Satisfaction in the Desert

If you haven’t already dropped Erica an encouraging word, you might want to do that before she boards the plane for the big race.

Monday night I took advantage of the nice weather (as usual, contrary to that predicted) to take on one of my old favorite rides–rounding the butte. That’s pronounced ‘b-yute" not "butt" though the latter reflects my feelings toward the topographical phenomenon after a failed attempt at mt biking up it …

The butte ride is west of here off hwy 33 (yes, that means hanging out with the semi trucks, but I feel safer with them than I do with some of you folks and your in-town driving). The thing I like about the butte ride is that it’s mostly over flat surfaces (which allow me to focus on my pedaling technique) though it also rolls over a decently steep road section next to the butte (the one and only hill interval of the ride). It’s a really quiet ride. Once you get off state highway 33, there isn’t a whole lot of traffic, but you do get to enjoy the green fields on your right and left and the scenic views of the aforementioned foothills and the not-mentioned Teton mountain range. If you feel really enthusiastic for some mileage, you can even ride out to Mud Lake (aptly named) for distances of more than 50 total miles.

Before I’d left on Monday, I’d driven home and had to turn on the cold air vent to cool off in the car (did everyone read that, it said COLD AIR), which hasn’t happened since mid-September, so I assumed it was warm enough for me to dress down a little for this ride. I did pack some gloves and my reflective vest just in case the sun decided to set while I wasn’t looking. Murphy’s law (and Murphy’s my next-door neighbor, so I’d know) dictated that I would indeed need the gloves and I did. It was cold. But it felt good to get some mileage in.

No signs of rattlesnakes as I neared the butte today (that’s what cyclists worry about instead of sharks, for you triathlete folk), but it was cold enough to persuade me to turn around early and keep my ride on the flats. I’d ridden the whole way out to the buttes at about 21-23 mph, knowing that I really had a tailwind (even though I couldn’t feel it) and I’d be turning around to face a headwind on the way back. Yup, that’s what I found as I changed directions, but unlike previous rides where I’d been subdued to a pathetic 16 mph, I managed to keep 18 mph for most of the way home (slight dips to 17, slight surges to 19). You know what that means? I really am in slightly better shape than I was last year. Huzzah!

Too bad that, like usual, I neglected to actually hit the button on my bike computer that tells me what my average speed was. That might have been nice to know.

P.S. I didn’t take the attached photo (I just found it on the web), but you can bet I’ve got one or two just like it at home in my stack of photos. Those are the buttes in the distance, though they look really far away from this vantage point.


18 thoughts on “Satisfaction in the Desert

  1. Unknown

    Wow, it looks just like southwestern wyoming.  Dirt and Sagebrush.
    I\’ve been a bit under the weather lately, so I haven\’t been doing anything, and I\’m starting to feel a bit of pressure because I\’m running out of months to get into shape!

  2. Zed

    You been sick? Bummer. There\’s still plenty of time to get ready for the E100, and as long as you peak for that race, you\’re probably set. Besides, if you get in really good shape, I won\’t be able to keep up when I come down for a group ride.

  3. Iain

    It\’s really cool to see where other people do their regular rides, you must be used to these views by now but we have nothing like it over here in the UK, it looks awesome.

  4. Zed

    Most days I wish we had more of that green that you guys have. Some of Idaho\’s gorgeous, but some of it is just flat and boring.

  5. Iain

    It\’s so good to be able to see so far, whether it\’s on the flat or in the hills (preferably).  Green\’s good but not when it stop me enjoying the view!

  6. Zed

    I think this photo was taken a little farther north than the road I was on, but it all looks like this around there. Deer and elk walk out of nowhere in front of you. And the rattlesnakes part really is true. Thank heaven I\’ve only ever seen them dead on the side of the road.

  7. Iain

    Deer and elks, cool! The only fauna I\’m likely to bump into is one of the malicious local wasps, and that\’s happened often enough to fuel a conspiracy theory.  They are definitely out to get me.

  8. Zed

    Perhaps you should try switching your deoderant … okay, bad joke. But really, whenever I pass an elk or cattle ranch, I joke that they\’re my \’fan club\’ as all the animals crane their necks and stare at me as I ride by. It gets a little spooky at times. I\’ve seen giant birds of prey, I\’ve scared deer right into barbed-wire fences (not intentionally), we\’ve seen moose on hikes near here, I\’ve chased some loose cattle, once in Denver I even had a garter snake slither through my spokes–the little guy was lucky he didn\’t get caught. I\’ve heard there are mountain lions up in the foothills, but I\’ve been fortunate not to run into any of them.

  9. Iain

    Hee hee!  I heard that blue is their favourite colour and since I always wear blue kit I reckon that has something to do with it.

  10. Unknown

    Always up to something, eh? Good job on your increased MPH. That\’s significant enough. Ride sounds beautiful, too.

    I was thinking of your posts about the gym yesterday when I rode a stationary. It seemed to have worked out entirely separate muscles than the ones I\’m using on the road.

    Anyway. Have great rides this weekend. I\’ll post pictures and details on Monday. I\’m off tomorrow a.m. (after a swim tonight, of course!)

  11. Zed

    Kick trash, Erica. Yeah, I\’ve decided there\’s only one real advantage to indoor spinning bikes: they keep you warm when it\’s cold outside. And I\’m sure it\’s not cold where you\’re at. Tear it up in Hawaii! I look forward to hearing the race report!

    Iain- I\’ve never heard that before. I wear a blue jersey too. Suddenly, I feel less safe …

  12. uncadan8

    Sounds like a great ride! I love it when I can keep my average speed up around 20. In my area, you are either going up a hill or going down a hill. You would think the average speed would still be pretty high, but I must be really slow on the uphill. I am happy when I break 10 mph on the climbs!
    I am going to be out in Grand Junction in August this year and will be looking for a bike to rent if I can\’t bring my own. Do you know of any good shops that rent?

  13. Sue

    Dan, since I got my road bike I\’ve really been paying attention to my average speed during rides and lately I\’ve been riding really different terrain and it has occasionally been fantastically windy.  My average speed is always about the same, regardless of what type of terrain it is or how windy it is.  The tail wind home makes up for the head wind out, and screaming down the hills seems to make up for the slow grind up.

  14. uncadan8

    So either you are a strong rider in inclement weather or you are just really slow all the time! AHAHAHAHAHA Okay, I feel weak now. Wind and terrain still kick my butt. I am hoping my new road bike will make me exponentially faster. Like that will work.


  15. Unknown

    long time, no comment.  it sounds like your weather has been treating you favorably.  very nice.  and the riding and the writing are as good as they ever were. 

  16. Zed

    Dan- Yeah, you ought to talk to Rocky about Grand Junction as he lives there right now. Just leave a comment on here about it, he\’s bound to respond eventually. I\’m pretty sure he knows some good details on the riding scene out there as he\’s done it all.

    Botched/Dan- See, and the challenge is to bump up that average speed over time. It isn\’t just a matter of riding harder, but finding the right places on the course where your accelerations will make the most difference. If your climbs are a combo of extremely steep and moderately steep, you\’ll be able to take more time out of the moderate sections than you will on the extreme sections … I\’m babbling, aren\’t I?

    Rocky- Yeah, good to hear from you. Have you got any good advice for Dan about his proposed GJ cycling adventure?

  17. Tim D

    The thing I found difficult when I was in America, was judging scale and distance.  If I look at a mountain here and it fills half the sky, it is about 2000ft and not so far away.  When I did the same in Arizona & Utah, it could be anything from 2000 to 10,000ft and 5 or 50 miles away.  It was very disconcerting, especially when you were using pages ripped from an old Rand McNally atlas for maps.

  18. Zed

    I know what you mean. They look so close and small until you drive for an hour before getting to them. I\’ve always lived close to mountains. That\’s my only stipulation for my future home–it needs to be close to a mountain range.

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