Feeling a bit under the weather with a cold in my lungs, but still wanting to get my exercise and ride with my buddies, I opted to ride the towpath on my hybrid last night. The last time I rode the hybrid, as you may recall, was to church a few months back, which was 3 miles to church and back. I was a little annoyed at the end of that ride because I cannot get the speed on the hybrid that I can on the Giant. Well, last night, I just didn’t care. No one cranks up the speed along the towpath, anyway. During the day, it’s hard to since you have to maneuver around the many walkers and toodling cyclists; at night, you have to contend with the darkness and the crushed limestone that covers most of it. Since I wasn’t expecting to hit breakneck speeds, I was actually able to sit back and enjoy the ride for what it was.
The towpath looks wicked spooky at night, which was an especially seasonal experience. Lined with trees along sections of the old Erie Canal, you feel almost lost a dark mysterious world. It’s been a long time since I’ve ridden on the towpath so I forgot really how scenic it was. Even in the dark, I could see the sparkle of water along the Cuyahoga River. My awesome bright MiniNewt light bore into the darkness like an LED spotlight, revealing twisted limbs of trees above and beside me in a magical pattern of nature. I couldn’t see my computer or my speed in the darkness and it was nice. I was just pushing my pedals in time, playing with the rapid-fire shifters as if I’d never used them before (in fact, when I started the ride, I was confused as to which lever increased the gear and which one decreased the gear. It was like trying to drive an unfamiliar car.)
I stayed somewhere among the gears in the middle front ring for the entire ride, shifting between the back gears, but not really varying that much. We rode north from Lock 29 to the old mill, which is about ten miles. The towpath is pretty flat overall with the return ride–back south from the old mill–trending uphill (upriver, after all) so it wasn’t anything too difficult. At a few of the intersections where you crossed a street to continue, I looked up longingly at the hills I usually climb on my road bike–Highland Road, Boston Mills–and I felt as though I were somehow cheating. A slightly panicked when I thought about what would happen if I tried to climb those hills on my hybrid. For some reason, this seemed like a daunting task, even though before I got my road bike, I climbed many of the hills in the valley on my hybrid and I did not feel inhibited in the least. Now the hybrid feels so heavy to me. I wonder if I tried to make the climb I would psyche myself out because my road bike snobbery has told me I “can’t” make it up those hills without the lightweight properties of my road bike.
I remember once on a ride called Elephant Rock in Colorado a girl on a road bike remarking, “I can’t believe you’re doing this ride on that heavy bike.”
At the time, I was confused because I had had a trail bike before the hybrid and the hybrid was much lighter than that. I continued on to finish that hilly ride, unaware of the differences between my bike and the road bikes. I guess it just goes to prove that will almost always defeats skill… I didn’t know then that there was much of a difference between my hybrid and the road bikes so I didn’t feel that I had any handicaps so I just pushed myself through my rides. It’s amazing to realize now that I know the qualities of the road bike that make it superior. It doesn’t mean I couldn’t get up the same hills, I’d just probably be slower (which Mars Girl doesn’t like!).
Although, I will say, my hybrid is more stable than my road bike. As I was riding last night, I enjoyed the sturdiness of the hybrid frame. It felt cool to be bumping along tougher terrain and not feeling fully the drop between every bump. I marveled how big the wheels of the hybrid looked to me now when back in the days that I rode this bike regularly, I thought my tires were pretty thin.
My seat still needs to get fixed. You can push it and it will move from side to side. Also, I think that it sunk in height while I was out. I reminded myself that I need to take the hybrid in to CC to get a full tune-up next spring. I think I will replace the tires with something slightly knobbier for my new plans to use this bike for the casual type rides like the one I did last night. Maybe I’ll want to take this bike to one of the Erie islands next summer or something.
It was a nice night for a ride. A little chilly, but I was dressed properly. My feet suffered a little in my vented running shoes. I wore cotton socks–mistake. But otherwise, I felt great and I’m glad I got out. Maybe–just maybe–I’ll be willing some time to do a toodling ride with some of my fitness cycling friends (as opposed to my crazy mileage road riding friends). Last night, we finished with 19.34 miles, which surprised me as I had assumed the towpath riders of my club didn’t go very far. Not bad for a chilly fall evening!
Btw, Happy Halloween, everybody! I know it’s so drole to greet you thus way, but I will anyway. I was going to go to a custom party tonight, but I think I’m going to nurse my cold and work on reading the entries to my professional organization’s technical writing competition. I’m one of the judges, so I have to have my evaluations done by Monday. I don’t want to aggitate my cold if I am really going to ride my bike on the Red Flannel Metric Century this Sunday. Maybe I’ll actually buy some candy to hand out to the neighbor kids… so that I can see the runts who are always walking across my lawn…. Rrrrr….!!