Perfect weather for a bike ride . . .

April 16, 2016

Mini-post, mini-post!

This is WAY better than no post at all, eh?  Mini-post for my most-recent ride and return to the exciting world of ACTUALLY RIDING a bicycle... wow.  Gasp!  Amaze!

The Border Patrol Express is quickly becoming my go-to, easy-to-do, no-excuses training route:  it's close to home, it's familiar, I can navigate it blindfolded, and it's just challenging enough to keep things interesting.  ...so, this ONE time I've ridden it for credit in at least two years, probably three... yeah, "normal training route", whatever, dude.


I was solo for this most-recent ride, but here's a photo from a hot day a couple years back with the Stad-man on the Border Patrol Express Route.  Good times... that day, it actually DID rain.


It does represent another new day in the life of the dude, if nothing else.  With no outside help, no prodding, no additional riders, and nothing but self-motivation and excuse-elimination - i actually printed a card, mounted up, got my first receipt, and rode a RUSA ride for credit.

Motivation?  Self-assuredness?  Self-accountability?  Yeah... I'm no-good at it.  

September.... I think I printed no less than five separate cards for myself for the Border Patrol route (the full 200+ km), yet, in each case the date came and went and the cards went unused into the paper shredder for recycling.  This had begun to compound the personal frustration and found me further and further away from my "last decent ride" of any length.  Before long, the excuse algorithm became self-aware and Fall yielded to Winter.  Without my tried-and-true accountability chain in place, it had become FAR too easy to just not bother trying.  I got more deeply entrenched inside my own head.

But, 

...here we are again... the weather becomes warmer, the skies lighter for longer, and the weight that had come on starts to interfere.  This is all good, because - clearly - I've needed to learn how to become SELF-accountable for such things.  And, yes, this entire time there have indeed been other perm route owners out there to request rides from, including the personal routes of our own perm's coordinator - but, the damage had been done and nothing about my personal situation with turmoil and change was going to allow me to ride.  All of the uncertainty, the fact I'd been responsible for my own routes simply became another thing that created a convenient excuse.  There ya have it... what I said I didn't want to get into in the previous post, looks like it played out here anyways, for better or worse.  I'm okay with that, because - now, finally - I'm riding again, and loving it. 

...and "Top Gear" as we knew it is ever-closer to debuting on Amazon Prime sometime this coming summer.  Hallelujah!


Compared to a couple months ago when I'd attempted the Border Patrol Express and came up short, this time out was quite enjoyable.  For being sick for nearly a month, I was at least able to stand up and climb without feeling like I'd been weighted down with a leaden vest.  My average wasn't fast, I took some short on-route breaks, and I probably hung out at the control for too long - but, what else is new?  I enjoyed the day, ignored the clock, and focused on finishing without over-doing anything.

The gravel section comprising the middle of the route was a blast, and despite the headwind on the trip south I managed to make the control in great time.  Upon arriving, I mixed up my Cyto-carb and Skratch Labs carloie-booster, to help compensate for traditionally-low control calorie uptake, packed away the morning's layers, and popped in the FM radio earbud for the trip north.  I looked forward to the tailwind that had been promised all morning, and enjoyed eating up the gravel miles while playfully dodging chuck-holes.   

New tires?  Yeah, I decided to try some new tires for a few reasons - but, flat frequency had become an unfortunate and frustrating self-talk topic of discussion, and I ultimately began to argue with myself on the real reasons I'd basically been paying more money for less technology.  Now, I'm not going to start getting into a full review mode here, and I'm certainly not going to waste time bashing a product for what had clearly just been a string of poor luck on my part experienced while riding on the litter-strewn streets and trails of late-winter Johnson County, KS.  Whatever tires I'd been running before are not "junk", nor are they over-priced, nor are they deserving of "one star" above a hastily-written and poorly-spelled "review" on some webpage or another.  I don't do that.  Tires, chain lube, brake pads, athletic clothing; all of these things' performances and their consumer's perspectives are heavily influenced by uncontrollable variables which directly color how their performance is interpreted - unlike, say, a digital camera (e.g., it either takes quality photos or it doesn't, all things being equal is well within a photographer's control).
Conversely, boo on me for letting these variables get the best of me... but, so far I'm quite pleased with my new tire choice.  I'm not quite ready to jump over to tubeless on the road bike (maybe the next wheel rebuild will mark a decision opportunity there), so they're still the traditional inner-tube and clincher arrangement - but, they do have a modest flat protection belt included, are cheaper per tire, and are locally-available at my fave LBS . . . no more mail order, at least for tires.  From Specialized, I took my positive experiences from the Espoir model I'd run for a while a few years back and decided to try a pair of the Roubaix Pro model; but, in a "dude-approved" 700x28 size.  They fit well, mount easily, are well-made, have a nearly non-existent tread, and despite the addition of the flat protection belt they feel supple, it feels like they roll fast, and they iron out the pavement/gravel/asphalt surfaces quite nicely... dare I say, better than those tires which they've replaced.  Time will tell, as we're only inside the first couple of hundred miles . . . but I'm pleased thus far.  
More to come on that subject.

Songs in my head?  Sure, why not!  
Before the FM radio came on after leaving the halfway marker, I've had a few of my faves from my local fave radio station circling in my mind as the miles rolled under.

M.Ward - "Confession"
The Record Company - "Off the Ground" 
Cold War Kids - "First"
Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop - "Every Songbird Says"

These songs, especially the uplifting, motivational, and hopeful tunes, seem to propel me further down the long, long road and keep the darker voices from being heard.  It really depends on my mood, but I like to think the tone of the tracks in my head on these journeys often become indicative of where I'm headed... not of where I've been, and certainly not of the mistakes I might have made.  As I re-listen to these now, through good headphones originating from lossless files... I feel good, and I feel hopeful. 

My next step involves a 200k later this week - solo again, just to gauge progress and make determinations on whether or not I can join the KCUC series already in progress at the Oak Grove 400km event.  I'm not crossing my fingers, because luck is not a factor.  I'll have to wait and find out if it's indeed the right thing to do.  

. . . but, I can always turn around.  While I realize I recently mentioned that this concept, to me, somehow seems "wrong", well... since when is riding a bicycle, no matter for how long or short, ever "wrong"?  This time of year, with birds singing and sunbeams tickling my forearms... why worry?

See you out there... 


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