Oh, that’s not good

Saturday, May 12th, 2012 @ %I:%M %p | Cycling

wpid-notgood-2012-05-12-17-041.jpgToday saw one of my favorite rides on the club schedule: the Can-Yan Tour from Canandaigua to Penn Yan, 50 miles of hilly happiness. Even the start time is pleasant, 10am instead of 9am.

Even so I am a little slow to get going and drive into the parking lot with 15 minutes to spare. Ed, the leader for this ride, already stands there when I climb out of the car. We chat a bit about the merits of working for a large company again. We observe that it is rather windy. The western wind will make it easy to get to Penn Yan, coming back will be a different matter it looks like. I get the bike out of the car, put the front wheel in, put the Garmin on the handlebars, hang the helmet off one of the bends, all part of the well-exercised routine. Next is pumping up the tires. I rotate the rear tire to find the valve and “oh, that’s not good.” I see a threadbare spot, checking the rest of the tire finds two more of those. The front tire is a little better but not much. For a moment I consider risking it but then common sense sets in. It’s 50 miles through mostly empty countryside, if the tire goes it can’t be repaired during the ride. “@%$%$##!!”, I mutter to myself. I thought yesterday to buy new tires, followed by another thought “nah, I’ll do it next week.” Right.

Well, it is what it is. I wander over to Eddie, he must know if there’s a bike shop in town. There is, RV&E Bikes is even quite close by. I put everything back in the car off to check in the inventory of the store. It’s pretty good and they have the tires I like and would have bought the day before: Specialized All Condition. I have them on Maximilian, the red Trek, and like them much. Back to the parking lot to put the new tires on. The group of course is long gone. Ed suggested I ride it in reverse and then back with the group but I don’t like that. I want to ride it in the way it was intended.

Half an hour late I am rolling. The wind notwithstanding it is lovely weather, the first warm weather ride of the season. I don’t mind much that I missed the group. I often like riding by myself. I can ride the pace I want, I can look around, I can sing songs in my head. The same four songs (Haus am See, Watching the wheels, Shelter from the storm, We take care of our own) have been stuck in my head for a few weeks now and I mix them into a medley. With the mostly tailwind the stretch to Penn Yan will go quickly and easily. I decide to skip the normal break in Penn Yan to try to make the gap smaller with the main group.

I see a few Amish farmworkers on their bikes and we nod politely to each other as we pass. No buggies yet. Soon Penn Yan is there. I kept a quick but relaxed pace, I’m all good with water and energy bars and so I ride on. After Penn Yan it is a straight road along Keuka Lake for a mile or two then a right turn up Wager Hill Road. This thing is steep and drags on a bit. I have done that climb three times I believe. The first was a struggle, the other times it was relatively easy. A few hundred meters ahead of me is a cyclist in a gray shirt. I am just a little too far away to determine who it is by his riding style. Right after the turn the climb starts and it is immediately steep. Click, click, click, click, click go the derailleurs. The first click by the front derailleur, the others by the rear one to land in the lowest gear within 50 meters. I see the other rider zigzag a bit but he’s going steadily up still. I am getting tired very quickly. There is the spot where it gets a tiny bit less steep and then picks up again. There I stand on the pedals but I don’t find any rhythm at all and need to sit in the saddle again within a few meters. Not good. I drag on a little more but there is no energy. On the right is a driveway to a mobile home. I yank on the handlebars and stop. (ahh, the advantage of riding by yourself, one can stop on a climb and nobody will ever know)

After a minute of trying to get my breathing under control I walk the remaining bit of the steep part then get back on and ride the climb out. My legs hurt for the next 6 miles or so. During the downhill on Sherman Hollow Road I start to feel better again, then a right and a left and I get to the gradual climb on Route 264. There’s another rider, in very bright yellow, ahead of me. I steadily gain on him and see that it is Uncle Jules. Jules asks “Can you see me now?”. Yes, that shirt together with the loud green shoes, yes, I noticed. Just before the right turn onto Middle Road – which I always miss so I u-turn around – I catch up with Bob Lechner. He says he’s going to wait for Jules. The beginning of Middle Road consists of a steep bump – one that you don’t really notice when you’re riding well, but I do now. From here it is mainly north till the left turn onto Route 18. While this is wide open country the wind isn’t much of a bother. Once you get to that junction the ride is largely done: a lovely downhill with wide turns to the lake and then a mile or so through a housing area back to the parking lot.

I wonder how far behind the group I am. I didn’t ride particular fast, my average probably a bit lower than them, but I skipped the stop in Penn Yan so maybe gained 10 minutes or so? I wonder how many will still be in the parking lot. I swish left then right around Starbucks (another reason I like this ride) and look ahead to where we’re all parked. Hmm, not many familiar cars there, I see Gary just pulling out in his Prius. Bummer, no apres cycling talk. Oh well, still had fun and a few riders are behind me still to come in.

I put the bike back in the car, happily drink my Naked protein drink, take off the cycling shoes (ahhh!). I look up and Cindy magically appeared. After the ride she drove to Wegmans to get some beers. I nominate her for Best Cycling Friend Everrr. Jules gets back too. Bob came in close behind me. We lean against the cars, sip our beers, make small talk and ponder why the club scheduled a 95 mile ride starting at 10:30am tomorrow, Mother’s Day.



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