On Thursday evening, Ben announced he thought it was time for me to try a ride on my “big bike” (which in Lukas-speak translates into riding the road bike, as opposed to the MTB or recumbent-style commuter), and that Saturday (today) was the day to do that. My last ride on the Serotta was October 14… when i co-led the ASSR before heading off the following week to Fiji. Unfortunately, after the final dive of the trip, I took a quick slip/fall/splat walking on a wet wooden footbridge… and have been dealing with a variety of minor yet rather debilitating spine/hip/leg/neck injuries ever since. So, in spite of no broken bones or anything that pops out in X-rays, my forays back into my normal athletic regime have been slow going…. a bit of commuting, Bay Trail loops, all flat and reasonably short.
We got kitted up after a reasonably late morning of the usual oatmeal (and home-brewed caffe latte for me, straight up tea for Ben). With the slightly overcast sky, it seemed appropriate to roll out the day wearing the brightly colored, cartoonish Playful Bears of our GPC outfits.
It wasn’t until I went down to the garage to grab my bike off the rack, pump tires, lube chain, and wipe off some of the dust, that i realized that Ben had also pulled out his “big bike” for this ride… and for him it would be a first attempt since about December 2011!!!! Ben’s injuries, once they eventually got diagnosed, are both more straightforward and more long-term: a ruptured disc complicated by a bone spur both in the C5-C6 area of his vertebrae. His solution (in addition to PT) has been a recumbent bicycle purchased from our buddy and fellow GPC member, Zach Kaplan, and after many many months being completely off the bike, the recumbent has given Ben at least an opportunity to resume his bike commute. A cortisone shot a few months ago brought also some relief. So today was a trial run for Ben to see if he can switch back to the light-weight Lemond for recreational riding, generally easier and more fun to ride than the recumbent, which has been wonderful in allowing Ben to ride at all, but limits body positioning and a chance to work different muscles.
From Albany, we took the usual “Stop Sign Route” out to San Pablo Dam Road, also stopping in at The Pedaler in El Sobrante so Ben could take a look at and possibly purchase a new, shorter stem for the road bike. Ron and Ian and the young student set him right with a reasonably priced model (which Ben bought and stuffed in jersey pocket to install afterward at home) and we were again on our way.
Last time out on Dam Road, I had set a personal speed record of looping from home to the Orinda start for the ASSR in a 16.7 mph average speed for the whole 16.7 mile distance, covering the flat straightaways at around 23-28 mph and never dropping below about 12 mph on the section with a bit of rise. Let’s say that today i was “somewhat slower” in my times on all sections, although bottom speed on the little rolling section never dropped below 6 mph, which for a recovery ride, was better than some other periods of injury recovery in my day.
En-route, encountered several Grizzlies (Jean P – i believe? – on SPDR; Cliff and Sabine at Inspiration Point; possibly Giovanni somewhere along Wildcat? and we had a mini GPC convention at Island: Phil P; Janet N & Brian A).
Got home, day still young, and although my neck felt stiff and pinged and cracked in a few places during the ride, it certainly did feel wonderful to be riding my lovely road bike, and after an over-long hiatus of over four months away, rather than having to retrain my muscles and reflexes, the whole experience was – as they say, well… just like riding a bicycle!
I’m BACK! Yes!
Today’s stats (short, slow, steady):
Avg mph: 11.8
Max mph: 23.3
Riding time: 2:01:16