So Robert Tres picked me up bright and early, we headed out. We did that because the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook says the heat will be vastly less early in the morning than mid-day or later. The book is right.
Sure enough, we got to the trail very lightly packed. The plan was to ride the spirit killing, speed inhibiting, rider-wrecking Banks to Vernonia multi-use trail.
Typically before a ride Robert Tres and I will discuss goals for the ride in accordance with the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook guide to biking. Inexplicably, we did not do so this time.
I had been psyching myself up to open a can of crushinator on this trail for as long as we had been planning this ride. I figured we could average 16, maybe 17 miles on the way out, then on the softer return ride average about 22 or 23 miles per hour.
Robert Tres, meanwhile, had been planning a normal, achievable, reasonable goal. So as you can see, what was going to happen would be completely his fault.*
On the one hand, you have someone planning to add 50% to the speed of the prior attempt on this trail, including averages over our normal top riding speed. On the other hand, you have Robert tres planning a safe, sane, reasonable, achievable ride. Clearly, obviously, incontrovertibly HIS FAULT.*
So we started out at a casual pace. I have been going to the gym 3.5 times a week for better than a month. On these trips to the gym I have been learning from the wise guidance of the Junior Woodchuck Guidebook which has taught me much about cadence; adjust the gear you are pedaling so you maintain your correct cadence.
The problem is...when I first start riding, I am in a modest gear. My bike has 24 gears, I start in 13th. This is a very soft gear for me, the one I use to accelerate away after coming to a complete stop. So it does not take long to need to gear up.
Part two of this issue is I am more of a "masher" than a "spinner". What I mean is I tend to prefer a slightly slower spin rate on the pedals in a taller gear to achieve a speed than achieving that same speed by using a lower gear but spinning faster.
When I "spin" I feel like I am not working, so I bump up the gear. that is my ride style.
So we were starting out slow to warm up...so I was spinning. But I would get bored with the lack of challenge, not think about what I was doing, and change gears...like...to 20th. But I would not slow my cadence because once I had established it, it was hard to slow back down.
Since this meshed quite well with my plan to jump from "casual, learning rider" pace to "hardened criminal, trying to ride like a pro" without building up to it, it did not even occur to me this might adversely affect Robert Tres.
As a result, I was going 40% quicker than his plan for the ride.
Ultimately we settled in at a compromise...quicker than he wanted to go and faster than he intended to go. the compromise was there is no way on the planet Woodchuck I was going to be able to keep up the blistering pace I was unintentionally setting.
The first time we rode it, the toughest part for me was the switchback. They actually have signs saying to walk your bike down it. I went down it much too quickly. It was amazing fun.
But going up the switchback..the first time we did this trail it totally blew me up. I had no legs for like an hour afterward. This time I climbed it faster. I was breathing heavily at the top...but within a minute I was ready to go again. I was feeling stronger and started unintentionally adding speed again, and for the same reason...
By the time I topped the switchback, I was below my starting gear. So I started spinning since that is "easy". And as my breath returned and my leg strength followed, I increased gears..without slowing the cadence.
So where I should be riding with maybe 90 rpm in that gear to go a reasonable speed, I am pumping along about 110 rpm...which means I am going way too fast.
But Robert Tres showed his skill and toughness, actually getting stronger and stronger on the ride out until he was pushing me. Outstanding.
We stopped for lunch out at the lake, then turned around and started the ride back. The first time we did this trail we shaved an hour off our time on the return trip. It was not to be this time as we felt like it was a constant uphill.
Then we hit the switchback.
The first time I missed a key shift and gave up about a third the way up the switchback. It is tougher on the return trip. This time I absolutely wrecked that hill. How badly did I wreck it? I knew it was a long, punishing climb and I would eventually get to the lowest gear I have ever used, so I started out at a hyper-aggressive pace, climbing as much of it with speed as possible and holding off shifting as long as possible.
And suddenly i was at the top of the hill...and in the gear I typically take off from a standing start with.
Well, we did close out with a blistering pace the last 10 miles or so, bombing downhill well north of 25 mph for nearly the whole section.
Great ride with a great riding partner. And next time, we will surpass my extremely reasonable goals.* I just remember to obey the Junior Woodchuck Guide's advice and actually...you know...PLAN the goals with Robert Tres.
* Statements marked with an asterisk