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Making the Most of Another Perfect Day

Two days in a row, above 50°F (10 C), without a cloud in the sky, and reasonable wind velocity…

I rolled over to pick Chuck up at his house at 11:30… am. On a FRIDAY. He wasn’t quite ready so I basked in the glorious sun while he prepped his bike. He was rushing around and lost his concentration for just a split second and rather than pop the cap on his bottle of chain lube, he unscrewed the whole top. Well, you can imagine what happened when he tipped the bottle upside-down to lube the chain.

At least a quarter of the bottle dumped onto his chain and cassette. Chain lube everywhere.

I can tell you, his bike won’t be making any noise for at least two years and I’ll be having a laugh over it for at least a decade.

We rolled out shortly thereafter. And yes, his bike was whisper quiet.

The first half of the ride was fun and lively. The weather was perfect and the pace, fairly easy. There was just one little catch; we did all of the tailwind first.

I thought, how bad can it be, though? It’s a single-digit wind.

The route we picked, the loop around Lake Shannon, is a favorite as it winds its way around some fantastic roads with lots to see. Including an old cider mill.

For a Michigan early spring, the weather simply can’t be better… and it won’t last. While it’s here, though, and with time to spare and open country roads to explore with little to no traffic, it’s been great to get some fresh, sunny air.

The ride home was hard, as we expected it would be – a 100k with no drafting, so essentially solo, is hard enough as it is. With the tailwind loaded at the end, well let’s just say I was suffering with eight miles to go. I asked to stop at a gas station for a Coke. We stopped for ten, maybe fifteen minutes and that (and a gel) was all I needed. The remainder of the ride was simple enough. Head down, pedal fast. With one small problem: My m*****f***in’ Look Keo pedal. Every F***IN’ PEDAL ROTATION… REEEET, pause, REEEET, pause, REEEET, pause… I’m on a $6000 perfectly silent road bike and I want to take a shotgun to my left foot to get the squeaking to stop… GOOD GOD IN HEAVEN…

The breeze wasn’t bad enough we couldn’t hold a pace between 18 & 20-mph except uphill. And thankfully, with a couple of extra miles early on adjusting our route, I pulled into the driveway with just a few tenths over a hundred k’s. And after a shower, I managed to do some much needed yard work with the family.

For today, it’s as good as it gets. Minus the pedal issue. For the meantime I’ll have to swap pedals between the Trek and Specialized.. I’ve got a Really Red set of Issi pedals on order at the shop.

The Exact, Specific Reason I Train Like a Dope All Winter Long. Part 643

Straight off the trainer I rode 17-1/2 miles on Thursday, 35 Friday, 50 Saturday, and another 52 Sunday. Not a bad four-day tally this early in the season, especially after the never-ending winter. Monday seemed like a good day for a day off, or at the most, an short, easy active recovery ride….

There was a problem, though; it was 71° (21 C), sunny, with a light breeze. The first shorts and short sleeves day of 2018.

So, scratch the day off. No chance I’m polishing the leather couch with my butt when it’s 70° outside.  I called my buddy, Chuck and Jonathan had asked by text if I was riding at 5… We got lucky and moved everything up to 4pm as well – bonus miles.

We started with a mild tailwind. 22 mph was easy, 23 took some effort, but I’d promised Chuck we’d take it easy after the stretch of weekend miles. I kept it around 22 and we just rolled down the road.   It was wonderful to be outside minus the thermal layers!

I took the first two miles, then Chuck took a turn, then Jonathan. We kept a nice turnover going and every one took long turns up front. We were riding like a finely tuned machine.  Heading south we encountered our first bit of headwind. We did quite well with it, though. We managed two mile turns at 19-20 mph.  We stopped at a gas station at mile 14 because Jonathan’s rear derailleur needed to be indexed to get the clicking out of it…  I showed him how to do it in ten seconds, we took a drink and rolled.

For the next ten-ish miles we had one form or tailwind or another – mostly cross, but every once in a while we’d hit a stretch with a dead-on tailwind.  We rolled pretty fast through there, taking care to maximize the draft – there wasn’t much riding on the hoods, it was all drops and all go.

The final twelve were always going to be the toughest, we knew that going in.  In my neck of the woods, if we want to get to the quiet roads during the week, we have to go south and west…  When we’ve got a southeast wind (as we often do during springtime) that usually means the last bit of the ride is going to be mostly headwind.

Fortunately, Jonathan is a pastor of a local church and he isn’t able to get out in the morning on the weekends… so he had fresh legs.  I let him know right up front that we were going to ride him like a rented mule and we did.  And he stayed took us home like a champ.  Chuck and I would take a mile or two but Jonathan was taking 3 & 4 miles at a chunk, and at almost 22 mph at times.

And that’s where we come to the title of the post.  I rode outside four days in a row, now five, fresh off of the trainer and we were crushing out some really tough miles into that cross headwind with nowhere to hide, really.  Traffic on that stretch is notoriously bad so we kept it to the shoulder, often riding in a 1′ strip of asphalt, into a cross headwind, at 22 mph.  To say it was tough is an understatement, but I was fit enough to hang.

If I hadn’t trained like I do, without fail, without hesitation, and without waiver in intensity, there’s no way that ride goes off like it did.  Either I’m looking at the best day of the year from the couch in front of the TV or I’m riding alone because I got dropped (or we’re riding a lot slower as a group, there’s a fair chance Chuck and Jonathan would have waited up).  Instead, we got a great workout, in only bibs and jerseys, on a perfect day for a bike ride.  We ended up with 36-1/2 miles at a 19.1 mph average pace.

My friends, it doesn’t get any better than that.