Use it or lose it

Joe Friel would not be happy with my latest ride. Instead of a moderate increase over my recent average workouts, I decided to go for a long ride with some real hills.

Mrs. Noob wanted to get in a ride, too, so we headed out together for Mopac. But before we got there, she discovered that she had forgotten her cell phone, and told me I couldn’t take off like I usually do when we ride together — that I had to stay closer to her this time. That’s hard to do. Her hybrid (yes, she’s still riding the hybrid — we never did get her a new bike) is heavy and slow, and I worked hard to keep my speed down.

Mostly, that wasn’t too bad. I spun a lot in the small chainring, and waited for her more frequently than I usually do when we’re out together. She just keeps plugging away, and although she will never be a fast rider, she is a much stronger rider than she was a year ago.

We had a nice tailwind as we hit my favorite downhill stretch on Mopac. I coasted the entire length, instead of hammering to see just how fast I could go. Today I managed 33 mph without turning the pedals once. Resting and speeding at the same time — nice.

Pat headed home after one loop around Mopac. That’s 13 miles, and is farther than she’s been riding lately. I decided to stay out, and headed for Southwest Parkway, which has some decent hills.

A hill winds for about a mile and a half past some apartments and a semiconductor plant to reach Southwest Parkway. I realized just how out of shape I’d let myself get over the past two months (see “Junk Miles“). While there was never any danger of me stopping on the way up, the ride which is relatively easy in late summer was a struggle this time.

I finally made it to the top, and stopped for a gulp of Heed and a Lara Bar. From here it’s another two-mile downhill, hitting 34 mph without much effort on my part. Then a swing through a four-mile circle loop through a nice residential neighborhood, the road always sloping slightly up, and in some places getting hilly.

Just before the end of this loop and the turn back onto Southwest Parkway, I make a rest stop. It’s at about the 24-mile point on the ride, and I was ready for a break. My heart rate was elevated, but I wasn’t breathing too hard. I chugged down some more Heed, and discovered that my new seat post-mounted water bottle cage had come loose. A quick tightening job, and I was ready to go again.

On this leg, I have to climb up the two-mile hill that I’d gone 34 mph on coming down. In late summer, I did it in the large chainring. This time, it was the small one, with an easy gear. Yech. I decided to make a slight modification to the route. Instead of climbing all the way to the top of the hill, then flying downhill toward home, I took a cutoff that eliminated both the uphill and the downhill.

Total ride time was two hours, eight minutes. Distance 28.7 miles. The 13.6 mph average speed was mostly attributable to the first leg of the trip, when I was slowing down for Mrs. Noob, but to be honest, those uphills in the SW Parkway leg probably took their toll, too. OK, I overreached. I tried to add too much mileage and intensity all at once, without ramping up to it. If nothing else, I now have a benchmark from where I’m starting for the coming year’s riding. Time to HTFU.


  1. mildstallion says

    the ride which is relatively easy in late summer was a struggle this time

    Funny how the climbs get flatter late in the season compared to the beginning, huh?

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