8.13.2011

back on the bike...

here it is Sunday afternoon...
the sun is shining and it is raining... go figure
just out of the shower after a quick ride
set out to do a little more than the usual in Rock Creek Park, but ended up just doing the minimum
ended up repeating the ride of yesterday afternoon

yesterday I started a post after my ride
will give this a glance then hit PUBLISH AND POST

this is an uneventful blog post about an uneventful bicycle ride
yet I will share it just the same

I can not recall when so much time has passed where I was not able to get on the bike
the family vacation to New Mexico... then a week with the boys at home without camp
it may have been two weeks since I have had anything substantial that would be considered "a ride"
sure I rode around the neighborhood and then to the store
and yes... there was a bike ride when I went fishing with the boys
but... with the seven year old being the "lowest common denominator" setting the pace and distance for our ride
well... that would not qualify as "a ride"

my window of opportunity... Saturday morning
I woke up a little sluggish...
stayed up late watching a movie and may have drank one too many beers on top of that...
my wife Lisa was sleeping in... not only is she sleeping in... but last night she did not prep the coffee machine... which has this slow morning missing its caffeine kick

the morning started slow for everyone... everyone missed the call of the rooster
everyone was spending a little extra time hugging the pillow
so... as Lisa grabbed a few extra winks I got up and woke the rest of the house
after getting the boys up I walked the neighbor's dog in the woods of Rock Creek Park
the boys were given instructions to eat and get dressed for karate

okay... I did not give the instructions and then step outside the door
I guided the action of my boys
with instructions for each step... get some cereal... eat some cereal... here are your karate uniforms... when you are done your cereal get these on and get out the door

I left out the front door with the dog right about when the boys went out the back door
then went to karate while I took the dog for a short loop in the woods

as nice as it is to start my day with coffee... it is also nice to start my day without coffee

I went ahead and started this day without coffee

into the basement I suited up...
it was no shock
it was no surprise
I had remembered that I finished my last "road ride" with a flat tire

so... before riding I had to replace the tube
I considered patching the punctured tube... but instead replaced it saving the punctured tube to be patched later

out the back door towards the alley it happened RAIN!
I hate starting a ride in the rain...
I hustled to get a few pedal strokes in before I got wet
the PINA COLADA song played in my head and I shifted into the big ring as I pointed my bike down Park Road out of Mount Pleasant and into Rock Creek Park
the rain was not much of an issue

down the hill and a right turn at the light

as I pedaled I passed an assortment of cyclists dressed in a wide variety of garb and an equally varied assortment of bicycles perched under bridges, trees, and whatever else would shelter them from the rain
rain?
I pedaled... getting as wet from the water spraying up from my tires as the rain coming down from the sky

up the hill to the three way stop then down the hill
at the intersection I tried to time things such that I would roll through the stop sign at the base of the hill as the cyclist ahead took their Right Of Way
instead that cyclist waved the car through... which threw me off
I dipped behind the car that had been waved on then approached the gap between the metal gates
two cyclists were heading my way
I decelerated... the approaching cyclists did not alter their pace

sort of spaced out having no intention of taking things to a complete stop I continued forward
the first cyclist came through... then there was a gap... then second cyclist started through
by this time I was nearly at the gap
I locked up the rear wheel and tapped the front
my momentum was not altered by my effort
with the rear wheel skidding I entered the gap at the same time as the other cyclist it was not my intention... but it happened it was not pretty... or maybe it was... it was a nice little controlled skid

it was a little ugly and it was a little awkward
I motored on... still a little sleepy... still a little sluggish
some morning coffee may have had me read that situation a little better

in my mind I wondered what the trailing cyclist thought of my misbehavior
I recognized his body and his kit from a ride a few weeks back
I thought about "road etiquette" which had me laughing... knowing I lack certain aspects of "road etiquette"...
like wearing white sweat socks and keeping my pinky finger on the water bottle when I drink

I was a little way into my short ride and I could feel that I was slower than I had been weeks prior
this was expected...
this was to be accepted...

the gear I was pushing was a cog or two easier and my legs were feeling each pedal stroke
it was hard to find comfort in the saddle and my arms were suffering a numbness from riding too heavy on the bars

on weekends stretches of Rock Creek Park are closed to "through traffic"
yet cars still traverse these roads... some of which are headed to the picnic groves while others are lost
many of these cars travel way too fast considering the recreational activities happening on the road

then on the shared sections of road there is the usual misbehavior from the car drivers

the cars passed with the expected aggression
as cars passed me obnoxiously fast and obnoxiously close I held on and tried not to become victim of their gravitational pull
I watched as the speeding cars passed the cyclists in front of me noticing that some cars passed cyclists within the lane... when they had more room to go closer to the double yellow line
the majority of the cars made generously wide passes... some of which may have put them closer to oncoming cyclists than the cyclists that they were passing

across East West Highway... going when it was free and clear rather than waiting for the light I moved forward past the Farmer's Market
always watching for pedestrians crossing and cars pulling in or pulling out up the hill a number of the cars that passed me before were passed by me at the light here they passed me again that is the game of "cat and mouse"
more cyclists being passed... more weekend warriors and recreational cyclists than racers
all sorts of hybrids... some wacky recumbents.... and all sorts of bearded road cyclists wearing jerseys with marks depicting them as unattached

as I motored past the Audubon Nature Center I could feel the gentle hum of a car engine in my shadow then felt the pass... the car was not moving excessively fast... the car was not passing excessively close
when the pass was made there was a cyclist in the other lane headed my way
good thing they were all the way to their right as the car passed
the risk of the "head on collision" is always a fear of mine

as I watched the passing car I noticed it was a police car...
Montgomery County Sheriff
the Sheriff slowed for the cyclist in front of him
now the Sheriff's vehicle obstructed my path
I was forced to slow down... I did not need to brake... but I could not pedal
I thought for a second about passing on the left... but chose to hold the slot behind "officer friendly"

it would not be smart to pass on the left for several reasons...
one... the driver is certain not to see me as they make the next pass and of course... this is a police officer... and well... as much as I appreciate their service... I prefer not having conversations with them

unlike recent rides down this way in recent times I avoided any add ons.... I avoided any extensions... I avoided any extra hills
my body was feeling fine but really... I was just trying to get out on the bike
not trying to build for anything... not trying to get ready for anything
the ride was uneventful after my turn past the Mormon Temple I passed and picked up three older gentlemen on their weekend ride at Connecticut Avenue while they waited for the light to turn green I approached it and saw that it was free and easy so I cross a few seconds before the Green invited them to cross
I kept my pace... did not try to alter my pace... did not allow them to catch me but did not do any additional work to keep them from catching me
I accepted that if they were to catch me I would allow them to pass without changing the intensity of my work out

neither the next stop sign and the following stop light were in my favor... I was forced to slow... not stop... but slow... then move on
I realized that the rain had stopped then I realized... it had not rained yet this far north in my ride which was interesting...
this was not a long ride this was a short out and back so
it amused me that their could be rain back by my house but not a few miles over the Maryland border

as I approached Garret Park it amused me as it always does how aggressive the drivers are when they turn into the neighborhood of Garret Park and how aggressive the drivers are when they pull out of Garret Park
this neighborhood with its legend and lore of being progressive seems to be chock full of assholes
so many people feeding in and out of this neighborhood aggressively get in front of the cyclist when they would do much better to just slow down a step and give the cyclist their right to space and safety

at the Stop sign I turned it around... not far after my turn around I saw that three man chase group
I wondered if they would go forward or turn around
it amused me I tried not to let my competitive nature kick in
I tried to keep my pace... admirably... seeing them woke me up and I pushed the pedals with strength and consistency

as I passed Cedar Lane I thought about how much I preferred things when they were doing construction and this intersection was a three way and not a four way intersection
as the road went through its gentle twists and turns I noticed a large mass ahead sure enough... it was the TEN O CLOCK RIDE
as I passed in the opposite direction I got a wave from friend and neighbor Chris McGill who was in the front leading the group
as I waved I tried to see if I recognized anyone else
it looked like Chris Soda was the next body in line
by this time I was gone and so were they
I thought about this group ride and my foolishness for riding alone when I could learn more about my body and my bike by riding with others
I thought about what the worse that could happen if I rode with them
I could get dropped
I could have some roadies scold me for my lack of road etiquette or my lack of road form

I thought about the time commitment and promised myself that this would have to happen on another day

as I retraced my steps towards home I liked the feeling of the pedals beneath my feet and the bike between my legs
I was not tired... but I could feel my effort
being on the bike made me want to get on the bike again
the final miles rolled by just as the miles before them... without consequence... without drama... just eye candy
the trees... the creek... and the other people in the park around me

I got home wet with a mix of sweat and water from the rain
my hands and feet seemed to be the most wet
off the bike and in the house I got my morning coffee
ah... still a little sleepy... still a little sluggish I was refreshed
the smell of coffee made me smile the taste of coffee woke me up just a little more

good to get on the bike even if it is just a spin in the park
every ride does not need to be an epic
every ride does not need to be a heart pounding effort

my ride was a little more than a pedal with the camera around my next but not something that would constitute a "work out"

today's ride was nearly identical... almost entirely identical pedal stroke for pedal stroke
I even saw Chris McGill at nearly the same spot as the day prior
different time of day... yet within a quarter mile of the point of intersection from the day prior

good to get on the bike
today I was passed by a few more cyclists than the day prior
there are others faster than me... lots of people are faster than me
I am not a high powered road racer
I am a cyclist with a little more strength and a little more stamina than your average weekend warrior

it was good to get on the bike
that Trek that I bought from another Mount Pleasant dad has been a real treat
that bike has rekindled my... dare I say... my love for road riding
I am really enjoying road riding
sure I would rather go mountain biking
but I can not go mountain biking on rainy days
and
I can not go mountain biking right out my door... well.. not legally

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