Monday, May 12, 2008


Date: May 10 and 11
Mileage: 25.1 and 53.3
May mileage: 409
Temperature: 48 and 45

I've come to the conclusion that using a mountain bike for every ride is good for strength training. Whenever I'm riding on pavement, I always have this perception of how fast I should be going, not really considering the fact I need to push the mountain bike harder to get there. If I drop below 15 mph, I amp up the output. Plus, the mountain bike has coaxed me to seek out gravel and spur trails, no matter how short or rough, wherever I can find them. After two weeks of this, I've noticed a difference. I feel acute muscle soreness at the end of the day. And today, when I finally got around to shaving my legs (for being a girl and a cyclist, I don't do this nearly as often as I should) ... anyway, I noticed definite new muscle definition, especially in the lower quad region. Good things.

Tougher for me has been balancing my idea of a good morning ride with my bicycle commute. On Sundays I always have a little more time to spare, so I like to put in a longer midweek ride. Today I did a hard hill climb with a burn back into the wind, about three hours of riding that used up just about everything I had. I like it when I really push my limits like that, but the immediate hour following is always tough. I stumble down the stairs with legs that feel like a lightly charred piece of toast, about to crumble underneath me. I try to make lunch with hands that are still numb and shaking. I step into the shower and let all the effort soak in, blissfully tired and warm, and then I remember ... "Oh crap, I still have to ride my bike to work today."

I really, really didn't want to walk back upstairs and get back on my bike. But it's Bike to Work Week, and I couldn't let myself wuss out of a six-mile commute during Bike to Work Week. So I soft-pedalled toward the office until I crossed the bridge. That's when I was passed by a road cyclist.

What is it about being passed by another cyclist that so involuntarily ignites the primitive chase reflex within us all? I was like a border collie watching a sheep break away from the herd. I wanted - nay, I needed - to reel him in. Never mind that I was wearing jeans, riding a platform-pedal mountain bike and hoisting an overstuffed backpack that contained, among many other things, a frozen bag of ravioli and a jar of spaghetti sauce. All the better to crush the Lycra dude.

Anyway, the race was on, with my toasted quads and only partially recovered energy level, mashing and sweating for no reason whatsoever. When I finally did catch the guy, I just hung near his wheel and drafted off him until we reached my intersection. I don't even think he noticed.

And once I got to work, I had to go through the whole shaky hands and sweaty clothes routine, again. Luckily, I have a pretty good stash of extra clothing built up there now. But still, I'm tired, and not yet deep enough into my new routine to know how to keep the commute from becoming a few miles too many.


  1. I love the observation about the "primitive chase reflex". I totally can relate. I would also like to add an aspect from the break away sheep's perspective. There is nothing better than to have a cyclist respond to a pass-by and then ride them to exhaustion. That's fun too! I think your response to being passed is great. Love your blog!

  2. Come on Jill. Life is hard enough for us lycra dudes without getting beat up by girls.

  3. Oh my word - I can totally relate. Nothing more insulting than being passed while riding - even when I'm all geared up for a commute.

    I'll totally try to chase down a roadie even as I'm bouncing up and down on my heavy front shock and buzzing along on my nubby tires.

  4. How do you like the 29er as a MTB? Would you go that route again or stick with a full suspension 26" MTB in the future?

  5. I don't have a road bike to compare but I love the freedom a MTB gives. You see a bit of track and off you go.

  6. Careful... it can be dangerous for both of you to draft without announcing your presence.

  7. Yes, and don't forget your dental floss and nasal spray!

  8. Too much information with the whole shaving your legs story. You better be carefull riding out in the woods with your furry legs, somebody might mistake you for the Sasquach.

  9. Down here we call it the Commuter Olympics.
    It seems that the price of oil is have a positive effect on the number of bikes heading into and out of town each day.
    More chasing, more drafting, more sprinting, more fun!!

  10. Some weird comments today. Hmmm.

    Vik ... Hard to say at this point. There are things I miss about my old bike, but I like how well this one climbs and rolls through mud. The frame itself is super comfortable. Problem with all the big wheel perks is, anything a 29er can do, my Pugsley can do better ;-)

    Bryan ... Drafting was the wrong word. I should have said I lurked 20 feet back. I didn't want that guy noticing me and realized what I had done. It was embarrassing.

    Anon ... If I didn't sleep alone or if I ever wore shorts, I might care more. But, I don't.

  11. Oh, he noticed you there, for sure. The noise alone gave you away. He was just acting like the cat who falls off something, "What? Did something happen?"


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