After a long 8 days with no days off work, I decided that it was time to get my May 200k completed as a way to force a day off. That meant a solo ride today. I chose my own Tour de Del-Mar route with a planned 6:30 departure. The forecast was for upper 60′s at the start, getting into the mid 80′s with a reasonable wind. There was a 30% chance of scattered thunderstorms. As a way to make the ride more interesting, I chose the fixie. One of my unmet goals has been to complete a 200k on the fixie. The route is flat. Wind is the only real challenge. I flipped the wheel over to give myself a little bigger gear for the flat conditions and packed as lightly as possible.
The morning started off with a spectacular sunrise. It made me a little worried. You know what they say, “Red sky in the morning, sailors take warning.” Within moments after the sun peeked out from behind clouds, thick dark clouds moved in. It would be hours before I saw the sun again. I evidently chased the rain. I ran across wet roads on several occasions, but was never rained on all day.
With a light tailwind for the first 50 miles of the ride, I made some really, really good time. I averaged over 18 mph for that distance. I was riding smooth and it felt really good. I changed the Garmin display so that it only showed the route and the time. I did not pay attention to my speed and heart rate like I usually do. It took me some 40 miles to get the turn by turn directions working right, and when it did, it was very helpful. One thing I also did differently this ride was to pump upbeat music into one ear. I used it to keep my cadence up. I really think that contributed to a pretty fast day.
When I turned south, my speed immediately dropped as I was now riding into the wind. The forecast had about 5-10 mph winds out of the south or southwest. I quickly noticed that flags were standing straight out and snapping in the breeze. The forecast underestimated the wind. Several times I wished I had a wind gauge on my bike to measure some of the peaks. But the pedals kept turning and I kept moving. I appreciated the breaks due to the trees and loved it when the road turned so the wind was on my beam or even a quartering tailwind.
When I arrived at my lunch stop in Harrington, DE, I was ready for it. I was tired. My legs ached. I wanted to stop. I had 51 miles left to go. After some Gatorade, part of a tuna wrap, baked chips (for the salt), water, Motrin, and ecaps, I was ready to go. It was amazing how much better I felt … at least for a while. It was now a slog into the wind, and pretty wide open fields on both sides of the route. My speed decreased again, and I found myself stopping to rest much more frequently. I’d stop for a minute or two, attend to nutrition and hydration, and then press on again.
When I arrived in Denton, I had a ChocoTaco which really hit the spot and its effect lasted for at least a few miles. Actually, the anticipation of ice cream carried me at least 5 miles into Denton. The sun was starting to come out and the temperatures rose quickly into the low 80′s. My pattern of riding for a time, then stopping for a short break helped my energy level, mostly because it helped me cool off and catch my breath.
The last 15 miles went pretty quickly, even though I was going slower than I wanted to. Sometimes it was the wind. Sometimes it was the heat. Sometimes it was fatigue. But the pedals kept turning (that’s what fixies do) and soon enough I was finished.
It wasn’t until I was done that I realized that this was the fastest solo 200k I’ve ridden. I averaged 16.8 mph and pushed the fixie further in one ride than ever before. Both of these are significant accomplishments!
I was toast when I got home. I could hardly move. My feet had a couple of hot spots. I was crusted in salt. After a shower and a few hours of rest, I started moving comfortably again and now 4 hours later I’m feeling pretty good.
If you are interested in my Garmin track, it is here.
This Ride: 132.2 miles
Month: 351 miles
2013: 2296.3 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 22,069.2 miles
While riding on the roads there will be occasional “close calls”. One of our strategies to reduce that danger is to ride pretty consistently; the same time, same route, and in a predictable manner. Most of the vehicles on the road are being driven in a similar way, so we encounter many of the same drivers each day, and they learn that we won’t really hold them up for more than a few moments.
This morning was different. While traveling on B & A Blvd in Severna Park, on the most difficult section of the road (no usable shoulder, no passing zone, hills reducing visibility of oncoming traffic, and a rough road surface on the right half of the road lane) a truck from Metropolitan Bath & Tile nearly hit my head with his right side mirror, then nearly clipped Ravi who was about 20 yards ahead of me. The mirror missed my head by mere inches. Ravi was missed by less than a foot.
There was no way to accelerate and catch the driver. We vowed right then and there to report this infraction to the company. I emailed them when I got home. Clint called a regional manager. The regional manager promised to talk to the driver. My email went unanswered (over the past 8 hours). This was our first incident in a year and a half on this section of road. The last incident was with a school bus driver who later revealed that his actions were intentional.
I’m simply thankful for the many courteous drivers out there.
This Ride: 20.5 miles
Month: 125.5 miles
2013: 2070.8 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 21,843.7 miles
Everyone who exercises regularly has THOSE mornings. You know the ones I mean.
- I don’t want to get out of bed.
- They won’t miss me.
- One day off the bike won’t hurt.
- I’ll just hit the snooze button once.
- I have an early meeting, it will be easier if I sleep instead of ride.
- I told Dan last night that I was iffy for the ride this morning.
I was all ready to use every one of these this morning. But routine got the better of me. I woke a minute or two before the alarm rang. I lay there in twilight sleep. The alarm rang. I got up and was mid-way through the preparations before I remembered that I had these excuses all planned. Oh well … I’m up. I might as well go out.
And so the ride happened despite my well-laid plans. We rode in the fog. We had a brisk pace. It was cooler than it had been all week. I did have to cut it a little short because of the early meeting.
It was an enjoyable ride. Thanks only to routine.
This Ride: 19.3 miles
Month: 59.1 miles
2013: 2004.4 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 21,777.3 miles
Our 9 riders eventually broke into two groups this morning. There was the fast group. They survived the climbs on Old County Road with energy to spare. Then, there were the rest of us. With hearts pounding and lungs screaming for air, we slowed down just a bit and watched the tail lights disappear into the distance. It really wasn’t that bad, but it happened.
At the end of the day, I was surprised. I had my fastest ride of the year on our normal route and achieved the fastest times this year for me on 5 different Strava segments. It didn’t feel that fast, but I did keep the pressure up and really didn’t let myself slow down too much. There were spots where there was still some energy that was left on reserve.
The most fun was on my little sprint up out of Round Bay near the end of the ride. I entered that small hill third in line, and kicked it hard just before my starting mark. I climbed the hill hard in a high gear and noticed that Marcus was right on my tail. I kept the pressure up and actually accelerated at the top of the hill. Marcus was drafting tight to my wheel all the way up, and after he caught his breath he commented that I always use that spot to start a sprint. Yep, I sure do. I erased 1 second from my best time this year, and I’m only 1 second behind my personal best on that short segment. That record will fall. Will it be in May? I hope so!
This Ride: 21 miles
Month: 39.8 miles
2013: 1985.1 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 21,758 miles
After nearly two weeks off the bike for a vacation in Ireland, it felt good to get back out there spinning pedals. It was misty damp, but warm and I eagerly anticipated getting out there to ride with friends. Mike B said in an email he would be riding. When I got to the Rusty Bridge, there were no headlights on the horizon. At 5:46 I pushed off alone wondering if I would be riding my inaugural ride alone. Soon enough, Mike was there (he slept through the alarm) and we picked up Chip along the way for a threesome.
We talked about Ireland, about the 300k Mike rode on Saturday, and caught up on news. We rode easy and really didn’t push things hard at all.
In the last month, we’ve decided that Tuesday’s ride would end at the Big Bean for coffee. We parked the bikes, went in, and sat in the front window area sipping the hot brew.
It was then that the thing happened that made our day.
A boy of about 3 came in with his mother after inspecting all our bikes. He checked us out and wanted to know if they were ours. He looked at us with eyes that just couldn’t believe that he met some real cyclists and we briefly chatted him up. When we finished our coffees and went outside to go our separate ways, he had to come and see us off. He was simply in awe. I felt like a superhero, spandex and all.
My parting words thrown over my shoulder were, “Always wear a helmet when riding a bike!”
It was a good morning.
This Ride: 18.8 miles
Month: 18.8 miles
2013: 1964.1 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 21,737 miles
I’ll be away from the blog for a couple of weeks. I’m also going to be off my bike for those two weeks.
In the interim I’ll need to get the bike checked out. In a very fast (24 mph+)paceline this morning, three of us hit a large stick on the trail. After that, my bike felt wobbly at speeds over 20 mph. When I returned home, I noticed that my non-drive side rear wheel spokes seem to be loose. Yes, all of them.
We had a nice Tuesday coffee ride this morning, finishing at the Big Bean.
So ends the month of April for me. It was a good month. I had 18 days on the bike. I banked some miles (rode more than I planned). Pushed the fixie over 4000 miles and rode the Flèche. I had some fastest rides for the year. Looking ahead, May holds promise.
This Ride: 18.8 miles
Month: 636.7 miles
2013: 1945.3 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 21,718.2 miles
With the chaos of the season and planning for vacation in a few days, it just wasn’t in the cards to ride our SPP Ocean City Ride this spring. That’s a 115 mile ride to Ocean City, then return the next day. It is what we refer to as the “Gateway Ride” to randonneuring. It includes a “no drop ride”, a stop at Dave’s Place (a biker bar in Ridgely), Irish Eyes in Milton, a stop at Dogfish Head brewery, and Ocean City … and that’s just the first day. It is simply a good time.
The alternative is a ride to Dave’s Place, and then return. A few years ago, Tom G rode only to Dave’s Place, then returned. He started an option that is better than not riding at all. This time, there were 6 of us that found this to be our best option. Ten others were riding the whole ride. That meant that for our first leg, we had 16 riders.
It was just below 50° F when we gathered for the start in Chester, MD. After the obligatory photos and getting the latecomers organized, we pushed off with a great tailwind. We had one rider who was having trouble with the pace we set, but with some added pushes, encouragement, and strategic placement within the pace line, he was able to have probably his fastest 32 miles ever. Without him, the ride would have been even faster. I was riding a fixie, which is a good choice on the Eastern Shore of Maryland with a tailwind. A geared bike would have been easier, but I liked the day on the fixie.
Dave’s Place is a great stop for our second breakfast of the day. Maryanne, the owner, is gregarious and very accommodating. It was a little odd to see some guys with buckets of beer at 10 am, but Maryanne has a long table set up for us and feeds us breakfast sandwiches to order and bakes for us. On the table when we arrived were potato chips, brownies, chocolate chip cookies and key lime cupcakes. Coffee and water were generously provided and within a few minutes after our early arrival, our sandwiches arrived. Mine was egg, bacon, and cheese on whole wheat bread and it was very tasty, even after I had eaten chips, a cookie, and a cupcake. Rookies get a hug. There are prizes, consisting of t-shirts, koozies, lottery tickets, caps, etc. About half of us win a prize of some sort. At the end of our hour, we take photos with Maryanne, and push off. Ten go left and 6 of us go right to make our way back to our cars in Chester.
For those of us going back, we now have a headwind. I route us back using some of the roads I know from having RUSA permanents on the Eastern Shore. Soon we are realizing that our slower guy is going to challenge us. We aren’t riding fast enough to stay warm, and are constantly waiting for him to catch up to us. After some time with this, Jack volunteers to ride with him since Jack knows the way back, and then there were four who are pushing into the headwind as quickly as we can and keep the speed up in a pace line. Some of those pulls in the teeth of the wind were challenging. I’m always amazed at how much drafting makes a difference. On the fixie, I was able to maintain a pretty steady pace, and spent a good deal of time on the front.
We made it back in pretty good time, and the four of us agreed that our 60+ miles were sufficient on the day. The wind added a real challenge to the day.
At the end of the day, I had over 4013 miles on the fixie! That’s a lot of spinning.
At the end of the day, I had a 30 day distance of 796 miles.
This was a good day. I’m tired. But it was good.
This Ride: 63.6 miles
Month: 597.9 miles
2013: 1906.4 miles
Total since 1/1/2010: 21,679.3 miles