Monday, March 19, 2012

It’s been a quiet past couple of weeks

I know, I know… the blog has been quiet too.  They say that for a blog to be successful, you should blog as often as you eat.  (I read that in a blog.)  Well, I kept it up for a couple of month anyway, but now even my once-a-day goal is pretty well shot.  And it’s probably just as well—it takes some of the pressure off.  But Brenda is still riding, and the 5,000 mile goal is still on. 

This has been a quiet bike-month though.  Through the first 2 weeks of the month Brenda had only been out riding 4 times for a grand total of 101 miles.  Yikes.  Good thing she had those fat weeks in February.  We made up for it a little bit last week though.  She went out for 42 miles on Thursday, and then we went out Friday for a 75-miler.  75 miles!  This was her longest ride ever, and she did great.  Traffic in town was a little bit heavier than it is on a typical weekend morning, but by the time we got out of town (headed to Ft. Christmas) traffic lightened up to the usual.  It’s so rural out there—there’s no more traffic during the week than there is on the weekend.  There was a little bit of wind out of the east—we were riding about 14 mph on the way out there, and then we were flying at 20 mph or so on the way back.  All things considered though, it was a great ride.  It was just the two of us, and we planned out our stops, and took a bunch of food with us.  We stopped at a Barnies coffee shop on the way out, then at about the 35-mile mark we stopped to get a gallon of water (the timing on that turned out to be perfect—we had both just emptied our bottles just a little bit before that.)  And then we thought about stopping at a Starbucks on the home stretch, but as we talked about it we realized that there is a Chick-Fil-A right next to that Starbucks.  At that point food was winning out over drink, so at the 68-mile mark we turned our bikes right into the Chick-Fil-A drive through and placed our order.  (I thought they might give us some grief over having bikes in the drive-through, but they were ok with it.)  And nothing tastes better on a long bike ride than real, hot food.  Yum.

So in 2 days Brenda got in about 20% more miles than she had the whole previous 2 weeks.  She’s probably still a little bit behind for this month, but it’d only be a little bit, and I think overall she’s still in good shape to make the goal.  We might have to take this weekend off (have a trip out of town planned) but the weather looks good for the week, so she might be able to get in a fair week in spite of not having the weekend.  And this is a 5-Saturday month, so that’s another help.  But it’ll be interesting to see if she’ll be able to match last month.  It’ll definitely be a come-from-behinder if she does!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

...and another flat tire

Maybe the epidemic isn’t over yet.  Brenda got another flat tire this morning, but this one was very unusual—it was on the front tire. 

I remember the first time I got a flat tire it was on the back and I thought, “Wouldn’t you know it—a 50-50 chance and I get it on the back tire…”  (It’s just a little more annoying to change a flat on the back tire because you have to deal with chain and the derailleur.)  As it turns out, nothing could be farther from the truth; it’s nothing even close to 50-50.  ALL of my flat tires, in all my years of riding, have been in the back tire.  And every time I’ve been on a ride where somebody else got a flat, it’s always been in the back tire.  I think it’s because that’s where so much of the weight is.  The front wheel can roll right up over a piece of glass or a little sticker or something and not really bear into it.  But when the back wheel goes up onto something sharp, nearly all of the rider's weight is pushing that wheel right down onto that sharp thing.  Ouch.  If I was a bike tire, I’d definitely want to be a front one.

So now here’s Brenda, breaking the mold again.  I was so surprised when she said it was the front tire that went out.  But then, that’s Brenda.  If it’s different, she’s right there in the middle of it.  And I love it!  All these years, and she’s the first flat front I’ve ever known about.  That’s my girl!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Back in the saddle again

Ok, after the weekend of wind it was back on the road again…in the wind.  This time of year you kind of expect a little wind, but dang, this is crazy.  Today probably wasn’t quite as windy as Saturday night & Sunday morning, but it was still more than you’d like to have on a riding day.  And they’re predicting more of the same through the end of the week.  This is what I mean when I say this sport is so weather-dependent. 

And after a camping weekend, it always takes a few days to get back into the swing.  Brenda got up this morning thinking much more about more sleep than about more bike riding so she didn’t ride out to the ride—I just put her bike in the car and she drove out there.  She said it was kind of a goofy ride today—the ride leader called and said he was sick, and without a shepherd the sheep got a little scattered.  Not that this particular ride leader is the best at keeping everybody together, but for whatever reason the group was kind of all over the map this morning.  So Brenda did her best in spite of the conditions, and made it home safely.  And as long as nobody got hurt and everybody made it back ok, then it qualifies as a good ride, even though it had it’s down side.

So let’s see what Thursday brings.  That’ll be the next regular riding day, and the last early morning start before we go back on Daylight Saving Time.  Here’s hoping we get back to that good-ride routine.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Three days with the bikes, zero miles

Well, we took the bikes on our little camping trip this weekend, but we didn't manage to get in the first mile on them.  We knew we were taking a bit of a chance on finding a campsite since we didn’t have a reservation anywhere, but it was a risk we were willing to take.  Every now and then you just roll the dice.  As it turned out, we got campsites on both Friday night and Saturday night, but at two different campgrounds, which meant that we had to do twice as much setup and tear-down as we had intended.  The end result—no riding all weekend.  We didn’t ride on Friday because it took us most of the day to figure out when we were going to stay where (and besides, it was really windy.)  We didn’t ride on Saturday because we had to move to the new campground in the morning (and besides, it was really, really windy.)  And we didn’t ride on Sunday because immediately after we broke camp (in fact about five minutes before we completely finished) it poured down rain (and besides, it know, windy.)  Pretty much all weekend long there were sustained 25 mph winds with 30 to 40 mph gusts.  And as bad as that kind of thing is for riding, trust me—it’s just as bad for camping. 

And I didn’t take the computer with me, but even if I had, we weren't really in a wi-fi area, so there were no blog entries either.  I honestly wanted to blog every day this year, but it looks like that didn’t really work out too pretty good.  Oh well.  I hope the two of you that are reading this blog will forgive me. 

So tomorrow Brenda should be able to get back to the routine.  It’s a regular riding day, and I think the weather is supposed to be ok.  (Good thing she’s got all those miles in the bank, eh?)

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Time to change it up again

Well, it’s March now, which, around here anyway, means that we can pretty much put away the long sleeved jerseys, arm warmers, tights, and jackets.  It’s back to the short sleeves or sleeveless jerseys, and it’s also time to go back to the summer-time hydrating principles.  Brenda went out this morning with her usual 2 water bottles, but she ran out about 4 or 5 miles from the end of the 45-mile ride.  Warmer weather means more water, and moving into a different season of the feeding system.  So she was really really hot and really really thirsty when she got back home this morning.

One of the cycling magazines has a fun page in each edition where they ask a fun kind of question like “If your bike could talk, what would it say?”  Then the readers write in their responses and the next issue of the magazine publishes the best answers.  One in particular that I remember was “How did you first know you were a serious cyclist?”  There were responses like “I knew I was a serious cyclist when I skipped a mortgage payment in order to buy a bike,” and “I knew I was a serious cyclist when I found myself squatting over a mirror naked to look at my first saddle sore.”  Brenda said that she had an answer for that question after today’s ride.  She said “You know you’re a serious cyclist when you come home dehydrated and you still put your bike away first, before getting a drink.  Then you also know you’re a serious cyclist when you down a whole bottle of water while you’re taking off you cycling clothes and putting them in the washer, and then you also know you’re a serious cyclist when you take a whole second bottle of water into the shower with you.  Yep—time to move into a different season of the feeding system.

Brenda has one of those Camel Back hydration backpacks that she really likes.  It’s been in the closet since last summer, and now it’s probably time to get it back out again.  Oh, we’ll still probably have another cold day or two before it gets hot for good.  But in general, it’s time to start getting ready; the heat is on the way.  But you know what we say:  We’re tough.  We can handle it.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Riding out of town

The thing about a year-long goal like Brenda’s 5,000-miler is that it can tend to get goofed up if you get out of a routine.  (That’s what prompted me to think about the “…and still staying sane” part of this blog.)  We like cycling a lot.  But that’s not all we like to do.  We also like camping, and kayaking, and traveling, and going to the Farmer’s Market on Saturday mornings, and spending weekends away, and stuff like that.  I think that people who meet a 5,000-mile cycling goal (or at least those who easily meet it) often don’t do much else that year.  But we’ve got plans to still do other stuff too.

Like this weekend for example—we’re planning on taking our little teardrop camper over to the beach on Friday, and spend Friday night, Saturday, and Saturday night incognito.  So here’s the question:  do we take the bikes or not?  (Actually, we’ve even thought about taking both the bikes and our tandem kayak.)  Taking the bikes on out-of-town weekend trips is fun because you get to ride in new areas and on roads you’ve never ridden on before.  But sometimes taking the bikes on out-of-town weekend trips is kind of scary because you have to ride in new areas and on roads you’ve never ridden on before.  I’ve done a lot of out-of-town event rides, so I’m pretty much used to it by now.  But on those rides, somebody else has (at least theoretically) done a lot of research to find bike-friendly roads.  When we do it by ourselves we’re on the hook for finding our own places to ride.

Now, this is one of the good things about local cycling clubs—if you can hook up with one of them, you can often join them on one of their regular rides.  I’ve done this before on a trip to Gainesville to visit my parents.  This works out really well because somebody else has already done the research, and you get to ride with a group.  The trick is you have to make sure your ability matches up with the group's ability.  When I rode in Gainesville I found a B group, and I hung with them for most of the ride, but got dropped about 5 miles from the end.  (Good thing I had a map, so I could find my way back to the car.)

So I think we’ll take the bikes, but we’ll have to see if we’ll be able to hook up with a good C group over there.  If not, we’ll just have to see what we can do.  Either way it’ll be alright—we’ll be able to ride with each other, and that’s what counts!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Statistics time

Two months into it.  One sixth down.  16.7 %.  (Yeah, I know there is one more day in February this year, but Brenda doesn’t have any plans to ride tomorrow, so it looks today was the end of this riding month.)
So here’s where she stands—1,154 miles, or 23%.  Not bad… 23% of the miles in less than 17% of the time.  February actually turned out to be a pretty good month.  She rode 14 days in January and 15 days in February.  Here’s the breakdown:

-  14 rides
-  553 total miles
-  Average 39.5 miles per ride
-  Longest ride, 60 miles
-  Shortest ride, 24 miles
-  Average speed, 14.7 mph
-  Fastest speed, 16.1 mph
-  Slowest speed, 13.9 mph

-  15 rides
-  601 total miles
-  Average 40.0 miles per ride
-  Longest ride, 65 miles
-  Shortest ride, 25 miles
-  Average speed, 14.9 mph
-  Fastest speed, 16.3 mph
-  Slowest speed, 14.1 mph

She’s making progress on all counts!  I remember last summer when she started, it was a big deal to get out to the 24- or 25-mile mark.  Now she considers anything under 30 to be a short ride.  She’s deliberately not really working on speed right now, and I’ve encouraged her that she doesn’t have to.  Unless you’re a racer (and we’re not) speed doesn’t really matter just as long as you can keep up with, and pull from time to time, the group you want to ride with.  I keep track of average speed because I think it’s a real good indicator of the “strength” of a ride (that is, how strong we felt on it.)  But if she's anything like me, she won’t have to work on speed—her average speed will just naturally go up as she gets in more and more miles.

So now it’s on to March and the 25% mark.  We’d like for this to be a good month because it’s in April that she starts teaching her swim lessons, and then she won’t have time for the weekday morning rides.  Let’s see what we can work out to take their place…