I have two point to make tonight:
1) Winter is long and hard in the north east. This winter, in particular, has been rough. There's been a lot of snow, it's been cold, it gets dark early (as usual). None of this is surprising, really, but it's still a drag.
Most winters, even harsh ones like this one, have a respite, and this year was no exception. Sunday's temperature reached into the upper 30s, or possibly even the low 40s, and I was able to ride with just three layers. This may still seem like a lot, but after months and months of piling on layers, I might as well have been naked and immersed in a warm bath.
My ride on Sunday was broken into two parts: The Derby (and the ride to and from The Derby), then a ride out to Kutztown with some other Emmatians. For the second half of the ride, I even ditched my ski gloves in favor of a lighter pair, allowing me to re-discover what my handlebar feels like.
This may seem a tad over dramatic, but my outside riding has been so encumbered by layers that it was a relief to feel a breath of non-stinging air on my face and neck. It was enough to give me a taste for what riding is like in warmer, glory days, and gave me and everyone else something to look forward to.
The winter respite continued today with even warmer temperatures, reaching into the 40s. It wasn't quite warm enough, but on a wet lunch ride (all the snow is melting), I rode in just bibs. Yup, no knee warmers, no tights, no leg warmers. Not even any embrocation. In truth, I started out in leg warmers, but was so warm and uncomfortable by the time we'd climbed out of town that I had to strip the leg warmers off, exposing my pasty skin to the winter air.
It felt really good, until cold water from the road splashed all over me. Turns out that even in the middle of a winter respite, you should keep your legs covered. But, feel free to take your hat off, which I also did today -- very much enjoying the wind in my hair.
2) I felt like crap on the way to The Derby on Sunday morning. My legs were tired from a tough workout on Friday evening and a hard ride on Saturday. I thought that for sure, this would be the week that I just sat in on the way back to Trexlertown and didn't turn myself inside out in futile pursuit of a sprint win that will never come.
Well, somewhere along the way out to the turn around my legs started feeling better. Maybe it was a long conversation on politics in cycling with Torch, or maybe it was a brief stint on the back of the group by myself, lost in thoughts, but something on the roll out got the life back in my legs.
I took turns on the front, rotating with a Bobby Lea and Bissell Pro Cycling's Kyle Wamsley and Shane Kline, The Animal, and a few others, feeling comfortable taking hard pulls. Shane put in a really hard acceleration going over the climb into Topton, and it somehow fell to me to try and get the group back on terms with him. I was getting there, but I was struggling to close the last bike length, sapping my legs in the wind. Wamsley was my savior with a well-placed shove to the lower back, shooting me back onto terms and Kline's draft. I've never been so grateful.
The acceleration and chase had split the group, and just six of us made it over the top in the lead. Lea dragged us on the next stretch, and we rolled fast and hard (near red light and car pull out, notwithstanding) back to the finish. I came off the wheels about a kilometer from the finish, so I'm not sure who won the sprint, but after getting unceremoniously dumped from the lead group on the Topton climb a month ago, making it into the lead group on Sunday was as good as a sprint win.
Progress. Hopefully it'll translate to racing, come March.
Monday, February 07, 2011
I have two point to make tonight: