Wednesday, December 30, 2009

2009’s final ride

On Sunday, I rode my final ride of 2009.  Well, at least on the road.  I did participate in Coach Tim’s indoor trainer class last night, but the next time I hit the open road it will be 2010.  This most likely will be my final blog of 2009 as well so I better mix in a little reflection.

Before I talk about the ride, I want to discuss two of my 2009 goals, which were to spend less time riding alone and ending more rides with coffee and friends.  I definitely accomplished that.  I’ve ridden on more group rides that ended with coffee this year then ever. 

That leads me to Sunday.  I was meeting Carmen, David, and Pat at Flying Goat for coffee followed by a ride.  There might have been a few more of us but the threat of rain kept some members of our group safely tucked into their beds.  I was the last to arrive and when I did I could see them already laughing through the window.  This was going to be a great day.

The only serious discussion of the day was just before we rolled.  I had picked out a 45 mile route and Carmen (who’s new nickname is Ms. Type A) was hoping for 60.  We settled on 50 miles at an easy pace.  With that settled, we were off.

It had rained hard during the night, although not during our ride.  We decided to take the bike path out of town, which follows a lovely creek.  As we followed the creek, now full with water, we simply rolled along, chatting about everything and trying not to get to wet and dirty from the road spray. 

Now remember, this is supposed to be the off season so this should be an easy ride.  But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t goof around. For instance, going for the KOM (king of the mountain) on a hill that is about half a mile in length and gains less then 200 feet in elevation.

It was Pat and Carmen that started it.  We hit this small hill, I mean really small, and Pat and Carmen took off.  David also grabbed Pat’s wheel but he didn’t know it.  At the last minute Pat noticed David and sprinted to the top.  As Pat went over the top, he threw his arms up in victory and did the whole “rocking the baby motion” like he had just won a Tour de France stage.  It was hilarious.

We continued the ride and decided to sprint for the Healdsburg city limit sign.  Pat and I lifted the pace but David and Carmen decided not to play.  As Pat and I rode, we kept looking for the sign to launch our attack.  We didn’t see it so finally we assumed there wasn’t one.  Just as we sat up and relaxed, I looked to the right and there’s the sign.  Since my wheel was about 2 inches ahead of Pat’s, I immediately threw my arms up in victory.

This is how the ride continued.  We where simply having fun.  There was the time Pat and I decided to chase down two riders in front of us and after working really hard they stopped just as we were about to pass.  At another point, Pat and I were having a very nice chat when he said “Excuse me for a moment” and took off.  I thought “what the hell,” until I looked up and saw the Windsor city limit sign just ahead.  Earlier in the ride, Pat and David rode ahead of us, hid as Carmen and I passed, and then caught us from behind.

Finally, it was back to Flying Goat for the post-ride coffees, more laughs, and home made cinnamon rolls (thanks David).

In the end, I have to say that I accomplished my most important goal in 2009, which was remembering why I love cycling in the first place.  Between the great rides and even greater people, it was my best cycling year yet. 

I can’t wait to see what 2010 has to offer.


Sunday, December 27, 2009

My Christmas cheer

There were a lot of things that contributed to my holiday cheer this season.  Of course there’s Sherry, my lovely and supportive wife, who brings me year round happiness.  I took a couple of days off from work to make a 5-day weekend.  That always cheers me up.  Over the last couple of days, I have had lunch and coffee with numerous friends.  And finally, I am starting to feel like myself on the bike again.

If you read the last blog, then you already know I am getting over a sinus infection that kicked my butt.  The weekend before Christmas was the first time I went riding in almost three weeks.  They were both slow, tiring rides but I made it.  Now I just need to focus on regaining my strength.

The plan was to ride a lot over the last 5 days although I also needed to ride smart and not over do it.  My original plan was to ride Wednesday and Thursday, take Christmas off, and then ride both days of the weekend.  And although it didn’t quite work out that way, I have ridden 3 of the last 4 days and I am happy to say the body is starting to come around.  I am also heading out this morning.

Wednesday started out very cold but developed into a beautiful winter day.  So after lunch with friends, I went out for a short 30 mile ride.  Since I am not myself just yet I am still keeping things short.  I was joined by Kelli, one of the many cool people I have met this year.  We basically just rolled along chatting about the holidays and keeping things at a nice even tempo.  It was on this ride that I could feel my strength returning.

Thursday came and went without a ride.  It was 28 when I woke up so I decided to ride later in the day.  But, Sherry had the day off, so we ran errands to get ready for the big day and long story short – the ride didn’t happen.  No worries, I still have the weekend coming up even if there is the threat of rain.

Christmas Day was another cold, bright, beautiful day.  Sherry and I don’t have children, which means we get to sleep in.  We spent the morning meeting friends for coffee, having french toast for breakfast and relaxing.  Finally, around noon, I couldn’t take it anymore, so while Sherry started to watch a movie, I got ready to head out on the bike.

Riding alone on Christmas Day was great.  It was gorgeous, there wasn’t any traffic, and I had plenty of time to reflect on the day and my life.  At some point in the past, Santa gave me the perfect life for Christmas and I haven’t asked for anything else since.  This was very apparent to me as I rode along.  The ride itself was fine and I was feeling stronger.  Still, the real joy in the ride was simply remembering how lucky I am.

One of the things I am grateful for is cycling.  There’s more to it then just riding a bike.  First of all, it is my primary way of maintaining my health and fitness.  Cycling has led to some great adventures, like the 7-day trip to Colorado.  More importantly, it has allowed me to meet some great people and develop some strong friendships that will surely last for years to come.

That brings me back to my Christmas cheer.  When you have a wife like Sherry, the health to cycle for hours on end, and a great circle of friends, how could you not be happy.  The trick is to be thankful for these things every minute of every day. 

I truly hope that everyone finds their own holiday cheer each and every day of the year.


Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Being smart in the off season

Wow!  It has been a while since I managed to update my little blog.  There’s actually a couple of different reasons why I have been quiet lately.  To begin with, I’ve not been riding very much.  And since this is now a blog about my cycling adventures, no riding means there is not a lot to write about.  However, the real reason for my absence has been a little thing called a sinus infection that really wore me out.

HappyHills1The weekend before the sinus trouble I did manage to get in a couple of good rides.  I took a vacation day one Friday and rode on the first day of Pedro’s Winter Happy Hills Training Camp.  That’s us in the photo after reaching the top of Sonoma Mountain.  The next day, I went out with another large group on Sarah’s birthday ride, which was also the first edition of the Soup Spoons & Carbon Forks ride.

While both rides were fantastic, I just could not convince myself to write about them.  I was having trouble finding the right angle.  Looking back, I now realize the importance of these rides.  It really wasn’t the actual rides but the circumstances.  After spending much of 2008 riding alone, 2009 has been the year of big group rides for me.  I have met a lot of really cool cyclists this year on these rides and I can’t wait to ride with these folks more in 2010.

Another important aspect of these rides was that I rode smart.  I was the last person up Sonoma Mountain and I was perfectly ok with that.  It is still the off season so there was no reason for me to try and ride beyond my means.  It was tough watching the group ride away but I did keep 3 or 4 folks in sight so it wasn’t like they had to wait for me for days.

I decided to take the following week off as my last big rest before I start to get serious for 2010.  Of course, that’s when I got sick.  What’s up with getting sick the week you are resting?  So my one week recovery turned in three weeks of no exercise.  No riding.  No running.  No core workouts (ok, I didn’t miss them). Nothing!  The symptoms came and went relatively quickly but I was completely wiped out from an energy standpoint.

This weekend I finally got back on the bike for some recovery rides.  Once again, the situation called for riding smart.  While I was positive that a couple of hours of easy riding and fresh air would help, I was just as aware of the danger of over doing it. 

On Saturday, I decided to pass on all of the group rides.  I just needed to do my own thing and not try and keep up with a group.  So I waited for the morning chill to pass and headed out.  Since I was still feeling the effects of the sinus infection I dressed warmly.  You should have seen me.  Here I was riding in 50 degree weather bundled up like I was preparing to ride in a New Hampshire snowstorm.  Once I got started I quickly settled into a nice gentle pace and ended up with the perfect 26 mile ride.

Sunday found me riding with friends but still not pushing the pace.  I choose a level of exertion I was happy with and I refused to go above it.  On the only hill of the day I was once again last.  Coach Tim came back down to ride up with me and was very happy with my pacing and the fact I was riding smart.  When it was all said and done I managed to tick off another 48 miles for the year and was still feeling good.

As I write this I am feeling much better and my strength is slowly returning.  That’s good because after lunch with friends I am heading out for another ride.  (In case you couldn’t tell, I have the day off.)  I am actually riding 4 of the next 5 days if the weather cooperates and that’s not a bad way to end the year.

So hopefully I am back to both riding and writing a little more regularly.  I really do enjoy writing these little stories and I look forward to continuing them for anyone who cares to follow along.

Until the next adventure. . .