Saturday, August 09, 2008

The Road More Hilly

There's a place in a smaller town a ways out from mine that serves an incredible chocolate malt. I discovered it a couple years back, biking with some friends on a trail from another small town, along a river, where we ended up in MaltTown needing a bathroom. So we went into this restaurant, and being hungry, got ourselves something. I got myself a malt, and the rest is history. It was the best malt I'd had in well over 20 years (not for lack of trying them, either).

Since then, I've biked out (and out and back) along the bike trail a couple times. It's just about 34 miles (as I recall) on the bike trail out, so that makes for a long ride. But there's also, as you can imagine, a road that goes there. The bike trail is a rail-to-trail trail, which means it doesn't have much in the way of hills, but it's also not well paved for two-thirds of the way, being either uneven asphalt or packed gravel; it's doable on a road bike, but the last time I did it, my arms and shoulders got really tired. The road, on the other hand, is well-paved but has some hills. There's one hill that's not really steep, but it goes on for a mile, so by the time I get up it, my legs have had a workout and I'm sure my heart and lungs are working well. (I'm equally sure I should get my head examined every time I start up it, however.)

Last year, when I first thought I could make the 30 some miles out on the trail, I arranged with a friend to leave my car (with the rack on the back) at her place, and then meet her at the malt shop for a treat a couple hours later. We had our treat, and then I put my bike on the back and we came back to NorthWoods. Except her son rode with me. (Later I rode out and back a couple times, again on the trail.)

So let me tell you about this young man. Then, he was a high school senior; now, he's about to enter his first year of college. And if you have any doubts that young men can be good conversationalists, pleasant to have around, and good riding friends, you should meet this young man, and your doubts would disappear. He rides so much more easily and fast than I do, without the near-daily riding that I do, that it would be a little discouraging, except I have 20 years on him, and distinctly less testosterone. And he's pleasant to ride with.

I've been wanting to ride out on the road, and today was the day. Weirdly, and to my surprise, the road ended up being a lot shorter (24 miles), and the hills were hard, but doable. The company was good, and the malt excellent, and worth every hill. My friend met us there with my car, and we had a bite (I had a malt!), and then came home.

And now my legs are tired in that really good way; while I'm sitting, they don't actually hurt or anything, but when I get up, they're good and tired.

We rode a lot faster this year; whether because I'm in better shape, or we had a better tailwind, or going down the hills was faster than going up was slower, I don't know. But there's nearly a full mile per hour difference (and when you average 15 or so mph, that's a big difference). I'm going to pretend I'm just in better shape, but we had a sweet and gentle tailwind most of the ride, and that really helps me a lot, especially on flatish areas.

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