Monday, September 01, 2008

Feels good to ride...

Today being a holiday and me with it off, I slept in today and then lazily got myself motivated to go for a ride in the amazingly beautiful weather- impossibly blue skies and warm... it's the reason why property values are so inflated here.

I dusted off my faithful Scandium Gran Criterium (prototype) with SRAM Red group and sweet Spinergy wheels. There was a layer of dust on the bike because I haven't ridden it since I was in Texas for the Houston-Austin MS150 ride... in mid April.

This is my favorite bike these days. I love our carbon bikes and steel bikes, but for a race machine... this thing is THE BOMB! I have been riding either my SoulVille, my Speciale Fixed or my Speciale road bike since getting back on the back after the crash. I'd almost forgotten how much I love race bikes. There is really nothing quite like a fine-tuned race bike- a pure thoroughbred designed for sheer, powerful speed. The frame geometry was designed by our former (and longtime) Senior Product Development Manager, Mike Varley. It's no secret that Mike and I don't always agree, but I inherited some great bikes from him and the geometry of this frame is my all-time favorite. The handling is perfect; crisp, predictable, stable... telepathic.

I felt so good to be on this bike today. At first, I was sore, stiff and uncomfortable because of how little I have been able to ride so far. A mile or two from home, I even thought of going back home. It felt like I was fighting the bike and my body both, but I stuck with it. After a few more miles, I felt less awkward and a little more like "me". Sure, my right arm and shoulder were already tired, but my legs felt looser and my back and neck began to relax. The sun felt great on my skin (covered in sunscreen, for those about to yell at me) and the wind felt great on my face and flowing through my helmet. On a few corners, I found myself feeling timid and unsure- I am, after all on heavy doses of blood thinners and a crash could lead to severe (and potentially fatal) bleeding... so I was a little uneasy at first. After a few good corners and getting myself reacquainted with my tires, I felt more comfortable and began to attack the turns again... and it felt GREAT!

Speaking of tires, I have to give a big shout of love to my friends at Kenda. I have been riding some 25mm Kenda Kriterium tires for several months now and I absolutely love them. Kenda doesn't have as strong a name on pavement as they do on dirt, but that should change- in my opinion. I can sincerely say that these 25mm tires ride like the best tires I've ever ridden- and that is also compared to many tubular tires. Honest to God. See, the thing is, the wider tires have a better contact patch on the ground without feeling slow. I can rail through turns without any fear and they roll awesome on flat ground as well. The tires just flat out rock... hands down.

Back to the bike and the ride...

I intentionally didn't go too far or ride too hard, since I can't without falling over from exhaustion and lack of fitness. I mean, I left the hospital the second time in May weighing only 184lbs and had ballooned up to 215 at one point. Needless to say, I have some fatness... but little fitness. That said, I did try to put some small amounts of power on the pedals during climbs and tried to remain seated. My quads and hamstrings responded ok, but the hip flexors are still totally blown and weak. My lungs are coming along, but they are still trying to figure out why I am making them hurt... again. My right thumb feels fine when I ride, though some of the road shock feels a little more "shocky" than before. I finished the ride without it bleeding, which is good because it began bleeding like crazy when I was putting air into my flat tires... getting blood on my pretty white spokes. All that said, it was a gorgeous day for a ride and I rolled lazily along most of the time allowing my body to get re-used to the idea of being on a bike again. I actually felt considerably better than I thought I would and really enjoyed getting back into the routine.

After about an hour, my ass had gotten re-familiarized with the saddle and my arms were doing ok with the stress. My knee felt completely normal and my neck was doing ok. For a few moments, I felt almost like nothing had happened back on April 29th. At one point, I felt like I could entertain the thought of actually hammering on the pedals. I had a slight downhill and shifted into the big ring and then started dropping the cogs... 17, 16, 15, 14, 13, 12 and then the 11. The 11 hurt, even on the downhill, but my head ate it up. The 11. The beloved 11. No pain in the knee as the speed increased and the wind rushed past my ears. The bike felt wonderful underneath me and the sensation of speed and power was intoxicating and I remembered for a moment- I love to ride bicycles!

Eventually I turned back towards home. On the way, I stopped by Bicycle Warehouse. These fine folks have recently begun selling Masi within the past few months. They have a large warehouse (hence the name) for their main store. It has a huge roll-up door and as I rolled by I caught a couple sweet Masi bikes right up front!

It goes without saying that I was thrilled to see the bikes there. I stopped in and struck a conversation with one of the sales guys (name escapes me right now... damned brain of mine) and he was very happy to have the bikes to sell and was talking about wanting to get one of the new models for himself... I was very happy. Duh.

In the end, I probably rode for about 25 miles... maybe. It was a long 25 for me and I was struggling up the last 1km climb that ends my ride home. I struggled and groaned, but I was in heaven to be riding. It's a long way to racing fitness... but it's a damned good start to me! I'll be back... I know it.

I hope that each and every one of you had great weekends too and got to enjoy at least one day of riding- or whatever it is that makes your heart sing. Tomorrow brings the return of work, but I'm happy to have gotten out for a ride. It's the little things people... the little things.



Anonymous said...

OK I am jealous...I also got my fat ass on the bike this morning (in fine Aussie spring weather) for a quick pre-work spin, but not on wheels as sweet as that.

Good to hear you are out enjoy the bike in the sun though.

Unknown said...

"covered in sunscreen, for those about to yell at me"

Somebody still remembers the helmet spanking he got...

Seriously, it's terrific that you are out tackling these rides. Seems like you're biting off more each time out!

Donna T. said...

25? Pretty darn good, if you ask me. And even better that you were able to enjoy it so much after getting going. Brings a smile to my face. Good for you!

Jay said...

Way to go Tim! So glad to see you're back on the bike and enjoying it. Great blog post! I had a great final weekend of Summer. I actually won my very first road race! I raced in the Masters 35+ 4/5 Dunnigan Hills Road Race up here in NorCal! Keep on pedaling!