“I need to start riding more.”
“We need to ride.”
“I’m so out of shape; I need to get on the bike more.”
I’ve been bemoaning my lack of velocitude lately. My mountain bikes have gotten intermittent action, but my road bike has been wearing a hole in the basement wall where it leans. A few weeks ago I did a 22 mile loop with a big climb in the middle.
Life keeps throwing too many distractions lately. My big boy job is making me act like a…big boy.
On Father’s Day I went out for another ride. Maybe my second road ride in 2016. Definitely my second of any consequence.
The night before Mandy and I watched the film The Program. It’s the feature flick about Lance Armstrong. Ben Foster was perfectly cast as Lance. At first I didn’t think he’d pull it off, but as the movie developed he became more and more Lance-like.
Watching all those cycling scenes made it hard for me to not want to ride. I got the bike ready and was ready to go the next morning.
I set out for Nada Tunnel intending to do the thirty-four mile loop from home, but halfway up the river from Stanton I realized I had forgotten to bring my light. And while I have a special tactic for getting through the tunnel sans illumination (wait for a car to head in and follow behind) I also realized a thirty-four mile ride was a bit more than my body would respond to positively.
The shorter option was to cut across the valley at Bowen and pick up North Bend. It was an easy decision to make. I paused on the bridge to check out the river. It’s low. Then I continued on my ride. The non-climb from the river up to the intersection felt like a wall, but as I turned my wheel west I felt a little stronger and was able to turn the cranks pretty hard and nudged my speed up over twenty miles an hour.
There was a distinct difference in my fitness level and the power I was able to exert on the pedals compared to even a year ago. I just don’t ride as much as I used to. I was ten miles in before my legs seemed to loosen up and I was able to open it up. The second half of the ride felt great. I was breaking no records (nor claiming any Strava KOMs), but I really enjoyed the ride from that point on. Of course I went from a busy road to a much less busy road.
There was a short jog on 213 to get to Paint Creek and I managed to hit it during a lull and got onto the quieter road without getting stressed out. I love, love, love the short section of Paint Creek between 213 and Tharp Ridge. Heck, I love Tharp Ridge. The whole second half of my ride was on some of my favorite local roads. Made for a great ride.
Didn’t see any cars on my traverse of Tharp (though I watched a fox pace me up the climb about a hundred feet off in the woods), but I did daydream about building mountain bike trails along both sides of the road on the ridge. The dreams flitted quickly into the clear blue sky as I descended the steep hill past the “water church” to Maple Street where I flew across the broad river valley, crossing the Red for the final time on my ride.
I turned up Halls Lane heading for the main road feeling good. I shortcut through the high school parking lot to come out on KY 11/15 at the top of the hill. I was preparing to turn west heading for home and when I looked left I saw four teenagers on touring bikes come cruising past. I slipped in behind them, but they never acknowledged me. As we descended toward Hatton Creek I geared up and stood on the pedals as they were not moving along at a Sporty Sport Bike speed.
I passed them, pulled far ahead, and prepared to make my left turn at the end of the straightaway before Turkey Knob. At a mile from home I encountered the one and only motoring jackass on my ride. A guy hardly got over as he drove past me. I just shook my head, gave my left turn signal, and was on my home road.
One last little punchy climb and I settled into the last gearing configuration of the day as I pedaled along, crossing the Mountain Parkway and rolling into a tunnel of sun and shadows dappled across the road.
It was a nice ride. I do need to do that more.