Thursday, July 29, 2010

Not Enough Rides in the Blog

Earlier this year I supported on a fantastic 1000Km brevet, the OBM 1000. In that effort I stopped for a bite with a friend, one of the riders who cryptically mentioned that there were not enough rides in my blog. Just as cryptically I responded with; “Not enough rides in my legs!” He was right I knew, at the time I was coming out of an extended upper respiratory infection so was  planning to crank things up in the second half of this season.

So I’m riding home this week. “That’s riding…? A one way commute?” you say. I have to admit, as I leap frog around the blog-o-sphere it does seem mighty puny. For some small degree of solace I remind myself that even those who summit Everest start at the base. (it is not much consolation)

Last night I once again rode home, (it’s about 27 miles so it makes a decent after work de-stress ride). Add in the fact that the seasonal winds are in my face for the last half and I feel ok with the ride, … sometimes not quite so OK if the wind is particularly brutal.

Miles, speed, watts, and HR aside, this is the big old mental eraser that wipes away the inanity that is my work life. It starts off flat and on good pavement so I don’t immediately see stars. My retreat from ‘work mind’ is gradual, but by the time I am down by Black lake, I’d have a hard time telling you what got done (or not) in the previous eight hours.

We have been having fantastic weather this week. Last Friday, as I boarded a plane in the other Washington it was hot and sticky, (mid 90's both heat and humidity). The weather man said it was going to get worse and would be so for most of the following week. That would be this week. At the same time the forecast for here was highs it the 70’s and 80’s, with variable winds locally. This really is heaven. I’ve lived in a few places, and can find contentment in most situations. But I am a local and I seem always to come back here, sometimes eastern WA and sometimes on ’the coast’, and I suppose I am biased, like most locals: We tend to see the good and look past or minimize the bad.

Last week as I lolled about in a big lake in West Virginia I struck up a conversation with a guy from Michigan (Minnesota…? Wisconsin…? whatever) He had his family on a RV vacation and as we talked it turned out that in the 70’s and 80’s he had worked in a big saw mill not too far south of here (Longview). He said it was nice country but he could not abide the rain. He recalled that he was out here when Mt St Helens erupted in 1980 and that year there was a record stretch of consecutive days with rain, something like 35 or so.  See, I don’t recall that having been a particularly wet year. I do recall the 4 inch day when I lived out in Forks however. It’s the homer in me. By the way, I do recall when the mountain blew; I had gotten up early and hiked into the Cooper River above Lake Cle Elem. I caught a BIG Cutthroat trout and when the mountain blew I thought “Wha…? Who’s blasting at this time of the morning on a Sunday?” Anyway, back to being a homer, the beautiful summer weather, and me riding my bike:

Locally when the weather warms up the winds pick up. Our own little Mistral comes whistling in off the ocean through the Chehalis gap. For me, no matter where I ride, if I am riding home (westward) to Rocky Acres in the afternoon, it generally means riding into a head wind to some degree. This week it has been riding into a wind tunnel! But rather than whine I choose to look at the benefit. (Hard to do sometimes) It makes my wimpy after work ride a bit more ‘manly’. It’s not bad until about the half way mark, that would be about at the Weyco tree nursery. And then it’s like a fish bat between the eyes. It gets progressively stronger.

I’ve learned that if I just sit on my bike obsessing about whatever it is that is bugging me, my ride turns into a torture fest. In a previous life I dabbled in Zen Buddhism (Buddhism and a previous life …get it?) The ability to put your mind in another place has been helpful through time. So instead of carping about how hard it is to turn those pedals over so F$&#@*!! slowly, I turn my mind to thinking of what amazing patterns that tall brown grass in the ditch makes as it rattles in the wind.

There is a place along the route where a guy has a home scale wind generator.

For the last three days, every time I have gone by there that thing has been spinning like Mark Cavendish, and I think about the guy grinning as he watches his meter running backwards.

Last night a shred of one of those white plastic bags ripped past and it made me think of one of those commuter tease signs that say “If you lived here you’d be home by now.” I thought to myself, if you lived back that way, you’d have gotten home a long time ago. I’ve bitched here about the wind in the past, but perhaps in this case the fact that I rode so little in the spring and then so much in the winter, it is easier for me to appreciate just what a gift riding in the sun is, even with a little head wind. I’m not too old to ride my bike and that wind is helping me to get stronger, so that I won’t be too old next year, or the year after.

How windy has it been? Well windy enough that it is time for a new Koi wind sock.

To cap the week I’ll take tomorrow off and ride a century or thereabouts. My Pal Brian got wind (Get it?) of this and said he’d like to come along. We’ll leave from Rocky Acres and return to Rocky Acres. No brevet cards, no controls, bi atm receipts or cue sheets, it’ll be JRA* riding. A couple years ago my good friend Josh invented the Brooklyn tav perm. I rode it with him and a couple other riders, it’s classic, in that it takes you off through the woods and over a mountain …. on gravel logging roads. I pre-rode part of the route with John the weekend before, but we skipped some of the route. That’s what Brian and I will do tomorrow. It should be about a century I think, and will make a good tune up for the 3 Volcanoes 300 on August 7th.

I stripped the big horse down a bit for this; new tires, slightly smaller than the Jack Browns, but with tread (Panaracer Paselas, 32mm) and removed the fenders. The bike looks positively Spartan!

Well to me anyway. No fenders, sheesh that’s like going commando in a kilt!

So far, it seems it's a good season for Osprey

And not too shabby for hanging baskets either.

JRA: Just Riding Around

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