Sunday, June 23, 2019


     I love cycling early.  For years I'd ride what is essentially the Dam Loop on Sunday mornings with wheels down ten minutes before sunrise.  Starting at Big Lots I could get through the subdivisions and hit 360 as the sun rose.   Then I began riding with BSS on Sunday so got away from it.  For the past few weeks I've gone out early, but now it is north to Walburg.  The problem is leaving the house before you can see the sky.  I start from Old Settlers Park, a twenty minute drive.
     It's not like I don't monitor the weather.  At 5:30 am this morning the radar was clear and the forecast was for 5% chance of rain, increasing to 15% by 9:00 am.  Wind out of the south at 8-10 increasing to 12-15.  Walburg is generally north-south, so I planned to pedal hard going up and noodle my way back against the wind.  Maybe a PR on CR 119.  At 6:15 am, in the parking lot of OSP, I checked the weather channel again and all was clear.  I always protect my eyes, so I had my sun glasses on, although when I pushed off they were down a bit on my nose and I peered over the top.  Perhaps I should have paid more attention to the darkness to the south.
     Regular Readers know that when Austin has a wind forecast of 10-15 mph you can bet it will be 15-20 in Williamson County.  As one old timer once told me, think of riding against the wind as if you were climbing a mountain.  Anyway, I wasn't real thrilled, but resigned to getting buffeted for three hours.  Twenty seconds into the ride I felt a bit of rain on my back.  Oh No!  Not my clean bike!!  I just cleaned it a few days ago after our foray to Granger Lake and the surprise shower.
     I did a quick U-turn in time for a harder downpour (not really a downpour, but enough to get me wet in a few seconds).  Back up the hill, into the parking lot, dragged open the car door and tossed the bike in, followed shortly by me.  Pook, ding-fu!
     The first thing I did was check radar, still clear.  Then I deleted the rides from Strava and Garmin.  Then I thought about my future (like, immediate future).  I couldn't trust radar and the forecast called for increasing chance of rain in the morning, better by this afternoon.  Rain or not, the wind was only going to get more intense as the day progressed.  Bah!  I pulled the plug and drove back home.  Looks like tomorrow will be my long ride day.  Being old and retired gives a certain flexibility to the ride schedule.
       Maybe next week.  BTW, there are other perils of early cycling, just nothing else today.

Friday, June 21, 2019


     Plan A was to get in at least half a dozen races before heading off to Nationals in Colorado Springs.  Unfortunately, stuff happens and I missed the next two weeks of racing, both with excellent weather.  Last night was hot, hot, hot.  But that's getting ahead of myself.
     My first foray left me disappointed.  Some days you just don't have it, and that was one of them.  I was lapped three times, a combination of me going slow and them being faster than average.  But I wasn't being a slackard these last three weeks and definitely felt stronger as I warmed up.  This would be the same course, just in the other direction.
     Warming up for big races has always been a problem for me.  In the Senior Games I warm up for the 5k time trial but truthfully the 5k is my real warm up for the 10k time trial and road race.  But I think I've finally found a work-out that will bring my heart rate approaching race rate.  It is my cadence ladder drills.
     I still don't have a routine for the Driveway so it took a bit for me to get all squared away and ready to warm up on the course.  Ninety-eight or so degrees, humid.  I filled my water bottle and meandered out and around.  After a few laps I did my ladders and saw the heart rate move up to 143.  Regular readers know my max HR is 159 (this year), so once I hit 143 three times I backed off and just did normal cadence and a few big gear minutes.  Warm up took three water bottles, then I went to the car to get my Nuun for the race.
     This is not a competitive race for me.  My goal is to hang on for a lap and then only get lapped once (on the long course).  After that, it is me and my mentor.  I go as hard as I can, but it isn't like I'm in a peloton, like I would be if I were with guys my own age.
     It is always a surprise that someone is behind me at the start of the race.  Anyhow, I started well, took the first couple turns just fine, hanging with the guys.  We came to the cork-screw downhill and I had it lined up just right, so I thought.  Really, I didn't think there was room on the right, but I flinched a little as someone came by me.  That caused a minor correction but I then shifted down and hung on.  That lasted thirty seconds, maybe forty-five.  But as they made the turn back to the start area I lost them.  It wasn't like they disappeared into the sunset, but they gradually pulled away.  A look at my stats shows I was once again at 95% of max HR running about 23 mph.  My goal for the first lap was 4:45 and I came in at 4:20 with a second lap of 4:44 then 4:48.  So the stats reflected how I was feeling, pretty good.
     I wasn't feeling the heat as much as anticipated.  I only hit the water bottle a couple of times, although much larger swigs than usual.  We were about eighteen minutes into the race before I was lapped, and while I had slowed a bit, was still going well.  With only twelve minutes or less left, I was pretty sure I could hold them off.  I had only slowed twelve seconds per lap, holding my cadence, but the power had dropped.  For what was to be my last lap, I backed off a bit on the back side, thinking they would be on me close to the finish and I didn't want to get in the way.  As it turned out, they were a good minute back, affording me the freedom to take the last chicane as I wanted and, since I'd let my HR drop into the 130's, hit the last two hundred meters with an out-of-saddle sprint.  True, my power numbers weren't up to when I do drills, but it was fun to even be able to do it.  Garmin shows my HR for this sprint at 158.
     It took awhile and multiple bottles of water to get to feeling human again, but the satisfaction of a good output helped.  One little picky thing: the official results have me as two laps down, although my time is right.  I think that is because in the cool-down I was shunted off with the others so the next race could begin.  Not a problem.  Check back next week, as I try not to get lapped four times on the short, speed loop.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019


     Well, most of it is on Strava, but that's only part of the story.  I planned a simple ride, out around Granger Lake and back.  The last time I did this, the roads we used today weren't built, so I guesstimated the mileage at 52 round trip.  When I can talk Callie into riding with me I try to come up with at least one new thing she hasn't seen/done before.  We put off this ride on Sunday because of the fierce wind (and rain forecast that didn't materialize), but my best guess was three and a half hours and maybe four.
     On weekend long rides I try to get out ten minutes before sunrise, but Tuesday being a work day, we aimed for 8:00 am and I didn't check the time, but it was close to that.  The forecast was zero percent of rain with a 5 mph SE wind building to 12-15.  We had our sun screen, I brought an extra bottle of water for Callie and had 90 ounces in my 100 ounce Camelbak.  Nutrition, check.  Off we went.
     My Fly6 has been acting strange lately, probably because I hit some button wrong.  So I packed an extra back light.  The first hour went just fine, averaged over 15 mph into that slight breeze, and stopped at the turn to Circleville for our first nutrition break.  On long rides I stop every hour.  Just before stopping, the Fly6 gave a loud four (I think) beeps then ran out of power and turned itself off.  I switched out with my 100% charged back-up.   As we started up again, heading north, I noticed the horizon turning dark.  Even with my sun glasses I could tell this wasn't in the forecast.  We should have had several hours of clear skies, then partly cloudy.
     We crossed Hwy 95 and did some climbing, then hit level ground.  Not much traffic, mostly pick-ups and all very polite, moving to the other lane to pass.  All the while, I kept looking over my left shoulder at the building clouds.  It's seven miles to the lake and dam.  The wind was out of the north now, not south-east, and fairly brisk.  It blew a few sprinkles out of the clouds.  Let me digress: There was this one huge, dark mass, the kind that produces hail, and several grey clouds off to the left, plus rain coming down about a mile off to our right.  It appeared to be slowly moving northwest to southeast.  With luck, we would be going around it.  If you've done this route before you know that there is zero shelter, once you pass the lake overlook.  It started sprinkling just as we finished the dam and turned left toward Granger.
     It's about eight miles on Hwy 971.  We kept looking at the dark mass, still on our left.  Then the sprinkles became a light rain.  But the "drops" were pretty hard, I'm sure there is a meteorological name for it.  Then the road turned left.  Dang!  By now we were discussing calling Brian and/or Marilane for a rescue.  Fortunately very few vehicles were on the road.  Then the road turned right, and it appeared the dark cloud wasn't destined for us.  Then the sun peaked through.
     We found a convenience store in Granger and it's rest room.  This was a longer stop than I anticipated, but necessary.  As we started off I apparently hit a wrong button on the Garmin because it very kindly "saved" my ride.  Pook, ding-fu!  This is how the ride on Strava acquired two parts.  The riding in the rain took a lot out of me, not to mention the mileage.  The northeast wind from the squall that was in our face turned into the forecast south- southeast wind, thus still in our face.  From Granger it was twenty-five miles back to Old Settlers Park and was relatively slow.  And uneventful, except:
     As we entered OSP, my Garmin turned itself off.  I checked when we got home, it was at 73%.  No clue.  But my combined mileage is still a mile and a half short.  Better than Callie, she forgot to start hers after our first rest stop and is six miles short.  AND, my second tail light had also run out of power, so who knows how long I wasn't blinking at Callie.  But, you are thinking to yourself, he had his Strava app on his cell phone going so his wife could keep up with where he was.  It had stopped when we rested in Granger, and didn't go further (a grave concern to said wife).  Plus, it had run down from 100% to 1% and had turned itself off also.  I had to plug it into the car before I could even call to let her know all was well.
     We survived.  It totaled 62 miles and took about four hours, fifteen minutes.  It has taken me four hours to recover to where I can get out of my chair to eat dinner.  Stretching will come later.