Hot Corner: Back in the saddle with group rides
By Rich Palzewic
Even though I bike thousands of miles each year, I was nervous about getting on my road bike this past Sunday, June 13.
I hadn’t ridden in a big group in 15 years, something I always used to do when I lived in Rhinelander.
As a Hodag, I loved it, but I also hated it – going 25 mph in a pack of bikes inches from you is exhilarating, but it’s also nerve-wracking and can be dangerous.
I know this firsthand because I’ve crashed numerous times.
About 20 years ago, I was in a race in the western part of the state, and I don’t remember, still to this day, the last 2 miles of the event.
I woke up – yes, woke up – in the ditch at the finish line.
After realizing I had crashed at the finish line, I got myself up, grabbed my bike and walked to the finish.
My buddy, who I drove to the race with, took me to the hospital to be evaluated, and luckily, I had no broken bones.
I suffered a mild concussion and had extensive road rash, but I was more upset that my front wheel was trashed.
It’s safe to say my helmet saved me from serious damage, too.
It was cracked in six pieces and immediately went into the garbage.
I got back on my bike the next weekend and raced again.
Anyway, I digress.
This past Sunday’s group ride was split into three groups based on ability and began at the Broken Spoke Bike Studio on Dickinson Road in Ledgeview.
I chose the middle group because I’m no spring chicken anymore and haven’t ridden with 25 other cyclists in eons.
I felt strong all ride, spending the majority of the time in the front quarter of the group.
As you drop back in a pack, you receive the benefits of drafting more (similar to NASCAR racing), but it’s also tougher in many ways.
There’s a yo-yo effect going around corners with speed reducing, and many times, the weaker riders like to hang out back and “rest.”
Instead, after I was done pulling at the front (using about 30% more energy than drafting), I’d usually drop back, at the most, about five or six riders and jump back in line.
This way, I got a little break from the wind but also stayed out of trouble.
Being near the front comes with difficulty, too.
We logged 44 miles at a 20.4-mph clip, and by mile 38, I was “toast.”
My legs didn’t quite have it anymore, but I managed to hang in there.
I drank two bottles of energy drink and consumed two SpongeBob SquarePants Fruit Snacks during the ride.
After hearing the advanced group averaged more than 23 mph, I knew I made the right decision – I wanted to enjoy the rest of my Sunday, which I did, playing softball and skinning my knees and arms while diving for balls from my shortstop position.
A few days later, I did the Pete’s Garage ride and fun as well.
We averaged 20.4 mph again.
This past Sunday, June 20, I again did the Broken Spoke Bike Studio ride and found myself mixed in with the top group for about 30 miles.
It was a big difference, but I managed to hang in there until four miles to go when I got spit out the back.
In the June 11 edition of The Press Times, I mistakenly said Sheridan Flauger, a recent Pulaski High School graduate, is attending the University of Wisconsin-Platteville to play basketball.
Flauger is attending UW-Parkside, a Division II school in Kenosha.
Even though I probably looked over my article three or four times before it went to print, that one slipped by.
My apologies to Sheridan and her family.
Maintaining your weight
My weight was holding close to about 156 pounds for the longest time, but then I let my eating slip a bit in the last month.
I felt I had put on a few pounds.
I took the plunge, got on the scale and saw 161.
I quickly vowed to get the weight off by eating better and holding myself more accountable.
A week later, the scale said 158.
It’s scary how quickly things can get out of control if you’re not at least somewhat conscious of what you’re putting in your body.
My point is – work hard to maintain your ideal weight instead of having to work doubly as hard to lose it.
As always, thanks for reading.
Spots editor’s note: To read Rich’s last Hot Corner article on meeting the readers, CLICK HERE.