Sunday, January 23, 2005

Emerging from the dark dark night

With exception of nipping around town on my bike, I've gone on ZERO riides for about a month. Put another way, of the quiver, only the commuter and track bike (i.e. the fast no-cargo commuter) got any use at all. Between the elective travel and the ice storm, it just wasn't happening. Plus I actually felt a bit of down time would be good. This is the longest off period in over a decade.

Today I ended the down time in true binary fashion. OK first a bit of background. As a parent of a 22 month old, days can be divided into 3 daytime pieces: Morning Outing (9-12), nap (12-3 or 4) and pre-dinner (3 or 4 to 5:30). So if you want to do something with the kid that takes more than 90 minutes, you must get it done in the morning. On occasion, he'll sleep until 5pm so it's pretty much the morning or nothing for anything significant. Parents will truly get this, others will wonder why I'd waste keystrokes typing this paragraph. Alas I'm not the young hip guy drinking shots at the Red Room or Laughing Lizard Lounge.

The Morning Outing was a journey from home on bikes with the bike trailer to Mt. Tabor which is a fun little peak maybe 500 feet tall. It's nothing. But dragging the kiddie trailer after my deep hibernation hurt a bit. Then Benjamin played near the merry go round. I would spin it and he'd run around it at the same speed. This was more fun than being *on* it. kids. The ride was done on the single speed cross bike. Ideal ratio for anything gradual but the Tabor climb wasn't gradual enough.

We return home and I go on the 2nd ride of the day, or the "real ride." On my fast bike with the fast tires I speed to the rendezvous spot on the West side of the Hawthorne Bridge. I meet up with the boys and push the pace slightly. This is not hubris or showmanship but my typical reaction to urb riding. I like to bomb through it with speed and rhythm so I can get past it and be on the quiet twisty road. Then I like to go fast for different reasons. But I certainly hit the busy stuff so it'll go away quickly. These efforts are hurting me and the significant climbs have not yet begun. But I feel great, it's a overcast & a balmy 50+ degrees when the average is 36. Oh, and it's dry. The earthy smells of loam and pine are strong and addictive.

We have a good pace on the first climb. Jay says something like, "You two guys go attack, I'm just spinning up this hill." I hadn't even considered doing anything but a leisurly spin. Bastard. Where I think the hill has less than five minutes left, I apply pressure. Not a burst sprint but an acceleration where I would just push it and look back and see a lonely road after a couple of minutes. The requisite two minutes pass and I glance back to see Chris a few meters back. This causes a nearly instantaneous failure of the legs. I completely fall apart and he blows past. Not long thereafter, Jay comes by my sorry exploded legs. We've nearly summitted at this point but I score a sad number three.

We come to a literal fork in the road and I choose the appropriately named quiet nice road, "Greenleaf." I had forgotten how steep this was. It was mainly busy street avoidance rather than a desire for more hills. I had recovered from the previous beating enough to hang with the group. There's a small gap where Chris is ahead and Jay whispers, "Go get Chris." He didn't say this with a glint in his eye or some devious grin. He said it like one mentions taking out the trash after a long tiring day-and you're already in your pajamas. It was this tired sigh... "Go get Chris."

So I did.

OK... so I tried. I turned twenty meters into three. Then I thought it would be best to pass him not inch by inch but as an unstoppable force so I stood up and mashed on the pedals. This exertion of energy didn't actually cause me to accelerate. Instead it took my tenuous ability to maintain speed and sank it. It's like a crappy old car that actually slows down and sputters when you floor it but goes pretty good with the pedal halfway down. So I'm zero for two today. We parted company and I experimented on new roads without a map and not in any condition to summit anything: Dumb.

After a modest yet painful climb I emptied the bottle and inhaled the meager foodstuffs jammed into my jersey pockets. When doing a double set of rides it's a good idea to have lunch. I limp home to live another day.

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