Monday, March 16, 2009

The GREAT Outdoors

We just had a spectacular March weekend. Not a cloud in the sky, little to no wind, and temps ranging from mid-50s up into the high 60s. Sure, that may sound downright arctic to someone from more southern climes, but given that just two months ago we had temperatures that were 70 to 80 degrees colder (yes, we were down to -20 F, without windchill), 50s and 60s are devine.

For some unknown reason, though, on Saturday morning I went down into the cellar and ran 3+ miles on the treadmill before heading out with the family for some errands. Despite the run, there was no denying the weather when we returned home. I had to get out on the roads for a ride. I might have overdressed with normal cycling shorts/jersey covered with a long sleeved jersey, arm warmers, wind vest, and full length tights, but I was comfortable.

The ride was nothing epic at 27 miles, but it was wonderful to be outside under a cloudless sky with a sun higher than 25 degrees from the horizon. The roads were in decent repair for the most part, but that might be because some of it was repaves just last year. There were various potholes, rocks, salt, and other debris to negotiate, but that became part of the experience. The bike path along the local river was in pretty good shape, too. Along one section where there are some shops and restaurants I heard bagpipes playing and realized the area was jammed with cars and people heading into bars for pre-St. Pat’s day revelry.

Sunday I got out for 42 more miles and the weather was even better. I only needed a pair of knee warmers under the shorts and skipped the arm warmers and vest and wore an old wool jersey that kept me comfortable. I rode over to a local area known for good road riding. Lots of riders out getting miles into their winter weary legs. Great to see. I headed home along the river again and by about mile 33 my own legs were starting to holler at me that this was a lot for the first weekend of riding.

The aftermath of the first few real rides of the season are pretty predictable. My back is aching from the extra time in the saddle. My heels of my hands are wondering what just happened, too. Over the winter one can forget that spinning on the trainer is good for cardio, but doesn’t exactly replicate the visceral and physical experience of handling traffic, braking, and dealing with bumpy pavement. Those are just minor quibbles and they’ll dissipate over the next few weeks.

The weather’s nice today and supposed to touch near 70 tomorrow, so here’s hoping some of the Tuesday night PRP crew can show up a bit early for an after work ride.

Damn, it’s good to be back on the road.

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