July 26, 2008

Speed. Speed is a relative term. On a bike an average speed for the day of 15 mph is pretty good, 17 is great and 19-20¬†is race quality. The “Tour” riders might average 27 mph.¬†So how fast we can make a bike go compared to,¬†well, each other¬†and others? First, this is not a race but a family journey. HOWEVER, anytime two or more people are traveling the same¬†direction, there is a very slight tendancy to WHIP THE DUDE! As we approach the end of the ride there is little question that speed, in this family, is simply a matter of chronological age. First is Ian (18), then Peter (42), then me (70). It’s not even close. However, endurance might be a different matter. Ian had some problems¬†by the end of a day whereas his Uncle Pete just kept pounding away. Peter is without question the “Le Tour d’Bubs Champion”. Moreover, he loves bicycle racing and follows it studiously. Whenever we had a nights lodging without the VS Channel (covering “le Tour d’France”)¬†he would be in a snit. He knows all the teams, riders, gear.. the whole smear. He subscribes to bicycle racing magazines. He wears bike racing jerseys. Get the picture? He is a powerful, consistant and steady rider and I rode his axle (drafted him) for 2,000 miles. Drafting only helps when there is a headwind or calm.¬†Also, everyone must climb their own hills but without drafting the lad, this old boy could be a week behind.

Ironically, over this ride we have met very few serious bicyclists going our way (the stranded sisters in Oregon do not count). We have met some of them on the trails in Pennsylvania and some in¬†Maryland but we have yet to be overtaken by anyone. Without question there are scores who can, we just have yet to meet one. We have had a couple who have tried. Like the one guy out of West Newton riding a hybrid. I saw him at the begining; a young, thin, quiet type prepping his bike near us. About a half mile up the trail I looked behind me and there he was 25 yds back. Hmmm. So Peter picked-it-up a “click”. Another quarter mile and he was maybe 50 yards back. So¬†pick it up another click and we never saw him again. I thought maybe he met a friend at a parking lot, Peter said; “We blew-him-up”. The best one though, was later the same day coming¬†to the end in¬†Cumberland MD. We were on the outskirts of the city, on the Trail, when totally out of nowhere this guy riding a hybrid comes up next to me. He’s probably 50 something dressed kind of weird with sneakers and his bike seat is set too low. His legs looked as if he had spent time on a bike but little else made sense. He made some pleasant remark as he passed us both. Pete is not going to let this go unanswered, I can tell. So I snuggle up behind¬†Peter and wait for his move. Sure enough, an open stretch and we blew by and keep on it but we are running out of¬†trail fast as the City Center is right in front of us with traffic and¬†pedestrians. This local knows all this and smoothly whips out in a street leaving us to brake hard and fend-off the tourists. That was fun!

There is one exception, this does not include Peter’s friend, Brian, who rode Oregon with us. Brian was in a world of speed unfamiliar to us, at least at the time. We’re in a bit better shape now, so who knows? Come on back, Brian!

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