Yesterday I took the opportunity to check out the progress on one of the final segments on the Great Allegheny Passage, connecting our city to DC with a continuous bike trail.
Took Sunstreaker on railroad ballast that was next to the part of the trail they were working on to see how long it would take and how difficult it would be to get to the trailhead for this 200K attempt, next month. The tentative schedule I have is departure at 6AM, which should be decent light.
I hit headwind, yesterday. It was mid-30s, which usually isn't unmanageable, but I didn't bring the balaclava because I was lulled into a sense of complacency by the fact it was sunny. Found out something new, in regards to performance. When it's that cold, breathing cold air sans balaclava, results in a sharp piercing headache due to the cold air. My guess is it's probably related to the cold air going straight into the sinus cavity, vs. being slightly warmed, first. Good to know, because piercing headaches are suboptimal. Haven't experienced the exercise/temperature induced asthma, though, recently. So that's a good thing. Especially since this season's cold weather seems to want to stick around.
Need to increase my mileage/training load, so I killed two birds with one stone last night and rode to the board meeting. Saddle setback is still not quite right, going to have to go on a longer ride to sort it.
When the meeting ended, I toggled on my lights and rode on the road until the point I could break off into one of our favorite city parks. 465 acres of greenspace, descending into darkness.
I had my good night riding lamp and I shot down the rutted crushed limestone path into the rapidly closing forest. The leaves and buds hadn't sprouted, yet, so I could see the thin angular shadows of the trees contrasting against the twilight, wisps of cloud suspended aloft.
The sharpness of the beam of my headlight lit up the firefly-like ghosts of small limestone pebbles shot out from my front tire (no fenders). Bright as stars.
I could see the traffic, down on the Parkway, and sheen off the golden domes of the lit up Orthodox church down in the valley. Passing a lonely bench with peeling green paint, I was acutely aware of my solitude, suspended on the thin ribbon of trail on the hillside...midway between the trappings of contemporary urban sprawl on the freeway below, and the rapidly retreating remnants of the sun above.
The crunch of dead leaves and a tingle from the ambient cold seeping through my gloves told me I was no longer alone. I heard the crash of a large mass through the forest, and saw the flick of a finger-sized small banner of white retreating over the leeward side of the hill, surrendering the right of way.
There were four of them, 2 full sized adult doe and 2 smaller ones. They watched me, as I sailed past crunching over the gravel, trying to make sense of the sound that was not footsteps of man or beast they could categorize as threat.
Emerging from the elder wood, I saw the city, rejoined the industrialized pulse of human development.
Nights like that are valuable reminders of why I ride.
Tomorrow's forecast is for slightly more temperate weather, there's a mountain bike night ride scheduled, so I'll try to get out there on some singletrack.