Cycling ups and downs

The weather has been unrelentingly excellent this summer – admittedly too hot a lot of the time, but without the daily threat of downpours, lightning and hail that usually characterize a summer afternoon. Mostly sunny, mostly dry, and therefore perfect for biking. And yet I’m just not getting the miles in. In part, it’s the uncertain nature of my work – where missing a phone call could mean missing a job, and none of the people I deal with seem to be on a predictable schedule. Some days I’ll go for hours without talking to anyone, some days I’ll spend the whole day on the phone. Makes it hard to plan for a ride.

The second complication has been an unprecedented number of mechanicals, leaving me dead on the road and desperately trying to communicate my whereabouts to my extremely patient wife. The first spoke of the season had the courtesy to break in my garage, before I had even set out; the second and third left me out on back roads that she’d never be able to find without Google maps. The sidewall blowout wasn’t too far away but in a somewhat sketchy neighborhood, a long walk back to the truck in cycling shoes. And there was the time when the mechanical problem was me, and it was just too hot to face another 20 minutes of climbing to get home after a long, insanely hot ride. All of these have cut into my miles and left me scrambling to replace parts, swap wheels around, etc. in order to get back on.

The biggest enemy of time on my bike is simply that I like to go long, and I’m not getting to do that this summer. I think a 50k ride (which takes 2 hours) should be the minimum, and when I can’t squeeze that in, I’m unlikely to settle for half that or less – which means that I’m not getting miles into my legs that I could. I’ve struggled with this issue for years. In other years I’ve considered 70 or 80k to be the ideal, but that’s barely happened this summer.

So we come into the late part of the season, when motivation is usually flagging anyway, without enough kilometers to make me satisfied. On the upside, I’ve explored new roads, found new ways to get to old places, discovered fresh pavement here and there, and have still not had a bad ride. Healthy, strong and able to blow the doors off most other rides I encounter. Can’t complain about that.

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