Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Spring Preview

(Came home this evening and found some pictures in my email that Tom took on the ride yesterday.Added below.)

What a difference a week can make in the weather. Two weeks ago, I gave up midway on a ride because my feet were getting dangerously cold. Last week, it was 24F degrees when we set out (but not as bone chilling due to drier and less windy conditions). Yesterday, we pulled out in 50F temperature, and it warmed to 75F while we were out. It would surprise me if Winter is over, but this weekend is a nice foretaste of better weather to come.

It seemed good to avail ourselves of the nice forecast to get in a February metric. I hadn't done the John Hall Metric for a year (exactly a year, as I found later when I compared notes from this ride) so I posted it to the list after no one in the regular crown expressed a strong preference for anything else. John Hall is on the east side of Montgomery county, about 10 miles outside of town. It features gently rolling terrain; mostly farms and large wooded tracts. The central section of the route has 4 climbs that aren't too tough for people who climb regularly, like we do here in Autauga and Elmore counties. Pete and I carpooled the 35 minutes over there. Tom, Joe and Steve met us at the parking lot. It was almost 10 deg cooler there than here at home, and fog was still stubbornly clinging to the trees as we approached the gathering point.
When we arrived, there was enough time for a group of aging athletes to visit the rest room one more time before shoving off, always helpful. When you sail past the shores of 50 years of age, there are just a few more things you have to factor into your plans :) I noticed that the smoker outside the store had fired up, and mentioned my hope that some BBQ ham would be available upon our return. They don't cook up a whole lot and sometimes it sells out. Frank & I enjoyed it as an after ride meal once before and I recalled it being very tasty. I shared the hope of post ride repast with the proprietor and the early morning regulars. They engaged me in conversation while I was there - expressing concern that we cyclists don't always insure that we are visible to drivers, and noting that the flashing red tail lights some of us use go a long way, even in daylight towards making us easier to see. Point taken. I wore my super-flash on my helmet. Steve has one on his seatpost and Joe uses the brightest Dinotte set up. Tom and Pete still need some lighting gear.
When 8:00 came, I asked if everyone was ready to go, and we were. There was some banter about how they'd better be ready or I would ride off and leave them, or some such nonsense. Actually, I think I took some poking about everything at different points and from different people on this ride. Wearing wool, not wearing cleats, riding on fat (38mm) tires, not riding on carbon. You name it. It really warmed my heart to be honest. It's what friends do. Some riding groups are all about the exercise and/or competition. Ours is not that way. We love what we do, and the exercise is a side bennie. The competition? It's subdued so much as to almost be subliminal. Any time there is a space between 2 riders though, instinct compels you to try to reel them in. Right?
Tom's wool jersey finally made it past Homeland Security from ProBike in the U.K. A black merino jersey with world champion stripes and a Bianchi logo. Very nice looking and he said it kept him comfortable throughout the temperature range of the day.

I wore a Joneswares Eddy short sleeve jersey, with Ibex arm warmers. The arm warmers came off at the first store stop around mile 18. The Smartwool Rambition shorts have become my new favorite for long hours of comfort in the saddle. No knee warmers today, none were needed. There was just the slightest chill as we set off into a 2 - 3 mph headwind breeze, but we warmed immediately as we crested the first gradual rise along the way.
Joe was bundled up like a tourist going to see polar bears in the Arctic, while Pete was dressed for a summer's day. Steve was somewhere in the middle. Joe did have about 1/2 his gear off by the 2d store stop. Tom snapped some pictures. If he sends them my way, I'll append them to this entry so you can see what I mean :) - done see below-
The ride itself was wonderful. The breeze picked up in the early afternoon, and shifted so it was a headwind in more than one leg of the trip. What else is new, right? Other than close up views of red tailed hawks and black headed vultures, wildlife was scarce. Traffic was generally light and there were no mechanicals all day. The rougher sections of paving were no worse than usual, and the fat tires/leather saddle/steel frame combo soaked up most of that buzz. Well for Joe (lugged steel Rivendell Hillborne) and me that is. The skinny tire/carbon crowd was a little more eager to be done with those sections. I seemed to have legs this day, always a nice surprise. When Steve or Pete pulled and sneaked up past 20 mph, I was diligent to fall off in time and stay at what I can sustain rather than exhaust my reserves and struggle the rest of the day. When I led (and I did that a lot, or rode solo on this ride) I stayed generally around 16 mph. No one complained. Here we are trying to decide if we turn left or right early on:
Which way do we go?
We ended up with 64.93 miles and 1,978' of climb. I averaged 15.5, which is 1.4 mph quicker than that same ride a year ago. (About 10% quicker). Hope THAT holds true the rest of the season! It's 2 mph faster on average than the metric I rode in January. That ride had lots more climbing so it's not a fair comparison. My cadence was around 84, which is where I'd like it to be. I've been working up from 75 for a while, trying to spin more and pump less. Here we are at the last store stop, 12 miles from the finish looking somewhat more exercised than before:
Porch Sitters
And here I am feeling pretty fit and rested, in contrast to the prior month's worth of rides.
Hello Kemosabe
After the ride, Joe and Pete joined me for BBQ at the John Hall Store. They had enough left and it was mighty tasty. We ran into a few other cyclists in the parking lot. Dan and Vanessa were just heading out, and another couple were just coming in. We had met Bilee and Frank B along the way earlier.
I didn't recognize Frank with his new-to-me Andrew Weil facial hair.
Pete came by my house after the ride to look at some parts he could use: a saddle, a stem, a tool kit pouch. When we were about to leave, we saw a rider doing laps around my block in full kit. I stopped the car and jumped out to flag him down. Turns out his name is Terry, he lives a few houses from me, and IS interested in doing some rides with us. Pete invited him to join the Sunday relaxer ride as a start. Hope it works out.

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