Monday, December 24, 2007

Ella Sharp Ride

We had a team ride yesterday. Five people showed up, including Chris and I. We met at 2:30 at Ella Sharp Park in Jackson. From 9:00 yesterday morning to the time we were gathering to ride, the temperature had plummeted from about 40 degrees to about 20 and the winds were very high. I'm still trying to amass some winter riding gear so I'm improvising with my clothing selections and I was a little worried. It wouldn't have been so bad, but the wind was biting right through everything I had. As I discussed previously, the tights I have are not really meant for very cold winter riding. Luckily, I wore a pair of wind pants over them which I intended to take off before beginning the ride. In the parking lot getting ready I quickly decided I was leaving them on. In fact, in the several seconds it took me to put my wheel on my bike while my hands were bare, my fingers froze up so badly I could barely move them. I had to hop back in the car, turn it on and hold my fingers in front of the heat vents for a while to warm them up so I could even use them.

We were just starting on the trail when Chris decided to turn back and wait in the car because he was dressed completely inappropriately. His tights were as light as mine and he had nothing over them. (I was also wearing his balaclava since I can't find mine. I offered to give it back, but I think that was the least of his worries at that point.) I continued bringing up the rear. I actually had a really good time despite the cold and the fact that I fell three times and feel a little bit like someone beat me up now. Once I got going, I really warmed up a lot. At first I thought I wasn't going to be able to ride because it seemed like I couldn't get up the smallest of hills. I think the cold was really sapping my energy, but after a while I got in a little bit of a rhythm and felt a lot better. One of the guys, Dave, refused to let me be last even though I was by far the slowest, and he and Scott took turns riding behind me.

I really liked the trail. I had never been on it before and it was a little weird to ride it since I spent most of my formative years just a few miles away. Our fearless leader Jake was describing some of the things that had been there since he was a kid and since he is only a couple years younger than me, they were there when I was a kid, too. I guess I missed them then because at that point in my life I was usually in my bedroom with my nose in a book. I did feel a bit demoralized when I realized I was the only one in the group on a geared bike and I was still a lot slower than everyone else, but those are the things I have to get over.

The trail was quite clear in some parts and the ground was frozen enough to make riding across it pretty easy. However, there were several patches that were very icy. I thought I did well on the icy parts, even though I did walk a few of them. The fear monster caught up with me a little. I do feel less bad about walking over icy patches than I do about walking down (what are in my mind) gnarly downhills. There were a few places where the snow was heavy and somewhat deep that called for some hike-a-bike. Granted, I did more hike-a-bike than everyone else there, but I still felt proud of what I accomplished. I probably rode 85 - 90 percent of the ride, which made me happy. We ended up riding for about an hour and 15 minutes, which I thought was good, particularly given the weather.

Afterwards we went to a bar and ordered food. The guys had a few beers and a couple of them played pool. I thought it was a really good team event, despite the low turnout.

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