My ride started out at about a quarter to five in the evening. We’d been under cloud cover for better than a week, it feels like a month as much as I need to feel the sun on me, but not yesterday. We’re emerging from a stretch of unseasonably cool weather and heading into another round of hot. I love the heat and humidity when I’m making my own breeze.
For once, in fact only the second or third time this month, I was riding solo. I’ve come to enjoy, relish even, cycling with my wife on off days, heck even on days at this point, or my friends. As late as last year I was riding solo most of the time. Mrs. Bgddy was tired though, after spending the night with our daughters and their “one friend each” at the local indoor water park for their birthdays, so she wanted to stay home after climbing a few thousand stairs over the last twenty-four hours.
The weather was perfect, mid-80’s. The breeze was so mild that I couldn’t tell its direction, nor did I care. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky. I clipped into my Venge and rolled out, my first time on the “good bike” since Friday because of the threat of rain or wet roads. I love my rain bike, it’s a good, solid bike but there’s just something about the Venge that makes cycling that much more enjoyable… Fast, efficient and comfortable. It has it all.
Our small town is getting one of those ridiculous roundabouts and they repaved the main connection road that I needed to get from one side of town to the other so my normal 16 mile route has been closed for more than a month. My wife and I have been putting in our miles elsewhere. The round-about isn’t done yet but the repaving is so I headed east for two miles then turned around to do as much of my old route as possible while still getting my desired 16. I’d started out with a plan of simply taking an hour to do the sixteen but quickly found myself in the enjoyable position of that goal being too easy. I love it when that happens. Too often over the last month I’ve found that I not only wanted a 16 mph recovery day, I needed it. I suppose that’s a good thing, I’m making the most of my time in the saddle, but going into my four-day tour I want to feel like I’m having to hold myself back, that whatever my planned ride is, it’s too slow.
I was going to take some photos during the ride but I just didn’t want to bother taking my phone out of my back pocket… I just didn’t want to mess with the perfection. I don’t know how else to describe it, so I just rolled on, enjoying the perfect sunshine and warmth of the fading day. Twelve miles in I came to my favorite corner. It’s back in a tiny three road subdivision and heading south on the right road you’re met with a slight downhill that makes picking up speed easy and is followed by a sharp right hand turn at an intersection with no stop or yield sign – the only way you can go is right and you can see far enough that I have plenty of time to slow up if a car is coming the other way (though that has never happened)… This means I can ramp up my speed leading into the corner, drop my left foot and lean the bike hard into the apex. I take that right turn at better than 23 miles an hour in the drops, right knee flared out to force my center of gravity out, to help with the turn. Do you remember the feeling when you were a kid, hitting a jump just right? That right turn makes me feel like that. The only difference is I have a driver’s license and it says that I’m 45, not 12.
After my corner I headed home, pedaling easy at 19 mph. I turned west and found that I’d been battling the wind for a while, it was just barely out of the west. I picked the speed up with that little bit of help and just cruised, a smile stretched across my face. At the 16 mile mark, still a touch more than a mile from home, I sat up and rode easy, cooling down as much as the 85 degree sun-drenched stretch of road would allow. I pulled into my driveway still smiling. My first ever perfect calendar month. 31 days for 31 days. I burned 62,046 calories last month according to Endomondo (their estimate is probably a bit high) which netted me a top 2% finish amongst my peers in a calorie burning challenge. In another challenge, my 1,671 km (1,038.36 miles) netted a top 1.7% finish. Yesterday’s ride was the perfect cap to a perfectly enjoyable month. 22 years ago, when I made the decision to quit fighting King Alcohol and sober up, this is what I’d hoped for. I didn’t sober up to ride a bike or other such silliness. I quit drinking with the hope that one day I’d be able to enjoy my life. The truth is, my best-case scenario back then was aiming low.
For me there is no best bike ride ever. They’re all good in their own way. Sure beats a day drunk in a ditch – or worse, a night the County slammer.