A very satisfying commute home

ebike_jeffersonHeading home after work tonight, we spotted another cyclist turning onto Jefferson from the opposite direction. She had the hole shot at the intersection (Jefferson & El Camino), so we lined up behind her, waiting for the light. I wasn’t sure, but thought she might be on an e-bike. Kevin was sure, but didn’t mention anything.

Normally, I’d be letting Kevin pull us home on Jefferson, where he’d be doing about 18mph. She was doing 16.5mph, which isn’t bad at all, just a little bit slower than our normal speed. There’s enough traffic that passing wasn’t really an option for several blocks, and in the back of my mind I’m thinking e-bike, do I really want to try and pass an e-bike and then find out I don’t have the motor myself to stay in front? I’m also wondering what I’m doing out in front in the first place. But I figure I can come up to speed and pass her, and let Kevin take over at the front.

Anyone reading this is thinking there’s too much thinking going on about pretty much nothing, and they’d be right, but that’s how I roll. At least that’s what can help make a 3 mile ride home a bit interesting.

4 blocks past El Camino I make my move, bringing my speed up to just a bit over 19mph and slowly passing her, watts increasing from 125 to 210 or so. I said hi as we rode past; she responded in kind. I’m thinking, is she drafting us now? I’m thinking, with a speed 2.5mph higher than hers, are we gradually pulling away, or is she picking up speed behind? I’m thinking, how long can I keep this speed up, since normally I’m drafting behind Kevin and having trouble as he picks things up a bit?

A couple blocks later I ask Kevin if she’s still there, and mention that I’m a bit surprised I’m still able to keep the speed up. I mean, what am I doing, passing someone on an e-bike? Rule #1, don’t ever pass someone you can’t stay in front of. Very risky when the person you pass has the ability to cruise along at speeds up to 20mph with a significant motor assist. But I did it, we stayed in front all the way to the climb, and despite putting out a lot more effort than normal, I didn’t feel too bad. Even had some fun on a ride home that’s become pretty routine over the years.

Not too many times I’d post a Strava record from my commute home, but this one does pretty clearly show the kick up in speed from 16.5 to 19mph. 🙂

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Fast, slow, fast, slow… pretty uneven tempo for me this morning!

img_1269wolhSummer is clearly gone; we’re at that time of year where we’ll still get a few really nice days, but they fit into the “bonus” category, something not to be counted on. More common are darker mornings (which will continue to get darker until daylight saving time ends) and overcast skies. Leg warmers, base layers and long-fingered gloves have become the norm. Summer, where did you go? Seems like I barely knew you!

That also means that any chance of a decent time getting up the hill this year is over. I had fun riding this summer, but never got fast, at least not fast in any way that I’d recognize. It’s tough to say whether my breathing did me in, or I gave in to my breathing. My mileage was fine though, despite having ridden 100 miles only once (the Sequoia Century) and not a single Santa Cruz loop. There’s still some time to rectify that, although not a whole lot.

This morning wasn’t too cold, nor too wet. It was fast at times, slow at others. Karen, Eric, Kevin, JR… no Marcus, no older Kevin today. Karen’s in high form, peaking for the Cyclo Cross season, and it showed as she flew off the front up Kings. Not sure why but I took after her, chasing her as far as the park entrance before dropping back to check up on Kevin and Eric (JR was right behind me). I rode up with Kevin for a while but quickly wondered why I waited… he just got faster and faster. I’m kind of used to that by now.

Karen took off again on West Old LaHonda, and again I found myself, for reasons unknown, trying to keep up with her. JR, Eric and Kevin had fallen behind, or so I’d thought. I wasn’t even looking back until the “U” at the far end of the valley, and there was Kevin, right on my wheel. I was gassed so let them ride on, but I’m now wondering if maybe I could have kept up if I’d given it everything. Trouble is, I’ve lost track of what “everything” really is. But just being in the game, even for a little while, at least gives me a chance to think about it.

OK, that Santa Cruz thing. Realistically I’ve only got two Sundays left to play with; after that, two weeks on vacation with my wife, no bike. This coming Sunday looks like it might be wet, and Kevin’s got something planned for later in the day (and right now, a Santa Cruz loop would consume pretty much all available daylight in a day!). The following weekend? We’ll see. It would be quite the challenge, especially for Kevin. Me? Lots of miles, I can probably get through it, and generally get stronger as the day goes on. Kevin hasn’t ridden more than 70 miles all year. We’ll see.

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