One of those is TJ...The Trailer Park Cyclist...a total stranger (stranger even than me) who happens to come by and post comments pretty regularly. For this I'm very grateful because it at least gives me the illusion that my keyboard time isn't just a waste of somebody's ones and zeros that instantly gets lost in space on a server somewhere. His descriptions of bike rides around the Florida countryside strike me as...well...something I'd be likely to do if I happened to be in that neck of the world. Kindred spirits perhaps.
I was thinking the other day how it was funny that just this once at least, the connected universe worked as advertised. I can talk bikes, beer and barbecue sauce with someone I've never really met and likely never will. Barring a sudden vast increase in my pay scale, we'll never see one another face to face over post-ride beverages. But as long as those ones and zeros keep zinging back and forth, we'll have something in common. We might never drink beer at the Park or the Home; half-wheel along the beach or the Finger Lakes; but we can still tell tall tales and lies from the kitchen table realizing that somewhere out there...somebody knows what we're talking about.
So, Hello Tim Joe...here's a little journey from up north. Tag along if you like. Only some of it is lies...
The mountain bike was starting to look good because at least I could hide in the woods and stay out of the wind's line of fire but that would likely entail driving somewhere to get away from the same-old-same-old places I hack around in near home. Have you bought any gas lately? I hate burning the stuff unless I really have to and besides, there's something fundamentally wrong about driving someplace to ride a bike. Finally, I came to the decision to go the pavement route, mainly because the dirt bike was hanging in a semi-inaccessible location in the back corner of the garage and the street bike was already prepped and ready to go. There's probably something to be said as well about being too lazy to dig the mountain bike out when you're looking for exercise but we won't go there today.
I bundled into a couple layers of jerseys and jackets, leggings and full gloves anticipating that it's probably going to be cold on the downhills. Out the driveway, two lefts and directly into the teeth of the wind. Might as well do it while my legs are fresh. As expected, it was about an 8 mph slog until I hit some descent, then it was a 15 mph slog pedaling downhill. The front wheel was doing a little happy-dance back and forth in the crosswind and visions of prior fork-chatter adventures again kept the fingers poised over the brake levers. It obviously wasn't going to be a fast trip.
Since I figured it would be slow going until I turned for home anyway, I opted for a loop I did with my brother-in-law as my nearly-final ride before the snow last fall. It was a pretty good climb the way we did it in October but this time I wanted to go backwards and do the steepest part first. I'm in training for the Tour de Cure you know...at least that's what I keep telling myself. If you can't go far, go high...and slow. At least the wind isn't as much of a factor when you're already in creeper low and grinding.
A long chug up out of the valley is usually followed by a view from the hilltop and this one was no exception:
Severe clear was the truth. I think you could see all the way to Syracuse if you looked in the right direction. That stiff breeze blew everything out of the air and the bright sunshine made everything look brand-new. Somewhere down there is Cayuga Lake and Ithaca but that way-far horizon was the real reward. About 10 miles, 1200 vertical feet and 8 million crank revolutions down the road on the right is the bottom of the hill. It always looks a lot better when it's behind the seat bag.
Now on the ridge of Connecticut Hill, I figured I could coast a while and let my legs regroup. Or not. The crossroad I was hoping for never materialized so it was more miles straight into the wind before the turn for home. Talk about false-flats. I could see it was all downgrade but I had to stay in the middle ring most of the way just to keep moving against the gusts. A couple of them almost pushed the Trek backwards. I've never ridden in reverse but there's a first time for everything. I wondered if I held up my jacket if I could get home without pedaling at all. Somewhere along there, I came across another old barn for my camera.
I take a lot of shots of assorted barns and junk. I love old buildings and old machines...must be because they're usually the only thing around older than me. I can almost hear stories and see other days in them. They were new and someone was proud of them once and if the old boards and bolts could talk...what a tale they could probably tell. I'd like to hear them all. I've been told I have issues. I'd like to think so.
Tooling along the wind induced upgrade, I eventually turned tail and suddenly it became a sled ride for home. I never did try sailing with my jacket but my average speed went to double-digits for the first time all day. I could actually hear something besides wind noise even in the big ring. A pair of guys on bikes and a low-rider on a 'bent went by in the other direction crawling upwind. I feel your pain boys.
The cramps and leg-burn faded out after a while and the countryside cruised by. Around another little lake and over a ridge brought me out on the last leg. The daylight is a little short still so a pause to look around, capture a pic and it was settle in to head for the Home.
The fields are plowed and the grass is greening up. No leaves on the trees yet but any day now...
The temperature started down pretty fast as the sun got low but with the wind at my back and all those layers, I didn't care. I made one more stop for one more pic as the sun dropped behind the hills.
As it was getting dark, the last road for the day ended up behind me and I rolled into the driveway. Only 57 miles this time but hey, the season is young and I'm not. I'll get back in shape once the weather figures out what month it is and the temperature gets higher than my age before noon. The cramps in my thighs should be gone in plenty of time for the Tour...I hope. I've got a lot of miles to go and a lot to see before then. If I wasn't such a sucker for a climb it would help...
So there you go TJ and everyone else out there who happens by. Pictures and random chatter from the cold end of the east coast. As I'm so fond of saying, it's always something...
Come to think of it...the Wayward Home is still a kind of therapy for me but pushing pedals around the New York hills is too. You never know where it'll all lead but I kind of hope someone sticks around for the ride.