This week I got in about 95 miles. Pretty good for a first week. Six weeks to go. About 4 really, since the last 1-2 are either ramping up or down the mileage. Weather this week was excellent. It was 60+ most of the week with a record 79F on Friday.
Monday was cool and I woke up late.
Tuesday was a short ride from Work to the Car Shop, about 5 miles. I would have commuted that day, but car really need the safety sticker and it turns out a headlight and taillight were out. Luscious Red (my car) was just begging to get pulled over. That ride kind of sucked, because the spring seat is a bit bouncy and I took a header downtown when I mistook a curb for ramp. The brakes work fantastically well at low speeds. I couldn’t get home in time to ride the bike to yoga so I drove and had a good session.
Wednesday was an early to work-early off work day and a ride out to Wildorado (29 miles). A pretty good headwind at 3:40, when I started, was challenging and put my speed down to 8 or 9 mph. This sucked, but it’s time on the bike and not speed I need to be concerned with at this stage. Still, the whole week I average about 10 mph. When the season ended last year I was doing 15+ mph. At the turn around point the wind was still blowing and I made 16 mph without effort, but as the sun set the wind died leaving me wondering why the wind can’t be as much a help back as it was a hindrance fore.
Thursday was an off day. The yoga and 30 miles was getting to me and I needed a break.
Friday, I had looked forward to all week. A record high was set. It felt warm. Really warm like summer mornings. I pedaled out 19 miles at got back at 6:10 pm. It gets really cold at 6:30. The wind on the way out was even harder, slowing me to 6 mph most of the way.
Saturday, I waited till it warmed up and set out at 1:20 pm. My intention was to ride 40+ miles. Standing still there was not wind, but heading out it seemed like there was a slight headwind. This was the first good test of the new iPod Nano. Battery life is incredible and the size and weight make it unnoticeable while riding. The trunk was packed with a Kleen Kanteen of refill water, yellow cycling jacket (light weight, highly reflective, and the arm pits are open), spare cotton T-shirt, baseball cap, and scarf. I was wearing two layers of bicycle and workout shirts and bike shorts.
The sun was behind the clouds most of the time, which made it significantly cooler. The trip out was long and generally boring. The bike feels good as does the seat, pedals, and shoes. The rear derailleur slips a little bit in the middle gears, but not enough to adjust yet.
Leaving Wildorado you pass an Interstate overpass 2-3 miles out and then it’s 7 miles out to the turn around. This is far enough you can’t see were you came from nor the turnaround ahead. This is a lonely and tough stretch. Usually, the excitement has faded at this point, I’m looking forward to turning around, and yet wishing I had the gumption to push on just a little further (5 miles, 10 there and back) to Vega. At the turnaround I stopped and stretched, to put off getting on the bike again, refilled the water bottles, and returned the ogling stares of the curious cows.
Back on the bike, I rode the only sizable hills on this route, the highway overpasses. That’s when I discovered I had had a tailwind on the way out. The new headwind was very disheartening. With two hours minimum in front of me and a headwind that could turn that into three my bladder started really bothering me. The other thing about this route is the complete lack of hiding places to take a piss. You actually have to ride 1-3 miles off the highway on dirt roads to become unnoticeable. Traffic, including a lot of high-sitting 18 wheelers with good visibility, never lets up.
I tried to concentrate on my front wheel, reducing my profile, and just pedaling through the minutes. Thirty minutes at any speed puts you considerably further than your starting point, but it can be some of the longest time of your life. Thirty minutes should put me near Wildorado again and I would definitely feel the progress. Like the rest was “downhill all the way” (Amarilloan inside joke).
Peeing had been an issue on another training trip last summer. I think it was the first time I road this route and the first time I expected to leave my car in Gander Mtn’s parking lot for 4+ hours unattended. Riding in the drops puts a fair amount of weight on your prostate and bladder. Running your legs around constantly doesn’t help. Even though the amount is minor, because your sweating the whole time, it is insistent. That other time took two hours to find a spot, an abandoned collection of gas station and mobile homes, which sometimes serves as a DPS speed trap making it an unpredictable spot.
This time the Highway Dept came to my aid with a huge mound of scrapped together earth stored next to the first overpass out of Wildorado. When I was done and had stretched again a car availed itself of the overpass. Five minutes earlier and I could have given them a show.
Back on the road and 20 minutes later I stopped in Wildorado and rested on a dilapidated trailer. I was definitely ready for this ride to be over. My seat hurt and I was constantly moving it over the saddle. The cycling shoes aren’t wide enough for my feet and attempt to ignore the existence of my little toe. It was about 4:00. I had been out 2 and half hours. Can you imagine going to the gym for that long? Not me. The last of the refill water went into the bottles.
The wind was pissing me off. A starting headwind I could deal with, but a return headwind is just very disturbing. All I wanted to do was go home. I was stuck 15 miles from my car and 21 from home. Doesn’t sound like much in a car, 20 minutes. On the bike, that’s 1 and a half hours.
About three miles away from Wildorado, I cross the highway and stopped again. Two more stops to go. I was at Adkisson Road, the turn around for Wednesday’s 19 mile ride. Next was Bushland just past the Ag research center, then the Love’s, and Gander Mtn. I put on a podcast. It was to run 1 hr 9 minutes. That’s about how long I had left.
The 3+ miles to Bushland are a little tough mentally. Similar to the stretch outside Wildorado. I found out that one of my favorite podcast hosts, of Net at Night, is pregnant and due in two weeks. That show will change with a new girl temporarily or permanently. The guest was a guy who servers as a good example of an Internet career. He makes ringtones, podcast themes, sings at a piano bar, streams live over uStream, etc.
At Bushland I stopped and stretched. Now, everything is very familiar. I’ve ridden the 13 mile route a lot and I’m on the home stretch. Unfortunately, that means I know how long it’s going to take to get in. My speed is running about 12+ and my legs are straining. The wind died down somewhere before Bushland, though I didn’t notice till I made it to the car.
The next stop is the Love’s store about 3 miles away. I was quite surprised to get passed by someone along this stretch. Then at loves I walk my bike across the road instead of stretching and get passed again. I always wonder how these guys do it. I carry a trunk bag with clothes, tools, pump, etc. They have a tiny underseat bag. No one ever has a rack. Ever. It’s a little weird.
A ways down at the Justice of the Peace, I stop and stretch. My legs feel like they are just moving the pedals. Spinning I guess they call it. It’s at these times they feel the most efficient. I don’t have to think about picking up my foot, ie pulling up, as part of the stroke. All the down energy is gone and my legs push and pull alternately instead of just jamming down and letting the other foot push them up with the pedal.
It’s definitely cooler now. The cold front has moved in. The sun is hidden behind layers of clouds and spreads a diffuse, long-shadowed, winter light on everything. The weeks’ good cycling weather is ending in the next few hours.
All I can do is spin the pedals. My legs ache. My ass is sore. My hands are sorely missing my cycling gloves and the palms are numb. My arms are tired of holding my chest up and constantly moving around. My neck is tired of holding my head up in the drops. Oddly, my speed picks up and I’m moving through 12 to 13 and 14 mph.
Then I’m at the overpass. On the other side is my car. Still there. The cycle computer reads 43.8 and the cell phone says 5:37. The sun’ll be gone in an hour. I made it in good time. Four plus hours is what I wanted and I’m done. Can’t believe I was out that far. Two hours ago I turned around. The bike dissassembles by removing the front wheel, turning the front wheel and slipping the whole thing in just right. The front wheel goes on top with water bottles, helmet, jacket, and unused trinkets scattered around in piles. I’m off to get my reward. Over 40 miles gets ice cream to replenish the calories from 4+ hours of working out.
It’s raining as I right this and the weather for this week seems iffy. On days I can I’ll probably commute. I may be luck to get in more than one ride this week.