Monday, June 20, 2011

I Saw A Peacock

Monday Morning Ride Report
The sun was just coming up over the Indian River as I swung a leg over the bike and shoved my feet into the clips. A great feature of the Whispering Pines Trailer Park is that it sits a few feet above the River so with just a couple pedal strokes I am coasting downhill to the River Road. It gives me time to adjust the toeclips and find my comfort zone on the saddle and polish the fog off my sunglasses.

When you first step outside into a Florida summer, it is moist. Even at 6:15 a.m.

I reach the bottom of the incline and lean down into the drops. The handlebar tape feels good in my hands in the early morning and I start pedaling in a middle gear to warm up my legs. The sun is a deep reddish orange and I think to myself that I should do this more often. My weekly mileage has been abysmally below my goal of two hundred miles a week. But I'm fixing that;  Today:  I'm Out Early and off for a Sunrise Ride.

This Is How It Goes
The first mile or so takes me along the River, headed South.  There are joggers and the occasional "comfort bike" rider,  but not many.  The wind seems to be a little out of the South,  but there is not enough of it to be sure.  On the return trip I will be heading straight North and a tail wind is always more fun than a header.  But I am learning to take headwinds in stride,  on the bike and in my life as well.  Sometimes there isn't much you can do about Which Way the Wind Is Blowing.  

Warmed Up and Rollin'
  I hook west and cross US One. There is hardly any traffic this morning. I pause at the red light (like a good citizen) and seeing no cars, I sprint across. This takes me into a little subdivision with lots of left and right sweeps and I always bear down here, feeling fast and skilled as I make the tight turns without falling off the bike.

Then comes a long straightaway that has zero traffic and on some days, this is where I put the hammer down to start my ride. It is only the first  five or six  miles of a 24 mile loop, but when I am strong I will crank through this part, and if I am really strong I can keep it up for an hour, all the way to the halfway point. This ride is lots of Florida country,  with very few  cars and usually no other cyclists.  The sun is higher now,  climbing fast and heating things up pretty good.

This morning I am not strong, but I push anyway. I don't know what's up. Last week I felt like I could Ride to the Moon, but the last few days I feel, well, old. Not real old, just like “dang, this is harder than it should be...”   I see a peacock on the side of the road,  not near a home or farm or anything...where did he come from?


Fred Buster
I'm stroking through the pre-mid-point of my ride, a neat stretch of old orange groves that I just know will be a housing development sooner or later. It has turns that put me at various wind angles and tiny changes in elevation that give me a reason to stand up out of the saddle and ease the pressure in my seat and get a little ventilation,  if you know what I mean.   I push hard on this stretch because with the little dips and rises and the sudden wind changes this is where I can practice and be ready to Bust a Move should any Stray Fred come through to challenge my peace and quiet. It has happened before. I once used this stretch of road as a Slow Place to rest and regroup after my initial push but not any more. 

 But the kick just ain't there and I know why.  I'm training;  not just out on my bike for fun like it used to be.  I'm trying to go fast and make it be a workout.  But all the same,  if I get in these short hard rides everyday or so for a few months,  they will get easier and I will get lighter and maybe the Wind Will Change and things in general will get better.

All My Life's A Circle
 I clear the fast part of the ride and cross back over US One, heading East once again towards the Mosquito Lagoon, then down along the water past Fish Camps and Historic Sites where the Timacuan Indians lived and harvested oysters and fished along shores that must have been bountiful indeed in those days before the White Guys came along. There is an old restaurant and a couple RV parks along here and it is really Old Florida,  but a little dilapidated just the same.  

A Famous Fishing Football Hero bought up most of the waterfront a few years ago with plans to build a big high-end fishing lodge and marina and that would have been nice,  but it never happened.  And the truth is,  it would have been nice for the local Carpenters like me that might have got to work on the project,  and it would have been nice for the Tourists who got to visit there and fish these pristine waters,  but it would not have been so nice for the Mosquito Lagoon Fishery,  which is more and more pressed as the years go by and more and more people come here to fish these waters.   But the Lagoon is beautiful this morning.    I'm past the halfway point,  the sun is high now and I Got Grinding To Do.   

The Highway
 The road loops me back up to US One and I turn right, headed North.  This is the ten miles of grinding on the side of the highway that I do to pay homage to the Touring Cyclists I follow on the Internet who spend days and weeks and months grinding out highway miles. Some days it is no fun at all, riding on the shoulder of an old highway; but other days Bang! and I'm done and I don't remember any of it: first I was here and then I was there and now here I am again.  The wind is nowhere,  fluking around trying to figure out what to do while I turn the cranks and wonder why my butt is hurting on this short ride.  Must be seat position,  I'm  thinking.  Time for a little tweaking.  I'm rocking a little in the saddle and I remember that a few days ago I raised the seat to see what happened.  It is amazing what a difference a few millimeters makes on a long ride. 

 Home Again Home Again...
I remember the first time I did this ride a little over a year ago.  I was riding my old Mongoose Alta that I have converted to a single speed.  This 24 mile loop was an hours-long day trip.  I would lollygag through the neighborhoods,  and stop at the fish camps to look into the crystal clear water of the Lagoon.  I would ride way out on the long fishing pier that juts out into the water.  What has become the Grind up US One was the Ten Miles of Many Stops, sometimes  including a mini-mart for beer,  or the Goodwill Store to see if there were any good new books added to the racks.  It was usually at least a three hour outing.  These days I  finish in about an hour and a half.  

But I haven't read any good books lately. Might be time to slow down.  Maybe... 

Whispering Pines Trailer Park Ride Report: Monday


  1. Never slow down...never look back. The ride goes on and on.

  2. I read an article in Bicycling once that had this tip on training: Once a week do a ride so hard your eyeballs hurt and once a week do a ride so slow that snails yawn. My limited experience is that a good training program will get you fitter and faster but also if you only ride to train then being on the bike can become a chore, I like to make sure I get in at least one "this ain't no workout" ride a week - no cyclo-computer watching, stopping to take pictures is encouraged, and lots of noticing things I miss in a car or with my head down grinding on the bike. Don't get me wrong its fun to "Bust a Fred" now an again too, and to go hard for a long ways, but those rides-with-no-goals remind me why being on the bike is fun. Just sayin'


  3. Sorry if that came off preachy you gotta remember I have been riding 27 inch wheeled steel behemoths for a while so taking it slow is kind of a pre- requisite but once those 700c wheels show up in the mail (just ordered 'em) and I get my skinny 700x25c conti gatorskins on them well I may change my tune!

  4. Not at all, Ryan. You guys are just getting to know me at the point in my cycling metamorphosis where I am even cognizant of drop bars and regimens. Preach away! This blog is about the process of transformation from what we were to what we are now and how we got there.

    What are you putting those skinny conti's on?

  5. Amen Velo Brother

    The conti's will go on a pair of Weinmann LP 18 36h Alloy rims, with stainless steel spokes laced to alloy hubs, the rear is a freewheel (thread on)hub. They ought to be a nice upgrade over the all steel 27 inch wheels I am using now. I went 36h due to the rough roads around here, my desire for durable parts and uh my own "Clydesdale-ness" and FW hub so I could accommodate older frames without needing to reset their OLD. And what the hell old tech is cheaper in a lot of ways, a free-hub rear wheel would have cost more and cassettes are almost always more expensive than freewheels. My plan is to get them all laced up and then ride the bike(s) in current 27 inch mode, come back swap the tires and do the same ride in 700c mode to get a feel for the difference. I'll let you know the result.

  6. I'm running 36 rear also, for the same reason. I would be running 40 if I could find them, but the "less is more" fad and fashion of today's cycling makes them very hard to find.

    You are going to be happy with the results of your upgrade. Write a review and I'll post it. That's how we let others know. TJ