I Never Ride at Night without Lights

A couple of weeks ago I was returning home from a ride on The Key. It was already dark and the rain diminished visibility even further.  Miami rain can be intense. We will see 3-4 inches in an hour, 8-9 inches in a day when other cities may not see 2-4 inches in a month. When I lived in New England, rain was a daylong – weeklong affair of grey skies and drizzle. A place where storm talk delivered 2- 4 inches in a day. This is Miami, when it rains, visibility is reduced to 10 or 20 yards. Even the erratic, unpredictable, and irrational Miami motorists seem to take caution when water pours from the sky.

Less than a half a mile from home I ride past a single speed hipster without lights. Well folks… sadly it is in my nature to pass judgment on people when they demonstrate a total lack of basic common sense. Not very gentleman like I know, but honestly, would you drive your car at night, in the rain without lights? I have learned to keep these thoughts and impressions unexpressed in the name of civility and self preservation.

He rolls up on me at the next traffic light and exclaims, “I better follow YOU the rest of my ride!”

I don’t respond.

I just hung my head and looked down as the water runs off my helmet, along my visor and down to the tarmac looking more like water from a faucet. I knew what he meant though, I run a Serfas Thunderbolt on my seat post and a TSL-250 on my bars. At times like these I fire up the Raider I have attached to my helmet. Pedestrians and motorists complain, jest, and rant but I can be seen. I am visible. I am alive. Anyway, I love the Raider. It is light, bright and easily attaches to my helmet.  It is my plan B for when the Thunderbolt wanes and augments it when I need it most.

I am in decision making mode. He must think me rude as I have not made any verbal recognition of his presence. “Be the change”, I think as I reach up with my left hand, detach the Raider from the helmet and hand it to him with my right. He gives me a puzzling glance but quickly snatches it from my hand and fumbles a bit while attaching it to his seat post. “How…?” he begins.  I interrupt, “Just turn it 180 degrees… It’s rechargeable with USB “.  “Thanks”, the traffic light turns green and off he went. I roll to the left turning slowly so as to observe his departure. It is a damn bright light. Within only 50 yards you could not see him any longer. The Raider is the only thing that betrayed his very existence. “THANKS”, can be heard from the distance.

I smile.

At 200 yards I can still see the Raider.

Have I mentioned that I love that light?

Last night I rolled out while the sky was still that unmistakable Miami blue. Four miles out I reached down to fire up the Thunderbolt. I left it at home on the charger. With no plan B, I picture myself riding The Key without a rear light through the road construction on Bear Cut Bridge or the darkness created by the mangroves on the way to the Tennis Center.

I turned home to pick up the Thunderbolt. I never ride at night without lights.


“Just go out for an easy one”

These are the words I tell myself whenever I lack the kind of motivation that has me strip down, pump up, kit up and go. An easy spin has me over the Rickenbacker in less than 25 minutes. It is now time for my 4X 8 minutes of big gear training. I call them interval training wheels.

My 1st attempt at an interval quickly turned my legs into two swollen balloons. Insert Pink Floyd’s “Comfortably Numb”, here. This feeling is unique. It is not the kind of pain induced by a long hard effort. Like when you are pulling at the front straight into a headwind and even when you try to peel off… no one comes up; you suck it up and you push through. In fact, there is no pain at all. No pain and no power either. You just can’t make a go of it. It’s like driving an old jalopy in need of a motor rebuild. You press on the gas… and nothing.

I know this feeling. I have had it before……”Your legs are blocked” says Simon back in 2011.

What kind of new age, acupuncture, or yoga voodoo are you trying to sell me?

“You need to do some 6/24’s”, he adds.

Next day I go out and do 2 X 5 min of 6 second sprints with 24 second recovery. The following day, Voila, I’m doing 2×20 minute threshold intervals like a Belgium on Pave.

So tonight, it’s 2x5min 6/24s and we will see what tomorrow brings.


Is This what it is going to take?

I woke up this morning feeling hungry. Not the kind of hungry that has you running for the refrigerator but the kind of hungry that makes you think, “I could eat”. I haven’t felt this way in way too long. An intense gym workout Friday, 36 miles of tempo on Saturday and 75 endurance miles in the blazing Miami sun on Sunday is apparently what it takes for my body to kick up it’s metabolic rate into the next gear.

 I have been trying to work up my mileage and effort over the last few weeks to ready myself for group riding in Miami. There are many groups out there filling the air with the whirring sound of chain on cog, casual conversation and the occasional trash talk. Some groups are organized with military like precision with a double pace line and strict 30 second rotation but most are “free for alls” swelling and thinning like a swarm of bees in search of a new nest. I like to ride on Saturday with the group from Lareo’s but I am afraid it will take me a few months working my way through the slower groups before I can return to the pace that these guys keep.

 If you ride in Southern Florida you know what the sun and miles do to your body and brain. You cannot think, you are thirsty but cannot drink. You are not hungry but must eat. You cannot balance yourself as you remove your socks and shoes. Your wife asks you questions but you cannot hear the words through the fog that has settled in your head. “You’re weird”, she says after twenty minutes of attempting a conversation with you. By now a protein shake with fresh blueberries has begun to nourish you, yet your legs continue to ache and still you can hardly muster a complete sentence. “Just tired” you reply.

One singular thought rolls over the mind like a recurring bad dream.

Is this really what it’s going to take?