TNUA for Halloween

It’s tough not to have fun on the Tuesday Night Urban Assault ride. Even tougher when one rider shows up in the worst drag I ever did see, and another is in a white lab coat that says Medical Examiner, and is towing a coffin on his BOB trailer.

Across the street from the Adams St Recreation Center, where we meet up, there were dueling haunted houses. Trick-or-treaters everywhere in Corn Hill. Two huge gangs of them on circle where we warm up. They cheered us on like it was Le Tour or something. What a hoot!

The first part of tonight’s ride was interval training on Wilson Blvd and through the U of R. [Google map] My numbers for the ride don’t show it, but I was much faster than ever before through there. Even on the upwind leg which was also a modest incline, I routinely passed riders and caught 19 and 20 MPH on the cyclometer passing under streetlights.

On the climbs up through campus, I overtook all but the youngest, strongest riders. On the descents, I rested. Even heading back down and downwind on Wilson Blvd, I took it easy, doing recovery. And even so, I was in the big ring and staying in the upper teens and lower 20s. I felt good about myself, my riding and the adjustments I’d made yesterday to the bars and seat. When I felt the burn going back the other way, it was right where it’s supposed to be.

Turns out, I was doing the intervals exactly the way they’re supposed to be done, and I wasn’t even aware that this part of the ride was interval training. Or what intervals were, for that matter.

The second part of the ride, well, what’s Halloween without tooling around the cemetery? (Especially if you have a coffin on a BOB trailer.)

Mt. Hope Cemetery was crawling with maintenance trucks, out guarding against mischief. They seemed to know who we were—or at least didn’t think two dozen cyclists with headlights ablaze and a disco’s worth of blinkies constituted any threat.

Even if we had a coffin.

We did a few stop-and-go drills. Scott said I had good form. Although I think I still need some work. Particularly on the “and-go” part where I can’t quite keep a left wobble under control on the first pedal stroke.

Then we began climbing through all the hills. Other riders were tiring at this point and I had to drop down to the granny ring just to go slow enough behind them. Coasting uphill isn’t really possible and the lowest cog on my middle ring was too fast—even at an excruciatingly slow cadence (read: mashing). And there wasn’t room to pass.

I dropped the chain shifting to the granny ring and had to stop to put it back on. This wasn’t a problem. Somehow, by feel I got it on the right ring on the first try. Then I climbed at my rate and caught up with the group in no time.

We encountered a group who had staked-out an area of the cemetery with those candles in paper bags on the ground. It was really pretty. I could have lingered there for a while. The general speculation was that it was pagans, but I think is was a ghost story thing. I remember the city doing that other years.

We eventually reached the highest point in the cemetery, counted-off again and began our descent. The descending route was down the “back” side of cemetary, through the oldest section—dating back to the founding of the city—where the roads aren’t paved.

It was tricky and a couple of riders went down. I managed well enough, even if I lost style points a couple of times. I caught a couple of small branches just the right way with the tires and they rolled out sideways. That’s a bit disconcerting when descending on a muddy track. And in a turn. With street tires.

Then it was back through the University, down Wilson Blvd and home. Even on the ride home, as sore and as tired as I was, I was faster than usual. I’m diggin’ it, and told the bike so too. I’d noticed the same thing commuting today as well.

By the numbers:

23 riders, 24 if you count the coffin—which we did, not wanting to disrespect the dead.

Nice, warm night, 60°F, overcast with winds from the WSW at 15, gusting to 25.

28.11 miles, in 2:16:03 at 12.3 avg MPH. I told you there were a lot of slow climbs in the cemetery, and circling the parking lot waiting for everyone to show up, and the stop-and-go drills didn’t help any either. Max speed was 24.5.

Cadence, again the average is pulled down by all the coasting and poking around. 59 RPM average, with 115 RPM max. My typical during the intervals was around 100.

Again, TNUA was the highlight of my week. I’m getting to know the other regular riders and I’m getting better at riding in a group. That helps a lot too.

Now I have to make something for dinner. And then adjust my brakes. They got a lot of wear and tear tonight. And thank heavens tomorrow’s a rest day.