I think every cyclist has a favorite ride. You know the one: the go-to ride that always feels good, that challenges enough but not too much, that is the one you would always ride if you had time. My favorite ride is all of these, as well as rural, quiet, and beautiful.
I had the time to ride it on Thursday afternoon, and the weather was gorgeous that day. My idea of the perfect weather for riding is dry, 70s to low 80s (has to be dry, not humid for low 80s), and partly sunny, with some pouffy clouds. I got ready to go, and decided to wear my Team Fatty kit, because it is the most comfortable kit I have, not to mention the fact that I really like it. The only potential drawback is that the shorts have light pink running up a large portion of the legs and over the hip: I am not sure if this area is light enough that it will become translucent if worn in the rain. I also mixed up some of Andy’s magic potion in one of my water bottles (the same thing he put in one of my water bottles for the Vermont ride, which is probably what helped me recover during the ride), and I was good to go.
The first part of the route heads due West, which is also the direction from which bad weather approaches. As I started out, I noticed that there were some dark clouds to the north. I wasn’t concerned, since they didn’t look too threatening, and I was determined to do the ride even if the weather was iffy. The sun was shining through the clouds, and it was quite pretty, so I stopped to snap a quick photo:It was getting pretty dark to the north, and I was beginning to wonder if it would be smarter to do my usual short route instead. The first four and a half miles are the same for both routes, so when I got to the turning point I pulled out my phone to check the weather (there’s an app for that There was some rain coming, but nothing severe, so I stayed with my original plan.
The wind was crazy! I couldn’t tell which direction it was blowing, because it seemed like a headwind to my face, but I was cruising along in a high gear with low effort. My legs have definitely gotten stronger over the summer, but not enough to ride at 16-17 mph in a strong headwind. When I made one of my turns, I suddenly had a very definite tailwind. It was awesome! I cruised up a long hill at 16 mph without gearing down, and putting in minimal effort.
I wasn’t quite halfway through my ride when I felt a few raindrops. Other than wondering what my shorts were going to look like, I wasn’t concerned. If it rained hard, I would just put in some time cleaning up my bike later that evening. I hadn’t realized just how badly I needed to ride until I got out and really started to relax. Fortunately, the rain didn’t amount to more than a brief shower for part of my ride, and I was glad that I hadn’t taken my short route.
The ride passes through areas of farm fields, and as I came around a bend I noticed four Sandhill cranes nearby. I stopped to see if I could perhaps get a photo of them. I did, although it isn’t terribly clear:
While I stood there watching them, they did a little “dance,” with two lifting their wings and jumping in the air. If you look closely at the photo, you can see that two of the birds have their heads tilted back. It is the wrong season for their mating dances, so I am not sure what this type of communication means, but it was breathtaking anyway. Watching this brought peace to my heart, and I finished my ride feeling lighter inside.
Maybe it’s my favorite ride because in one way or another I always lose the stress of day-to-day life on the ride. There have been times that I have suffered through the ride, but even the suffering clears everything else out of my head. Whatever the reason, I am now determined to make time to ride it more often.