After coming back on Wed., I had a whirlwind couple of days at the office. Then, waking on Sat. I realized that today was one day where I didn’t have a deadline, a must do, an errand even. I’ve had days like that before, but not recently, and not in my home town.
I decided to go out tag saling and found a very nice coat, but didn’t see any of the (small) list of items I always keep an eye out for. In particular I’d wanted to find a beater road bike for Youngest Brother, which I could upgrade from my rapidly dwindling set of parts and spares. No dice though. I had a good time drinking coffee and chatting with people, but at 9 I decided to call it quits and go for a long ride. I’d meant to take Hush (rack, burly tires, pannier bags) up to a moderately obscure vineyard and then press on down familiar roads, as kind of a reintroduction to CT. However, Hush has developed a wobbly rear wheel – the hub is warped, pretty much shot. I’d messed with it some in DC, but the terrain there is more forgiving. I didn’t want to take Hush uphill with a rear wobble and loaded pannier bags. So that nixed the vineyard, as I didn’t want to carry a couple of glass wine bottles in a backpack as I rode.
My choices were Lumina or the Little Red Rocket, and I chose the latter since I wanted to take a very long ride and Lumina (again) is geared for DC. All in all it proved a great decision. I would have died on Lumina and Hush would have broken down in the harsh hill conditions I ended up riding.
I decided to do my old commute into work to see how/if things had changed on the ride. LRR proved to be up to all the hills (even the ones with names – you know it’s a serious hill when they name it.) I did OK on the ride out. I wanted to conserve something for a longer ride, but was able to pick up some pretty good time on the hills due to LRR’s gearing and lightness. I *crushed* my prior time into work, which was nice, considering it was in the high 70s and moderately humid. (I downed 2 liters of water on my ride, which should astound anyone that knows my desert rat tendencies.) The day was gorgeous otherwise – plenty of sunshine.
I stopped for lunch in Colchester, visited the Polish bakery (no Polish Bakery Girl, alas!), then turned south. In a short bit, I came across a man putting out an old Raleigh, roadside. We chatted a bit and I asked if he’d hold it for me on the side of his house. I rode on, more or less aimlessly past lakes and into the Devil’s Hopyard – a very cool state park, with waterfall, picnic area, and lots of small twisty pine trees that don’t seem to resemble the surrounding areas. The devil is very popular in CT. I left the Hopyard thinking I’d have an easy ride – and then I went up the hill from hell. Michell Road? (Should be The Devil’s Own Road). It’s just after the Hopyard on the river. I figured I’d take that right (west) and aim for Gillette Castle and the CT river. Instead I ended up on this monstrous hill to nowhere. I kept glancing to the right to see if there were floor buttons. Of course, most of the way up the hill, the road becomes unpaved. So LRR and I gamely hopped and skipped along, and I end up coming out on an access road. Seeing that I’d left my compass at home (stupid) and had no good road map of the area I was in (stupid) I tried to figure out what was west. Turns out the road was north/south. So I slogged north, figuring I’d end up having a west option at some point. No dice. Just hill after hill after hill. I ended back at the mouth of the Hopyard, totally wiped from all the hill riding. I think there are no east/west roads in that part of CT. Anyway, I gamely slugged back along the way I came, which was disappointing because I wanted to do a loop but was wary of adding an addition 10 miles on to the ride, as I was tiring fast.
During all this there were only 3 other riders on the road – a Borged-out female roadie and two female mountain bikers. Normally I like to ride alone, but I started becoming a bit paranoid that if I caught a flat, there’d be no one to help me out. (Not because the riders were female - but because they were completely sparse. The female thing just adds to the oddness, given that. . .what, 1 in 10 roadies seem to be women?)
Eventually I passed another tagsale and saw an old Fuji (with steel wheels but Sun Tour bar end shifters?) propped against the side of a barn. She’d seen better years, better decades actually, but she looked like she’d do just fine as a fixer upper. Someone had put a $2 sticker on her, so I quickly scuttled along to the guy running things and told him I wanted her. He seemed a bit surprised at the price but honored it (which was amusing, considering he was trying to unload an equally decrepit Raleigh Road bike as “an antique” – and I’m pretty sure the Fuji is older than that Raleigh.). I left her locked to a local tree (I used my own lock and rode without one.)
While I was talking with the tag sale guy, this totally odd roadie (apparently?) walked up to me and just started peppering me with questions – how much did I ride, how much had I ridden today, did it feel weird to shave my legs, where did I get my bike? Not really spastic, but cripes guy, I’m not your teenage son or your confidant. He said he was looking for a beater bike because he never rode his bike*s* in the rain. I ignored the segue. He then became gear obsessed and started talking about LRR. “You got a full Ultegra set on that, wow!” To which I mumbled, “Means I’m a better lay than you are.” I think he caught most of it, because he totally went on the defensive. It wasn’t quite satisfactory, but at least it gave me some space.
The final stretch homeward was odd. I had no power on the hills. Well, that’s to say I had power, but it was the “plug up them at 9-10mph” variety with no kind of reserve. But on the straightaways I felt just fine. Maybe a bit sluggish, but certainly not gassed. I’ve never had that kind of split before. Normally when I’m gassed I’m gassed.
Final tale of the tape was 72 miles. I could have gone for the century if I looped through the flatter areas around here, but decided to go pick up the bikes, some food, and take a much needed shower.
Tomorrow – Blueberry picking? Novel reading? Refubishing the Fuji? Playing with the cat? It could almost seem like summer.