Hi everyone! Sorry, I’ve been away for a few weeks but it’s been a busy time for me. A lot of changes for this Old Nerd in the Gym – from my workouts and rides to my work and writings. But, here I am, so I’ll bring you up to date on what’s happening on the fitness front.
First, as you may have read, I managed my July Century ride with little to no effort, that is after the “great crash of ’17.” OK, so for some of you it wouldn’t have seemed that bad, but for me it was rough. But, I prevailed and finished in my best time for a long ride so far.
Following that ride, I had scheduled another on August 27th, so I immediately set to update my training for that ride. That meant more time in the gym, in the pool and in the saddle. The big unknown on this next ride was that it was to be on country roads rather than closed trails and with some considerable elevations, on the order of 1,400 feet or so. I had to give that some thought.
Training rides for me vary in time, distance and complexity, but almost always are on trails. One of the most grueling short rides, in elevation, is the one between my home and my family farm, some 4 miles away. It includes 3 major climbs and some gravel-covered runs down the other side of each. It’s not for the weak of heart.
When working in Yellow Springs, Ohio, I sometimes keep the bike with me during the day and take a 16 mile run from YS to Springfield at the end of the day. The path is quiet, flat and great scenery. It crosses a two-lane highway at one point, which is a little disquieting, but there’s a caution light and the traffic is slower than on a four-lane. But it’s a good ride and provides a relaxing speed ride that really helps de-stress after a long day at the office.
So I have kept on riding and racking up mileage but still all on closed trails. My instinct was that I would do as much of it as I could when the time came and call it a day. It would be whatever it would be. But that’s never been much of a good line for me. If I think there is no chance of finishing or that I would be putting my health in real jeopardy, I generally reconsider or find an alternative. I even held off registration until the week of the event.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m no stranger to road rides, but this was in unknown country and obstacles. So, I decided to go for the 25-mile version. It went well, beautiful weather and amazing support by the Dayton Cycling Club. More than 820 feet of elevation and 25 country road miles. Plus there was a burger at the rest stop! How could you go wrong?
I’m planning to attend the Flat 50 ride in Indiana in September, so the challenge now is just to maintain my performance level and improve as I can. That one is a road ride too so it’ll be challenging.
Why is a road ride so different? In the Dayton, Ohio area, we are lucky to be sitting in the middle of the largest network of paved bike trails. Formerly railroad lines, most of the trails are well-maintained, asphalt-paved, and relatively flat. For all their safety and expansiveness, there are some advantages and disadvantages to only riding trails.
On a bike trail, there’s a lot less to worry about. Generally, it’s just you, your bike, the occasional critter or tree debris and a road crossing here and there. You don’t have to look out for cars coming up behind you or loose gravel and deep potholes where you least expect them. And it’s quieter. Roads are louder, with more exposure and less cover from high sun or other elements.
You should stay alert no matter where you’re riding, but on the road, you need to be especially cautious. There are constant stories about injury and death caused by auto drivers who just didn’t see the cyclist and disaster occurs. My good friend Michael “ran into” just such a problem last month when an elderly woman hit him on the road. He is fine, some damage to the bike, but it could have been much worse. Motor vehicle drivers just aren’t as aware as we think they are so we cyclists need to practice the same defensive driving that we should when behind the wheel of a car.
Way back when, I was a cycling safety and maneuverability champ for many years. One of the toughest things to get people to do back then was wear a helment when riding. Now, we need to practice safe driving even moreso than motorists because we can see them better than they can see us.
A FEW SIMPLE SAFETY TIPS:
- Wear bright clothing
- Use front and rear lights, even in daytime riding
- Always wear a good-fitting helmet
- Avoid headphones with loud, distracting sound
- Ride with the flow of traffic, and in bike lanes
- Don’t ride on sidewalks unless signage instructs otherwise
- Never ride others on a non-tandem cycle
- Always ride defensively
There are many other bike safety ideas you can get online, just go to Google and check them out. Consult your local bike club or cycle shop if you want more detailed information. Be careful out there!