Midwinter Shape

I’ve braved the continuing cold weather, though it’s been nearer to normal just lately, to go out cycling four of the last six days.  None of them have been unusually long rides, but the four together add up to 86.5 miles.  The result is that I have dropped a little weight, and physically felt a little better.  Could it be that I’m getting a bit of shape back?  Not the kind of conditioning I have in the summer, mind you, but something like a mini-phase of being in respectable condition, the kind I’ve never been able to duplicate entirely by riding indoors.

Today was supposed to be quite cold, and I had errands to do, so I just wrote off any possibility of riding.  But at 1:50 p.m., arriving home to temperature reports in the low 40s, chores all done, I couldn’t resist this outright gift of a rideable day.  More rideable than yesterday, actually.  We had freezing rain the day before, but yesterday the sun came out, the air warmed up during the early morning, and the vestigial remains of ice on streets, sidewalks, and lawns melted.   The cold ground and humid air, though, left the streets wet all morning.  So when I went out I wore my plastic cycling rain jacket over my Gortex jacket.  That way I wouldn’t get a stripe of grit up the Gortex’s back from the stuff coming off my rear tire.  Only problem is that my Gortex and underlayer both are “breathable” fabrics, but the rain jacket is not.  All the moisture my body was giving off got trapped under the rain jacket layer.  So at the end of the ride both the underlayer and the Gortex jacket were super-saturated with moisture.  Ironically, the Gortex survived unscathed, but my bike had a layer of grit on most of the frame.  I was able to towel it off before it dried on, but I need to get back and oil a few exposed cables.

Today all surfaces were dry.  That meant both no spray and more reliable traction.  Bike tires pick up moisture so easily, and on the Jamis they’re not a matched set anyway.  The front is a Vittoria Randoneur, that has tread and inflates to 85 lbs.  The rear is a Forte slick that inflates to 100 lbs.  Both are former front tires.  I was trying to use them up and they’re lasting longer than I thought they would.  So I’m always a bit leery of fast corners and other maneuvers that might cause the back wheel to slide out when its wet.  But today it was dry, and I headed inbound on the W&OD for the first time this year.  A standard route took me through some neighborhoods as well as along the trail down to  Shirlington.  It’s basically downhill outbound, and uphill on the return.  That’s especially good with a SE wind like today’s because I get a tailwind most of the way home.  Cycling along, I had good strength and power, and even wanted, for the first time in quite a while, to deliberately shift to a more aggressive gear in certain situations, confident that by doing so I could make the bike go faster, instead of fearing that the increased resistance would just make me slow down.

And I came home at just about the same weight I was six years ago on this date.  Good omen!

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2011.

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