Friday, October 29, 2010

Uphill. Both ways.

On Thursday, we were blessed with another unseasonably warm day--sunny and 70 degrees. Within minutes of seeing that forecast, I knew I'd be on my bike.

I plotted out a 50+ mile ride to Westminster, out beyond Baughers, and back. My semi-retired parents bought a home there a little over a year ago, so I made plans to meet my Dad for a pit stop/lunch. When I'm riding that far by myself, I feel more secure knowing that someone is expecting me at the far end.

Power oatmeal and a quick shot of caffeine before heading out. 22 oz of water + 22 oz sports drink was the only sustenance I needed en route.

I made a quick stop half way to re-up my membership at the Y; before long the only cycling I'll be doing will be in a spin class. Plus, it's time to get back in the pool!

The ride was spectacular--leaves swirling everywhere like I was in the fall version of a snow globe. There was animal entertainment too. A squirrel slowly made it's way toward the road. It was moving directly toward me at such a leisurely pace I thought it might be injured. Then, at the last moment, it hopped right in front of my bike, performed a few bobs and weaves and spun in a circles before dashing off across the road. The word "squirrelly" came to mind.

Also, the shoulders were packed with grasshoppers and big, furry caterpillars. Why the need to cross the road? (Was this question ever answered by the chicken?) I managed to dodge most of them, with the exception of one most unfortunate 'hopper; and it was a big one. Ew. (Those skinny tires leave little to the imagination.)

My Dad, who loves to go out to eat, treated me to Panera for lunch: whole grain bagel with peanut butter + mango and yogurt smoothie.

By the time I headed back home, the winds had picked up and I wished I'd opted for the latte instead of the smoothie. I mistakenly thought, after all the climbing I'd done on the first leg, that the ride home would be a breeze. I was partly correct: it was breez-y. (Understatement.) I was grateful for the wide shoulder when gusting crosswinds would bump me a foot sideways toward the traffic.

Plus, the hills! Did I mention the hills? I rode uphill the whole way there, and uphill the whole way back too; or so it seemed. (If you don't believe me, you really should give it a try!) In reality, the terrain around here is such that you don't start out at one elevation at point A and steadily climb or descend to point B; but continually climb and descent the whole way. Gotta love those rolling hills.

En route fluids: approx 32 oz water.

Legs were cashed by the time I got home, but I've had great luck with Hammer's Recoverite helping my muscles recover from a tough workout without too much soreness. I also refueled with a handful of almonds, and whole grain linguine with olive oil and chopped hard-boiled egg.

I'm continually humbled; not only by the local terrain, but also by how difficult it is to gain and maintain fitness, yet how easy it is to lose it. (The inverse of weight loss.) But it also seems that muscle memory allows for faster recovery each year, creating a two steps forward and one step back rhythm, so I'm thankful for that and I hope to keep improving.

I ask myself: why am I still riding 50+ miles in the post season?
1) Because I can, and, the less snarky answers:
2) Because I want to, and
3) Because I hope that, eventually, 50 miles will be my base point and not the distance I spend all summer working up to, that is . . .

if I ever hope to make it all the way to the Iron Man! :)

PS: Today, Friday, I blew off my intended workout (running and lifting) since schedule changes made the day too crazy. And, after becoming an expert at "spot shot" cleaning and the "rinse and spritz" strategies, I didn't have the time or motivation for the two full showers today's activities would have required.

Happy Friday everyone!

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