I think it was Eddy Merckx who once, asked how young riders could improve and join the pro ranks, answered simply “Ride lots.” For the first time since I returned to cycling (well, what did you take up when you turned 41?), circumstances have conspired to let me ride lots, with a 100-mile week being routine, and I can’t tell you how good it feels. First, it means coming back from my normal 30-milers with gas in the tank, something left in reserves, and that phenomenally annoying last 2k of climb isn’t so very annoying anymore — except for how it eats into my average times. Second, my average time has soared, from a normal 24-25kph to 26-27 kph in my home hills, and on an unhilly day like today, a crazy 28 kph. That’s the kind of speed I only used to get on a flat, untrafficked course. And it means that I was able to climb my ass off up Taborton Road last week and still feel good coming back on a 50-miler. Compared to last summer, when I basically sat out spring base-building and had nothing to give until about October, it just feels great.
Plus, I’m getting to know the backroads and shortcuts like never before, I’m sure to the endless annoyance of my family, who are never treated to the simplicity of traveling between two points in a line when I drive them around anymore — “but wait, there’s a better way!” Still, I get lost, and today when I got detoured off my planned route in Clifton Park (of all places), I got seriously lost and added about 10 unnecessary, but highly pleasurable, kilometers to my ride, and it wasn’t even a concern. (Still, I’ve gotta rethink this not carrying a map thing.)
The girls have started their summer with industrious berry-picking — last summer was lackluster in the raspberry department, as well, but this summer has brought a huge bounty, and next year’s canes are just insane. We thought nothing grew on the north side because it was the north side; turns out it was just the giant maple trees, casting a pall over the land. Kill the maples, save the raspberries. Also, our cherry tree, long thought to be purely decorative, is producing quarts of perfect little sour cherries, and now I’m regretting not having planted a second cherry tree 10 years ago, but who knew it would ever really produce fruit?
A summer with berries, bicycling and homemade iced tea cannot be a bad summer, I sez.