Turn left out of my driveway, and left again two blocks later, and the road heads straight west out of town. Somewhat weary of the ride I’ve been taking day after day on the bike path and, most of all, of ending each ride heading into the wind, I decide to face the wind from the outset, before my legs have even warmed up, eagerly anticipating a more enjoyable ride home.
Fifteen minutes into the ride, traffic thins. Traffic lights disappear. The road narrows. The sky and the horizon broaden. Landscapes of plowed earth surround me, and tired barns encroach upon the asphalt to watch me ride by. The air around me becomes quiet and peaceful. The sky is grey. Drops of rain dare me to continue, tempt me to turn back. I press on. They relent.
The road is old. It’s pitted and scared from decades or more of use, patched time and again in an effort to prolong its life and utility. Each crevice, if not suitably dodged — and they are so often unavoidable — is a jarring reminder of where I am. But I love being out here. I absolutely love being out here.
Fifty minutes out, it’s time to turn back. I have a little over 13 miles on the clock. Sunday’s plans are uncertain, so the objective today is to ride far enough that I won’t be disappointed if Sunday’s ride falls through, but not so far as to leave me without enough strength to go the distance on Sunday if I am able to participate. So I turn around. I head east. There are more descents than climbs, and the wind is at my back. I cover the same distance in forty minutes. I feel incredible.
Sunday’s forecast is for clear, bright sunny skies, with unseasonably cool temperatures. The high for the day is supposed to be in the low-60s, with temperatures only in the low-40s at 7am, when I am scheduled to set out from my house. My tights are with the family tailor (grandma) because one of the zippers busted. So we take a family field trip to the local bike shop to buy knee warmers. [Sidebar: Knee warmers are positively marvelous. Not only do they significantly increase your comfort against cool weather, but the compression they provide also helps if you suffer any discomfort from knee problems in general.] Afterward, I thoroughly cleaned and lubricated my drive train, and made sure I had everything ready to go for Sunday.