As I sit in front of my computer, it’s raining outside. So, instead of riding my bike, I thought I’d do the next best thing, pen an article about riding bikes. Earlier this year, I wrote an article, "Dog Days Of Winter" about how I typically gain weight, and my doctor challenged me not to do that this winter. I am happy to report that I am still 30 lbs lighter, and my cycling has improved as a result. After having written that one, I wrote another article, "Comfort Is King" which included a part about getting a bike fitting. Lastly, I’d like to reference another article, "Planning your 2017 Cycling Season" that I wrote about figuring out what rides you’d like to do, and training your body to do them.
Bike The Drive 2017 Photo by John Ladner
This year, I plan to ride Bike the Drive, the TriStates 100, the Michigan Mountain Mayhem, the Two Rivers Century, the One Love Century, and the Seagull Century. I still may do more, but these are the events that I committed to doing prior to the season. Bike the Drive is early, and easy because it’s only 30 miles. I typically begin riding at 5:30 am and ride at least 2 loops. Next on my list is the TriStates 100. I ride with the North Alabama Express on that ride, and we try to get the 100 miles done in under 5 hours. Then, I turn my attention to the Michigan Mountain Mayhem, which is the most challenging ride for me. In the past, I have only been able to complete the metric century. This year, I’m going for the century option. After that, I will do the Two Rivers Century, which I usually ride the metric century at a speed of 20 mph or faster. I cut this ride short so that I can visit with my niece, a future cyclist visiting from Atlanta. Speaking of Atlanta, I will travel there to do the One Love Century which has about 5000 feet of climbing. Then, I will do the Seagull Century in Maryland, which is flat and fast.
Photo by Dawn Liddi
At this time, I can look and review to see how my rides have been this year, and if I am on track to do these rides that I’d like to do. As I write this article, I have over 600 miles in my legs. And, I’ve climbed almost 8,000 feet according to my cycling app. My longest ride this year has been about 70 miles, so I was well prepared for Bike the Drive. I have 4 rides this year where I have averaged 19 mph, so when I ride with a group, achieving an average of 20 mph should not be a problem. I am prepared for the TriStates 100. Due to my weight loss, riding uphill has been easier. But, I only have about 8,000 feet of climbing in my legs. I’ll need much more than that before I go to the Michigan Mountain Mayhem. In order to achieve that, I will plan more rides to Palos Hills, Cedar Lake, etc. to take advantage of the road turning skyward. The Michigan Mountain Mayhem has about 7,500 feet of climbing over 100 miles. The terrain in Chicago makes it difficult to train for rides like that, but riding to Lake Geneva or taking a weekend trip to Galena to ride will help. After having completed the MMM, the Two Rivers and One Love Centuries should be easier by comparison. Then, I have to ensure that I am fairly fast. Last year at the Seagull Century we had an average speed of 21.6 mph. For me, that’s very challenging. Those east coast guys mean business!!!
Taking care of my bike and my body during the winter has me excited about riding this year. Anne Barnes did a terrific job fitting me to my bike, and I am more efficient on it as a result. This helps me ride longer and faster. My bike is a well-tuned machine with a new chain and smoother shifting.
I recommend that every few weeks, you take a snapshot of what your cycling season has been like, and to see that you are on track for whatever your goals are. If you want to ride your first century, and your longest ride is 25 miles, perhaps its time to consider doing some longer rides. If you want to get faster, ride with faster people and throw some interval training in somewhere. And, most of all, have fun! That’s the real reason we all ride.
Shawn Conley is a Chicago native who loves road cycling. He has a passion for helping others discover their cycling legs, which he typically does through the Major Taylor Cycling Club of Chicago (MTC3). Shawn was chairman of MTC3, and also is a member of the Chicago Cycling Club (CCC) and the Friends of the Major Taylor Trail. When he is not on 2 wheels, he coaches track and field, and is a real estate investor. He is a Chainlink Ambassador who has an affinity for pizza and ice cream. Follow him on Twitter: @ShawnGeauTigers and on Instagram: antonlove1.