First Road Ride of the Season!

Oh *hell* yes.  Some lovely weather system is blowing warm air up from the south and is blanketing my cold little state with 40-50 degree temperatures for three short days this week.  I said that once the mercury rose above 35 degrees, I was hitting the road.  (Quick video capture from my HD HTC EVO mounted on the handlebars to the right there…)

Two feet of snow still on the ground?  Meh.

Only the main streets are cleared / melted enough to be even 1/2-way suitable for biking?  Meh.

15mph sustained headwind from the west?  Meh.

Have only been on the exercise bike at home and the gym since October when the mornings got too cold (for me) to ride?  Meh.

Road spray so bad that it somehow gets past the waterproof jacket I’m wearing to completely soak my backside?  Meh.

The sun on your face, wind whistling through your helmet, busting out 15 miles was simply amazing.  Old Blue has some little issues after the overhaul – my smallest gear slips a bit under load, but nothing a little tweaking should be able to fix.  Otherwise it’s a quick jump back to the service shop.  No biggie.  (It is amazing how much better things roll when you have completely rebuilt bearing sets too.  HA!)

…and here I go…February 15th and I’m already registered for two bike tours and eying some more.  My wife and I have the MN Ironman Bike Ride in May (68 or 100, haven’t decided),  and I have the MS150 (150 miles) in June.  Exciting stuff!

However one of the things that my local bike group did mention last year was that they wanted more group-centric free rides around the cities rather than always having to pay for tours.

I’m split between paid tours and mapping a route in the local area to hit up.  I TOTALLY hear what everyone is saying about the cost – this stuff starts to add up, especially if you are doing this with your s/o – I already have about $150 sunk into tours this year for my wife and I, with another $80 or so probably coming up here in the next few weeks.

Being able to throw an quick “meet here for 30 miles” event up on Facebook is really neat-o too – there rarely is a fee. (potential $3 trail fee or something, but hey)   Especially here in MN, there are so many bike trails to use that if you say you’re bored you need to look again.  Really the only things you pay for is potentially gas to get you to a starting point, and some food / drink stored in a saddlebag / bottle for the ride.  You ride with your “home group” and have a good time…no stress, no time limits, nice.

Paid tours are kinda stress-free on the other end of the spectrum.  They’re already mapped out, you’re biking with hundreds (or thousands) of fellow cyclists of all levels, you have support / gear people constantly driving the route, and you have staffed rest stops that are all ready for you to come pass out at for a few minutes.  Zero thought apart from making sure you follow the route.

I don’t know what the answer is – honestly I like a blend of both paid and group rides.

Everyone trains / exercises / motivates differently – this is where I run into a little point of contention with people.  I can motivate myself to get moving on something – for starters – but I need someone else to pick me up and shake me awake when I’m starting to look at the couch, peeking at that carton of ice cream in my freezer, and queuing up an episode of The Biggest Loser on the DVR.  I feel that I’ve aligned myself with enough good friends and family members that SOMEONE will shake me when I need shaking – kind of?

I tried last year to put together some great group (free) rides and some of them absolutely were successes, but the larger majority of them started out with great “oh yeah, that would be great!” enthusiasm, but by the time I was standing at the trail-head, only one or two people ended up following through.  I kinda lost the drive to go through the trouble of mapping out routes, orchestrating times and equipment, and just raw trying to motivate people to come along on the ride.  I’m attacking this year with a fresh set of eyes and renewed enthusiasm, and I have my family there always to back me up and to go riding with me.

Again – as I stated in one of my earlier posts, 2000 miles is my goal.  I’m already closing in on 200 miles (all but 15 miles on the trainer at this point) but these last 15 on the road have sure energized me.  GO AWAY WINTER – I’M DONE WITH YOU NOW!


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