The Joy of a Quiet Morning

DSC00267DSC00264DSC00270I woke up this morning, headed out the door and jumped on my bike with a plan. A plan to wander. Oh the joy of being on a bike with no destination in mind, just the wind at my back and the warm spring sun on my face.

I ended up going down some roads I hadn’t biked for years. The hills seem smaller now. Okay, most of the hills seem smaller now. There was still one hill that almost defeated me. Honestly though, it felt so good to climb a hill with sweat dripping off my forehead. ‘Tis the season for perspiring!

Stomach grumbling, I went off the road and into the woods to eat breakfast. Sitting on a moss covered rock with trees all around me was the perfect way to enjoy a morning snack.

Back on the road, school buses rushed past me. Men in pickup trucks flew by, probably on their way to work. It is a busy world out there! It reminded me how blessed I am to have the morning to myself, to explore and wander the back roads of my county to my heart’s content.

Winter isn’t quite finished.

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Winter saw an opportunity, and took it. As I started climbing upward on my bike this morning, I noticed a light dusting of snow covering the hillside. I wasn’t too surprised, since the forecast was predicting snow for today. I also wasn’t surprised when a few snowflakes started drifting down from the sky.

What did catch me off guard was the full-blown snow storm that I found myself in thirty minutes later. Good thing I thought to bring my ski goggles “just in case”. The higher up the plateau I went, the windier and snowier the conditions became. It felt so good to be back in the midst of swirling snowflakes again. I explored a few back roads and then returned to the main road. I biked for a few more miles uphill, against the wind which was kind of fun because I knew that once I turned around I would have smooth sailing on the way home.DSC00257DSC00253DSC00260

The snow died down after falling steadily for two hours. I am sure it won’t stick around for too long, with the dangerous spring sun out and smiling, but man, winter put on a good show. The best part is that I got to experience it all on my bike. Seeing the ground turn from a eager green back to pristine white, was a lovely thing.

Not that it was all good. I found out my dad’s clipless shoes aren’t rated for below freezing temperatures. My toes got the bad end of the deal.

Upper Body Update (or not)

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I did not “moo” at the cows, Dan. But I did say hi, so I think I am covered.

My left wrist firmly believes that breaking my fall on Sunday was a heroic enough effort to exclude it from normal pushup duties. So while my wrist is resting on its laurels, I see lots of planking and single leg squats in my future.

I discovered today while doing squats that my right leg is noticeably stronger and steadier than my left leg. I wonder if I should try to balance my legs out by working my left leg more.

The hybrid has returned to its rightful owner, so it is back to my bike and clipless pedals. The lady told me that I could keep using her bike until I got a new bike but I don’t think it is such a great idea to switch between using flat and clipless pedals at this stage in the game. I feel like my brain will get confused.

For the next few weeks I am going to focus on climbing hills as fast and hard as I can to prepare my legs for the bigger gears that I will be using when I get my new bike. I was able to climb a few decent hills this morning and I have a nice one planned for tomorrow. Good times!

Blustery Spring Day

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The wind made the water seethe with mini whitecaps.

Going to work was fun this morning. A strong wind blew me over to the restaurant and I arrived ten to fifteen minutes earlier than I expected to!

But what was a lovely tailwind coming into work became a raging headwind on the return trip home. (Funny how that works.)  During the work day, I had a good idea of what I was in for on the ride home so I started mentally preparing myself.

“It might be tough, but it will be good for you. Build those muscles, kid!”

(I often call myself “kid” during internal dialogues.) Thinking back on some of my seemingly endless windy spring rides from last year, I hopped on my bike at the end of the day with some measure of dread. As a bike commuter, headwinds are to me what rush hour traffic is to a motorist. They guarantee a long commute home, the stronger and more persistent the wind is the more frustrating and impatient I can become to arrive home and “get stuff done”.

But I think winter biking has messed with my physiological makeup, somehow. No matter how hard the wind blew (36 mph with gusts nearing 50 mph) and how hard I had to fight against it, I could not find any shred of impatience or frustration to latch onto. I was fighting the wind physically but I didn’t need to battle it mentally. When there was an occasional crosswind, I found myself leaning and against it and grinning.

Winter biking taught me to accept the weather. To accept the road. To accept the time it takes to get home, no matter how long that may be. To make the journey an enjoyable thing, something worth remembering.

Rushing home, just getting those ten miles over and done with so that I can move on to the next thing isn’t my default anymore.

Have I ever told you that I love winter?

A Red Letter Day

DSC00215Today has been a good day.

For the first time in forever I went biking with a person! A real live person!

My mom and I took a nice, almost ten mile jaunt over to a local park. Hooray for being able to talk to someone (other than myself) while riding. It was such a beautiful day to be out, doing something I love with someone I love.

But today was groundbreaking in another regard as well. My dad dug out his clipless shoes which are too small for him, switched out the pedals on my mountain bike and then tutored me in the ways of the clipless pedal.

I went around the driveway practicing how to clip in and out. What a bizarre feeling to have my feet stuck firmly to the pedals!

During one rotation around the driveway, my parent’s dog got in the way, blocking off my path with her line. You can guess what happened next. I braked and then toppled over with all the grace of a camel.

And with that wonderfully auspicious beginning, my mom and I set out. In my mind I kept reciting, “rotate to stop, rotate to stop, rotate to stop.”

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With one foot.
With the other foot.
With my heels down.
With my toes pointed.
With my feet flat.
By pulling up on the pedals.

My mom asked me if I was okay, I guess my experimentation must have looked pretty weird.

And then my nice little world turned upside down.

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Here’s the deal.
This week I have been dog sitting and the owner, knowing that I was looking to buy a road bike, kindly offered me the use of her hybrid while she was away.

Did you know that there is a huge difference between riding on a mountain bike with studded tires and using a hybrid with nice gears?

Huge, huge difference.
I’ve had studded tires on my bike since the middle of November. I forgot how quiet and smooth biking can be without them.

Late this morning, I was biking back home after visiting my nieces and nephews. A gentle breeze was blowing, the sun was out and the air was warm.

Then it happened.

All of a sudden I realized I was going fast. So I started going even faster. I tore up the road with all the exuberance of a winter biker gone rogue. No studded tires, no limited gears holding me back. The hybrid had a speedometer and I kept glancing at it, unbelieving.
Is this speed for real?
Is the power I feel in my legs for real?

For twelve miles I went faster on a bike then I ever have in my life.

Fire lit.

I have passed the point of no return. I am in.

I need a road bike and I need it now.