is French, and sort of translates into ‘a day without’ or ’an off day’, or ‘one of those days’. I had all three last Tuesday.
Stoker and I have put all our medical issues behind us and are well into our cycling preparation for a trip to France. After a 6 week hiatus from tandem riding, we have done 10 rides together since March 16. We started with short and flat rides, then progressed to the typical club ride of 40 miles and around 3,000 feet of up and down. We hope to progress to our upper limit of around 50 to 60 miles and 4,000 feet. Rides longer or hillier than that are likely to put a strain on the tandem team’s partnership. If Stoker isn’t happy…
On Tuesday we joined our friends with the Stockton Bike Club for the Tuesday ride from Wallace. This ride has evolved into a group of mostly retired regulars who enjoy each other’s company. Sometimes we are joined by teachers and professors and doctors and others who can get the day off. There are usually at least 10 riders. We ride 20 miles, then take a break for socializing and coffee at Common Grounds, one of our three favorite mid ride stops (Clark’s in Ione and The Fruit Bowl just east of Stockton are the other two). Then we ride back to Wallace; another 20 hilly miles.
Stoker and I are the slowest bike in this group, but we usually are not that far behind. And for the first 20 miles Tuesday we were doing ok, although I felt like I was really working hard. As we started up the 1 mile hill just after the coffee break I knew something was off. I was hoping it was the disc brake dragging , as long time readers of this blog will recall has happened before. But I checked it and that wasn’t the problem. I was the problem.
I told the other riders not to wait for us, and I told Stoker to not try to compensate for me by riding harder that she is comfortable with. The ride back had some downhill stretches where I could rest, but there are some hills too. To make the tandem climb I estimate that I need to do a minimum of 230 watts, more if the grade exceeds 6%. Normally this is well within my ability: I’ve done 230 watts for an hour, and none of these climbs take the tandem more than 6 minutes. But on Tuesday those climbs had me panting and wondering if we would get to the top.
Which we did, even the steep one at the end (over 10% for a short pitch) we dub ‘Mount Wallace’. As I got off the bike I sat on the tailgate of my Honda Element to rest for a bit before putting the tandem into the back. I was weary, knackered, worn out and worried. I shouldn’t have been that tired. I rested on Monday, and didn’t ride hard on Sunday. I would expect to be fresh and strong. I wasn’t getting a cold or flu either. Three days later I’m perfectly healthy. I was pretty discouraged driving home, wondering if this trip to France was such a good idea. If all the rides there are going to feel like this one did, the answer is no.
When we got home, I took a shower and then a long nap. I fell asleep almost as soon as I laid down on the couch. When I woke up 90 minutes later Stoker asked me if Luke barking at some dog running through the orchard disturbed me, or if I heard the UPS delivery truck. Nope to both, I was completely out.
It turned out that I simply had an off day; un jour sans. On Thursday Stoker and I did the Club ride from Wallace to Ione and we did fine. My legs felt good and there was no danger we were going to have to stop on any of the hills. I finished the ride feeling much better about our tandem team being ready for our adventure in France. I don’t speak French but I have learned a few phrases, and ‘un jour sans’ is one of them. I hope I don’t need to use it!