I finally took my Pilot out for its first real ride yesterday. The weather was warm (low 60’s Fahrenheit), sunny, and very windy. It was so windy that I felt like I could get knocked over a couple of times.
I didn’t get a start until 6:00, so I was afraid that I would be riding out in the dark by the time I got home. Why didn’t I get out sooner? Well, I had to eat dinner, swap out the trainer tire on the back with a road tire, fill both tires with the appropriate amount of air, attach my portable pump (which requires completely removing a water cage), attach my lights, and change. However, the headlamp bracket doesn’t fit on the oversized handlebars. Since I had already put on about 575 miles before my first outdoor ride, I had already decided to stop at the local Trek Bicycle shop to get an adjustment. So it made sense to also shop for a new light (they don’t seem to sell just the brackets). With my bike ready, my bicycling clothes on, and a destination in mind, I was ready to venture out into traffic for the first time in six months.
Mind you, this is the first time I’ve been in traffic with my Pilot. That means that I had never been on the streets with either the drop handlebars or the SPD-SL-style cycling shoes until now. Clicking into the pedals takes some time to figure out; now there’s something I could’ve practiced on the trainer last winter. So stopping didn’t seem to be a problem; going wasn’t so bad, since I keep at least one foot clicked in anyway. But I still need to get used to clicking in while moving.
Another thing I had to get used to was shifting. Sure, I shifted indoors all winter, but it seems different when you have cars whizzing by, the wind whipping at your side, and an actual road (complete with ruts and potholes)underneath you. Plus, my hybrid didn’t have as many gears as my road bike. But once I got going and started off on one of the nearby trails, I was able to better figure out the gears.
I started off on a trail going east so I could get around a busy freeway intersection. But I just wanted to see how well I had adjusted after an entire winter on the trainer, so I kept east. I made it to one slight slope and realized that the wind blowing from the south (with no barrier) was already beating me mentally. So I turned around and headed back west towards an outlet onto a side road. I traveled the north on the side road up towards major traffic.
After getting into major traffic and heading west, I followed the traffic through another busy intersection. Fortunately, this major road has marked bicycle lanes; unfortunately, it’s also under some road work. After passing the major intersection, I traveled a block before turning north onto another side road, then west along a residential road.
The trip west towards the store got me back in traffic and heading right to the front of the store without incident. However, I remember seeing an SUV at one freeway off-ramp inching forward, thinking as I rode through, “please see me, please see me.” The driver did, and I made my way through as fast as I could, finally getting to my destination after a couple of quick turns.
At the bike shop, I had my Pilot looked over. Apparently, everything was adjusted properly. But I was concerned about riding in dusk, so I checked out bike lights (as I mentioned earlier, my old light doesn’t fit on the oversized handlebars). I bought a Cateye light that needs recharging, and sure enough it was dead when we attached it. But at least I was legal.
I then stopped at the store where I work part-time (it’s across the parking lot). Since I had this box with parts for the light, I decided to drop it off with my fiance… yeah, she wasn’t happy about me buying a new light. And a couple of my coworkers weren’t exactly thrilled about seeing me in cycling shorts.
I then headed back home. Now I had to travel east, then south. Yes, south, into the wind. Needless to say, I pretty much felt like I had ridden twice as hard as I was used to. Then again, I hadn’t ridden in those conditions since October. It’s enough to drain you, both physically and mentally. As I rolled into the parking lot at home, I revelled in the fact that I was home. Just a ride that would typically take me about 10 minutes ended up lasting 20 (and felt like 30). And the weather forecast for the next day was for warmer weather, but just as windy. It’s almost enough for an average person like me to wait for a less windy day to get out again.