Spring is in the air. That’s good news for cyclists. Some are still pedaling away on trainers at fitness clubs, cycling centers or basements.
Others never went indoors. The doughty year-round commuters pushed their way through snow, sleet and cold. Now they are rewarded by entering the cycling season with better-than-average fitness.
Some of us were happy to trade the mountain bikes we road on snowy streets for fast road bikes. It’s like losing 10 pounds without dieting.
Good Friday was a day off for me and what better way to spend it than an 80-miler, the first of the season. I wore cycling shorts and sun screen for the first time since last October.
We started with a large group – 20 or 30 cyclists. A strong south wind blew up to 20 miles per hour, so we picked a route that went mostly west and some southwest to Plainfield and back. We would fight a headwind going out but let the angels push us home.
Most of the cyclists turned back after Water Fall Glen, leaving six of us to go the full distance.
One rider was a young man from Riverside. He was on the first 80-mile ride of his life. His longest ride to date was 45 miles.
He had not yet learned the cardinal rule of distance cycling. It’s about fitness, but it’s also about nutrition and hydration. I left home with two bananas tucked in my shirt and two bottles of sports drink. He came out with water, just water.
His tank was full at the start but close to empty by halfway. We needed him to refuel and fast before a full bonk set in.
Luckily the heavens had placed a Starbucks in Plainfield. He ate and rehydrated. I took a shot of double espresso.
Revived, we turned for home and the speed accelerated with the full wind at our backs. The kid dropped off and Mark Jolicoeur went back to ride with him.
We were now four, including John Frye. At 63 years young, John – we’ve started calling him Big John – is an endurance cyclist. He’s strong and doesn’t like to get dropped. He held on to our foursome, sometimes at speeds approaching 30 miles per hour.
We trundled back to Oak Park after our four and a half hour ride. See, this Friday really was good.
On a separate note, here is a shout out to Dr. Ross Hauser of Oak Park. Hauser has long been an endurance athlete. He does long cycling rides. He’s an Ironman. Last year he completed a 30-mile run. This year, he shot higher: The Umstead 100 in South Carolina.
Hauser has been running 90 to 100 miles training weeks in preparation. Two weeks ago, he competed. The course turned out to be hillier than he anticipated, and the Chicago area is not the best place to train for hills.
I followed the updates from his wife Marion on Facebook. It sounded grueling. Hauser made it to mile 60 before hypothermia – that’s right – hypothermia forced him off the course. Good effort Ross. We’re proud.