Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘bike riding

Now This

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Last night, I received notification that the single organized group-bike-tour that I participate in every June has been canceled for 2020 due to some virus pandemic. The Tour of Minnesota will take this summer off. My intuition tells me there is a good chance my pedals and spokes won’t get much of a workout this year.

That tour was the incentive to get me spinning those wheels as early as possible every spring, oftentimes against my preference to rather not.

“I’m too tired today.”

“There are too many other chores I should be doing.”

“The weather isn’t ideal.”

“I don’t feel like riding right now.”

Despite those and other excuses, whenever I overcome the resistance and get myself out on the bike, I am always incredibly happy to be riding.

Without the incentive of the impending week-long trip of high daily mileage to drive my actions, I fear my endless collection of excuses will override my pleasure of gliding along country roads, especially during times of social distancing. Riding alone is nowhere near as fun as riding with a group.

On the bright side, now I won’t be thinking about a risk of becoming symptomatic with a virus that compromises lungs while needing to pedal for multiple 70-mile days and sleep overnights on the ground in a tent.

I picture myself choosing some less-taxing adventures close to home in the months ahead. For some reason, I keep seeing tree-shaded hammocks swinging in this vision.

That must mean Cyndie will be doing the lawn mowing.

“Don’t forget to wear a mask, hon!”

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Written by johnwhays

April 9, 2020 at 6:00 am

Wetter Today

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There is nothing quite like the ripping of rain-soaked air by the high heat energy of a lightning strike that explodes in close proximity. That ever so brief searing tear of the atmospheric fabric, then accented by a concussive BOOM! that startles even though it is obviously about to happen, is the stuff of my childhood terrors.

Even some of the kabooms from farther away that don’t trigger a panic reaction are powerful enough that the walls of our house creak and windows flex. And, yes, it makes our dog bark in a faux bravery attempt to shout down the perceived threat.

We knew this stormy weather was coming. A whole weekend of it. The future predictors (meteorologists) told us about it, right down to the hours when it would be intense.

I lucked out yesterday, as the partially cloudy day stayed dry in our area, though radar indicated it was rainy just to our south. It allowed me to get the already too long grass mowed in the nick of time, and then squeak in my very first bike ride of the season.

No pressure or anything, but I did register for another week of biking and camping in June, so conditioning my butt to tolerate extended hours on the saddle is once again on my to-do list.

There are worse burdens in this world.

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Getting back out on the open road, seeing an endless ribbon of pavement rolled out before me, breathing (panting) the fresh country air, having close encounters with protective old farm dogs, waving at folks gawking at the silly human pedaling for conveyance, is both physical exercise and mental refreshment.

Feeling the wind pushing against your face, as well as from behind, since I chose to ride in a big square of all four directions, connects with the elements in a way that car travel completely eliminates.

In my current living situation, claiming hours for pedaling along idly doesn’t happen without a bigger reason to force it, so the bike trip becomes something of a cause and effect. It’s not like the old days when I would ride my bike for miles, to and from work every day. Back then, by the time June came around, I was more than prepared for day-long rides.

I am grateful that I was able to launch my road bike for its season opener on a dry day yesterday. If I am to follow that up with a second ride this weekend, it’s going to be much wetter.

Just like those future-tellers predicted.

Hopefully, I can time it so as to avoid the lightning and thunder.

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Written by johnwhays

May 18, 2019 at 7:58 am

Green Everywhere

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For the first time since last October, we can’t see the chicken coop from the driveway. The green of innumerable leaves has returned in a blink.

Complimenting all the green exploding in every direction was the blue sky. Just the kind of weather that would be perfect for an inaugural bike ride of the season, when a person has failed to take advantage of any previous chances.

That meant I needed to hustle home from work, and focus exclusively on cleaning and re-assembling my bike. That is to say, no more disassembly allowed. Unlike my usual self, I somehow made short work of getting the trusty two-wheeler back into riding shape.

After a break for a quick dinner, I decided to see how it rode. I mentioned out loud that I wouldn’t have my bike computer because the battery was dead, and Cyndie reminded me I could use my phone.

It had been so long since using the “Map My Ride” app, I needed to reset my password to get logged in, but once that was done, I was ready to ride.

I like a quiet bike, and I’m proud to say that my bike didn’t utter a single annoying mechanical peep. The problem with quiet bike though, is anything else making unwelcome noises becomes that much more noticeable.

I’m pretty sure it was my shoes. I have a cleat mounted in my shoes that snaps into my pedals. The longer I rode, the more I became aware of what sounded like a squeaky chair as I muscled my way up hills.

Those cleats will get a serious snugging before my next ride.

I made it home just as the sun was dropping below the horizon. By that hour of the day, the low spots on the road take on a dramatic chill compared to the rest of the air. I paused on top of the first high spot of our driveway and checked the app.

Eight miles in 36 minutes, including several fair-sized hills. Minimal traffic and only a couple of farm tractors to pass. Startled someone’s horse napping in a pasture and got stared at by a lot of cows.

That’ll do just fine for a starter.

Now if I could just do that every day for a month, maybe I would be in reasonable shape at the start of the Tour of Minnesota.

The first day mileage will be 80 miles, so I’d rather not show up under-prepared for that.

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Written by johnwhays

May 16, 2018 at 6:00 am

Inaugural Ride

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The ol’ legs, they ain’t what they used to be. It almost feels like I’ve gotten older than I’ve ever been before. Yesterday, I got out on the bike for my inaugural ride of the season. I do love winter, but there is no way a person can’t fall for a day in spring that sprouts with a blue sky, calm winds, and warm temps.

It was an opportunity that I needed to grab to get my cycling season underway. My annual bike trip in the middle of June is only two and a half months away and I need to break in a new saddle. Plus, I have committed to hosting a warm-up ride in the countryside around Wintervale in May.

I need to scout a route that will be suitable in length and challenge. Yesterday proved to be a chance to both break in my butt and start the process of establishing a route. I did well in both accounts. For the route, when I say that I did well, I mean that I found several roads that will not be candidates for the warm-up ride.

Things started well enough, as I headed out on roads I was familiar with. The superb weather and the idyllic landscapes were as good as could possibly be. As the miles mounted, I recognized the energy in my legs waning. As I approached the road that I was hoping to use for my turn west toward home again, I found gravel.

Ugh. This was my last chance before reaching a state road that was not so bike friendly. So I turned off the pavement. Luckily, this was an old unpaved road, so the surface was hard-packed almost as smooth as asphalt.

I could live with that. After a couple of more turns, I was getting really ready to reach home, thinking that it would have been nice if I’d tucked an energy bar into my jersey pocket.

I was looking for 610th, a road that I knew previously was gravel, but thought I’d seen new pavement in the last couple of years. As I turned onto it, there was a fleeting moment of hope, because the first 50 yards was pavement. The gravel that followed was nothing like the hard-packed old roads I’d traversed earlier.

This stuff seemed like it might have just been laid down this spring. It was the worst of class 5 gravel that offered absolutely no smooth tire tracks and left my rear tire slipping if I stood up to pedal. At the first incline, I had to throw in the towel and dismount.

I walked my bike up the loose gravel road as my tired legs complained about the change. Too tired to walk and too tired to ride is a good sign I’d used up pretty much all the strength reserves my old legs had to offer.

Those roads will definitely not be on the route we will be taking in May.

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Written by johnwhays

April 2, 2017 at 10:03 am