With clouds massing over the mountains promising to make good on the blizzard forecast for the next day or two, I finally, finally got out for my first bicycle ride of the year. The day had been mostly full of bright sunshine and I just couldn't resist the temptation.
It was a bit of a shakedown ride for both me and my Madeleine. I discovered last summer that her head tube had three cracks in it, causing me more than a little worry as I pedaled down the bumpy Trail of the Hiawatha in Idaho last July. Happily, Terry Bicycles sent me a new frame and I had all of the components switched over to it this winter. I had Madeleine in her stripped down mode - I hadn't put any of my racks or bags back on yet. Unfortunately, that meant I didn't have any tools with me, either, to take care of little things like adjusting my seat height. It was a good thing that home was nearby.
It wasn't a long ride first ride, just eight miles to break us in for the new season. As I rode, I got to thinking about all of the things I seem to have to relearn every spring.
1. The first ride of the season always hurts, just a little. My butt is tender, my knees are stiff and my hands are weak. Despite my best intentions, I hadnít spent any time on my bike trainer this winter and I was out of cycling shape.
2. Being tense defeats the purpose of a fun ride. For some reason, I must always tell myself to relax my shoulders and pull them down from around my ears.
3. Core strength is a good thing, and I don't have it. My wrists and elbows tend to ache from leaning too hard on my handlebars rather than holding myself up with my core muscles. My mantra this year: engage the core.
4. Riding really is easier when I use my clipless pedals (oxymoronically, the ones my cycling shoes clip into). The efficiency gained when you can pull up on your pedals (either with clipless pedals or toe clips) as well as push down is amazing.
5. While fantasizing about all the rides I want to do this summer, I must be sure to pay attention to traffic. Just as when youíre driving, you need to pay attention to whatís going on around you.
6. Watch the giant grins while riding. Soon I'll be straining flying insects with my teeth.
Ride safe and have fun!