The importance of being limber

It’s March, which means the start of the cycling season I’ve been waiting for since the Last Best Ride back in November. A few jaunts out on the warmer days and even fewer miles logged on the rollers have done nothing to preserve my base, and my muscles are tighter than they’ve ever been, which is saying something. Every day, Facebook reminds me that my high school classmates are all hitting the half-century mark, and even my own body has to admit that flexibility is a privilege, not a right. I’ve already learned that nothing heals anymore so I’d better not tear or break anything.

So to get ready I’ve got a crack squadron of trained ballerinas (made them myself: sugar, spice, Chemical X, spandex) improving my floor exercises, giving me points on form, and telling me what Miss Madeline would say if she could see me. (It wouldn’t be anything good.)  I’ve had the Olympics to train to for two weeks (watching elite athletes always inspires me to new heights of stretching), and I’ve even been getting the rollers out. Rollers are vastly superior to trainers in that you’re actually riding a bike, rather than being bolted to a flywheel. Your pedal stroke becomes smooth as glass, or else you meet the floor (clipping in: not recommended). However there is no classic rock album, no podcast, not even an extended Groucho Marx impression by Gilbert Gottfried that can overcome the simple fact that on rollers, you’re not going anywhere, and you can’t coast. So ultimately, I’ve just gotta get out there.

The last two days the temps haven’t been bad, a couple of degrees above freezing but with no wind, but the wetness is at flood stages and the spring ritual of our roads crumbling into nothingness is well underway. Where I live, that means that the shoulders that don’t exist, already littered with winter’s pointy debris, are slick and lined with chunks of asphalt. When you’re cruising along at 20 mph with about 3 square inches of contact with the ground, all of this matters. But I will get out there this week, and find out what parts work and what parts don’t. On me, not the bike.

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