Denise Goldberg's blog

Red-clad feet on a purple bike
Wandering on two (bicycle) wheels in Downeast Maine

Sunday, January 25, 2009


Set to travel after a long (but unplanned) interval

Looking back... originally published on June 2, 2005

It feels like this trip - or any trip with my bike - has been a long time coming. I had 3 bike trips planned for 2004, but circumstances prevented me from taking the next step past the planning stage. My usual habit is to dream of places to ride over the winter and to start planning one or more trips in the late winter timeframe. I was stopped in my tracks this year by wondering whether I was back in (what I would consider to be) reasonable touring shape. Without getting out on my bike and letting some miles roll by, there just didn't seem to be an answer to that question.

We had a good-weather weekend in early April, and I got in my first two days of 35+ mile rides for the season. And the next day? I was really tired. I was worried too, thinking that being tired after just 2 rides of that length was a bad sign for the upcoming touring season. Of course, those two days represented a pretty big jump in mileage, and looking back I shouldn't have let it mess with my head. In the meantime, April returned to its normal cold self, and my on-the-bike training was pretty much stopped by the weather. I was riding, but all of my rides were in the 15 to 20 mile range. I planned a 3-day weekend at the beginning of May, thinking that I could get a sense about how ready I was for touring by doing 3 days of decent length rides. The weather wizard absolutely canceled that plan for me, delivering a very cold and rainy weekend. I took my planned day off that Monday anyway, thinking that one day of riding was much better than none. The ride? I did an out and back ride along the coast of New Hampshire. I thought about making it a 3-state day, starting in Massachusetts and ending by crossing the bridge into Maine, but somehow keeping it simple seemed to be the right answer for that day. In spite of it being a rather gloomy and chilly day, riding felt good.

One test ride down... At the time I still thought I could use the month of May to prove to myself that I was ready for touring again. That didn't happen. (Actually, it didn't happen until the very end of the month.) The National Weather Service summary published on June 1st finally made me realize that the fact that I hadn't managed a month of decent length rides in preparation for my return to touring didn't have anything to do with my desires or my fitness level. Here's some of what they had to say:
May 2005 was an unusually cool and gloomy month for much of southern New England. Most climatological stations ranked May 2005 within the top 5 coolest in at least 100 years of official records. In addition... (it was)...the second least sunniest May since 1888.

It was the coldest May in Boston since 1967... in addition there were only three days during the month with above average daily mean temperatures. Total precipitation was 3.98 inches, just 0.74 inch above normal ...measurable precipitation occurred during 19 out of 31 days or seven days more than normal. Measurable precipitation was also recorded on every Saturday and Sunday/holiday during the month except Saturday May 14th.
So it wasn't me after all! And Memorial Day weekend supplied me with a reasonable weather window to test my readiness for touring by getting in some good rides. I managed 3 days of good rides, only one of which was totally dry. Sunday was the day I really got wet... The day started with wet roads, so I started my ride a bit later than expected - waiting for the roads to dry out! It was cloudy, but it was still a pretty good riding day. I was rewarded for riding by coming around a corner to see a blue heron standing in the middle of a pond. Later in the afternoon, I saw the sun reflected in a pond. Still a nice day. Not too much later I started to see very gray clouds. And more gray clouds, dark and threatening. At that point a rider passed heading in the opposite direction. He looked up and said "you know we are both going to get very wet, don't you?" He was absolutely right, and when I was about 4 miles from home a steady rain started. Too bad I didn't have my rain gear with me - my bike & I were very wet and in need of a bath when I got home. Oh well, it was still a good ride - 45 miles worth of good.

Monday dawned with clear blue skies. The weather forecast called for a high probability of rain and afternoon thunderstorms. Do you think I listened? Nope. Out we headed (my bike and I), with the target of doing 50 miles... It probably would have been smart to combine some shorter loops near home, just in case - but I didn't do that. I was afraid that if I started on a shorter loop that I would get bored and head home without completing my target mileage. I managed 54 miles, and that included riding through two rainstorms. I was really lucky though, considering the downpour with loud cracks of thunder and visible cloud to ground lightening strikes that greeted me as I pulled up to my house at the end of the ride. Talk about dumb luck and good timing!

It's June now, and hopefully the cool and wet weather that lived here for the entire month of May will give way to more rideable weather so I can continue improving my fitness level. But the biking I was able to do over Memorial Day weekend convinced me that it's time to start touring again.

My feet (well, actually my foot) - riding down the road, and happily clad in my new red Sidi Dom's! Somehow I couldn't make myself buy black shoes...

Who took the picture? If you have to ask you probably really don't want to know!