The first ride
Although not conscious of the fact when waking this morning, today was going to be the day I had been waiting for since last fall. Who would have guessed that March 27 was going to be that day? What day am I talking about you may ask, well the day my bicycle finally takes me for a ride. Well, o.k. so maybe I actually was the one doing the taking, seeing as how bicycles do not have the ability to make decisions.
I had wanted to ride yesterday, being a Monday, a good day to start a new routine. Unfortunately, Mother Nature would not co-operate with a nice day to ride. Instead, the day was cool and damp, not to cool to ride, but enough so it discouraged me from making an attempt. One needs a warm sunny day, to get the juices following, the juices of desire, for the first ride of the season. Weather wise this morning was not to encouraging, fog and mist threaten to dampen today’s outlook for a ride. Noontime was to usher in a change, with the warm sunshine occasionally breaking through the clouds. If warm weather is the dough of desire, then sunshine is the yeast to make it rise. Rise to the point of overflowing and when desire overflows, all one can do is deal with the results.
The results today saw me untangle my bikes from their winter home in the back room of the barn. This room, approximately a ten-foot square area, with lots of shelves that hold all my sporting goods, has a small nook with room for my bikes. Room enough that is if I place them in carefully, with the handle bars of one bike woven together with the next one. The untangling is then the careful act of disentangling the pedals, the crank arms, handlebars from the spokes and the frames of the other bikes, without doing any damage in the process. Once my favorite bike was free, I put it on the bike stand to give it a quick going over, a small amount of oil on the chain, and some added air in the tires, check the shifting, the brakes and we are good to go. I am pleasantly surprised by how little maintenance is required every spring, because I do try to put the bike away in good shape, this I am sure helps.
The next step is sometimes the hardest one of all, finding all my personal gear, the riding clothes, shoes, gloves, and the most important item of all the helmet. Have to protect the head even if some would jest that there is nothing in there to protect. Gear today is so multi-purpose, especially the warm weather gear needed for this transitional time of the year. Today’s fifty-degree temperature requires I find the polypro underwear, warm gloves, my Columbia pullover hat, and a wind breaker, all of which have been used at one time or another this winter snowshoeing or camping. Perseverance pays off and after going through backpacks, bureau draws and any other likely spot, the gear is eventually found, this is placed with the other essential gear found on the shelves that are for bike gear. Gear wise I am now ready to go.
Spring riding attire differs from that of summer, attire that could be as simple as a pair of shorts, biking shoes and of cause the indispensable helmet in the summer season. Today is replaced with windbreaker pants, a hot chilly polypro long sleeve top under layer, a rainbow colored riding vest, and the Columbia beanie under my helmet. On my feet, I have a pair of riding shoes with clips that will attach my feet to the pedals, over which I wear insulated shoe covers; these add warmth to the airy shoes designed for summer use. On my hands today, I have opted for the liners out of my Burton ski gloves, instead of bicycle gloves, which are design for comfort not warmth. This completes the outfit, one that is not only warm, but one that allows for freedom of movement, an important factor when riding a bike.
Dressed and ready to go. Now the moment of truth, a Shakespearean moment, to go or not to go, that is the question. Clipped into one pedal, balancing on the other leg, looking out the barn door at all the mud in the driveway, knowing full well this is the most dangerous time of the year for a road bike rider, I could easily talk myself out of going on this ride. The most dangerous time of year because the people driving the cars and trucks are not expecting bikers to be on the road yet, so they are not yet looking for us. Having been here looking out this same door for the last six springs helps to make the choice easier, and I am off, on my way first ride of the year.
A hundred yards up the road it’s obvious, this is not summer, the cool air coming over the melting snow bites through the hot chilly top, I knew this would be the case, but had opted to not wear my wind breaker top because in a mile or so I’d be to hot. Better to be cool for the first few minutes then to be hot later and have to interrupt the ride to stop and take off the windbreaker. The bike feels like an extension of myself under me, we been here together doing this for fifteen thousand plus miles over the past six years. Like a cowboy’s horse, my bike is a faithful friend, one that never has let me down, although at times I had my doubts. Pushing and pulling the pedals, something that being clipped to the pedals allows, I try to maintain as high a cadence as my out of shape legs can keep. Soon the hamstring muscles start to talk to me, where you been they want to know, we been waiting all winter long for a little exercise.
I am able to keep a satisfactory pace to Don’s house five miles from my place. Stopping for a visit with him provides for the right amount of rest and soon I find myself headed for home. Overall this turns out to be a great first time ride, the ice now having been broken I am anxious for the next ride. Til next, time Vic