Pete and I did a longer ride Saturday.
While I have been getting more volume in this year, it's been spread out over the week instead of a series of shorter rides followed by one long ride on the weekend. Compared to last year, the strategy worked, as I had the endurance to hang on to get some decent sprint finishes. There was a time, thanks to a weird work schedule, when I could sneak in two or three long rides a week. Now it's a special event when I can get in over two or three hours.
Saturday was one of those special events.
I rode out to meet him at his house, and we rode to the Eagle River Nature Center. I hadn't ridden out there in a couple years, because of ongoing road construction. Being told by a flagger that you would have to put your bike in the pilot car for the duration of the construction kinda takes the fun out of riding that road, so I just rode elsewhere. It's a shame, because there's a lot of nice, rolling hills back there and little traffic- although the traffic you do see is in a serious hurry to be somewhere else.
I thought they were pretty much done with the paving. I was wrong. We had a couple miles of chewed-up asphalt and hot, freshly-laid tarmac before we got past the construction. We alternated between having the lifespans of our tires and adding more material to them as we moved from surface to surface.
Once past the construction, there was great pavement and no traffic. We cruised along, talking about whatever popped into our heads. I told Pete that I won a sprint against a black bear a couple days before. I was riding on the back side of the base when the fat, berry-stuffed bear popped out of the alder on the other side of the road, heading the same direction. I let him know I was there, and while he seemed surprised by the news, he took it remarkably well. I maintained my course and speed, as not to arouse his predatory instincts or give the impression that I was a threat. I was already moving along at a fairly decent clip, and he might have been unaware that we were racing for that speed limit sign, but a timely bike throw allowed me to nip him at the line before he ducked back in the alders to hide his shame. Add that one to my palmar├Ęs.
Pete mentioned that he hated me, mostly because I dragged him out to a hilly ride and made him hurt. I was taken aback, as we had bypassed several harder climbs during our journey. I had thought myself quite benevolent. We kept the pace fairly conversational on the way back, kicking it up here or there to chase down a geriatrics on WalMart mountain bikes that dared occupy the road ahead of us.
By the time I dropped off Pete and made it home, I was just a couple ticks short of 80 miles. You know it's a good ride when fatigue overcomes OCD and you don't add just enough distance for a round number. A few years ago when I rode more, 80 miles wouldn't have seemed all that great. However, with my current time constraints and general fading enthusiasm for anything over 75 miles, this was a solid number.
Now that race season is pretty much over (other than some rumored crits and a couple races I'm not remotely interested in), I'm probably going to try to get in a few more of these rides. 'Cross season is approaching, but in the interest of my physical health and self esteem, I've decided to retire from the sport. Just like every other year, the idea is to squeeze in as many miles as possible in the fading light before the snow falls and I'm back in the trainer dungeon. I've got all sorts of outdoor yard projects that I need to take care of before they're covered with snow, and the wife has her own list that grows exponentially every time I check off one of the tasks.
I need to get in the miles, if only to stay sane.
By the time


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