I’ve been putting off the inaugural ride on my brand new sweet, sweet road bike (with the very skinny tires) since I bought the bike about a month ago. At first I was focused on the VCM, and then we had some bad weather, and – let’s be honest – I was experiencing some post-VCM generalized poutiness. By putting some mental distance between me and the VCM, I was ready to take my new bike for a ride on Saturday.
The biggest hesitation was deciding which route to take. Compared to the last time I was excited about a shiny new bicycle, circa 1990, I was no longer 10 years old and the area I live in has become exceedingly congested. Not only are there more people and cars, and places to take the people in the cars, but the cars are much bigger now. In fact, they don’t even call them cars. They call them SUVs. And when they aren’t SUVs, they’re pick-up trucks. Any native of this part of Massachusetts over the age of thirty knows only landscapers and general contractors drove pick-up trucks 25 years ago. No joke.This doesn’t leave a lot of extra room on the old roads for even the skinniest of tires.
Here’s another thing that’s dramatically changed the biker-to-driver dynamic: smart phones. Remember when cars equipped with car phones had the tell-tale cork screw antennae on the back? Those days are long gone. Now, I feel privileged if I can catch the eye of any driver, instead of the sight of their forehead as they peer down at a cell phone in their lap. These are some of the things that occurred to me as I adjusted to the toe clips, feel of my helmet, and shifting gears on my new bike.
I did 21 miles starting in Melrose, going through Wakefield around Lake Q, past Market Basket and onto Rte 28, and into North Reading before returning home. Man, was my ass sore. I never before appreciated the evenness of a newly paved road as I did on Saturday. The ride was not without incident, however. In front of the Jiffy Lube in Wakefield I panicked and went down. I bit the dirt pretty hard, bruising my hip and elbow. Fortunately the bike was OK. Damn cars scared the crap out of me. Route 28 was my second mistake. It may be long and straight but the traffic and number of street lights were brutal. Oh, and it started to rain pretty steadily towards the end of my ride, about 3-4 miles from home.
The bike felt great though. I enjoyed the speed, which is not exactly a sensation I am accustomed to at my usual 9;30 running pace. I am sure my circumstantial observations are old news to any serious or even occasional biker out there. I’m sure I’ll get used to the conditions, too. I’m excited to keep riding and already thinking up future routes. Lynnfield? Topsfield?