Saturday, I had a good neighborhood ride after coming back from a week’s layoff. A trip to the local bike shop took care of my spoke problem, and the bike is rolling smoothly again. I even set a new PR on a Strava segment. In short, I was looking forward to our Sunday club ride.
I had put out a call on our club’s Yahoo board for B riders to come on out. We haven’t been getting any B’s lately — just me and Maggie — and we were looking for company. So I was pleased to see Brian when I got to Starbucks. Brian has been working in Mexico for the last six months — he does something managerial with oil rigs — so he hasn’t been able to ride with us. We did get a new B rider, Joe, who had ridden with us two weeks ago and realized that to keep up, he needed to get clipless pedals and shoes with cleats. But the rest of the group of eight were A riders, who didn’t want to get up early for the new 7:30 start time the A’s now use.
Eight riders — three of them named Joe.
I felt okay as we left Starbucks, but after only about three miles, I could tell this wouldn’t be my day. I felt blah. I couldn’t keep up with the group on the small hills through a nearby community. Maggie wasn’t doing well, either.
“My son woke up at 3 a.m. with a nightmare,” she said. “I never did get back to sleep.”
In my case, I went to bed too late, and had trouble falling asleep. It appeared we both got less than five hours. On top of that, our house was out of both eggs and oatmeal, so my breakfast wasn’t as hearty as I’d like.
By the time we reached the turnoff for the zoo, only three of us were left — the others were out of sight. Jim stayed with us, because even though he’s an A rider, he hasn’t ridden with us much lately. He’d also never been on this route.
“I just don’t have it this morning,” said Maggie, as we struggled up the grade out of the valley near the zoo. But when we got to an intersection where we could have turned back, she insisted we keep going.
I got a second wind of sorts, and we made good time through the middle section of the ride. But then the hills came again. A longish one along a busy six-lane road is still showing the effects of a chip seal job that had been done some years ago. The road surface is pretty good, but bikes don’t tamp down the chip seal on shoulders very well. It was rough.
I knew I was in trouble when Maggie passed me and easily pulled away on the hill. She doesn’t do that often. I pedaled through the rolling section after the hill in one gear lower than usual, not able to catch Maggie. I wasn’t having much fun.
At a stoplight, both Maggie and Jim turned right and stopped. I caught up to them.
“Why did you turn here?” I asked. “Aren’t you going on to Travis Country?” (A nice residential area another mile or two ahead that is a regular part of this route.)
“Well…” Maggie started.
“Listen,” I said. “I just don’t have it today. I’m all for heading straight back now.”
A smile lit up her face. She hadn’t wanted to be the one to cut the ride short, but she was happy to go along when I did.
The last three miles home were into a stiff headwind. On a hill where I have clocked 35 mph in the past, I couldn’t nudge it above 27. Even then, we were in danger of being knocked off our bikes by sudden crosswinds. At the next light, Maggie said she wouldn’t go back to Starbucks with us, but would continue straight on to her house.
When I got home, my bike computer registered only 22 miles — well short of our typical Sunday ride distances. I was wiped out. After a shower, I couldn’t wait to flop in front of the TV and watch some World Cup action (Go Holland!). Didn’t I say something just last week about needing to do a better job of sleeping? Another resolution discarded. But I can’t keep turning in these sub-par performances. I resolve again to sleep better — we’ll see if this one holds any better than my other resolutions.
Nothing like a stiff headwind to add some additional spice when you’re tired and just want to get home!