Monday, February 2, 2009
I headed north over the George Washington Bridge with the team for what turned out to be ninety-five miles with some pretty good climbs - more than I thought I'd be riding in the day. I reminded myself to eat and drink often, even though early in the ride, river-to-rivering Manhattan, one water bottle (of two) wormed its way out of a broken cage, fell down to Canal Street, and burst open. Damn.
I felt good - I stole second at a laid-back sprint for the state line (I don't think Dan C knew I was coming up) and later managed to come around an unintentional box-in to take a teammate in a long sprint for a traffic light (something I need to work on - getting coordinated with when to shift during sprints. It's so much easier on a track bike!). During the climbs I kept up with the leaders, those mountain goats, and still had energy to push it later.
Much later in the ride, Gui sneaked up to me and said, "If you do this ride every weekend, and ride during the week, you'll kick ass at Battenkill."
Training in the winter is hard. The weather, the motivation. This ride felt a little bit more like performing (for myself, for my new teammates, for my bike, finally in good working condition) than a casual training ride, and the weather suggested the early days of spring.
I have been working - riding on rollers, doing leg exercises three times a week, and, of course, on the bike in the meatpacking district (and in the park when the weather's good) - to get strong. And I feel stronger than I was last year. So that's a good sign. I might not be able to do a ride like this every weekend - not every weekend will be a balmy fortyfive degrees. But maybe today was a sign that I've been doing well with my training, and if I keep it up (whatever it may turn out to be in the next few months), maybe I have a chance of kicking ass at Battenkill.
The Palisades are a fine setting for this stuff. Cyclists pass by on these quiet back roads, these country highways. Something about the geography, the topography, and the ecosystem feel like home. The double paceline called out patches of ice and potholes, and once, in a steep climb, we turned a corner to see fields of snow across from a hibernating apple orchard. Just beautiful. In a car it would just feel like driving around in the middle of nowhere, but on a bike it's so much more interesting.