Wednesday, April 16, 2008

One Key to Better Riding

It might be an old, mysterious scent that sends you hurtling backward in time, or maybe an almost-forgotten song on the radio from some magical moment in life long ago -- a sensory cue that's ethereal, but profound. Comes in a flash and maybe disappears just as quickly, leaving behind only wisps of sentiment and memory.

I had one of those moments today, brought to me by the feeling of the wind through my hair on a sunny spring day. The sun and that whoosh sent me hurtling back ...

Of course, I'm talking about the hair on my legs -- I don't have much on my head. And I didn't travel very far back in time. Just a couple years back, when I first started shaving my legs for bike racing. And I didn't ponder with any profundity.

So if you thought this was going to be a thoughtful, heartfelt post,

  1. Welcome! you must be new here! and
  2. I'm sorry to disappoint you.
I'm just saying it's time to shave my legs again. No, I'm not going to post about the process either, or tell you about my new carbon-fiber razor with plenty of lateral stiffness but lots of vertical compliance. You don't really need to read about that, or the bloody nicks, do you?

If I will say, though, that it was mighty nice being out there in shorts, without even knee warmers, for only the third time this year. The warm weather almost made up for my retardedness. Or retardation.

I left the office after the lunch hour to make The Drop (covert delivery of performance-enhancing substance* to a teammate who I'll identify only by initials, which are Tim Fortner). Then I swung down to the Canal Corridor Reservation for some easy recovery spinning after some more moderate to hard and hilly miles the night before.

It was 64 degrees when I got to the lot, with a mild but fairly stiff southerly wind. I was glad to have a lightweight but long-sleeve jersey, but I didn't think I'd need the knee warmers. I stuck them in a back pocket and removed the toe warmers from my cycling shoes. Pretty darn comfy.

I stuck my tube/CO2 in one pocket. Then I stuffed a Ziploc with the other essentials: wallet, house key and cell phone, and put that in another pocket. Everything else I stuffed into my duffel bag; I locked up the car and put the bag in the trunk.

The headwind made for a little more effort than I was up for as I headed south on the paved towpath to Rockside, then on the crushed limestone into Valley View, where I then moved over onto Canal Rd. The plan was to ride 5-6 miles, then turn around and ride back.

But I got a little distracted by a Road Not Taken, there at the Valley View Safety Center. So I took it.

That's where the gentle recovery ride stopped being one. I found myself facing about a 10-12% wall -- not terribly long, it appeared, but plenty steep. A police cruiser crept up alongside me and the two cops smirked, like they were ready to bust out laughing, before they pulled away up the hill. So I cranked it up, of course. I'm not sure if they were impressed when I crested the hill behind them, or if they could even still see me. But I saw them again later and they weren't heckling.

Then I found a lovely little city park with the best softball diamonds and the stupidest-looking dogs on leashes that I've ever seen. Next thing I know, I was five miles past my 5-mile turnaround point. So I turned around and zoomed back down the hill (peaking at 46 mph) and turned north -- seemingly flying with that robust tailwind!

In no time I was back at the car. At this point, you are unwittingly taking my own Awareness Test. No, there's no one in a bear suit dancing in my post. But if you backtrack about five paragraphs, you should be able to figure out why I stood at the back of my car, looking as dumb as the dipshit in the bear suit, except that I was a lot more conspicuous. House keys don't open cars.

So I called my wife, who said she'd gladly bring my key to me at the office. More of an excuse to ride the tailwind. I jumped back on the bike and headed north. Even caught the draft of a truck all the way up E. 49th St. and along Broadway, cruising effortlessly at 30-35 mph. I covered the six miles in less than 15 minutes. And an hour later, Jen and the kids showed up to rescue me. She didn't even make me ride into the headwind -- gave me a ride all the way to the car!

My 10-mile recovery ride turned into 22 miles. But it cleared my mind and helped me blow through the rest of the day's project. When I finished it, I was most pleased: I stood there admiring my work product like Barry Bonds admires his homers.

And I still have enough energy to shave my legs.

- JN

* = SportLegs -- our sponsor!

1 comment:

Eric said...

Don't you shave your legs year round?

Good ride. I'm looking to be on the road tonight.