Today is the first day of May! That is pretty exciting. But that also means that the month of April and 30 Days of Biking are over. I am so glad I decided to bike every day this month because it got rid of the question, “Should I bike today?” The reality is that every day is a great day to get out for a ride and this month confirmed that for me.
At the start of April, I thought it would be awesome if I could maintain a 20 mile daily average through the month. But then I let logic kick in, which informed me that there was no way I could get in that many miles. So I set my goal for the month at five hundred miles.
Here’s the cool thing: I totaled up all my biking for the month and I made it! I ended up getting an average of 20 miles per day with my total for the month at 606 miles, which makes April a record breaking month for me. I can’t wait to see how this coming month will turn out!
In other news, my dad and I were able to visit a few bike shops yesterday. I was able to ride a few bikes, talk to some smart biking people and get a much better sense of what kind (and size) of bike I am looking for. My fingers are crossed and hopefully I will have a new road bike soon!
It was great fun to hang out with my dad and see him “talk bike” in the stores. He used to commute by bike and cycle around with some guys from work back before the size of my family exploded, so I always learn something by talking to him about bikes. He has been overwhelmingly helpful through this whole bike buying business, I have no idea how I could do this without him.
I 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 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.
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.
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!
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?
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.
I have passed the point of no return. I am in.
I need a road bike and I need it now.