I tell ya, EVERY ride this time of year feels harder, seems longer than that same ride in the summer. Regardless of bike, terrain, even rain - winter rides seem LONG and epic in nature, even when arguably they are not really "epic". After all, since I really don't observe an "off-season" like most reasonable people would, I still taper back a LOT -- so any ride that exceeds the normal commute seems like a century.
Taking advantage of the wife not having to work, and therefore me not having to be home in record time, I decided it was time for a break from traffic, and also the bike trail - which was snowed in anyways. Granted, while that can be a little epic in itself, the bike trail is getting a little tired; further, as I alluded to in previous posts, the road construction that is surrounding all access to the bike trail is making it difficult to get to ANYWAYS. Might as well cross it off for the winter and find a new route home. Even if it's longer.
Well, I at least satisfied THAT requirement -- for a commute, this was a lot longer than usual, and traffic was indeed not AS bad, but dangit there are a lot of freaking school zones in suburbia. I don't mind school zones all that much -- except that it means I have to conceal the piece a little more carefully (gun-free zones, ya know) ((uhhh, kidding.)) .. but it's at least a rare opportunity for me to break the speed limit and mow down the occasional school crossing guard (also kidding - geez. What kinda creep do you think I am?)) Where was I?
Oh yeah. School zones. A lot of them --- I may have neglected to mention that nearly 100% of the time I'm riding home from work, the school zones are in force, and loaded with mini-vans, SUVs and other suburban tanks, all dodging kids, busses, and other suburban tanks, trying to get home, while talking on the phone, etc. This makes for interesting riding. I'd wager this brand of cycling would rival the mean streets of NYC during rush-hour, or any gnarly section of double-track you can dish out. I have more close-calls in these school-zones than at ANYWHERE else along my ride home. I wish the wife didn't have to work at ALL, so I could just leave work later in the afternoon. I won't even bore you with the details.
Let's just say that eye-contact with drivers does very little if the person on the other end doesn't have their occular nerves touching their brain. Yeesh.
It's cold out - there CAN'T be any cyclists about! (meep-meep!)
On I go, eventually reaching "sanctuary" on the south end of the 10-mile long strip of school zones, on Metcalf - south of 159th. Nice shoulder, and sporadic, evenly-spaced highway-velocity traffic. I can deal with this. I trek southward to 179th Street, and then turn west -- smack into a nasty headwind! Yikes! Oh, so THIS is what was blowing leaves and stuff at me from the side all this time. Duh. This'll be FUN, because I only have 8 miles west to ride! (only?)
Multiply that by ten, and that's what this section felt like! And I had forgotten, or was asleep or something: but since when is 179th Street all UPhill from US-69 to like Pflumm?? HAH!
Getting in my cardio won't be a problem today, apparently!
I finally turned north 8-miles later, onto my 2-mile stretch of gravel road, which I didn't mind at ALL because the headwind was OVER. Toes? Are you still down there? Toes? Hello?!
Even though it wasn't terribly cold --- like 34ºF -- the headwind really does strip away that thin thermal barrier -- my extremities were really not liking me.
A nice, hot shower awaits at home.... just keep pedalling....
2-hours later, a hot shower, and some fresh wool socks, and it's allll better.
Chalk another one up for winter, and another semi-epic commute home, which can be safely filed in the "I've had worse" section of my memory, for easy reference this coming spring on the first few brevet rides.
Surely, I'll have a few moments when I'll wish I wasn't on the bike --- and this ride will remind me that I probably shouldn't complain.
That is, of course, assuming the 200K isn't like this, too!
I'll stay home.