I’ve still been riding just about everyday as I near the twelve weeks to go point until my first century (July 4th is the 12-week point). Once I hit that twelve week point I’ll be following a training plan but until them I’m just trying to build base mileage, work on the hills and get acclimatized to the heat here in Texas. Tuesday was a day off the bike so I had planned on riding hard yesterday. That I did.

The heat this week has been pretty bad with temps at or near 100F with heat indexes over 100F. Yesterday was no different. Knowing this, I’ve been very conscious to drink water throughout the day and have a bottle of G2 in the afternoon. I’ve also delayed my evening ride by about a half-hour so I’m starting around 6:30 PM and religiously doing a slow six mile warm up. This combination seems to be working for me right now as I’ve had no episodes like last week when I was obliterated after 15 miles. One good thing was that some later afternoon clouds moved in which helped with the heat some yesterday.

I rolled away from my car and made it about 200 feet when I realized I forgot my sunglasses. I immediately pulled a u-turn and headed back to get them. It’s interesting to note that I’ve had these particular sunglasses for about seven years. They aren’t even ‘cycling’ sunglasses. They were given to me while I was still in the Navy and are actually safety glasses. You can buy them at Lowes or Home Depot and come in a number of designs. I’ve always carried them around and they seem to work OK. I’m probably missing out on some design benefits by not having cycling sunglasses but never pulled the trigger to spend the cash on some. If any of you have recommendations for a good set of inexpensive sunglasses for cycling I’d like to hear them.

My warm up went pretty good with no issues. Those first six miles were again strictly to get warmed up, settle in on the bike, and allow the heat to dissipate some before I really cranked up the speed. Me, cranked up and speed actually don’t below in the same sentence together but you now what I mean. I did have to stop during my warm up and tighten two spokes. It’s the same two spokes every couple of rides that keep coming loose. They’re the ones that straddle the valve stem on the opposite side of the cassette on the rear wheel. I think I’m having this problem for a couple of reasons. I think the main culprit is that this isn’t the original wheel that came with my bike. The original had to be replaced last summer and the bike shop only had one rim available that would accept my 7-speed cassette (having a 15 year old bike sucks at times like that) so I got it. I believe this replacement rim isn’t as ‘beefy’ as my original Mavic rim and therefore is succumbing to my ‘beefiness’ (i.e. my weight is a little much for the rim and works the spokes loose).

At the 6 mile point I ‘cranked’ it up to 16 mph and maintained that for one full loop around White Rock Lake. Sure, my speed dropped down a little here and there but I did my best to maintain it right at 16 mph. The downhill sections allowed me to recover where I dropped below 16. When that loop was complete I began the second. To be honest I was going to do the second loop at 17 mph but wound up starting it much faster. I looked down and I was cruising along at 20 mph. I maintained this pace for a couple of miles and dropped down to around 17 mph. At this point I entered into the section of the loop at the South end of the lake that has a couple of hills. I maintained my speed as well as I could (above 15 mph) and kept on pushing it. With about 3/4 of the loop complete I started to fade some and wound up struggling to maintain 15 mph. I relaxed for a mile or so and then picked it up again to around 17 mph all the way back to the car.

Overall I was really happy with that ride. I felt like I pushed it pretty hard and if I hadn’t gone out gang-busters on the second loop I probably would have maintained a solid 17 mph for the entire second loop. I hope this is telling me that my fitness is improving. I rode the 6 mile warm up at 12.7 mph and finished with an average speed of 14.7. That means I road miles 6-23.5 at 16.7 mph. I’m happy with that.

The one big problem I had yesterday was with my bibs. They’re the Nashbar Gel Ride Bib Short and have served me pretty well. They have a gel chamois with a cloth covering over the gel. I think they are now too big for me and fitting too loosely (which is a great thing) but I believe this is causing them to not fit properly and rub me the wrong way. Literally. I was very uncomfortable yesterday (and have been for several rides in these shorts) and when I took a look at them after showering it looks like the cloth covering the gel is now loose and the folds developing in it may be what’s causing my problem. All that said I think it’s time for a new set (I actually need about three sets). I’m considering the Performance Elite II Bib Short because they were the Bicycling Editor’s Choice for shorts under $100. If you have a set of these I’d appreciate your comments below.