The gist of this post, what I’m about to write, is unfair. Let me be very, very clear… I don’t care that it’s not fair. Genes, want to, or whatever it may be, I love the heat. While everyone else is melting as temps top 90 degrees (32 C), I’m in all my glory.
And so we began at 7:30. I met Mike and Chuck at the corner and we rolled to the meeting spot. We picked up Diane and Jeff on Diane’s tandem along the way and quickly went from taking it easy to rolling out. We were there just a few miles later, waiting for everyone to get their bikes out and shoes on. At just a few minutes past 8 we were ready to roll out. We had a great group, eleven strong.
The pace started out easy but it didn’t stay that way long. The breeze was light but we could feel it heading directly into the teeth of it. The best way to put it would be to say it dampened the pace slightly, but the flag shows it all.
As we rolled on, the pace picked up. Pulls up front were short, usually a mile each, and it got lively – in a fun way, not in a “please make the bad man stop” way. We were picking them up and putting them down, as they say.
As the ride wore on, I realized something fantastic; I was feeling awesome. That shouldn’t have been on the second big day – I should have been dragging, at least a little bit (after contemplating this, I’ve got an interesting idea why this is… more later).
The temperature climbed a lot more than we did on the flat-ish route and all of a sudden, after two flicked off in front of us, Mike and I were up front together. I know where to look, of course, but I can actually see the spike in pace exactly when the two of us took over the front. We went from 20-mph to 23 as if someone flipped a switch. We were off the front within a minute. I looked at Mike and smiled, “Some idiot left us up front unsupervised!” Mike responded, “No governor”. Exactly right – zero governor. We dialed it back to let everyone catch up and kept the pace reasonable, thereafter.
The remainder of the ride was sheer bliss on two wheels. Mike and I would end up at the front a couple of more times together and while we were careful not to bury anybody, we bumped up against the pace that was just slightly less than tongues dangling in spokes.
We altered the route for the better a couple of times, taking out a few stretches of gnarly pavement for pristine roads, new in one instance as we took it to the barn. After dropping everyone at the elementary school in town, Mike, Diane, Jeff, Chuck and I rolled for home. I pulled into the driveway with 75-1/2 miles and a 19.1-mph average (my wife’s average for the actual 100 k was 19.6).
DALMAC training is excellent – and today is day three. In fact, I have to start getting ready so we can pack the car and head out to my friend’s house…
DALMAC, at the end of the season, is a grind. Three 100+ mile days followed by a 72 as we take it to the barn. Most days are above 19-mph for an average.
The first day is fairly easy – or, as easy as 100 miles can be at 5:10-ish hours in ride time. The second day is where you’re tested. The second day hurts. Uphill almost the whole hundred and maintaining that pace, a day after we rode a hundred, can be more than a little brutal. The third day, you’re feeling a little better as your body gets over the shock… right up till about mile 90 and The Wall. A quarter-mile at 18% after you’ve climbed 1 to 3% for two miles to get there. I walked my Venge the last eighth the first year but rode every year since (I changed my drivetrain specifically for that hill) because I climbed the first two miles way too fast.
The Fourth of July weekend is tailor made for DALMAC training. We’re staring at a three-day weekend and day one is in the books.
We rolled out to unseasonably cool and cloudy conditions but with barely a breeze as wind goes. I regretted not wearing arm-warmers for the first hour but it warmed up after.
We started out into what little wind there was but it felt like forever before we had the help of the breeze.
The pace was steady and enjoyable throughout and I was feeling quite spectacular.
It was heading home in the last ten miles of our 56-mile ride that I started contemplating, “Why is it we ride our bikes so far?” By this question I mean, we’re out there three hours yesterday… but I never had a dull moment and as we took it to the barn all I could think is “I wish we had another hour to go…”
I’ve got no good answer, my friends. I’ll pass 4,000 miles (6,437 km) for the year today, I’ll be more than 1,000 miles over my pace to hit my yearly goal of 6,000 miles (just wait till August and September, I should be over my goal by the end of September, easy). We ride more than most folks drive their cars… but look at that smile on the face of the old fella up front.
That says all you need to know about “why” right there. Thank you, Sir. May I have another?
PS. When I refer to the Fourth of July as “Freedom Day”, do not mistake that I was referring to our freedom from British Colonial rule. While the Declaration of Independence has much to do with that, I’m thinking bigger. The beginning of the United States of America is based on the Freedom of the People from government. Unlike most other countries the world over. Some have famously complained that this is out of date, that our Constitution is too hard on the government’s efforts to progress. I’d argue that our Constitution is doing exactly what it was designed to do in that regard.
This isn’t going to be a post about which tires you should choose. I ride Specialized Turbo Pro tires on both my rain bike and my good bike. I ride them because there sticky in corners and fast and they hold up to the odd piece of debris on the side of the road. They’re not Specialized’s fastest tire, but they’re an outstanding all-around tire. Others like Conti 5000s and Michelin Pros… whatever you like, this post is about a simple experiment I did in how to get the most out of the tires we use, whatever that happens to be.
Back ten years ago, when carbon fiber wheels cost $1,500 to $4,000 for a set, most of us rolled on 19.5 mm wide alloy wheels with 23 mm wide tires. The width of the rim and the wider tires created a lightbulb effect with the tires, where the tire and rim resembled a lightbulb in cross-section. If you rode a lot of miles, you’d have to rotate the tires every few weeks to keep the rear tire from developing a flat spot… or you just rode till that flat spot was unbearable and put a new tire on the front and the old tire on the back.
For several reasons, rim widths started increasing – especially with the production of gravel bikes. Carbon fiber wheels dropped in price and became much more accessible. At the same time it was deemed that wider tires, because they smooth out the ride, are faster than the old, skinny 23 mm tires. Standard tire width went from 23 to 25, up to 28 mm on a road bike. And at the same time, it was learned that wider rims with those wider tires improve aerodynamics because those wider rims cut down on the aforementioned “lightbulb effect” on the tires.
Another benefit was improved wear on the tires – and I mean vastly improved.
The rear tire will still develop a flat patch over time, but nowhere near as fast as the three to six weeks you could go before having to rotate the tires with the old 19.5/23 rim to tire combo. Remember that three to six weeks. It’ll be important in a minute. I noticed a vast improvement on my Specialized Venge using a 25 x 50 mm rim and a 26 mm tire. On my Trek, I was using a 23 x 38 mm rim with a 25 mm tire so I decided to see if I would get an improvement if I went to a 24 mm tire.
That was three months and likely 1,500 miles ago (split duty between the Venge and Trek – so 2,676 miles but I rode the Trek almost exclusively in April… 1,500 miles is about right, maybe even a little more) and I just rotated the tires for the first time.
There’s no question the aerodynamics are better (this has been tested extensively). The tires wear better (the front on my Trek is still round and looks fairly new), and the feel is plush when you take the time to get the pressure right. I run 90 psi in the 24s and 85 psi in the 26s on the Venge.
While I didn’t bother with going to the trouble of actually measuring the wear, the difference is great enough to not bother. If you want the best out of your tires, get your tires within a millimeter of your rim width. 23 mm rim and 24 mm tires is an excellent combo, as is 25 and 26 rims to tires. Going the other way is shown to be better for aerodynamics, though (25 mm rim, 24 mm tire). Oh, and one final note; don’t believe all of the hype… some people like to claim you could go as wide as 54 mm with the tires and experience little trade-off in speed. I’d argue against that every day of the week and twice on Sunday. I find that once I get over 28 mm, the tires just don’t act right when I’m sprinting for the City Limits sign.
The results I experienced during my little experiment weren’t necessarily a surprise, but they were fantastic. Ride hard my friends.
An article on one of my feeds caught my fancy – because any article written about psychologically damaging things you can say to your kid is going to have some doozies that send me through the roof. It’s a guarantee because some silly, pretentious ninny looking to be special is going to come up with a bunch of things dads typically say and call them damaging simply to come off as intelligent and caring, rather than accepting men for who and what they are.
So let’s start with the photo that immediately caught my eye – and let’s see if you can guess where this is going:
So, apparently the first thing you can say to wreck your kids is, “This beard, with this man-bun, are not a big deal”. Now I wholeheartedly agree with that one! That would be traumatizing to the crumb crunchers! Unfortunately, the sexual angst-driven equivalent of the mullet didn’t make the list. How is that exactly like the mullet, you ask? Business up front, party in the rear for the mullet. I’m a boy up front, but a girl in the back. Simply put, the beard/feminine bun is the modern equivalent of the mullet (which is coming back, by the way). Anyway, if you wear your hair like that – first, I’m sorry – second, there’s a reason that kid is looking like that in the photo and it certainly isn’t something that dude said.
Moving along to the real list – and let’s rename this to “things shrinks mistake for damaging because they just don’t get it”. Second, here it is: 1. “It’s not a big deal”. The reasoning: It diminishes the kids feelings.
Ah, no. “It’s not a big deal” doesn’t diminish the tender knee-skinner’s feelings. It diminishes the issue that’s causing the over-the-top emotions and we dads usually take the time to, you know, explain this to the young skull full of mush. The whole point is to teach one’s child to be the master of their feelings, not a slave to them… and to help the child learn that it’s important to know two things: 1. Don’t sweat the small stuff. 2. It’s all small stuff.
Now, I’d love to complain about the other six but they’re not so bad. They mostly make sense and I don’t need to nitpick the little nuances I find distasteful.
That first one, though…
Out of all of this, there’s one other thing that makes me laugh… you’ve got a dude with a woman’s coif and a shaggy beard – and that’s not confusing to a kid, but saying “it’s not a big deal” is a step too far? Excuse me whilst I laugh out loud… or whatever it is the young whippersnappers are saying nowadays.
When I started the year out, I was looking at quite a shakeup at work and I really didn’t know how that would affect my cycling for the foreseeable future. I was anticipating being down on mileage by a considerable amount, say 20 to 30%. It wasn’t near that bad, though. I am down, but not as bad as I expected and there are two factors I didn’t count on: First, my eldest daughter’s graduation chewed up cycling time – I didn’t miss many rides, but several were shorter this month (well worth it). Second, the weather was exceptionally wet this month which meant five days off for the month. Normal is one day off, maybe two, for the whole month. I’ve been trying to take a bit more time off but not five days.
My total for the month of June was 924 miles or an average of 36 miles a day. Take away just three of those days off and I’m exactly where I should be if circumstances were normal (I consider an average of between 35 & 38 miles a day as “normal” – I am fully aware my normal is not normal). The average speed was decent, the climbing was decent, and my bikes are operating flawlessly (which is, obviously, fantastic).
Where this gets good is the quality – and not so much the speed, which has been good. I’ve absolutely been ecstatic about how much I’ve enjoyed cycling this year. I’ve had to ride in some pretty gnarly rain this year – a lot more than usual – but I’ve had an utter blast. And that’s what this is all about for me. Sure, it’s neat (for about three minutes) that I can put in 1,000 miles in a month. Sure, I absolutely dig my toys. Those are the incidentals, though. I’m into cycling for the friendships and the social aspect of the sport. That’s the quality part of this wildly successful cycling season.
July is starting off to be a bumper month as well. The weather pattern that had us wondering if we should build an arc has moved out a week early and we’re into fantastic weather over the weekend. It’s going to be a Venge kind of weekend (though I can’t help but think I should take the Trek at least one of the days – decisions, decisions).
Anyway, cycling is the best. And it’s Friday!
I saw an interesting cycling quote a while back that had to do with quality of life on two wheels. I loved the quote and started tinkering with it to relate it to recovery but it didn’t work in its original form. It was a little off. A little short of the mark. Here’s the quote:
I don’t ride a bicycle to add days to my life. I ride to add life to my days.
Now, if we apply that same quote to recovery; I didn’t find recovery to add days to my life, I found recovery to add life to my days, it doesn’t quite work. Adding days to my life was exactly what I was aiming for when I quit drinking and doing drugs and started working a program of recovery. I also wanted to add days to my life outside of a jail cell, but let’s not get too lost in the weeds, here! Moving on…
There’s more to recovery than just adding days, though. Adding days to life changed over time. As I got more out of my life in recovery, my gratitude increased exponentially and I found a peace and contentment, happiness really, I didn’t know was achievable. As I grew in the program from noob to yearling, yearling to long-timer, and long-timer to old-timer, I’ve come to the understanding that I keep coming back because I want to see just how good life can be – to see just how “happy” happy really is. Applied correctly to recovery, this is how the quote has to read:
I got into recovery to add days to my life. I stay in recovery to add life to my days.
Anybody can quit drinking without working at it if they’re desperate enough. I work at recovery so I can have the best, most enjoyable life possible. You can call me a fool for working a program if you wish. I’ll live. What you can’t do is argue results. Mine are fabulous, and that’s why I keep coming back.
Recover hard, my friends. That light at the end of the tunnel is sweet, glorious sunshine when we do.
I saw about a dozen knuckleheads outdoors this last weekend wearing masks… with a decent breeze blowing, under inescapably awesome sunshine. It’s sad, really, the number of people who are so intent on virtue signaling that they run around with those stupid things on their face counter to all science, but there you have it.
On the other side of that coin, I also love the new lace and invisible masks almost as much as I dig the old “mask under the nose rendering it utterly useless” trick. The lace mask, I get; it’s a literal “F— U” and there’s nothing I like more than flipping the bird at the so-called “rule makers”.
Now, I have no clue who the blonde is but she’s clearly a tool (the photo was released by the Governor’s office, she’s, humorously enough, on the right in the photo). I have no love for our governor, but now that she’s chosen to relinquish her Darth Mutter role to “save lives” at the expense of her real job, protecting freedom first, she’s managed to enact at least one policy I can get behind (I’m not holding my breath for a second). Also, if you look at her “tweets” about mask wearing, she was fairly cool about it. The gist was, “Look, wear a Trump mask for all I care, just please wear a mask”.
Getting back to the point of the post, I had to laugh when the powers that be came out a while back and suggested we should be wearing two masks instead of one and some people actually bought that. My natural reaction was, well if two are better than one, why stop at two? Six are obviously better than two. This follows along the minimum wage argument; if $15 an hour will cure all that ails us, why not go $20? How about $25? or $35? Why do you have to aim so low? If raising the minimum wage will help, why not go big?
Here’s the dirty little secret: because it won’t help. Raising the minimum wage hurts. Raising the minimum wage kills jobs and unless you’re an economics dunce, you know this. Politicians who use the minimum wage to divide us into the haves and have nots know this but won’t admit it. What politicians are trying to come up with is a figure that will get workers more money but not kill so many jobs the disastrous results (including the obvious inflation tied to artificially raising wages) are evident or obvious… or at least obvious enough the sucky results can’t be blamed on Republicans.
So ask yourself, “If two masks are better than one, why not wear six?” And that concludes this lesson in Government 101.
I was the only one to show up for the warm-up last evening and I was glad this was the case. The weather report had called for gnarly weather in the evening for the better part of a week, right up till noon yesterday. Then, bam, it’s going to be hot and sunny with no rain. I even brought the Venge it was so nice out. After I prepped, I rolled out to warm my legs up and was not feeling it. I couldn’t figure it out. I should have been spry and ready to go.
You know those days where you clip in, excited for a fast, fun ride and you’re legs say, “Yeah, I don’t think so, Sparky. We’re going to make this hurt a little bit.”? That was me.
I settled into the headwind and figured my legs would join the party soon enough. A mile into a crosswind and up a little hill I should have easily scurried up (but didn’t), then I was into tailwind. 24 should have been easy but 22 was work (38 & 35 kmh respectively). My legs never came around and that played hard in my melon when it came time to roll out for the main event.
With a small(ish) group on hand because of the questionable weather, sun and heat (around 90), we decided to stick together as one group. Todd and Greg already had 60 miles in earlier in the day and Jerad was nursing back a knee injury (but he’s an actual pro athlete – he’s got “want to” on top of his “want to”). There were a couple of other A guys to worry about, but I figured it wouldn’t be too bad when they said they’d play nice and we could all stick together. It actually made sense.
And that goodwill lasted all of two miles.
The headwind mile and a half was great, but somewhere in that next mile north with a crosswind, somebody dropped the hammer. The group surged from 24-mph to 28 (45-kmh) and stayed there. I’d chosen the outside lane and was getting hammered by the crosswind – I did this so I could be protected later, when we headed south. I held on till I’d had enough, then flicked out from third bike. I wasn’t angry, A Group is going to be the A Group, after all. I just didn’t want to deal with that crap. Neither did Chucker and David. They went with me.
But Todd and Greg slowed the pace down and dropped back to bring us up to the group. I almost didn’t go. That’s a lot like being kind of pregnant, though.
Unfortunately, I was redlined most of the ride. I’d managed to get a spot behind one of the shorter riders – I think he’s 5’4″ and even in my drops I was still a few inches taller than he was – and he’s a lot younger and fitter so his aero was a lot more aero than mine. I’d take 30 second pulls up front because behind Bryan, it was just like I was up front behind him. I felt bad for being so short up front but there was no way I wasn’t pulling through and I figured I’d still be better with the group than off on my own.
Greg saw me struggling and asked if I wanted to switch lanes to ride behind Todd. Todd is 6’4″ and his nickname is the Watt King. Enough said. I went from purple-lined to green in a matter of a few miles but the damage was done. I never fully recovered though I did much better. Behind Bryan (another pro athlete, btw) there were at least four times I wanted to quit. After switching to Todd, I regained my composure a little bit but we were coming up on the hills… and I wasn’t the only one struggling. Our lone tandem couple got hammered in the hills. They were amazing, but the hills proved to be too much and they started drifting off the back, so I went with them.
We took a shortcut that put us in front of the main group and waited for them to catch us. I figured Dave would want back on the group but when they caught us after two miles, he just let them go. Chuck dropped off the back to ride with us as well. And it was good.
We all took turns up front and kept the pace between 22 & 24-mph but took it very easy up the last of the hills. It was a great home stretch and we crossed the line with a 22-mph average (35 km/h). I was glad to be done and ended up with 32 miles for the main event (plus seven for the warm-up and 1 for the cooldown). I knew good and well I was going to sleep like a baby once I was showered and turned in for the night. I knew it down to my baby toes.
And so, the promotion!
It was deemed at our club board meeting the other night that the B Group was too fast to be called the B Group. The others said we were, without question, everyone else’s A Group so we should reclassify all of the groups to match most other groups with the B Group being the 17 to 19-mph crew. We decided the A Group would be called A-Elite and we’d be the A group, so the B Group could be a fairer 18 to 20-mph (our biggest local club, the TCBA – Tri-County Bicycle Assn classifies the A Group as 19+ mph or “very fast”).
And so it was. My first night in the A Group and I wanted to quit at least four times… but I hung in there and toughed it out. Toughing it out, rather than dropping, was definitely the high point of the night.
Dinner was excellent. And I did sleep like a baby last night. It was marvelous.
Desperation will make a man do things he normally wouldn’t. We’ve got another two or three days left of this ridiculous rainy weather and it’s only supposed to get worse until Friday. Yesterday afternoon was looking fantastic as the day wore on. It was hot, of course, but sunny with a nice breeze. I spent the early afternoon with my wife, daughters and my side of the family before heading home to ride. They’re here from all over the country for my daughter’s open house and so we could get everyone back together – it’s been seven years.
I got home just before 5 and cleaned up my bike a little from Sunday’s ride, then got ready. I was out the door and spinning towards Chucker’s house at five after with a smile on my face. I noticed my left cleat had my heel out a little, so I made a mental note to use Chuck’s Allen wrench collection to rectify that. I made my right turn after the first mile, looking left to make sure no traffic was coming – and that’s when I saw the storm cloud. Bigger than a mountain and heading northeast. Unfortunately, the start of that cloud was probably two miles south of where I was. We were going to get wet.
Thankfully, as hot as it was, I was actually looking forward to getting a little drenched. The operative word there is “little”. We got a lot. I was riding into my own rooster tail whenever we approached 22-mph – which prompted my Strava Title for the ride; ‘Twas an Alice in Chains Kinda Ride… Chucker started singing “Here Comes the Rooster” as he rode by and pulled in front of me, dousing me with his rooster tail… to which I responded by coming back around at 25-mph, singing, “Yea-ah yea-aah”, then gave the universal, “nom-nom-nom”.
The road was pooling water and I hit a pretty gnarly pothole hidden under a puddle that sent a shock up my arm but was no worse for the wear.
Five miles later it was drying up and we weren’t kicking up rooster tails anymore, but we weren’t fast enough to bother drafting, either. And then my drivetrain started squeaking a little bit. It was either the chain or the jockey wheels. Too much time in the rain finally caught up.
Once safely in the driveway with a little more than 22 easy miles, I started cleaning my bike waiting for my wife and daughters to get home (my girls got their second shot yesterday) but she called in the middle of my cleaning and asked me to get dinner started because she was tired out, so I dropped everything and got to it. Once done with dinner I went back to it and finished what I’d started. The bike was a mess (I’ll probably have to think about emptying the frame out of water…).
I won’t lie, I hate all of the extra maintenance needed when I ride in the rain… but other than that, it isn’t all that bad! Except eating rooster tails. That part I could live without.
A small miracle happened yesterday. After being predicted a washout all week long, the weather app of choice showed we had a window through which we could ride and possibly not get rained on… Chuck texted a few minutes after I saw the updated weather Saturday evening; “Any ride announcement for Sunday am?” Of course, it has to be mentioned, we’d been huddled down in front of the TV screen the night before watching tornado warnings flash across the screen. Thankfully, we appear to have made it through unscathed – some high winds and heavy rain were about it.
I sent the text just after. Wheels would roll at 7am, weather permitting.
And they did roll. We had a great turnout considering the roads were wet – very wet. It had rained two hours prior and with humidity levels in the upper 90s, they weren’t going to dry out any time soon. Mike and I started out in the front, into a gentle southwesterly breeze at an easy, Sunday Funday pace. Then McMike and Dale went to the front after we flicked off, two miles in and we went from Sunday Funday to “we gone”. 17-mph to 21, just like that. The tandem held the pace thereafter and that set it for the rest of the ride.
It was decided early, possibly “suggested” that we do the shorter “Deer Loop” at around 36 miles. This suited me because my daughter’s graduation open house was later that day and we still had some set-up to finish up. The pace was fast but we managed to take it down a few notches when needed for everyone to regroup and the roads started to dry up about the half-way point, about the same time as we hit tailwind.
The roll home was spectacular and other than being dripping wet from the high humidity, we stayed dry. Many of the others split off for extra miles but I headed home to clean up and help. We’d been gone just less than two hours when I pulled in the driveway with a 19.4-mph average. I showered and put some work clothes on and headed out back… to find I was persona non grata for having gone on the ride in the first place.
I knew it was going to be a little sticky but it was a lot worse than anticipated… even though we got the place ready in plenty of time (enough time for a nap). I took my lumps (and will likely continue to for the foreseeable future).
It was worth it. Especially when we’re all stressed out and working our asses off to pull off an open house fourteen hours after tornados… Everyone else may have had their undies in a bunch because I missed out on helping by a half-hour or so, but I’d have been in a different space when the fit hit the shan had I not been smiling inside from that most excellent bike ride. A bike ride is always worth it.