Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 has started with lots of riding, cold, wind, sun

Lubbock now has had be back for more than a fortnight, as they say in Britain, and before I start my year's travel with a trip to Ecuador on Thursday I thought I'd provide a quick update, lest my faithful followers and itinerant readers might think I've fallen off The End of the World ...
The End of the World

Yes, this is what I call affectionately The End of the World. It is the turn-around point for a 35-miler that I like to ride when the wind comes from the southwest. One rides on this long, narrow strip of asphalt, encountering more dogs than cars (currently there are two mean ones, and one behind a fence). The road seems to go on forever until it somehow vanishes right over the horizon, with nothing but brownery behind. One could think one is going to fall off The End of the World. And then one goes down a tiny little slope and the asphalt ends. Fortunately, a stop sign tells the traveler what to do.

I've been riding a lot. When I got back from Europe late on January 30, I knew it'd be a long slog back to fitness. On my first ride, on New Year's Eve, I was honestly wondering why I felt like total dogshit—until it hit me that, duh!!!!, that I felt the remnants of the cold that had really hit me hard while in Berlin, the long flight the day before, the usual amount of alcoholic beverages over the holidays, the total lack of riding for more than two weeks, and—could that maybe be the true culprit?—my having been totally out of shape even before I left for Europe! So, no wonder I felt abjectly horrible on the bike.
The mostly gravel-road Southland Loop
We rang in the New Year with a Feuerzangenbowle at Wes and Susan's—and a 1 p.m. ride of the Southland Loop with Bobby's group just a few hours later. That morning, all hung over, I transformed my non-operational 8-speed 'crossbike within one hour into a functioning 9-speed, all with used parts. Whew! On that 43-miler I felt as crappy as the day before, but for now-known reasons plus the effects of the Feuerzangenbowle the night before. We grow older, but we don't learn, it seems....

Despite heavy winds (OMG, one day it blew dust and all I could do was use the commuter to ride 20 miles through town buying hard-to-find groceries for a fancy dinner) and at times bitterly cold temperatures, I have ridden every day except one (that was when we hit something like 11 F and the flags were  blowing stiff as boards). Just this morning I convinced myself that I could beat the wind by going out early and riding first into it, and I ended up with 46 miles while normal people sat in their warm offices and worked. Ah, the cruelty of being retired and being cursed to a life of leisure and cold, windy bike rides.

If my plans work out, tomorrow I'll add another 35 miles or so to the 477 miles since December 30 before boarding my first flight of the new year on Thursday morning. Let's see whether I can keep off some of the three or four pounds I have lost over the past two weeks. I feel as if I am living on an eternal weight roller coaster.
Canada geese at the "tank" in my 'hood
Aside from riding my little heart out I've been doing a few things around the house (but not too many!), taking the occasional walk, and making nice dinners either for myself or for dinner guests. I've been playing with some new recipes, and that's been really satisfying: creating something yummy in that perfect kitchen that I so love. So, overall it's been a good start to the new year, and the upcoming trip to Ecuador will of course be a first highlight. Stay tuned for a travel report in the next few days, time permitting.


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