The cycling season started!

Sunday, March 11th, 2012 @ %I:%M %p | Cycling

wpid-firstride-2012-03-11-15-46.jpgThe first club ride was yesterday, the traditional hike along Whalen, Scribner, back up Browncroft. Just 14 miles but sometimes that’s an enormous distance after a long winter. This time of course we are still waiting for winter to start. Today was the Penfield-Walworth ride, advertised as 28 miles but in reality 34. The extra six miles are courtesy of the club included in your membership.

I like the preparation for a club ride, either in the morning or if the ride starts early, the evening before. There is a certain Zen-like quality to gathering the drink bottles, filling the little bottle with Hammer gel, deciding how many energy bars to bring and which flavors, checking that the Garmin is charged, print the map, putting the cycling clothing ready to wear on the chair in my bedroom. This time of the season, and again at the end, the weather can be in that zone of temperature that is hard to guess how much to wear. Two layers and a windbreaker? A hat or just a headband? Gloves? In the morning before the ride I always go outside to measure. Need to throw the catlitter in the dumper anyways.

Yesterday it was cold but quite sunny. Th weather forecast gave a chill factor of a few degrees below freezing. But the short walk outside didn’t feel that cold: two layers plus wind jacket plus gloves. Today it was very sunny and temperatures around 50 but more wind: one layer plus wind jacket, no gloves.

Before yesterday my last ride was on February 5th. Clearly the atmospheric circumstances were different. The Garmin Edge uses barometric pressure to calculate altitude. After switching it on, it calibrates for a bit and then settles on the right altitude (plus or minus a few feet). When the circumstances are quite different from the previous ride then this can take a while but often it catches on after 15 minutes or so. Not yesterday. As you can see from the picture we were only briefly on dry land and for most of the ride well under sea level. Webster is about 300 feet above sea level… The altitude profile also shows a few more hills than I remember from the ride.

The season opener always starts very calmly at a pace of 10-12 miles or so. Until the climb up Blossom Road and then things pick up. They did now too. After the turn onto Scribner three of us had pulled the group so much apart that Otto could be heard saying: “Let’s slowdown and let Paul catch up.” Shock! Horror! We dropped Paul? What kind of cycling season is this going to be?

With riding to and fro the start my mileage was 24 miles. Small change you keep in your car for tolls once the season is well underway but my legs were tired and I was pleased to be back home for the post-ride opportunity for a little nap with the cats.

This morning my legs felt quite good. I could feel yesterday’s ride but no real stiffness. I rode to the start at the high school in Penfield. A large group was there, about 30 cyclists or so. This ride’s route is tricky and not one of favorites. Five Mile Road at the start of the ride is a bit busy and requires extra caution with everybody still together. We’re not as diligent about this single file stuff as we should be. But after the right turn onto Whalen and then a short distance further the left hander to Jackson we are out of the way of traffic and on quiet country roads until the return leg after going through the Walworth village. The official route takes us along Route 441 which is busy with heavy traffic, has narrow shoulders with putholes and debris. We took the scenic route back via West-Walroth and Sweet Corners Road. My, what are the two climbs on Sweet Corners steep when on the second club ride of the year! On the first I was crawling along in the lowest gear.

After the smalltalk in the parking lot after the ride Otto and I rode back together. Otto slipping in a few extra miles by going around the bay back to Irondequiot.

Back home I delighted the cats by opening the balcony door and giving them their first chance of fresh air and stare at birds and people outside for the first time in months. It’s barely mid-March. I am still convinced we’re going to get a few nice snow storms. But not this week according to the forecast.



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