Today is perfect summer weather, warm but not hot (at least not yet), sunny, and a gentle breeze. Unless you're on a bike and it becomes a howling wind. Which is good in it's own way.
After the great ride yesterday I wanted to get out on the bike again, and go a little longer. Not hard. Steady, just a little faster than just riding along. Where I could converse, if there was someone to converse with. Pedaling smoothly, shifting smoothly, getting better at standing. Getting more used to being on the bike for a long time, and still pedaling smoothly at the end. Trying to ride smoothly and keep a steady line.
I went through a bit of a checklist to make sure I had everything. Three Clifs bars chopped into 6, to eat every 10 min. An extra gel just in case. Two bottles of energy drink, two of water. Sunscreen. Pumped up tires. Started off about 10am, riding easy to get my legs warmed up.
The wind picked up as I got out onto 22X, kind of gusty, coming from all directions, but mostly from the south. I settled into a nice pace, breathing easy, becoming one with my bike. Turned south on 22 at just under 45 minutes, and settled into a big headwind. Started nibbling nutrition. At one point, on the flats, I was on the small chainring, head down at about 85 rpm, and 15, yes one five KPH. Or about 9.3 Mph for the metrically challenged. I saw a ton of other bikers going the other way, almost all of them waved. And get this, a motor cyclist going the other way actually honked, and headed towards me a bit to get my attention, and gave me a really friendly wave and a big smile! How about that? Either they get out on a road bike, or somehow recognized me. Normally the motorbikes blow by at something approaching mach 1.
So far my legs felt really good. I decided to turn around at the 2 hour mark, regardless of where that was. As I was going through Turner Valley I watched a bit of a triathlon. I knew about it from having lunch there at Route 40 a week ago, but had forgotten. (For my Calgary readers, Route 40 is a stunningly wonderful place to eat, well worth the drive.) I've never seen so much traffic there, but it didn't slow me down much.
I actually got into Black Diamond and turned around at the public library, just over 50 K in 2 hours, much of it into the wind, and not pedaling hard. Back towards Turner Valley again, and this time I noticed the run turnaround was on the bike path next to the road. I waved and gave the volunteers a big thank you. They looked thrilled to hear it from someone that wasn't in the race. I had to wait while some racers crossed. And a geezer that couldn't make up his mind if he was coming or going. The odds were even the guy in the big pickup would get him, but not. I was disappointed.
Going north was sweet! Mostly with the wind, so my average speed went up to about 27 Kph, and still not riding hard. Still nibbling nutrition. Chatted briefly with one guy that passed me. I thought of trying to keep up, but then remembered I was trying for a steady pace.
Turning onto 22X was back into a much stronger wind. I'd decided that I'd try to make this last 20 K strong and try to maintain the speed. That took a bit of doing, and even so, my average speed dropped. I passed 90 K at 3:20, and still feeling reasonably strong, though I was beginning to get a bit tired. I passed 100 K as I came into my neighbourhood at 3:45!! Pedaled nice and easy to spin it out. I had the spare gel, 1 cube of Clif's bar, which I ate when I stopped the bike, and about half a bottle of the energy drink left, and half a bottle of water left. So that worked out really well. I thought about going for a quick run, but decided not.
I'm totally thrilled with this. I felt really good on the bike, which takes some of the taste of Chinook out of my mouth. I didn't push hard, my breathing was under control the entire time, probably low zone 3 at most. Maybe mid zone three when pushing the hardest in the last half hour. Just as important, I was consistent through the entire ride, and could have gone on longer. What with all the waving I felt like I was part of the bike community out here, which doesn't always happen. I wore exactly the right clothing for the weather. Oddly enough, my shoulders are what feels creaky now; my legs feel great. My toes were going to sleep a bit the last few minutes of the ride. Stretched out, and that feels really good too. This one goes down in the books as a nearly perfect ride!
Oh, and just in case you were wondering. Dinner was barbequed roast lamb, rubbed with herbs, drizzled with some exotic olive oil, with fresh asparagus lightly steamed (which is ok but not my fave) and corn, which just about is my fave veggie. To say nothing of a Chilean red wine. mmm-mmmm.