Let me preface this by saying that I was really looking forward to my ride today. The weather was beautiful, and this morning I was feeling like my legs were just itching to get out there. I waited to ride until fairly late in the afternoon, though, because it’s my favorite time to ride. For lunch, I made BLTs. They sounded good, and I used whole wheat bread with plenty of lettuce and tomato. I figured that would keep me going for awhile, even though I didn’t ride until a couple of hours later.
Well, yes, it worked. I guess. Ugh, too much saturated fat! But I didn’t feel hungry.
I did feel fat. And slow. Especially since today I was doing the route with The Hill. It’s not a terrible hill by most standards: 8% grade for part of it, but not all. The problem with The Hill is that it is deceptive…there are three false summits. I have only ridden it a few times, so today I was thinking there were only two, and that the third was the real top. No such luck. But, following is why I actually managed the hill without too much difficulty.
Until today, I have never ridden with headphones, mostly because I like the sounds of the birds. I ride in a fairly rural area, so it’s pretty quiet, and I enjoy the peace. I decided to give music a try, for a change. I listen to music all the time at home, and thought it might be a nice addition to my ride. I am also tired of the high-pitched buzz of cicadas right now.
I knew my current playlist would not be a good workout mix: too much mellow music to really keep the legs pumping. I put together a new playlist, keeping in mind that the music had to have a good tempo. Here is the set of songs that I used (don’t laugh too hard – it’s kind of a funny combination)
- You Are a Tourist – Death Cab for Cutie
- Move it on Over- George Thorogood
- M!ssundaztood – P!nk
- The Day That Never Comes – Metallica (very unusual choice for me)
- Movin’ On – Good Charlotte
- The Mystery Zone – Spoon
- The Celibate Life – The Shins (I had to add this one, it was way too appropriate)
- That Was Just Your Life – Metallica
- Uprising – Muse
- According to You – Orianthi
- Why Did I Ever Like You – P!nk
- Oxford Comma – Vampire Weekend (love this song!)
- My Bloody Valentine – Good Charlotte
- Gear Jammer – George Thorogood
- It’s The End of the World as We Know It – R.E.M.
- Steady, As She Goes – The Raconteurs
- Lateralus – Tool
- Girl Sailor – The Shins
- ‘Cuz I Can – P!nk
- With or Without You – U2
- Got Nuffin’ – Spoon
- Walcott – Vampire Weekend
- Triad – Tool
Since I have not posted about music on this blog before, it is not immediately obvious that a few of these choices are highly unusual for me. I very rarely listen to Metallica, Tool, and Good Charlotte. All of the others are regular artists, although some of the songs are new to me.
I was riding along with You Are a Tourist playing, when I hit a little bump. My iPod was on “shake to shuffle,” and suddenly I was listening to Gear Jammer by George Thorogood. After that, the order of the songs was totally random, and there were a few times that I didn’t recognize what was playing.
As I reached the bottom of The Hill, Movin’ On started. The timing was perfect! It was upbeat enough that it kept me going to what I thought was the top of the hill. I have been stomping/mashing hills lately, without gearing down, to build strength in my legs (it works). Today when I saw that last crest, I had to sit down and drop gears. I was huffing and puffing by the time I got to the top, and my legs were really feeling it. But I made it, at least in part due to the song pushing me.
After that, the ride should have been easy. I had The Hill behind me, and the rest of the ride is rolling, with just a couple of short climbs. I was still feeling slow, and noticed that in general I was riding in a lower gear than I have been recently. I didn’t get in the big ring at all, even though last time I rode this route I spent most of my time in 50-18. I chalked it up to a heavy lunch and trouble breathing. I am highly allergic to ragweed, and the sides of the road are full of it right now, in all its flowering ugliness.
Whatever the reason, I was slow for the entire ride. When I was about six miles from home, my legs felt like they were going to cramp. They didn’t, but my obliques did. I had a “stitch” in my side for the rest of the ride, which then made me tense my shoulders. I spent those last six miles (which are flat) alternating between “Man, that hurts! Why the heck do I have a cramp in my side?” and, “Relax your shoulders, you moron! No wonder your neck hurts!” Seriously, that was my internal conversation the rest of the way home.
Who knows what happened, but I think it’s interesting that the hardest part of the ride (The Hill) became just a blip in my memory. It’s also interesting that I will forget the suffering of the last six miles today, and look forward to riding tomorrow. Glutton for punishment, perhaps?