A Bold New Plan

February 15, 2009

This winter continues to plague my cycling dreams, but Spring’s hope is budding restlessly!  Tomorrow I’m buying the coat. I own the coat.  Now I can ride in freezing rain fearlessly!  The plan is, of course, to start riding to work again.  I’ll start next week, with my shift change.  I thought I’d ease myself back in, so I put on the jacket, other gear, and took off for my first ride of the year.

I thought I’d take my favorite route, the hilly twenty.  With a total climb of 1182ft, I was fairly certain I would not ride the whole thing.

The weather was sunny, 33ºF.  It was one of those ‘warm feeling’ days, in spite of a cold wind.  I made good progress, keeping my cadence up and generally getting used to riding again.  At my almost-half-way intersection point, I felt like it was time to go back, but wanted to see how much more I had in me.   How could I settle for 10 miles?

I kept my cadence around 90 for 3/4 of the ride.  After I conquered the biggest hill (mile 13) with a cheer, I pushed down the other side and hit my top speed: 37mph.  Half way up the next hill cluster, I felt my exhaustion sap away my hopes.  Immediately I rose out of my seat and tried to blast up the hill, but there was nothing left.  I had already resigned myself to using the granny gear on the previous hill, but now was a different kind of resignation.

The last few miles were horrible.  I was hungry and physically exhausted.  Water didn’t help, I could only pushed on.

1:27’20, 21.45mi
avg 14.7mph, max 37.0mph
33ºF, Odo 21.4mi
Cadence: Good for 15mi!

Home. Pain. Fear. Please god let the door lock open. Failed. Again. Opened!  Drag the bike inside, immediately desire to raid the kitchen.  Too hot, peel off stinky gear.  Hang it up first, eat second.

I knew, on sight, that the stairs would do me in.  After a brief stretch I had the confidence to climb them.  This was a tremendous mistake.  Sure, I climbed them, slowly, carefully, and it did hurt; but it was the way back down where I thought I was going to die.

My legs were jelly.  Each step down the stairs prompted the question “Is this leg going to buckle?”  This was less like descending stairs and more like a controlled fall in slow motion.  I was afraid for my life.  It took every ounce of effort I had not to fall down the stairs.  It was critical fatigue and I couldn’t have stopped if I’d wanted to.  And yet here I am: safe and sound.  Instant relief when I braced against the wall at the bottom of the stair.  Yay, I’m alive!

Thoughts on the ride: I’m so glad to be back.

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