Hello there. In case you’re worried about my two week absence, I’m still doing my thing – slowly taking over the cycling world one blog post at a time. Of course if you’re a There And Back Again Premium Member, you’ve been following my exploits on Facebook and seeing exciting content that never makes it into this blog, like pictures of bikes under a tarp at Wal-Mart and an exciting feature where I equate my cycling mileage for the year to its corresponding year in history.
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That’s right, this is a long-winded and circuitous attempt to increase the number of likes on my Facebook page!
The Salt Ride
As for cycling, the rides have been few as of late due to the very cold weather and snow we’ve been experiencing. Sunday offered a great respite from the cold and I managed to get a fast 30 mile ride in on salt-covered roads. And that would be the main story from this ride – salt.
Northern Virginia isn’t used to heavy snowfalls so when they come, the road crews go at their jobs with gusto. Their only tool seems to be the application of stupendous amounts of salt to the roads. So much salt is used that days after the roads are cleared, their residue is to be found everywhere, including cars which are now caked with it and the streets themselves which still have it on their surface.
I took a picture of the salt on the road with my iPhone. When I got home I noticed my finger had covered up half the shot. It doesn’t look like I’m ready to make the switch to iPhone photography on my rides.
Back to salt. Salt on the roads takes two forms, the small hills that collect around intersections and the thin layer of dust that accumulates on road shoulders. The hills can be easily avoided; the thin layer less so. Basically, the layer of salt dust doesn’t present a problem other than turning your tires white, but it is important to know that you are not actually touching the road because of this layer. At high speeds, this can be a very significant issue. On Sunday, I definitely began noticing an odd sensation during a 30+ mph descent. I got the sensation that the bike was floating, much like when NASCAR drivers report their car is “feeling loose.”
I didn’t care to extend the experiment further to see what would happen if I pressed things, so I dialed it back a bit on the downhills. That’s too bad because I had a fast ride and would likely have logged one of my best times ever on this course.
Exciting Developments In The Neighborhood!
Last week I was excited to discover my humble neighborhood would once again host a sprint triathlon (of course, Premium Members already know this – hint! hint!). Before I got back into cycling, this annual event was a mild curiosity for me. I would pass the athletes and grumble to myself (good naturedly, of course) that one lane was closed for this event, thus slightly inconveniencing me as I drove my car on my weekend errands. When I got back into cycling in 2010, I eagerly looked forward to the next triathlon, only to discover that it was cancelled. Apparently, too many of my neighbors had similar grumbly feelings and actually acted upon them, thus banning the event. Well, somehow, someway, it’s back!
A two mile downhill pedal to the start line will be quite pleasant for me. The triathlon is a sprint, meaning the distances are fairly short. It’ll feature a half mile swim in Lake Montclair (where presumably the pontoon boats will be kept at bay by race officials), a 12.9 mile bike ride, then a 5k run. Very doable and very fun on the last Sunday in June.
How To Be A Road Biker Video
Since I’ve done a terrible job with illustrations in this post, let me add a little color with this humorous video that is making rounds on the web. It lists 27 steps to becoming a road biker. I have successfully completed 19 of them. I’ll let you guess which ones I need to finish. Hint: the bike pictured in Step 1 is the exact same model that I own (except for a different saddle and handlebar tape)!