Friday Group Ride #196

RKP at sunrise

When you just stand there in the basement or garage admiring your bike as it hangs clean and tuned in the stand.

When you hammer over the top and drop down the cassette and hit the front side of the next climb and crest that rise without slowing.

When you’ve got all the motivation in the world, but injuries keep you from doing anything with it.

When you’re finally so wet that you can’t be more wet, so you settle in and just ride, even though the sky has fallen and everybody else is running for cover.

When you find yourself right on top of the gear, zipping along, perfect tension in the pedals and the road smooth under your tires.

When your favorite fades in the last kilometer, just pops and shoots backwards, and the whole damn race is lost, and you really believed he/she could do it, and now you have to think about the race differently and pray for a miracle, though we’ve come to suspect miracles…sadly.

When you lay out your clothes the night before, and fill your bottles, and adjust the pressure in your tires, and point your front wheel at the door and go to bed, sure you’ve forgotten something.

When you’re unconsciously good and you keep pulling inadvertently off the front and then sitting up to wait for your friends, and they all seem to be working hard and you can’t make it compute, but there it is, form.

When you feel fast and congratulate yourself for being so fit, and then it suddenly dawns on you that you have a stiff tailwind.

When you know you’ve waited too long to eat, and your head starts to feel thick and your legs go wooden, and you cram everything you’ve got in your jersey pocket into your mouth and empty your bottles, but you know it won’t help, and you just have to limp home and try to be smarter the next time.

When you descend the stairs all wobbly-legged and smile knowing you went hard.

This week’s Group Ride just asks the simple question: When?

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37 comments

  1. TominAlbany

    When your colleagues see your bike in the rack and say, “It’s December 5th and you’re still commuting by bike?”
    -or-
    When you’re ticked off because someone built a little bridge or cleared out the rocks from the ‘problem’ creek-crossing you’ve been trying to clean without a dab.

  2. Dustin

    When you can feel the edge knobs on the front tire just starting to think about folding over and giving away, but they don’t, they dig into the dirt and you rail the corner just perfect.

    When spinning across the bridge on my morning commute, looking to my left at the beautiful sunrise coming up over the Savannah River.

    When the rear tire leaves the lip of the drop, the world goes quiet for a moment, and your stomach moves up an inch or two as you start the fall.

  3. ScottyCycles62

    When you realize you are a cyclist and you refer to your bicycle by her name “Eva” when talking about her.

  4. Greg D

    When you live in New England and awake to 50 degree temperatures in December! You would ride regardless of the temp (up to a point), but this makes it that much sweeter.

  5. Mark Poppendiek

    When the gaps in the trees allow you to pass through pleasing patches of sunlight, and when the road dips done and you get a blast of wonderful willowy riparian smells.

    1. Blair Van Vliet

      Cruising the net and happened to see your posting on your Saturn Cycle, John Padgett does live in Nevada City.

  6. dlovat

    When you are near the 50 mile mark of a solo out and back 100 mile training ride, and you are going hard, and you are right on the edge, and it dawns on you that you are not yet even half way done, but then you realize that you can get back home… no matter what.

  7. Patrick O'Brien

    When? It was two weekends ago. I love tailwinds. You know, when you turn around and just know the wind is going to shift back in your face all the way home, but it doesn’t. Sweet.

  8. Andrew

    When you are big ringing the rises and you’re in the perfect packed spot on the gravel and the dogs at that old farm are coming out to say “hi” and the sun is setting and there’s nowhere else you’d rather be…

  9. Eto

    When you are sitiing on the wheels of your best friends, riding east with the winter sun still cresting on your back, humming along at that perfect rate.

  10. tinytim

    When you momentarily blackout from an effort, somehow come to and find yourself still upright and making circles with the feet.

    When you reach for the ‘special’ bottle, reserved for the last half hour of riding, that contains flat Chimay Red.

  11. John

    When you hammer through a headwind for a nice long while and then rotate off the front, hearing your buddy behind you say, “Nice pull’.

  12. Wisco

    When you feel like hell, but pound out that effort you didn’t think you had.

    When you get to work after an early morning ride/commute and you feel energized.

    When you listen to the sound of a supple tire as you fly down a curvy hill.

  13. oldschoolzeus

    When you’ve been “dropped”, get back on, recover and hammer a couple miles, swing off and the guys are saying “that was fun”.

  14. Michael

    When you have three or maybe three and a half hours before you need to be back to start making Thanksgiving dinner, a holiday you don’t really understand anyway but you need to be there for, and so you head out on your cross bike to ride around the mountain but after half an hour you are riding in eight-inch-deep snow and a truck came through a couple of days ago and so you are riding in its rather-narrow-for-a-truck tracks trying to keep your pedals – really your shoes – from hitting the snow every revolution and sending you bouncing between the two sides of the track and then you get to the pass and know there is no way you are getting around the mountain in the time you have left so you go a ways further and then turn around and come back to the pass and turn the other way and go down and around that way, getting home in a little under three hours, not having accomplished your objective but feeling great after all that snow and ice and mud and riding and also a hero because you came back EARLY and can get started on your dinner duties.

  15. Hautacam

    When the gun goes off but a stick of wood gets jammed in the front wheel of your CX bike and you have to stop completely to pull it out, and as you chase back the resulting adrenalin dump and anger-fueled laser focus gives you such a rush that you not only catch the field but unthinkingly execute your very first perfect dismount/runup/remount on the inside line of a massive bottleneck, and pass at least half the field in the process.

    When you finish in the top ten for the first time . . . but feel compelled to admit that there were only 15 racers in your heat.

    When an attractive cyclist of the opposite sex pulls up alongside you on the commute to work and compliments your riding style, adding that you are a smooth wheel to follow.

  16. Savvycyclist

    When you sink into a hot, hot bath to ease your tired muscles, with a cold, cold beer in your hand and, thinking back on the ride, know that you really did leave everything you had out there on the road.

  17. Kevin

    When you and your wife/main squeeze show up for a ride and you’re feeling pretty good (not sure about her) but then THAT rider shows up (“The Old Man”/Cat1/2/local hammer) so you realize it’s gonna get real serious at some point, and you think you know where so you’ll really be vigilant and in position, and you come to that place and it happens, it happens so violently that you gotta dig really deep to get THAT wheel, and you almost cannot believe the big number on you cyclometer, and you’re barely holding on while you try to will your lungs and heart out of the red zone, and now THAT rider is looking to see who’ll pull through and you get a nod when you manage it (“Short pulls!”) and you look to see who else is there (seems a very small number)…and she pulls through, chin on her stem, full concentration, and you discover a new level of joy, pride and lust all at the same time. YES!

  18. Peter Leach

    When you crest the last climb, get green at the last traffic light and roll past your personal ‘red kite’ and offer up your prayer for the last kilometre that takes you home …

  19. Dave Cairncross

    When the sound goes quiet…
    When I just turn downwind, and the wind noise goes away
    When I roll on some of that rare, glass-smooth asphalt
    When I get myself out of the madness of the city, to car-less roads
    When I pull over to soak-in a view on a mountain top
    When I ride a meadow alone just after a snowfall

  20. Jonathan

    When you’d rather be doing a 100km solo effort, but you make do with 45 because you’re helping a mate get some form back after a year off the bike.

  21. Davo

    When you come to a stop at a light next to another bike commuter and it’s 28 degrees, dark and windy and he asks you if you ride all year. I just smile and reply after a long pause, “except when the weather is bad.”

  22. Bill

    When I’m sitting in the chair, nursing the scrapes and bruises down my entire right side, earned after taking a hairpin turn too hot on my newly hand-built 29er on its maiden voyage. Ti frame built by me, wheel set built by me, bike completely assembled by me.

  23. Souleur

    When I hit the gravel roads of winter
    When I caress roads I have never been on in car
    When I am ‘sorta’ lost, but the sun gives me some direction
    When a lonely car wanders by
    When I find my granny gear 34×25 comfortable, and the front end is lite
    When I wave at people, and they wave back, who I have no clue who they are and they look puzzled
    When a deer runs across the road, narrowly I miss
    When I meet the man with the hammer, 3 hrs in
    When I see the lights of town on the horizon reflect on the upper atmosphere
    When I drink a warm tea and enjoy the sugar and thaw out
    When I consider whats next

  24. Josh

    When you resort to the most private area in your house to apply chamois cream as quickly as possible, hoping and praying that no one walks in needing an explanation.

  25. Mike C

    When you’ve gained ten pounds, slowed down but the heart rate is 15-20 bpm faster through every section. And this morning after pulling for the third time, two of my buddies say to me as I drop to the back.. someone’s feeling pretty good today…

  26. mrad

    When I stop pedaling as I go by the spot where a cyclist was hit and killed. Then I start again and feel like he is with me.

  27. Bridget

    When you look at the bike, knowing that it is the machine that almost got you killed, but all you can think about is how that bike saved your life.

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