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It Never Gets Easier; You Just Go Faster

December 20, 2011

Today’s Ride: 78km—Jerseyville, Harrisburg, Sheffield

Weather: Cold -3c; -10c with windchill

Some days, the legs are just heavy. Some days, the lungs just don’t respond. Some days, seasonal allergies linger into December. Today was as much about getting out as it was about riding. The pace was piano to say the least. I spent yesterday suffering from allergies, and woke up feeling only moderately better. Working on the premise that aerobic activity would increase blood circulation and help to clear the sinuses—trust me, I’m a doctor—and also a newfound desire to hit 6000km for 2011, prompted me to head out the door.

Taking the above into account, it wasn’t a bad ride. There’s something very pleasant about spinning at a more relaxed pace, even if you aren’t all that relaxed. And in the cold, the ride is always an expression of character. (right??). The first slug of sports drink—just as I passed the stables where my daughter rides—hit throat as cold, cold, cold. Kind of the opposite sensation derived from bourbon. It took another few seconds to catch my breath again. Over Highway 52 and onto the tar and chip paving that has become all-pervasive this year. These roads rarely warrant attention anymore; they are a part of my cycling landscape. To avoid them would be futile—and would limit the riding possibilities. And they’re not all that bad. But today, I could feel the added resistance of to dappled road. Greater resistance, not slower speeds. After all:

Rule #10: It never gets easier, you just go faster.

Up over the drumlins. And down again. I see headlights cresting the next roller and then dipping down and disappearing behind the one I am negotiating. The race is on to see who tops this hill first. Turning towards Harrisburg, I weave along the narrow roads—barren fields on either side—as the sun casts a cold shadow in front of me. Looking back, the road is soaked in sunshine, but cold and unforgiving, not like the summer heat that bathed these same roads just a few months before. Sager Rd. is a slog, too. The inclines seems long and heavy. And then the headwinds on the eastward leg. Winds coming off Lake Ontario are cold. The lake effect will bring massive dumps of snow soon, when the wind is blowing from the east. Today, though, it’s just an added obstacle on the final leg of the ride.

Home. Numb feet. The only casualties of the ride. I kept my windbreaker on today. It provides a welcome layer in colder temperatures, but it doesn’t breathe, so I was quite wet underneath. Not coldly so, but not the summer sweat, either. Clean the bike. With salt and grit and grime and dirt on the roads—and determined to cling to the bike—the casual wipe of previous months becomes a more drawn-out ordeal.

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