I'm not really getting any thinner (or, for that matter, any younger, any smarter, or any better looking either), maybe I've lost 3 pounds. But I am getting a little faster which, you know, provides a kind of consolation of its own, I suppose.
Here, in the doldrums of summer, while we wait for rain, there's at least been more time to ride, for two reasons: 1) I'm between summer classes, one which concluded last week, and another which begins next. And 2) I've taken a little vacation time off work, which is something I've never really done before, chiefly because I never had it to take before.
I've been using an app called Strava since April to keep track of a lot of my rides. I've got it installed on my phone and it lets me use the phone's GPS function to not only map my rides, but also to easily compare my own personal performance each time I ride a particular route or segment, as well as compare my times to those of other riders.
My old friend Scott once cynically observed about group rides that, "No matter what they tell you, it's always a race." Strava is proof of Scott's concept. It turns any ride into an individual time trial. And it's really a lot of fun. For example:
Since April 27, I've ridden up Schultz Creek Trail eight times while using Strava. Thanks to Strava, I can see that I've been able to shave just about 6 total minutes off my time, most recently finishing the segment in 25:00:05. It's all a bit narcissistic, I'll admit, though it's also great motivation to ride a little stronger next time.
There's more to Strava, a component of the application which I find to be quite humbling:
With Strava, I can also see where I fall in the mix of other riders who've ridden the same segment that I have. As you can see, despite my increasing fitness all summer, I'm still not even in the top 20 on Schultz yet. But I'm close. I just need four seconds. I'm thinking I'm gonna try to get it next time.
But I'm really chasing after my friends. Specifically, #19 Nathan Cain, #12 Chris Grove, and #7 Kip M. Earlier in the summer Kip held the record on Schultz, but since then his time has dropped to seventh place. Nevertheless, at 21:39, it's still ridiculously fast. And Chris, well Chris is always fast too, and, despite the fact that we ride together now and then, I've never been able to really keep up with him. Ever. His time of 23:06 is also stinking fast. I'd like to beat both of them at some point. Can I? It's not going to be easy. Lately, I've gained back between 20 and 30 seconds with each attempt. That's all I need to catch Nate. He's a racer-boy, too, just like Kip and Chris. Nevertheless, I'm going after his time later this month. But the two minutes I need to catch Chris, and three and a half it'll take to catch Kip, well, that's just going to take a bit longer.
Feels a long way off. Gonna take a little more time. Same with the rains... But they'll come.