I had a professional bike fitting done on Friday. Andrea made some tweaks that definitely improved my position on the bike. One in particular smoothed my pedal stroke considerably. Early Saturday morning, I re-rode the 26 miler I’d done Wednesday with friends. Riding back roads alone is a simple joy. How fast or slow I go isn’t influenced by the presence of another cyclist. It’s entirely up to me. We rode one .7 mile Strava segment in Washington that I hold the 5th fastest time on, 2:09. I’m proud of this. I don’t have a lot of high standings on Strava. I’ve ridden with the other 4 guys who have faster times here and I know just how much better than me they are. The ride when I turned myself inside out to get that time stands clear in my memory. Yesterday, I did that segment in 2:12, my second best and still a top 10 Strava time. I’m starting to wonder how much work, how much weight loss, it would take for me to get the KOM on it. The segment suits me. It’s not all climbing – I’m too big to ever be a great climber. It rolls, calling for relatively short bursts of power, the kind of watts a carpenter’s quads can deliver. I would have to go 25% faster. Not all of that translates to power. Some of it translates to the day being right; to mastering the road, shifting right, getting out of the saddle right, and most importantly, gutting out the last 100 yards of climbing.
I write that because it occupied my mind yesterday. And that made me realize I haven’t been riding as much as I want to. If I put in the work, I could be as strong as cyclist as the guys who beat me on that segment. I think I’d like to be. But my job has been on my mind. Work around the house has been on my mind. I was grouchy. I resented all the things in life I say yes to. Small projects for clients or friends. Sitting on town boards. Even organizing rides.
These are all things I like to do. I’m lucky to have the chance to do them. But sometimes I do too many things. Sometimes I resent being an adult. Sometimes I wish I were the kind of person who could just say, “Fuck it. Sun’s over the yardarm somewhere.”
But I’m not. And maybe I’ll never be that cyclist of my fantasies. And that’s okay, because the rest of my life is pretty damn good.
Sunday morning, I sat on the porch for half an hour nursing a cup of coffee. At the end of the yard a woodpecker was having its way with a rotten birch. I could tell from the thuds of its beak in the soft wood that chips were flying from its felling ax of a beak. I imagined the bird’s occasional glance around for the redtail that frequents our woods, and, when the thudding quieted, Woody’s triumphant breakfast of some fat and wiggling grub. A shower passed through, followed by a hummingbird buzzing the hanging baskets. It glanced at me, decided I could be ignored, and went on needling for nectar.
I thought about why yesterday had disturbed me so much. Most of what I’m doing is exactly what I want to be doing.
It could be the politics of the moment. I fear for the country. I fear the looming fascism our mindless president is fostering. More so, I fear the mindful toadies that encourage that orange-haired motherfucker. I despair for my friends who don’t see the situation as I do. I wonder about the protests. I see the truth being lost between the two extremes. I wonder why people can’t just be. And I think that I need to take a break from social media so I can focus on these things that are important to me.
There’s a stretch of Judd’s Bridge Road where its packed dirt takes up all the space between the Shepaug River and the steep slope to its east. The slope is part of a hill leavened by a granite batholith that intruded below the overlying schist when North America divorced Europe, leaving their children to raise themselves above the Atlantic. There’s a visible uncomformity where the two kinds of rock meet a little further on. The west side of the river is a field where beef cattle graze. Above that is a ridge where granite has been quarried for two centuries. West of that ridge is a valley where limestone quarries give rise to the place name of Marbledale. Pangea meets the Appalachians here. The forest along the road consists of hemlocks. The river is well shaded, and it’s been dry enough lately that you could walk across the Shepaug and keep your feet dry. I’ve seen loose cattle wading the river on a hot day here. I’ve seen the river over its western bank here. I’ve seen ice floes and blazing maples. Lately, I’ve seen kids riding bikes here. They asked me for recommendations about where to ride more.
I want to spend more time in places like this.