Archive for the ‘Cycling – Road’ category

The Sun! A Ride! A Great Morning!

July 7, 2007

Maybe because Louisianans pray too much (or sin too much), we have had nothing but rain since we moved to S’port, culminating in record amounts yesterday. Whatever may be the relationship between God and the weather, I was sure thankful when I woke up this morning and saw the sun rising. Really, I completely understand why suicide rates go up in rainy areas. The last week really drove me nuts. So the clear skies and green-free radar had me almost more excited than my new Saturday morning routine.

And the ride was just as nice as the weather. I stayed with the faster group this week. Not THE fast group, as those guys were doing time trials to coincide with the prologue of the Tour de France (which started this morning), but fast enough. We did 40 miles at twenty mph. Fun stuff.

Better yet I met a couple of local teachers, so I got to talk shop with them. Even cooler, they live near me, and often ride from the neighborhood. We exchanged e-mails, so I’m sure we’ll be riding together soon, maybe even some mornings this week. That’s great for two reasons. One, they seemed like cool guys and they appeared to be about the same level riders as me. Hence, ideal riding buddies. Two, I have this pet peeve about driving my car in order to ride my bike. Thus, I’m thrilled to discover the safe bike routes through town and out into cycling country.

As if the ride wasn’t good enough, I got home in time to catch the prologue to the tour. It’s an individual time trial of 8 kilometers. Fabian Cancellara, a time trial specialist, won it with a time of 8 minutes 50 seconds. That’s an average of about 33 mph. About more 2 miles an hour more than my top speed this morning, which I held for about fifteen seconds. Amazing.

Anyway, great day thus far.

The First Group Ride In S’port

June 30, 2007

Not the first ever; a couple of years ago I was in town for the Tour de Goodwill, a local century. Most miserable experience I’ve ever had on a bike. Partly because my step brother and I had stayed out too late the night before the ride, but mostly because the temperature hit 100 by about nine in the morning on the day of the ride. I will never forget sitting at the last rest stop, with about twenty miles to go, a wet towel hanging over my head thinking “no way on God’s green Earth I am going to make it to the finish. And I’m never riding a bike again.” I finished, though. And of course I rode again.

Today was the first group ride of my new life in S’port, however.

Fifty three miles at just under nineteen mph; just about perfect for a Saturday morning. Fast enough and long enough to be a good workout but not so much that you’re dead by the end. I started with the fast group, and hung with them for a bit. Their pace was in the low to mid twenties. I can handle that for thirty miles or so, but that’s about it. As I did not know how far this group was going, nor, more importantly, where, I dropped off the back about eleven miles into the ride. The worst way I could imagine to spend my Saturday morning was being dropped thirty miles into a sixty mile loop, exhausted and with no clue how to get home. Hence, I dropped off the back and waited for the moderate group. It was a good move. Like I said, the ride with those folks ended up being just about perfect.

Anyway, some observations from the ride.

First, the S’port cyclists I’ve met thus far are a very friendly group. None of that snobbery for which our sport can sometimes be famous. (The haughty roadie attitude is compensation for the goofy outfits). I mean, folks actually introduced themselves to me at the ride start.

Second, I know it’s all relative and someone from Colorado would probably do the same in B’ham, but I chuckled to myself whenever anyone referred to one of the occasional bumps in the road as a “hill.”

Third, how’s this for a guilt trip: We went by my grandmother’s house, and as we zipped by, I saw the eighty something mater familias wearing a straw hat and mowing her yard. D’oh.

Fourth, you have to be a cyclist to appreciate it, but going from a chip and seal road surface to brand spanking new asphalt is simply sublime. The rough stuff rattles your teeth and every loose part on the bike, slows you down, and really chaps your a**. On the new stuff the only sound is the hum of the tires and the bike seems to jump forward with every stroke. As for your a**? Well, it only hurts less. Still, when one surface immediately changes to the other, it’s a wonderful thing.

Fifth, the ride went through Kickapoo. That’s right up there with Chunky, Mississippi on my list of favorite town names. I wonder if it’s a polite way of referring to these. Get it? Or am I just weird?

All in all a good ride. This will probably be a regular event.