Quads Desperately Seeking Oxygen

Presta valve

Image via Wikipedia

A fantastic idea popped into my mind yesterday, why not take a bike ride tomorrow? It stayed with me throughout the rest of the Saturday and was playing in my mind as I fell asleep. It helped to watch the 2011 Tour de France pre-show too.

This morning, I looked out the window at the 2011 Monet Vision. Yes, sunshine powers the flowers without a cloud in the sky. I quickly trot to my office to look out at the flag, it lay still against the poll. The weather-station shows nice warm temperature. No more excuses, I told myself. Your back hurts even though you have not been on a bike in a year. The bike is not the reason. It is the perfect fair-weather day suited for the fair-weather outdoorsman I have become. Go for it!

2011 Monet Vision

A quick rearrangement of garden stuff in the garage allowed me to reach the bike hanging from the ceiling since last year. Be careful, don’t strain your back taking it down. Do the back wheel first. Easy does it. Yes! Now carefully lift the front wheel off the hook. It is down and my back still feels good.

I hear Bill Lang instructing me at Effective Cycling class, “Remember the ABC’s.”

Before every ride, check “A” air in the tires, “B” brakes are engaging, “C” chain is lube’d and moves freely.

Air, yes find the pump. Ah there it is in the corner. Oh crap, the fitting no longer holds pressure on the Presta side. Go find the adapter so you can use the Shrader side . Now that is a problem. Where is it? Look in the tool box where you keep bike stuff. Where is that? Start in the basement. Ten minutes later the adapter is on the tire and I’m pumping carefully. I don’t want the tire to blow off the rim. The tires are old and brittle. The last thing I want to do is blow it off the rim. Keep checking the tire for bumps and make sure it seats properly on the rim.

Good, the tires have the proper air-pressure, now check the brakes. Yep they are working. The rear pads need replacement, but they’ll make it through today. Wheel the bike out to the lawn and spray the chain with WD-40. Backpedaling the chain is difficult. Move the shifter to align the chain with the gears. Okay the chain is free. Now spray the chain and pump the pedal at the same time to spread the oil.

Ready to ride? No, what’s wrong now? Shoes, I have to find my cycling shoes. I dig through seven pairs of shoes piled in the closet. I find my Shimanos and loosen the laces. My feet have spread in the last few years, but they still feel good as long as I keep the laces loose. Almost ready, A quick dash to my desk to find the Cateye. Boy there is too much stuff in this drawer, it is time to purge. There it is.

I  put on the helmet, adjust the mirror, give Grandma Peggy a quick kiss and out the door I go.

Oops, where are my gloves? Without gloves my hands will burn on a day like this. Look in the top drawer of the cabinet in the garage. Yes, they are still there from last year. Okay, now I’m ready.

Just pedal easy and enjoy the day. My legs automatically go to ninety revolutions a minute. That is not easy, I tell myself, but that is the pace my legs like to move. Downshift dummy. That’s better. The street heading to the Old Plank Road Trail (OPRT) is slightly uphill. Normally, this grade would not need a downshift, but today is different. I move down two gears and make it easier. By the time I reach the stop sign I am out of breath. Thankfully, I coast down to the trail without pedaling.

There was a day just a few years ago when bicycling the OPRT was a daily routine. The trail is twenty miles from one end to the other, and would take three hours to complete at a leisurely pace. There is no way, I could do that today.

At the end of the downhill to the trail, I turn east toward Harlem Avenue. This section of the OPRT is my favorite. The trail, a converted railroad track bed is straight, but somewhat rolling in gentle long downhills and uphills.  It passes through a forested area bounded by Prestwick Country Club on the south and Lincoln Estates on the north. The sunlight finds a way through the trees to form dapples of light. The only time a wind affects a rider is when it is east-west. Today, there is merely a gentle breeze which is not felt at all.

There is a lot of traffic on the trail today. I come upon a young man ahead of me, “On your left,” I holler, and then pass him. I can’t believe I passed a young guy, I thought. There must still be some fire left in these legs. Then I hear him say, “hello, I’m riding on the trail. . . ”  Damn, he slowed down to answer his cell phone. A few minutes later he passes me like I am standing still.

I pass the point where Busia Barbara had her heart attack. It still bothers me every time I do. This year marks the tenth anniversary of that fateful day in August when she had the Widower-Maker. Except she made the mistake of hanging on for two years after. Not a good time in her life.

At Harlem Avenue, I feel good, but decide to turn around per plan. No sense in overdoing it on the first ride.

The ride back feels less stressful. The sciatic fire running through my  right gluteus (ass) has toned down to a warm remembrance of trouble to come.  The pain in the left patella which began in the garden a month ago, is not going away, but sends a signal on each bend of the knee. The lyrics of a song pop into my mind,

Those were the days my friend

We thought they’d never end

We’d sing and dance forever and a day

We’d live the life we choose

For we were young and sure to have our way.

The song keeps me spinning as I pass a mother pushing a buggy with her toddlers. Next, I move way over to pass a woman walking two shaggy little dogs.  Two young riders pass. They are bent over the bars making time on their Sunday workout. A skater swinging her legs wide from side to side making time as she comes toward me. She slows a bit as we cross by each other.

The trees end and the trial opens into the Prairie Park on the edge of Frankfort. Kids are fishing from the pier, and the traffic of people walking dogs increases.

A crowd of bikers waits for traffic to allow them to cross White Street. I catch them and tailgate across to the Briedert Green. Morning shoppers crowd the trail at the Farmer’s Market. This is my western turnaround point. and I am glad to leave the trail. I take the back roads just north of the Trail.

I feel good, but the song keeps looping through the mind as my quads burn desperately seeking oxygen.

I arrive home forty-three minutes and seven miles later. In the good old days, I wouldn’t have returned until I had a metric century(62 miles) under my belt.

“Those were the days my friend . . .”

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