So the other day (Nov 2... it's been a while) I went for a ride, the first normal training ride (where I started from and finished at the house) I've done in something like 22 months.
I wasn't planning on riding but it was November 2, it was 70 degrees outside, and the Missus came home early. At first she said she wanted to go for a run but then she thought about it, looked at me, and asked if I wanted to go ride.
I hadn't even thought of it.
What's weird is that in the last few years I've basically trained myself to not ride outside. I know there were a few days where I was walking with my dad and thinking and saying out loud (my dad wasn't interactive so all my talking was to myself), "It's a nice day out, what a perfect day for a walk." Or, before my dad was here, I'd think, "What a great day! It'll be perfect for the playground!" and I'd bring Junior to the playground. In fact, when I picked Junior up from pre-K earlier that afternoon, we ran around outside for a good 30-40 minutes, it was just so nice outside.
So when the Missus asked if I wanted to ride my brain sort of missed a shift. I couldn't answer for a second as I worked to assimilate this new thought, this new world.
After what seemed like an eternity I said yes. And I started scrambling to put together a riding kit. Shorts? Jersey? I wanted a long sleeve, just in case, but not winter weight. Only thing I had quick at hand was the 2010 Bethel Spring Series Leader's Jersey so I grabbed that. It's yellow and therefore visible, but it also is both an ego boost and a memory trophy so there's that. I grabbed a pair of matching shorts because, you know, matching.
Shoes, socks. I couldn't find my oversocks in 15 seconds so I decided to skip them.
I couldn't find my long finger summer weight gloves but they popped up somewhere, I don't remember where.
I grabbed my helmet, my main helmet cam on there. It hadn't been charged in forever, since August, so I knew it would be done quickly. I debated switching batteries but, really, none of my helmet cams had been charged recently so I knew I'd get 5 minutes of coverage before the dreaded double-beep and the shutdown.
I grabbed the tail light off the helmet I used when I rode to the local garage to pick up the Expedition.
Tube? Pump? No.
"I'm not carrying anything so if I flat I'll need to call you.""Okay."
And with that I was off.
I tightened up the brakes - they are set for the race wheels, about 5mm of clearance from the pad to the rim. It took a lot of turns on the brakes' barrel adjusters, more than the 5 turns I normally do for the clinchers. I think the pads have worn a bit since my last ride on clinchers which was sometime in mid-2015, over a year ago.
A note on our driveway - over the summer I went to measure the slope using a level and a ruler. I was sorely disappointed that it only dropped 7" over 32 level inches. It didn't seem that radical and the driveway feels radically steep. Then I did the math.
Our driveway, at the steep bit, is 22%.
No wonder I've slipped and fallen there. No wonder the Missus had to crawl up the driveway once (it'd snowed, the driveway wasn't plowed yet).
Knowing I had to stop at the bottom of a 22% slope had prompted me to check my brakes before rolling down the thing. Brakes good I rolled down our driveway.
I turned onto the road and did what I always do when I first get on a bike outside. I got out of the saddle and waggled the bike a bit.
There's something magical about riding a bike out of the saddle, saddle wagging back and forth. It's what I've tried to capture with my homemade rocking trainer mod, and it's what I miss most about riding outside. Racing, yes, but doing a massive acceleration on the bike... that's basically what I live for when I ride.
I did my standard loop, the one I call the Quarry Road Loop. I'd love to be able to say that I smashed all sorts of PRs and stuff but the reality was that I just trundled along. I got out of the saddle when I could, blew up way too quickly when I made any kind of effort, and generally did what I normally do on training rides.
One change was that I completely misjudged one fast right turn. I briefly wondered if I was going to lay down the bike. Apparently my cornering gets rusty when I ride inside, not that it's great to begin with. No bike laying down so it was just a little hiccup in an otherwise good ride.
No one buzzed me really close. A couple cars were a bit close, but they were hovering over the white line anyway.
When I got fitted back in 2015 one of the thoughts that came up was that I'd be a good person to ask if driving has gotten much worse since, say, 2014, because the last time I rode outside in the area was 2104. So here's my n=1 survey result: I have to say that between Dec 2014 and Nov 2016 it seems that the drivers were about the same. No worse, no better.
Bike as I rode it.
ISM saddle is an absolute must for me now.
When I got back I was a bit out of breath, a bit warm, and I felt energized. I took a picture of the bike inside for posterity's sake. Thanked the Missus for the chance to get out there. I realized that maybe riding outside has some merits.
I also realized that I had a little reunion ride with a couple former teammates in a few days. This ride outside was a great little reintroduction to the outdoors, before I joined others on a ride.