Got out last Saturday for a nice loop in ridiculously fine October weather. As you may have divined by a lack of ride reports and images, this has been a reasonably low mileage year. Which happens. And this year, some of why it’s happening is for good reasons - big change in work situation, trying to make things go - and some bad - family member health issues.
But, the ride heals. The ride is always the key. The ride sets things right. Doesn’t always directly fix them, but resets things in a way which few other things seem to be able.
Last month was a bit tough because I just didn’t really want to get on the bike. Yeah, I had an excuse. As I mentioned to a few people already, I took a tumble when trying to guide another rider through the maze of local streets. He had nipped ahead of me, then thought he was supposed to turn left when he wasn’t. From my perspective, I thought he was just slowing for some steel construction plates. A perspective that was shown to be incorrect, when I suddenly realized that I was looking a full side image of his bike. So, hands on brakes too late. Nose wheelie and evasive techniques while the reptilian brain invoked all my tight race-pack-learned skills. I missed him cleanly but felt myself separating from the bike. Had a long look at it below me as it vectored away.
Released, relaxed and rolled. Thought about the survival rates of cats. But, I do generally fall well.
Came up on my feet, and looked for the bike, which is always a good indicator of lack of serious injury. Got it off the road as the horrified other rider caught up and tried to offer help.
Then I felt it. Ribs. A bit hard to get a deep breath. Probed a bit against my jersey, but nothing stuck out or felt obviously ickyk. Poked a little bit and found the spot, back to the side, on line between the armpit and the hip, which disliked being prodded. Crud.
Sent the other rider on his way after he made sure I knew where we were and what day it was. Sat for a bit. Realized I’d nicked one knuckle, but otherwise had no serious abrasions. Thanks to adrenalin, brain-released injury-opiates and a certain inherent bullheadedness, I rode to my next two errands and got home. Even went to yoga that night.
Those of you who have thumped their rib cage know what happens. Endorphins subside and things tighten up. Ribs are all about waiting, and there was really no comfortable position to be found for the next couple weeks. Any vibration from riding was not in the cards, certainly, and September joined The Ranks of This Year’s Low Mileage Months. In a low mileage year.
Things have perked up a bit, and when Tuuli jumped on my chest one recent afternoon when we were wrestling, it was pretty obvious that most of the tenderness is brain-based. Which more or less brings us back to last Saturday.
Out in multi-geared coastable mode on the Hilsen. Vectored onto the lower trails at China Camp and enjoyed the challenge. Found no turkeys but did go nose to nose with a well-fatted deer.
Bumped back to the roads at the far end, and came upon a rider enjoying the lateral stiffness and vertical compliance of curvy aluminum seatstays. And a big honkin’ downtube. I could see him vibrating above the rig.
Nevertheless, he seemed pleasant, and we chatted briefly and then I eased past. A bit of a downhill and I was pedaling along easily in a moderate gear. Then I heard the breathing.
He’d probably punched it on the descent and was rolling up on me. I eased up and looked back obviously, as I edged a bit out from the curb.
“That’s really a nice retro rig you’ve got” said he.
It was unclear exactly where he was going with all of that. If he had only asked what year it had been made, so I could use the “Aught Eight” ploy. But, thwarted with my ready comeback I muttered something about it being pretty new when I bought it.
“You roll pretty good on those big tires!” he observed. “And they look like they’re on normal rims. “
Now, it’s hard to know how to address this. Decided to use it as a teachable moment. But, didn’t want to dis his choice of ride. Tricky balance.
“They’re amazing - of course, you need to have the frame clearance to run them. But, they are smooth. Just got tired of getting beaten up by the narrow tires.”
“Yeah - I just get rattled on these rough roads.”
Now, I would just like to say that these roads, while having some patches which weren’t pristine, were not something I would describe under any circumstances as “rough”. This was an opening. I nattered on for a bit about no loss in speed when you use higher quality, larger volume tires. Let him get a good look at the frame clearance. We hit a patch of road with a little bit of surface wear. He dropped back like he’d tossed out an anchor.
When he caught back up, I talked about 33’s (which I wasn’t sure would fit) at reasonable pressure. Mentioned how hard tires deflected off obstacles. That sort of thing. I could see the wheels turning a bit.
“I’m going to take a look at that for my next set….”
My job here was done.