So I’ve been AFK for almost 2 weeks. Trying to come up with something to talk about while not boring people to death. Here’s what resulted:
After a few misfortunes over the last month (messing up the bike, getting it fixed, working a 5-day work schedule, scale being smashed to bits), I’ve come to realize how little some things matter to my fitness. I originally needed the scale in order to track my progress in weight loss, but now could care less about my weight – I can see and definitely feel the difference.
The same could be said about this blog. While it’s a great tool to find information as well as share it, it’s not necessary for my journey to well-being. Don’t fret, I’ll still be posting.
However, I thought I’d just share this revelation with you readers to use as a segue to talk about some recent rides I’ve taken – just a couple of them.
Disconnected From Technology
If you’d like to see the summaries, go here – I’m talking about 10/29 – 11/4. I didn’t really worry about numbers and most, if not all, of the pause time is on there, so they’re not even close to accurate.
I’ve set off on the last 5 rides with the phone in my back pocket (usually, it’s mounted on my stem) and my heart rate monitor at home. I wanted to ride alone so to speak – no screen to tell me my heart rate is too slow, that I need to speed up, that there’s 20 miles left…too many things to worry about instead of just enjoying the ride. Without the distractions, cycling is such a simple yet amazing experience.
So, what did I do instead of worry about numbers? I enjoyed the scenery for one. I went on 2 longer rides that I previously rode and really soaked up all the things around Lake Weir and Belleview. Trees, grass, ponds, animals, people – all mixed up in a beautiful blurred painting as a zip past.
There’s also this thing about one’s bike talking. This is something that I’ve missed a lot since college. I used to be able to tell what was right or wrong with my bike just by riding it a certain way (e.g. riding out of the saddle can quickly tell you whether your stem/headset needs adjusting). With my focus on the ride, these things become more apparent. And my bike, is riding beautifully. No chain rubs, no bracket clicks, no headset vibrations – just a smooth, easy ride. This, my friends, is a beautiful thing!
Lastly, the experience itself is flat out better – I mean performance better. The numbers might be deceiving, mostly due to pause times (I couldn’t very well take out my phone to pause the recorder). But, I can tell you, I knew they were better rides just by the way I felt afterward. My adrenalin was topped, my heart pounding, sweat dripping off my nose and chin, followed later by exhausted muscles and a sadistic satisfaction as a result. All in all, a great week of riding.
The Worst of the Best Rides
As of late, I’ve been talking about the winds in Florida. Winds are tame in the early morning, no more than 5 mph before 10 or 11. They usually kick up after that to at least 15 mph. Recently, though, there have been some days with gusts in the 30’s. I had come to notice that the winds have always been coming from either the West or Northwest. This is a tricky direction where I live. Just getting out of The Villages is tough purely because I have to go north to be safe (I can go east for a short time, but the construction currently there is frightening). So, I’ve been doing what I had thought was the best idea, trying out some southerly rides (which turn out to be heavy wind-ridden on the way home) and, my last ride went west. The idea here is to try to get a mostly headwind (not direct like going north) early on when energy levels are high, and use the tailwinds to get home.
Well, the southerly rides, as I said turn into northerly rides on the way home and that’s just awful. So, my last ride went west to Inverness. I started fairly early, so the winds were negligible. The ride went great on the way there. The scenery was amazing – lost of meadows, ponds with lily pads galore and even some nice sloping hills. Right around mile 20, the winds started to kick up. How fast, I would find out when I turned around to go home, because lucky me! – they were coming from the East this fine day! They were beyond fast, with gusts that made riding straight impossible. I was deafened by the roars in my ears, making hearing oncoming vehicles difficult. A bad mix. Nevertheless, I pushed through the wind and made it to The Villages. As soon as I turned away from the headwind to make it into a tailwind, “TSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!” Tire blow-out. Not just tube – tube and tire.
My rear Gatorskin’s sidewall was shot. After a quick inner tube change (I don’t carry a patch kit), and some cunning use of a Cliff Bar wrapper to line the inside of my tire to prevent the tube from protruding, I rode with that tailwind at a stunning speed of 12 mph to prevent another tube from puncture (I also left Strava running whilst changing the tube. Hence why my numbers are spectacularly awful). Perfect ending, I know. Still a better ride than some previous ones purely due to the absence of my phone screen on my stem.
The end result, I’m waiting 2 days for some tires to be delivered before I ride again. I ordered 25mm tires at the recommendation of my cousin this time around to see what all the fuss is about (being as old-school as a 33-year-old can, I’ve ridden 23mm since the day I got my first real bike).
More on that to come…maybe.