a small beach ride and early morning jaunts
Straightened out, tires pumped, carefully strapped to a rack strapped just as carefully to a rented mini-van, the Gitane went down to the beach avec moi et la famille, down the long route via secondary roads selected by my fabulous wife to avoid the interstates and get us safely to Garden City. Upon arrival, I promptly removed the green bike from the rack and safely locked it to a beam under the beach house while I unloaded luggage - and it sat there for most of the vacation, because, hey, sometimes life gets in the way of riding bike.
Friday came, though, and the people were lolling, and I snatched the opportunity to venture out. Almost immediately I started second-guessing myself. I had spent a couple of hours playing in heavy surf Thursday afternoon, and now I found myself rubber-legged and weak, riding into the wind. I made it to the end of publicly available road on S. Waccamaw, where a guardhouse marked the start of a gated community. I turned back toward the beach house, grateful for the small wind at my back.
A guy on a modern machine rolled up, resplendent in a club jersey covered with sponsors' names, and asked, "Hey, you wanna ride?"
I shook my head. "Sorry, I don't have the legs for it today, but thanks. Take care," I said, and he went on up the road.
I pulled in at the driveway and rested for a moment. I had 4.5 miles, and there was no way that was going to be enough, so I set off towards the intersection with Atlantic, then on down, rolling along what would become Ocean Boulevard, past folks en route to the beach, cop cars, people riding beach cruisers and flat-bar "fitness" bikes and golf carts. Eventually I reached a spot where I paused, drank some water, and tweaked my handlebar height.
I stopped to take the obligatory "bike at the beach" pic, because that, dear reader, is what I do. I missed the casual ease of the $9 pencam and the freedom to snap pix while riding, but the photo quality of the iPhone makes up for it, right? Then back to the beach house and a much-needed shower and the rest of the vacation and the drive home.
Yesterday I rose early, getting on the road before 6:30 and retracing a route I had taken the Sunday before vacation, pointing the Gitane down the rail trail before going left on Florida and across 34 to work my way back in via New Market and East Creswell's Robber Baron Row. Along the way I had my sole dog encounter of the day, when a Chihuahua bolted across his yard in hot pursuit. Over my shoulder I accused him of lying in wait for me, and then I was spinning away down the hill. I had 10-point-something for the day and had time to shower and get stuff done before going to work.
I got up earlier today, early enough to be rolling at 6:10. The lights were with me, and I was downtown in 5 minutes and turning onto the rail trail in 8. 6:30 found me at the end of the rail trail, pondering - and then I turned right and spun down across the 225 Bypass and down to the little bridge before standing on the bike and rocking it up past Springfield Elementary and hooking right on Alexander. Back across the bypass again, and getting a firm reminder that speed and suppleness go away when they are not maintained, as I held the bike to 25 mph down the hill. Time was I could spin the 70-in gear up to 30 or more, but I need more miles in my legs before I can do that again. I stood on the bike with less vigor than before, holding it steady as cars went past in bunches on their way to work. Left onto Spring Street, rolling smoother than I would have suspected, before retracing my steps and getting home at 7:00 on the dot. It was a whopping 11.5 miles, which beats 0 miles all hollow, and by the time I got to work the stiffness in my neck and shoulders was all gone.