Tuesday, June 28, 2011

This is a Recovery Ride?

With my A-list event only a few weeks away, I have no time to dwell on the issues I had at the Holliston Triathlon. The plan is to try and log 150 miles weekly between now and August. With the number of rainy days we've had, this might be the toughest task of all.

The rides will now include adding more strength work like weekly hill repeats and working in harder gears. Yesterday's 17+ mile recovery ride on my favorite bike path was a hard gear workout. Basically, instead of maintaining an 85-90 rpm in a lower gear, I went with a high gear and pushed through at about 65 rpm. This obviously pushed my speed up from 15-17mph to the 17-19mph range. It worked out well except for the occasional clueless pedestrians on the path that think nothing of walking in front a cyclist.

Would you walk in front of a vehicle 10 feet away from you traveling at 15mph? I know I wouldn't because there's not enough time to stop. So why do it in front of a bike that is going just as fast but has even worse brakes?

Then there are the casual cyclists that refuse to ride single file when you want to pass. Why even have a rear view mirror if you're just going look at what's about to hit you? I have less patience for these people on these shoulder-less New England routes than anyone else. They are one of the reasons that drivers hate us.

The first encounter with two-wide cyclists on the bike path yesterday, I was actually doing a shoulder check to try and pass them when I heard a bicycle bell. This guy was really hustling. I moved back to the right to let him pass and then watched as he had to slow down for the same cyclists. This is when I decided to jump on his wheel.

Yeah, I know I said it was a recovery ride. Yeah, I know jumping on someone's wheel isn't usually part of a recovery ride, but come on, now. After the previous day's triathlon debacle, I had to see just what I had in the tank.

Turns out, I had more than I had imagined. Of course he eventually dropped me but not before I had hung on for more than 5 minutes. I started to lose him when I couldn't hold my form at 20+ mph and so I eased up and went back to work. I watched as he looked back twice to make sure I wasn't gaining on him again.

The rest of the ride was spent being hot and sticky. It wouldn't have warranted a post at all except for that hill climb at about mile 13.

On the way back, the hill was hurting two young cyclists. Probably in high school, they looked like they were on a "bicycle date" - very cute - but they were in trouble. This is one of the hills that I had said very few people had to stop and walk it but there they were and they were completely blocking the path which meant they were blocking my ascent. It meant that if I couldn't pass, I'd get stuck on the hill and would have to dismount and walk my bike up the to the top as well.

The boy was on the left and the girl was on the right. That made him the one that was blocking my attempt to make a proper pass on their left. Unfortunately, he was also the only one that really noticed me. The girl was having serious issues.

I slowed as much as I could and then asked, "Can I pass through, please?" He moved his bike further to the left, leaving her on the right side, but she decided to move closer to him. That created a path on their right which I attempted to take.

He saw the path as well, looked at me and said, "Go ahead."

The only trouble was that she didn't realize I was passing. It was a coincidence that she had moved to his side and, as I rode past her, she decided it was time to try and climb the hill again. Perhaps she thought he was talking to her when he said, "Go ahead," and that is what prompted her to mash on her pedal.

Now, anyone who's been on a bike for longer than 10 miles eventually figures out that the harder it is to get the bike moving - like when you're in a high gear or on a hill - the harder it is to move it in a straight line. That's why as she started to try and pedal up the hill, she instead turned right into me.

I said, "Watch out!" He said, "Watch out!" and she said, "OH, MY GOD! I AM SO SORRY!"

Our wheels touched and her weight was piling into me. Before our forks could clash, I swerved off the path and onto the grass/shale/what-is-that-I-have-no-clue-just-avoid-it and all the while hearing, "I am so sorry! I am so sorry!" to which I kept replying, "It's all right! I'm all right!" even before I was sure I was all right.

Somehow, I managed to not only stay upright, but I also managed to ride my bike back onto the path without further incident.

I yelled back to them, asking if they were alright, but all I could still hear was, "I AM SO SORRY!" so I let it go and rode on. I felt bad that I had scared her on their "date" and I hoped I hadn't scared her off the bike forever.

A little while down the path, I tried to see if there was any damage to the bike. I saw nothing on the frame and the wheel stayed true. Then I checked for body damage. She had definitely gotten my hip and ribs with her handle bar and somehow had connected to my shoulder, but I've had worse encounters with gym equipment.

The funny thing is that earlier in the ride, I was thinking about a blog post that cyclist/writer Janeen McCrae had posted about her recent racing clinic.

The clinician was dispelling misconceptions about racing, one of which was, "Bike racing is non-contact sport." The clinic then went through exercises that included practicing "wheel touch recovery," and practicing contact while on the bike.

I figured I would never be up for such challenges which is why, "Trial By Fire" exists, I guess.


  1. Finally caught up on your posts. Very interesting and amusing as always.

    We have to get serious about our mileage also. We have only been riding about 80 miles a week. That will not cut it.

    I was going to ride the 100K route at our upcoming Peach Pedal ride this weekend but then looked at the calendar and we have a 6 p.m. event here in San Angelo. Weatherford is about 3 1/2 hours away so we will have to ride the 39 mile route to get back here in time to clean up for the next event.

    After investing in a wet suit--and successfully getting into it--you just have to do another Tri.

  2. Hi Roy and Christine - Glad your computer is up and running again. It sounds like we all have some work to do before August.

    I'm always envious of the number of "event" rides in your region.

    Oh, and I'm definitely doing another triathlon this year ;)