Thursday, January 20, 2011

Gone Goofy on the bike again

After skiing for the first time this year, my legs were tired. Maybe not as wiped out as Nim's, or Chad's (he skis the hard way, on tele gear), but tired enough. So, this week was supposed to be about mellow slow flat rides.

It's sunny and almost 70 degrees by midafternoon here. Tuesday morning, I set out on the bike with my new bike speaker and ipod attached to the handlebar and headed toward the edge of the Bay. No hills there, no sirree. I was good, explored some small sections of trail I hadn't yet ridden over near East Palo Alto, and enjoyed the fact that the levees in the baylands parks on the way over had dried out enough for me to ride on the dirt without fear of being sucked into a sticky quagmire. Fun stuff. I found some big mushrooms out near the end of the trail at Ravenswood Open Space Preserve, and generally enjoyed the Bay views and shorebirds. My legs felt like they were getting just the recovery ride they needed.

Then I turned around and headed home. Hungry! Need to pee! ipod decided to give me energetic music! My speed crept up, and I accidentally rode pretty hard on the way back home, sending me right back to tired-leg-land. All that gentle recovery riding on the way out was for naught.

So I stayed off the bike yesterday, and tried again this morning. The plan was for a nice flat recovery ride through the gently rolling foothills. The legs were feeling ok, and Alpine Road isn't really that steep, so it seemed like a good choice. I rode gently out.

Now the paved part of Alpine dead ends, and I much prefer loops to out-and-back routes. It was 67 degrees and gorgeous when I got there. The speaker was wafting 15th century Spanish pilgrimage songs at me. Still lots of time before school was to get out. My crafty road bike steered itself up onto the dirt trail that starts at the end of the pavement.

This trail ultimately links up to Page Mill, making a loop. Joy and happiness. Last time I rode it on a road bike, I seem to remember leading Stephan's Wednesday night ride crew astray, laughing maniacally at the sheer silliness of the route most of the way up, and then vowing to use the mountain bike for that location henceforth.

After 5 years, one forgets those thoughts. Today, most of it was actually not too bad, except for some steep sections full of roots that were also full of sticky mud.

As the grade picked up, so did my riding intensity, perhaps fuelled by the eclectic mix of Notre Dame polyphony, bluegrass, Tuvan throat singing and grunge coming out of the stereo. By the time I got to the pavement at the top, it seemed like a good idea to cut through the other preserve at the top on the way back; furthermore, the singletrack was clearly going to be more fun than the dirt road.

I've got no self control when it's this nice out, I tell you.

The beauty of having one's bike be already dirty from a previous ride is that there's very little barrier to taking it back out onto the mud. Even if it does make Chad cringe to see the condition I routinely leave it in... It's also interesting to ride the Ruby on the dirt; while it absorbs shock pretty amazingly well, it does handle quite differently and just doesn't feel like my more solid mountain bike. I had the weird sensation that I could sort of unweight everything going over the rocky bits so as not to damage the skinny tires, which led my carcass to be much more relaxed than usual on the trail -- one suspects that this is good for technique improvement.

I surprised a couple of hikers near the top (Miles Davis with your hike, anyone....), and then proceeded to zoom down Montebello Road to home and lunch.

This Ride is Clearly NOT Flat. Oops. Plus there were about 7 miles of dirt. It's back to the land of tired legs for me.

On the bright side, I wasn't hauling a tuba on a bike trailer like the kid I saw on his way to the middle school the other morning, and I did see the first poppies of the season on the roll down the Mary Avenue bike bridge :) And tomorrow's riding is a flat mountain bike ride with Nim, so it can't possibly escalate too badly.

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