About Face

Distance: 35.3 mi.

Time: 1:47:10

Avg. Speed: 19.75 mph

July mileage total: 180 mi.

Weather: 67-74º, 74-45% humdity, wind C - ESE5, sunny with some clouds

Needed a change of scenery today but didn't feel like stumbling around establishing a totally new route so I rode my "U" route in opposite direction that I have every time before today. I also wanted to take it kind of easy as I hope to do 78 miles with some MRC folks tomorrow morning - it's only 7 days until the CRW C2C ride and I've only a couple longer rides under my belt so far this year.

It was below 50º overnight so I took my time getting on the road, leaving the house at 9:45 when the temperature finally hit the mid-60's. I got right to riding the route, using the early miles to West Concord as my warmup. Once I got across Rte. 2, I started pushing a bit harder but not too much.

Riding up Lowell Road/Concord Street past the Middlesex School is always an exercise in concentration for me: it's such a gradual slope up that it's easy to slow down much more than the incline warrants. I was able to keep my speed at or above 20 mph the whole way.

Rounding the corner onto 225 west presented me with those three hills that dog me when I ride this route clockwise but on the backside of each, none of them were much trouble as they slope much more gently to the east. I was in that little corner of Westford where 225 and 110 meet before I knew it.

Riding out of Littleton Center back down to Foster Street was a nice change from the way I usually ride it: the road condition is much better on the southbound side. I got my comeuppance when I actually turned onto Foster, I was presented with a minefield of freshly patched pot holes. I was able to dodge the pot holes themselves but cars had already loosened up the patches, strewing loose asphalt all over the place. Little black bits where flinging themselves up, making a sort of experimental music composition as they pinged off my downtube and chainstays.

Newton Street is a treat to ride in a southerly direction, the grade down is slight enough to give you the illusion you are cranking out at 25 mph by leg power alone. At this point, the sun was fully out and the temperature was in the mid-70's (according to my cyclocomputer, it was 80) but it felt much cooler as the humidity was low and my perspiration evaporated as soon as it made contact with my jersey.

The rest of the ride, I poked along, not pushing terribly hard - I had to remind myself that I needed to save some juice for tomorrow morning. More importantly, I seemed to have synchronized how I felt with how well I was riding - quite different from yesterday's experience.


A recurring train of thought through many of these recent rides is the idea of doing some racing next season. At the MRC Twilight Criterium a few weeks ago, a fellow club member did some gentle arm twisting to get me to race that day but I demurred, claiming that I wasn't ready and that I would race next year. Well that was half true: I wasn't ready.

At the time, I just said what I said to get him off my back but I've been wondering if I could manage my fitness level well the rest of this year, over the winter and get some training that might allow me to start next year with some of the Wells Ave. crit series.

I'm quite leery of pack racing at the entry level: you never know who you are riding with. One dumb-ass mistake by some noob (that includes me) could totally trash bike and rider. As a freelance photographer, my financial buffer against disaster is rather thin - I need to be ambulatory all the time or I'm out of business. And right now I can't afford to replace a destroyed bike.

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