“This may not have been the best plan.”
The thought first occurred to me as I rounded the corner on the turn from the Naval Academy to MD450 and slipped my peddles twice as I was trying to clip in. (Mental note: Ditch these Look peddles in favor of a pair of speedplays.) I hadn’t been on my bike in weeks — scratch that MONTHS. Here I was on my first ride in months going for a 25 mile ride on a cold January afternoon.
When I left around 2:00 PM it was 38F but not windy. I was fully bundled up, layered with all the right gear from head to toe. At first, in the sun by my shed, I worried that I had too much on. Now, it was after 3:00, the wind had picked up considerably and the sun was sinking fast. I’d forgotten how fast the sun sinks in January here in Maryland.
The ride into Annapolis had been uneventful. There was almost no one out and I felt really good as I peddled down the B&A trail and over the Naval Academy Bridge. In fact, I crushed the bridge. “Ha, two months off the bike and I’m still strong,” I thought to myself. As I pulled into the city dock area, I decided that a short break was a good idea and sat down on a bench looking out over Spa Creek. That’s when the cold started to bite at my toes.
Leaving town, I had the sense that it was going to be a long ride home. As I peddled up the bridge — after slipping my peddles — I noticed I was struggling. I shifted into easier gears. I shifted into the small ring up front. And then, I clicked my rear gear lever and nothing happened.
“Out of gears! I don’t run out of gears on this bridge!”
Yes, it would be a long cold ride home. “I just need to get through these last two hills, then spin home.” Normally, I’d consider the hills ahead as moderate, but considering I’d run out of gears on the bridge, I was mentally preparing for the worst. “Swig some liquid and keep peddling.”
I made it up the last two hills and sat on a bench for a minute. My right calf was tight — like softball tight — and I stretched it out a bit before the spin home. As I got on the bike, I slipped the peddles again! This time I landed my left elbow smack on the frame. After a few choice words, I re-engaged the peddles and started to spin easily. I wasn’t in a race. When I got home, I was sure the blood in my toes was frozen.
Everyone has bad days. Some days your legs just fail you. Some days, the heat or the cold gets to you. Some days, you take on more than you should. That’s what happened to me on Monday. Too much time off the bike, grand expectations for myself, cold weather equaled a miserable ride.
Still, a miserable ride is better than an afternoon at the desk, so I suppose I’ll mark Monday down as a win.