Cycling on a pretty spring dayI’m no different than anyone else. We’re all busy and have more to do than we have time to do it, so it was a somewhat unexpected surprise when I discovered that there was a window of opportunity to go on a bike ride. Holly had to sing in all the Masses, so I was left to my own devices for most of the morning. I had to mow the grass and a few other things that morning, but like a bright sunbeam parting the clouds, it dawned on me that if I woke up early enough, I could get in a bike ride. 🙂

Daylight savings time went into effect that morning, so I was losing an hour, but I didn’t let that stand in my way. I had worked hard on the pool and yard the day before, but I didn’t let that stand in my way either. I dragged my tired butt out of bed by 7am, pryed my eyes open and made ready. I found some cycling shorts (which were much looser) and my cycling shoes and suited up. Once in the garage, I did a once over to make sure that Juliet was ready to ride. Although I hadn’t been on her since November, she looked like a prize stallion ready to sprint if given half the chance.

With my water bottles filled with tap water and my large bicycle bag affixed to the handlebars, I was ready to pull out. It was still a bit nippy, so I put on a sweater and wool cap as I made my way down the street and out of the subdivision. It wasn’t until I was over a mile out that it dawned on me that I had forgotten to pack a pump. “That was stupid.”, I thought to myself, “What happens if I get a flat? I have no way of pumping up the spare.” The kid in me that was just happy to be riding and out on the open road countered with a quick quip, “You forgot the spare too, so what does it matter?” 😀 That’s right, I had forgotten just about everything. I had no tools, spare tube, or pump. If anything went wrong, I was going to have to carry Juliet on my shoulder back home. Since I had no intention of turning around and going back, there was nothing I could do about it. Juliet was humming like a well oiled machine, so I took comfort in that fact and figured that we would do just fine for a short ride.

Juliet wasn’t the only thing running well that morning. Although I hadn’t been on a bike since my little tour of the Natchez Trace, my legs felt like there were fairly strong. I could tell that some of the muscles used for cycling were a little rusty, but a week in the saddle should clear all of that up. I’ve been doing weight machines, treadmills and yoga all winter, but there’s nothing quite like cycling. The only way to build those muscles is to ride. 🙂

My plan was to take my normal 1 hour short loop, but I was feeling so good that I was sorely tempted to go a longer route. As I headed south on Nolensville road I came across a road that could take me to Brentwood and even Franklin. There was a sudden urge hang a right and just keep riding to see where the roads would take me as my mind raced along the path that I could take. My imagination was flying down the various turns and paths that could change a simple right hand turn into a day of adventures. How fun it would be to ride all the way to Franklin and have lunch in the town square. Alas, I didn’t have everything I needed to ensure a safe journey, not the least of which was the time in which to do it. 😛

A little bit further and I made it to the 5 mile rest stop that I usually stop at for a few minutes. Leaning Juliet against the guard rail, I did what was custom and took off some of my protective clothing. It was then, as I took off my gloves and wool cap, that I suddenly realized that I didn’t even have my helmet. :O You’d think that I’d never ridden before, or that I got ready in the dark or something. No tools, no spare, no pump and no helmet. The internal debate that had been going on inside me since the first mile of my ride was finally over with a dull thud. Staring at the sign indicating the county line, my whimsical thoughts of taking a longer ride was over. I was pushing fate as it was, there was no need to gamble ever further by taking a longer ride.

My ride may have been shorter that I would have liked, but it was no less fun. So after a few minutes sipping water and lazily watching the traffic go by, I put back on my gloves, glasses and cap and headed down Pettus and my big climb of the day. I can’t say that it was easy, but I made the climb smoothly and with some degree of confidence. I remember the first few times I made this ascent and how it would take everything I had to get to the top. In fact, my worst breakdown occurred last year when making this ascent. My legs felt really good and Juliet was riding the best she’s ever ridden. Even after being put up for months after two days of riding in the rain, my freewheel was completely silent. As I passed a sleeping dog, I had to whistle to wake him up and back and chase me safely behind his fence. Normally, the click-click-click of the freewheel will alert any dog that I’m approaching. 🙂

There was very little traffic during my ride and feeling somewhat toasty in my sweater and wool cap, my ride was almost getting a little sleepy. I could just picture myself stopping and stretching out in the tall grass of a nearby field and taking a little nap. Just imagining the wind whisking through the tall grass and the sun warmed me as I rested my arms behind my head was almost enough to lull me to sleep. My pace was slowing and as I approached the slight climb up to Blue Hole Road, I felt my body wanting to give in to my vision. That’s when two feisty little dogs woke me out of my reverie. A toy Yorkie and a Pomerain came bolting out from inside their home and charged the fence that stood between us. Their little yaps sounded like barking orders from a drill Sargent, albeit a higher pitched, almost feminine drill Sargent. 😉 “What are you doing? Get up that hill young man! Pedal, pedal, pedal!”, the two dogs shouted and I let out a laugh and picked up the pace to make the small climb. It was just the motivation I needed.

Once back in the subdivision, I made a few circles at the bottom of my street until my chain found my granny gear. As good as my legs felt, I didn’t have the confidence that I could make it up the final hill to my house in anything other than my low gears. Just as I was beginning to get a little dizzy from all the circles, my chain dropped to the tiny front gear and I began climbing “my personal Moby Dick”. The climb wasn’t easy, but it wasn’t exceedingly difficult either. It felt almost routine in some way, as if I make this climb everyday. In a few minutes I was at the top of the hill. I was breathing heavy, but not the oxygen deficient gulps that I’ve been accustomed to.

As I pulled into the driveway and leaned my bicycle against the house, I was elated with how well my ride had gone. It didn’t feel like a training ride, or a ride designed to wood shed my my body. It was just fun. It was how riding a bike used to be before this overweight 36 year-old guy moved into my body. LOL

Distance: 9.46 miles
Time: 1:05 hours
Average Speed: 9.73 mph
Maximum Speed: 31.9 mph