Not a Bad Way

…to start the day.

Here’s the view that I have every morning (well, when the sun is out, which is 50/50 this time of year in Germany).

Not a bad way to start the day

After ~20 minutes of riding through the relatively dark, cool forest, the path quickly opens to farmland.  If the sun’s out, like it was this morning, the feel changes immediately.

But the view is always beautiful.

And makes me thankful that Goddess lets me commute by bicycle to and from work.

Since that was a great way to start the day, it’s only fair that there be a musical diversion to end the day.

Jamiroquai – Live at Paleo (Complete Concert | 2010)

PR!

Yep, a running personal record.  A blistering 10:31/mile pace!

What?????

good internet friend asked me a week or so ago if I was still running and/or cycling.  Probably because I hadn’t been talking about it here.  Odd, considering the first word after my name in the blog title is “racing”.

Well, you long-time readers might recall my rudderless post early this year after a few years of running marathons and ultra-marathons.  Even without a goal to work toward, I decided that I needed to be at least fit enough to fake my way through a half-marathon at any time.  And I’ve held true to that, running a great 14-mile mountain route in late October with 6,000′ of elevation gain, 2/3 of which was in the first four miles.

Good times.

That came through a great six months of short, high intensity workouts, alternating days between Crossfit-style workouts and intervals.  I never ran more than just over seven miles during that time (at that was a fluke).  But the majority of my runs were quick, working on leg turnover and speed.

Anyway, so what’s that got to do with a PR?  Well, it’s the fastest I’ve run this course.  So that makes it a PR.

I covered .91 mile in 9:35.

Not much to get excited about, eh?  I guess it depends on perspective.

Here’s the profile.

That’s 350′ of gain in .91 miles.  Thanks to way too many steps to count.  Thankfully, I guess, someone painted a number on every single one.  But honestly, after 200 (just over a third of the way up), it just doesn’t freakin’ matter.

And if you pay attention to the grade percentage line (the thin brown line), you’ll see that there’s a good stretch of 55%.

That’s after the false flat about midway up, where the stairs turn slightly to the right.  Approaching that landing, you think you’re reaching the top.  Only to have your hopes crushed as you see the wall continue ahead of you.

But a run with a great group of fast guys will keep you from even noticing.

Because all you can see in front of you are two legs moving as fast as they dare and that ghastly sound coming from your mouth, a mixture of half gasp, half sob.

Perhaps a tonal shift as you lose two or three hopes and/or dreams.

So it wasn’t an organized race.  It wasn’t even on a calendar, other than an announcement for a farewell run for a great guy.  A farewell run that turned into a race for a few of us.  A race where the real speed demon didn’t show up, so I actually won this one by a few strides.

And if by winning I mean that I pushed my heart rate into numbers that have been impossible for some 15 years, then yeah, I won.

But that was yesterday.

Today was my first bicycle commute in over seven months.  A nice brisk 30F for the morning and a balmy 37F for the afternoon.  It sure made me look forward to riding through the winter, regardless of the weather.  Because, as the saying goes, there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

Besides, I’ve now got just four months to train the butt to be ready for a week of several back to back 200km rides.

I hope the legs are up for it.

Zoom

Those who know me well know that some of my greatest joy, complete separate from my Goddess, is derived from my commutes to and from work.

Especially if the weather is horrible.

Give me pissing down rain and 35ºF (+01ºC) or dumping snow and 27ºF (-03ºC) and a good, hard push on the bike and I’m grinning from ear to ear.

Hell, give me +10ºF (-12ºC) on a clear day and I’ll still grin ear to ear.

It’s all about wearing the right kit.

But regardless of the time of year, every day is still a great day to ride the bike to and from work.

Especially when you’re going faster than those that do nothing more than twist their right wrist or press down their right toe.

Place du Théâtre, Dijon, France.

Rule 9.

Immediately followed by Rule 5.

Oh, and Rule 58.

Grunting and Groaning

Sorry, nothing exciting here.

Just a chance to illustrate the joy that is commuting in winter on the German trail system.

Imagine pushing a 22lb bike (and a substantially heavier carcass) through 5-6″ of soft snow, with drifts of 10-12″.  And occasionally deep ruts from cross country skiers and walkers that grab the front wheel and launch it in random directions.  Just imagine.

Honestly, this is the nice stuff.

It’s the roads where they refuse to plow, but dump salt on top of the 4-6″ of snow, turning it into a slushy, chunky mess, that I can do without.

Regardless.  It’s beautiful.

And when I reach a section that launches me off the bike, I make sure to stop and absorb the surroundings.

And enjoy the peacefulness of an empty, dark forest.