10 October 2011

Bike-commute day 92—to home

Monday, 10 October 2011

As I waited to turn onto Spaulding Road—within half a mile of my start, I found a cyclist coming out of the corner, heading north. Behind him, I pulled onto Spaulding. He stayed on the street, and I pulled as usual onto the bikeway. I edged to nearly beside him as he pulled into the center lane to turn onto the Haverfield canopy. I had to wait for several cars, but he had slowed to allow a catch.

As I approached, he sped to cruising speed while motioning with a wave behind his saddle that I should pull into the slipstream. We rode in close formation through to Woodman, and he extended his left hand down to caution me of his slowing. "Clear left," he called out. "To the center median." We stopped together for traffic from the north.

Once we were on the Rainier Canopy, we rode side by side and introduced ourselves. He is Charles Love. He was on his way home from a bike part shopping at Performance Bike. He mentioned heading toward Riverscape. Then we reached the Woodbine crossing. Even though it was clear, I advised him that no motorists stop, and few slow at the crossing.

He took the lead again as we sped up, and I called from behind as we approached specific parts of the canopy, "Keep an eye out for walnuts on the path." And each time, we avoided several fresh fruit, squashed skins, and broken shells. We made the Linden crossing and lightly accelerated toward the junction with the Creekside Trail.

Charles asked, "Are you heading straight or turning?" And I told him I was heading toward Riverscape also, and beyond. We exchanged more information to discover our homes were only a few blocks from each other, and then reached cruising speed as I pulled again into his slipstream. After crossing Burkhardt, we had learned each other's age, and I took the lead for the near-mile to Airway, alerting Charles for the three walnut trees along the way.

Airway was treacherous as usual: a driver in the right lane from the west had stopped for us, the left westbound lane also had traffic, and we hesitated until it was finally clear that both lanes were stopping for us. Since it was clear of traffic from the east, we accelerated across the rest of the street and gained full speed as we reached the drop at the edge of Wrightview. Love asked, "So I bet you know Phil?" and no sooner than I could answer yes, Mr. Hinrichs rounded the corner ahead of us. Charles remarked, "Speak of the Devil, and old Nick appears the next moment." We continued on through the industrial park and across Fair Park Avenue.

As we reached Smithville, Charles turned onto the street while I headed across to the bikeway that hugs the creek. We met again at the railway arch that bounds Eastwood Park and regrouped into the drafting machine after passing through the west gate. I was nearly spent by this time, some 01:04 faster than the fastest times this year. I considered sitting back, taking a breather, letting my heart rate recover from the nearly constant tempo over 145 bpm. But we kept together, indeed taking it a bit easier with me in the lead or riding side by side. The time at the third leg was again lower than any previous solo ride, and I was 01:21 ahead.

As we crossed under Riverscape, we discussed how I typically reach home. Love let me take the lead up the ramp to Monument Avenue, across the bridge, up Grafton Hill, and over toward Salem Avenue at the police station. Then along my route up Bryn Mawr and to Princeton. Charles offered a fist bump as we separated at Cory Drive. My final time was almost two minutes faster than my best time. What a ride, and a pleasant reminder of what really working hard feels like.

Ride conditions
Temperature: 78 to 82°F at 17:05
Precipitation: none
Winds: 5 to 10 mph from the south and east
Clothing: Skinsuit, ankle socks, open-finger gloves
Bike: Lotus Legend fixed gear
Time: 00:38:21 for 11.94 miles
Heart rate: 141 bpm HRave, 172 bpm HRmax
Bikeway users: no counts taken
Playback of the ride

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