I'm back into riding. Rode little over the winter. (House project being my main excuse and it happened so no regrets.) Took the whole month of April off just feeling like it was my duty to play along "behaving" as authorities asked us to stay inside. (Yes, riding the bike should be about the safest thing we can do, but being another citizen pushing the boundaries - I just don't need to do that. I have the Declaration of Independence hanging in the living room. Life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. In that order. I don't think that was accident.
So, early last month I started riding once a week. Sunday. Added Thursday afternoon or evening. Just doing my well worn route into the county. Not "flat" but basically so. On Jessica J, the sweet fix gear. 2 cogs, first 18 and 19. A lot of 19! 43 X 19. Little gear. Not much fun downhill. I wasn't smooth and my undersides took a beating, even deep in Bag Balm. 30 miles was a long ways.
Sunday, May 10th I rode a 40 mile out and back. Hard, butt killer, but I did it. The next week I stretched it to 50. Added 25 miles that Thursday. The 25th I did the 50 miles and continued to the toll gate to the park around the Hagg Lake reservoir. (I love riding around it but it's 1000' of climbing in 8 miles and I am far from ready!) Came home hammered! Rode Tuesday evening. Not much get up and go but not too bad. Again Thursday for 35 miles. Sunday the 50 miler out and back again and it was actually kinda fun. Butt felt much better. By now I was a couple of weeks on 17,18 and starting to ride the 17.
I'd been seeing the moon lying in bed so I looked at the calendar yesterday morning. Full moon Friday. Weather forecast - warmish, high 70s with evening clouds. Whoa! If I want to do an evening ride past sunset this is it! Almost solstice. I'd be riding west into a cloudy sunset so not blinding the few following drivers. Near full moon through clouds; nice uniform light.
Suited up in my bright orange Mavic jersey that still has some reflecting on its silver stripes. Stuffed my bike vest with its two taillights in my pocket with a pair of armwarmers, Cliff bars, water bottles and my commuter headlight. Headed west, leaving around 6. Sun was still good and high so no visibility issues and the clouds were moving in. Mid 70s, perfect riding. Before leaving I unscrewed the 18 and put on a 16! Left on the 17. Brisk cross and headwind but I fell completely up to it. I can do this for an out and back of 35 miles. (I did ride 50 two days ago so that is asking plenty of this body.)
I started feeling better as I rode. Felt on top of the gear, even into the wind. Yes, out of the saddle at all the usual spots, but it wasn't lugging! Decided to push a little further, to the "northwest corner", the furthest upwind I can get on that ride for the best sail home. Got there and decided my turnaround was going to be at the road 1 1/2 miles further even though that meant a 3/4 mile slog upwind coming back. So I didn't "waste" the downwind getting there, I stopped and turned the wheel around. 16 tooth! I hadn't ridden it since last fall.
Now I was on the really fun gear - big enough that seat issues just aren't. Big enough that downhills are fun. That slightly downhill 3/4 miles was a blast. The next stretch of the same distance, slghtly steeper down but sheltered from wind was also. Turnaround. I stopped and put on my vest. Taillights on. Still a lot of light but the sun was now just a glow behind the clouds and low. Now the mile and a half back to the "corner" will be uphill (gentle, all in the saddle) and/or upwind. I'm in the big gear. And my legs are completely in to it. No big deal. Turn the corner and it's fun time! I come to the golf course and then, instead of rounding it and taking my usual gently undulating road, I decide to stay out in the following wind then add a loop toward the county seat and past my favorite park. Again the little downhill was fun and the gentle up into the ind no big deal.
Decided to ride through the park. Narrow trails but it was getting late and few people. The park is just off the river of our county. Lots of water birds. It is used primarily by immigrant families, especially Hispanic. I love seeing the big, active, loud families enjoying the park, so different from the reserved and quiet I grew up with. Last night only a couple of families. Then quiet. Birds, my quiet tires and not much else. (Wind was coming down. My sail was over.) Then onto the final 18 miles. First few were in the open. Farmland. Big sky. Clouds and light different every time I looked. Sun had found a slot and sat low, orange and big. At my right side. I was escorted by a 50 foot shadow on a bike. Wind was fading but at my hind quarter. Legs felt great. Yes, they'd done something and I was going to feel this but they were looking forward to the final miles. Bike felt super!
(Jessica J, the 1980s super race bike - except from a fictional world with no freewheels and gears and clinchers at the weight of my old winter commuter wheels. Yes, Corsa rolling resistance, not dogs at all but the wheels much heavier than my old tubular training wheels. But the ride! Steel at it best and then some. (Stiff ti, steel fork. Sugino 75 crankset, pista bars, Cinelli stem, D-A semi-platforms; for a few years the preferred velodrome pedal. Terry seat that my butt is now relearning to be comfortable on. Basically the old "classic" Selle Italia I raced and rode for 25 years till my body said "enough; gotta get that hole!")
Rode that race bike home, on top of the gear the whole time. (Yes,I was backing off. I'd done a lot and it was wind-down time, but the rises were easy and no need to stop and flip back to the 17.) Final dip and rise. Started down with slightly waning enthusiasm, then remembered "rollers! Fix gear!" Just before the down slope ended I spun, Accelerated through the bottom. Spun up and easily came out of the saddle and rolled over the top, Oh yeah! I know how to do this! I'm back! Rolled into the driveway on wonderfully hammered legs. 9:45. What a ride! (I ate 1/2 a Cliff Bar and drank 1/2 a waterbottle. Bathroom, food and water - all at once!
Went to bed after midnight with those hammered legs. Took two aspirin. (I knew my knees had done a lot plus without massage it would take two for good sleep. Woke up this morning at a no-alarm 9am felling great!
Now I get to take Jessica into the hills. She's always been ready. Now I am. And start plugging away at getting the good bike's FD to sift me into the inner ring keeping as much of the super low-Q as I can.
What a ride! What an evening!