I really hate this part of the year. Serious post holiday funk going on right now. This year is especially bad as we were treated to good conditions for riding until just after Christmas. It was cold and dry, which meant the trails were hard and fast. As long as you dressed appropriately, it was great. We were able to get in a bunch of really great long rides as well as a string of really fun rides in light snow and gentle snowstorms; perfect for the holidays. Shortly after Christmas we got our first real taste of the season and received a solid dumping of snow. This allowed us to get out for one of the best local backwoods XC ski days in recent history and also allowed us to march forward into the second stage of the holiday vacation, the snow based fun up north. This brought a wonderful mix of skiing and snowshoeing and just plain enjoying the break. Alas all things must come to an end though.
The holidays are over, vacation is over, race season is over, I'm back to work, I haven't had a beer in 3 days and the weather is now in that finicky, in between stage where it is basically good for nothing at all in particular. We have just enough snow to make mountain biking mostly miserable, though you can still do it. It says something about the ride when you look forward to the rough, bumpy, frozen footprint tracks in the trail to break up the horror of riding through 3" of untracked frozen granular. Sure, you can do it and it is still nice to be outside, but this is just about the low point of riding bicycles. The only thing worse is riding on the road for 4 hours in a 40 degree drizzle. Fortunately we still have a couple months before we get that treat. Monday night, after I showed up at work at 6:30AM only to find out that we had the day off (I worked anyhow and will take the day at a more opportune point), Cathy and I made our way into the woods and despite the conditions, had a good time and a good ride. We were out for about an hour and 45 minutes and traveled just over 9 miles. That tells you what the going was like.
This past weekend we lost almost all of the snow that we had due to the spring conditions and temperatures in the mid to upper 50's. That weather allowed the first longer road ride of the season. Cathy and I joined Scott and John and some other NEBC folks for a local tour starting in Bedford and winding through Carlisle, Chelmsford, Westford, Dunstable, Groton, Ayer, Littleton, Acton and Concord. We ended up with 60 miles in the bank by the time we rolled back home. I chose to ride my single-speed cross bike with a 38x16 and some 700x25c slicks (do the math and see what 100RPM gets for speed). This seemed like a good idea as it was the easiest bike to get fenders on. By the end it proved to be a challenging choice and whupped in good shape. My back is still sore from the grunting up some of the hills coupled with the extended frantic spinning.
Speaking of fenders, what was I thinking in getting rid of all of the bikes that we owned that would accept full fenders? Things got very creative in getting the fenders affixed to the Ridley X-Fire's, which have a total of zero mounts. With the help of a bunch of zip ties I managed to get them on both Cathy and I's rigs. I also discovered that the mounting bracket insert from the inside of a shoe, for a set of SPD cleats will fit perfectly in the rear dropout cutout of the X-Fire. You can affix it from the inside out with a single cleat bolt and leave the other bolt hole overhanging the top of the dropout. This gives a perfect, fixed mounting point for the fender brackets. Unfortunately, the front fork affords no such option.
Last night I started my winter time 3 day per week lifting regiment and then suffered through an hour on the rollers. This lifting is nothing too spectacular but attempts to build some core and overall upperbody strength and flexibility, the stuff that I spend the rest of the year negating via the bicycle riding. This instantly exposed the fact that my left shoulder is still hosed from the crash I took into the pavement in cyclocross training back in early October. This was no surprise as I'm reminded of it every night when I roll onto my left side in bed. I'm hoping that between the skate skiing (poling), which doesn't seem to bother it, and the lifting, I will get some flexibility and build some strength to compensate for whatever is torn or mangled. I'm pretty sure that I'd injured this one in the past but it may have been the other. I'm old and bad with details so forget this stuff.
Tonight we make an attempt at a MTB group ride. It will be fun regardless as it's as much a social thing as it is anything else. I'm looking very forward towards getting back into the routine.