Monday, March 30, 2009

Since We Last Spoke

I'm not sure why I ever bother checking the weather the night before I'm planning to ride in the morning. I guess I at least want to know if it's supposed to rain before I bother waking up two hours earlier than I normally would. If I'm going to go by that logic, then I shouldn't even bother looking at the temperature. I checked Thursday night before I went to sleep, and it said 40° by 6:00AM. Great! 3/4 length tights! No shell!

Yeah right. I woke up Friday morning at 6:10, looked at the temperature, and it said it was 29°. Full tights! Balaclava! Shell! Shoe covers! I don't like being cold. Oh, and there was a fog advisory.

Let me tell you something about fog. Fog and glasses. Fog, glasses, and cycling. Those three things? Man, they just don't work out so well. When I got outside and saw the fog, I should have turned right back around and gone inside.

Less than a mile from my place, I could barely see, thanks to the fine layer of mist on my glasses. I almost missed one of my turns. After another mile or so, I stopped to wipe off my glasses. That only helped for about a mile, but that was long enough to get me to the Southside trail, where i worry less about cars and more about rabbits and squirrels with suicidal tendencies.

Needless to say, I could hardly see any squirrels or rabbits. All I can say with any certainty is that I didn't hit any. Or if I did, they were really, really small. By the time I crossed over the Hot Metal Bridge and made my way to the Greenfield end of the jail trail, I was blind again.

The rest of the ride was more of the same. Ride for awhile. Stop when it was absolutely necessary to be able to see what was going on around me. Wipe off. Start again. I was really glad that the Wendy's on Brown's Hill was open for breakfast because I was able to stop in there and grab some napkins, which worked a lot better than my (now sweaty) mid layer by that point.

By the time lunch came around, temps had risen a bit, and I was able to go out with the 3/4 tights and fewer upper layers. Lighter gloves, too. It was really nice. Was it sunny? I can't remember. That was three days ago.

I added another 30 miles on Saturday. I wanted to get some riding in, but I had to take Heather to the airport at noon, so I woke up at 6:30, got out of the house around 7:15 and rolled back in by 9:30. I was pretty happy with that. It was a gorgeous day. If I hadn't had to play chauffeur, I probably would have stayed out another few hours. But there will be other nice weekends, right?

Yesterday was my second trip to Frick with the Commen├žal and much like the first time, it was plenty muddy. Which meant I fell quite a bit. There was one section where I could tell it was only a matter of time before my wheels went right out from under me. Not wanting to disappoint me, they did just that. On the way down, I managed to smack my left knee pretty good off of my handlebar. A day later, it's starting to bruise up nicely.

I took today off, but I'm getting up early tomorrow. High 20s be damned. Every time I get all bundled up this late in the cold season, I keep hoping it'll be my last ride with all of that crap. I really hope that tomorrow is my last ride with all of that crap. And I hope that by lunch it really does make its way up to 55° or so. If only it could just stay there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Come in Number 51, Your Time Is Up

I graduated! I went to physical therapy tonight and my therapist asked me how I was feeling. I told him how I rode 42 miles on Saturday, another 30 on Sunday, and how I've been riding every day without pain. He was all like "How about tonight is your last night?"

And I was all like "Yeah, that sounds cool."

He basically told me to keep an eye on things, keep doing stretches, try doing some of the other exercises I've been doing there (I have ankle weights and exercise balls, so I can replicate a lot of the stuff at home) and keep moving.

I have to call the doctor tomorrow to see if he wants me to bother coming in for my follow-up the second week of April. Seriously, the last three weeks or so have been really great. I think a lot of it has been the physical therapy, and I've also been able to get out a lot more and actually ride.

I have a really nice 11.5-mile loop that I can do at lunch that has lots of good hills and some nice flat stretches, too. My time on that has been getting increasingly better.

When I can't do that for some reason, I set up the trainer and get on that for 30 minutes or so. It's hard to go much longer than that on the trainer because a) it's a really tough workout and b) it's a lot more boring than being outside. I need to make a little book/magazine stand so I can at least do something besides stare at my basement walls.

Today I had to get up really early to help Heather with some stuff, so I headed out for a ride at 6:40. I rode 17.5 miles in an hour. Great timing, considering the course, and again, no pain.

I had time to get out at lunch, although not as much as I would have liked. I did an abbreviated lunch loop of about 8.5 miles. Still, I'm pretty happy with 26 for the day.

After seeing what I was able to do today, I'm going to try to start doing the early thing more often. I know I could stretch that out to 20 miles and still get back home in time to start work. Add the 11.5 at lunch, and I'm at 30+ miles a day. I'd be pretty happy to be able to do that on a regular basis. Just to be outside and moving is the greatest thing.

So yeah, I really hope things are pretty close to being back to normal. With the weather finally starting to get nice again, most of my free time is spent thinking about when I can ride again.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

March is off to a good start.

I know it's not really Spring yet. I keep trying to tell myself that we're not there yet. Remind myself that there's still a better chance for snowy days than days in the 70s. But the past few days have been trying to throw all of that realism by the wayside.

Sure it was 30° when I went for my lunch ride on Wednesday. But it was 55° on Thursday. And Friday it was 62° by the time I went out at lunch. It was supposed to have rained Friday night and keep going through Saturday morning, but when I woke up at 8:30, the sun was out and the radar map looked clear of rain. And it was already 65°. At 8:30! Heather had no plans on getting out of bed that early, so I got ready, got on the bike, and headed out.

The ride was great. I went 31.5 miles in a little over an hour and forty-five minutes. The best part was that my knee didn't give me any trouble the whole time. The last thirteen or fourteen miles were a lot more uphill than downhill, but still no problems. I'm going to take that as a sign that maybe the tendonitis is starting to get better.

I'll stick with physical therapy for the next four or five weeks, until I have my second follow-up with the sports medicine doctor. I'm hoping that by the time I go back to see him I can say that fifty and sixty mile rides aren't giving me any trouble and that everything is great again. I hope that's the case.

I'd really love to go for another nice long ride today, just to see how things feel on back-to-back days, but it's raining, and it looks like it's supposed to keep raining for the rest of the day. At the very least I'll spend some time on the trainer, although that's a lot less exciting than being outside with everything flying past.

The mountain bike got its inaugural mud-bath last Sunday. My friend Chris and I went over to Frick and the trails were muddy as all get out, thanks to snowmelt and ground thaw. It took me awhile to get used to the fact that the bike was made to be able to handle trails and roots and mud and all that junk.

I also had a hard time looking down some of the descents and coming to grips with the idea that I was supposed to sit on the bike and ride down those things. But it was really fun, really muddy, and I need to try to get out there again soon. Oh, and I didn't kill myself either.

Maybe next time the trails will have soaked up/distributed some of the moisture and my car won't be as insanely dirty on the inside when I throw the bike back in there.