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Day 4: Grits, Gravy and Recovery Rides


Caffe Maria's and her chef.

Caffe Maria's and her chef.

So we started the morning three days into the ride.  We had covered 290 miles, had to deal with big bridges, big distances, big winds, and big horseflies (whose bites on my legs still itch a bit over a week later); we were due for a nice recovery ride, and today was it.

The day actually started with an option for the riders: we could either sleep in and join the riders for a 9:00 a.m. ride-out, or we could get up early and head about a half-mile down the road from the Sunbelt Lodge to grab breakfast at Caffe Maria’s, a local restaurant that offered up a southern breakfast spread that was far and away the best breakfast we had the entire tour:  Creamy grits, southern-fried potatoes, light fluffy biscuits, sausage gravy, eggs, pancakes, bacon, sausage, fresh fruit, and more.  The only problem with the day’s breakfast is that it was too damn good, and I ate way too much of it.  Good thing I was one of the first people there at Maria’s, so I would have extra time to digest it before we started riding for the day.

Our morning gospel

Our morning gospel

But before we rode out, we had two more special treats lined up for the morning.  The first was a rousing gospel number belted out by (and here’s where I hate my feeble memory) a fellow who I remember as the son of the owners of Caffe Maria’s.  You can have a listen to a clip I recorded on my phone (sorry about the iffy quality). I don’t know much about gospel, but I do know this, the dude could sing; his tones went down sweeter than the maple syrup on my French toast.

Our second surprise was a group of young children from one of the local Catholic grade schools.  They were there today to ride out with us an their way in to school.  It was great seeing the enthusiasm these kids had for riding their bicycles.  It really seemed to make their day to ride out with a peloton of goofy looking folk in spandex and funky shoes.  And if it did make their day, I’m glad, because those were some of the nicest, most polite, and charming kids I’ve run across in a while.  Really the only downside to this event was that none of the kids riding with us had helmets.  Now, I don’t want to get in a debate about the efficacy of bike helmets or mandatory helmet laws, but if these kids weren’t wearing helmets because they can’t afford them, then next year I’d like to help the Tour du Rouge secure the donation of some helmets for the kids.  Gotta help protect those little noggins so they can soak up the lessons in school, you know.

And so we rolled out of Maria’s, kids nestled in safely between a couple of groups of tour riders, and we slow-rolled until the kids turned off to their school.  That’s when we picked up the pace and worked our way down to Avery Island, home of the McIlhenny Tabasco plant.

Tracy and I, chilling at the Tabasco Plant

Tracy and I, chilling at the Tabasco Plant

Once we reached Avery Island, the riders had a couple of options, yet again.  They could either rest outside for an hour or so, or they could go into the Visitor’s Center for a tour of the plant and a presentation on Tabasco and its history.  I opted for the tour because I’d never been to the plant before (hell, this was only my third day ever in Louisiana) and, well… because there was air conditioning.  Normally, I’m not a big fan of air conditioning, but on this tour it started to feel mighty good.  I guess riding for hours in the heat and humidity can do that to a fella.

IMG_0780

Even Tabasco can't be made without a little help from Ohio

After the tour was a quick spin ’round the McIlhenny Country Store for a taste of Tabasco ice cream and the newer Tabasco sauce flavors (the Sweet & Spicy is actually quite good), and a quick visit to the head before we were back on our bikes and headed for Morgan City (it was the usual crew, me Ross, Rick, Brad, Mike, Dave and Tracy).  First we headed northeast for a bit until we hit New Iberia.  Here I was a little sad that we didn’t pass New Iberia High School, made moderately famous by their cheerleaders who appeared on an episode of MTV’s Made.  Once we rolled through to the middle of New Iberia (a fairly charming town), we turned southeast onto Old Spanish Trail Headed for our next rest stop at Burleigh Park on the outskirts of Jeanerette.

This part of the ride was, in a word, lovely.  Smooth streets flanked by beautiful moss-covered live oaks provided shade and eye candy for miles on each side of the rest stop (yet another fantastic stop manned by wonderful volunteers, thanks again guys).  Really the only downside are the two flats we had on each side of the res stop, Mike’s about a mile before the stop (a loud, ringing blowout) and mine, not quite three miles away from the stop.

Lunch in Franklin

Lunch in Franklin

A few miles after the park, we hit St. Mary’s Parish and you would have known something was up, even without the sign. because the second we left Iberia Parish, the roads roughened up for us quite a bit.  Dear St. Mary’s Parish.  Please pass a bond measure and patch up LA182 by next May.  Thank you.

And so we rolled down LA182 (which eventually smoothed out a bit) for about another 13 miles, my energy draining the whole way, so much so that I was in danger of falling off the back of my group as we neared Franklin, our lunch stop.  Fortunately, a second wind and a well placed traffic light allowed me to pull back up to Rick, Ross, Brad, and Mike as we turned into our lunch spot, a beautiful shaded area along the water.  There, were were offered delicious sandwiches served on some huge croissants, with tasty lemon cookies and chocolate chip cookies for desert.  Those cookies were so good that I swiped an extra one for the road and tucked it into my Camelbak.  It was larceny most delicious.

Really?  Not the "War of Northern Aggression"?

Really? Not the "War of Northern Aggression"?

Post lunch we only had 25 miles left in the day, with a tailgate stop at the Patterson Air Museum just outside of Morgan City, so you’d think it would be easier than it was.  Unfortunately, along the road to the Air Museum, lunch started sitting heavy in my belly and my legs didn’t feel like pedaling into the moderate crosswind we had as we approached US90.  Thanks to Mike for pulling me along for a mile or so until we approached the turn onto 90 where we rested a bit as we waited for traffic to clear and I could catch my wind.

As we waited for the eastbound traffic to clear enough for us to cross into the median, a Louisiana State Trooper pulled his car onto the shoulder just ahead of us and waved us over, wanting to know what was going on.  We filled him in on the tour, and its goal of raising funds for the Red Cross, and he thought that was pretty cool.  And when we told him we were headed into Morgan City for the night, he asked if we were going to ride along 90 into town. When we told him we were, he just laughed.  ”I ride a lot around here, but y’all are crazy!” he told us.  ”They don’t even look out for us on the side of the road, they sure as hell ain’t gonna stop for you.”  And with those words of encouragement he wished us luck and watched as we rode out onto US90.  You know what, he was right.  We were crazy.

The traffic on 90 was the ugliest we had all ride.  Cars and trucks zooming by, ostensibly going the speed limit of 55, but they all seemed to be a bit closer to 70 if you ask me.  Even though the shoulder was quite wide, and relatively debris free (though we did have our obstacles to avoid), I’m still happy we had just five miles to go to the air museum, and that five miles was with the wind at our backs.

If my legs were still tired from the previous miles, the fear center of my brain overrode that, and we held a steady 21-22 MPH pace all the way into the Museum parking lot.  There it was a quick refill of the bottles and a trip inside the museum to take advantage of the air conditioning and the indoor plumbing.  Once we had removed and added the appropriate liquids from our systems, our group decided to try and time trial the last seven miles into the hotel in an effort to beat Team Jackass (who were still enjoying the AC at the museum) to the finish.  Honestly, I was happy to push the pace just so we could get off the highway faster.

Our course in from the museum involved a three mile stretch along 90, followed by an exit ramp leading to LA182 and then a medium sized bridge over Berwick Bay before a short jaunt through the city into the hotel.  Once we were up to speed on 90, I don’t think we dropped below 24 MPH until we hit the bridge.  We were feeling good and flying, and we were going to whip Jackass’ tails into the finish when from behind me I heard “Fucking grates! Flat!”  Yep.  Mike got our third flat of the day when he caught his tire in one of the expansion joints on the bridge and got snakebit.  And so we stopped on the side of the bridge while Mike changed his tire just in time to see a pair of Jackass riders roll by us.  Slightly dejected at having lost yet another race against an unsuspecting opponent due to a flat tire, we nonetheless pushed on to the hotel looking to finish strong.  As it turns out, we still beat most of the Jackass riders into the hotel, and we had plenty of ice cold Abita Brown waiting for us, so it wasn’t a total waste.

Also of note this day was the post-ride dinner.  We had it in the hotel, with a buffet offering salad, gumbo, crawfish etouffee, and bread pudding.  And while the food was delicious (more gumbo, please!), the highlight was the zydeco band that was playing that night for us.  Bright, lively music, and stage banter that’s probably gotten them slapped by the ladies at most of the finer venues across the south.  The band was a hoot, as was watching Dory and Victoria work the washboard for a few numbers.  All-around great fun; too bad I was too exhausted to enjoy it for the full evening.  Instead, I pulled my old man card and headed off to bed with dreams of Gonzales up ahead.

Final numbers: not really sure, as I forgot to get pictures of my computer, but they were somewhere around 77 miles, 4:30:00 elapsed time, and 17.1 MPH average.

Day 3: The Century of the Century

So you’ve just ridden 94 hard miles, including a brutal, windy 35 mile stretch that you never fully recovered from, what do you get to look forward to after that?  Well, if you’re on the Tour du Rouge, you get to look forward to waking up an hour early so you can set out on a nice century ride into Abbeville!

It was actually a wonderful morning: cool, clear, and weak yet favorable winds.  We headed out north, riding through a bit of the neighborhood business area before turning to the east along a slightly less busy road (albeit one with deep ditches along the sides and no shoulder) before turning north so we could cross over the waterways that feed Lake Charles and eventually work our way into Abbeville.  It was at this turn towards the north that we had what might be the most excitement of the day.

See!  A real century.

See! A real century.

Shortly after we turned north on Guillory Street, with me sitting towards the back of the group, I heard a cry of “HOLE!” and looked up in time to see what looked like an interpretive dance on wheels where Rick was playing the part of a bowling ball, and Dave, Tracy, Mike, and Donald playing the part of bowling pins.  Apparently, what happened was Mike first hit a sunken (and very well hidden) manhole cover, and called out the obstacle just in time for Dave to hit it and redirect his front wheel into Mike’s rear wheel.  As we all know what happens in that situation, Dave’s bike went out from under him as Mike wobbled away.  This of course set off a chain reaction which sent Tracy down in an very nice controlled slide; Donald doing his damndest to not go over his bike (he pushed down so hard on his handlebars, he pushed his Ergostem down from a rather vertical position to all the way forward and down), still ending up with a bloody knee; and Rick, seeing Dave’s bike shoot left, veering to the right only to wind up rolling right over Dave’s outstretched arm as Dave was launched the opposite direction of his bike (of course if I were Dave, I’d much prefer Rick run over my arm than my pretty, pretty Colnago rig).

Fortunately for Dave he went down in a softer patch of dirt, and not the hard blacktop, and suffered just a bit of road rash, some bruises, and appeared to have the wind knocked out of him.  While he was recovering, I stopped traffic while the others hauled all of the gear out of the road and tended to Dave (I’d like to say thanks to all of the drivers who patiently waited for us to clear the street and make sure Dave was out of harms way).  Shortly thereafter, Alan and Dana rolled up and surveyed the damage, making sure Dave was OK and calling for the SAG guys to come and get the affected bikes roadworthy again.   A bit of wheel truing and stem adjusting later, Dave and the rest of us hopped back on our bikes and headed back out for the day; calling out damn near every crack in the road for the next 15 miles to our first rest stop.

From here on out, the ride consisted primarily of long eastbound stretches with the occasional turn mixed in and nothing particularly exceptional to note.  The lunch in Mermentau was quite nice, noshing on Quizno’s subs underneath the Railroad Avenue bridge crossing whatever waterway that was that eventually feeds into Lake Arthur. It was there at lunch where we learned that Dana had been in a spill that day as well, bloodying up his knee and elbow and tearing up his new Tour du Rouge jersey.  Fortunately for the entire group those were the two worst accidents of the entire ride and they caused little more than road rash; much better than the previous year where a number of riders found themselves in ambulances on the way to a hospital for repairs.  Good riding guys!

After lunch was a quick 10 mile ride to a tailgate stop at a post office in Morse, which was only notable for the heat and lack of shade, as well as a big old snake in a ditch just short of the post office that was chasing after something with a purpose (most likely lunch).  From there it was another 22 miles to our last stop of the day at the Kaplan High School stadium parking lot.  This is one stop I was most grateful for as my left calf had been threatening to cramp up and my energy was waning quickly for about five miles before we got to the stop.  And what a stop it was, those volunteers were great there, offering to fetch us any drinks or snacks or ice cold paper towels that we needed to recover so we could sit and rest.  It’s volunteers like that that make rides like the Tour du Rouge such a pleasure to ride.  I can’t thank them enough for coming out in the heat to help us recover and have our fun.  If it weren’t for them, the last nine miles might have been murder for me to complete.  As it was I still managed to drag ass the final three or four miles, slowing down our group, especially as we approached the outskirts of Abbeville.  Fortunately for me and the rest of the group, we got caught at a stop light at Park Avenue, just before we had to climb yet another bridge over some more intercostal waters.  That brief stop allowed me to catch my wind and stretch out my back enough to get across town and into the Sunbelt Lodge without much more discomfort.  Thank heaven for small favors.

Dory unloads the good stuff

Dory unloads the good stuff

After a bit of rest, a bit of beer, and a “shower” in our room (I couldn’t figure out how to get the water to come out of the showerhead and had to keep bending down to get water from the tub faucet — fortunately, my roommate, Keith, another Ohio boy, told me how to do it after the fact, something that will come in handy if we stay here again next year), we packed into the vans and shuttled down to Comeaux’s Cafe for some tasty pork chops, gravy, and bread pudding.  After dinner we had a great time listening to all of the riding groups sing a song about themselves (including Dana’s audience participation number that may end up becoming the official theme song of the ride in years hence), and then capped off the evening with a speech from (IIRC) the head of the Lake Charles Red Cross chapter, reminding us all why we’re doing what we’re doing.  From there, it was a shuttle back to the Sunbelt Lodge and a night’s sleep before an optional early rise the next morning.

Final numbers: 106.65 miles, Elapsed time 6:10:07, average 16.97 MPH

Day 2: It Was the Best of Rides…

…it was the worst of rides.
So the day started out really well: a good night’s sleep followed by cool weather and light winds, and the road out of Beaumont was quite pleasant. Hell, even the climb over Pleasure Island Bridge was, well, a pleasure.  But shortly after we left the comfort of the Pleasure Island rest-stop, the day took an ugly turn.
It started not long after we (Rick, Brad, Ross, and myself) paused to rescue a turtle that was sitting in the middle of TX82 (given the number of smashed turtles we saw on the road that day, we almost assuredly extended its life).  Now, you might think that Mother Nature would appreciate us saving one of her creatures from an untimely end, but she must have misinterpreted our actions as thwarting her plans, because not ten minutes later, about two miles from the Texas/Louisiana Border, we turned right into a wall of wind that dropped our speed and sapped our energy.  It was so bad that by the time we had reached the Sabine Lake Bridge that would take us into Louisiana, I had more trouble going over it than the far longer and steeper Paradise Island Bridge we had crossed a few miles back.
From that point on, it was just a long, brutal slog of about 30 miles along LA82.  For a long stretch of this slog, the eastbound side of the road had been scraped, pending repaving (it might be much nicer next year).  And so not only were we battling the winds, but also the bone rattling ride over the artificially roughened roads.  Luckily for us, at this point (and shortly after I had taken my pull), the SAG-Wagon with the BIke Barn trailer caught up to us and gave us a nice draft for about 6-8 miles before pulling away and leaving us to battle the wind once again.  About the only downside to that “motor-pacing” section, besides their pulling away, was that the guys right up at the bumper, where the draft was the strongest, refused to rotate out of position and let the rest of the group get some much-needed rest for their legs.  Still, even sitting at the back of that pack I got a much needed draft for a few miles, without which, I may have had a much harder time reaching our lunch destination.
Right after the SAG-Wagon pulled away, taking its draft with it, I and a couple other guys (sorry, I was too tired to even remember who it was) pulled over to make an impromptu rest area, letting our heart-rates and breathing settle some and waiting for Rick and Brad (who had made their own stop a bit back and were rescued by someone on a tractor cutting the grass who tossed them a couple of bottles of ice cold water) to catch up.  Once those two restarted and reached us, we headed out again, moving slowly and sloppily down the road in a pair of loose echelons, each of us pulling for 50-60 seconds before gassing and dropping to the rear.  We rolled on like this until about two-or-three miles from our lunch stop when we caught up with the group ahead of us (I believe it was the Chris Express), who had just withered in the wind and were riding at about 10-12 MPH as we rolled up on them.
Actually, as I was pulling our group at that moment, I hadn’t noticed that I had actually rolled through them, and not just up on them until I was nearly a quarter mile past them.  At that point, I decided to keep on pushing the pace (to a roaring 14 MPH) until I caught up to Adam, who was another eighth of a mile or so beyond me.  By the time I had caught him I was utterly gassed, worse I still had no idea where our lunch stop was; all of the buildings in the area seemed to stay a constant distance ahead of us, no matter how long we pedaled.  And pedal we did.  I don’t know why Adam was still going so hard, but the only reason I didn’t drop my pace to the level that my body was screaming for was sheer ego.  I had pushed hard to work my way up to Adam’s side, and I sure as hell didn’t want anyone behind me see me slow or stop once I had.  Of course, they didn’t see me race away either, as Adam did once we finally spotted the Red Cross Hummer parked outside the little white Apache shack where we ate our much needed and hard earned sandwiches and chips, and rested as long as we could before heading back on up the road to Hackberry and then Sulphur.
Honestly, I don’t have much to say about the ride up to Hackberry other than to say when the wind was with us it was fine, and when we turned into the wind, it was another sip of hell.  Beyond Hackberry, it was a bit of a blur.  I was feeling better than I did going into Hackberry, but all I wanted was to get into the hotel and rest.  The wind, the distance, and the sheer stupidity of my not following my nutrition plan with anything approximating fidelity led to me wearing down about as far as one can without getting SAGged.  Once we reached the outskirts of Sulphur, I got caught at one street light and rejoiced for the rest.  Farther up I just missed getting caught at another light and cursed under what little breath I had.  Things were made worse when my odometer rolled past 92 miles, the theoretical end of this leg, and the hotel was nowhere in site.  I had known, from what everyone was saying at the last rest stop, that I still had another two miles to go, but I still held out hope that they were all wrong.  Finally, I approached the final intersection where I was to turn off onto the road that would take me to the hotel.  I twas just in front of this intersection that I spotted a Sonic and had to fight, with damn near every fiber of my being, the desire to pull in and get a Route 44 Lime Slush and a cheeseburger.  The only reason I didn’t was because I knew the Holiday Inn and its cold beer beer were waiting just a minute’s ride up the rode.  And so I swallowed my desires and humped my way into the hotel parking lot where I gladly flopped in a chair and gobbled down two mini ice cream sandwiches and a big ol’ PB&J sandwich.  The ugliness was over, and I could turn my attention to dinner that night and our upcoming century ride the next day.
Final numbers: 94.33 miles, 5:50:57 elapsed…it was the worst of rides.
So the day started out really well: a good night’s sleep followed by cool weather and light winds, and the road out of Beaumont was quite pleasant. Hell, even the climb over Pleasure Island Bridge was, well, a pleasure.  But shortly after we left the comfort of the Pleasure Island rest-stop, the day took an ugly turn.
It started not long after we (Rick, Brad, Ross, and myself) paused to rescue a turtle that was sitting in the middle of TX82 (given the number of smashed turtles we saw on the road that day, we almost assuredly extended its life).  Now, you might think that Mother Nature would appreciate us saving one of her creatures from an untimely end, but she must have misinterpreted our actions as thwarting her plans, because not ten minutes later, about two miles from the Texas/Louisiana Border, we turned right into a wall of wind that dropped our speed and sapped our energy.  It was so bad that by the time we had reached the Sabine Lake Bridge that would take us into Louisiana, I had more trouble going over it than the far longer and steeper Paradise Island Bridge we had crossed a few miles back.
From that point on, it was just a long, brutal slog of about 30 miles along LA82.  For a long stretch of this slog, the eastbound side of the road had been scraped, pending repaving (it might be much nicer next year).  And so not only were we battling the winds, but also the bone rattling ride over the artificially roughened roads.  Luckily for us, at this point (and shortly after I had taken my pull), the SAG-Wagon with the BIke Barn trailer caught up to us and gave us a nice draft for about 6-8 miles before pulling away and leaving us to battle the wind once again.  About the only downside to that “motor-pacing” section, besides their pulling away, was that the guys right up at the bumper, where the draft was the strongest, refused to rotate out of position and let the rest of the group get some much-needed rest for their legs.  Still, even sitting at the back of that pack I got a much needed draft for a few miles, without which, I may have had a much harder time reaching our lunch destination.
Right after the SAG-Wagon pulled away, taking its draft with it, I and a couple other guys (sorry, I was too tired to even remember who it was) pulled over to make an impromptu rest area, letting our heart-rates and breathing settle some and waiting for Rick and Brad (who had made their own stop a bit back and were rescued by someone on a tractor cutting the grass who tossed them a couple of bottles of ice cold water) to catch up.  Once those two restarted and reached us, we headed out again, moving slowly and sloppily down the road in a pair of loose echelons, each of us pulling for 50-60 seconds before gassing and dropping to the rear.  We rolled on like this until about two-or-three miles from our lunch stop when we caught up with the group ahead of us (I believe it was the Chris Express), who had just withered in the wind and were riding at about 10-12 MPH as we rolled up on them.
Actually, as I was pulling our group at that moment, I hadn’t noticed that I had actually rolled through them, and not just up on them until I was nearly a quarter mile past them.  At that point, I decided to keep on pushing the pace (to a roaring 14 MPH) until I caught up to Adam, who was another eighth of a mile or so beyond me.  By the time I had caught him I was utterly gassed, worse I still had no idea where our lunch stop was; all of the buildings in the area seemed to stay a constant distance ahead of us, no matter how long we pedaled.  And pedal we did.  I don’t know why Adam was still going so hard, but the only reason I didn’t drop my pace to the level that my body was screaming for was sheer ego.  I had pushed hard to work my way up to Adam’s side, and I sure as hell didn’t want anyone behind me see me slow or stop once I had.  Of course, they didn’t see me race away either, as Adam did once we finally spotted the Red Cross Hummer parked outside the little white Apache shack where we ate our much needed and hard earned sandwiches and chips, and rested as long as we could before heading back on up the road to Hackberry and then Sulphur.
Honestly, I don’t have much to say about the ride up to Hackberry other than to say when the wind was with us it was fine, and when we turned into the wind, it was another sip of hell.  Beyond Hackberry, it was a bit of a blur.  I was feeling better than I did going into Hackberry, but all I wanted was to get into the hotel and rest.  The wind, the distance, and the sheer stupidity of my not following my nutrition plan with anything approximating fidelity led to me wearing down about as far as one can without getting SAGged.  Once we reached the outskirts of Sulphur, I got caught at one street light and rejoiced for the rest.  Farther up I just missed getting caught at another light and cursed under what little breath I had.  Things were made worse when my odometer rolled past 92 miles, the theoretical end of this leg, and the hotel was nowhere in site.  I had known, from what everyone was saying at the last rest stop, that I still had another two miles to go, but I still held out hope that they were all wrong.  Finally, I approached the final intersection where I was to turn off onto the road that would take me to the hotel.  I twas just in front of this intersection that I spotted a Sonic and had to fight, with damn near every fiber of my being, the desire to pull in and get a Route 44 Lime Slush and a cheeseburger.  The only reason I didn’t was because I knew the Holiday Inn and its cold beer beer were waiting just a minute’s ride up the rode.  And so I swallowed my desires and humped my way into the hotel parking lot where I gladly flopped in a chair and gobbled down two mini ice cream sandwiches and a big ol’ PB&J sandwich.  The ugliness was over, and I could turn my attention to dinner that night and our upcoming century ride the next day.
Final numbers: 94.33 miles, 5:50:57 elapsed time, 16.12 MPH average time, 16.12 MPH average

…it was the worst of rides.

Dave and Mike getting ready to ride.  That's Dory in the middle.

Dave and Mike getting ready to ride. That's Dory in the middle.

So the day started out really well: a good night’s sleep followed by cool weather and light winds, and the road out of Beaumont was quite pleasant. Hell, even the climb over Pleasure Island Bridge was, well, a pleasure.  But shortly after we left the comfort of the Pleasure Island rest-stop, the day took an ugly turn.

Left to Right: Rick, Ross, and Brad

Left to Right: Rick, Ross, and Brad

It started not long after we (Rick, Brad, Ross, and myself) paused to rescue a turtle that was sitting in the middle of TX82 (given the number of smashed turtles we saw on the road that day, we almost assuredly extended its life).  Now, you might think that Mother Nature would appreciate us saving one of her creatures from an untimely end, but she must have misinterpreted our actions as thwarting her plans, because not ten minutes later, about two miles from the Texas/Louisiana Border, we turned right into a wall of wind that dropped our speed and sapped our energy.  It was so bad that by the time we had reached the Sabine Lake Bridge that would take us into Louisiana, I had more trouble going over it than the far longer and steeper Paradise Island Bridge we had crossed a few miles back.

From that point on, it was just a long, brutal slog of about 30 miles along LA82.  For a long stretch of this slog, the eastbound side of the road had been scraped, pending repaving (it might be much nicer next year).  And so not only were we battling the winds, but also the bone rattling ride over the artificially roughened roads.  Luckily for us, at this point (and shortly after I had taken my pull), the SAG-Wagon with the Bike Barn trailer caught up to us and gave us a nice draft for about 6-8 miles before pulling away and leaving us to battle the wind once again.  About the only downside to that “motor-pacing” section, besides their pulling away, was that the guys right up at the bumper, where the draft was the strongest, refused to rotate out of position and let the rest of the group get some much-needed rest for their legs.  Still, even sitting at the back of that pack I got a much needed draft for a few miles, without which, I may have had a much harder time reaching our lunch destination.

Half of the Pleasure Island Bridge, with my bike in the corner

Half of the Pleasure Island Bridge, with my bike in the corner

Right after the SAG-Wagon pulled away, taking its draft with it, I and a couple other guys (sorry, I was too tired to even remember who it was) pulled over to make an impromptu rest area, letting our heart-rates and breathing settle some and waiting for Rick and Brad (who had made their own stop a bit back and were rescued by someone on a tractor cutting the grass who tossed them a couple of bottles of ice cold water) to catch up.  Once those two restarted and reached us, we headed out again, moving slowly and sloppily down the road in a pair of loose echelons.  Each of us took turns pulling for 50-60 seconds before gassing and dropping to the rear.  We rolled on like this until about two-or-three miles from our lunch stop when we caught up with the group ahead of us (I believe it was the Chris Express), who had just withered in the wind and were riding at about 10-12 MPH as we rolled up on them.

Do I look like I'm half dead?

Do I look like I'm half dead?

Actually, as I was pulling our group at that moment, I hadn’t noticed that I had actually rolled through them, and not just up on them until I was nearly a quarter mile past them.  At that point, I decided to keep on pushing the pace (to a roaring 14 MPH) until I caught up to Adam, who was another eighth of a mile or so beyond me.  By the time I had caught him I was utterly gassed, worse I still had no idea where our lunch stop was; all of the buildings in the area seemed to stay a constant distance ahead of us, no matter how long we pedaled.  And pedal we did.  I don’t know why Adam was still going so hard, but the only reason I didn’t drop my pace to the level that my body was screaming for was sheer ego.  I had pushed hard to work my way up to Adam’s side, and I sure as hell didn’t want anyone behind me see me slow or stop once I had.  Of course, they didn’t see me race away either, as Adam did once we finally spotted the Red Cross Hummer parked outside the little white Apache shack where we ate our much needed and hard earned sandwiches and chips, and rested as long as we could before heading back on up the road to Hackberry and then Sulphur.

Left to right: Chris, Jon (don't call him Paw Paw), Victoria, Chris, and Terry

Left to right: Chris, Jon (don't call him Paw Paw), Victoria, Chris, and Terry

Terry, Jose and Mike catch a rest at Holly Beach

Terry, Jose and Mike catch a rest at Holly Beach

Honestly, I don’t have much to say about the ride up to Hackberry other than to say when the wind was with us it was fine, and when we turned into the wind, it was another sip of hell.  Beyond Hackberry, it was a bit of a blur.  I was feeling better than I did going into Hackberry, but all I wanted was to get into the hotel and rest.  The wind, the distance, and the sheer stupidity of my not following my nutrition plan with anything approximating fidelity led to me wearing down about as far as one can without getting SAGged.  Once we reached the outskirts of Sulphur, I got caught at one street light and rejoiced for the rest.  Farther up I just missed getting caught at another light and cursed under what little breath I had.  Things were made worse when my odometer rolled past 92 miles, the theoretical end of this leg, and the hotel was nowhere in site.  I had known, from what everyone was saying at the last rest stop, that I still had another two miles to go, but I still held out hope that they were all wrong.  Finally, I approached the final intersection where I was to turn off onto the road that would take me to the hotel.  It was just in front of this intersection that I spotted a Sonic and had to fight, with damn near every fiber of my being, the desire to pull in and get a Route 44 Lime Slush and a cheeseburger.  The only reason I didn’t was because I knew the Holiday Inn and its cold beer were waiting just a minute’s ride up the rode.  And so I swallowed my desires and humped my way into the hotel parking lot where I gladly flopped in a chair and gobbled down two mini ice cream sandwiches and a big ol’ PB&J sandwich.  The ugliness was over, and I could turn my attention to dinner that night and our upcoming century ride the next day.

IMG_0754

Sweet relief!

Final numbers: 94.33 miles, 5:50:57 elapsed time, 16.12 MPH average

Day 1: 89 miles for free Shiner!

The Place: Holiday Inn, Beaumont; room 730.
Let’s get one thing straight, this is going to be short. We just had dinner, and I’m tired, as in, I’ll be asleep by nine tired.
We did just shy of 89 miles today. The weather was fabulous: light winds, mostly from a favorable direction, and the heat and humidity were relatively low. The roads were mostly smooth, give or take 10-12 miles of chipseal that vibrated my arms deep into numbness.
Average speed was about 18.5 MPH (exact numbers will come later), and I, shockingly, would have come in as a part of the lead group were it not for a flat, two miles from the finish. Of course, I would have been nowhere near the lead group had they not suffered from a series of flat tires themselves.
At the end of the line: Free Shiner beer, free massages (and I don’t mean to complain too much here, but I did get what I paid for there), and a verdict from the bike mechs that I need to get a new rim for my front wheel (though probably not until I get home).
Geh. After that, a shower, a good dinner at the Spindletop Steakhouse, and now a big crash in energy leading me to wrap up this day’s review right here.
Good night.
ADDENDUM:
OK, now that I’ve rested and had time to put all of this together, here’s the day’s details:
The day started out pretty tame, as we worked our way out of the Sheraton North Houston parking lot behind our police escort and began our path towards Will Clayton Parkway.  Once we reached Will Clayton and we lost our escort, the pace picked up a bit as the roads started clearing of cars and we headed towards FM 1960 across Lake Houston; it was on this part of the ride that I got mixed in with the faster riders of Team DRAFT, Team Jackass, and the Chris Express, and more or less flew (for my fat ass) over the bridge across Lake Houston and down Fairlake Lane to the first tailgate rest-stop.  It was at this point that I realized I’d never be able to keep up that pace for the entire day, and pulled into the rest-stop to recover my wind and fill my protein bottle for fuel to get me to the next rest-stop ZZ miles down the road.
Sadly, as I stopped to fill my bottle, I missed some of the big excitement of the day as the riders who skipped past the tailgate got to mess with a live water mocassin in the road.  Reports are that he even lunged at one of the riders’ legs as they passed by, but I’ve yet to confirm that story.  Needless to say, if anything lunged at me that day, I neither saw nor felt it.  What I did see, however, was the nucleus of the group that I would spend most of the tour riding with as we sort of grouped up on the way to Dayton for the first time.  This group featured Ross and Mike, with Mike’s GPS letting us know when the turns were approaching, and I believe Tracy and David had been it that group as well.
It was a quick stop in Dayton, long enough to grab a couple of pickles, a bit of Gatorade, and a refill of my protein bottle before pulling out again and heading for lunch in Devers.  For this leg, which ran almost exclusively along US90, passing through Liberty, Ames, and Raywood, we also picked up the brother-in-law pair of Rick and Brad, who would also be a part of my riding group for the majority of the tour.  With Rick, Brad, and Mike setting the pace up front (and me sucking wheels and air in the rear), we burned up US90, eventually puling into Devers Elementary School for lunch with an average speed of almost 18.7 MPH so far for the day.  Now I understand that that’s a nice relaxed pace for some of the folk on the ride, but for me these days, that’s damn near flying; sadly, it would go to my head a bit after lunch and cause me to do stupid things.
It was after lunch, when I should have been sitting back a bit and letting my body digest, when I lost my head a bit.  We had set out again on US90, and for some reason, we all forgot how to ride as a group.  Some people fell back (Brad started to cramp up a bit at this point, IIRC), some shot ahead (like Ross and myself), and some maintained their pace from the previous leg (maybe a bit under that pace).  As I shot ahead and turned south onto FM 1009, I caught up with Rick, who had also started the leg strong, but then decided to hold back and wait for his brother-in-law, and I had the lead group – a mix of DRAFT, Jackass, and Chris Express – in my sights.  It was here that all reason shut off in my brain, and rather than slowing the pace and reforming our group, I decided I could make a solo effort to catch that lead peleton full of horses far stronger than I.  For miles I kept them in my sights, dumping energy into my pedals and sweat onto the pavement, on occasion I would even get a bit closer to them; and then we turned into the wind.  As FM1009 turned up towards the north to reconnect with US90, that giant pack of riders just started creeping further and further towards the horizon as their drafting allowed them to maintain their pace far easier than me, a lone rider with no shelter from the wind.  By the time I had rejoined US90 in Nome, that lead group was gone over the horizon, and I was spent, only able to catch and pass those few unfortunate riders who flatted along the route.  And by the time I pulled into the rest area in China, I was utterly gassed, and took an extra long rest break, waiting for Rick, Ross, and Brad to roll in and rest up before heading out for the final leg into Beaumont.
At the start of this final leg, Brad was experiencing problems with his foot and leg, and Ross had shifted into his slower gear, and we spent the first couple of miles slowly rolling down the road, but it wasn’t long before everyone got their second wind and we started hammering once again.  As we shot down Old Sour Lake Road/Phelan Blvd, we passed (quite to our surprise) that lead pack who had stopped for yet another flat tire.  This only served to add a bit of giddyup to our step as we had hoped to beat that team of horses into the Holiday Inn.  Sadly, our hopes were dashed when yours truly caught a flat in my rear tire just two miles from the finish, and we helplessly watched as the other group passed by while I was getting my repair.  No worries though, this isn’t a race, and frankly, I was proud to have finished as close to Team Draft and the other as I did (it would be a long time before that would happen again on this tour), so there wasn’t even a bruise on my ego after that flat.  Besides, the extra delay in getting into the Hotel parking lot just meant that the Shiner waiting for me would get just a little bit colder.
From that point on, it was the aforementioned beer, massage, bad news on the rim, and trip to the Spindletop to gorge myself on salad, rice, and catfish, before heading back to the hotel for some wonderful sleep before Day two, which would take me into Louisiana for the first time in my life.

The Place: Holiday Inn, Beaumont; room 730.

Let’s get one thing straight, this is going to be short. We just had dinner, and I’m tired, as in, I’ll be asleep by nine tired.

We did just over 89 miles today. The weather was fabulous: light winds, mostly from a favorable direction, and the heat and humidity were relatively low. The roads were mostly smooth, give or take 10-12 miles of chipseal that vibrated my arms deep into numbness.

Average speed was about 18.5 MPH (exact numbers will come later), and I, shockingly, would have come in as a part of the lead group were it not for a flat, two miles from the finish. Of course, I would have been nowhere near the lead group had they not suffered from a series of flat tires themselves.

At the end of the line: Free Shiner beer, free massages (and I don’t mean to complain too much here, but I did get what I paid for there), and a verdict from the bike mechs that I need to get a new rim for my front wheel (though probably not until I get home).

Geh. After that, a shower, a good dinner at the Spindletop Steakhouse, and now a big crash in energy leading me to wrap up this day’s review right here.

Good night.

ADDENDUM:

OK, now that I’ve rested and had time to put all of this together, here’s the day’s details:

The day started out pretty tame, as we worked our way out of the Sheraton North Houston parking lot behind our police escort and began our path towards Will Clayton Parkway.  Once we reached Will Clayton and we lost our escort, the pace picked up a bit as the roads started clearing of cars and we headed towards FM 1960 across Lake Houston; it was on this part of the ride that I got mixed in with the faster riders of Team DRAFT, Team Jackass, and the Chris Express, and more or less flew (for my fat ass) over the bridge across Lake Houston and down Fairlake Lane to the first tailgate rest-stop.  It was at this point that I realized I’d never be able to keep up that pace for the entire day, and pulled into the rest-stop to recover my wind and fill my protein bottle for fuel to get me to the next rest-stop 16 miles down the road.

Brad and Dave relaxing after the ride.

Brad and Dave relaxing after the ride.

Sadly, as I stopped to fill my bottle, I missed some of the big excitement of the day as the riders who skipped past the tailgate got to mess with a live water moccasin in the road.  Reports are that he even lunged at one of the riders’ legs as they passed by, but I’ve yet to confirm that story.  Needless to say, if anything lunged at me that day, I neither saw nor felt it.  What I did see, however, was the nucleus of the group that I would spend most of the tour riding with as we sort of grouped up on the way to Dayton for the first time.  This group featured Ross and Mike, with Mike’s GPS letting us know when the turns were approaching, and I believe Tracy and David had been it that group as well.

It was a quick stop in Dayton, long enough to grab a couple of pickles, a bit of Gatorade, and a refill of my protein bottle before pulling out again and heading for lunch in Devers.  For this leg, which ran almost exclusively along US90, passing through Liberty, Ames, and Raywood, we also picked up the brother-in-law pair of Rick and Brad, who would also be a part of my riding group for the majority of the tour.  With Rick, Brad, and Mike setting the pace up front (and me sucking wheels and air in the rear), we burned up US90, eventually puling into Devers Elementary School for lunch with an average speed of almost 18.7 MPH so far for the day.  Now I understand that that’s a nice relaxed pace for some of the folk on the ride, but for me these days, that’s damn near flying; sadly, it would go to my head a bit after lunch and cause me to do stupid things.

Mike and Rick (well, Rick's hand)

Mike and Rick (well, Rick's hand)

It was after lunch, when I should have been sitting back a bit and letting my body digest, when I lost my head a bit.  We had set out again on US90, and for some reason, we all forgot how to ride as a group.  Some people fell back (Brad started to cramp up a bit at this point, IIRC), some shot ahead (like Ross and myself), and some maintained their pace from the previous leg (maybe a bit under that pace).  As I shot ahead and turned south onto FM 1009, I caught up with Rick, who had also started the leg strong, but then decided to hold back and wait for his brother-in-law, and I had the lead group – a mix of DRAFT, Jackass, and Chris Express – in my sights.  It was here that all reason shut off in my brain, and rather than slowing the pace and reforming our group, I decided I could make a solo effort to catch that lead peloton full of horses far stronger than I.  For miles I kept them in my sights, dumping energy into my pedals and sweat onto the pavement, on occasion I would even get a bit closer to them; and then we turned into the wind.  As FM1009 turned up towards the north to reconnect with US90, that giant pack of riders just started creeping further and further towards the horizon as their drafting allowed them to maintain their pace far easier than me, a lone rider with no shelter from the wind.  By the time I had rejoined US90 in Nome, that lead group was gone over the horizon, and I was spent, only able to catch and pass those few unfortunate riders who flatted along the route.  And by the time I pulled into the rest area in China, I was utterly gassed, and took an extra long rest break, waiting for Rick, Ross, and Brad to roll in and rest up before heading out for the final leg into Beaumont.

At the start of this final leg, Brad was experiencing problems with his foot and leg, and Ross had shifted into his slower gear, and we spent the first couple of miles slowly rolling down the road, but it wasn’t long before everyone got their second wind and we started hammering once again.  As we shot down Old Sour Lake Road/Phelan Blvd, we passed (quite to our surprise) that lead pack who had stopped for yet another flat tire.  This only served to add a bit of giddyup to our step as we had hoped to beat that team of horses into the Holiday Inn.  Sadly, our hopes were dashed when yours truly caught a flat in my rear tire just two miles from the finish, and we helplessly watched as the other group passed by while I was getting my repair.  No worries though, this isn’t a race, and frankly, I was proud to have finished as close to Team Draft and the other as I did (it would be a long time before that would happen again on this tour), so there wasn’t even a bruise on my ego after that flat.  Besides, the extra delay in getting into the Hotel parking lot just meant that the Shiner waiting for me would get just a little bit colder.

Sunburn and Shiner

Sunburn and Shiner

From that point on, it was the aforementioned beer, massage, bad news on the rim, and trip to the Spindletop to gorge myself on salad, rice, and catfish, before heading back to the hotel for some wonderful sleep before Day two, which would take me into Louisiana for the first time in my life.

Final numbers: 89.11 miles, 4:50:32 elapsed, 18.40 MPH average

A couple of notes about my numbers for the ride:

1) They usually include the time and distance associated with pushing the bike to my hotel room.  This is usually around 0.1 miles and a minute or two of time, so it’s not too worthy of note.

2) I was coming in consistently about 1-2% higher in mileage than others on the ride.  I double-checked the wheel-size setting on my computer, and it’s set to the recommended value for 700c x 23mm wheels/tires like I used, so I don’t know what the deal is.  I need to find a measured mile and do some calibrating, I guess.

Day 0: The long night before

Day 0:

Americam?

Americam?

The place: the Sheraton North Houston, room 823. I’m sitting on the bed, watching the Cavs claw their way back into the opening game of their playoff series with the Celtics, and thinking I should maybe stretch a bit. Really though, I just want to watch the Cavs win and go to bed happy, because I’ve got a big day tomorrow. Tomorrow the Tour du Rouge begins.

This is what I’ve been waiting for since last October, what I’ve been raising money for since December, and training for since February (though, honestly, not as hard as I should have). It’s actually a little hard to believe that it’s finally here, since it’s always been something that’s so far in the future. Now all I need to do is make it through the night.

I’m pretty sure I can sleep. I’m tired. I feel tired. I’m just worried that I’m going to be restless tonight and that I’m going to wake up tomorrow exhausted and have to drag ass all the way into Beaumont. Whatever… at least I finally get to ride in the Tour du Rouge.

Also, Go Cavs!

Playing catch-up

OK, so it’s been a long time since my last update; too long, really. So what’s been going on since then? Well, I hurt my left quad (the damn thing just siezed up on me), which kept me off the bike for about a week. I drove a lot more than I’d like, 475 miles this month, ugh. I’ve got excuses (see aforementioned quad injury and mix in two round trips to the airport, at 32 miles each way), but still, I could have done better. In other news, I got a couple of massages (that’s the good news). I’m also resuming my work on the 90DFB, though I’m altering it slightly to put a bit more emphasis on stretching and core strength. It’s finally dawned on me that I can’t ride any significant distance like the Tour du Rouge in my current state of tightness and weak-ass ass (and back and abs). I’m making it my special mission to get my hamstrings and hip flexors to a state of looseness somehere below their current suspension-bridge-support-cable level.

So all in all there hasn’t been much on the personal front to report on. However, there’s a lot of good shaking in the bike friendly community area to report on:

First came the news of the formations of Bike Friendly Knox-Henderson (whose inagural ride I sadly have to miss, thanks to the siren song of Iowa playing in my TPM’s ears) as well as Bike Friendly Lakewood (whose inagural ride I most certainly hope to attend, although the timing is pretty bad for me, again, thank you Iowa). I suppose it’s only a matter of time before I am forced to start up Bike Friendly Plano; even if it’s only to be the first one under the Bike Friendly umbrella to sport a road bike in the logo.

Next we had the announcement that the Cottonwood Trail construction under the High Five had “completed” (i.e. not done, but has reached a rideable state), which may afford me (and most of Richardson) a nicer route down to the White Rock Creek Greenbelt trail and on down to White Rock Lake and beyond. Since my route down there is already fairly nice, I may not make use of this too much, but it sure is nice for a lot of other people.

After that came the start of the annual Bike Summit in Washington D.C. and Google’s announcement that they are now offering travel directions via bicycle in Google Maps. The (still beta and asking for feedback) product seems to work pretty well. It didn’t show me the best route to/from work (it seems to think 15th is a nice street to ride on during rush hour), but it was plenty close and the community’s feedback will only help it to improve.

Then we had the announcement of the inagural Bike Friendly Richardson Urban Cafe Assault Team ride. We’re going to meet up at Cafe Brazil in Richardson, have some coffee and snacks, and then ride about a seven mile loop before heading home. It looks like a 20 mile-ish good morning ride where I get to meet some of the community again, and perhaps meet some new folk too. At the very least, I get to try a new breakfast place. I think I’m going to have to approach a few places in Plano to see if they’d be willing to host a UCAT ride. Time to bring some of the bike-love to the big P.

And then yesterday we have Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announcing that the policy at the Federal Department of Transportation is that bicycling and pedestrian travel modes are to be placed on equal footing with motorized transportation, and that the Federal government encourages state and local governments to adopt policies along these lines (i.e. you’d better change, if you want federal money to build and maintain your roads). Wow. Thank you Secretary LaHood and the rest of the Obama administration for recognizing the need to turn away from auto-centric city/road design and back to a healthier, more enjoyable, more sustainible design.

So that’s a quick wrap for the past two weeks. I’ll be back with more soon. Also, I’ll be updating this post later today to add links. I’m doing this from my phone, just so I can get someting up here again.

Hang ‘Em High!

Well my friend’s son may have just busted a bike thief in Lewisville.

He had his bike stolen a couple of weeks ago, and saw it this morning in the backyard of a nearby house along with a load of other bikes and bike parts. He called his mom and she called the Lewisville police (who I assume are investigating this now).

Anyway, if your bike has gone missing in the past few months, you may want to call the Lewisville Police (non-emergency phone number should be 972-219-3400) and see if you got lucky.

Props to the junior sleuth who may have just made someone’s day a bit brighter.

Take THAT, Yoga-Spin! No, YOU take THIS!

So Tuesday night was the infamous 45′ Yoga-Spin workout. Hah! I laugh at you puny mortals who fear this workout! Sort of.

I’m not going to lie, this is a tough, tough workout — it is designed to see how hard you can push yourself, and those are always tough as, in some ways, their goal is to always make you fail, albeit to fail less badly than you did the last time you did the workout. However, this particular workout falls pretty much right in my wheelhouse: moderate length bursts of leg strength.

The workout itself is pretty straightforward. First you do a bit of yoga, primarily stretching, to get the hammies and lower back warm and awake, then you climb on the bike to do five sets of three-minute threshold intervals, this is then capped off with a 12 minute power yoga session that drops the last straw on your proverbial camel’s quads. The intervals are done in successively tougher gearing with the goal being maintaining 100+ RPM cadence on the pedals the entire three minutes. I was able to do this for the first three intervals, without much of a problem.

The third interval started getting rough towards the end, but I didn’t really need to push myself. It was the fourth interval where I broke. After about 90-120 seconds in the fourth interval, I just blew a gasket and had to stop pedaling. Not slow the pace, but actually stop for 10-15 seconds before I caught my wind and was able to finish the interval strong. Fortunately I fared somewhat better on the fifth interval.

On the fifth interval, with the toughest gearing yet (IIRC it was 53×14), I was able to keep pedaling for the entire three minute interval, and I was ably to do it just a hair under the 100+ RPM target the entire way (I averaged 97 RPM for that interval). While this was, technically, a failure, for me it was a victory in my sights. I was so close to beating these intervals that I’m just itching to get my shot at them in 10-ish days or so when the yoga-spin comes round again. This time, I’ll want to finish all of the intervals at 100+ so I can move on to harder gearing for the third go-round.

So I was pleased with my performance the first time through this run, at least on the bike. The yoga is another story. I am so damn inflexible that one can think of me as the anti-Gumby (call me Ybmug).

Combine that with my appalling weakness everywhere but my legs, and you’ve got the makings of a yoga-nightmare. I can’t touch my toes, my hammies and back shriek as I transition from down dog to up dog, my glutes and core seem utterly lost when I require their assistance to maintain my balance, and my shoulders and neck are so tight and weak that I can’t even lift my arms over my head for any significant period of time before cramping and shaking. I let myself wilt into a wreck, and now I’m paying for it as I try to regain a hint of what used to be my youth and vigor. If only I knew how bad it would feel now as I was snarfing down that pizza back then. Oi.

Making matters even more fun were last night’s festivities. What started out as a fairly simple evening of body-weight exercises and some simple spinning turned into an adventure when on the very first body-weight move (a reverse lunge), my left quadriceps tightened up like a guy wire in a gusting wind, and refused to loosen up for what is going on 21 hours now. I was able to complete the workout by skipping the reverse lunges with my left leg, going slowly on the lateral lunges in both directions, and frying the hell out of my hamstrings and glutes by relying on them to get me through the final spinning part.

I’m hoping this doesn’t affect my workout today or tomorrow. I’ll do what I can, but I’m not going to put myself in danger of shutting down for weeks because I was stupid and overdid on an injured leg. Friday night I’ve got my first massage in more or less forever scheduled, and I’m hoping my therapist can help unclench my leg if it’s still grumpy, as well as work on all of the rest of my broken bits (though he won’t have nearly enough time for all of that this appointment).

Week two can smooch my booty goodbye (at last)

Well, week two of the 90 Day Fitness Blaster regimen has come and gone, and now lies, finally, in my rear-view mirror. I say finally, because I swapped out Saturday’s workout for this Monday’s rest. I did this because I hurt my elbow somehow on Friday, and I wanted to give it a bit more rest before starting the resistance training portion of the program. I was also gone half the day helping to run the Raffle Ramble, a fundraising event for the Tour du Rouge. Add those two up and it means I had to sweat last night, rather than napping on the couch. Turns out it wasn’t as bad as I feared it might be.

The lateral lunges went better than last time, as my right knee slowly loosens up and the muscles around it get a bit stronger (note to self, put on shoes next time… your stride is wider than your yoga mat, and your socks slide easily on the hardwood floor), and I was able to maintain the crow pose for five whole seconds before dumping forward onto my head (and I was able to do this twice!). Who know I needed a helmet for yoga?

The riding wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, though 20 minutes straight is a long damn time to be on the trainer. Not only does the boredom kill me, but for some reason, my back and knees feel a bit worse on the trainer than they do when I’m just out riding. I really need to figure out if that’s a fit issue and fix it if it is. The next time I have a segment like this, though, I want to try and do at least half of the time at 110+ RPM rather than 105+.

That’s about it for now. I really need to get cracking on my post-ride report for the Raffle Ramble, and start fretting about the theoretically evil 45-minute Yoga Spin session I’ve got on tap for tonight… so I’ll wrap this up and try to get moving on those bits.

Oh yeah, after cramming way too many donuts in my maw at the Raffle Ramble, I clocked in at only 0.5 pounds down from last week. Ooops. You see?  Bicycling is bad for your health!

Well, that’s much better!

So last month I hadn’t made any progress towards my goal of cutting down on the number of miles I put on my car. My average for the month was about exactly what it had been the year before, so I put a little extra burden on myself this past month to exceed my original goal of cutting out 10% per month. So how did I do? Quite well actually. With a caveat.

First of all, my mileage. From Jan. 13 – Feb. 12 I put on just 426 miles. A drop of 136 miles from the previous month, for a whopping 24% decrease last month, and a 22.5% decrease from my average of 550 miles/month. Awesome.

However, there’s a bit of the bad to go with the good in there. A part of the reason I was able to cut my miles so severly is that I was out of town on business four four days. Not being able to drive your car sure makes it a lot easier to not drive your car. Of course, on the flip side, the next week we had not just bad weather, but horrible weather. We were hit with 11″ of snow here in the D/FW area (about 8-9″ at the house) and for days the roads were either snowy/slushy, or covered with ice as the snow slowly melted during the day and refroze at night. I simple do not have a bike that is set up to ride safely in those conditions, so I left it at home and drove in to work for five straight workdays. That right there is about 75 miles that were unexpectedly added back into my total.

Finally, I started out the current month with a bit more driving than I would have liked, thanks mainly to poor shopping list planning and a sick girlfriend who needed me to run out for supplies (doesn’t she know she’s supposed to schedule her illnesses?), as well as an unnecessary driving commute that I did, simply because I didn’t prepare the night before and was too tired to get motivated in the morning. One of those conditions is survivable, two are not.

Anyway… with the weather appearing to start climbing out of the depths of witer suckitude and into something a bit less bone-chilling, I ought to be able to get a lot more riding in in the coming weeks. I just need to make sure my rain gear is ready to go.