2004- Ride #1: 17.7 miles, 17.7 total, and Curt Gowdy.

“The thrill of victory, and the agony of defeat.”

I’m resting on the couch after the first ride of the year. I’m pooped! It was actually a good ride, but humbling. Good because I actually did it–I was feeling tired and sluggish beforehand, and I didn’t really want to go. Even though I’m tired now, I’m glad I went. And I felt pretty good while I was out there.

BikeE recumbent & rider It was also good because it brought back some nice memories. People I meet are usually very nice. I think having a recumbent bike has a lot to do with it. People rarely see them, and so my bike catches their eye. The younger people, especially the boys, yell, “Whoa! Cool bike!” to me. The young girls usually point me out to each other, “Hey, check out that bike!” A high point for me was last year, when I was riding by the nearby high school as the students were getting out for the day. A car full of students drove past me, and a young lady leaned out the window and yelled, “You rock!” My girlfriend was amused at my silly pleasure for being appreciated so vocally by so young a woman.

Adults are also often moved to wave, say hi, ask about the bike, or toot their horns in the “shave-and-a-hair-cut” rhythm. I have a very loud air horn on my bike (for scaring off dogs or waking up really bad drivers), so I usually surprise them by tooting back the “two bits.” A few people said hi today as they raked their yards. Spring is still pretty new, and we’re all just starting the culture shock of being outdoors even a little bit. I expect folks will warm up as the weather warms.

But there were humbling moments, too. After a while, it seemed like my spinning was really ragged, like I was out of practice. It seemed like I was mainly applying torque on the up/down stroke, and not pedaling smooth circles. But later I found that my legs were spasming from exhaustion. And I had to use “great-granny gear” up the two tallest, steepest climbs in my route. I have a 27-speed bike, and the very lowest gear moves the bike forward 19″ for every full pedal revolution. It’s so slow that it’s hard to keep the bike steady. I almost never have to use this gear, which is a point of pride. Not today!

There are two large, steep, long hills a mile from my house, and virtually all of my rides end by climbing both of them. It’s hard to avoid them. I have called them the “twin towers” since 1998, and the name has stuck. The first is the worst and steepest. My heart monitor showed I peaked at 181 BPM on that hill, which is better than usual for a first ride of the year. The alarm goes off at 185 BPM (my max is a measured 200) and most every year the alarm sounds for the first week or two of riding. So, even with my first-time-out condition, there’s something to be happy about.

There were a few other aspects of this ride which I enjoyed. First, a big part of the fun for me is watching the corn fields grow over the summer. Right now they haven’t even been tilled and planted, but they soon will be. Also, thinking of what I’d wring in this blog kept my mind occupied. Plus, many of the worst roads on my route have repaved this year! I think I even found a spot with a clear view to the ENE horizon, from which to view the Venus transit on June 8!

I’m also glad that the yearly bike checkup is over with. It took me two hours, but the ol’ BikeE ran quiet and smooth, like a fine Swiss watch.

Life is good!

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