Today was my first bicycle ride since Christmas Eve when I took sick. You can read about it a few posts back. Anyway, it was my first ride in a whole week and the final ride I will take this year. Yin/yang …
I can’t believe that the head cold which laid me low last week and clearly affected my upper respiratory system was so strong. We have had some mellow bike-riding weather here in Chicago the past week, but I could feel that my body wasn’t ready to push the pedals yet. My only exercise was walking poochie three times a day about a mile each time. I would go outside and feel the lovely air and lack of wind and other biking obstacles and my imagination would say Time to ride, but my mind overruled it because I knew I really hadn’t recovered. The spirit was willing but the flesh was weak.
After my first dog walk, I decided that today would be the day. My body felt stronger. Also, it has been a full week since I got sick. Lastly, it is December 31, so it will be my last chance to ride this year. I thought I would give it a go. I also decided in advance that if I had no problems, when I stopped to rest at the 10 mile mark, I would decide on whether I would ride farther, but no more than 15 miles in any event.
It was so great to get out on the bike. The temp was around 38F when I started. That is a very manageable temp for cycling – not too cold on my face and not too hot once I got riding. The sun was shining and there was a mild 8 mph wind. Because the temp was below 40F I left poochie at home.
Although I haven’t exercised at all in the past week, I was pleasantly surprised that my legs felt great immediately and throughout the ride. We have a beautiful landmark here in Chicago called Buckingham Fountain. It is one of my favorite sights in the city and I ride by it every day that I can. This being the winter, the fountain has been shut off for two months now. It is still beautiful, just quiet. Also, the gaggle of tourists is no longer here, either. I often take a break on one of the benches that surround the fountain and just look at it like the tourists do. A hundred years ago when I was in college I used to bring a date down to Grant Park on Friday night to listen to the concerts, they were free. Then we would go look at the fountain where multi-colored lights added an entirely new dimension to it. Very romantic stuff.
Getting back to the ride, I stopped at 10 miles and snacked on a Honey Stinger Waffle for energy. These are wonderful energy boosters which I wrote up here. I also decided that I could handle a 15 mile ride on my first day back.
There are still some tourists and others who gravitate to the fountain despite its not running. The two refreshment stands are closed as are the two sets of restrooms. Because of my familiarity with the area, I am always able to help folks who try to get into the restrooms to find a nearby porta-potty. Tourists like to take pictures of each other by the fountain even when it is quiet. I often shoot couples and families because when I have been out with my daughter we always appreciated when someone would offer to take a shot of the two of us together. It was really great to be back out on my bike again.
I finished up with 15 miles and a lot of energy left, but I thought I would try to act intelligent and not push myself into a relapse with a 20 mile or longer ride.
I have finished counting my biking miles for 2011. The grand total is 6357 miles. While that is below the 7100+ I rode last year, it is still above the 4777 of two years ago. I don’t have a full explanation of why I fell short this past year. Of course, I am a year older. That counts for something. I also had some low energy issues for a while which I think I have dealt with now. In terms of year ’round biking, my average for 2011 was 17.5 miles/day and 122 miles a week.
Just for the record, because I ride on the lakefront path, I am able to ride at about a 12 mph pace that is fast enough to keep my heart rate into the ‘zone,’ so I get a lot of cardio benefit from my miles. Last time I checked my resting heart rate was below 50 beats per minute.
I hope you have a safe New Year’s Eve celebration and a super 2012!
If you would like to read more about cycling and see some of the photos I shoot on my rides check out my new blog Willing Wheeling.