Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thoughts on Weekend Rides

Due to various scheduling and my lack of fitness, I chose to ride by myself this past weekend instead of going for a group ride.  As a result I spent about 4 1/2 hours on those two rides by myself contemplating cycling and various random miscellania.  I am going to share some of them with you.

First, it turns out that starting to ride after a long hiatus is hard.  It is hard on the legs, lungs and mind.  I like bike riding a lot, but it feels better when it feels better.  Sure that is axiomatic, but true nonetheless.  Although I guess that is part of being axiomatic.

Something else that is painfully true is that going uphill into the wind is harder than going downhill with the wind at your back.  I confirmed this on Saturday.  I needed to go by a post office box so I decided to ride Betts Road into Cheney and stop by the post office next to the airport (latest pick up in town, just in case you need that information).  I was thinking that I needed to cross the freeway by the truck stop most of the way up my Thorpe/Westbow route.  Or actually, I wasn't thinking, because that is several miles past the place to cross over at Grove.  As a result, I pushed into the wind up to the truck stop/Medical Lake exit area and then headed downhill, with a tailwind, back to the post office.  Uphill, about 3.2 mph hour.  Downhill, about 107 mph.  Unfortunately for me, after the post office, I turned around and went ride back uphill into the wind to get back onto my preferred route.

By the way, Betts Road isn't long, but it is a nice sojourn anytime of the year and it connects to a lot of places on each end.  Well, the whole world now that I re-read that sentence, but that is not what I meant.

On Sunday I was looking for more of a recovery ride (see last blog), so naturally I headed out Hangman, up Baltimore and then to Valley Chapel.  Say what?  It didn't make sense then and it still doesn't.  I had this idea I would use my lowest gear and moderate my effort going uphill.  Turns out that it is not possible at my weight and fitness level.  Going uphill is anaerobic no matter what pace.  Hell, getting to the top of a curb might be anaerobic for me right now.

I only had a a couple of hours to ride, in part because I left the house about 6.15 pm, so the plan was to ride out an hour, which usually puts me at the bottom of the Valley Chapel hill, and then turn around.  I hit the bridge at the bottom about 57-58 minutes in and I know it takes a bit less time to get home, so I decided to ride uphill (albeit slowly) until 1:05 so that I would get back after two hours.  The problem is that means going uphill for 7-8 minutes.  Oh hell go come now.  Between the gasping breaths, I recalled that my riding buddy B.S. (actually its R.F.S, Jr. if you want to be formal) has a theory that Valley Chapel is made up of three sections.  I maintain that it is made up of between 12 and 9,000 sections.  Twelve being the least you could break up the various pitches and sections and 9,000 being the number of pedal strokes it takes to get to the top.  I stand by my theory and reject B.S.'s theory as B.S.

As I headed home on Sunday, I realized that I had forgotten to grab any food to take with me.  Also, I had a small lunch and it had been a lot earlier in the day.  I shouldn't have worried, however, because the benefit of riding at dusk has been obviously for millennium to birds, bats and fish.  My tongue hanging out gasping for breath riding style meant that I was catching hundreds of bugs that are out at dusk.  I had to decide whether suffocating or bug consumption was better.  I went with bug consumption by necessity, but it must have helped avoid the bonk, so I've got that going for me.

I saw motorcycles out on Saturday and Sunday.  On Saturday a bike rider I know pulled up on his very hot, very fast Ducati to comment on my lack of fitness.  Actually, what C. W. said was, "you are working hard", but the unstated part was that I was on a 1-2% grade and gasping like I was climbing Alpe d'Huez.  On Sunday, when I stopped to turn around on the Valley Chapel hill, I heard the screaming tones of motorcycles up the hill and waited, not wanting to have a Kawasaki Ninja take the place of my saddle at 100 mph around a corner.  Three bikes went by, all riding two-up.  It looked a lot more relaxing than what I was doing.  Sometimes when I see motorcycles when I am riding my bike, I want to switch.  And sometimes when I am on my motorcycle and I see bikes, I want to switch.  Not when I saw them though.  Even though I was struggling, it seemed more honest and more of what I needed.  I'll save the throttle for another day.

Also, I completely totally 100% changed my mind as I climbed out of the cursed valley to get back to the Palouse Highway.  That section of road has special wheel holding abilities, doesn't it?

In any case, it's good to be back on my bike and riding again.  Even uphill.  And into the wind.  Yes, even then.

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