I feel like the season has started all over again. This week was the first real week back on the road and my conditioning feels like I've been away for months. Between the resting and the Ibuprophen (which I usually don't take) my body has really taken a huge step backward. So now it's all about backtracking and regaining the fitness I've lost since being hit by a car three weeks ago.
Last Sunday, I rode in the rain with Lauren. It was a fun, short and very freakin' wet ride. Word of warning: saddle bags and handlebar bags aren't waterproof. Both of our cellphones were wet by the time we arrived back at the house.
Last Sunday was also the first time I've been back to the scene of the accident while on my bike. Psychologically, I'm not as healed as my body. I'm finding that I'm really paranoid about drivers -- involuntarily assuming that none of them are paying attention. So I've started to gesture/signal at cars through intersections -- my left hand out, fanning the air as if to say, "I'm riding through this intersection so slow the hell down!"
On Thursday I rode 24 miles out to Womelsdorf and back. Of course the whole way out was haunted by a serious headwind. I mean, probably the worst headwind I've experienced. The kind that pummels the eardrums. So I figure this is what they mean when they say that it's not all about distance. 12 miles into a strong headwind can be more challenging than 25 with a tailwind.
In addition, I tried the Wooltown side of Sportsman Rd (Sportsman Rd "North" I guess). I thought it cut straight through to Wooltown Rd, but nope. After a sharp left turn, it climbed straight up -- 15% for a quarter mile -- before dropping down to Wooltown. Suffice to say, I couldn't hack it. Not in my present shape. So I had to stop for a second, which was terribly disappointing. In my defense, I was cranking hard enough that my front wheel was pulling up and off the road slightly.
And so, thankfully, the ride back was awesome. With the tailwind, I was able to cruise 52-12 (I think) and averaged around 22 mph for the ride back.
Yesterday, Sunday, I hit the hills again. Made it up Martins again, then took the back roads off Fritztown Road which eventually connect over to Wernersville and 422. Then I hit the usual Sportsman Rd climb and was suprised to make it to the top without stopping. I honestly didn't think I was ready. But I think my head has started to come around.
But then... On the way down Texter Mountain Rd, I got spooked at around 35mph and leaned on the brakes too much. Suddenly, PFFFFFFFFFFFT! I'm certain that it was a heat puncture since there were about 20 pinholes in the tube -- each one leaking green slime (which was supposed to fill the holes). Fortunately, I had a spare tube with me. My luck improved when a guy from a nearby house -- also a rider -- let me borrow his floor pump. AND, the guy's family are Obama supporters. Good deal. I didn't have any cash with me, so I promised to do a favor for the next cyclist in peril. Pay it forward, if you will.
It turns out there have been two major crashes in the Texter Mountain area this season. Each one has been during a descent. One of them, on Huntzinger, involved a cyclist whose brakes failed. The dude apparently hit the guardrail and had to be hauled out via medical helicopter with a broken collar bone.
I repeat... All told, I've been very, very lucky. Now that my body is recovering, it's time to get my head back on track.
And finally, I'm honored to have been added to the Belgium Knee Warmers "Most Admired" list. It's my favorite cycling blog, and I'm planning to order two BKW "PRO" water bottles. Seriously, this is very cool. I hope I can rise to the BKW standards of cycling pro-ish-ness.