All my regular readers know that I went without a bike for about five months after my old one gave up the ghost. I bought a used bike in January and got on a borrowed trainer until the weather started to improve. On Saturday, I was able to get my first bike ride outside in over five months.

Getting Ready

I was in no hurry to get out first thing in the morning because it was cold (around 35F) but was due to warm up to around 60F during the afternoon. I targeted a ride time of around 10:00 AM to let it warm up some. I spent most of the morning making sure everything was ready – moving gear from my old seat bag to my new one, oiling the chain, putting air in the tires, making sure cleat bolts were tight, and so on. It took longer than I thought but I wanted to make sure everything was good. The only thing I didn’t find was my favorite water bottle that Cliff gave me. I had a backup but will need to go pick up a couple better ones.

The Ride

Back in October 2009 I moved to a place that now lets me ride straight from the front door and cut through some neighborhoods to get to White Rock Lake here in Dallas. I had mapped the route out on Google Maps and driven it once. I have to cross a couple of semi-major roads but the traffic isn’t bad at all. The route spits me out at Flagpole Hill and then I just cross Northwest Highway to get to the lake.

As I was cutting through the neighborhoods and approaching the backside of Flagpole Hill I noted that I was going downhill quite a bit. That would mean going uphill on the way home. I didn’t care though. As I approached Flagpole Hill I saw my first challenge of the day – a two-level hill that didn’t look fun. About half-way up there was a flat section that gave me a small break which helped. After getting to the top it was back down and on over to the lake.

There were a few people out but most were runners. There were a few cyclists but not near as many as there will be in a month. I’m sure the temperature kept them at bay this morning and boy did they miss out. Seeing White Rock Lake during this time of year was a big change. The trees were barren and everything was brown. With no leaves to block views I could see more of some of the beautiful houses lining the lake. It was nice but I miss the green.

I made one full loop of the lake and then headed back for home (about 18 miles total). This would be the hardest section of the entire ride. The first hill I saw the approach to Flagpole Hill. Some of you may remember that this is the hill I used last year for hill repeats. It’s just as brutal as I remember and it literally punched me in the gut. I crawled up it full of shame. Once on the backside I coasted down but knew I had two more hills to get up. Both of them were just as bad as I thought they would be and totally wiped me out. Once past the last hill though it flattens out for the last mile or so home.

The New Bike Performed Great

The new bike is awesome. It accelerates so easy and the extra gears (my last bike was a 7-speed cog and this one is a 9) really helped on the hills. I found that I can cruise along several miles an hour faster than I could on my old bike which really surprised me. Even as out of shape as I am I felt like I was already performing at a level above what I could on my old steed. Once I really start getting the miles in, and attacking the hills, I’m looking forward to seeing where this year in cycling will take me.

The day wasn’t without issues though. Namely my poor, unfit, ghastly looking body. I’m so out of shape. This short 18 mile ride totally wiped me out and left me sore on Sunday. I’ll get over this as I put the miles in. Going without a bike for 5 months didn’t help but there were things I could have done to take care of myself in the meantime. Can’t focus on that now though. Eyes front.

I’ve Missed Riding

I didn’t realize how much I had missed riding. I was only a few hundred feet from the house and was already feeling great. The cool air, wheels rolling on the pavement, clicking of gears, heaven. I found myself saying ‘Goodmorning’ to almost everyone I came across. I’ve needed this so bad.

Thanks to all my readers who have put up with my whining, posturing, and lack of posts these last five months.

I’d also like to point out that Jeff over at 331miles also returned to the bike this weekend and Mike over at Mike’s Bike Blog wrote a great race report.

Image by Fluturilla.