Sunday, May 28, 2006

Catching Up

Last weekend, about 24 hours after getting back from a 6,000-mile driving trip, I saddled my bicycle and drove 35 miles north to get on a trail that would take me very nearly back home, then turn me around to ride back to my car, at which point I'd drive home again.

I know, it sounds a little pointless.

But I needed to stretch my legs.

I didn't take too many pictures. The ride was the L.A. River Ride, sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, so the route focused on the mostly terrific trails along the well-groomed Los Angeles River.

Toward the north end of the river, however, there were a few spots that would be nice to fix for riders:

I'm not sure what "DIPS" refers to in this usage. The postpositive position in English grammar is frequently reserved for a vocative usage; in other words it often makes reference to the party being addressed (as in "You, sir, are an ass.").

Along the way, we actually paused to let another "alternative" form of transportation go by.

Easily the first third of the 70-mile ride went very smoothly, if somewhat upwind. I got lost at one point following someone who I thought knew his way (turns out it was his first time on the ride too), but got back to the route with no major mishaps and started catching up again. The pace was excellent, and by the time we hit the narrow river trails the pack had thinned out to where there wasn't much congestion.

Toward the end of the southward leg I noticed a little cramping in my right leg (accelerator pedal); I massaged it away and made sure I stayed up on fluids. At the rest stop I checked my nutrients to make sure I was getting enough of the potassium, magnesium, and calcium that some say will help avoid cramping (these are the "electrolytes" that replenish the neurotransmitters so they can carry the message to your leg muscles that it's O.K. to relax now). On the way north again we flew like the wind (which was behind us now).

But by the end of 70 miles, after not being in the saddle for two weeks, I have to say I was feeling the work. Now both my legs started cramping. Thankfully it wasn't serious charley-horse cramping, just twinges on every stroke. Aside from checking fluids and nutrients (I had picked up free Clif Shots at the rest stop, which at least made me feel better), I couldn't do anything but pace myself and keep shoving. It never got terrible. I forced myself to catch a second wind and shot off toward the end of the ride. Got there and had to stand in line 15 minutes to collect my barbecue lunch. I could have gone further but didn't mind stopping at all.

I could have taken the 45-mile version of the ride (go all the way south, then take public transit back), but I was glad I had stretched and taken the full route. Along the way I also met some folks who rode about the same pace, which made this ride go faster and may be good for future rides too.

Tuesday felt some minor stiffness that I'm sure came from this ride, but I just jumped back on and rode it off before work. This weekend (Memorial Day) we have three days of sunshine, and it looks like some long trails are in the cards again.

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