We got up to ride this past Saturday after a fun little Halloween Party in a restored barn with a Haunted House. We took part in plenty of food and drinks, and got home late.
So I felt a little fuzzy crawling out of bed to put on cycling gear. The weather turned cool and we layered up. I’d actually forgotten that last spring I’d purchased new bib tights. My faithful old Specialized cycling tights finally wore through at the butt.
The new ones complement a new red cycling jacket that I’d purchased at a parking lot sale held at Performance Bike. So the entry into the cool fall riding season was done in style.
Tarsnakes on the road
Stocked with water bottles and a well-charged Garmin, I traded pulls with Sue for five or six miles. But I really started feeling it into a stiff northwest wind. By the time we got to the first climb of the day at nine miles, my legs felt shot. I thought: “Is this a hangover?”
That’s one of the tarsnakes of drinking. It’s seems fun until the price of the alcohol creeps up on you from behind. Then it’s all about slogging your way through the not-so-proud moments.
I had not done that much drinking the night before. Enough perhaps to resemble an addled cowboy when we got home. But I certainly didn’t wake up sick or suffering a headache. And yet my legs the next morning were seriously dead. All I could do was credit that effect to the big winds and the party the night before.
At some point I started to fall away and clawed back onto Sue’s wheel. But soon enough I told her, “Go on ahead,” and smiled at her with a shrug. “I don’t know what’s wrong with me.”
Tough going even downhill
As we turned south the road went downhill and still it was tough for me to keep up with her. “This is weird,” I said out loud. But I kept riding along at 14-15 mph.
Finally, our loop turned true east and the wind was seriously behind my back. The rush of air in my ears disappeared, and that’s when I heard it. The hiss of brake pads on metal wheel rims. I stopped and popped the wheel out of place, then pushed it to its proper position. Within two pedal strokes I knew that I’d found the problem.
What a stupid problem for any serious cyclist to have. Apparently the wheel had been out of line all along. When I struck a pothole at 10 miles while trying to stay close on Sue’s wheel, the thing had really gotten out of whack. But I fixed the damn thing and that was my Trick or Treat moment for the day.
On the way home, I arrived at a major Strave segment and decided to let my frustrations out by riding hard and fast. With the strong wind at my back, I rode at 30mph+ for a stretch and wound up breaking my prior best for the segment by quite a bit. Sure, that was a guilty pleasure and a bit of a cheat. But that’s the nature of the Halloween season.
At home I apologized to Sue for my stupid mistake. She was worried, she told me. We’d just ridden thirty miles together the week before and I was doing many of the longer pulls into the wind.
Well it wasn’t a lack of fitness holding me back after all. It was my tricky little brakes. No wonder I felt so shot for most of the ride. I’d tricked myself into thinking I was out of shape. But once I released the wheel from the brakes, the ride home was a treat.
I think I deserve some candy corn in consolation. Don’t you think?