Happy Valentine’s Day! My Valentine started the day off right by preparing me a breakfast of scrambled organic, free-range eggs, English muffins, and flambeed plantains with homemade whipped cream. Then he had to head off to work to make food for a bunch of other happy couples.
But I got to celebrate another joyous occasion – the first outdoor bicycle ride of the year! The temperature miraculously rose into the 60s today and it seemed like blasphemy not to go for a ride. The trainer is fine for its purpose, but it isn’t the same as a good jaunt outside.
As I didn’t have a lot of time, I went with the Millennium Trail, a 10.5 mile trail that winds its way around Rockville’s boundaries. It’s good because it isn’t long but has some decent hills and is very close to our house.
A stream that runs under a bridge on the Millennium Trail. Look, blue sky!
Starting out, I wondered how I’d feel, as I’ve been training inside for several months. I’ve been trying to keep up my cadence (how quickly my I spin my pedals, for non-bike nerds) because it’s supposed to tire you out less than if you spin slower with a higher resistance. I also didn’t have much of a choice on the trainer because setting it with very much resistance against the wheels causes the back tire’s rubber to wear down and splatter against the wall. My goal was to try to keep up that pace despite the new environment.
Best laid plans and all that. Biking inside, you tend to forget certain natural influences – such as wind. Even though the temperature was high, the wind was intimidating. According to the Weather Service’s wind advisory, the wind was 20-30 mph with gusts up to 40 mph! I don’t think it was ever that fast when I was out, but the trees were definitely shaking.
Appropriately, so was the sign to Windy Knoll Dr.
I kept up my cadence for about the first third of the ride, but then abandoned that plan for anything that would just keep me upright and moving forward. A few times, I actually fought to stay on my bike. At one point I passed a runner on an uphill and was still embarrassingly close to her when I turned around a few minutes later. She was going fast, but still!
The other natural phenomena I quickly got reacquainted with was water. Thankfully, almost all of the snow and ice was melted, with mounds blocking only a few spots. But what appears when snow disappears? Puddles! I don’t use clips, so I could raise my feet to prevent them from getting soaked, but I ended up with a wet ass more than once. Lovely.
Despite the elements and me questioning my mental state as well, I had a good time. The feeling of zipping forward on your own power, each foot down speeding you along is something that nothing stationary can ever capture. It was always my favorite part of rowing as well. There’s something terribly freeing about it.
I hope that you too had a fulfilling Valentine’s Day, even if your weather didn’t encourage outdoor riding. Although it’s too late this year, Fair Trade chocolate always makes a great gift. And a ride on a tandem bike can really test whether you and partner should really be together or not!