I got a lot of cycling in over the long Thanksgiving weekend, 175 miles to be exact. The main event was the Black Friday Century organized by Shama Cycles and my friend Kiet. I knew that this ride would be difficult so I tried to taper a little before the big day. Actually, I might have thought about tapering but in reality, it was a typical week of cycling.
Prior to Friday, I had two rides on Zwift and a ride on Thanksgiving day with my friend Dylan adding up to about 76 miles. Seems like Dylan and I kind of, sort of, maybe mentioned that our ride should be an easy spin just ensure our legs would be ready for 100 miles plus on Friday. Not a very scientific plan cuz well you know, I’m not a coach and I didn’t even stay in a Holiday Day Inn Express last night. Anyway, Dylan and I planned to ride out to the McKeever Road turnaround to give some treats to the cats that live at the house there and head back for about a 35 mile round trip.
There was a strong easterly wind that morning so that meant we had to work pretty hard to get to the turnaround. As is typical when riding with Dylan, we are always concerned about our average speed so we definitely used the tailwind heading home to improve our ride statistics. It was a beautiful day and fun ride but not an easy spin. Regardless, it was nice way to start Thanksgiving and I looked forward an afternoon of Thanksgiving festivities with family and friends.
Friday morning came quickly and Dylan and I let my house at around 6:00 AM to travel to Shama Cycles in Houston for the Black Friday ride. We got there with lots of prep time to spare before the 7:00 AM ride start (even with the chatty guy in the parking slot next to us who was really proud of the glowing, upside down heart—that looked more like a pair of testicles—hanging from his saddle).
There were a lot of people at the start of the ride and the small parking lot in front of the store was packed with cyclists. According to the Facebook event page, 137 attended but I’d estimate that the total number of riders was closer to 200 for the three routes. The majority of the riders did the 105 mile ride. With that many riders on an informal ride (that is, no police support), the start was sketchy and the group missed the first turn on the route. Plus, there was a lot of effort by everyone to stay together so that meant a lot of red lights were run. Just to be clear, this ride started pretty close to the center of Houston so the route was mostly urban. It took us just to the edge of bubba-land after which we turned around and got urban again. We blew through so many red lights.
As I mentioned before, the ride was a bit sketchy at times and for me, it was stressful and it was fast. I think every bike racer in Houston was on the front of the group keeping the pace high. I tried valiantly to hold on but by the second and the last rest stops, me and my grupettos were rolling in just a little bit behind the main group.
After the last rest stop, I could only survive a few more 30 mph surges and went off the back with about 15 miles to go. I toiled along alone for a bit until another rider caught up to me and the two of us finally bridged up with Dylan and few others with about 6 miles to go. It felt good to finally arrive back at the shop and I was satisfied that I was able to keep my average speed at 20 for almost 106 miles. Will I do it again? On the day of the ride I told myself that I didn’t think I would but now, five days later, I think I would. Check out this cool video that someone put together of the ride.
Normally, that would be enough cycling fun for most people but I thought that since the next day was Saturday, I would be a good sport and show up for the weekly shop ride at Society Cycle Works. Sure, my legs would be tired but I would ride with the B or C groups on the 35 mile route and socialize a little. And since my main bike was dirty from the rain and wet roads on the Black Friday ride, I’ll show up with my clean, ready to ride Cannondale Slate. I’d never ridden it on a group ride but it worked surprisingly well. However, there are some big jumps between cogs (AKA sprockets!) with the 11-42 cassette on the 1 x drivetrain. That’s not a problem riding solo on the levees but on a group ride, I often could not find the perfect gear for the pace which, by the way, turned out to be quite a lot faster than I bargained for.
Speaking of the group, what a cast of characters! Jerry was the ride leader and did a great job wrangling the unruly riders along the course. There was Nicole with her blingy shades and bluetooth speaker blaring some sort of indistinctive dance music. A guy who I had never met before treated every potential road hazard and car back like it was an incoming hand grenade by calling out the hazard loudly and repeatedly. Another dude was riding in the left side of a dual paceline and let a huge gap open up in front of him so naturally riders started going around him. This seemed to annoy him because he cursed each rider that went around. I’m not exactly sure what he said when I passed him but the first word started with a “f” and ended in “uck.” It wasn’t “firetruck.”
It was a good way to cap three days of riding but I definitely needed two days of rest for my tired and sore legs. Until next time, keep on spinning.