And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.
Yesterday evening Dad, Ian, and I watched Salt. Frankly, I’m astonished it got 61% on Rotten Tomatoes. I’ve rarely been more bored in an action movie, and I like action movies. The whole “Russians are the bad guys” thing felt so 30 years ago. That aside, they just tried to do too darn much in an hour and a half. The first half is a mistaken identity/quest to save her husband story and I kept watching because I wanted to see what happened to her husband. They devoted several minutes to their relationship, so you figure it’s going to be important. Then her husband is summarily shot and vanishes without anybody batting an eye, and the movie turns into a double agent/agent vs. agent scramble. For all that, it was predictable enough that we were able to call out all the twists before they happened. The only redeeming features were the Haagen-Dasz bar I ate partway through and the fact we didn’t pay for it. True Grit was way better.
Then today — drumroll please — I went for a group ride. Lots of people go on group rides all the time, especially on the weekends, but for me it’s a big thing. I almost never ride with strangers, but today a ride leader Dad knows and likes was doing a 45-mile, 4,000-foot climbing ride that sounded good to me. I’ve always thought they sounded really hard-core and too intense for me, but I decided to stretch myself and ride with this group, which Dad has talked about a lot. (Click below the fold to read my rambling thoughts on a rambling ride.)
A word on my bicycling in general: I’ve gone more miles this month than any of the last 4 months, yet I feel happy and rested and ready to GO when I get on my bike. I’m having no trouble riding 50 miles and farther with minimal aftereffects, when back in September I did a 40-ish mile ride and was exhausted at the end. Amazing what consistent rest and varying training can do.
While I was gone, Ian completed a Herculean task and cleaned his office completely. NO stacks of paper to be seen. You could’ve knocked me down with a feather when he opened the door and showed me his handiwork. Then he updated the Route Creator he made a while ago to include total ascent. And he did a bunch of other important chores, too. What a guy!
As the week progressed, Dad and I watched the predicted weather steadily degrade to more and more unpleasant riding conditions. Fortunately, as a long-time commuter, I don’t let bad weather stop me. Unfortunately, most other people don’t choose to ride in the rain, so there were good odds that the ride would be cut short or canceled outright due to weather. When we got up to ominous clouds but no actual rain, Dad and I decided to ride to the meeting point at Marymoor and see what happened from there. The long and short of it is that as we rode down there, the rain started — first a drizzle, then changing to increasingly steady rain. I’d left my long fingered gloves, ear warmer, and booties at home because it was 50°F when we left, plenty warm to go without. Except I didn’t, for some reason, account for the wind and rain in those warmth calculations. After much standing around and cooling off, the group did eventually get together and start riding.
Almost immediately it became clear that we weren’t doing the much-vaunted hilly ride I’d come out for. Instead, the ride leader went out of his way to avoid hills. Even so, it also quickly became clear that every single one of the riders would be able to easily leave me far behind if he so desired. Even the other lady on the ride was absurdly strong. Every time we did go up an incline, I waved goodbye to the entire group as they took off, leaving me to make my way alone. Mostly that didn’t happen, though, because there weren’t that many hills all told. On flats, I was sort of able to keep up when everybody else took it a little bit easy. We rode about 30 miles together and got very, very wet and mud-splattered. One guy described my fenders as “useless” because the rear mud flap didn’t go down far enough.
Yes, it’s true, my mud flap doesn’t almost touch the ground as most of theirs did (the extra-long mud flap is called a “buddy flap,” a reference to sparing your ride buddies from the road filth). I wouldn’t have said it was useless, though. Try riding behind my dad, for example, whose fenders lack mud flaps entirely. Anyway, if I want to ride with those guys again, I guess I need to make myself an improved mud flap or suffer ridicule and irritate all the other riders behind me. Of which, frankly, there were very few.
So we rode around and I felt frustrated and discouraged with how easily I fell behind. This is why I wouldn’t make a good bike racer: When they dropped me, instead of wanting desperately to catch up and killing myself to do it, I just wanted to give up and go home. I took a middle road with working to reasonably hard to stay with the pack, not giving up and going home, but also not killing myself to keep up. After 30 miles together, everybody was wet and the ride leader decided to throw in the towel. We rode back to the parking lot and Dad and I peeled off. I decided to continue riding more, since I wanted to get in more miles and definitely more climbing.
And here’s the elevation profile of my route:
In both images, blues and purples in the route line indicate high elevations; reds and yellows indicate lower elevations. Quick shading from one color to the next indicates a steep slope.
Depending on which program you ask, I climbed anywhere from 2,500 feet to 5,000 feet. (This is an interesting thing about the Garmin data. Depending on which program you load the route into, you get incredibly discrepant elevation results.) My goal was 4,000 feet of climbing and 60-ish miles. I think I achieved that, but only because I went out and rode up all the big hills I knew of on my way home. Anyway, this is kind of a rambly discussion of where I went and what I did on my ride because I’m not sure how I felt about the whole experience. During the group ride, I felt discouraged and frustrated, not to mention wet and mad at myself for dressing wrong, and that carried through the rest of the ride. Even though I think I achieved my riding goal, I still feel dissatisfied. I was hoping I’d be better able to keep up, I guess, and I’m disappointed at myself. Time to work harder!