Sunday, August 14, 2011

Not quite crippled

I don't think anyone seeing me moving around this morning would be surprised that I'm almost 80. I'm not in pain, but ... well, if you can imagine the opposite of an endorphin high, that's it. So this is what taking 6 minutes off a 20.9 mile ride costs me? Enough to give one pause, in more ways than one.

Of course the recovery time may not be commensurate with the intensity of today's miseries. I'm learning how unpredictable my body can be. Perhaps I'll wake up Tuesday morning and be raring to go. In which case I can try once again to reach the 10mph mark on the same course.

I ran across in interesting story in this morning's New York Times (travel section) by Bruce Weber, a guy who's riding across the country from Astoria (OR) to Manhattan. He's 57 years old, and is planning to average 50 miles a day for the trip, blogging as he goes. You can check it out at He had just marked his 500th mile from Astoria when he wrote today's story. In spite of the difference in our ages, and the radically different paths we're taking, I found that I could identify with him. I hope to find the time follow his blog from now on.

In today's story, he writes of the task -- and its importance -- of chosing his route. His task is more difficult than mine, by far. But for the sake of helping anyone reading this with little experience to get out there and ride, I'll describe my route-design process.

It begins with one of the wonderful bicycle maps that are printed in this area. The most ubiquitous is "Bike There," published by, but there are countless others, and they all share the marvelous practice of color-coding the local roads, identifying those that have bike lanes, and separating the remaining into high traffic, low traffic, and "caution areas." Bicycle trails are also mapped, in yet another color. I've found these maps in bicycle shops and libraries, some for sale, and some free. I couldn't live without them.

My planning starts with making half a dozen photocopies of the section of the map that shows the area in which I'm going to ride. I take one of these photocopies with me, with a tentative route marked with a highlighter, and on the way I stop to write down the mileage at major intersections, corners, and rest stops. When I come home I make notes in the margins and file them in a binder. These become a resource for me when planning new routes.

I can't imagine a metropolitan area more hospitable to cyclists. With the maps, the ubiquitous bike lanes, and generally gentle terrain, it's close to cycle utopia.

It's 10 am, now, and I'm moving better. I think I'll live.

1 comment:

  1. Reading this made me remember a time I went riding with hardly an inkling of a planned route. My thought was I was going to explore a little. What I learned was exploring on a bicycle can become a time consuming endeavor if you get lost. I didn't take a map, but was going by (faulty) memory of the back roads. So, the sun is close to setting and I'm on the phone with Claire..."yes, so, the two road signs I'm under say Old Ridge Road and Coal Mine Road" or something other. "Can you Google Maps this and tell me where I am and which way I should go to be heading towards home?". Cell phones do come in handy. I've only called Claire once where I requested she actually come get me. This was one of my first rides after being hit by the car and I rode farther than my body could take. I usually don't give up and use my lifeline. And so on this exploration outing I made it home under my own steam just before the sun set behind the trees. Whew.