Back in the saddle.

November 16, 2014 § 2 Comments

I’ve been totally determined to figure out these “running” and “bouldering” things the last few months, and thus haven’t done a long bike ride since this summer. This week as I watched (and felt) the temperature drop precipitously I decided that it was about time to bring back the old hobby-horse.

(Fun fact: Bicycles in the early 1800’s were actually called hobby-horses.)

I was also itching to put my kind-of new climbing shoes and chalk bag to use since getting them at Go Vertical for an incredible $20 used last weekend.

2014-11-08 18.31.52According to Google, Gravity Vault is only 24 miles away – 48 round trip, this seemed totally reasonable. So I stopped by my local bike shop and picked up a pair of winter cycling gloves which I’ve been neglecting to do for the last two winters, and geared up for a 35 – 44 degree ride and a few hours of rock-climbing inbetween.

2014-11-15 14.17.25

A few reflections on today’s ride:

1. Pink tinted sunglasses: Third fall/winter outside of California and I still get a bit sad at how drab and dreary everything gets once the trees lose their brilliant fall hues. This ride just felt warmer and more jolly because everything was highlighted pink and red. Highly recommended.

2. There’s no winning at temperature regulation when it’s cold: No matter how well geared you are, you’ll still need to adjust between uphill, downhill, and flats. I was beginning to accept this on my ride to Boston in April, promptly forgot it about it when it was a steady really-fucking-hot degrees this summer, and fully accepted it today. Zip-unzip. Switch gloves. Bring Buff up over face, buff down, buff off… etc. It’s like eating and drinking water, just parts of a long ride.

3. Names: I really should pay attention to street and town names when I map out a route before jumping in the saddle. I forgot that inbetween me and rockclimbing was not just 24 miles, but 24 miles of towns called Berkeley Heights and Summit. Far more elevation than I anticipated (I didn’t really think about it truthfully). At least it was all downhill on the way back.

4. Podcasts: Holy shit! What was I thinking not listening to Podcasts on long bike rides! Pop in a little Radiolab or TED Radio Hour, run Google bike maps in the background. It’s quiet enough to leave the sounds of the road relatively unimpaired, and so much more mentally engaging than hours of music. I do wish there was some way to switch between Podcasts and J-beibs for a little boost during climbs, but like temperature regulation, you can’t have everything.

5. Arms do things: I didn’t realize how much you use your upper body on longer rides. I don’t usually notice it, but it’s definitely just enough fatigue to already feel worn on the third bouldering problem I attempted today. I was pleasantly surprised enough at finding that they’d changed all the problems to not mind this disadvantage at all. It’s still a small sample size, but it’s been cool comparing the 4 gyms I’ve been to in arm strength required, hold diversity, and puzzilyness. The new layout has far more interesting holds on their V1-3 problems and a few solid body-weight-shifty-leverage problems. I feel like I’ve got a solid base of arm strength now from weeks of scrambling up V0-1’s and now need to work on my finger strength so I can tackle more difficult holds.

Final damage count –

Mileage: 50 on the nose (2 more than anticipated due to annoying Rutgers football game futzing with traffic)
Elevation gain: 1339 total
Approximately 2,500 calories consumed at a roadside diner from the “mighty meat meal”
Also, I seriously considered changing my body type from “fit” to “ripped” on my OkCupid profile as motivation to get to six-pack-city

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