I rode Bluebell to work today. I love it b/c it takes me the same time as driving, and I'm always charged up and ready to go when I get to lab. I changed into my "civilian" clothes at lab, setting the bike clothes aside for later. I've noticed people tend to start early and leave early where I work, which is hard for the late shifters, like me. Around 5 p.m., everyone was drinking beer. Normally, 5:00 rolls by, and I don't even notice. Today, I got ancy feet. All the beer-drinkers reminded me it was quitting time. Instead of downing a cold one, I changed into my bike clothes, jumped on Bluebell, and rode off. That's my version of happy hour.
All I had to do was turn left and I was heading north up the Pacific Hwy. Sunny and in the 60s, the weather was brilliant. I saw tons of bicyclists in each direction. Some rode very hot bikes with loud jerseys. Others rode in packs, dropped over their aerobars. "Triathletes?" I wondered. All these guys passed me effortlessly. I also saw tons of bike commuters with backpacks and laptop bags, heading home after work or school. Very cool. I kept wondering about the stories behind each cyclist--do they run or swim? Are they triathletes? Will I see them in my next race? I wonder how many cyclists I pass every day that I'm closer to than I know.
I headed down the killer hill on Torrey Pines road by the nature reserve. I sat up coasted when my computer hit 30 mph, letting wind resistance do its thing. Traffic was hideously backed up. It was at a standstill due to a broken down bus up ahead. It felt almost (but not quite) unfair to be zipping past all the cars in my empty bike lane. This only is confirming my decision to try to bike commute more. It's so awesome!
After Del Mar, the road flattened out, and I settled into the drops, managing about 18 mph and 96 rpm. I turned into the beach at Cardiff by the Sea and paused to stare at the ocean and all the surfers coming in with their wetsuits hanging off of them like a shedding skin. Heading back was just as blissful. However, I slowed up through the hills, knowing the dreaded Torrey Pines hill laid ahead. I knew I was in trouble too b/c the smells of dinner emanated from several nice seafood restaurants along the road, making me salivate. I always know my tank is near empty when I start to get hungry. I was craving meat--a big juicy cheeseburger--not a good sign.
Then, I hit the hill, and it was time to focus. This hill does me in every time. Going up Mt. Soledad is worse (I have to walk up that one), but this hill just keeps going and going. It's about a mile long and goes up and up, winding and twisting. It's deceiving. Every time you reach a corner, you think, thank God that's over, only to find more damn hill around the next bend. However, it forces me to focus. All I can do is think of the hill when I'm going up it. Thinking of anything else risks completely losing it. I think about maintaining correct form to allow me to have enough force. I think about my legs turning over smoothly, each revolution gliding me up a little more up the hill. I try not to think about how much hill is left, only how well I'm doing. I maintain a steady pace so that I feel like I can keep going. When I think I can't go any farther, something always kicks in and takes over, and I tell myself, just a little bit more, and somehow, I always get up the hill. It makes me feel tough. I can take that hill anytime. I always feel valiant at the top. Exhausted, sore as hell, but valiant.
I headed home, dreaming of burgers the rest of the way. Jason made steak for dinner when I got home. Medium-rare, tender and delicious. I showered, napped, ate, and have felt physically exhausted all night. I was thinking of doing a run earlier today but my body has convincingly made a case for eliminating that without any hesitation. Just can't do it. However, some serious stretching is in order. My lower back is so sore!
Back of my mind...Only thing...my ride was only 20 miles, and it took a lot out of me. I'm a little concerned b/c I'm doing the Devil Dog Duathlon in a few weeks. This is a 5K run, 30K bike, 5K run. I know I'm not in the kind of fitness I want to be in for this but I'm worried about the distance. I'm just not where I want to be yet. But I'm getting there...