Any road will get us there…Part II
Part I was all about the madness at work. When all your energy is consumed by all of changes in your career, there isn’t a whole lot of time for anything else. But there were some stories to tell.
Slow transition from gravel to cross
When I got back from Colorado, I had a couple of months to make the transition from the long gravel rides I had been doing all spring to the high-intensity, 30-minute cyclocross racing. The plan was to do two interval like workouts during the week, one low cadence ride on the single speed and a long weekend ride for some volume. Good plan, right? Sounded good at the time.
I lacked any semblance of motivation in June. Maybe it was because I didn’t have anything tangible to look forward to. Maybe I was burned out from all the awesome riding with my bike friends in the spring. I’d say by July 4, I was motivated again.
There is this awesome party pace ride in Madison called the Monday 40. One of my cyclocross buddies is the organizer and queen bee of the ride. It’s something that you see from afar on Instagram and see how much fun everyone is having but making the hour and a half drive out on a Monday after work doesn’t always work out.
Since Independence Day fell on a Monday, the ride was at 9 a.m. instead of the usual 6 p.m. Perfect timing for a drive out and check it out. Since all the cool kids ride single speed, I brought out the SSCX Milwaukee Bicycle Company Mettle for the ride.
One thing about being an out-of-towner, you never know how things will go, but I saw enough familiar faces from gravel and cross races to feel at home. We did the 12-ish mile loop around Lake Monona and at times it was hard to not want to go faster. There were a few sharp inclines that I had to navigate (I thought Madison was flat!!), but I had just enough gearing to go up all of them. Once we did the ride, some of us ended up grabbing pizza, chatting about random things, and a sprint home as the skies opened.
The next memorable ride was a few weeks ago when one of my cyclocross buddies came over to metro Milwaukee to ride the Cheesehead Roubaix course up in Ozaukee County. The plan was to ride the course. But the difference between April weather and July weather is quite different. In April, it was 40 and rain. It was 85 and sunny in July.
The ride started off easy enough. It was hot, but nothing a little pacing and hydration couldn’t handle. The first red flag was the 5-star secteur “Lovers Lane.” I don’t know what you call it. It’s a dirt road that has ditches, overgrowth, and gravel across 1 mile uphill. In April, I navigated it no problem. July? Not so much. With all the grass, plant growth and the soft ground (i.e., not frozen like April), I struggled for rear grip. I ended up having a hike-a-bike at the top. Not happy about that.
The miles went by going up and down the rolling terrain. At one point, we made a pit stop as I needed a shot of caffeine. The miles ticked down, but by the time we got to the turn west back to. Newburg, I was cooked. As much as I tried to stay hydrated, the heat got to me. It was all about survival. There were a few stops along the way to recover a bit and we ended up cutting a few miles off to the finish. Pro tip: Don’t do this ride in July. Baking in the sun in the middle of nowhere is NOT a good idea.
Finally, last week was the first time on the Crux in its cyclocross mode in 2022. I attended the Milwaukee cyclocross practice last Wednesday to re-learn how to ride cross. Dismounts and remounts were still an adventure (some triathletes did it better than me; sad I know), could not figure out how to get through the gears on starts (it’s Di2, how hard can it be?), and re-learning how to corner off camber were all on the menu. Physically, I haven’t been better–record FTP, lowest weight since college–but I was not ready for the intensity of the sprinting in and out of corners, going up short, punchy inclines and doing planks with a 190+ bpm heart rate. The rest of August will be spent indoors doing these kinds of efforts on the trainer, so I don’t die in the first race in September.
I’ve been out of any semblance of a relationship for four years now. Divorce will do that. Being the closest thing to a recluse without being one and given the propensity of people staying home and living in fear, finding the love of my life (other than my bikes, the bar is set high there), was always going to be difficult. I don’t meet a lot of people and I’m generally avoidant of people that I don’t know. So where does one turn to? Online dating apps. And boy, what a shit show it is.
For starters, a 38-year-old is a weird age. You’re either generally married, have kids, have your life together, etc., or you’re single and wading through a pool of people that all have their flaws (like I do). Once and a while you see someone that ticks all the right boxes, you swipe and see what happens. Being your average guy with weird hobbies and a quirky personality, I am not the typical catch that the ladies are looking for.
So, when you do get a match, it is kind of exciting and scary at the same time. Then the conversation goes from chatting via the app to meeting in person. Then you realize that as Dr. Gregory House put it: everyone lies.
From using old photos, to not disclosing their true beliefs on life, politics and socioeconomic issues, everyone is out to make themselves as attractive as possible to snag a catch. You realize how fake it all is. After spending a few hours chatting in person, you start to wonder what their intentions are and what they want and to see if they’re in line with what you want. Everyone wants Brad Pitt, and yet, no one is Brad Pitt…at least not in Southeastern Wisconsin.
So far, I’ve been unsuccessful with the whole online dating thing. I don’t think I’m in the demographic that it would be successful for. I can at least say I tried.
What else? What’s next?
The last adventure of the summer was something that I never even remotely had on any calendar or agenda. I met someone by chance in town for the age-group triathlon championships and spent the weekend cheering her on during both the Olympic distance race and the sprint race. As someone who is usually around DFL, I understand and appreciate people cheering you on, so it was nice to return the favor from someone out of town without their usual support system around.
I used to subscribe to the Velominati’s terminology of a triathlon as a “cycling shit sandwich.” While I’ll never do one, (can’t swim and hate running) I do have the appreciation of the complete suffering that they do. While I think they’re nuts, and they probably think cyclocross is just as nuts, I was in awe of the community that it had. Felt like a big family. Cycling could learn a lot from it.
And watching the riders get on their bikes in transition made me feel good about my remounting techniques. (Well, until I had a rude reminder last week, but I have four more weeks until the season starts to get it sorted out.)
Once cyclocross season starts, I’ll probably post weekend results and thoughts on the races. They won’t be these 1500+ word ramblings that these last two posts have been.
I cannot wait to see everybody again out at the races. I feel this is going to be the best season yet!