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Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

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Old 06-05-05, 03:05 PM   #1
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It was, in a word, incredible.

I am so very excited and proud of what I accomplished today. I did the entire 50-mile Miller Ride for the Arts route in a personal best of 19.5 mph average. But it's the way you accomplish something like that which was the most fun for me. Thousands of riders took part, each with their own personal goals or demons to exercise. Each in a way pushing themselves mentally and physically on a Sunday morning in Milwaukee. I had only ridden 50 miles once before, but NEVER like this.

I have been dying to experience fast riding in a large peloton. I hoped to get that at the one road race I entered this spring, but I never came close, falling off the back immediately in terrible conditions then. But today was different. I rode in a 20-25 rider peleton that was going in the low 20's most of the time. It was an awesome experience to say the least.

The peloton is like a large, colorful spandex blob that whirls down the road as a unit, bikes just inches apart. Yet there is an unspoken language that goes on in there, a system of points, waves, signals, all as you dance that fine line of being inches away from the wheel in front of you. It was scary and thrilling all at once.

I learned you have to work hard, and in some cases suffer a bit to make sure you stay in the pack, but you are then rewarded at times when 19-20 mph comes without effort, when you actually duck down and coast ever so briefly to take it all in.

There were people cheering us on during portions of the ride, having set up a morning coffee and danish at the curb just to clap and yell words of encouragement for us. I was in my own little version of the Tour de France. I couldn't believe how great this felt.

I rode with my two coaches and mentors, Jerry Pearce of Rainbow Jersey bike shop in Shorewood and Jeff Jeanpierre. These guys have taught me everything I know, and Jerry kept on teaching during this ride today. Thank you so much for everything you have done for me my friend. He instructed me on where I should be in the peloton, and pulled me into the clear numerous times today.

As we headed back into downtown Milwaukee along the shore of Lake Michigan, I began to finally fall off the back. When I tried to jump out of the saddle to bridge a slight gap, my quads were ready to tie into knots. I knew I had to back off and just spin the final 4-5 miles. But there was one more surprise waiting for me.

After passing several guys that I thought I would never catch earlier, let alone pass, I was riding those final miles by myself, just hanging on behind the peloton. As we approached a stop light just blocks before the finish I had to stop at the intersection. As I clipped out, I heard more clipping...then more clipping...then as it went green the finish line was ahead and as we started out a guy rode up next to me and said, "Hey, nice pulling back there. Thanks." I never even realized it, but the peloton had splintered at the very end of the ride and I was the one actually pulling the second group after losing the lead group.

Amazing. Even with looming quad cramps I was pulling that second group!

Looking back now, the peloton is a dance really, with steps all its own. The sounds are magnificant. Wheels whirl. Gears click. Wind becomes a hollow sound swallowed up by the riders around you. And trust is at a premium. No words are spoken, for your two-wheeled dance partners, like you, are all concentrating on the task at hand--how to work with each other so that you all go faster and with more effeciency than if you were solo. There is danger, but there is great satisfaction as well.

Yes, today I belonged. Today I found heaven in the peloton.

Some pix below...in order...
1. Me, Jerry and Jeff after the ride
2. Part of the mass start in downtown Milwaukee UPDATE: 8,000 RIDERS IN THIS EVENT!
3. Past city hall
4. A classic that was part of an old bike display at the post-ride party on the Milwaukee River

Last edited by Hipcycler; 06-06-05 at 06:32 AM.
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Old 06-05-05, 03:17 PM   #2
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Nice report... it is an excelent feeling. I had a simular feeling yesterday sitting in a 28 - 30 MPH peloton working at times... it is just amazing. Glad you had a good ride... and I am sure more is to come soon!
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Old 06-05-05, 03:19 PM   #3
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Word. Heaven is in the middle of a peleton on a beautiful day. Glad you got to experience it
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Old 06-05-05, 03:20 PM   #4
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Thanks!

Geesh, upper 20's yet....that's why I just respect the heck out of you guys. Getting a taste of it today, then ramp that up to the level you race at...man....that's awesome.
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Old 06-05-05, 03:26 PM   #5
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Speed means nothing in a race... just being there in the middle of it is exciting... cat 5 is not nearly that fast, but the feeling is the same. cycling along, no wind just sitting in is one of the best feelings on a bike... and it rather addicting at the same time!
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Old 06-05-05, 03:57 PM   #6
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*stands to applaud* You've perfectly captured the spirit, the moving living soul of bicycling and the way it congregates and harmonically amplifies when a group of people are riding together in peaceful accord, benefitting from each other, doing physical work and revelling in it.

Bicycling is a beautiful thing and I'm so proud to finally be a part of it. I can't believe I sat on the sidelines for six years, hearing my partner tell me about his fantastic group rides and thrilling races, never thinking that would be my bag, baby.

It is now. Oh man is it ever my bag.

I had a similar experience in my first race, where I was a bit disappointed to fall off the pack but determined to give it my all. A couple of miles later, lo and behold I realize I've been pulling a group of three or four other riders all this way! Maybe I've got something to these legs after all! Almost as good a feeling as if I'd finished well.
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Old 06-05-05, 05:09 PM   #7
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When you get in a good goupetto and everyone is working, it's amazing how fast and far you can go.
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Old 06-05-05, 05:44 PM   #8
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Hip, congrats on the awesomely fast 50 miler! You rock!

Thanks for the sharing the description of your ride - very nice to read. Wish I wish in there with you today.

Congrats again!
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Old 06-05-05, 06:24 PM   #9
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Fantastic!! Great feeling ... almost like you're cheating to be riding so quickly. Takes guts and skill ... especially when you have a glass hip!!

For what it's worth, the word Peloton is spelled with an "o"

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Old 06-05-05, 06:34 PM   #10
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Great ride hipcycler.... Need the thumbs up smiley
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Old 06-05-05, 06:52 PM   #11
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If you are gonna be picky about English, one would 'exorcise' demons. Never 'exercise' demons or they will stick like dried worms on your downtube......

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Old 06-05-05, 07:18 PM   #12
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Congratulations on the ride and your personal best!! What's next?
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Old 06-05-05, 09:29 PM   #13
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Wonderful story, thanks. Very encouraging to those of us that are working on our speed and holding our lines until we can join.

Cooperating can be effortless, what a lession.

Thanks
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Old 06-05-05, 09:43 PM   #14
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Have you ever noticed that when one person in a room starts to laugh an honest, good hearted, laugh everyone else in the room joins in? As I read your posts I can't help but crack an honest, good hearted smile. If you are ever planning to ride in Eastern WV, Northern Virginia or Western Maryland let me know.
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Old 06-05-05, 10:03 PM   #15
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Great story, hip, especially the revelation at the end where you were pulling a second peloton, without even a clue they were there

Awesome:

Quote:
Originally Posted by hipcycler
before the finish I had to stop at the intersection. As I clipped out, I heard more clipping...then more clipping...then as it went green the finish line was ahead and as we started out a guy rode up next to me and said, "Hey, nice pulling back there. Thanks."
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Old 06-06-05, 06:12 AM   #16
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Great descriptive report! Yes, there is magic in the peloton!
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Old 06-06-05, 06:14 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by galen_52657
If you are gonna be picky about English, one would 'exorcise' demons. Never 'exercise' demons or they will stick like dried worms on your downtube......
Why does the obligatory English useage nazi always rear its ugly head?
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Old 06-06-05, 06:23 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skydive69
Why does the obligatory English useage nazi always rear its ugly head?
HA! That's funny because I'm usually pretty good about that. Heck, I was TIRED....what can I say?!
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Old 06-06-05, 06:26 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blandin
Congratulations on the ride and your personal best!! What's next?
Well, on my summer 'to-do' list of personal 'firsts'....I want to participate in my first time trial, which at this point is scheduled for the last weekend in July, a 25-miler. One by one I am attempting to at least once participate in all the cycling events I've only watched on TV before....except a crit....just too darned dangerous for a guy with, as someone earlier posted, a glass hip!
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Old 06-06-05, 06:36 AM   #20
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Sounds like you had a lot of fun. Good report!

Peloton's are fun. Last year I signed on for the last day's group ride of the Tour of Hope here in DC. The first 20 miles were pretty much on our own. After the rest stop and regrouping, we finished the last 8 miles with a 1000 bike peloton from Glen Echo to the White House. That was a sight!
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Old 06-06-05, 07:04 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hipcycler
Well, on my summer 'to-do' list of personal 'firsts'....I want to participate in my first time trial, which at this point is scheduled for the last weekend in July, a 25-miler. One by one I am attempting to at least once participate in all the cycling events I've only watched on TV before....except a crit....just too darned dangerous for a guy with, as someone earlier posted, a glass hip!
Well, be prepared to suffer if you want to do well. I ran my last TT at an average of 97% of my maximum heart rate - a painful experience to say the least! The good news is that I won!
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Old 06-06-05, 07:07 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by skydive69
Well, be prepared to suffer if you want to do well. I ran my last TT at an average of 97% of my maximum heart rate - a painful experience to say the least! The good news is that I won!
You won?
Wow.

If you get a chance...a few details please....tips for me????
Thanks.
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Old 06-06-05, 07:21 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hipcycler
You won?
Wow.

If you get a chance...a few details please....tips for me????
Thanks.
Yes, but it helps to have good equipment like this:

The secret is doing interval training at 5-10% above your proposed time trial speed. Another secret is to not focus on the pain. Think about your grip, your pedaling technique and cadence, your position on the bike, the joy of finishing with a new PR or podium appearance. Also, a good warm-up is mandatory in a TT, because you go to an extremely hard effort immeidately which requires a good warm-up. I warm up for a solid hour just for a 5KM TT. BTW, for time trialing, a pair of clip-on aero bars will make a big difference (for those who don't have dedicated TT bikes).

Here are some good training tips:

http://www.floridacycling.com/time_trial_training.htm
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Old 06-06-05, 07:25 AM   #24
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Oh my...that's quite a rig.
And the outfit.....the flair of Chippo on a bike...love it!
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Old 06-06-05, 07:36 AM   #25
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Very very wonderful read, Hip. We're not worthy of such eloquence
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