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It was a windy day, SSW and SW all day long, so we picked an east/west route so we wouldn’t be fighting it as much. Five of us rolled out to a perfect early fall morning start. My wife, Diane, Mike, Chuck and I headed off west in search of good times, laughs and miles. I’m already 600 miles (now 700) over my yearly goal of 6,000 outdoor miles, I’ve beaten every short distance speed record I’d acquired since 2011:
CYCLING, SPORT PERSONAL RECORDS
One Hour 24.38 mi
20 10 km 13:46
20 10 mi 23:59
20 20 km 29:45
It wouldn’t be a stretch to say this has been one of my best years on two wheels – in fact, better than all of that speed stuff (which is fantastic), my wife and I have learned how to love our tandem and have ridden it almost every Sunday since April. On top of all that, I’m up to 9 centuries and 14 metric centuries for the season.
I was excited for another century yesterday. The goal was to head to Laingsburg – a 77-mile round trip going the long way out and heading straight back home. The morning, excepting the wind, was wonderful. Sunshine, cool but barely arm warmer weather (the boys didn’t bother, the girls wore theirs for a time). Chuck and I were taking decent turns into the wind, three to five miles, and the pace was fair – 18 to 20-mph. We had a six mile south stretch into the wind that was just brutal but Chuck was dug in like a tick and hammered the whole chunk keeping the pace right around 19-mph. That was one of the toughest turns I’ve seen all year.
It was so epic, I didn’t even bother sprinting for my favorite City Limits sign. I straight up gave it to him. He’d earned it.
After that stretch, just 14 miles and change into the ride, we only had six more miles of straight headwind the whole rest of the ride.
My wife and Diane split off after 28 miles to head home, so that left just the three of us and some of the most glorious miles we’d turned all year long. We made the most of a cross-headwind, but when we hit the turn-around in Laingsburg, we hammered home with a little help. We dropped Mike off at his last mile home (I was at 77 miles) and Chuck and I headed off to lunch.
The wind had a little more west to it so it was a little tougher into it, but I still managed to crush out a couple of miles at 20 before turning north with a tailwind. We pulled into our favorite 100-mile lunch stop at 83 miles. We sat in the grass in the shade of a tree and ate.
Getting started after lunch sucked. I was a little better than a 19-mph average but Chuck was at 18.9 and he wanted 19. Initially he took off heading west and it looked like we’d be able to jump right back into our pace but he slowed after a half-mile and said, “Maybe anything in the 18 range will be okay.” I almost puked on my top tube a quarter-mile later on the way up a slight incline. Chuck took a mile of headwind and I came around for a little chunk. We back-and-forth’ed the next few miles and I could sense I was running out of gas. Still, we were looking at that 19 average as we exited our favorite weeknight subdivision and headed for home. I was up front and took a mile and a half with a cross-tailwind, taking a corner heading into the wind at almost 20-mph. Chuck asked if I wanted him to take it but I shook him off. I told him I was good and got him to the cross-tailwind. He took a mile, then I took one. That left Chuck to a headwind mile that he took between 19 & 20. I had a mile of cross-tailwind that I hammered at 21… and I ran out of gas. I had 96 miles and some change.
Chuck asked if I was going to ride home with him to get the extra miles but I passed. I’d had enough and took my toy home. My last mile into the headwind was between 12 & 16-mph and that was everything I had. I dropped down to the baby ring and spun home, shutting off my Garmin at 97.07 miles. I didn’t even care about that last three miles. A 5k in an 11,000 km season.
Chuck called about five minutes later. He pulled into his driveway with a 19.03-mph average. The exuberance in his voice was cool. He thanked me for hammering as hard as I did because every last mile mattered. He thanked me again, commenting on Strava a few minutes later.
That he made 19 and was so stoked that I helped made me feel pretty fantatic. Definitely worth leaving three miles on the road for my friend.
We were set to start riding at 8:30 and I knew my role. My buddy Mike is coming back from knee surgery, he got a new one, and he’s built up his base, so now it’s time to work on speed.
I was to be the rented mule into the headwind.
This has been a new development during COVIDcation, something that I’ve worked into my daily rides with my wife to get a better workout out of a slower pace. I take all of the headwind up front. In doing this, we go faster into the headwind than we normally would sharing turns up front, and by the time I get to the half-way point of a 45-mile ride, I’m freaking smoked. It takes effort just to keep up with my wife in the tailwind… and this has given me a new appreciation for riding into the headwind – I found a way to like a headwind. That is my role and I’m freakin’ good at it.
I started early, at 7:30 to get some bonus miles in before the main. I wanted a 100k out of the day and I knew I’d be tired after our ride… and it had been a while since I’d put the hammer down. I figured I could get some speed-work out of my system so I was less likely to get antsy about pace while out with Mike and my wife. I also took my Trek rather than the Venge.
I put in 13 miles at just shy of a 20-mph pace before taking it easy the last mile back to the house to spin some lactic acid out of my legs. I waited for Mike to show up, and my wife to come out the door. Assembled, lightly, we rolled out.
The first eight miles had a crosswind so we rolled at a fair, conversational pace. Then we turned left, dead into a 15-mph headwind. It was my turn to burn. I headed to the front and picked a pace I could settle into. 15+-mph headwind, 16 to 17-mph pace and I churned out mile after mile, just fast enough nobody was talking or dropping.
Just like that we were into crosswind and the ride got glorious in a hurry. Surprisingly, I was feeling pretty spectacular, maybe a touch crispy, but I still spent a lot of time up front. Mike was starting to wear out in the tailwind and we dropped him a couple of times but we regrouped and I still managed to pick up a 4th overall on a big 7-mile-long segment we cranked out at better than a 24-1/2-mph average. The high point for me was a mile-long stretch that’s slightly downhill after a little rise. I have no idea why I like it so much, but I just love to hammer that mile out. I put the pedal(s) down just over the rise and quickly took my pace from a nice 25-mph up the rise to 33 where I held it for the mile before the road pitched up again. There’s just something about that 30-mph pace on a skinny-tire bike that puts a huge smile on my face… I pulled to the side of the road at the next intersection and waited for the group to catch up.
Unfortunately, traffic messed up my plan to start ahead of the small rabble and let them catch up. I had to wait for them to pass, then chase them down… I was up to 28-mph to gain on them. When I did catch up, then I was crispy. I didn’t do much messing around after that, and with just five miles left, I settled down. Three miles left, my wife took the front and I could tell she was cooked. Her head cocked to one side, she was looking down at her stem cap rather than up the road. Then she started drifting with the crosswind – bad enough I couldn’t draft her, I had to ride behind her and eat wind, but she wouldn’t come off the front. After trying once tactfully, and unsuccessfully, to get her to pay attention, in a moment of idiocy and exhaustion, I blew up to shake her out of her funk.
I knew I was going to have to make amends for that one but I was still a mile-and-a-half short of my 100k. I’d let my wife know I was going to be short and add several miles back, so I simply rolled beyond my driveway, north with a tailwind and west with a crosswind for the full mile and a half… I didn’t want to have to crawl home into the wind on the clock, and crawl I did. I stopped my Garmin with the requisite 62.3 miles and turned around to head home. In the baby ring. And just shy of the granny gear.
I made my apology to my wife the second I walked in the door. We were right after, for the rest of the day.
I spoke with my buddy, Mike a little bit later and he was doing well. Prior to our ride, his best solo average was in the mid-16-mph range. He was well over 18 for the day yesterday and he was feeling very good about it… and that meant I felt good about it because I helped him get there.
Oh, and we were short sleeves and shorts most of the ride. Temps in the sunny mid 60’s, and it was glorious. And the forecast for today is even better.
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.
Dear God, thank you for spring and some time off!It was cold yesterday morning – cold because there wasn’t a cloud within a hundred miles of us – and it warmed up quick. Mrs. Bgddy and I rolled out yesterday morning around 11 and it was still a little nippy out, but the temp was climbing rapidly. We’d decided on headwind first and chose our route accordingly. My Venge was built for days like these and I rolled it out the door with a smile on my face.Within a mile I knew tightening the chainring bolts the day before did the trick to take out the little tick the bike had developed. And I think that was the last negative thing to enter my gray matter for the next two hours.I took the first twelve miles into the headwind, paying attention to keep the pace within a certain range of effort that would get us to tailwind, but not so fast that I’d burn my wife up getting there. It was a firm northwesterly wind but certainly not brutal – just 10-mph, but enough to require some wattage to the pedals to overcome it. We hit the tailwind 17 miles in and it was smooth sailing after that. The temp climbed from the mid-40’s to mid-50’s and a couple of miles after we hit that tailwind, I had to shed my vest. It was too perfect out.My wife and I laughed and played around, enjoying the Zombieland car-free roads… minus the zombies, of course (it wouldn’t be much of a vacation dodging zombies, now would it?). We stopped to take a couple of photos, one at a bridge we’d crossed over, and one at a City Limits sign to taunt my buddy, Mike with. Messing around killed our average pace but I didn’t care (and I know my wife didn’t care). It was a perfect April day – a rarity for the month, normally we get a perfect half day if we’re lucky. After our little photo session, we hit the road and headed home, letting the tailwind push us home. We pulled into the driveway with 37 glorious miles and smiles on our faces.I had to clean up in a hurry to pick my daughter up from work, and I picked up a Big Mac guilty pleasure lunch… but I called my buddy, Chuck in the meantime to find he hadn’t ridden yet. I asked if he wanted some company.Yep. It was too perfect a day. I went out for another twenty miles. CoVengeCation regulations demand one spend as much sunny time on the bike as is possible. I complied. Happily.Stay safe, my friends – and know that when I talk about riding with my buddy, Chuck, we go beyond the rules of social distancing to take wind speed and direction into account so we’re not “in each others air”. Riding with my wife, well, we draft each other everywhere we go… that’s a luxury we get living under the same roof.
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.
It feels like the weather’s finally broke and we can get on with spring. When I woke yesterday morning I expected a big group for the ride. I was shocked when only two others beside my wife and I showed. It did make some sense, several of our friends headed over to the west side of the State for Barry-Roubaix, the largest gravel road ride in the USA, but I still expected six or eight.
I’d pulled out the big gun for this ride. I’ve been riding the Trek since last fall and have it dialed in excellently, but I was missing the easy speed of the Venge. Apples to apples, and both bikes at the very top of their operating ability, the old Trek can’t hold a candle to the Venge. Literally and figuratively. The 5200 is an excellent and comfortable bike but 14 years of technological advancement in carbon fiber is simply too great…
Final tally notwithstanding, we rolled at 9am, Mike, Chuck, my wife and I. The conditions, for the end of April, were stellar. Sunshine, 41° (5 C) and virtually no wind. We kept a lively but easy pace for the first six miles or so before turning dead into what little breeze there was. Holding 19 wasn’t all that hard but my wife was suffering a late night, little sleep and tired legs, so we kept the pace low for her. She left the group at about the ten mile mark to head back… our daughter had to prep for her first high school prom (! DUDE!) so my wife wanted to get back to her.
I’d dressed a little under for the temp because I knew it would warm up soon enough but I struggled against the chill on the upper body for about 45 minutes, and then… boom, I the warmth of the sun on my red long-sleeve thermal finally cut through the cold. Apparently my friends felt it too because it went from quiet to lively talk about how great a day it was for cycling all within ten minutes.
We all took turns, over the course of the next 35 miles or so, expressing how much fun it was to be out in good, warm weather. I wish I could put it into writing, how enjoyable it was, the relief, to be out with two of my good friends like that, after one of the longest, coldest winters in Michigan history (the longest since 1874). I felt like our planned 50 just wasn’t enough – a stark contrast against looking forward to being done after 25 or 30 miles in the cold.
We stopped into the bike shop to say hi to everyone on our way home and they were hopping inside… People milled about all over the shop. Everyone in our group, everyone, has a high-end bike. Be it a Specialized, Trek, Giant or even a Merckx, we’re all sporting top-of-the-line stuff so we like to line our bikes up along the outside window as free advertising for the shop owner and eye candy for the shoppers (who are usually inside looking for a leisure bike of some sort). Several stopped to ogle after completing their purchases.
After our greetings we headed out and threw a leg over the top tube for our final five miles to home, but horror of horrors, I discovered I would be shy of miles! On the first perfect cycling day of the year, a day that was finally warm enough that you didn’t have to worry about sweat killing you because it sucks heat out of your body 25 times faster than air, I simply couldn’t come up short of our planned 50!
I chose to stick with Mike and Chuck to Chuck’s house (Chuck lives just over two miles from my house) and rode Mike home down another mile toward his house (Mike lives two miles from me as well), then took it back to my place. I pulled into the driveway with 50.12 miles. Perfect.
I had a couple of delectable pulled pork sammiches for lunch, with slaw and Devil’s Spit barbecue sauce from Famous Dave’s (it’s hot, but not as hot as the name suggests, it’s a spectacular spicy BBQ sauce), watched some of the Tiger’s baseball game and took a 30 minute nap.
I’ll tell you, it’s nice to be back on my “more mileage” schedule. This week, after this morning’s 50, I’ll top 200 miles for the first time since last fall. Everything seems easier when I’m on that schedule. My body works better, food tastes better (and certainly does less damage, heh), and my attitude and outlook on life are better. Folks, life is better.
Some days are just too perfect for work. Sometimes, it’s so far between nice days you simply have to play hooky…
At times Thursday, heading out into the wind we were held to just 13 mph (20 km/h). I know now we had gusts up to 40 mph (65 km/h) – I didn’t know this then… As the wind had its way with us, I just smiled and rode on, sitting up high to give my wife as much shelter as I could. It was brutal hard work, but I didn’t want to be anywhere else than right where I was…. playing hooky and riding with my two best friends, my wife and Mike. I expected my phone to blow up and was shocked to check it and find I was wrong… twice. It’s a rare day get away with playing hooky like that!
With that wind, however, came some glorious sunshine and our first warm day of the year. We knew it was supposed to get above the knee warmer threshold of 65° but we didn’t know it would be better than that when we left. We bucked the wind for what seemed like forever but, for once, we didn’t bother pushing all that hard into it. We kept the pace tame and simply rolled with it. It was surprisingly nice. We stopped at 14 miles to shed clothes – I kept the arm warmers and leg warmers but folded up my vest and stowed it in my back pocket. I was too warm.
Then we hit the cross tailwind and 20+ mph was easy. It was awesome, at least for a few miles.
Six miles later, still eating wind, the gloves and arm warmers were shed. First bare arms since last October. The wind pushed us home, we were soft pedaling and going 23 mph (37 km/h. With a little effort, 27 (40 km/h). We hit spots above 30 mph…
…and along with the ride home came a sunburn. A mild one at that, it was long gone by Friday morning. My Vitamin D deficiency fixed, I felt like a champ all day long.
43.3 miles. 2:28:12 for a 17.5 mph average. Not bad for that much wind. A perfect day of hooky. Perfect.