A reacquaintance

26 11 2011

Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

On Friday, it had been six weeks since I last rode the Lapierre. Oh sure, there have been chilly evening trail rides and boardwalk runs in the interim, but the Lapierre’s lithe carbon frame has been gathering dust, her tires flattening.

What can I say? It’s November. It’s dark, it’s cold, it’s often raining.

Runs are fine, but they're not rides.

But when Friday dawned brightly sunny and dry, the siren call of Lapierre’s sexy curves enticed me. At first I resisted. It was still cold, barely beyond freezing. And I had things to do, a movie I wanted to see.

“Do both,” said Katie, who was home sick for the day.

Why not, I thought.

So I layered up, found my warmest cycling socks, retrieved my booties, pumped up the Lapierre’s tires, lightly lubed her chain and shortly after the end of the morning rush hour we were reacquainted.

Bundled up for a cold ride.

It took only a few strokes of the pedal to renew our bond. The chilled air tickled my nostrils, the low, angled sunlight bedazzled my eyes. My legs rejoiced.

There were no great ambitions for this ride, just be home by lunch; 50 kilometers in my legs started to feel the long layoff.

The downside of fall/winter rides; mud, grit and debris on the shoulders.

But there’s always something magical about the first ride after a period away from the bike, a renewed familiarity and comfort like meeting up with an old friend. And after a handful of rides on the heavier, more lumbering mountain bike, the lightness and responsiveness of the road machine fuels the adrenaline rush.

Thank you Lapierre. Thank you sunshine.

Thrill of the chill

16 11 2011

Baby, it’s cold outside.

If The Big Ring has seemed a little spare lately, well, that’s because there’s not much riding going on. Oh sure, there’s the odd run here and there, but I’m not a runner, and this isn’t a running blog.

November gloom has settled in. It rains a lot, snows occasionally. And the single-digit temperatures mean lots of layers when the rare opportunity for a ride does present itself.

Lots of layers ease the cold, but don't eliminate it.

Of course, the hardest part of taking advantage of those opportunities is actually getting out the door. Staying inside where it’s warm and dry is awfully tempting.

But the payoff for overcoming that inertia is always worth it.

The chilled air burns the lungs and bites the cheeks. The orange, yellow and red leaves that blanket the trails crackle beneath the tires. As you burn amidst the trees, the world beyond the headlight beam ceases to exist; it’s just you and the ride in the cold.

Nice enough for a ride

4 11 2011

A perfect fall day.

The fancy condos that hug the north shore of False Creek.

And yet I did not ride.

Had other things to do, like finish Christmas shopping.

Deny, deny, deny

3 11 2011

I live in denial.

I am not a runner. Even when I lace up my sneakers, pull on my hoodey and head out in the chilled dusk, I will deny any running inclinations.

I just want to maintain some level of fitness, so all that work I did through the spring and summer doesn’t go to waste. And my pants still fit.

I am not a runner. I am not a runner. I am not a runner...

But let’s face it, there is something alluring about just being able to head out on a whim for a brisk 30 minute cruise up and down the boardwalk, home and warm again before Entertainment Tonight is over, the rest of the evening free to watch more mindless TV, maybe even a dvd.

The evening trail rides are a long and complicated exercise in logistics, shuttling the mountain bike down from the storage locker to the car parked outside, then the long drive to UBC, then kitting up in the cold and dark.

The rides are worth it though. Especially when the air is cool and clean, searing your nostrils then warming in your lungs. The forest beyond the reach of our lights is a mystery of dark shadows and the occasional startling noise.

Riding by lights on the trail at night.

The break at the pier is always a highlight, a transcendent moment when you realize how great it is to be able to do this, the lights of the city twinkling off the gently rolling water, the dark shadow of freighters at anchor silhouetted against the distant North Shore condos. Then comes the climb back up to the trails, legs churning, lungs burning, a barometer of fitness lost or gained.

Taking a break at the pier.