Friday, December 28, 2012

Revolution of a cyclist: Back from vacation

I was going to title this Back in the saddle again but that was just too obvious, and then I'd have Gene Autry singing it in my head the whole time I write. I'm just not up to that.

If you've been keeping track, I've been either out of the country, sick or working for most of the last month and a half. The rest of the days it's rained. Those were the days Leif and I took turns standing at the patio doors with our noses pressed up against the glass trying to decide if there was any chance of riding that day. There were a few days where the weather wasn't absolutely horrible and the roads mostly dry. Those always seemed to happen on days that I worked so Leif got to ride while I spent time with kids.

But today.....oh today. Sixty degrees (F) and sunshine everywhere. Instead of cushy grey clouds and mist everywhere there was that incredibly blue sky. Even the breeze was warm.

We didn't even really have to ask if we should ride, it was assumed that we would. All we had to do was  plan the time (before or after lunch, we chose after) and just how long a ride is appropriate when one of us (me) is basically starting from scratch. We left all the dishes in the sink after lunch and hurried into our riding clothes. Weather can turn on a dime here, and even though the forecast was no rain we've learned not to trust any forecaster completely.

In another bold move, we dressed for fall, not winter. No shoe covers, no warm gloves, no rain jackets. Just long pants and a light jacket. It's been so cold and wet lately that going out without the heavy warm stuff felt strange. Like going out practically naked.

Only five minutes into the ride I decided I was glad that I was dressed lightly. It was absolutely beautiful out. The sun and wind on my face made me feel like I was five years old again, running outside in the spring. Everything smelled like wet dirt and wood smoke and being in motion again after so many weeks of forced stillness was wonderful. It was like my body was coming alive again.

So we rode about 20 miles today on mostly flat roads just to get me warmed up again and used to being on my bike. I rolled along behind Leif (I still have no clue where I'm going here, and the view is pretty nice) lifting my face into the sun and wind, casually nodding to the other cyclists as they passed us in the other direction (there were LOTS of guys out today, dressed for the possibility of a sudden winter snow), and singing to myself a few little reminders...

My  left foot is stuck to the pedal, don't stop without taking it off....
It's not a bad thing being stuck to the pedal, they even say it's a good thing, just remember to take your foot off. (This alternated with "right foot" as I was practicing feeling trapped with both feet, but not at the same time. I'm not stupid.)

The big ring's for riding flat and fast, the little one is for climbing....
Check where you are before the hill, before the hill, before the hill.
Check where you are before the hill so you can keep up.

I probably don't need to tell you that I sing these under my breath. I'm trying to exude confidence and just a hint of "don't mess with me" as I ride the mean streets of Tuscany. I'm operating under the delusion that the only person who knows I'm completely clueless is Leif and that anyone seeing me out there assumes I've been riding for years. It's a nice fantasy anyway.

The forecast is for three more days of the same beautiful weather. I already have a date to ride with a friend tomorrow and will ride with Leif the other two days. This is the best Christmas present ever.

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