I rode Friday afternoon when I got home from work. A nice 20 miles in the neighborhood with an acceptable average speed. That meant that Saturday morning, I was at Mrs. Noob’s disposal. No way she was going to let me ride again, especially since she knew I’d be on the club ride Sunday morning.
So I turned my attention to the yard. The in ground sprinklers need some help. Some of them aren’t getting all the grass they’re supposed to, so I’ve got some noticeable dead spots. I replaced a couple of sprinkler heads, then hit the doozy. An oak tree growing nearby is spreading its roots so extensively that one of them wrapped around the sprinkler, about six inches underground. Getting that done was a bear. By the time I finished, it was after noon, and the temperature had risen. Combined with the humidity, it was an uncomfortable day. I was bathed in sweat and sunburned.
What better idea under those circumstances than to finally go for a ride? It was 3 o’clock before I got going, was now the hottest part of the day, at 85 degrees (29C). I figured I’d tackle some hills, so headed for Convict Hill. In a 10-mile loop from my house, I get several tough ups on Convict Hill.
After the hill work, I was planning to head for a Mopac loop, because that’s part of the usual Saturday morning ride I do. Combining Mopac with Convict Hill and one turn around the Veloway, I get a nice 27-mile ride. Trouble was, I realized long before I got to Mopac that it wasn’t in the cards. That morning work in the yard had taken it all out of me. I modified my route and wound up with 20 miles once again, but this time felt completely done in.
This morning, we had a big turnout for the club ride. The A’s were going to do a Dam Loop, and we B’s decided to head out with them, but turn around about 17 miles out and head back home. I was looking forward to the ride, because it features “Hail Mary Hill,” a steep bugger that ends in a church parking lot. I had successfully climbed the hill about a month ago for the first time in over a year. I expected to get it again.
The road leading to the hill is wide and smooth, with lots of smaller hills. On one stretch, I hit 40.7 mph — a new all-time high speed for me. I caught and passed another B just before Hail Mary Hill began.
Almost immediately, I could tell I had a problem on my hands. Judy and Laura glided past me like I was standing still. I was standing, all right — standing on the pedals to try to get some oomph before the steep part hit. But when it did, even the standing didn’t help. A little past the halfway point, I unclipped and stopped. My heart was racing. I had no power left. I walked the bike about 100 yards, then climbed back on and pedaled to the church lot.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that a cyclist most in want of a break gets the least. I had time to stop, take an extra-long swig from my water bottle, and try to get my breathing under control, when calls of “Let’s go!” rang out. The peloton rolled back onto the street, got the green light, and turned onto the wide shoulder of Bee Caves Road. I missed the light and was well off the back immediately. It didn’t take long before I couldn’t see anyone from the club, but I played cycling tag with a guy who had been left behind by the two riders he was with.
At the turnaround point, in a Walgreen’s parking lot, I was pleased to see that several were inside using the facilities. I had time to eat an oatmeal-raisin cookie my wife had baked the previous day and chat with some of the guys, gawk at Steve’s new bike (“My Madone is good for flat routes. This one [a Kona] is geared for hills”). Then we were on our way back.
Bee Caves Road is a popular biking route. It has a lot of rolling hills, many of them long and challenging. I just wasn’t up to the challenge today. It irked me, because when we did this ride a month ago, I could handle them with little difficulty. Now, I spun easily, often in my lowest granny gear, while I watched the group leave me behind again. Oh well, when we got back to the church parking lot I knew they’d be waiting for me.
They weren’t. I decided to leave the planned route and return the way I came. Less traffic, but the hills were just as tough. I pulled into a school’s front drive and sat on the curb in cooling shade.
I did finally make it back to the Starbucks where the ride started. Everyone had been there for quite awhile, it seemed. I went inside and ordered a large (“Venti” — give me a break, Starbucks) iced tea. Then I waited for them to call my name. And waited. And waited. Finally, I interrupted a “barista” (give me a break, pretentious coffee shops everywhere) and pointed out that people who had ordered after me were getting served, while I was waiting for a crummy tea. It turned out that someone else had grabbed mine by mistake.
Clearly, I hadn’t recovered from the strenuous work of the previous day. Given the shape of my yard, I think I’ll be in for a summer’s worth of hard work on Saturday mornings. I just hope my Sundays turn out better than today, where I was a C among the B’s.