I like new beginnings.
Today was my first day on the road. I slid the plastic tote out from underneath my side of the bed this morning – where it has lain next to a tipped over pile of cycling magazines for five months. Inside were my insulated tights, assorted weights of arm and leg warmers, neoprene shoes covers, light and heavy full fingered gloves, and my fleece helmet liner. You might think I was staring at some sacred icon – so moved was I that my early season bike clothes had seen the light of day.
I reassembled my road repair kit, first aid essentials, and managed to find enough Hammer Gel to fill half a squeeze bottle. After rubbing a liberal dose of embrocation cream into my legs, I pulled on a pair of knee warmers and then my tights. Call me vain, but I’m not nearly as fat as I was last year, and the struggle to pull on skin tight spandex [ankles to shoulders, mind you] was over quickly.
Getting out onto the road, I was immediately reminded of what I love and what I don’t. Crossing the median as I leaned into a left turn, I felt the surge beneath me as I put power to the pedals. I settled into a rhythm, relaxed and thought about how much I DON’T love riding indoors. The bike is so much more alive on the road. Changes in wind, climbing and descending, even traffic bring a world of variation.
Don’t get me wrong, indoor training has massive benefits. I reaped these benefits as I pulled 16 miles into a headwind, mostly up hill. I was pleased to ascend 1000 feet and average 15.8 mph. I spent the second half of the ride in a fast run through rolling hills as I pushed my average toward 18 mph. Though it was 39 degrees, the bright sun made everything pretty comfortable. My nemesis has always been cold toes, even with insulated shoe covers. That’s the glorious difference the sun makes: warm toes.
Tomorrow’s forecasted high is somewhere around 50. Even though this was supposed to be a rest and recovery week, I’m going to ride again. Monday looks like 6-12 inches of heavy snow…my rest will wait until then.
Each year the miles write a new story. I wonder what it will be this year?