March 26, 2012

Slow Motion

The force [of laziness] is strong in this one.
I feel tired.
You got plenty of sleep, it is time to get up.
I don't want to.
It is so easy, you laid out everything last night.
It's 39 degrees!
Wear wool.

After two consecutive rainy weekends, if I did not bike to work today it seemed doubtful that I could complete the Cinderella Classic next Saturday. Now, how silly would that be? It is sad enough that I am not in shape for the Challenge course.

By the time I failed to talk myself out of riding today, I was running 30 minutes behind schedule. Which means contending with more rush-hour traffic.

It was a good ride nonetheless. Slow, but good. Breakfast was still feasible when I arrived, but the biggest surprise was the shower upgrade. Two stalls! Plus, two private unisex stalls. [I know what you're thinking ... keep it clean.] As you might imagine, one shower stall for all the women in a four-story building was less than adequate.

Then again, on the east coast I last worked in a building designed with women's restrooms on every other floor. (Decades later, they repurposed some of the men's restrooms when scientists came to outnumber secretaries.) How times have changed.

At the end of the day, my ride home was the . slowest . ever. It wasn't enough that my fitness has eroded, or that I was tired, or that the ride home is all uphill? Noooo. The weather is changing, and the approaching storm front blasted me with headwind. At times it felt like I was pedaling just enough to keep from moving backward.

When I paused to admire the wildflowers near the Mary Avenue Bicycle Bridge, a passing cyclist asked if I needed anything. [Turn off the wind? Slow down and let me draft you? Better yet, tow me home?] "No, I'm okay."

For the day, 39 miles and about 965 feet of climbing. Sixty-plus miles on Saturday? Er, sure, no problem ...

March 11, 2012

Recovery Ride

The post-op instructions suggested that I could return to my normal activities after 3-5 days.
Define normal.
Bike up Mt. Hamilton? Somehow ... I think not.

I waited, well, almost two weeks. And I started with a more modest outing.

This image is remarkable—not for the drab scenery—but for capturing five modes of human transport in a single frame. From left to right: VTA Light Rail (Tamien Station), California State Highway 87, the Highway 87 Bikeway, Caltrain (Tamien Station), and a jet approaching San Jose International Airport.

I chose a ride that I would normally avoid—mostly on paved trails. Charging up a hill for my first time back on the saddle did not seem like a sensible plan, so I followed a "flat" route to the starting point [N.B., a mere 125 feet of vertical gain].

My chief concern was running out of energy. After a week of lolling about the house, followed by a week of work, I still needed more sleep than usual. On the bike, would I bonk?

We navigated through a veritable maze, alongside Highway 87 and the Guadalupe River in San Jose. These trails may be a boon for bike commuters; without the guidance of our local experts, we surely would have strayed off course. On a dreary Sunday morning, we shared the trails with very few recreational visitors.

The ride satisfied my curiosity on two fronts: What was it like to ride these trails? What did it feel like to be back on the bike?

The route was confusing, with trails often dumping out onto city streets with no advance warning. I was glad to be traveling in a group when we passed the homeless encampments, and dismayed at the graffiti, roadside trash, and broken glass we encountered. There is only so much a city can do, and San Jose is not in the best financial health. One of our riders proudly showed us a segment of the trail that our club maintains; he hauls water (by bicycle) to sustain the fledgling native plants our members dug into the slope, and a small group regularly blots out the latest graffiti and sweeps up. We ventured as far as the airport; with some riders reluctant to continue along the next stretch of packed gravel, we turned back.

After returning to the start, I was ready for the direct route home.

Up the hill!

For the day, some 37 miles and 1,060 feet of climbing. It feels great to be back on the bike.