I rode almost 75 miles alone today. Initially I didn’t really feel like going out at all, but the sun started shining about 9:00 and I decided I couldn’t waste a perfectly beautiful day. And, as always, I ended up not regretting any of it. (Helpfully, I didn’t get any flats.) I rode north to Snohomish, turned south and rode all the way down Snoqualmie Valley nearly to Fall City, and then came back home north along the Sammamish Valley, with one stop about 40 miles in at a grocery store in Carnation. In my head I dubbed it my “Down in the Valley” ride.
I’m still riding outside, albeit alone and carefully (the last thing I want is to go to the emergency room!). Advantages of riding alone: I can stop for pictures any time I want.
Here was my ride yesterday:
Here was today:
I’ve been back to biking for almost six weeks, since January 18. In that time, darkness, rain, and wind have characterized most of my commutes. But those only serve to heighten the enjoyment of a day like yesterday: Mid-50s, sunny, light breeze, and daylight fading into a brilliant sunset.
I chose to ride across 520 and along Lake Washington Boulevard to fully appreciate the sunset, and I’m sure glad I did.
It may sound silly to reach the top of a hill and exultantly exclaim, “Both my legs worked!” But when I got to the top of the full Issaquah Highlands climb, I couldn’t restrain myself. I rode that climb nearly every week for months last summer, and I know keenly how it felt before my surgery. This week I apprehensively anticipated riding that climb: Could I even get up a hill that big, the condition I’m in now?
This ride answered that with a definitive YES. Riding up it with two fully functional legs, even though I have a lot of fitness to regain, gave me so much hope. I had joined the Cascade CHEW ride and finished that hill with a perfectly respectable finish in the middle of the pack. And that’s just a starting point.
I don’t know how many times I’ve told Benji to please wait and be patient. Probably several times a minute. Thus I can fully appreciate the deep irony of a situation where my patience was stretched to breaking. Here’s the story.
On my morning commute, I ride the bus to Seattle since I don’t feel any need to commute by bike 21 miles twice a day. When I ride the bus, I get off at the first downtown stop, take my bike off the rack, turn, mount my bike, and ride away — directly ahead of the bus. So naturally I try to expedite the unload-and-go process, not wanting to hold up an entire busload of people any longer than necessary. If I use a backpack, I don’t have to worry about hooking a pannier onto my bike before I start riding. I can usually get rolling before the bus has finished loading new passengers.
Yesterday we enjoyed one of the few genuinely dry days in a month of endlessly drippy skies. In the evening heavy rain fell, but overnight the skies briefly cleared, temperatures dropped, and all that wetness started freezing.
As I mentioned earlier, Saturday I spent with the family at MoPOP, a day very well spent. To get in my biking, I’d arranged to skip church on Sunday and join a Cascade ride led by a friend of mine. I knew I couldn’t keep up with the pace for long — the first hill would likely eliminate me — but that’s the pace I used to ride, and my goal is to get back there for this summer. There’s nothing like riding with faster people to get faster.
On Sunday I went for my first ride outside after surgery. I rode my rain bike on a solo modified 7 Hills of Kirkland loop and felt like a puppy off the leash, a wind-driven cloud, a butterfly freed from its cocoon, a plastic bag finally joined with its brethren in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch. Oh wait, sorry, not that last one.
My left leg felt both awesome and terrible. Awesome, because I didn’t have any of the excruciating pain I’ve come to expect on rides. That means that the surgery worked!