I'd like to open this post by saying that I won my group in tonight's 3rd Street Southbound Commuter Race. There was one other entrant, but I dropped him like he was hot -- actually, it's probably that I dropped him because he was hot. So was I; I suspect the superior wicking qualities of my stealth kit, coupled with their aerodynamic advantage, may have given me an edge. That or else, he just said, "Meh, why bother?" while I said, "GGGGAAAAAARRRRRR! KILL! KILL!" because I was sleep-deprived, heavily caffeinated, and hyped up from a day at the shop. I did hear him upshift (or possibly downshift) right after I passed him, though.
Unfortunately, based on the rules of Silly Commuter Racing, I don't think either of us would've qualified for any points regardless of outcome, since I was wearing actual bike clothes (stealth kit, not team kit, and I should admit that my legs, while still not tarantulan in scope, are somewhat more unshorn than usual), but he was on a much newer bike with a hot little drivetrain (also, his was a better fit -- probably for me as well as him). Thus, while I might've earned some points based on the comparison of our rides, and he might have based on the comparison of our clothes -- were it not for the mitigating factors. If I had been riding his bike, I probably would've lost points just for taking his passing me at a stoplight as a challenge, based on the allocation of clothing and bike points. Thus, there was no impact whatsoever in either of our standings in the World Silly Commuter Racing Cup.
Next up, I scored a random Trek Livestrong kit from BW at work. I definitely appreciate it. I have been deeply in need of more bike shorts and jerseys (because I pretty much never wear anything else anymore). I'm not too picky to wear sponsored kit if it falls into (or onto) my lap. Moreover, it fits really well. Plus, it's super-ironic, in that my bike isn't a Trek, I don't have any SRAM components, my pedals are not Speedplays, and I have no idea what Clear20 even is, though I deeply fear that it may be some new arm of ClearChannel Radio hoping to profit from the future's ever-increasing water woes.
I do feel like maybe I should at least find some money to donate to the Lance Armstrong Foundation now, though, since I'm riding around in their kit and all.
Likewise, as I was riding home tonight, I mentally catalogued a number of evolutions in my riding style, compared to last year.
First and foremost, I spit a whole lot less than I used to. I still spit sometimes, especially when I inhale bugs, which is either an unavoidable hazard of cycling or a great way to score free protein snacks, depending on your POV (note: very few actual bugs take the latter view).
Next, I stop a whole lot less than I used to. By which I mean, I get stopped at fewer red lights. This may partly owe to an increase in overall speed, but I suspect it mostly has to do with the fact that sometime last year I realized it makes more sense to ride really slowly when approaching a yellow or red light in hopes of taking long enough to get there that it will once again have turned green. I am absolutely sure drivers love this tactic; however, I realize that many of them do exactly the same thing (I think it saves gas) and so I no longer feel intimidated by traffic while doing this.
Thirdly, I actually drink less than I used to. I'm not sure this is actually a good thing. That said, I used to chug water like it was going out of style on my commutes (and even more so on longer rides), and now I just sip from time to time, keepin' it real in terms of hydration without diverting much energy to my digestive tract. I don't think I used to sweat as much as I do now -- maybe that was the result of some or another medication I was taking? -- so I think in the past I was trying to cool myself from the inside by drinking. Wearing cycling clothes also seems to help with the cooling thing; in fact, I have been known to refer to my black 'stealth' jersey as 'my personal air conditioner.'
Meanwhile, there has been a distinct increase in out-of-the-saddle sprints, riding in the drops, and strategizing so if I do get stuck at a stoplight, there's a car in front of me that will A) change the light for me (some on my route don't change for bikes) and B) shelter me from the wind like my very own 4,000-pound leadout man while I'm getting back up to speed.
I also change gears less often than I used to and ride the big ring more often than I used to, if not very much right now since there's something going on with QS's rear derailleur cable that I haven't had a chance to fix yet (which is to say, 'that I haven't gotten my lazy behind motivated to fix yet, for shame: some part of me keeps saying, 'Meh, this is the first summer vacation you've had in like forever, and besides, Hg will have a new BB soon, and then you can mess with QS all you want').
I'm also a lot less good at logging mileage than I used to be, even though I think on average I'm a lot better at racking up the miles (last year at this time of year, I don't think I was riding much, since the heat and air quality were still really big problems for me). Part of me feels I should really get on that, and another part of me offers that whole 'summer vacation' thing as an excuse.
So what that all says about me as a cyclist, I don't know. I'm may be faster and lazier, simply lazier, or lazier except when inspired to make an effort.
I'd try to figure it out, but, you know. Summer vacation. Et cetera.