Thursday, July 30, 2009

Back In The Saddle

Back in the saddle after a three-week lay-off, two of which were spent on a Winnipeg visit, and one of which was simply rained-out. The heart and lungs were willing, but the body required a little care.

Too much rain, not enough sunlight makes the planted corn unhappy, but I think we're doing a little better than most corn-growers in Manitoba. It's a little hard to believe, given how much rain we seemed to get in the last month.

Distance: 14.5 km in 45 minutes, for an average speed of 19 kph (reached 56.7 kph while chugging downhill). Chafing is getting to be an issue: I suspect I've misadjusted the saddle. Too high? Not far enough forward? I'll keep adjusting until I've got it where it ought to be. (Sigh. Was a time when I would join a "cycla-thon" and pedal just over 50 miles in a day ... on a CCM five-speed ... wearing cut-offs!)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Another Church

I'm self-conscious about taking pictures of other people's houses. I'd seen this view of the church often, but had never taken a closer look. When I came to the yard, two people (mother & adolescent son(?)) were leaning on a van and having a heated discussion. I wasn't about to ask their permission and I certainly wasn't going to snap the shot and sprint for the hills. As I passed, I noticed the building's state of disrepair. It looks like a stoner house, alas. The brushes eating at the foundation (hm - metaphor?) of the building could have indicated as much had I given the matter some thought.

12.8 kms in 38 minutes. Muddy roads.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Introducing "Smells"

I took the camera with me today, hoping to snap a shot of a picturesque schoolhouse-turned-residence just outside of town. When I reached the house, the picture was obviously out of the question. The lovely maple trees which border the property are lush enough to obscure the drama of the house; the inconvenient angle of the sunrise botched the rest of it. Throughout the remainder of my ride I realized that most picture-worthy properties face the west (I suppose most of us are preconditioned to think we have more time, or a greater need, for aesthetics at the end of the day -- sunset -- than we do at its beginning). There are ways to compensate for shooting into the sun, but few of them result in anything especially attractive. And they all require more work than I was prepared to do on a ride.

I mulled over my usual bevy of preoccupations, obsessions and anxieties, including, in no particular order, mortality, the ethical dilemmas facing my children's generation, peak oil, what constitutes a desirable perspective, etc. The body eventually reaches a point where the energy that generates questions is harnessed for locomotion. The mind slips into a pleasantly befuzzled state, and consciousness is alerted only occasionally, either by unusual sights or, in my case, smells.

I've sometimes thought my sense of smell is a shade too acute. We had a rodent problem in our first house, which a little poison quickly took care of. Less than a year later I knew we had to deal with the problem again, because I could smell them (mice pee everywhere).

Age and palate abuse has certainly dulled this sense, but I'm still sensitive. While riding, if a car passes me in either direction I can usually tell whether or not the rider has shampooed. Then there's smoker's fug, which is hardly noteworthy. There's a scene in 84 Charlie MoPic where a new Lieutenant is berated by his seasoned grunts for lighting up in the field. "Charlie can smell cigarette smoke from a mile away," or something to that effect.

Today one of the smells to catch me off-guard was strawberries. The season is ending, so there are berries rotting in their patches -- a sickly smell I was happy to leave downwind.

Distance: 17.7 kms in 54 minutes, concluding with a sore keister. Kinda humbling when I think my friend Scott is doing 100 kms in a windy day like yesterday. I'd like to work up to a century, but since I replaced my stem I've been getting saddle-weary, and haven't yet figured out the right adjustment.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

One Hour In The Rain

21 kms in one hour today, in the rain. The skies were looking heavy, but I simply couldn't absorb another day inside. 20 minutes of sprints on the trainer has got nothing on one hour of riding hills in the rain.

Unfortunately, the rain kept me on the pavement. I've done gravel roads in the rain, but that requires a thorough cleaning session which lasts just about as long as the ride. Most of the locals know me on sight (I'm the guy in the Costco undershirt and OP shorts (with a pair of Louis Garneaus underneath)) and pass me with a wide berth. Cottage travelers, on the other hand, aren't usually so generous. It was early, though, and traffic was light.

The clover in the ditch smells especially sweet in a light rain.