Friday, June 12, 2015

On the Road (Bike) Again


Two nights ago I was going to head out for a ride.  Mandy was on her way home.  Did she want to go?  She did.
It felt good to be back on the road bike.  Last week I got back on, and it's been a good return.  It felt great to be pedaling north out of Stanton headed for the river.  Traffic ceased to exist when we turned off of KY 213 onto North Bend Road.  The short severe little climb fell easily behind us and then we were on easy rollers for miles.
It had been a hot day, but the relatively low humidity combined with a nice cyclist-powered breeze made for the most pleasant ride I’ve had in a while.  It didn’t hurt that I was with my favorite person in the entire universe.
The dogs lay sloth.  Must have been too hot for the ragamuffin crew that typically guard the second mile into North Bend.  They’ve never been too bad but barky nuts for sure.  We cruised past the cutover from our side of the valley back to Campton Road at Rosslyn for a few more miles deeper into the best riding around.  We cranked on toward Bowen as the air cooled more and the sun lay at an angle in the sky.
We talked, and alternately rode in silence, and we enjoyed the cool shade of big green trees overhanging the road as we sidled up to Cane Creek.  Coyly we meandered away from the stream back to the base of the ridge before coming in for a fast kiss as we blasted over the narrow bridge over the stream not named for a component manufacturer.  We left it for good and crossed over the Red at Bowen.
A semi carrying a large piece of farm equipment blocked the road.  The driver was in need of assistance from his handlers to make the steep, hard turn off of Campton Road onto 613.  We opted to cyclo-cross it up the steep bank behind the derelict corner store at the intersection, and were back on the bikes on the freshest pavement in Powell County before you could say “No Trespassing.”
The fun began.  We had been lusting after that sinuous black ribbon of asphalt and paint since we first saw it a couple of weeks ago.  “Got to go ride that!” we kept saying.  Or at least I did, and Mandy agreed.  There’s nothing like gliding along on top of freshly laid blacktop on a well-tuned road bike.  I guess I need to tune up our bikes.
On back through Rosslyn and into Stanton we flew.  Traffic was still fairly light as we passed the Drive-In (Bike-in) and into town.  Mandy took the lane passing “Airport.”  We cut in behind Billings and through the bank parking lot, paused with feet up at 213, and then we were on the home stretch.
Last night I presented the Powell County Bicycle & Pedestrian Plan to the Stanton City Council.  Another unanimous adoption.  Thank you very much; I am humbled by the applause in my head.  But it was good.  And the mayor asked me to tell the council about the boat access and park idea.  I’ll tell you about that later.
I tried to race home and catch Mandy and the kids before they left for Lily’s softball game in Wolfe County.  Just missed them!
Well, I guess all that was left was to celebrate the plan adoption with another bike ride.  I took off in a flurry to repeat the ride Mandy and I took the night before.
I went into full-on time trial mode.  I was going to try to do the 18.5 mile ride in an hour or less.  Doable…but did I have it in me, or did I need a few more rides under my bibs?
I tore out of Stanton at 22 mph.  I ramped it up across Morris Creek Bridge (future park) and didn’t slow as I turned onto the immediate climb of North Bend Road.  I kept hammering the pedals with nary a slack crankturn until I was nearly to the Rosslyn cutover.
I felt slower as I headed on toward Cane Creek and Bowen, but the Eppersons’ dogs got me spirited up again, and I dove into the green tunnel along the creek at a solid 24 mph and climbing.  As my legs loosened with the miles I could feel my pace climbing.  I checked my Garmin.  I ticked over from a 17 mph average to an 18 mph average.  Oh, we got this, Mabel! I thought.  From Bowen home is mostly flat.  The bump at Welch’s Cut gives me fits.  It’s NOTHING, yet it always causes me to downshift.  But then I crank it back up for the sprint into town.  
The only thing in my way of one hour glory was Steamshovel Hill.  Holy swearing cuss.
When I slowed to navigate through the bank lot I felt tightness clamp onto my thighs.  I didn’t have it in me for a PR on the stout little climb.  I was going to have to make up time on re-entry on the Hatton Creek side.
Yep, I was slow up the wall of Steamshovel.  I dipped into the well of my past cycling experiences with suffering and pushed it out over the top to keep the speed up.  I was racing the clock.  I had about two and a half minutes at the top of the 0.2 mile climb.  I laid the throttle wide open going over past the road department.  I passed the Koontz biker gang that’s been circling Hatton Creek lately on their single speeds.  My helmet’s off to them walking those bikes up Steamshovel!
With a mile to go I was a minute and a half from an hour and doing roughly 33,000 mph minus three zeros.  My heartrate was about 172 bpm according to my little wrist coach.  I pushed hard but hollow on the pedals as I crossed over the Mountain Parkway.  Taking advantage of the decline on the far side I knuckled up a few gears and got the sporty sport bike up to speed one last time for the day.
I stood up on the pedals for the last short, insignificant hill.  Two seconds later my computer and my Garmin ticked 1:00.  I was about a hundred yards from my driveway.
Technically it did not show 1:01 when I returned home. 
I’m resting today.

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