Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Sun and More Sun

Another day back at the mine. My first 'round trip after getting back from vacation and it seems like I hardly left. Heat, heavy train, long stay in the hotel, frustration...oh yeah, it's great to be back. I guess it really isn't all that bad but it sure is hard just trying to get back in the groove after living almost like a human for a couple of weeks. You know; sleeping when it's dark, spending time with the brood, a little leisure time...that kind of thing can grow on a guy. If I live long enough to have 5 weeks of vacation, I don't know that I'll be able to ever go back to work if I take all of it at once.

Speaking of vacation...where did I leave off? Oh yeah...back in VA Beach...

As it turns out, our first night was kind of fuzzy. I was really beat and it all seemed to melt together like everything does when you haven't had enough sleep. I crashed pretty hard and pretty early, hoping I'd be recovered enough to hit the sand in the morning. By the time it got dark, I was gone.

Dawn brought sunshine, climbing humidity and a fast rising thermometer.

Much recovered, Chris and I ventured out to reconnoiter. Early morning is far and away the best time to be on the boardwalk. Only a few runners, bikers and bladers are out and the beach is nearly deserted. The sun traded places with the previous night's thunderheads on the horizon, bright but not yet too hot. I could live with an AM walk or ride by the sea most days for about the next 20 years or so. If we could find a place where I could hold a job and keep my seniority, the ocean rolled up to the sand, there were nearby hills to test my mountain bike, somebody desperately wanted to give us a house and traffic didn't SUCK...we'd have it made. But for here and now, the sand was warm, the water was cool and for a moment...all was right with the world.

One thing I discovered very soon about that area aside from how nice the beach is...everything around there is flat. You have to actually search to find anything resembling a knoll. A short road bike jaunt with some folks from the NS Tour de Cure team demonstrated that if it wasn't for a stiff breeze...riding down there is like sitting on the trainer. Apparently, the riding mode of choice in these parts is to go really fast with a whole bunch of people and swap leads in a paceline. Sounds like fun but I personally prefer a view that doesn't include quite so much bib short and derailleur. I'm pretty much a solo guy when I'm hammering unless Doc is in my draft so I'm not really used to following anyone. Besides, the roads were extremely skinny and completely devoid of shoulders or much in the way of markings. This means you either tiptoe on the edge of disaster between asphalt and ditch to let traffic go or you just let it all hang out and ride in the lane hoping the next low-flying Audi doesn't need a new hood ornament. It's interesting and I can't wait to (hopefully) ride in their version of the Tour next April but for my part, I think I prefer the vertical world.

Anyway, I spent a chunk of one day lounging on the beach and sloshing around in the surf. Very relaxing, especially without a cell phone. Someday, I'm going to heave my cell right out in the ocean and cease to be available. I got along pretty well before those miserable things and I think I might like to do so again at some point. Dream on.

I also got out on both bikes at one time or another while Chris baked and the kids body-surfed. One little cruise right around the beach front area led me into a park with some pretty nice paths and scenery. Still generally flat terrain of course but at least it was dirt instead of sand (mostly). It sure is weird to bike in places with Spanish Moss hanging off the trees. Looked like Pirates of the Caribbean to me but it was pretty cool anyway. Challenging in some ways like fighting the heat and humidity and pushing through the sandy spots but fun nonetheless.

Street riding on the other hand was quite a challenge in other respects as most of the drivers were either oblivious or outright hostile to bicycles. I'm not much intimidated by traffic after years of risking life and limb on the Hog but the deliberate near-misses and cut-offs got old pretty fast. Now I know why group rides are de rigueur around here; there's more back-up available if you have to drag some side-swiping idiot out of his car and review his legal obligations to other highway users (or just stomp his ass if you're a little less PC). I guess you have to get out into the open a little to do much road work without the hassles but I gave it a whirl anyway. I had a loop all figured out but the daily thunderstorm sort of let the air out of that plan and maybe it's just as well. I got some pavement miles in and lived to tell about it so it's all good. Then there was Thursday and the last, longest pedal adventure of the trip. Let's just say that that one that turned into an epic and will be a post all it's own. When I get back from my next rock around the clock on tonight's train, I'll try to get it down. The Lake of the Dismal Swamp is all I'm gonna say for now.

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