Getting back in the saddle (bicycle saddle, that is)
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I'm about 15 pounds overweight; 25 if you take the strict BMI calculations, but people who meet their height/weight ratio always look a little skeletal to me. Coupled with the stomach acid problems I've been having (which can be aggravated by that layer of fat) it seemed it was about time I got back on my bicycle.
Mind you, I'm probably in the worst shape I've ever been in. When you've done rides like the Davis Double Century or the Ride Around Mount Rainer In One Day, finding yourself struggling though a 12 mile ride is more than a little frustrating. Granted, "the worst shape I've ever been" still seems to be better than the best shape of the average American, but then that's not saying much...
So, I'm trying to force myself into some hard riding. like taking the long route from Sellwood to my office (15 miles through the zoo and Council Crest giving me more than 1,000 feet of vertical elevation gain, and then going back that way, too, rather than the 4 mile drop straight down hill) and, yesterday, I decided it would be better to ride from Sellwood to Camas to see my nephew in a soccer game rather than drive.
Of course that ride turned out to be 27 miles each way, so it ended up being a 54 mile day, which is almost the same distance I did in three days of broken riding last week, but it was fairly flat...
I started out the Springwater Trail, which is an old railway right of way the city paved about 15 years ago. Unfortunately, they haven't repaved it, so it's a little worse than chip-seal. Even when my butt is used to the saddle, bouncing over washboard isn't a lot of fun. On the way out the trail was mainly filled with serious faced joggers and a few Lycra clad cyclists, which made me self-conscious in my poor form. Coming back it was filled with ambling groups of families with strollers and kids on training wheels -- not conducive to a 17mph pace.
The Springwater Trail connects to the I-205 trail; as good as I am with traffic, it is really nice that Portland is creating these interconnected trails. They also greatly improved the I-205 trail when they put in the Clackamas light rail line by putting bridges over Foster and Powell, two streets that were particularly annoying to cross, letting you simply cruise overhead without stopping.
They haven't made such improvements on Division, Stark, and Glisan -- there's something really wrong about being routed onto the sidewalk by the Taco Bell with the seemingly omnipresent Medicare funded folks in their electric wheelchairs. At every intersection in this part of town there is someone holding a cardboard sign with a request for money and "god bless" scrawled on the bottom, and the bike route almost guarantees you're going to plow into these people.
When the makeshift sidewalk-trail ended and the actual trial resumed, the tent pitched over one lane of the trail told me that the Gateway transit area hasn't been gentrified yet. It would be a hell of a way to wake up, having a bike plow into your tent at 20 mph, but then this person obviously hadn't been lucky with life choices to date anyhow...
The path snakes under I-205 just before the Columbia River and then slips between the North and South bound lanes of the freeway, crossing the river in a narrow, noisy track over the freeway bridges. You get the same "kaphump kaphump kaphump" of the wheels on the seams of the bridge as you do in the car, it just goes right through your butt and up your spine...
Finally, getting to Camas is nice on the old Evergreen Highway, although the last climb up to Camas High and climbing back up to the 205 bridge added a little too much climbing to keep this a flat ride.
Recovery time is definitely longer when you're 43 versus 29, and I'll have to watch that extreme hunger that being in the saddle for three and half hours creates if I actually want to drop that layer of fat, but overall, I'm pleased, if even a little surprised, that I was able to get back in the saddle being in this bad of shape...
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