Happy New Year!

It’s been a great week. Finished building the old Trek frame up as a single-speed. Didn’t have the sack to use the lockring and go whole hog fixed gear, but it’s now running a 39 tooth front, 16 tooth rear. Good stuff.

Took it for a brief test spin Tuesday night in the rain and wind – felt good; made it up the driveway hill no problem.

New Year’s Eve – went over to Essex with my folks and the boys to see the Connecticut River Museum – Model train display, model of the Turtle (First submarine – wooden, hand cranked, attacked a British Ship in New York Harbor during the Revolution). Stopped in Old Saybrook at the “train pizza restaurant” (Pizzaworks) for lunch. Great mozzarella salad.

Home, ran some errands with the wife. About 4:15, I take a look at 2005 drifting off into history, catch a glimpse of my rebuilt Trek at the bottom of the basement stairs, and say “Hey, I’m going to take a quick spin to town and back before supper.” Before I could hear an objection, I was gone…

Got to the corner before heading down the steep hill and said d’oh – no gloves.

Back to the house, kissed the boys, grabbed the gloves, and jumped back on the bike. Got to the bottom of the steep hill and noticed a biting pain on the top of my ears – no hat under the helmet. D’oh. Looked back up the steep hill and decided that frostbite might be less painful than heading up that hill. Kept on, through the fluffy snowflakes and fading light, figuring I could keep my speed right at the sweet spot to warm my core, keep the pedals spinning instead of grinding, and avoid getting sweat soaked.

Got to Old Mystic, and instead of taking the short path down River Road to town on the Groton side, decided to head down Whitehall Ave/Greenmainville Ave on the Stonington side. Hey, a little detour is a good thing, right?

Yeah, it is. Downtown was beautiful – light snow, reasonable traffic, Christmas lights still hanging on most of the businesses, and a folks heading to New Year’s Eve supper. Headed north up River Road really, really enjoying life.

As the lights started to get further between, and I realized that it was getting really dark, the snow turned to sleet and rain. Bleh. The wind shifted to the north, and I was reminded that it’s dumb to have non-wind front tights (or double tights, which is what I’m usually wearing). Passed a jogger heading towards town – she didn’t wave.

But then I hit the rollers at the north end of River Road, and crushed them despite not having another cog to downshift. Hey, that’s pretty sweet – concentrate on the spin, concentrate on momentum, and the bike just kind of floats up the hill. Plus, standing on the pedals kind of warms up the old hip area, if you know what I mean. Even the steep-ish hill out of Old Mystic (very short, but usually a grind) was not an issue. Could have just been the anesthetic effect of cold on the old legs, though.

Back on 184, and I’m faced with a dilemma – do I slog all the way up the hill to Flanders Road, or do I just do the loop I set out to do and call it a Happy New Year. Well, readers, doing the smart thing made me fat – of course I ignore the increasing wet patch of road spray on my butt, ignore the burning feeling on my ears letting me know they’re at the stage just before when they go numb and succumb to actual frostbite, and head on up the hill, in the dark. (The bike is spec’d out with the proper number of reflectors, plus I was wearing my Road ID anklet, reflective arm band, and red flasher, so that’s not a huge issue)

Up the hill was a whole ‘nother experience. It’s about a mile of pretty decent grade – not quite granny gear on the full up road bike, but long enough to where it’s nice to drop all the way down to keep spinning. On a single speed, I was alternating between in and out of the saddle. Out of the saddle, I could drive the cadence almost to a spin; in the saddle it was grinding just fast enough to keep upright and catch my breath. But I made it, and about went ballistic as I made the hilltop – felt good, and in the streetlight, I noticed that the rain had switched back to snow. Somehow, that made everything better.

Down the hill ended up being tough. I kept having visions in my head of using salted ice to make ice cream – was the spray soaking through my shorts salty enough to actually freeze my butt? And if it was, would it just kind of break off like a flower in liquid nitrogen, putting me back into the weight loss game with Jack and Dawn? But mostly, it was just darn cold.

The super-steep hill rocked, as it always does on the way down. There were a bunch of kids wandering through the field at the bottom – they started cheering as I zipped past, and I cheered back. This was what I loved about the bike – tires and wind-noise, and the feeling of flying 4’ above the earth.

Then, I noticed there was actual accumulation on the road. Hmm – 40 MPH, skinny tires, and crappy brakes. Only choice is to ride it out, try to avoid locking up the tires, and pray.

My grin got that much bigger…

Back home; 11+ miles, 45 minutes or so. I’ll take it.

New Year’s day was another trip to River Road with my wife – 4 miles, no time, but she was doing her best to crush me. And coming scarily close. Possibly the sexiest thing she’s done in a while – I definitely need to keep up this fitness thing.

Today – 30 minutes on the stationary bike trainer. Cheap magnetic one from Nashbar ($80 on sale). Worked like a champ, could spin without thinking about much. I kind of wish it had more resistance, but I think it’ll be nice for semi-rest days.

5 thoughts on “Happy New Year!”

  1. Happy New Year, Bill! I love the way you describe your runs with Melissa. I can’t wait until your first race together:)

  2. I went to Pizza Works with my sister and my fiancé after the Mystic Places Marathon (well, after the awards, anyway, so quite a while after the marathon…)

    I liked it. My nephews love eating there.

  3. Nice – glad the single-speed project is working!

    Happy New Year to ‘ya! Wish we had some snow down here in DC – this rain is a drag for a ski nut like myself. Granted, the riding has been good, so…. tradeoffs? I’ll still take the snow and skiing (and riding in the snow on my mountain bike).

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