I had a couple nice road rides Monday and today. Monday was just tooling around for 90 minutes or so with the shop ride crew, and today I went into work.
Nothing’s ever simple with me though.
As usual for this time of year, a chest cold is beating me down pretty good. We’re talking about a “Down goes Jim… Down goes Jim” caliber whupping. So I dosed up with the usual anti-asthma medicines and went riding anyhow. Wheeeze wheeze, splutter. There is a moment where asthma and a chest cold suddenly morph into bronchitis or pneumonia with foaming rabid lung fluid, and I’m not there yet. I don’t know whether to look forward to that moment. On one hand, the moment when the cough matures into something deadly means I can put down the ineffective cold mixtures, having earned some honest-to-God antibiotics from the doc, mixtures that will probably heal me. On the other hand, that maybe I should dread the moment the nagging cough turns into the dread disease, because it means a metamorphosis from a highly irritating but basically mild sickness that is essentially incurable, it will go away when and how it chooses, into something that while more readily treated, could kill me. Tough question. I think for now I won’t try to answer it, but will just sit here thinking about it and coughing. Damn my accursed lungs!
I had the Powertap on during this morning’s ride and tried to keep it mostly in zones 2 and 3 – you don’t want to go too hard when the upper respiratory tract is all gummed up, it can lead to pneumonia, I’ve found, and I haven’t determined yet whether I’m ready for that, even though the prospect of committing mass murder against the germs plaguing me does make me giddy. Despite it being a routine desperation ride – a ride in that desparate period that lies between fall’s mid-cross season fitness, and the start of the long climb back into race shape that starts in January - some interesting things happened. Interesting in a nothing-is-going-on-in-the-world-so-very-mildly-interesting-bike-talk-is-better-than-nothing interesting.
First, I saw a few BikeTrailGuys out riding. That is really unusual for this time of year – the cold usually drives them underground, like snakes and beetles. I wonder if they were getting a head start on their New Year’s Resolution to get fitter, in which case they’ll likely be burnt out and off the bike by January 14 and the trails will be clear again. One BTG was on a mountain bike coming down the Cap Crescent. He was coming out of the little gravel oxbow, where MDOT is doing some trail repairs. It was about 20 minutes before sunup, he had no lights on, was dressed in all black, and he was doing a standing effort downhill going around the turn and back up onto the tarmac. Hmmm… that was certainly dangerous… Black-on-black, and no lights? I think they used to call people who did stuff like that ‘mental defectives’ in the old days.
Then further up the trail, near Bethesda, some guy pulled onto my wheel. I think he thought I’d be going fast, since I was in club kit. Sucker! Welcome to the off-season. In the off-season, I’m basically The Man when it comes to speed – I spend all my time keepin’ speed down. So it was a 16-17 MPH uphill cruise at the most, there will be plenty of time to ride hard soon enough… Within a minute or two he got tired of me hucking lungers onto him – did I mention I was heaving up bushel baskets of lung oysters like a mucous-y version of a Chesapeake Waterman – so he pulls around to pass. He does this right before the big bridge, stands up, and goes like hell up the bridge. You’d have thought it was for the Green Jersey, the way he was stomping the pedals and throwing the poor bike around. So I just keep spinning and ease off a bit near the top of the bridge, hoping in all sincerity to let the guy open a bit of a gap, ‘cuz I really don’t want to get suckered into trying to race the guy. Eventually he pulls away and I keep spinning along.
I have to confess that although they do odious things and violate basic bike etiquette at will, I love the BTGs… they keep it interesting and give me something to complain about. Where would I be without them?
Sleeping on the bike, that’s where. I didn’t encounter any BTGs on my way back down the trail and as I pedaled around DC to get some additional miles in, I was asleep. I was totally zoned out and sort of ignored the fact that there are a lot of obstacles in different places around town, and when nothing is happening to keep a rider awake, it’s easy to drift off, which I did. Unfortunately, when I regained my concentration, I suddenly found myself cruising at around 20 MPH horizontal, and accelerating around 32 meters per second per second vertical, with a downward vector.
Yes, I was several feet in the air, with a set of four or five steps disappearing behind and under my nice carbon fiber road bike.
In mid-air, I thought briefly, “Don’t panic. Just land it.”
Which I did.
I got a sharp stabbing pain in both wrists when I planted the landing, and it rotated the bars downward a bit. As I hit, I had to swerve hard to avoid hitting a jogger, who bombed me with a couple choice words as I passed. What was the big deal? It’s not like I hit him or anything… I guess he has some frickin’ irrational fear of being approached by 250 lb roadies, who are airborne with wheels at chest-height.
This, unfortunately, is not the first time I’ve done something stupid like that. It is, however, the first time I’ve done it on a nice road bike, the other occasions involving a beater mountain bike commuter I used to ride, and a sturdy Surly Cross Check.
As I pedaled away, waving my burning arms in the air to try to shake off the pain, I marveled that the carbon frame and fork hadn’t snapped, that the wheels (Velocity Deep Vee rear, Fusion front) had stayed true, and that I hadn’t slung the bike into the nearby fence, or the nearby water feature. Bottom line, nothing was broken, though both wrists are swollen and probably sprained, and my hands are bruised.
Hey, I stuck the landing. I didn’t say it was pretty. I guess all that mountain biking and cross is really paying off.
Typing with sore wrists is really painful right now. But you know what?
I stuck the landing.