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This Season is Winding Down – Lessons Learned

It’s a chilly November afternoon outside.  We just changed back to standard time so it will be getting darker sooner and less afternoon daylight for riding.  As winter approaches there will be less time for riding.  October was my lowest riding total since April if not earlier.  Part of it was due to the government shutdown because my wife was home and come up with a list of things to do before winter.  This time of year also brings up a peak in my migraines both in number and severity.  Instead of the migraines being quickly dispatched in a couple of hours, I had a few that hung on for days.  I also had oral surgery with about 10 days to go in the month and the doctor told me no bike riding until the stitches come out in two weeks.  What time is better for me to reflect than right now?


I am not hanging up my bike yet.  I would still like to get in 300 – 400 miles before the weather really gets nasty.  If I get half of that I will be happy.  I will be prepared as I have ordered a new steed for my stable.  This has more of a touring stance, will take slightly wider tires and I plan to put fenders and possibly a rear rack on it.  Face it, I am in my 50’s and I am not going to go out racing in “crits” or cyclo-cross.  I also need to loose a decent amount of weight to even get near what it would take to race and this body has a bad knee and arthritic hip.  No, I just ride to be in club rides and socialize afterwords.  I do want to do more centuries next summer, not metric either but at least one full century.

What have I learned?

  • No matter how much you ride you still have to watch your diet.   Hydration is important – drink plenty of water and electrolytes on those long hot rides.  Lack of hydration can lead to headaches.  I learned on the D2R2 that by drinking water every 5-10 minutes from my camelbak or water bottle, I did not suffer.  I filled up at every water station and even sat and drank a bottle while there.  I ate wisely.  By doing this I was able to climb those hills that killed me in the past and it did not take me two to three days to recover once I got home, just about a day instead, which was much better.
  • I need to train better during the off season.  Last year between Halloween and right after Christmas, I did nothing.   I paid for it, dearly.  I gained too much weight which I have fought to take off all summer and am still fighting now.  But I am turning the corner, I have a plan in place.  If, I can’t get out on the roads, I will be at the gym or if the day is really bad, down in my basement working out.  I will control myself over the holidays.
  • Fenders can be your friends.  After being caught in a few rainstorms this summer, and riding on the crappy sandy roads of spring I learned that fenders can keep dirt and grit away from your drive train, giving it longer life.  Also your legs and preventing that skunk stripe on your back.
  • Going from rim brakes to disc in mid-season can be tricky and everyone should know that rim brakes just suck when it gets wet.
  • When planning a ride on “ride with gps” or any other website, try to Google Earth or Map the road.  Avoid roads that go by cement plants or may have heavy truck traffic. They just leave a lot of sand in the road or tear up the pavement.  If you have doubts about a busy section drive it in your car first.
  • Potholes are costly.  I found this out on Hartford Road east-bound near Bellingham, Massachusetts.  This is a heavily traveled road, has a cement plant and the road has potholes galore.  I hit a pothole so hard that my jaw rattled and I almost lost my breath.  I could not avoid the pothole as I did not see it in time and there was traffic to my left and a drop-off to my right.   I am now lighter in the wallet but richer in experience from that mishap.
  • If you show up thirty minutes early for a group ride and don’t see your group or other riders check your directions but first do a quick drive around the block as there may have been a different entrance or they are meeting at the other side of the school.
  • Expect some snide act from a pick up truck with confederate flags on it.
  • Pedal bearings wear out and go side to side.  If you are wearing clipless pedals this could have unintended consequences.

I will probably remember more and I will post them here.  I will also post about my new steed once it comes in and I get a chance to ride it.   I also hope to keep you posted during the winter.


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