In my previous post, I wrote about how Twitter had become a sort of informal cycling log for me. I highlighted various tweets throughout the two years that I’ve been posting them—including the tweet about my final outdoor ride of the 2010 season. I ended my post by wondering when I would first tweet about riding outdoors in 2011.
Not long after that post, I rode outdoors for the first time. Remember, Twin Citians, that balmy stretch of weather two weeks ago when the mercury pushed past 50 degrees and the snowpack retreated to the North?
It was Saturday, and only the day before, my nine-year-old daughter had been pining for those hazy days of summer when she and I would ride together around Lake Nokomis. I suggested that we might be able to ride on the weekend if the weather stayed nice and, sure enough, it was Saturday and it was 56 degrees and she was itching to test her cycling legs.
I had been riding indoors since December, and I had even attended three spinning classes—Monday, Wednesday, Friday—that week, so I figured that a brief jaunt with my daughter might well provide a much needed therapeutic flushing of lactic acid from my burning legs.
So we mounted our respective steeds, she on her flowery beach cruiser and I on my Fuji, and we made our way down 42nd Street, took a left, and headed north along the Mississippi River Trail. We turned around after exactly 2.5 miles—just past the Lake Street Bridge, and pedaled us home.
But a funny thing happened to me on the way back to the house.
I began to think that maybe, since I was already wearing my gear, I ought to go for a little ride by myself. I had attended more than thirty spinning classes to this point, and I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I had starting to feel a bit cocky about my cardio prowess. I was eager to test myself against the rigors of a real road instead of the controlled environment of the cycling studio.
So I dropped off my daughter, secured my helmet and re-fastened the Velcro on my cycling gloves, and lit out.
I had gotten cocky, no, I had become arrogant about my ability to pedal a cycle at high r.p.m. with high resistance, so I decided to shift my bicycle to the big chain ring and try to ride the entire twenty miles out and back from my house in the Longfellow neighborhood to Harriet Island.
I was surprised, at first, then dismayed about not being about to turn over that big gear as I pedaled raggedly down Minnehaha Avenue. And when that first puff of wind billowed the nylon of my Columbia jacket, I immediately plummeted from 19 m.p.h. to a glacial 13 m.p.h. Damn, my daughter was spinning faster than that last summer in her circumnavigation of Lake Nokomis. I was really wondering what all those spinning classes had done for me when I struggled in a much smaller gear up that long slow gradient along the Mississippi up to Mendota at a less than infernal pace of 15.5 m.p.h.
When I got home, this is what I tweeted: “1st Fuji ride in ’11. Thought I had worked myself into super human shape cycling indoors this winter. Real road cycling has humbled me.”