Now that I've concluded a rich food, beer, and laziness infused football watching season, I've started ramping up my cycling training. By ramping up, I mean finally hitting it hard and heavy. I've been in my routine of 5:30 AM spin class three times a week for a good while. Now it's time to move from washing lettuce up to fries. After all, I am training for a number of organized rides over the next few months leading up to the BP MS150.
This past weekend, I decided to dust off the bike and take it out on my first outdoor ride of the season. Getting the bike out of the garage, I discovered that it's still in pretty good shape. The tires inflate easily and seem to be holding air pretty well and don't have any bubbles or worn spots. Both wheels seem to be relatively true. After lubing the chain, I discover the derailleurs are shifting with ease. Other than the dust that covers the bike, everything seems to be in the same working order as when I last rode. Which is outstanding since the last time I rode was much longer ago than I care to admit.
After a good cleaning, I put everything back together and it seems like everything is set to go. It's then that I discover that my cycling computer has been wiped clean. Damn. Not only was I look forward to getting inspired by seeing that my last ride was a good 80+ miles, knowing that was preceded the day before by a century. I've had this as long as I've had the bike and I've loved the fact that I can see the odometer increasing year after year. Now I'm starting over. Oh well. Time to gather the rest of my gear like my helmet, gloves, glasses, etc. and get out on the ride.
Several months ago, I had a "clean out and organize the garage" bender. I purged a lot of junk. I gathered up and organized the fishing gear, the camping gear, tools, and of course the cycling gear. Knowing year after year I go through these episodes where I just can't seem to find what I'm looking for. On my cleaning bender, I was determined not only to organize everything but also to have everything easily accessible and in obvious places. Somewhere, something has gone wrong. It was much more difficult and took way too long to find my stuff. The same stuff I knew I would need and account for that when I organized it. The same stuff I have trouble finding every year. This wasn't doing anything for reducing my stress and frustration.
After let's call it "aggressive" rearranging of items in the garage and finally finding everything I was going to need on my ride. After winning the debate with my inner apathetic negotiator and not allowing myself to be talked out of my ride, I was finally ready to go. So off I went, heading down to the Veloway near my house. The Veloway is a 3 mile, paved looped that is only accessible to roller-bladers and cyclists.
I got the bike together. Got all geared up. I then decided I would take quick spin down the road before getting on the Veloway. I knew that either something was going to need adjustment or, more likely, after being off the bike for so long I would do something to embarrass myself. I thought it better that either, or both, of these things happen away from the masses of serious and semi-serious riders.As I'm cruising down the road, I realized two things: 1) I seriously underestimated how much I missed being on the bike. It felt really great to finally be riding again. 2) I seriously underestimated the wind chill. Despite the fact that the Veloway is less than 5 miles from my house, there was a noticeable difference between my shorts and short-sleeved jersey being adequate at the house and on the bike, not so much.
After some gritting of the teeth, I screwed my courage to the sticking post and headed off. As this was my first actual ride of the season I wasn't sure how far I would be able to ride, what sort of average speed I'd be able to maintain, and just how far out of shape I was. In the end, it was a fantastic ride. My distance was in between my lofty, high-end goal and my minimally-acceptable-if-I-can't-ride-this-far-at-this-point-I've-got-problems distance. I was able to maintain the average speed I had targeted, which means I might be able to increase it. And, much to my surprise, I learned that after all the food, beer, and couch surfing, I wasn't in as bad of shape as I thought. So, I've got that going for me. Onwards and upwards!