Monday, September 14, 2009

Good Weather

Lots of work yesterday, but the weather was too nice to miss riding. I went out on the path racer (yeah I need to post some pix) this afternoon. It's always a peaceful bike to ride - even when pushed.

Along the way, some guy comes blasting out into the street, without looking, from a pedestrian path connecting to a residential neighborhood. He's all tricked out on his C'dale six/sixteen - and practically glowing with reflective bits from head to toe (despite it being a bright sunny afternoon).

A quick swerve avoids him, but the expected pass from behind never arrives. Half mile down is a stop for a busy road, and before I get across Mr. C'dale shows up. No problem, I'm just beginning to cross - but I get the feeling that he's right behind me and trying to pass. It's not a good spot for this as we are entering a trail with center barrier and a speed bump (both of which seem useless). So I keep my tempo up and the sound of him recedes as the path gets bumpy.

After a sharp turn onto another trail, and a street crossing, the trail scoots down a viaduct under the expressway, then it's back up and half a mile to the first street crossing. As I'm waiting to cross, guess who shows up and manages to time things perfectly to cross without stopping. All of which is cool, he ought to be making better time than me anyway.

But, once he's in front, he slows down. I'm not out for a race, but I like to maintain my cadence, and I can't just shift gears to adjust to his. The nice weather has brought out lots of slow riders, so passing is a bit chancy in many sections. Eventually the opportunity comes, and I'm off.

The next crossing has a stop light, and you can guess what happens. Instead of waiting for the light, I go ahead and time the traffic to shoot across before he can react. This time I up my tempo for a bit, build a gap and settle in. After a mile and a half he makes another dumb pass in heavy traffic. Naturally, as soon as we're in the clear, he slows down. So one more time I pass him, and stick to my cadence. It's a few more miles to the next crossing. While there's plenty of traffic, no one is trying dumb passes here. Cool, I get to relax and just enjoy peddling, with the subtle speed control that comes with a fixed (don't worry, I have front and rear brakes).

Before the next street, there are a couple of sharp corners. Ahead of them, I come upon a couple riding single file, a bit slowly. Judging distances, I can probably get around them before the corners, but it will be close enough that they might be scared, or pissed off. So I slow, and follow them through. And they slow more. As do I. And then they slow down even more. And so do I, again. Five-hundred feet begin to feel like a life sentence - but I'm staying cool.

Naturally, as we emerge from the trees, and try turn into the crossing, Mr. C-dale comes flying through, with total disregard for where each of us is, or where we are heading.

This time, I get to feeling pissy. Traffic holds us up from a quick crossing. At the gap, I take off but this time I spin it up and hold the up-tempo for a couple of miles. The sun is shining and the sky is clear and a bright blue. This portion of the trail rarely has much traffic, and is true to form today. While often less than 100 yards from the expressway, the path rises, dips, and winds through woods and past ponds. Its some of the best local scenery - it reminds me of Minnesota. Three miles of kicking it gets me to my 18 mile marker, and the beginning of loop around to start home. A few trails come together here, and with the expectation of traffic, I slow down.

Naturally I'm waiting for my shadow to jump out - but he doesn't. The last stretch must have finished him off. I return to my normal tempo. Fat tires (32mm), at 75psi, run quietly and absorb most of the bumps. The ride is mellow now. The light has a fall-like quality, even though all of nature is still green. The miles disappear without thought. The effort remains, but its natural - not something to notice.

People must be heading home, because I don't use either my voice or my bell for the rest of the way. Out on the roads, even the drivers seem to have chilled out. The air tempurature is in the upper seventies - its real short-sleeve weather. The three stop lights I pass are in sync with my ride- and the bike just spins on through.

Somehow, the messages are muted where I'm normally reminded that it's good to be almost home. And I spin along. Its fun to feel how happy the tires are when I do silly sharp turns. The garage door is up when arriving at my drive, and I coast right in. Opening the door to the house, I smell the first batch of chili for the season. It's a bit early, but smells great. The kids both have friends over, and are out back releasing there extra energy. I grab a shower no longer caring about missing today's Century. Instead, I'm ready to go back to work.

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