– The first road rides of Spring are okay. They aren’t spectacular because usually I’m not quite ready to put my skis away for the season. I kind of grudgingly put on my kit, air up the tires, lube the chain and start spinning my way down the road. It’s okay.
When I really think about it it is very much like the first ski days of the Fall. Trying to find my balance and lungs those first few ski days on my Nordic skis aren’t like where I left off last Spring. My legs get tired. My balance is not used to this new motion. I struggle. But I always go again and it only gets better and better as I get stronger and stronger as the season progresses.
It’s the same way on the bike. These first rides are trying not to weave or feel too wobbly on my skinny road tires. New bike muscles that aren’t ski muscles fire up and I wonder why my ski conditioning doesn’t translate to being fast on my bike right off the bat. It doesn’t. It never has – just like being in excellent bike condition doesn’t mean a thing when it come time to get back on skis. Sure, there is a base fitness you can rely on but, jeez, why is it so hard to transition from one season to another?
The other struggle is finding my stuff. Bike shorts, thin next to skin layers, bike shoes, helmet, sunglasses, headband, gloves, jerseys, water bottles… where is it all and why didn’t I leave it where I thought I left it last Fall? First road rides are only okay.
On my first two rides this April I’ve layered my clothing just about right. The surprise has been how the temperature drops the further I get away from town. The pavement and the buildings in Steamboat Springs generate heat and the snowpack in town is thin as a result. As soon as I pass the city limit sign the temperature steadily drops and the snow along the road becomes noticeably deeper. The wind picks up and the wind chill goes up. It feels okay.
I try to stay out of the big chain ring and spin but I’m not always successful at this. The temptation to ride fast and pretend to be in biking shape is hard to resist. I try to ride smooth and keep a straight line and not appear inebriated to the driver’s coming up behind me. I try to focus on the road and on the new potholes and stay upright. But I look for Sandhill Cranes in the snow covered fields. I watch Redtail and Thompson hawks float so easily above me. I get surprised at how loud the Meadowlark’s song is as I pass one sitting on a roadside post. Bluebirds are skirting and landing and skirting ahead of me. Watch the road I say to myself.
And of course, there is the wind. The infamous Routt County wind. The energy sucking, speed reducing, deafening wind. Maybe later in the month it won’t knock me around so much but right now it kicks me around pretty good.
The next rides will be easier and I’ll have my act together and I’ll ride straighter and I’ll feel stronger and I’ll say to myself “what wind?” and I’ll be thinking this is better than okay. This is outright fun…