I was a little over-dressed - typical for a randonneur to look about 4 hours down the road, weather-wise - but layers DO come off, so I have a little back-pocket stuffage happening. No biggie. We headed out, first into the wind, and took a look at some roads that I hadn't ridden on in YEARS. First on the menu was a little action at the new skate-park off of 135th. THAT was interesting - I kinda watch from the sidelines, as those with FAR more mountain bike experience took their ROAD bikes onto the deep drops and such in the stake park for a couple minutes. It was freakin' awesome to watch, seriously -- I should tried it, but on the Kogs? Bah... a lot of those rules would be broken tonight. Curb jumping, trail ghosting, parking lot mayhem - man, it was a blast, seriously. Take the rule-book and toss it out the window. I was seriously out-classed - which is exactly what I need to try and get some speed and fitness built back up: someone to chase. We traversed some roads from my old haunts, up in the Prairie Village area - hills! Finally! Lee Blvd again for the first time in years! These are precisely the kinds of roads I need to be training on, honestly. The long flat sections south of Olathe just don't get it done. There are shallow rollers here and there, but nothing like up around 95th, 83rd, 75th streets headed north on Belinder, Lee Blvd, etc.
My legs, after a long day, were feelin' it, for sure, but the group was kind enough not to completely obliterate me on this first outing. It proves I have a lot of work left to go before I'm back to the level of fitness I used to enjoy, but it also shows I've made a lot of progress towards that goal. I can definitely feel the 20-pounds that are gone when I climb. It was easier to maintain pace on the hills and flats. Hopefully, this will translate to a good performance coming up in a little more than a week at the first 200K brevet of the season. Not an official goal to try and ride it faster - but might as well see what the differences are.
After turning back southwest onto Tomahawk, coming within a block of my old house near Nall, it was nice to finally have a tailwind. We didn't really hammer it out, but it became a pretty nice, relaxing ride - until, of course, the hills came down around Lamar. MAN, I miss these stomping grounds. I started thinking back to all the roads I'd ridden on back in here, all the times I took the kids out in the kiddie trailer when I was riding the old Univega single-speed - and wouldn't even think twice about the extra weight. That thought instantly took me to the notion that, really, I'd been carrying around a kiddie-trailer's worth or weight around my middle, so what's the difference? We rifled around the old mall, hit the trail alongside Metcalf, and disappeared again under the streets. What a rush... although, it did make me realize that candle-power is sometimes royally important: specifically on trails. a good helmet light is a MUST. My generator light was doing fine, if I was alone and if I slowed down. My little helmet light, designed solely for reading cue sheets and reading reflective street-signs, wasn't quite enough to let it all hang out - but, you know, respectable for what it is. For dark country two-lane, it's plenty. Take it off-road and start twisting around, and well - you get the idea. More exercises in finding out who the mountain-biker ISN'T on our ride! Still, the helmet lights of my two companions were more than enough to ride by. I think I was only providing "fill".
We finally made it back to our starting point after a short jaunt up Switzer and along 119th street - more excellent night-ride conditions: very little traffic.
A good climb up Nieman, and we're back in the 'hood. I split off here and head home into the night. An EXCELLENT ride.
One of the coolest parts -- well, okay, the whole stinkin' ride was cool -- was soloing along Quivira in the pitch-black, and seeing the distant lightning from a cluster of thunderstorms that had set up shop about 30 miles to the south. Stars overhead, and lightning in the distance -- magical. I hit the driveway at, crud - I dunno: late.
Drank the rest of my water, had a little snack, and hit the sack - with soreness in my legs and a perfectly clear head.
What a perfect night.... thanks, guys.