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Thursday, November 19, 2009

54th Street Ride (Olathe/Gardner)

Since band practice is on hold, I would have ridden the Moose tonight, but I thought it was supposed to rain and by the time I got to work, and realized it was shaping up to be a pretty nice day, checked the forecast, I didn't have my bike with me. Or my riding stuff.

I cut out at the regular quittin' time despite being so dramatically late this morning, my desk was pretty caught up (which isn't really good news, it makes me nervous after going seven months this year not getting full time hours). I wasn't sure if I could get home and all the way back to the Moose in time, and I remembered the group I rode with Saturday had mentioned a ride from the 54th Street Bar & Grill by the Great Mall on Thursdays.

At least I knew I could get there in time. To my surprise, Jennichild showed up, too, for her first ever night ride (strange, to me, since she's the one who's been cycling for a million years and got me into this madness).

I also recalled the time I rode in the dark in Gardner and decided that it was not something I wanted to do again. Too many stretches of country riding with no streetlights. But, I thought, in a group, our collective lights...

And it's true when I can keep up with the group. Which is to say, downhill and in the flats. Climbing, no way in hell. And then once I top the hill, I'm there with only my lights, which show about a tire's diameter of pavement and make it hard to really stand on it to catch up with the pack.

The pack stops periodically on this ride to let the fat bastard in the Hawaiian shirt keep up, and they're really considerate riders, but before I go on a ride like this, I'm going to get a serious helmet light. Most of these guys, if I was ahead of them (it happened, briefly, going down a steep hill), I'd look over my shoulder and think there was a car at first, their lights are that bright.

But when we were together, all the red winking lights and the helmet lights moving about as people turned their heads, it was like being in a UFO hovering over the road. The lighting and general feel was very ET/Close Encounters.

22.1 miles, I average 13.7 mph, topped out at 33.8 mph. This ride puts me over the thousand mile mark since I started riding in June. 179.4 miles in November, and the month ain't over yet.

I need some more/better cold weather riding gear, it was 50ºF when we set out, and got colder as we rode. My feet and fingers (despite full finger gloves) could have been better sheltered. My knees to my ankles were bare, and if I ride in colder weather, I'll need to cover that up, too. I ended up with icy toes and sweaty arms (wore my compression thermal under my Aloha shirt and my coat over it, the coat was a mistake).

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