The lawns needed mowing, my office renovation was still incomplete and we were expecting family for Sunday dinner in a few hours. So, looking at the yard, the house and the sun shining outside I did what any good, responsible parent and husband would do....I got the road bike out, put air in the tires, wiped off the layer of dust and clipped in for a nice quick ride.
I haven't been on the road bike but a couple of times since the Tahoe ride back at the beginning of June. Its not that I haven't been riding, I've been trying to get in at least one or two a week, but they've all been on the mountain bike which is more about short, intense efforts than a longer sustained ride.
What would this be like? Would I be strong? Fast? Smooth? Would I remember how to shift?
As it turns out, clipping in was a lot like putting on an old sweater. At the beginning of the season, I invested an afternoon and had Chris over at Eden Bicycles spend some time and do an actual professional fitting of my bike. Granted, I'm not a racer, I don't get paid to ride my bike and at the level that I'm at, the fit probably doesn't really affect my performance too dramatically. What the fitting did do though was make my bike, my bike.
From the moment I clipped in everything fell exactly where it was supposed to. My hands rested on the hoods perfectly, my fingers found the brifters with no hesitation or missed shifts, the reach to the bars was exactly in the perfect place to allow me a nice flat back and a comfortable pedal stroke....yep, its definitely my bike....where have you been she asked?
The time off the bike though did take its toll. My pedal stroke was jerky and felt more like pushing pistons than making smooth circles. Thankfully the first part of the ride, down Union City Blvd is with the wind and although there's not much shoulder, traffic on a sunday afternoon was light and the cars that did go by were all polite and moved over to pass.
At the end of Union City Blvd, I jumped on to the Alameda Creek trail and turned east....suddenly, the tailwind that had moved me along so nicely was a crosswind and immediately my pace slowed. My gps had died within a block of leaving the house so I had no idea how fast or slow I was going.
My previous best time for today's loop was 1 hour even. The route is 21 miles and on my best day finishing in an hour took a combination of me killing myself and the wind cooperating with and not fighting me. Today, knowing I hadn't been on the bike in a while and with no idea of my average speed, all I could do was turn myself inside out trying to maintain a pace that kept me right on the redline.
As I got to the end of the Alameda Creek trail and turned north on to Mission Blvd, the annoying sidewind became a full-on headwind and the work really began. I had been keeping my pace high, trying to make smooth fast circles in the hopes that I could at least get close to my personal best, but the wind and the pain in my legs were leading me to realize that this was not going to be my day.
I continued to push myself, sweat running in to my eyes before being dried into a crust by the wind blowing in my face, my legs were definitely beginning to fade and my water bottle was empty....still I tried to keep the pace as high as possible as I made the turn west onto Industrial Blvd. The last leg, the final push and thankfully, the wind had returned to being just an annoying crosswind.
Evidently, Industrial Blvd isn't one of the main bike routes in Hayward. Or, if it is, the City is really falling down on the job as I spent as much time dodging glass, wood, and various other types of debris as I did forcing my legs to continue going round and round.
Eventually, as I turned back on to Hesperian and then on to my own street I was able to sit up and cool down. Coasting into my driveway I pushed the "end ride" button on the Strava app on my cell phone and immediately saw that despite my best efforts, today was not going to be my day.
Distance: 21.0 miles
Avg Speed: 17.5mph
Maybe I need to start spending a little more time on the road bike....even though it fits like an old sweater, the motor may need a bit of a tune up.