Ride 18: 90 degrees!

No – that title is not a typo.

Today was actually 90 degrees in Minnesota (it is only the middle of May). My body wasn’t clear what was really going on during my ride. It is used to being wrapped in several layers of high-tech fabrics to create an impenetrable barrier against harsh, cold winds. 90 degrees means one, light layer with the expectation to manage sweat. It is such a novel concept. I wasn’t sure exactly how to react.

Here are the meteorological details:

  • Temp: 90F
  • mostly sunny and fairly humid is a day in mid-May
  • early winds at around 10mph from the SW, building to nearly 20mph by the end of the ride

Unfortunately, after a moderately long ride yesterday of nearly 30 miles (especially after a 3 week stint of only minimal riding), my legs decided to organize a rebellion and worked against me the whole ride. I had no power at all and every moment of needed exertion- hills or against the wind – translated into 14mph and the urge to get off the bike and walk. It sucks having legs that don’t want to turn pedals. For this ride, I suffered the earned punishment from not riding much within the last few weeks.

Here are the stats from the computer:

  • Start time: 5:30pm
  • distance: 22.7 miles
  • avg speed: 17.7 mph
  • duration: 1:17
  • bike odometer: 376 miles

17.7mph is not a number I should be satisfied with at this time of year – even with some moderate wind. This ride will give me a new baseline to work from and provides a motivational point to ramp up my riding frequency and distance before June comes around. I am still trying to hit a goal of regular 30 miles rides at 20mph average. This means that I will need to increase my riding frequency to 4 times a weeks – with the willingness to suffer through some intense intervals to pick up my speed and build strength for hill climbing. I have the perfect bike to accomplish this goal, now I need the training in my legs and body to support it.

Riding on a Tuesday provided an interesting observation compared to the ride on Monday. Given that Monday immediately follows the weekend and many “triathletes” like to perform a full set of training rides on Saturday and Sunday – I noticed that there were few bikers on the road. Those who were riding were generally jovial in spirit, riding standard road bikes, and very willing to wave back when I would extend the same courtesy.

But – Tuesday was completely different. The roads were flooded with “triathletes” that were back on their training schedule after Monday’s rest day. It seems that most of the people that I passed were in their tuck position on aero bars and refused to acknowledge me with a return wave. As much as I hate to make gross generalizations – I can definitely say that cyclists on time-trial bikes are egotistical, self-centered jerks that have no sense of camaraderie with other cyclists. My response from those on traditional road bikes with dropbars is completely opposite and I almost always receive a friendly wave or “hello” when meeting on the road.

My other experience on the road occurred at a controlled intersection. To preface this story – I know that cyclists have a reputation around Minnesota for having little regard for traffic laws. It would often seem that the same cyclist chanting they have the “same rights as motorized vehicles” is also quick to ignore standard laws while on their bike.

Thus, onto my story. I am pretty fanatical when it comes to treating my bike as if I were driving any vehicle (like a car) on a public road. This means that I ride on the proper side (I often ride the painted, white line) and obey all road signs and controls. I signal all my turns and come to a complete stop at all STOP signs. I don’t waver in this behavior. If I am out in the middle of the country with no one around – I’m still signaling and stopping, just like I would do in a car.

On this ride, I was approaching a controlled intersection (4-way stops) and noticed a biker coming toward me from the opposite direction. As I slow down to stop, I see that he gives a quick look for cross traffic and blows through the intersection without stopping. He gave me a look with a smile as if to say “Hey, how’s it going?” and I returned his look with a stern glare, a disapproving shake of my head while mentally saying “Thanks for making all us cyclists look like assholes!” This was further emphasized by a car that came up behind this rider and witnessed this biker’s disregard for basic traffic laws. We were both equally disgusted.

If you haven’t ridden much in highly populated areas, you probably haven’t experienced a lot of “cyclist hate” from passing cars. Usually, its manifests itself in a blast of the horn or screaming obscenities out the window – but I’ve also had things thrown at me and witnessed attempts to spit in my general direction. (Fortunately, most of these idiots don’t have basic understanding of physics and have terrible aim.) This hate for cyclists is rooted in the guy that blew through the stop sign.

While on my bike, I’m trying my best to demonstrate that cyclists obey laws too – and ride in a way that a motorist can predict. My cause is not helped when the majority of other cyclists (at least 50 year old wanna-be triathletes in suburban Minnesota) feel they are “special” and traffic laws are merely suggestions and not rules. My fear is that me – the good guy – is the one that gets run over by pissed-off motorist in their Hummer due to this generalized sentiment.