Last night was the last Thursday ride for the season that will start in the daylight. This weekend will be the end of daylight savings time (or is it the beginning? I can never remember) so starting next Thursday, we'll need lights from the very start of the ride.
(yes - I know I haven't yet posted Day 2 of the Tahoe trip, but I'm still trying to get pictures and video edited)
We had a little bit of rain on Wednesday night/Thursday morning so the trails at Lake Chabot were perfect. Hero-Dirt as I believe it's referred, for the traction it provides and last night was no exception. After a summer of dry, powdered sugar over hardpack conditions, where we ended every ride looking like pig-pen, last night was a treat.
The trails were damp and tacky, but not muddy. Traction was incredible and the weather was cool, but not cold....a perfect evening for a ride. I, having had kind of a crazy week, decided I needed to work through some issues and brought the single speed. The single speed forces me to give 100% of my concentration thereby preventing me from thinking of work, or life or all of the myriad of projects I still need to finish.
As I'm sure I've mentioned in other posts, this has not been a great year for me fitness-wise. I've ridden just enough to maintain a base level of fitness but am way off my normal mileage for the end of the season. As a result, bringing the single speed out tonight meant that Brandon, the first long climb of tonight's ride, was going to hurt.....and it did...
One thing though that I think is common, no actually make that required, among cyclists is the ability and the willingness to suffer. People ask me when I mention a nice long ride, but don't your legs hurt, or your butt? Or why I ride a single speed or why I prefer rides with lots of climbing, but doesn't that just make it harder? Why yes, yes it does.
I've found among most of my riding friends that the same mentality exists. The desire to go just a little further. The willingness to push the limits of what their bodies are used to. I mean sure, I have friends that prefer nice social rides to the coffee shop and there's definitely a place for that.....but most of the serious cyclists I know actually prefer pushing their boundaries a bit just to see if they can.
It strikes me as I type this that cycling is actually like a lot of things in life. The ability to continue to move forward when things get tough is a characteristic that can be found in marriage, in our jobs, in our friendships, pretty much in everything we do.
These thoughts were bouncing around in my head as I continued to stand and make circles with the pedals, willing my heart rate to mellow and trying my hardest not to have my lungs explode out of my chest. Then, another thought dawned on me....one which I shared with Jack as we finally got to the top of the climb.....it's the end of the season....we're supposed to actually be in shape by now....
From here, we could have done the regular loop, but in a desire to suffer just a bit more, we decided to add in Redtail and Soaring Hawk. The suffering continues....things actually went ok. As long as I kept my pace mellow, my heartrate stayed under control. My legs though, were a different story. By the time we got to the Soaring Hawk, Cottontail intersection, both Jack and I agreed we had had enough....we dropped down Cottontail to the regular loop and finished the ride on that route.
Still, the last climb up to the parking lot on the road had my legs asking for a break and when we finally got to the truck after just under 2 hours, I was ready for a beer and a rest.
The weather ended up being perfect, the trail conditions were ideal, the bike performed flawlessly....now if I could just get the motor tuned up and running better, I'd be all set.