If you click the link above, you will see the details of the first ride of 2011. a little over 14 miles at a very slow pace. Unfortunately it took a couple of days to get my ass onto the bike, but I like riding to work more than I like leaving the warm cocoon of my house when I don't need to. I knew that if I went for a ride on either Saturday or Sunday that it would end up being a token ride of a few miles at best. Today's 14 mile extravaganza was a ride that had a purpose, and one that I really couldn't bail on 3 miles in. I know myself pretty well, and I know the kind of shenanigans I can get up to when left to my own devices. Despite my own best intentions when it comes to exercising, I am still that 12 year old kid who hates to get sweaty.
I rode most of my commuting miles from the spring into the summer this last year, including riding on the hottest day of 2010. That was a miserable ride, and in fact I had to stop and cool off at a gas station about halfway home. I would take that ride over yesterday's ride any day. When I left the house it was 38 degrees. I know that there are guys (and girls) in places like Minnesota and Alaska and other far flung climes that think riding in the snow is the best thing since Babybel cheese, but I am not one of those people. By the time I got halfway down the block, my nose was flowing like a river, and my feet were chilled. By the time I got into Richardson, I had forgotten what my feet felt like, and my face was like a block of wood. When you ride a bicycle, obviously you are exerting yourself, so everything warms up fairly quickly. I did have layers, arm warmers, leg warmers, and etc. on, but my feet were too cold. I am certainly glad I have clipless pedals on my bike, because by the timeI reached the Waterview bike lane, I could no longer feel my feet at all.
In addition to the deep chill that I got, the ride was made worse by mechanical issues. When I bought my GT, I really didn't do a tune up on it - in fact, the only thing I really did was change the saddle and replace the brakes and brake cables after a very close call; I had to make an emergency stop at an intersection and very nearly didn't. After I recovered my saddle from where it had been sucked into my backside, I replaced all of my stopping gear posthaste, and then rode the bike hard the rest of the summer. On this first ride of the year, my lack of maintenance came home to roost, and neither one of my shifters was working well at all - I couldn't shift the rear derailleur, so I was only able to shift the front three gears. I have said before that I live in Dallas, and really don't have any hills to speak of, so a single speed bike is fine for getting around town. That's very true, but it's not as true when you expect to have gears. If I had gotten my Falcon out of the garage and intended to ride all the way to work on a singlespeed, I would not have a single word of complaint about lack of gears. However, when I get a bike out of the garage that has 24 gearing options, and I am limited to three gears, none of which are quite right, then I will complain. The mind is a very strange thing.
So what did I learn from my first ride of the year? First, I learned that I don't like cycling in the cold at all. I had my suspicions, but this ride confirmed it. Second, I learned that if you haven't ridden a certain bike for a while, then you need to check the mechanical condition of that bike before you take it on a ride. Third, I learned that it's ok to ride all the way in, and then decide to take the train home. No shame in that at all.
I hope this picture conveys how cold I was. My brother took this in the office as I rolled the bike through the door.