First outdoor ride of the year

With the temperature making it up to a balmy 45 degrees, I finally ventured out of my basement cave, where I’d been riding my bike on a stationary trainer, and took it back outdoors where it belongs. On the agenda was a 12-mile loop around and through Monticello, my usual “training loop.”

The first challenge was to learn how to dress for the weather again. 40-ish degrees, blustery winds…I decided to wear a base layer and then my winter jacket. And of course, it was time to christen the new shoes and pedals for outdoor use too!

The second challenge was getting used to actually going somewhere on a bike again! You’d think that’d be easy, but spending many cumulative hours on a stationary bike, where you don’t have to steer or pay attention to the road but rather a TV, deadens your bike-handling senses. And riding on the trainer is pretty much silky-smooth. Other than the vibration of the tires spinning, it’s like riding on flat marble.

The road conditions were nothing like that. Ice, sand, potholes, cracks and bumps…they were all there to bounce me around and give me a crash course in outdoor riding again–hopefully without the actual crash!

And of course don’t forget the wind. It ranged from steady to gusty, blowing in from the southwest. I could feel it pushing me sideways (can’t train for that indoors) and trying to bring me to a stop when I rode directly into it.

But thankfully, here’s where all that indoor training might have come in handy! I was pleasantly surprised to see that I could pedal right into the wind and not feel like I was going to lose. I wasn’t breaking any speed records, my heart was pounding and my lungs were heaving, but I actually felt a bit used to the effort, and it was paying off when going against the wind and up the hills.

The best payoff came when it was time to finally turn and head east toward town again. The wind was now at my back, and pedaling was a snap! It’s a nice feeling to spin out on the gear I was on, change to a harder gear, slow down my pedaling but then feel that gear spin out too. And on and on until I hit my hardest gear and was going about 30 mph. Exhilarating! Going that fast in a car is no big deal at all, but on a bike you feel like you’re flying!

Soon I was back in town, and weaved my way through the blocks as I made my way back home. The wind got back in my face again, and I found myself running out of energy to fight it–a good thing, since I wanted to get a good workout.

The most unfortunate part of my ride might be that I went through Riverside Gardens, which had several streams of water runoff going through it. As a result, I and my ride got dirty. Dirty new shoes, dirty biking pants, the “tread mark” of dirt up the backside and back, I got it all. Kind of a badge of honor though, although I’ll need to clean up my bike so as not to have all that dirt and sand start wearing down the gears and chain.

I barely had enough energy to make it through the end of my ride, going back up the hill that I live on top of. (My rides always start off great, coasting downhill. The ends suck, though.)

I made it back home, stretched, noticed I even had sand in the hair on the back of my head, and got started on lunch.

Not bad for the first outdoor bike ride of the year. Now we’ll see if I go back to indoor training mode. Maybe if the temperature hovers in the 30s from here on I’ll just keep getting outside. It’s just more invigorating out there!


~ by davidllee on February 10, 2009.

One Response to “First outdoor ride of the year”

  1. Well Dave, I’m glad you got it in. Sounds like it could be snowing again by the weekend. Only in Iowa. Keep up the good posts.

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