Finally back from vacation, trying to get into some kind of routine. Hard to believe it's mid-August and school around these parts starts NEXT MONDAY!
I won't torture with much talk about vacation since I'm still delayed on pictures from our early summer trip. In short -- we had a great time in Boston, saw a great game at Fenway, did the Fenway tour, learned a lot about the city and history, some folks we hadn't seen in a while. Sat behind many cars, trucks, etc. on the long drive up and back.
Because of all the travel for work and vacation, exercise took a back seat. I went almost 2 full weeks between any formal exercise and my body was craving some kind of activity. Even so, I signed up for classes at the gym on Thursday and Friday, but the 10 hour drive home on Wednesday was still catching up to me, so the 4:30 am wakeups were on hold.
Saturday, I finally got the bike off the wall and out for the monthly ride with the local bike club. The scheduled ride was 33 miles and I had planned to add about 15 from home to the start and back at the end. On my way to the start, I rode to the park where my old Team in Training group was running. Was good to see Jonathan and a couple of other folks. Really miss being out there with them, but my bike has taken over, for sure.
There were only seven of us riding on Saturday, so we split up into two groups -- three A riders and the rest of us B-C's. Since the area we normally ride is undergoing lots of roadwork, the leader pulled out an old ride that would take us into some new territory for most of us -- heading north into Baltimore County rather than the western Howard routes that are the norm. About half way, both Saul and I dropped our chains on the same hill. Since the other two B-C guys were regularly waiting for us at the next intersection, we sent them on and Saul and I, clearly the C's, would ride together, as we did in July.
Shortly after we separated, we realized that there were some monster hills on the route, including a few at 10%+. One downhill section started out with one of those truck warning signs with a 14% added to it. This particular hill had a 90 degree turn about 2/3 into it. Woulda been a fantastic hill, had it not been for the zigging and zagging. I was sure I'd wear my brake pads down to the metal.
Unfortunately, what goes down must go up. There were a few steep inclines, two of which required walking. I had hoped that I could handle these big hills, especially shorter ones, but I've still got plenty of work to do. The finale was a 2 mile uphill stretch at about 4%. Just a nice slow rise.
With the nastiness now behind us, we had about 10 miles back to the start. A few miles down the road, we got held up at a traffic light and both of my thighs began to cramp. I tried to massage them out quickly, but it was apparent that a simple traffic light massage would not do the trick. I pulled over into a grassy area and, with Saul's help and direction, was able to stretch out the cramps. Saul asked how much I stretch. I think I said "not much," which was really a lie -- "not at all" would be the truth. I was also low on liquids. Shoulda filled up at the start. Definitely need to work on the stretching and the hydration.
At the next light, I felt more cramps. At this point I was just about 2 miles from home and still 6 from the start. I decided to head back home. Once I arrived, I felt like nothing had happened.
In the end, 38 long and painful miles, but it felt great to be back on the bike. A good ride done.