cycling this weekend

I had two good cycles this weekend, a long one and a short one.  I’m very pleased because the weather forecast was not looking good as of Friday evening, but we ended up with mostly overcast rather than rain.  I did get poured on for the last couple miles of today’s ride, but it was 50 degrees, and I was close to home, so I didn’t really mind.

Saturday, I took a spin around the southern half of Lake Washington.  I’ve done this ride before, but last time, I parked near the route.  This time, I cycled from home, which adds about 5 miles and 300 feet of elevation gain to a ride with 1000+ feet of elevation gain to start with, bringing it to 30 miles.  A friend of mine from work who lives very close to me had agreed to meet me for the ride, which was a nice change from my usual habit of riding alone.  We met up at 8 am at the neighborhood park and set out.

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The first half of the ride went very well.  My friend mentioned to me that he was finding the hills hard, and I think I wasn’t really taking him seriously, because I thought he was in better shape than me, but as we neared the I90 bridge, I realized that he really was struggling a bit.  We took it nice and slow up the hills to the bridge and headed across.  About a mile short of Mercer Island (which sits about 3/4 of the way across the bridge), my rear tire went flat.  Really, there isn’t much worse of a place for that to happen than the bridge.  I kept going, though I probably should have stopped and walked.  Changing it in situ was completely impossible.  My friend has done even less cycling than me, so he didn’t know any more about changing bike tires than I did.  However, some how we managed to muddle through and get a new tube on.  I don’t think either of us could have done it on our own, but between the two of us, we figured it out.  I was pretty proud of that, but I also hope I don’t have to change another tire anytime soon.  It is definitely not easy.

By the time we got all the way across the bridge, my friend was really starting to struggle.  We slowed down to a Sunday afternoon stroll sort of pace, but hills were just killing him, and unfortunately, you can see from the elevation profile that the end of the route features a lot of uphill.  Nevertheless, we continued and got back to the park.  I’m hoping my friend is not too discouraged and willing to go out cycling with me again.  I think he’s more of a natural athlete than me, and could probably get in shape enough to keep up without that much trouble.

I had been planning to run a 5K today (Sunday).  Then I decided my legs were too tired from the cycling, so I thought I might try yesterday’s route again instead (at an easy pace).  Then I got discouraged by predictions of rain, and it did in fact rain this morning, so I thought I go for a swim.  In the end, the weather prediction improved a bit, and I went for a shorter, 10 mile ride.  This is a 10 mile loop I’ve cycled many times, so it’s a good barometer for progress.

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I feel like I’m finally starting to see some returns on my cycling efforts.  I hit my highest average pace yet for this ride (11.3 mph).  That is pretty slow, but this route features some pretty brutal hills, so I’m trying not to worry about the absolute speed.  I love, love Strava segments for bicycling.  I’m getting faster on downhills, flats and uphills.  Not much faster in most cases – but little by little, I’m making progress.  Now that summer is coming, I’m hoping to continue to gain cycling fitness in nicer weather, though I suppose the heat could be a problem.   I’m not sure what my goals are, really.  I know that I want to be able to cycle farther – how much farther, I’m not sure.  I want to be more competitive in duathlon / triathlon events.