Spring in January: Time to Ride!
Sunday, January 20, 2013
Yesterday was one of those rare days in central PA. It was 50 degrees and cloudless. My plans were to do some painting and to clean the bathroom, but I had to take advantage of the glorious weather. We had an early lunch so I could get out and ride.
There was lots of wind--12-18 mph range, so I wasn't quite sure what to wear. It was very warm in the sun, but quite cool in the shade. Settled on a pair wind-block tights, short sleeved shirt, light jacket, shoe covers & gloves. Figured if I got in 20 miles, that would be enough for starters.
This was my first training ride of 2013--I hope to do some bike camping this year, and need to get fit enough to carry 20-30 lbs. of gear up the mountains. So I loaded a trunk bag with two 10 lb. weights and set off.
The first 17 miles were flat and they flew by, pushed by powerful tailwinds. When I reached the base of Skytop Mountain, I had to make a decision whether to go up or turn around. I wasn't confident that I could make the climb with the extra weight. When I rode Skytop this summer, it was on a 15 lb. road bike. This time I was riding the Trek, which weighs about 30 lbs. + I had 20 lbs. in the bag.
I decided to go for it--a failed attempt would be better than no attempt. It was slow going, but I made it to the top. The next decision was whether to ride back down and have a flat ride home, or continue down the other side and ride the rolling hills of Rt 550. After a rest and some stretching I decided to go 550--that would give me one more mountain to ride.
The mountain in Port Matilda is short, but steep, and I was only able to ride a short distance before I had to get off the bike. Even pushing the bike up the mountain was difficult. It was a relief to get back on the bike and ride down to flat Rt 220.
By this time, my tank was running on empty. I hadn't planned such a long ride, so I didn't bring any food along. I was extremely hungry and getting thirsty, but had to ration the water--there was another 17 or so miles to go and I was almost out. The ride back was a slow 7-10 mph against strong headwinds. I thought about stopping and taking the weights out of my bag, but couldn't bring myself to "giving in."
The entire ride back all I could think of was Snappy's convenience store. I was soooo happy to see it. By now, the sun was low in the sky and the air was quite cold and my fingers were beginning to get stiff from the cold. I walked in the store thinking I'd have a cup of hot chocolate and a cupcake or some other treat. But healthy eating is ingrained in my psyche more than I knew. I couldn't bring myself to get the hot chocolate or eat a fat-laden treat. I read the labels on a Little Debbie's Oatmeal Creme sandwich cookie--more than 300 calories & lots of fat--and a chocolate "gob" cookie--500 calories and 34 grams of fat--and just couldn't do it--not even after almost 4 hours of hard biking. I had water and a granola bar.
The food and 15 minute rest in Snappy's was just enough to feel re-energized. My speed picked up as I rode the last 6 miles home. There were 2 more small hills to tackle leading up to my home--which I walked.
It was a great first "training" ride of 43 miles, but there is a lot more work to do before I'll be able to comfortably ride my bike with camping gear.
Hope we have some more spring-like days this winter.