And this time, in the late afternoon a gap in the schedule presented itself. As has been the case this spring, the winds were again up, and somehow Friday afternoon traffic always makes me a bit wary to be on the roadways. We were already firmly into the commute period of the day, and I was feeling another ride opportunity sliding past.
But then, it occurred to my habitual-choice-oriented brain that there was another option. I do live ridiculously close to that rare trail condition known as “Legal Singletrack” and I do have these funy bikes with small wheels and grippy, knobby tires. A plan was indeed hatched.
Though the tires were floppy from disuse, and the dust on the drivetrain dated to last year, the Bridgestone was readied and prepped.
Bicycles are gloriously patient, but knowingly aware. I swear I could hear it chuckling as the buzzing knobbies sounded over the pavement.
The beauty of the singlespeed is no need for tweaking - air it up, knock the dirt off and make sure the chain isn’t chunky. Before I knew it, the direct and personal pain of climbing paid the penance of disuse. The 26″ wheels made it feel like a toy at times, but the skill set of mtb-on-trail finally made itself known
Tiring. Challenging. Fun.
An hour later, showering the trail dust off my ankles, I found myself marveling at how easy it is to miss the ease of a simple solution. How quickly we develop habits which don’t always serve us well. And realizing that the muscles required of a fast-paced trail ride on a rigid singlespeed are different than those of a regular road ride.
Which is to say, specifically, the first ride this year that felt like a “ride”.
Which is vaguely frustrating. The frustration of which dissipated by the act of the ride.
It’s been an interesting year so far. As I’ve kinda/sorta mentioned, a long work project ended this January. Which meant (after a bit of a rest period - as the last 8 weeks were pretty much sans days off) my new boss and my staff is pretty much me. Which is equally frightening and invigorating. And exciting.
The first thing I noticed though was that having an off-site job did make it easy to have a simple excuse to get up and get out and ride back and forth to work. Now, in the scheme of bike-to-work options, I had a wonderful commute - an MDR (most direct route) under 10 miles, so if I needed to get there fast, it wasn’t noticeably longer to drive. And the area I’m lucky enough to live in gives enough options that I could easily double that distance for the ride home. Plus the fact that my work position allowed me the ability to show up a bit sweaty, or at least breeze buffeted.
But all of that gets you awful spoiled, and the ability to have regular, cheap miles in the bank gives you a nice base for distant weekend adventures. 80 - 90 miles/week in just commuting is a nice step up, and with a decent loop on the weekend, mileage stays nice and constant. The odd have-to-drive week or day works just fine when you have a setup like that.
Now, my commute is pretty minimal, and the easy miles must be seized when the opportunity provides them. And therein lies the rub. At your own desk/studio, projects have deadlines which must be honored, and time slips away. If you are hustling ’til it hurts, that downtime gets repurposed into action - billing, letters, contacts, etc. - until it’s the end of the day, the winds are up and the dog is angling for a walk.
Thus my walking has expanded significantly. Tuuli loves a good promenade, and honestly, I’d rather have a hiking adventure with her than push on the pedals and roll off into the headwinds which have been the hallmark of this daffy spring weather we’ve had. So, my shoes are worn, but the tires are softening…
Oh that pesky, pesky balance.
This last week things seemed to fall into place a bit better. Morning auditions and project recordings, then desk stuff, then that glorious midday that I managed to turn into an errand loop on the bike. Which kind of reset the ride momentum. By the end of the week, I’d found a few places in the schedule which lent themselves to a head-clearing ride between tasks. Some short rides and focused efforts.
When Gino texted me Friday night, all the excuses roiled up - not enough mileage to go with the big kids, etc… Luckily, he’s a ride buddy who focuses on the ride part of the equation, and we realized we were both looking for a nice ramble to remind ourselves of good company and easy miles.
The Earth Day Weekend Weather assisted our efforts, and by the time we were over White’s Hill, things seemed to be firing the right way. Oh, yeah, we overdid it a little - at 61 miles it was the longest ride of the year for me, and the high 80 degrees of the day were a bit excessive over the last few miles to home.
But, it was a reminder of why The Ride - the act of rolling out with friends - covering the miles with easy conversation and deep topics - is so important.
Here’s to maintaining that momentum.