Tuesday, May 29, 2007

I'm Learning

40 more miles today, out through Concord again. I'm starting to get a little sense of direction in that area, though I'm not fully confident I could ride these roads alone - and certainly not at the pace we're keeping.

Today, we were led by Nathan again, but Andrea also joined us (from the Southern US trip). While we were on the Minuteman, an older man latched on to the back of our pack, drafting. He stayed with us all the way out to Bedford where the path ends and the road ride begins. We hadn't realized it, but he had riden with us all the way from Cambridge and decided to keep up the rest of the way. I talked with him briefly as I slowed down and my legs just wouldn't keep up with Nathan's. He (the older man) has riden cross-country twice. Once, the southern route through Texas, Lousiana, Mississippi, etc, and up through to New Hampshire. Another time, he went west-to-east through Canada. The guy was in his 60s and keeping up (and at times pushing me). Impressive.

So over the last two rides, I've noticed little subtleties that accentuate the benefits of getting out on the bike a lot before this trip. I notice where my shorts bunch up, when my muscles start to tense and my right big toe goes numb, I learned to keep my cadence high (90-100 rotations per minute). Another thing I learned yesterday (and forgot today) was to keep my eyes open and my head up. That sounds obvious, but sometimes (like today) I get so focused on Nathan's back wheel that I forget to look up and see what I'm riding through -- yesterday, for example, brought us through amazing old New England farmland. Both yesterday and today I noticed something that I'm coining "the fish-eye effect." I don't know if anyone has called it that before, but when my legs hurt from pushing all I can do to keep the pace up is watch the rear end of the bike in front of me. I become so focused on the spinning spokes, the spinning cassette, or the seat stays that it literally feels like the bike in front is stationary and the ground and my surroundings are whizzing by me. The fish-eye effect is what the whole scene looks like in my tired mind/body, like those photos with a fish-eye lens. Something like this:

I hadn't intended on writing all that, but oh well. Got to go plan tomorrow's ride.

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