I woke up early Saturday, as I always do, but today was different. The weekend before Thanksgiving and I knew we were going to be busy. We're expecting a houseful and had a pretty long list of of shopping, chores and preparation we had to complete.
Knowing this and, knowing I really wanted to get a ride in before the chaos began, meant I had to be up and ready to go early today. Thankfully, with daylight savings time, it was light enough that I had planned on starting about 6:30 for my regular quick 20 mile loop. Not a great ride, but local, and if I could keep my pace up, would allow me to finish right around an hour.
The plan quickly got bumped back a bit when I went out to the garage at 6:30 to get my bike and saw that it was only 42 degrees outside. Maybe I'd have another cup of coffee first...after all, it's not quite light and I really want to be safe (and warmer)
At 7:00 I again looked and it had warmed up a total of 2 degrees to 44...um....I really should be well caffeinated before I start...one more cup of coffee, just to be sure....
By 7:30, I really couldn't put it off any longer and with a base layer, a jersey, a jacket and leg warmers I headed out into the cold 45 degree weather. Granted, for those people that don't live in California, this isn't cold and I'm sure I'm kind of a wimp, but I pay outrageous property taxes and ridiculous real estate prices to live here so that I can avoid cold weather.
The loop is actually a pretty decent loop (more of a big rectangle really) but only if you do it on a weekend and in the morning. The first leg down Union City Blvd from my house is wide and busy, but has no bike lane. Any time other than early on a weekend, it's downright scary to ride. The next leg is a multi-use trail which although there are no vehicles, gets busy with walkers, runners, riders, families and dogs during the day. The 3rd leg along Mission Bl from Fremont back to Hayward isn't bad. It's a really busy road, but has a wide shoulder. The road conditions for most of it are new and pretty good. Unfortunately, as soon as you cross the city limit back into Hayward, the road deteriorates dramatically. The shoulder, while still pretty wide, is in horrible shape and more suited to a mt bike than a road bike. And the last loop down Industrial Blvd again, has a decent shoulder but it's littered with debris. and I've had a few flats in this section which really sucks because not only is it not a great area, it's at the end of the ride when all I want is to be done....thankfully today I had no issues.
As I headed out I realized I probably should have brought my toe covers. Again, for people in the east and the north, 45 degrees is probably pleasant this time of year, but I could immediately feel the cold air blowing in through the mesh on my shoes. Other than that though, I felt pretty good. I hadn't been on the road bike in a few weeks and although I've been riding the mountain bike the higher cadence definitely felt like work.
Once I jumped off the road onto the multi-use trail the ride became pleasant and although I was still trying to maintain a high pace, the scenery definitely improved from asphalt to a nice creek, trees, ducks, geese and the occasional runner.
This path ends at Mission Blvd which is actually the old highway 238 and is still a major traffic road during the week. Another reason I wanted to start early. By now though the temps had warmed up a bit. Not to the point that I was actually warm, but not so cold as it was earlier. I have an issue when the weather turns cold in that my toes never seem to stay warm. I had tried the toe covers and those work for cool mornings, but last year I broke down and bought neoprene boots that go over my cycling shoes for somoe of our nighttime mountain bike rides....pretty sure our Christmas ride last year never got above 35 degrees.
I continued to try to push the pace on the ride. My best time for this loop is just under an hour which was done when I was in much better shape and although I knew I wasn't going to get near that, I still wanted a good time.
One of the challenges I face when riding alone is pushing myself beyond a "comfortable" pace. I've actually invented little head games for times when I'm just not motivated. I'll race to the next intersection, I'll try to get to the next light before the car coming up catches me, I'll try to maintain a certain pace for the next mile, if I see another rider I'll push until I catch them, and on and on. This morning's game was even better...due to the sun coming from the left and slightly behind me, my shadow was just ahead of me for this entire 5 mile leg of the ride and I spent the entire time "chasing my shadow"...unfortunately it won.
As I made the turn on industrial and then the final leg to my house, I felt like I had had a good ride. Definitely not in the shape I should be, but it seems like my whole season has been that way....nice to get out in the morning and enjoy some road time.....(but damn are my toes cold)