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View Full Version : Sorry if I ran anyone over on the W&OD this week... :-) [a story]



PrintError
02-11-2011, 02:43 PM
Short story:

Friend and I work at the same office, and he lives near me in Herndon. We ride together as often as we can as he also bike commutes, and under normal circumstances we're about the same speed. He's been out of town on business for nearly two months, so he's dropped out of shape a bit. It's his first week back, and we rode together Monday.

However, Tuesday, we left half an hour apart. He left at 4:30, I was stuck til 5... darn... but...

He was still weak from atrophy :p , the cold and wind are his weakness, and he was on his hybrid while the roadie is in repair. Still, can I make up a 30 minute gap? Worth a shot!!!

Ride:
17 miles to the Herndon Caboose from the office
65 minutes on a normal summer day
75-80 in the winter
90 during last month's "blizzard" :cool: (took everyone else 6 hours)

He leaves at 4:30, is pedaling by 4:45. I take off from work at 5:15 like a bat outta... and try to close the gap. I make it to my entrance on the W&OD at 5:40, a full 15 minutes ahead of schedule. GO GO GO!!! I tuck and hammer, hoping to see a red flasher around every bend, and over every crest. No luck, but I keep going. I finally get to the Herndon Pkwy bridge leading to the last mile before the Caboose and...

Empty trail. :( Save one blinking red light way off on the horizon, just about to the light. I back it off a notch and cruise home, passing the Caboose at the stroke of 6:00 on my clock. I roll into home a few miles later at 6:10 tired and bummed at the defeat, until I realize what I'd just done... 18.22 mile commute in 55 minutes, including lights and stop signs!!! Fluke? Did I really pull off a 19+ mph commute?

I talked to my buddy at work on Thursday and confirmed that it was him in front of me. I was that friggin' close!

Then it hit me... Thursday evening, same situation. A second chance!

Again, he leaves at 4:45, I leave at 5:15. I'm on full attack from the first click of the pedal. Despite hitting a LONG light to cross Route 7 @ Tyco Road, I make it to the trail at almost the same time, knowing that I had to do better on the Trail stretches. With the sunlight giving me a little extra juice and the wind no longer in my face, I put the pedals down. I jet past a few buddies of mine, cross over Buckthorn at nearly 20 mph, and press on.

I cross over that last bridge before the caboose...

There's a red light up ahead. Closer this time. GO!!!

Trail is clear, no pedestrian traffic, just my target. I give it every bit of energy I have, lugging my 35# commuter bike below me like a tank full of rockets. I cross the Caboose at 5:57 with the red light only 100 yards ahead, crossing over the little bridge. Is it him? He lives right there, not enough time!!!

I come up over the little bridge, and about 80 yards in front of me...

He turns into his neighborhood! :mad:

I lost again!!!

I keep on it and roll into the garage at 6:08, pulling off a 53 minute door-to-door 18.22 mile commute. I haven't calculated the speed, but it's beyond my normal capability by a lot on that heavy bike. Heck if I can figure out how I did it - especially on a 25 degree night - but doing it twice leads me to believe it's not a fluke.

I confirmed this morning that it was indeed him. I was 80 yards and less than 30 seconds behind. Darn darn darn! I'm disappointed in defeat, but proud overall of being that bloody close to pulling off the impossible.

No repeat tonight. I'm leaving before him, and he ain't catching me.

Hope you enjoyed my little story. Commute #476 in a row was a great one!

skreaminquadz
02-11-2011, 03:48 PM
Good read PE! Having a carrot out in front is good motivation.

CCrew
02-11-2011, 04:39 PM
Can't help but laugh reading that! Great time tho.. Beats my slow old butt.

PrintError
02-11-2011, 05:35 PM
Glad you enjoyed it. I'll throw out the disclaimer that I'm purely a commuter. I don't race or train, just log along on my heavy commuter bike. Today was a much more normal 80 minute cruise home, however it felt so good to be above freezing!!!

acc
02-11-2011, 10:26 PM
I'll take a case of what you're drinking and eating, please. Nice Report, great rides.:D

WillStewart
02-13-2011, 10:18 AM
I used to time myself and see how much progress I could make improving myself each time out. Sometimes I would make less than wise decisions at stopsigns and crossings, however, so had to steel myself to practice restraint in those areas.

acc
02-13-2011, 09:33 PM
Glad you enjoyed it. I'll throw out the disclaimer that I'm purely a commuter. I don't race or train, just log along on my heavy commuter bike. Today was a much more normal 80 minute cruise home, however it felt so good to be above freezing!!!

Uh, I don't know much about cycling. Most of the time when I read your posts I have no idea what you all are talking about. Fixie? SRAM? Might as well be a foreign language. But 30-35 mph? Seriously? That is amazing. Congratulations. I don't care what kind of
biking you do. I admire your speed.

BigAgnes
02-14-2011, 02:25 AM
PrintError is a legend. He is a Florida transplant who has commuted through the worst winter weather (hasn't missed a day in, what? two years?). Yes, he bike commuted through last winter's blizzards. He is an inspiration to many of us and his commuting tales have inspired a lot of people at work to take up cycling.

He used to be faster when he had a pony tail, though. :cool:

PrintError
02-14-2011, 03:47 AM
I used to time myself and see how much progress I could make improving myself each time out. Sometimes I would make less than wise decisions at stopsigns and crossings, however, so had to steel myself to practice restraint in those areas.

Even when I'm in a hurry or an impromptu race against a friend, I'll still yield to the stop signs. I might do a standing-pause-n-go or slow roll it, but I never blast through em. That's really just foolish. In the case of last week, I lucked out at the crossings and never had to pause for long. It really ain't worth getting pancaked to save a few seconds.

BigAgnes: A legend, ha! Maybe in my own head. Nah, I'm just some guy. Glad I can inspire others to ride though. Today is my 479th consecutive day biking to work, dates back to May 2008.

consularrider
02-14-2011, 09:50 AM
I'm impressed with those ride times and with your dedication. I'm on my 529 bike commuting day since May 2008. Only missed one day in that stretch (that the office was open) when I had a flat develop while I was at work and wasn't carrying the appropriate repair items (last time that happened). Had to take Metro home that day and into work the next.

acc
02-14-2011, 10:54 AM
I'm impressed with those ride times and with your dedication. I'm on my 529 bike commuting day since May 2008. Only missed one day in that stretch (that the office was open) when I had a flat develop while I was at work and wasn't carrying the appropriate repair items (last time that happened). Had to take Metro home that day and into work the next.

Remarkable, thank you for sharing that information.

PrintError
02-14-2011, 12:36 PM
I'm impressed with those ride times and with your dedication. I'm on my 529 bike commuting day since May 2008. Only missed one day in that stretch (that the office was open) when I had a flat develop while I was at work and wasn't carrying the appropriate repair items (last time that happened). Had to take Metro home that day and into work the next.

Awesome man! Wonder how you've managed to work 50 days more than me... maybe I take too much leave. :D
Definitely admire your dedication as well. I wonder how many of us die-hards there really are out there.

CCrew
02-14-2011, 01:13 PM
I wonder how many of us die-hards there really are out there.

You and him.. LOL

I probably have you all on mileage, but I'm not calling it a fail if I drive or metro so I don't have that unbroken streak. I ride most days though, but have one of those erratic schedules... Like having to be in the office at 2am yesterday erratic.

PrintError
02-14-2011, 01:26 PM
You and him.. LOL

I probably have you all on mileage, but I'm not calling it a fail if I drive or metro so I don't have that unbroken streak. I ride most days though, but have one of those erratic schedules... Like having to be in the office at 2am yesterday erratic.

Hey, to ride is to ride. The numbers are all just superficial.

I'm off to a decent start this year. 826 miles so far spread over 24 workdays.

PrintError
02-14-2011, 06:32 PM
Attempt #3: Final Go At It

If you're this far into the thread, you know the story. Once again my friend left at 445, I left at 515... The BRUUUUUUTAL winds today would make this a nearly impossible task, but I just had to try one more time.

Well, long story short, the wind was victorious. Despite giving it dang near every bit of "go" I had at my disposal, but the winds were just too much for me. I am but a mere mortal... Crossed the Caboose at 603, with no sign of the Road Runner... Rolled into the garage at 615 with my head held high. I didn't defeat my friend, but I held my own against a Mack truck of wind.

All of this really just serves as practice. My wife is due in about 3 weeks, so any day I'm going to need to get home RIGHT NOW! Glad to know I can. :)

Hope you enjoyed. If anyone wants to race... no. I'm exhausted. :P

CCrew
02-14-2011, 06:44 PM
Hey, to ride is to ride. The numbers are all just superficial.


Definitely! I commend you though. Those 35 degree days with it spitting rain I don't hold high on the "pleasure" list. Nor the 40+ mph gusts today.

acc
02-14-2011, 06:45 PM
Great story! Happy birthing!

eminva
02-14-2011, 07:25 PM
Isn't this what Bikesnob refers to as "Cat-6 racing?" :D

Still, I am in awe of both your streak and your speed. I can't aspire to either, but it is still an inspiration for a more average commuter such as myself.

And I'm glad you said something about the wind tonight, because I was sure it was going to pick me up, bike and all, and drop me off in Oz.

Best wishes with the new baby! You'll be investigating trailer cycles soon . . .

Liz

PrintError
02-14-2011, 08:16 PM
Definitely! I commend you though. Those 35 degree days with it spitting rain I don't hold high on the "pleasure" list. Nor the 40+ mph gusts today.

Today's 40 mph gusts were definitely more enjoyable than the 11 windless mornings...

acc: Thanks man!

eminva: Been searching Craigslist already. ;) I had a few moments where I thought that wind was going to launch me. Mother Nature is absolutely awesome.



Followup: I talked to the friend I was chasing... he hit the caboose at 602, I hit it at 603. Yet again, missed it by that much!

Riley Casey
02-15-2011, 09:58 AM
A beard and long hair are major comfort additions for winter riding without a doubt! ;-)




He used to be faster when he had a pony tail, though. :cool:

roadCruiser76
02-20-2011, 03:54 PM
Good tale, my friend!

PrintError
02-20-2011, 05:16 PM
Good tale, my friend!

Howdy Mr. P. 8)

burnedthetoast
02-22-2011, 01:28 PM
For you multiple-years-straight commuters - how do you get anywhere in deep snow?? Maybe I'm just the mere mortal and you have superhuman powers... but I generally give it up in more than 6" of snow. What's your secret?

PrintError
02-22-2011, 01:32 PM
For you multiple-years-straight commuters - how do you get anywhere in deep snow?? Maybe I'm just the mere mortal and you have superhuman powers... but I generally give it up in more than 6" of snow. What's your secret?

Fat 26x2.1" studded tires and a big healthy dose of sheer insanity.

PrintError
03-05-2011, 08:06 AM
I said I'd stop at three... bah!

Fourth try. Headed out at 5:10 on a beautiful Friday evening, determined as hell to catch him or collapse trying. Adding in the motivation that my wife is 9 months pregnant and due "any minute now," I had plenty of fire.

I hit the ground running out of work and shoved McLean into my mirror quickly. Lucked out on the lights and crossed Tysons WAY ahead of time. Snaked through Wolftrap and landed on the trail at 5:25, a full 20 minutes ahead of my usual, more casual commutes home. Instead of taking a short break, I just tucked down and cranked. The only thing slowing me down were road crossings (3 of which were under construction) and stop signs. (before any trolls call foul again, yes, I do stop at them) I lucked out at every major street though and traffic was calm enough for a stop and go with no wait. When on the saddle, I gave it hell. Fought off two different cramps and concentrated on my breathing and cadence. I'm not a racer, so giving it my all for an 18 mile sprint on a fat commuter bike is not something I'm accustomed to. Suffice to say I was feeling the hurt pretty good.

And for the fourth time, I came over the last bridge in Herndon to see... joggers... nothing but joggers... no friend. Arrrrrrrgh... until I looked at the clock. I was WAY ahead of schedule! Aww heck, it's Friday. I don't need my legs tomorrow! I decded to stay at wide open throttle. Hit the caboose at a personal-record-shattering 5:48pm, turned north, and instead of cruising the last few miles home, I kept on it. Cramps be damned and panting like a dog, I was going to crush my personal best. Even with traffic, red lights, stop signs, construction, and plenty of jogger traffic, I rolled into the garage–for the first time ever–BEFORE 6pm at 5:58!

"WOOHOO!" (literally, my wife laughed)

So, 0/4 on catching my buddy and pulling off the impossible (making up the 30 minute gap), but setting the bar one big notch higher for myself. I don't use a fancy Garmin or anything, so I do my calculations the old fashioned way here:
Ride: 18.22 miles
Time: 48 minutes door to door (simply using the bike computer's clock)

60 48 min = 1.25 x 18.22 mi = 22.78 mph total average.

Beats my best ride by a landslide!

Hope you enjoyed. I'm gonna go soak these things in epsom salt for an hour now. OWWWWW!

acc
03-05-2011, 08:10 PM
Great installment to your series! I look forward to the next one.
ann