Monday, July 27, 2009

Summer schedule

It's 89 degrees in my house. My pants are damp in conspicuous regions from sweat, my kitchen is infested with fruit flies, and the stagnant air in my bedroom does little to dissipate the odors wafting from my darling canines. Summer, like most everything else, is easy for me to hate.

But it's not all bad, because coinciding with the unyielding rise in temperature is the generous increase in daylight hours, and thus an increase in choices for exactly when to go out for a ride. Basically there are four temporal choices which a road ride may occur; early morning, mid-morning, mid-day, and late afternoon/early evening. All have benefits and consequences, some of which I shall enlighten you of now.

The early morning ride.

This ride leaves at 6:00AM, 6:30AM, or 7:00 AM, or some other square and unholy hour, at a spot three miles from your house. And notice I said leaves at, not meets at. Morning riders are antsy- they have things to do during the day, and this little ride is just one of them. Usually that thing that people have to do is go to work, and people with jobs are responsible types that get irritated when you show up late balancing a half-chewed bagel and coffee on your handlebars, so don't bother dawdling. They are especially irate when you bail. Don't bail on these people, or they will stop answering your "u riding tomrw?" text messages altogether.

Pros: Punctual, ride before the heat sets in, ride gets home early, ride leaves before most bozos wake up, feel accomplished for rest of day

Cons: You'd rather be sleeping, everyone is uptight, morning drivers haven't had their coffee yet.

The mid-morning ride.

This ride leaves at nine or ten o'clock. If this ride is on a weekend, the turnout might me huge. No matter if you're riding alone or with a group, you are never without company. This is the time of day when most people ride, as they have had their 8 hours of beauty sleep followed by a restful slow morning that probably included reading the paper, eating fiber cereal, evacuating bowels, and meditated to the crackling sounds of self-satisfaction. On these rides people are awake and genial and eager to race you up a hill, whether they know you or not, and whether your like it or not.

Pros: Get to sleep in, legs feel better, morning humidity dissipates, everyone's not in a hurry.

Cons: Must navigate every basketball-short-and-iPod-wearing bike rider before getting out of town, must navigate weekend-warriors though suburbs.

The Mid-Day ride.

This ride can be similar to the mid-morning one, but with fewer organized rides leaving so late. The humidity is lower but the sun is beating down at highest intensity, so this ride is optimal for getting that pro-looking cycling jersey bicep tan line.

Pros: Fewer people on road, if you're on this ride you probably didn't have to work that day, can make it home with plenty of time to shower before dinner.

Cons: Other people have jobs and so rounding up riding partners may prove difficult, asphalt is radiating heat, painful mid-ride realization that most tan lines start off as sunburns

The later afternoon/early evening ride.

This ride leaves at five or six o'clock PM, usually after work time. It's a nice way to unwind after an especially stupid day pushing buttons, answering questions, and fending off various forms of attempted idiocy (work). This ride is great! You meet up with your group of friends or cycling buddies, loop through the park for an hour or two, and go home stoked. Pay no mind that you haven't eaten since noon and your hands are shaking from hypoglycemia, or that it's rush hour in a major metropolitan city where they give out road rage with license renewals. The man just took eight hours from you, those last few belong solely to you!

Pros: Get a ride in before dark, stress relief after work, sleep better at night

Cons: Automobile traffic rush hour, low blood sugar, little energy to shower before dinner thus incurring wrath of loved-one who just prepared a delicious meal for the two of you and wants nothing more than to hear about your day without smelling sweat and soggy chamios...

I have to hit the hay early tonight, I've got an early ride tomorrow morning.

Happy riding.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Accessory damage

Mountain biking is probably the most laid back sort of cycling sport. It is the rare time when showing up to a ride wearing cut-off shorts and a t-shirt isn't frowned upon, when rest breaks are encouraged, or asking to turn around to do a hill again isn't a totally asinine request. Skill and confidence are far more important than equipment and accessories when blasting down rocky descents, hopping 0ver logs, and winding through twisting forest single track.

Mountain biking, like a hippie cousin, is also the most mystical and metaphysical of bicycle sports. Oftentimes the trails leave things with you. Overwhelming exhaustion, cuts and bruises are common parting gifts. Usually the trails leave you invigorated, determined, and totally stoked on shredding more gnar tomorrow; and perhaps even a transcendental sense of peace coupled with feelings of oneness and communion with nature stay with you on the journey home.

Usually though, mountain biking leaves dirt, mud, twigs, sand, detritus, and horse droppings with you, on you, and in you. Each earthy morsel travels its own special journey to end up lodged in your chain, grips, shorts, down your shirt, in your eyes and between your teeth. The dirt permeates every open fiber, sticks to every moist surface, and sandblasts chunks of skin off- depending how you land in it. Dirt is an enduring accessory.

Dirt pants however, only last as long as your next shower.

Happy riding.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Four days off

Sometimes, riding feels like a chore. Times when the alarm goes off at six, and the sun is barely tiptoeing across the roof of early morning clouds, and the crust in your eyes is hardened to a cement-like texture; times when the realization hits that drooling on a pillow is an infinitely more enticing way to spend the morning than wheezing and floundering up a couple of hills. Or when you have been riding seemingly every day without enough rest, and your muscles cramp or twitch or puff like a startled cat at the thought of another day on the bike. Sometimes, as absurd as it may seem, you want time away from the bicycle.

And then there are times when you are forcefully dragged away from it. Typically the persistence of compulsory commitments is enough to substantially whittle time riding. And weather is a common culprit, as testing your physical limits is tenuous enough without being blinded and soaked by a storm. But sometimes, something unique hinders riding plans. Perhaps a morning off during the holy month of somethingorother is in order. Or maybe that festering saddle sore still hasn't healed up. And even once in a while (hopefully only once, or never if you’re lucky) during the humid summer months, hearty and seething bacteria ascend your urethrea, colonize your fleshy cylindrical urinary meatus, and inflict such tortuous pain upon your saddle-region that even the mere thought of swinging a leg over a bicycle sends spasms throughout the entirety of your alimentary canal.

At least it wasn't swine flu.

Happy riding.