I'm not sure it if qualifies as a Skirt ride, technically. You tell me:
Life is an adventure, you just never know what's gonna happen, what might be right around the corner, etc. I took a vacation day on Monday. I really needed a mental health day. Hadn't had one in months. Mostly I vegged and looked forward to my Skirt ride with the ladies. I had a 20+mile drive to the ride. Planned on leaving an hour ahead of start time, but got out of the house about 10 minutes behind schedule. I'm driving down Interstate-64 and there's a wreck around Cannon's Lane. Traffic was slow, but moving so I got off at Cannon's. Mistake, this was bumper to bumper for at least a mile. I started worrying about getting to the ride start on time. I called my Bro who knows how to get most anywhere in the city and took some pointers from him.
Whew, I get to the ride start about 10 minutes til 6. Get my bike and gear in order and meet the ladies. We had a nice turn out. I didn't do an official count (should have), but think there were at least a dozen to fifteen. There were supposed to be 3 groups. One would stay in Seneca/Cherokee and do the loops there. The other two were going to Iroquois with the faster doing the hill and the slower group wouldn't.
It was beautiful weather. Seventy degrees at 6 pm ride start with a few clouds in the sky overhead, but the sunshine was everywhere. We leave Cycler's and head to Seneca Park. The first group stays behind and we proceed to Eastern Parkway. We are in one big group, not two. Never really split off or discussed who would be in which one, at least not that I was aware. All is going well and we get to the intersection of Bardstown Rd. This is where I need work. I'm getting to the traffic signal and the rest of the group makes the light. I didn't make the light. So I'm at this fairly busy intersection watching the rest of the group get further and further away. The light changed, I clipped in and pedalled as hard as I could. I could see the group at the next intersection. This happened for three different intersections with traffic lights. After the third, I never saw them again. Period.
At some point I realise that I don't have my fast acting inhaler with me. I start thinking about that and realise I have at least 7 miles to go to get to Iroquois and then at least 10 to get back. I've lost my group. Hmm. The weather was good. My lungs felt clear. I had taken my Advair before leaving home along with a couple of puffs on the inhaler. (I always do that prior to real exertion). I had done my homework, studied the ride route on Google Maps, know my way around Jefferson County fairly well and decided to continue on. Why spend all that gas money to what, go home? I think not!
It was so good to spend time outside in warm temps and sunshine. So many people were out and about, pushing strollers, playing catch with the kids, running, jogging, cycling, washing cars. The route followed Eastern Parkway to Third Street which turns into Southern Parkway. Louisville has a beautiful park system. The parkways are 4 lane roads separated by a median with mature trees. At Southern Parkway, on either side of the road are smaller access roads that have (for the most part) been barriers in place preventing vehicle traffic, but allowing pedestrian and bicycle traffic. All along the way people smiled and acknowledged each other.
Iroquois has a lower road that loops the entire park, a 1.5 mile road that leads to the upper loop on Iroquois Hill. And the the upper loop road. By the time I got to the park I had already decided that if I was to do the hill, 1 - I wasn't going to see the others and 2 - I might run out of daylight before getting back as clouds were starting to float in from the west/northwest. I decide to ride around the lower loop and did about 1/3 of it before turning around and heading back.
The ride back seemed easier. At least the Southern Parkway to Eastern Parkway portion. Guess my legs had really warmed up. I was in my big ring most of the time and had a nice cadence of 95 RPM or more. I get to Eastern Parkway and I was going way too fast for the turn at the viaduct. Went a little wide, but all turned out okay. I'm working my way down Eastern Parkway, feeling really good. I've finally gotten a rhythm at the traffic signals. I'm unclipping my left foot and leaving my right one clipped. Still not terribly graceful getting the left clipped back in, but it was getting more and more smooth. I get to the Medical Arts Building intersection and hit a red light. This really hurt. I had to start climbing that hill from a dead stop. I made it, though slow. One of those moments I am so happy to have a "granny" ring. As I enter Cherokee Park I notice most cars have their headlights on and I start to get a little concerned, but I am closing in on Cycler's Cafe. Hoagland Hill was a little tough, but Dog Hill wasn't bad at all. Making my way down Cannon's Lane and then Lexington Road all I could do was think pedal faster. All cars had their headlights on now. The sky was almost full of clouds which were blocking what little daylight was left.
I pull in right about 7:50. There were 3 cyclists chatting from the ride. That was an interesting conversation. But I told the ride captain not to worry. I had been prepared. But next time we probably need to have a better system in place in case we have some inexperienced people that aren't quite so well prepared with knowing the route, etc.
I learned a few things. I need more work on my stop and starts, clipping in and out. I need to get some more miles behind me along with more hill work. I need to stay with the group and in the group, not at the back. Sometimes I just have to learn the hard way. Those seem to be the best lessons learned. I completed 25 miles so my ODO said, it took me close over and hour an da half to do it, probably closer to 1:45. That's okay. I spent plenty of time at red lights. One, I sat through 3 before getting a green.
Last week was 8 months tobacco free. I was riding about 10 minutes at a time on the stationary bike in June of 2007. I have come a very, very long way. But I'm not satisfied. I want to get stronger, faster, and keep building lung capacity.
The Skirts are talking about entering a race before the month is over. I'd love to do that! I guess I could let it intimidate me and not do it. Nah, somebody has to come in last. I have no problem if it's me, the first few times anyway. Because I know at some point, I won't be last anymore.