Ode To A Lunch Ride

If you are a cyclist, there is nothing better than a good local lunch ride that matches your training ambitions, speed zone, and tolerance for pain. If you like to go easy, a relaxed, chatty ride is perfect. If you like to go hard, and put yourself on the rivet, then a competitive, hard-charging ride is for you.

My preferred local lunch ride is known, appropriately enough, as the Thrasher Ride. I found it a few years ago, and the name is appropriate (even though it is really named for a local rider, Randy Thrasher) because it thrashes me on a regular basis. It also elevated my fitness and bike-handling to a level I had never achieved before. That made it addicting. As one friend, who also got hooked, yelled in the midst of a ride that was blasting at high speed through one neighborhood after another: “I love this ride!”

What makes the ride so good is the following:

  • it includes a great cast of riders, many on racing teams, each with his or her own riding style, personality, and strengths.

  • it rolls out like clockwork at 12:31 pm every weekday, and each day of the week has a set route and tempo, so you can pick your poison.

  • in good weather and bad someone almost always shows up (and on nice days there might be 15 riders).

  • it goes fast, and since there are so many regulars, it rotates and flows very smoothly. And on most days it forces you to think and ride very tactically.

On the hard days, this ride takes me to my limits. I start to taste copper, my pulse rate lives in the red zone, and my mouth gets so dry anything other than plain water in my bottle puckers me into paralysis (even taking a few seconds to drink from my bottle is a challenge). And on the next hard ride I find my limits have been extended just that tiny bit further.

Unfortunately, since last August, when I popped something in my quad, I have been Thrasher-less. I rode easy and steady through most of the winter, slowly rehabbing my leg and trying to build my fitness back enough to even contemplate rejoining the ride. Tomorrow, a Friday, often an easier day, I will try because jumping on the Thrasher Ride is like trying to jump on a steadily accelerating train. The longer you wait, the faster it is going, as the racers ramp it up for the racing season. And if it is getting faster faster than you are getting faster then you will never catch up.

So, in the end, the only way to get fit enough to ride the Thasher is to actually ride the Thrasher. I’ll start in survival mode, lurking at the back and trying to hang on. I may get dropped on the first real hill, or perhaps the second or third. That’s okay. I will keep showing up, and hopefully surviving longer into each ride. If you can do that, eventually you are riding the full ride. And life is good once again.

We’ll see what happens. Stay tuned…

America’s Cup Update: Not boring (phew!)…

The first two races of the America’s Cup went off yesterday, and the best news of the day—against a steady drumbeat of rumors that Team New Zealand would be significantly faster—is that the boats are close enough in performance to keep this thing interesting. You can watch the highlights below, but my initial takeaways are:

  • Team New Zealand has a slight performance edge in the medium winds that blew, but not enough of an edge that passing Luna Rossa is easy

  • Which means winning the starts is the most important key to victory (TNZ was even or ahead at the start of the first race, and won easily; LR won the start of the second race and held on).

  • TNZ could easily have ended the day down 2-0, because LR had positioned itself perfectly to win the start of the first race, too. The slightest of timing errors, in which LR was just a second or two late turning up and launching at the gun, allowed NZ to go from a weak position just before the start to a strong position just after the race started. And that made all the difference.

  • The boats are close enough in performance that tactics, timing, and crew work will really matter. When the boats are traveling 30-50 knots, it doesn’t take much of a mistake to lose a lot of ground. Both teams made little mistakes that allowed the other team to gain significant ground. That means intense pressure on the crews, and intense enjoyment for sailing fans.

Racing resumes Friday in New Zealand, which means late tonight here (I DVR it all—on NBC Sports Network—and watch first thing in the morning, hoping to avoid any spoiler texts, e-mails, or news alerts before I watch).

Nature Is Really Cool…

You can never watch too much whale action.

Data To Live By: Fear of flying…

With COVID vaccinations rolling out, air travel will ramp up again. And if air travel in 2021 and 2022 is anything like air travel in 2018, that means that just 1% of the global population will emit half of all aviation’s carbon emissions. Who flies the most? The answer probably won’t surprise you.

I often wonder, after flying to some destination, whether I could have found the same enjoyment somewhere within a four-hour drive radius of my home. I tend to think I could have, which is why I think it is time to re-think adventure and travel.

That’s all for today. If you would like to receive the latest Wetass Chronicles in your inbox when they are published, please subscribe here.