I’ve “lived” in Florida for almost three weeks now, and the primary theme so far can only be “rain”. Beginning with a Tropical Storm that drenched us the entire first week I was here, and continuing with almost daily deluges that normally start just about the time I leave work to go ride or swim, I’m becoming very familiar with rain. Even the locals tell me they’ve never seen so much rain on such a regular basis. I’ve just accepted the fact that I’m going to come back from every ride in some state of drenchedness (I know, that’s not a word, but it’s my blog, so… ). It’s a little like Air Force survival school… once you accept the fact that you’re going to get beaten, the shock wears off and you can get on with living.
Last night’s ride was a local 20 miler, just about an hour after the last rain shower had pushed through. The streets around the apartment were surprisingly dry, so I thought I might get away with only a light soaking. Silly me. The water on the ground here tends to pool in somewhat unexpected places, creating unavoidable puddles and prolonged wet spots that create lots of spray from cars and bikes. Just face it, you’re gonna get wet.
I’d done a good cleaning and adjustment of the bike after my last wet ride, so it felt really good at the start. The chain was shifting well, wheels rolling true, etc, plus I started out with a tailwind. Once I got out of the heavier traffic area I leaned down into the aero bars and got comfortable (seems like an oxymoron, but I’m beginning to really prefer the aero position). It was good to see the numbers on the bike computer edging upward, settling in at around 23 mph. I rarely see that on my road bike. I figured I’d pay for it when I hit the turn around, but you’ve got to enjoy life while you can.
Rain really seems to disrupt traffic patterns here, so there were still a lot of cars on the road by the time I started the ride. It’s usually thinned out a lot by then, but I was accompanied by a steady stream of BMWs, Lexi (plural of Lexus), and SUVs. Fortunately there were no obnoxious drivers trying to shock me with the random honk or yell, so things were relatively peaceful despite the occasional road spray. I wondered a couple of times after being narrowly passed by the cars with bike racks on the back if the driver might have changed lanes if it had been his or her spouse on the bike? Interesting how your position changes your perspective.
My return trip did indeed include a steady headwind all the way back, which provided a good workout. Between the extra effort and nearly 100% humidity, I had sweat dripping from my helmet by the time I rolled into the complex. Once again, the beautiful bike was covered with road grime. So was I, but I’m easier to clean than the bike. Still, it was an enjoyable ride.
Since the bike lanes here seem to be magnets for extra road materials and generic debris, I’m developing a couple of new skills… Changing flats and repairing inner tubes. I tried a tube repair once early in my riding career, but the repair failed and left me stranded. Naturally, I was a little hesitant to rely on my skills in the future. However, as my collection of tubes with pinhole leaks has grown, and I have a little more time on my hands in the evening, I decided to give it another shot. I fixed two tubes this week, and they both seem to be holding well. Certainly cheaper than buying new tubes all the time.
Given this week’s travel schedule, I’ll probably only get one more ride in this week. That will be back on the Arkansas roads with actual hills, and no rain (unfortunately, that part of the country is in the middle of the worst drought in decades while we are drowning daily). Even though I didn’t feel like I needed a recovery week, I can already feel the benefits of dropping a couple of workouts this week. Sticking with a schedule can be a good thing.
Just curious… Do you include regular recovery weeks in your training plans, or go by feel?