I’m not a slow bike rider. But I’m not a super fast bike rider either.
My brother-in-law Paul once rode 40K (that’s 24 miles) in an hour. On a road bike.
That’s fast. And he was still a CAT 3 rider. Not a CAT 1 or CAT 2. A CAT 3.
So there are lots of people faster than me. I say that because what I’m about to share seems like bragging of a sort. But it’s really not. It is appreciation. Gratitude. And excitement over riding at a pace that feels fast to me.
I rode 19.57 mph for 20 miles last night. That included a couple long climbs where despite my cadence and hammering as hard as I could, the pace dropped to 14 mph.
And the wind, of course. This is Illinois.
Short of races where I’m going all-out for the sprint distance, which is usually 15-16 miles, I don’t typically average more than 20 mph while riding solo. But as the summer proceeds and my fitness increases, it’s always my goal to do a few rides where my average speed tops 20 mph.
That’s easy enough to do in a group ride. I can easily average whatever the group is doing. That might be 20-24 depending on the ride and the group.
My all-time fastest average was in a Masters 50+ race. When I got dropped after 35 minutes I looked down to find that I’d averaged 25.2. That’s pretty decent for a guy over fifty years old who only started riding seriously in his late 40s.
Strava shows that I haven’t fallen off precipitously on my average times or segments even after turning sixty years old. If you get out there and ride, there’s a lot of life left even in older bodies. I can still run 7:00 pace for a 5K. And if pressed, I run intervals at 6:00 pace on the track. That’s the same pace I ran as a 12-year-old kid in seventh grade gym class during a 12:00 time trial. 49 years ago.
In the drops
I don’t own a time trial or tri-bike. So to ride fast I slide down on the drops and stay low as long as I can. My Specialized Venge is an aero geometry bike with a thin profile from the front. It’s a snappy bike even though the handlebars that came with the purchase are 44s, and that’s a bit wide for me. I make it work.
I’ve been cycling on a decent road bike since 2007. Those have been years well-spent learning how to ride well. And I still like trying to go fast. That used to be my Twitter handle. @gofast. I gave it up and moved to @genesisfix07 for reasons related to other pursuits in life.
No full white beard
But the cycling is still a pursuit that I like to do as fast as I can. I’m not ready to grow the requisite full white beard that men of my age (too) often sprout. The signal they’re ready to slow down, retreat and fix their personal doctrine into permanent place.
I sport my white goatee because I still love new music and artistic pursuits that challenge my own perceptions. I love diversity in everything from the people I meet to the miracles of evolution all around us (see the dragonfly above, a photo I took yesterday at Fermilab.)
And all that runs through my head as I course down the road at 26 mph trying to raise the average time above 20 mph in compensation for that hill I just climbed.
It’s just one of the things I do.