April 7, 2007
Day 65: Uncle Paul’s Life Lessons From The Road
The other day Nick told me about a 13 mile loop that takes off from my neighborhood, circles around the boonies, and then back, for a good bike ride. For those who know the area it takes off down Shoreline, which crosses to Windsor Island Rd, out to Ravena, cut back down Wheatland to River Rd, to Lockhaven, back to Windsor Island, Shoreline, and then back into the neighborhood. As is usually the case, a new venture like this for me is full of little lessons…lessons which today, Uncle Paul would like to share with you.
You CAN Teach An Old Dog New Tricks
Remember the pitbulls from last week’s ride..yeah, well I avoid them now by taking a different route. Today from a distance I spotted an old, chubby German shepherd guarding a farm, that I would have to ride by. I picked up just a little speed to be sure, and as I got closer, he started barking and started moving towards me. I could tell he wasn’t going to catch me as long as I didn’t slow down, but I decided to act like I needed to speed up anyway…to give him a little thrill chase. I’m sure as an old, chubby dog, he was going to go back and tell his other dog buddies how he nearly mauled this big brown guy on a bike — “you should have seen it, like a ginormous double scoop chocolate cone on two wheels!”
Well just about the time I was patting myself on the back for boosting this old dog’s ego, I picked something up out of my peripheral vision — a younger, slightly less chubby german shepherd that was coming from another part of the same property, making a bee line to cut me off at the pass! Santa Maria! This time, I actually had to kick up the horses a bit so he wouldn’t take out my front forks. Close call, but I staved off the sneak attack. Later on, I was pretty sure the Pitbulls from across K-town called the G-Sheps and told them they’d need a blind sweeping attack to fake me out. I don’t know who let the dogs out, but call the score: Attack Dogs – 0, Mex-On-The-Bike – 2.
Don’t Spit Into the Wind
Ok, this one I actually learned from Jim Croce back when I was a wee lad, (or Wii lad these days.) However, I’d forgotten what a pain it is to ride in the wind. Today I realized that a good tailwind can make you feel like you’re Lance Armstrong, whereas a strong headwind actually reduces you to Lance Bass…(yeah, I’m not really sure what that means either, but I needed a good Lance-Lance drop there.) With no wind, I actually had some pretty good cruising speeds, but once I hit some of the open fields of the backwoods the winds slowed me down to nearly half speed, which stinks. I’m not sure how this works, since I made one big loop, but I managed to have a headwind for about 2/3rds of my ride…which is nice. Check the wind before you ride. If Something Wicked This Way Comes, maybe hold off for a break in the weather.
Easy Does It
On the gearshifting that is. As I hit one particular hilly area, I decided to shift down to make life a little easier, but actually went the wrong way and geared up making the pedaling twice as hard. I panicked, and shifted right away two gears the other direction. This was on the front sprocket shifter, so it’s actually jumping by 10’s, if that makes sense. Anyway, since I didn’t allow for the chain to fully engage before shifting the other way, and since I was standing on that crank at the time, I derailed it. Thank goodness I still had a runny nose from my cold, because I had put tissues in every pocket of my shorts (all 4 of them) in case I needed them. Turns out I did, but to wipe the grease off my hands. Now I realize carrying a few tissues, or some sort of rag is a good idea. Also didn’t realize there was a U-Pick Tulip patch (farm, garden, villa..???) on Wheatland, but I do now, and a mom and daughter got a great shot of me from behind bending over to fix my chain…sorry ladies.
No Means No!
At about mile 7.3 of this loop is a road that runs uphill named Ravena. It’s named for the late famous hispanic cyclist Edwardo Ravena who died instantly when he attempted to actually ride up this almost completely vertical stretch of road. He made it about halfway, and simply gave out from exhaustion. The local townfolk decided to memorialize his effort by calling that Ravena’s Hill, or simply ‘Ravena’ nowadays. Anyway, my eyes were bigger than my stamina today.
I saw the hill from a good half mile to mile away, and started mentally preparing for it. “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” But my legs were saying, “yeah, aint gonna happen my friend.” Having been recently inspired by an episode of Friday Night Lights I began to encourage the legs that ‘they really could, if they’d just dig down deep.’ As I neared the throat of the hill, I downshifted (no derailement this time) and proceeded to dig on in. Everything was going great until about a third of the way up, when something strange happened…my bike simply stopped. No slowing down, or rolling to a stop, it just up and stopped. Really, the wierdest thing I’ve had happen on a bike in my life. There was no more energy in my legs, and we were at such an incline that gravity pulled us to a motionless state. I quickly hopped off and pushed it the rest of the way up the hill.
I later noticed something odd…I have a shifter on the right side of my bike too, and if I move that little dial thingy, I can actually change the gears on the back sprocket, which makes life much easier. I had tried going up that hill in about gear 8, instead of something like 3, or more realistically, 1. Anyway, I know better for next time. And since I remembered that whole ‘other gear thing’ on Wheatland, it made the hill by McNary Golf course easier to get up and over as well. Use them shifters, they’re there for a reason.
Well, there you go…dont’ say Uncle Paul never gave you nothin’!
PS – you know what stinks? Riding to work and back, playing golf, and playing basketball on Friday, riding for an hour on Saturday, and staying under 1500 calories for 3 days in a row (eve over a holiday) and going up .4 of a pound, not losing.