Saturday, May 19, 2012

Today's Ride

I learned my lesson about good-weather weekend bike rides a couple of weeks ago:  If I wanted to be able to ride without having to weave through half the population of Washington DC in various stages of physical exertion, I need to hit the road early.  So this morning, at what felt like the crack of dawn, I kitted up and headed out for a spin.  The weather was glorious (mid-70s, no clouds or wind, low humidity) and I felt great, so I decided to push myself a bit. 

Three-and-a-half hours and 61 miles later, I was back home sitting blissfully among the flowers and pond on my balcony, reading about commedia dell'arte and refueling on a "Deconstructed Guacamole" wrap from Sweetgreen and a bowl of frozen yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and shaved coconut (because I deserved a little splurge after burning 3,000 calories). 

In the meantime, I'd had a lot of fun.  I started with a fifteen-mile loop from Ballston (the neighborhood where I live, in Arlington) down to the Potomac River and back.  From there I headed west on the W&OD trail toward Purcellville.  Along the way I passed:
  • a turtle crossing the road;
  • a woman with a pink riding crop (but no horse) shouting hysterically at six police officers whose cars (lights flashing) were parked across the path as if it were an emergency (all I caught was the woman's description of what I assume were the persons of interest: a sixty-ish man in a yellow jersey and another guy in a red jersey, both on bikes);
  • a bench (where I stopped after the first hour-and-a-half to replenish my blood sugar by eating some gummy sports candies designed for that purpose);
  • lots of beautiful wooded land that hid the tracts of suburbia on either side;
  • a platoon of Civil War soldiers marching through said wooded land (this is Virginia, after all);
  • several more police cars who seemed to be monitoring the points where the bike path crossed ordinary roads;
  • a McDonald's (where I rode through the drive-thru to get a small Coke -- that was at mile 46, and I was feeling depleted; next time I'll have to bring more gummies);
  • a woman helping her ten-year-old daughter climb over a very high chain-link fence into a restricted area with power-lines, in what appeared to be a very foolish attempt to pick wildflowers; and
  • lots of runners and other bikers (only two of whom passed me back -- that was at mile 50, when I was still on the Coke high, so I naturally I raced them for the next 6 miles until the Coke crash came, at which point they sped off into the distance as I mentally shook my fist).
It was a great ride, and I'm happy with where things stand:  In the four weeks since I bought my bike, I've ridden between two and three times a week, covering a total of 240 miles, with weight training and yoga on the off days.  My average speed has gone up from 14mph (over a distance of 15 miles) on the maiden run to 16mph (over a distance of 61 miles) today.  And my knees feel better -- both on and off the bike -- than they have in the last two years of running (or not running, as it's turned out).  I attribute that success largely to the geometry and fit of my bike and my decision to maintain a cadence of around 90 revolutions per minute regardless of terrain.  I still have a lot of work to do to build endurance and technique, but I'm hoping that by the end of the summer I'll be riding consistently four times a week and able to complete at least one 100-miler.  Woot!


Anonymous said...

This is fabulous! Yay for your knees! Loved the text at the drivethru. But, where are the pics? You need helmet cam, bike cam...Lady

Anonymous said...

solders? you forgot the I :)