Tuesday, October 28, 2014

A Delightful Giro and Living at the Edge of Anaerobic Oblivion

Sunday's Giro was well attended, perhaps because of the spectacular weather or maybe as a consequence of certain people taking Saturday off due to excessive celebration of the Bashful Artist entering his sixth decade of existence. The pace was fast but not excessively so, although the Far-flung might take issue with that fact as his spotty training regimen in the canyons of the Wasatch Mountains left him alone on the Chef Hwy going out and touring Eastover CC coming home.

Giro heading west on Chef - Oct. 25, 2014

Fortunately, I stayed comfortably with the group for the entire ride, which marks a sort of milestone for me:  the completion of a Giro in my 63rd year. So the pressure's off until next October 16th. I'm just not certain how much longer, even employing my rigorous cycling training of late of maybe one Tue/Thur ride a week and about half of the Sunday Giros, I will be able to ride with this group.

Proceed with Caution? Right.
A case in point is this morning's ride. Being constantly at or near the absolute limit of effort on Lakeshore Dr. in complete darkness is harrowing and there is a sort of balancing of that stress against the considerable pleasure of riding with a group and getting a great workout. I was at the edge of anaerobic oblivion the entire time along Lakeshore and began to wonder when the stress and pain might overwhelm any pleasure derived.  But I made it to West End and onto the path in Bucktown. Several riders were shed along the way never to be seen again, and the Bashful Artist was seen to be looking back toward the east and wondering aloud what had become of his protégé, Steve Tom.

My unease was exacerbated by my free hub squealing like a dying hog every time I free-wheeled while going faster than 25 mph. In bicycle years, my Ksyriums are older than even me but the free hub performed flawlessly for more than ten years, until this problem was encountered about six months ago when I (actually Big Rich) serviced it. Now the problem has apparently returned after only a short respite.

The pace didn't seem to slow in Jefferson Parish, and the group was strung out and accelerating coming off of the bridge across the first canal west of Causeway. There was way too much go-go in the yo-yo, and I killed myself as the back half of the line was racing to make up the gaps caused by the severe turns at the bridge. At Clearview I had something of an epiphany, suddenly realizing that I could just quit pedaling, sit up, begin again to intake sufficient oxygen to sustain life, and ride back to town alone at a comfortable pace. So that's what I did, stopping once to record that beautiful light of the approaching sunrise and observe about 80 or so dabbling ducks in the pond at the end of Lake Villa.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Birthday Beatdown

As I was preparing to leave my house at 5:35 this morning to ride, I couldn't shake a certain apprehensiveness which had been in the back of my mind since I got out of bed. Several factors were contributing to my uneasiness: 1) I had been up since 2:47, so I was operating on about 4 1/2 hours of sleep, 2) I felt an entire year older when I awoke, this new day marking my survival for 62 years, 3) I had been troubled for about three days with a dull ache in the medial aspect of my left knee of uncertain etiology, and 4) I had been watching the magnolia trees in my yard getting pummeled by the wind for two solid days, and I was not entirely convinced that the National Weather Service wasn't just screwing with me when reporting calm winds at KMSY and only the faintest of breezes from the SW at KNEW.

Approaching Williams Blvd. and the Casino
 I arrived at the meeting place first. Actually I got there second, but Brian B (not MD), always being a little on the antsy side, finds it somewhat difficult, I think, to sit on the corner waiting for others and usually does a loop on Nashville from Claiborne to Fountainbleau. I passed him as he was heading back toward Claiborne. Most of the usual suspects showed up. Dragging in last, as expected, was Big Rich. He was tardy enough so that he couldn't use his normal, lame "satellite time" argument and tried to float a scenario where he departed the Pearl in plenty of time but realized while he was passing Audubon Park that he didn't have his helmet on.

When we arrived at West End, only a few riders from Jefferson Parish were rolling east. Notably absent were HL (briefly from JP post-Katrina) and Woody. A birthday present, I thought. But as we neared Elysian Fields, I saw a rider up ahead making a uey in the dark to integrate with the group and it was obviously HL. On a time trial bike. Happy birthday. As we climbed the levee for the last time before the turnaround, I noticed a rider working his way up the left side of the paceline. He was in a dark blue kit with white-rimmed glasses on. Woody. Another B-day present. As a bonus we were treated to a morning of reticent comments emanating from the Bashful Artist on a TT bike.

The speed kept increasing, and in the last section between Canal St. and West End, the group was strung out and fractured into several pieces.

The ride out to the casino at Williams Blvd. was quick but manageable with Matt taking a long,
Selfie taken using voice-activated RBE Remote Control
steady pull at 25 mph for a few miles.  The trip in was also fast, but the real torture was served up by the most brilliant, eye-level sun into which we directly rode for the entire way back to Orleans Parish. It was miserable and trying to see where I was going and who might be coming, I wasn't paying attention sufficiently to avoid ending up in a huge gear trying to climb straight up the levee on the east side of the Causeway. I lost contact going up, killed myself getting back on and was cooked by Bonnabel. So I rode the last mile alone and chased back to the group at a red light in Bucktown.

By the time I got home I was whipped, hungry, and my knee hurt. My loving wife cooked a birthday breakfast for me, complete with toast cut into a little heart. Apparently, she loves me more than Matt and HL and Woody.

[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Fast and Dark

Owing to the marvelous happenstance of the earth's obliquity, i.e. the tilt of its wobbly axial spin, as we hurtle along on our 365-day journey around the nearest star at about 67,000 mph, we are treated to changing seasons and variations in the length of daylight. At the equator, not so much, but in our neighborhood, very close to 30 ° north, it makes for about an hour less daylight today than what we enjoyed a month ago. So the ride out to the lakefront at 5:45 is now getting darker by the day, and while I have started to learn the locations of most of the sink-holes and giant wheel-swallowing fissures in our route out to the lakefront, it still feels like something of a gamble each morning I make the ride.
Oct. 2, 3014 heading out along Wisner
And our circuit along Lakeshore Drive, which, when I first started making this new Tues/Thurs route, was made in that wonderful first glow of dawn, is now conducted in the complete darkness of night. To make matters worse, with the increased hazards of racing along in the dark has come the return of Woody.

Tuesday was crazy fast coming west from the turn near the industrial canal, with Woody and Brian B (not MD) repeatedly surging off the front at 30+ mph. I actually hung with the group being led by HL and Ray. My wheel was bounced sideways by a crack going around the Paris traffic circle almost sending me to the pavement, and I absolutely hate flying through the pock-marked roadway near the Franklin Ave. intersection in the dark. It was a tough ride, as hard as any Sunday Giro, but  I survived it and believe I am regaining some of the cycle fitness lost during my summer layoff.

 Brian B (not MD) had a flat as we were finishing in Bucktown. Brian makes something of a production of changing a flat, a predilection which incited a steady stream of critical and humorous commentary from those standing around waiting for him to finish.

Changing a flat in Buck Town

by David J. L'Hoste (1996)

The tilt of Earth's wobbly spin,
Like child's gyro dancing
On a string to a slow tango,
Slightly askew,

Twenty-three degrees, give or take
A degree or two,
As Fate has deigned it,
Is its obliquity.

This cant which sends our yellow star
South with the birds
In winter
And pushes it

Higher in the sky
To melt the snow
In spring,
Recalling warblers and thrushes,
Is tended by moon's pull.

Without its pearly satellite
Our orb would overlist
Or ride as straight as a
Crisply spun top.

What a world it would be
Without the tug of the moon
Or Earth's obliquity!

- -

 In other news:

Heading home -  Oct. 2, 2014
 Last Thursday's ride was largely uneventful. The weather was perfect: cool and nearly windless. I should mention two incidents which occurred as we were near the turnaround in Kenner. The first, as we were approaching Williams, involved Retail Ray, HL and me. Ray took a nice steady pull and as he got off and was dropping back along the line, I heard HL encourage the group to attack Ray. The group failed to accept HL's invitation, but HL's comment made a couple of things clear to me: 1) he was on my wheel, and 2) he would jump me when I got off the front. I was right on both counts and it was only by a hair, and mostly through a fierce determination not to have HL succeed in his endeavor that I got on the back of the line as HL attacked. As I was dropping back, Retail Ray made an entirely appropriate descriptive remark regarding HL's riding style which I will refrain from repeating here for decorum's sake. The second incident of note occurred just as we were making the turn, although I am not privy to all of the circumstances surrounding the event because HL, Big Rich and I were in the little walkway just east of Williams discussing HL's incredible denial that he had actually jumped me, moray eels and sting rays. But as best I can tell from what I observed, some quite attractive young lady we overtook near Williams had apparently dropped something on the path, and most of our group were killing themselves trying to get to it first to return the item to its comely owner. The whole affair included at least one bicycle dropped on concrete among the knot of cyclists trying to help.

Sunday's Giro was lightly attended due to the MS ride and a century in Mississippi. About 17 or so riders and a reasonable pace made for a pleasant Sunday morning.

I-510 on Giro, Sunday, Oct. 5, 2014
[Note: This blog isn't intended to disparage or offend anyone. If anything contained herein is believed to be inaccurate or offensive, please leave a comment. Any such comment may change nothing, but will be stark evidence of your right to free expression of thought and opinion, much as this blog evidences mine. Thanks for visiting.]