All week I've been thinking about what to post for rides this weekend. This years' crew of new riders has been making super progress. Some of the faster ones now ride with the A/B groups instead of with our Cs, and that's fine. It's satisfying to see people come into cycling, develop as riders and sort out into the right group for their interest and ability levels, as well as time available. We've been quietly adding more and more elevation to the Saturday rides over the past 6 weeks, and some of the riders are commenting how much better they feel about climbing. All good. After looking over our start points since Spring, it was evident that we weren't doing much in the Wetumpka area, so I posted the Emerald Mountain Toll Bridge ride. I've done this a few times before, but not since June of last year. This year's version is a little different with a little more climbing than last year. Then we have scheduled our usual Sunday afternoon relaxer ride and a short 32 miles in Prattville early Monday, to let the BBQ s all get fired up on time.
I drove over to the Toll Bridge start with Max (it was the last I'd see of him for a while. He rides a couple of mph quicker than I do and all his hill drills have helped tremendously this year) and was surprised to see a big turnout in the parking lot! Including Mark who called in to say he was inbound, and who we waited for, we had 14 riders. Jim, Steve T and Mark E took off at "above the advertised pace" and the rest of us trailed behind, with me bringing up the rear. Steve warned me about rough chip-seal on Rifle Range road, but when we got to it, I thought it was fine. The chip-seal near the end on the lower portion of Dozier road was rough! Steel frame with long chainstays, leather saddle, and tires running a little less air in them made the buzz barely noticeable. (The Berto chart is a useful tool for getting optimal air pressure in your tires). Avoiding it would be like playing lift and place golf, on a nice dry sunny day!
The ride was dog free as well as vehicle near miss free. It was however, hillier than I remembered. A lot hillier. I referred to it as "medium" hilly in the posting, compared to say, Cheaha. Well, I saw grades on my Garmin screen over 20% and a lot of 15% to 17%. Just like Cheaha. Total climb is less, but those steep ones took the starch out of my legs. Took them too fast I guess. That had a lot to do with my moving average ending up just BELOW the advertised range. Everyone else did just fine. Go figure. My heart rate got up way high, which results in profuse sweating, and lack of power in my legs. I knew it was happening and topping a hill, pulled into the shade for a few minutes of cool down and drinking fluids. The downhills were pretty nice. Got over 40 on a couple of them. The Rivendell Rambouillet handles very securely at speed. Low center of gravity and stable geometry.
Although the ride start was 7:00 AM, we had to leave Prattville shortly after 6:00 in time to get there. Some folks left even earlier, perhaps before they were fully awake. Candace mentioned about 15 miles into the ride that she accidentally put her shorts on backwards today. What she actually said was, "Look at my butt, but don't LOOK at my butt." "Oh, no padding, " I said. I suggest ditching the padding to anyone riding a Selle Anatomica leather saddle. You don't need it. It was good to know she trusted me enough to try it out. "No, the padding is in the front because my shorts are on backwards." She did say her seat was quite okay with no cushioning, but the wad of foam in the wrong place was very unpleasant. This was corrected at the next store stop opportunity! Maybe she'll try my idea out though and then it won't matter which way the shorts go on :)
We also looked at her new cleated shoes after the ride to adjust the pedal clip tension (she did not clip in on the ride). We wear close to the same size, so I put on her shoes and gave them a tryout. As I slipped them on, I told Frank and Max, "Not a word about this to anyone!" Candace asked if I was embarrassed to be on a woman's bike wearing women's shoes. No, I didn't want it to get out that I was actually clipping in on a bicycle. Frank adjusted her clip tension and I showed her that the shoes clipped in and out satisfactorily. Her LG shoes were pretty comfy btw, if anyone is looking for shoes. Candace also has Keen cycling sandals which accept cleats. I ride in Keens and love them.
Why am I not a fan? Another rider fell over today climbing a hill when he wobbled a little, and could not unclip in time to put his foot down. I climb with my glutes and leg biceps mostly, and some calf muscle. None of which benefit from clipping in. No foot or leg cramps either.
In other cycling news, I came home Friday after work to a UPS delivery from Velocity USA, rim and wheel maker. Their products carry a lifetime warranty and a rear rim that came with a Rivendell Saluki developed a crack. They replaced the rim and re built the wheel. New spokes, nipples, rim. Nice job. I moved the wheel set over to the Rivendell Road now and will ride it tomorrow and Monday. It took then just a week to get it back to me, and while it was away I cleaned the cog set that goes on it. I'm pretty happy about the service.
Hope you're all enjoying whatever roads you pedal down.
Mostly recaps of two wheeled rambles through the countryside, but sometimes thoughts on other things.
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