirt). On the other hand, we’re in a warm trend the likes of which I can’t remember seeing in November (fear not, it’s over tomorrow)

I’d left early to get to Chuck’s, simply because I could. In shorts and short-sleeves… and I went the looooong way. Then, I tinkered with my front derailleur for a minute once I got to his house until Chuck came out (it’s a complex obsession, my front derailleur on the gravel bike, I’ll get into it in another post – I actually, FINALLY, got it last night). I dropped my average from 18.2 down to 16 in the process. I’d hoofed it over to make sure I wasn’t late.

Chuck had gotten a new light mount – he’s got one of those headlights that they can see from the space station in orbit. He had an issue just snapping it in, where he darn-near lost his temper. I could tell he’d had a rough day at the office, so I just let him go until he got it and we rolled out. Less than a mile in, he was incensed that the mount was a little squeaky (okay, it was a lot squeaky), so we stopped at a fella’s house and asked to use a screwdriver. He tightened his mount down and we rolled again. It didn’t help the squeak.

As we rode together, I could feel my tension lift. It’s almost magical how a rough day can be brought around simply by getting the blood flowing. It also didn’t hurt that we were only in summer gear. We headed south into the wind, the sun long below the horizon. It got dark in a hurry.

We turned and headed west. About a half-mile up, maybe, we had a mini-van pass us. I was over as far as I could comfortably get and Chuck was right behind me. The driver crowded us but not bad enough I was nervous. We couldn’t have gone further right, though. The grater had been through and the crown on the road made the far right of the road slick as snot on a door knob. We’d have risked sliding off the road, down into a rather large, swampy ditch. The vehicle made it by and we rolled on.

The driver looked to be making a left into a driveway but stopped kitty-corner in the road. As we rolled up I could hear someone operating a leaf blower in the driveway, so I figured the motorist was waiting on the blower… and that’s when the driver-side door flung open and an old, disheveled looking fella got out and started yelling about getting over to the side of the road. Lovely, I thought. We’d drawn an idiot who doesn’t know how traffic works (keep in mind here, we were unquestionably over as far right as we could safely be – just to the ditch side of where the passenger wheel tracks on the road, a little less than a few feet (a meter) from the drop into the ditch – this knucklehead had the whole rest of the road).

I told him to shut up and get back in his car and, looking at the size of Chuck and I, he did. But he continued to holler about getting over to the side of the road, so Chuck kept it simple and said, F*** you. We kept rolling, and that was that.

The rest of the ride was quiet as you’d expect at dinnertime on dirt roads in rural America. I don’t think we were passed again the rest of the ride and I completely let the altercation with that old fart go. The farther we went, the better I felt.

We hit our farthest point north and turned around to head home… the tailwind was our friend and the remainder of the ride was glorious.

There’s something about the smell and feel of dirt roads that’s just… I don’t know… I took a big gulp of water, my first of the evening to wash the dust out of my mouth. I made mud. I coasted for a second to let Chuck catch up and told him what had happened. We had a laugh and I put my head down and took it to the barn.

When I pulled into the driveway, I shut my computer and headlight down and went into the house. My daughters already had a chicken dinner ready and hot. I sat down to a feast – I didn’t even bother showering first. After, the girls went upstairs and I cleared the table and did the dishes. I took my shower and sat down on the couch to watch some Monday Night Football… I was asleep just after the Jets kicked a field goal.

It was as good as it gets. For a Monday.

Mid-season Miles In… November?! The Capper to the Last Blowout Weekend of 2020

Sunday Funday was the grand finale to the 2020 road season. This isn’t to say it’ll be the last road day, but it will unquestionably be the last week we’re able to put in mid-season miles – 238 for me this week.

My personal favorite aspect of the week was all of the cross-training: Trek (night ride, road), Diverge (gravel x2), Venge (road), Trek (road), Co-Motion tandem (road)… Six days, four different bikes = cross-training.

The funniest had to be riding the tandem yesterday. I was, in a way, pretty geared up about riding the tandem. It had been a while because we don’t ride road when it’s cold… Man, I forgot how much power it takes to get that bike down the road… and I wasn’t ready for it. We took the long way to meet the Gaines gang and rode with them for a dozen or so miles before splitting off on our own. My wife and I on the tandem, and Mike riding our wheel.

I was awesome and strong for about 40 miles but the long weekend wore on me. Unfortunately, that strong 40 still left us a little more than 7-1/2 miles from home and I could feel a bonk coming on. I leaned on my wife a little bit more than normal and match power with her.

That last stretch was pretty brutal after the long weekend, but we made it, and with smiles on our faces. After a shower, lunch and a fantastic nap, I made my way outside to tend to the last of the grass cutting and leave mowing for the year. We had steak, salad and mashed potatoes for dinner – it was, as one would imagine, spectacular.

I’ll be remembering this weekend come February when I’m longing for that first outdoor ride in March…