I’m a Newbie Again

I’ve done less than a handful of rides this year. I had a crash in February that resulted in road rash and a broken rib; I’ve been working on some deadline projects that have had me out of town; then there’s the usual excuses: it’s too hot, it’s too rainy, it’s too windy…

So, when riding partner Osa said she was ready for a ride, I started rooting through my equipment, changing batteries, checking tire pressure and the like. About 45 minutes before I was going to roll out, I discovered that my Cateye Strada Cadence bike computer battery was dead.

I usually make a practice of changing the battery a New Year’s Day ritual, but I skipped it this year. That meant a quick trip to Radio Shack and 15 minutes of futzing around trying to figure out how to program it.

Legs went to mush

The heat index was somewhere between 87 and 90 and the winds were 9-11 out of the east, so we picked a north-south route. It didn’t take long to figure out we had a variable headwind on the way south. Lack of riding caught up to me in a hurry. My heart rate wasn’t all that higher than normal, but my legs went to mush pretty quickly.

Oh, yeah, I’ve written lots of words about how my Brooks Champion Flyer saddle is sooooo comfortable. In fact, I wrote once that I almost killed my saddle by making it TOO soft. Trust me, when you haven’t been riding a lot of miles, I don’t think ANY saddle is going to feel soft. I’m going to give a little more sympathy to newbies I pick up along the road in the future.

Osa wanted to go over the tall Lake Worth Bridge to soak in some salt air on the beach. I figured I’d salvage what little dignity I had left and head home. I wished her well. That variable headwind we had going south turned into a variable headwind going north, too.

Watched Hurricane Isaac flow by

About two-thirds of the way home, I felt my calves send me a message: “If you don’t stop what you’re doing, we’re going to give you a hurtin’.” I listened to my calves and took a walk down to see the floodwaters from Hurricane Isaac flowing down the the canal between Lake Worth and West Palm Beach.

This canal runs all the way from Lake Okeechobee and is helping drain the water from my kid’s yard. He lives in a rural neighborhood west of town that has been underwater. His house was built on a pad that put him about three feet above the water, but it was like living on an island for several days., he said.

I’m not going to tell you what my total mileage and average speed was. I’d have been happier if I hadn’t replaced the battery in my bike computer. By the way, you can click on any photo to make it larger.


2012 New Year’s Day Ride

I don’t want to confess how long it’s been since I was on my bike. I carried it all the way to Missouri, let some great riding weather slip by while I was working on some projects and then decided I didn’t want to expose my Florida Surly Long Haul Trucker to ice and sleet. OK, I didn’t want to expose ME to ice and sleet.

Osa said she had been slacking off while I was gone, but had gone riding three or four times.

When we got to the end of Hypoluxo Island on a perfect New Year’s Day, I warned her that she might want to slow down since her bike handling skills might have deteriorated. Sure enough, she didn’t pay any attention to me; if anything, she pedaled harder. Just as she saw seawall and water looming closer, she grabbed the front brake. I’ve done an endo and gone flying over the bars, but I’ve NEVER landed as high as she did. (You can click on the photos to make them larger.)

Fire departments don’t get cats out of trees

“Osa,” I explained. “We may have a problem. I was in fire dispatch one day when a 9-1-1 call came in from a distraught woman who said her kitty cat, Snookums, got out of the house and was perched at the very tiptop of a tall tree in the front yard. She was emphatically requesting a ladder truck be dispatched immediately to effect a rescue.

“The dispatcher tried, as gently as possible, to say that fire departments didn’t rescue cats from trees anymore. It’s just to dangerous for the firefighters. Finally,” I said, “the exasperated dispatcher snapped, ‘Lady, Snookums will eventually come down on her own. When was the last time you drove down the street and saw a skeleton of a cat in a tree?'”

Fortunately, Osa, like Snookums, managed to extract herself from the tree. I noticed that she was a lot more careful grabbing that front brake on the way home.

Every word of this story is true. One of my New Year’s Resolutions is to eschew exaggeration and tomfoolery.