At the end of the 2007 unicycle convention, I asked my eventual teammates, Dave White and John Foss, to join me in making a 3-man team for the 2008 Ride the Lobster race in Nova Scotia. All of us had to train a great deal beforehand, and about a year later, we raced all out for 5 days across that small Canadian island. Over the five days, each of us covered about 180-190 miles, riding all out in stints of between two and ten miles. At the end of the race, I began suffer tendonitis and knee problems, so I didn't do a whole lot of long-distance riding until Dane Smith visited me for 11 days last month. We went on a few rides in New Paltz and NYC, and I found myself having a great time and feeling better physically. So I've decided to get back into riding full time, devoting at least an hour a day to it when possible. My goal is to ride at least 100 miles per week. Primarily I'm using my 36" ungeared Coker at home and my geared 29" Schlumpf in Manhattan.
When I was training for the Lobster, I found myself riding in all sorts of conditions, and sure enough, they all helped out in Nova Scotia. So a few days ago, I had a great ride that reminded me of practically everything our team encountered in Canada.
I took off on my Coker during a drizzle that turned into pouring rain (A) by the time I got 2 miles from home. At that point, my riding went from a flat, paved road (B) to the flat gravel road (C) of the rail trail. I took the trail north out of New Paltz and into some neighboring towns, sticking to the trail just to see how bad the conditions would be. They were pretty bad! At one point I got thrown by the mud and ended up covered in muck. After that, it was hard to remount without getting silt all over my hands. At another point later, my hands were too wet and cold to activate the touch screen on my phone (A). Near the end of the trail ride, the sky suddenly got so dark that it looked like I was riding during an eclipse (A).
The rail trail ends at a point 7 miles later, turning off onto a really steep, paved road (D) that leads down into the next town. I bought some pretzel rolls at a great new shop called Twisted Foods (spending my soggy $20 bill), got them bagged up really well, and headed home. The return route involved a steep uphill that forced me to stand up for each leg stroke in order to make any progress (E); my legs are still feeling that bit. After finally ascending that hill, I decided to take a longer route back that skirted a few ponds and a river (F). The rain finally began to let up (G), and the riding at this point was quite peaceful since there were almost no cars. One lady did slow her car down to chat about getting her young son a unicycle (H). My butt was beginning to get sore (I), but I decided to take the long way home (avoiding a 3-mile shortcut) because I was having so much fun.
When I arrived chez Stone, I was covered in muck, soaked to the gills, and pretty smelly (J). Shirra enjoyed a pretzel roll and I stripped and rushed upstairs for a shower. Shirra later told me that it took two extra rinses to clean out the washing machine after my clothes had been in it (K). My sneakers took two days to dry.
A. Day 2, and especially Day 3 (The time trial). Man, did we get wet!
B. Much of our riding was on those nice, flat roads.
C. ... but there were those gravel roads that I loved, esp'ly on Day 4, where I managed to reach my fastest-yet speed (23 mph) while riding on a lengthy gravel downhill bit.
D. Ugh. There were some pretty crazy downhills during our Lobster ride. I somehow managed to miss the two worst of them -- each of my teammates got one of them, as I recall.
E. Double-ugh. Those uphills were always killing me! So often I had to stand up between strokes just to get another half-rev closer to our support van!
F. I loved those gorgeous flat parts as we rode around water. My favorite was a lake on Day 2.
G. Day 4 we finally saw the last of the drizzle.
H. I loved seeing all the nice people along the ride, yelling encouragement from cars or from the roadside. The best, of course, were the kids outside a school who came to cheer us on.
I. Sore butt! That wasn't a major issue for me, happily, because we took frequent breaks, but there were a few moments!
J. That pretty much described all of us on Day 3
K. ... until we went to that laundromat. I remember the terrible smell of the dryer after we'd put in our socks and sneakers for a bit!
So that's at least 11 different ways that this two-hour ride encapsulated our amazing week.