Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Who Has a Comfortable Bike Saddle????

I want to show you some photos from my bike ride last week!

We picked up my bike from the bike shop in Cheyenne last Monday.  Phil got it overhauled for me so that I could start riding it again.  It'd been hanging in the garage for so long, it needed new tires - and a LOT of cleaning.  He paid for a professional tune-up, so lots of things were taken apart and rebuilt.  It was great - looked beautiful all cleaned up!  It's a pretty old bike.  I got it used when I was in school in Riverside - so that was about... hmmm... 20 years ago?  I rode it quite a bit back then - it even went to Mono Lake long ago... and I rode it from Riverside to San Diego once!  I rode it when I started the bike club here... I rode it all over Wyoming on the Tour de Wyoming.  I rode it on the RAGBRAI in Iowa once, too.  We've both been around the block a few times!  :-)

But, last Wednesday I rode it again for the first time in YEARS!  It rode like a dream - it was great!  I had a higher average speed than I think I've ever had.  I don't know if that was because of the tune-up, or whether maybe I was in a tiny bit better shape after having done the Leslie Sansone 5-mile walking DVD for a number of months already over the winter.  Or maybe the wind was at my back!

Anyway, it felt good to ride again (even if I did have to ride out the bumpy dirt road of our neighborhood just to get to a paved street).  I rode about 10-miles ride that first day - the day I got my hair done, so I had to cut the ride short to make my appointment in time.  After those 10 miles, I was pretty sore from sitting in the saddle; but I still wanted to get more miles in on Friday when I had time off from work.

Weather on Friday was great!  It was a tiny bit chilly with the breeze, but really nice and sunny.  The road was miserably bUmPy!  Years ago - maybe 5 or 6 years ago - I called WYDOT to find out when they were going to do some repairs on the road because the shoulder is/was/still absolutely terrible!  PAINFULLY terrible!  But, I had a particular destination in mind and I really wanted to get there.

I rode out of town several miles to get to the wildlife preserve to see what kind of wildlife I might see.  Once years ago, Phil and I had some sand hill cranes fly over us as we were cycling along.  On my Friday ride, it seemed like I got there faster than I thought I would.  in fact, I kept looking for the roadside historic marker and I never saw it!  I was sure that they'd removed it since I didn't see it.  

When I got to the lake, I mostly saw geese:

I also noticed that there was still quite a bit of snow on the mountains to the southwest of us (top right corner of photo below).

Funny, though.  It wasn't until the other day when I looked at the videos that I took, that I noticed how windy it was when I was out there!  That water was moving pretty fast in the lake (see the video).  And it was from the wind - not the geese!  I hadn't even noticed the wind because I'd been riding with it!  I was actually kind of tired because it was a pretty long ride for only the second time in the (excruciatingly painful) saddle.  But, I knew if I just went a tiny bit farther, I could get a good picture of the snow on the mountains that is now currently responsible for the flooding that we have down here.  So, I dragged myself back into the saddle to go just a little bit farther... I knew from the saddle and the bUmPy road, I wouldn't be riding out that way anytime again too soon.

So here's a photo of the mountains with the over 200% of normal snow pack last Friday.  Today, our river is over flood stage and rising and spreading itself around pretty well - and pretty fast.  Over 1,000 cubic feet per second.  

So, after hanging out with the cows for a few minutes, I forced myself back into the saddle.  I didn't have any cell phone reception out where I was - at least I wasn't able to get a call to go through, so there was no way I was going to be able to call Phil to come and get me to take me home!  I had to cycle myself back home on that bUmPy road on that miserably hard saddle and that was that.  

As I left to go back the way I came (I passed up the option of doing a hill climb to get to the highway a different direction, as well as getting to ride an even greater distance on that bUmPy road), I stopped to take off my jacket and try my cell phone again.  No luck.  But, I thought the sound of the peepers was pretty cool where there was some flooding - possibly intentional for irrigation, or maybe just pretty large snowmelt puddles.  I couldn't tell on which side of the road the peepers were loudest.

But I really needed to drag myself back home or it was going to get even more windy, so I hit the road again - on that miserably hard saddle...

As i was riding along, a little pronghorn doe ran into the road ahead of me.  I slowed down - not wanting to scare it away, but not wanting it to run into me, either.  I wanted to get my camera out of my bike bag to take a photo of it for you, but I knew if I stopped to do that it'd run away, anyway.  So, I just kept pedaling very slowly.  Then a car came up from behind me and saw the pronghorn.  The car stopped in the road for a little while, then proceeded very cautiously as the pronghorn - not being able to find a way to escape through any fence - was darting back and forth across the road.  

Finally the pronghorn ran along the fence line for a little bit and the car was able to proceed... but I was still coming up from behind and the pronghorn didn't know what to do about a bicycle.  It ran back and forth across the road, along the fence line... and we were approaching the very busy highway.  I really didn't want it to run onto the highway and get hit by a car.  I didn't want to have to stop to take a photo (eeeeeuuuuuwwwww) of roadkill to show you!  But, the closer we got to the highway, the more the pronghorn wanted to get away from me.  It finally just bit the bullet and charged full speed along the fence line in my direction, and just kept going past me - fortunately!  It was relieved - and I was relieved that it got away!

And I continued to pedal... trying to keep my average speed up, and so that I could just get home and get off the bike.  Off the saddle.  But, the highway was coming up... the bUmPy highway... and the wind wasn't at my back anymore.

Once I got back on the highway, I just kept trying to keep my average speed up so that would be my focus, not the bumps.  I remembered from years ago that Phil used to ride really close to the white line at the shoulder of the road, so I tried that.  It seemed to be less (if that is at all possible) bUmPy there.  So, I rode along near the line for a while.  

A few miles down the highway, I came upon a somewhat seedy/shady looking guy walking down the highway.  I kept telling myself, if I could keep up my average speed, surely I could ride faster than he could run; so I pedaled as fast as I could, got by the man without incident, didn't look back for a long, long time, and just kept pedaling.

As I was pedaling by a ranch, these three horses ran over to the fence when they saw me.

It was actually quite comical.  I didn't get to catch the expressions on all of their faces in time because I had to stop to take out my camera.  All three of them were looking straight at me with the biggest, hugest eyes I've ever seen!  By the time I got my camera out and got it off the video setting - which required putting my reading glasses on, the horses had lost a little interest.  I turned around and didn't see that guy walking on the highway (he was miles back by that time, I'm sure), so I took a tiny little break and a long drink of water, then adjusted my cycling shorts hoping to make the padding a little more comfortable, and dragged myself back into the saddle and continued down that bUmPy highway.

A little bit farther down the road... I saw the historic marker!  They didn't move it after all!  I stopped there and took another long drink of water... and tried calling Phil.  My phone showed - at least it looked like - a connection to Phil's number, but I heard nothing on the other end.  I thought maybe I'd ask him to come get me... but, not being able to get through, and not wanting to be a quitter, I kept pedaling.  

That made me remember a time years ago when I went biking with a friend of mine on that highway.  She hadn't ever really ridden a bike very far, and she was on her mountain bike.  And in quite a bit of saddle pain, probably because of the bUmPy road, too.  She kept getting off her bike and pushing it.  We must've been on the road for hours.  I kept trying to encourage her to please get back on the bike, that she surely could pedal faster than we were walking and then we would be home much, much sooner.  It was miserable for her, and time was dragging by incredibly slowly...  but I didn't want to think of that anymore.  I didn't want to think about the pain...

I'll tell you what, though.  The best sight in the whole wide world is the sight of home when you just want to get there.  I was still miles away, but I could see our house from the highway!

I had to use my telephoto on the camera, but I got a picture of it.  What is pretty amazing is that I shot this without my reading glasses on!  I just aimed where I thought it was, and actually managed to get a picture of it!  So, OK.  With the house in sight distance, it was hopeful that I could make it home - hopefully without somehow permanently injuring myself on that saddle on that bUmPy road!

The rest of the ride was without incident until I finally got back into our neighborhood.  I still had to navigate our dirt roads... washboards... ruts... potholes... bUmPs... There went my average speed!  I had to slow down to about 8 miles an hour, then 6 miles an hour... then into a headwind at about 2 miles an hour.  And there is this teensy little incline, around the corner just two houses from our house - very short, not steep, barely noticeable unless you are exhausted and in pain in a very hard saddle... I didn't care if anyone saw me.  I got off the bike and PUSHED IT - yes PUSHED IT - that short little distance just so I wouldn't have to ride on that bUmPy road in that PAINFUL saddle into the headwind.  Yes.  I thought about my friend pushing her bike while I was pushing my bike.  So, when I got around the bend at the corner, I got on my bike and rode again - knowing that I could pedal faster than I could walk now that I was out of the headwind.  And in about a minute, I was finally home!

When I got home, I tried calling Phil again.  There SHOULD have been cell phone coverage at home, but still I wasn't able to get through.  The only thing it could be was either Verizon service was out for some reason - or my cell phone wasn't working.  When Phil got home form work, he tried calling me.  Nothing.  He called Verizon.  No problems there.  They suggested taking out the battery and putting it in again.  Hurray!  My phone worked!

Note to Self:  I need to remember the battery thing in case that happens again...

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