It’s taken a few months, but I’ve finally found a couple paths to ride with my road bike. As I’ve spent a good bit of 2016 running, I’ve realized the cycling is really more my style. It’s just tough to pound that payment. Thankfully my bike is still in pretty good shape and it’s felt great to ride again.
From the house, I managed to map out a trail that takes me through a couple large neighborhoods onto a road that has a lower speed limit and a large percentage of motorist that seem to be okay with a cyclist on their roads. It’s roughly a 20 mile trail over to Champion Forest road and up to 99 (toll road). I do have to keep an eye on traffic and there are several large intersections that take a while to cross. The starting and stopping can be tricky when you’re clipped into the pedals. Regardless, I can ride from the house and that makes things more simple.
The second path that I’ve found to ride starts for me at Pundt Park. This is a county park that leads in one direction about 3 miles to Dennis Johnston Park and the other way about 8 miles towards Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center. If I ride both directions then I’m able to get ~ 21-22 mile ride. Below is an overview of the path.
The trail itself is an approximately 8-10 feet wide asphalt path that winds through the woods along Spring Creek. Most of it is in great shape with a few sections that have some small buckles and other areas that have been freshly repaved. The flood earlier in the year covered a couple miles of the trail and you can see where the county pushed the sand to the sides forming a boundary of sand in those areas. It’s a winding path that is also frequented by runners, walkers and other cyclist though I haven’t had any troubles navigating there.
The woods are primarily pine trees with a sprinkling of hard wood which is very similar to the area in which I spent my childhood. Riding through the park really does bring me back to my younger years spent out in the woods next to my childhood home. Although those weren’t always fond memories, it provides a fresh perspective on the routine of work and family that I enjoy now.
So far I’ve been able to ride once a week. Throw in a run in between and that sums up my exercise routine. It’s light weight for sure and only a shadow of my prior routine. It does match up with my expectations though (see earlier post). I can definitely feel a difference in my endurance as a result. After about an hour, I’ve lost my edge somewhat. At times I’ve been able to hit the 25-30 mph range, but generally it’s around 18-19 mph. As the weather cools perhaps I’ll spend more time exercising and get my mileage up to 50-60 miles per week. We’ll see.
As I slid along the rough roadway, I thought about how terrible it felt on my arm and what it might look like when I would finally come to a stop.
A minute earlier, the rain began to fall and a few drops turned into a quick downpour. It wasn’t suppose to rain for another couple hours, but obviously no one told the rain cloud. I hunkered down on my bike hoping to keep the rain off of my non-waterproof phone. Being close to the house, I navigated off of my normal route to cut the distance. I was pushing hard and gaining some speed (GPS showed 23.4 mph) when I entered a curve. It happened so fast that I don’t even remember much about the actual fall, but the sliding seemed to go on forever. In reality, it was slightly less than forever (about 25 feet).
I came to a stop in a pile of bike and rider against the curb. Thankfully nothing seemed broken, but the rain was washing the blood down my arm and it was dripping of my elbow. My side was burning, but with cars coming in both directions I tried to get back on my bike to get out of the way. I really didn’t take much time to assess my bike or even to look it over. I just clipped back in and hoped for the best. The cars didn’t give me much space, so I was happy to have them pass without hitting me (though I already had a dressed rehearsal for it).
Back at home, I left my dripping bike outside (which I never do) and called out for Connie who helped me get situated. I had scratches from my shoulder down to my ankle, but my forearm and upper thigh were raw. The worst of it is the 3-4 inch diameter patch on my hip and Connie has been keeping fresh bandages on it (along with antibiotics). It’s surprising how that can limit your mobility.
All month I’ve been targeting an overall goal of hitting 10,000 miles cycling. I wanted to hit that mark before the end of the year, but I was 16 miles short after Saturday when the accident occurred. Today I managed to put in an additional 18 miles to reach my goal. The riding shorts up against a fresh bandage didn’t create any friction on the wound, so I really didn’t feel it. It was nice to be able to get that done.
A few lessons from the accident:
Roads (especially rough, rocky asphalt) is slick when wet. Don’t ride or at least have the proper equipment.
Low rolling resistance road slicks are not the proper equipment for wet surfaces.
A little water never hurt anyone. Can’t say that for hard pavement.
I have mentioned before that my goal for cycling is to be able ride a century (100 mile ride within a 12 hour period). In general, centuries are popular with cycling organizations and typically are schedule annually. Along the route, stations (SAG) are setup to provide water, snacks and restroom breaks. You’ll also typically have a vehicle that runs the course continually looking for cyclist that are having issues with their bike or their endurance. There is one schedule next month that is sponsored by the Baton Rouge Bike Club. I’m not a member of that organization, but thought I might join and take part in their Fall century. I hear the group is great, but I just don’t have enough time to drive across town for a ride. You also have to give up a lot of flexibility which is the case whenever you work with a group.
Since I couldn’t find any of my friends that were interested in a century this year, I decided to just do one solo here in the neighborhood. I’ve been increasing my miles with the intention of doing one as the weather got cooler. Well the coolness in the air this weekend triggered in me a desire to get it done.
Last Month I passed the 6,000 mile mark on my new bike (well, it used to be new). Today I hit 6,384 miles. It’s been a great bike to ride and it’s still in nearly perfect shape. It did require regular maintenance to get it that far and at the moment, I could use a couple more tires and perhaps new chain (will be my 3rd). I’m still impressed with how quickly you can get up to speed when you really push it.
So how far is 6,384 miles? Well to put things in perspective, if you drove from San Francisco to New York it would be 2,909 miles. So I’ve ridden my bike the equivalent of that round trip (plus a few miles to detour over for some skiing).
The crazy part is that I’ve never ridden it outside of my neighborhood. I have a 12.5 miles loop that I can ride without getting on a major road, so I do that twice and sometimes three times a ride (weather permitting). Let’s just say that I know the roads around here pretty well.
During those rides, I’ve burned an estimated 332,000 calories (estimated by the Runtastic software which is probably a little high). I don’t know that I need to burn that now, but it does allow me a lot of flexibility in my eating habits which is nice at times. I’m not tracking my calories right now, so it’s not really that important of a metric to me.
So where do I go from here? Not sure. I suppose 10K will be my next milestone. Perhaps early next year I’ll hit that mark. Doesn’t matter, I just need to keep on riding and that will come before I know it.