Thursday, June 11, 2009

Two 40-Milers Down with Just under 2 Months to Go

Over the last 2 weeks, I had the chance to amp up my training a bit and get two solid 40 mile rides under my belt. They were pretty hilly rides, at least as far as Connecticut goes, so I felt pretty good about them. And I got to ride through some really beautiful areas. I haven’t passed by many full fledged farms yet, but there seem to be a lot of holdouts in Connecticut. I am guessing they are families who once owned many acres and now have just a small plot on which they do some crop raising or have some horses and cattle. It’s a great treat for me since I grew up in NYC and still smile every time I see animals that are not behind metal bars!

One of the other many things I love about cycling is the chance to explore new areas. When you need to go on a 50-mile ride, you are bound to start venturing out of known territory and discovering all kinds of interesting things. So far I have explored the coastline in Branford and Guilford, and a bit inland through Hamden, Wallingford and Cheshire. And I am looking forward to venturing out farther west into the Connecticut landscape.

I also had the chance to test out my new bike configuration on these two rides. I recently revamped my bike to put back two of the original three chainrings on the front so that I now have a full set of 21 gears on my bike. I also put on mountain bike handlebars, shifters and brakes. One of the lessons I learned on these two rides is that gears are my friends! I love single speed and fixed gear bikes. They have a beautiful simplicity without all of the wires and levers. But once I started up a long incline, the idea of riding a single speed becomes ludicrous and I was thanking God for every last one of my gears : ) And I am starting to get used to the mountain style handlebars. I originally had road bike drop bars, swapped those out for bullhorn bars when I ditched most of my gears and now I moved to the mountain bike flat bar. It's much better on my back and neck on climbs and I am betting used to using the bar ends on flats and downhills.

One funny experience I had on the last ride I went on was about 25 miles into the ride I was heading up the steepest and longest incline of the route. And as I was struggling up the hill, out of the saddle, sucking in as much air as possible, a car coming down the other side of the hill started slowing down and then stopped. And this woman with a kind voice rolls down her window and yells across the road to ask if I know where some college is. Given that I barely know the area, I was able to say, “No, sorry” and keep trucking up the hill, but my guess is I must have had quite a shocked look on my face. I am guessing she must have been quite lost to have been desperate enough to ask me!

More to come soon as I hope to push up to 50 miles this weekend. Happy riding.

-Shakur



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