Natural High

I’ve always said that every day on the bike is a good day.  Never have I come home wishing I had not gone out; there’s such satisfaction as you catch your breath, dump the sweaty clothes, clean up, and decide how to refocus all that positive energy.  Even when you’ve picked up some road rash or had an encounter with an idiot motorist the good always far outweighs the bad.  Short of a bad accident, which so far I have been spared, what’s not to like?

But some days are better than others.  Yesterday’s ride did not start out auspiciously.  It was in the low forties, sun brilliant, wind calm.  I thought I’d take the Trail inbound (east) to Shirlington or Rosslyn.  But at the mouth of the right-of-way the game plan changed.  To the west were open ruts, easily rideable, but to the east was a sheet of ice from one side to the other.  I could have walked my bike for about 500 feet, but that was not satisfactory.  If the trail was that bad here, there would be other places equally as treacherous.  And in that direction I don’t know where they are.  I do know where the westbound ones are, and I could foresee that I’d be walking my bike in several places if I went that way.

So I retreated to the neighborhood streets, and traveled my “Cottage Circuit” described in the 2/8/11 blog.  My quads had seemed tight when I started, but soon they were strong, pounding away.  The tough little rises that usually slow me down were just challenges to be met with intense effort.  Traffic was no bother.  Every four-way stop street and traffic light was clear.  The places where I’m usually tiring by the last of three laps were good as new.

After the ride I felt vibrant, intense, almost hyper.  I was seeing everything very clearly, i was thinking lucidly, my whole physical and mental system seemed to sing with life.  I was set up for a great rest of the day.

Today, by contrast, was dank.  I wanted to ride, since tomorrow is almost surely going to be rainy.  But my energy level was not very high; my muscles were truly tight.  Though it was five degrees warmer than yesterday, the darkening clouds and the northwest breeze made it seem much colder, in that chilly, humid way that New Englanders call “raw” (the Sox play many of their April home games in weather like this).  I left my Trek at home, used my “rain bike” (the Fuji) just in case, and did my other neighborhood route, the “Tour de Nabes”  (see blog for 2/15/10).  It went well, if more slowly, between the bike I used (the “big” gear is a 48) and the state of my body.  The suburban landscape sat asphalt-gray, cold, silent, and preternaturally empty, almost as if there’d been an evacuation.  Every small noise seemed amplified.  The temperature dropped during the ride, but I timed it perfectly, feeling the first drops of tonight’s promised rain when I was only about 3/4 mile from home.

Still felt good, even a bit daring, to be out on a day like this, but it was not the same groove that was so groovy, man, yesterday.

©Arnold J. Bradford, 2011.

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