It’s been raining a lot here, or the weather has been predicting rain a lot more than I’d like. I didn’t get to ride to work at all this past week, which kind of depresses me as I really enjoy the morning “workout” and look forward to ride home while I’m at work. I tend to pick on my weight less when I’m riding regularly, especially to work, and it just feels good to feel conditioned even if I’m still a size or two larger in pants than I’d like to be (than I was a few years ago).
So this week, I rode Monday on my own and Wednesday with ABC. Thursday, I took a day off work–what turned out to be a very nice, comfortable 70-something degree sunny day–to hang out with my best friend from elementary school as she was visiting from Florida. Which led to some sad nostalgia (nostalgia always makes me sad)… maybe I’ll post about that later. It was a restful day, though I indulged in food and bad habits. We went to the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo and I got to see a panda swim in the water, my seals and sea lions, and feed some lorikeets. I felt like I was playing hooky. It was kind of nice. Relieved some work stress I was feeling.
Friday, though tired from returning home late Thursday night, I decided to jump on an ABC ride led by a girl I’ve nicknamed “Trek Madone Girl” because she rides a Trek Madone and, of course, a bike is the first thing I notice about someone, the first thing I remember before name. I know her name now, but she’s still Trek Madone Girl to me. And she is one sadistic chick. I think she likes hills as much as I do, for she put us up some of Summit and Medina County’s finest, including a slog up Ledge Road in Hinckley. Yeah, that was painful. But I liked it. Because I’m sick that way.
Afterwords, I caught up with Michael at Applebees. Enjoyed dinner, some wine. I originally had plans to ride the longer ABC ride on Saturday morning, but I just couldn’t get myself to get out of bed on Saturday morning. I needed sleep so I took it. Instead, I stupidly opted in the harsh 85-degree heat of the afternoon to go on a bike ride by myself. For some strange reason, I had the crazy idea that I needed to climb Boston Mills West. It must have been inspired by the climb up Ledge Road the night prior or something. But once I get these thoughts in my head, there’s no expelling them. This is how I finally ended up climbing Oak Hill on Memorial Day Weekend–I woke up bound and determined to bag that hill. When inspiration calls, I listen.
So, I rode into the valley and, after picking up a map clip at Century Cycles that had gotten momentarily lost when I had the handlebars replaced on my bike last week, I headed for the beast that is Boston Mills. I thought with it being shaded, the adventure wouldn’t be quite as hot. Ha. The sticky humidity grabbed ahold of me as I began my push up the hill. Just as I was getting to the hard part, however, a motorcycle was making its way up the hill behind me and, nervous about him following behind me up, I stopped to let him pass. And then I dropped about 10 feet or so to “start over” because 1) at that grade, getting back on the bike was nearly impossible and 2) I felt like I had to penalize myself for stopping anyway. I then proceeded to make the climb, not without damning myself for stopping at all. Last fall, I bagged the hill and made it all the way to the end at Black Road without stopping. Ugh! The shame and humiliation. I guess this means I need to go attempt it again in a few weeks…
So to further punish myself, I decided to climb up Everett Road next. It was another road with a lot of shade, or so I thought. Half the climb is in the shade while the other half is in direct sunlight. Oh well. I struggled this time in my ascent, which I attribute to the heat and, probably, the climb up Boston Mills West. I made it up, though, and was in fact tailed for the quarter of a mile by a rider who came up on me fast, but then never passed me up as I expected him to. I don’t see what benefit he got from tailing me like that, but I secretly suspected that I was somehow helping him up and that annoyed me. I climb for no one else but my own sorry ass! We parted ways at Revere when he went right and I went left. I chose to take Bath Road down on which I heavily applied brake and didn’t get much benefit from the twisty, turning downhill. I guess I’m still a wimp.
For my return home, I climbed Theiss out of the valley. This is one of my favorite hills. It’s quiet–not a lot of traffic and scenic–and moderately difficult. After all the other climbing, it didn’t seem so bad. I ran out of water somewhere on Steels Corners and ended up stopping at a gas station to get more. It was a hot day and I couldn’t drink enough, frankly, to feel quenched. I probably should have taken my hydropack. I sincerely hope that next week’s MS 150 is not nearly so hot. In Toledo, there are no trees to save one from the unrelenting heat of the sun…
I ended p with 43 miles–just a few miles short of the ride I would have done in the morning if I hadn’t been so lazy. Tired.
Today I met up with John (aka Bad Dog) to ride the Mill Creek and Little Beaver Creek Greenway bike trails–both paved–and an 8-mile stretch in between of slightly rolling road to Lisbon, Ohio. It was less hot and humid than yesterday so it was really a nice day to just kick back and enjoy some examples of Ohio’s contribution to the rails-to-trails initiative. I enjoyed seeing new places as of yet unexplored. Sometimes riding on a bike trail, away from the roads, you feel as though you’re someplace else all together. A special place where only bikes (and the occasion runner and dog-walker) can roam. Off the beaten path, per se, though not so much so for bicycles.
I realized about five miles into the ride that I’d been on the Mill Creek trail before: on XOBA. As we passed the little rest area at the Kirk Road trailhead, I recalled how I’d stopped to take more Tylenol for my aching knee. That was about 60 or so miles into the 75-ish mile day and I knew at that point that I’d worked through my troubles with my knee and was going to make it. It was kind of nice to ride by there again.
We went through Leetonia for another blast from my past. My first love, Paul, whom I dated at the very young age of 18, had family living there and he’d once taken me there for Christmas. Ha. All I remember of Leetonia is sitting in the living room eating Christmas dinner with his family, listening to the jokes and the camaraderie, wishing desperately to be a part of it all. I thought I was going to marry Paul, foolish little young’un as I was. I contemplated these memories as we passed through town, secretly looking around to try to identify the house I’d once spent a Christmas in, but my memory failed there. It was probably up one of the awe-inspiring hilly streets that cropped up on the one side of the road. I even, for a fleeting moment, wondered if I would spot Paul, home for a visit or something. With the week I was having, it was not really surprising that my mind so easily slipped into nostalgic meanderings. (In fact, Paul had come up in conversation with my best friend on Thursday…. Ah, the memories…)
Anyway, the Greenway trail starts in Leetonia and ends in Lisbon. It seems even more remote than the Mill Creek trail. Like riding through the woods, you can almost pretend the trail wasn’t paved. On the way back, we went off the trail so that I could see (and ride over) the Teegarden-Centennial covered bridge. I’m really starting to appreciate the covered bridges of Ohio. They are neat to look at, like some sort of utilitarian piece of artwork.
It was really a great day overall and I feel satisfied. We covered 61 miles of mostly flat (with some minor “bumps” on the road section) riding. Which was a great relief after my fervent push on Saturday. Though I have to admit after this weekend, my legs are feeling tired. As much as I want to, I don’t think riding to work tomorrow (Monday) would be prudent. Time to give the legs a rest.
In other news, I’m about 200 miles ahead of where I was last year at this time. What does this mean? Um… I’m not trying to beat last year’s mileage. But if I do… well, that wouldn’t be so bad, would it?