Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Back on the Bike

The temperature was somewhere in the mid 30’s to start the day. Cars parked on the street had ice covering all the windows. When I started off I was rather chilly. My fingers were tingling, my toes were cold (even with the plastic bags on my feet) and I had to sniffle or wipe my nose every thirty seconds else bear the consequences. It would be a day that would see me wearing my jacket for its entirety. By the time the temperature crept in to the mid 40’s though I was warm enough. Not warm, but warm enough.

I had grown comfortable and out of shape sitting around at my dads, so the mornings ride was an effort. I was also riding near the coast, so there was quite a bit of swirling wind. At times it felt as if I were riding through inches of mud; sometimes eight, sometimes two. My legs seemed to move in slow motion.

As I rode inland I was riding through a green tunnel. A swath was cut in the forest for the road to run through, but to either side were 40-foot pine trees growing straight up towards the sky. With the exception of the periodic dirt side road, the trees were undisturbed.

I caught the height of pollen season in North Carolina. A grainy green blanket covered everything that stood still for more than a few minutes: the road, cars, or my bike. At one point while riding my tires were completely green as they collected pollen off the road. When I stopped at to buy a drink I wanted to write a message with my finger on the hood of a car that was freshly coated in pollen. I figured that I acted enough like a child in the last few days coloring Easter eggs and having to borrow a collared shirt from my dad for Easter dinner.

The afternoon took me through the town of Wilmington, NC. It was just another case of having to ride through a city in heavy traffic. I wasn’t exactly sure which route I needed to take to get in to town, but I was almost certain that it wasn’t the one that made me cross two lanes of traffic where the Interstate began. It was better than the Interstate itself, so I opted for it. Getting across those two lanes was like playing a game of chicken. For some reason, drivers aren’t really patient when a bike tries to cross two lanes of traffic. I totally lucked out getting into town proper as one lane of the road was closed crossing over the open grate bridge and for the last half mile into Wilmington.

I had all the scenery I was going to get for the day in the morning. The afternoon saw me riding along the highway again. I was just happy that there was a shoulder on the highway, at least between towns anyway. In towns there just seems to be no place for a bicycle to ride other than in a lane of traffic.

By late afternoon the day was dragging on. It may not have been the best idea opting for a day of over 110 miles after having a five-day rest. My left knee was bothering me to some degree, but not to the point of concern. I was eager to get to a hotel and relax with the first day back on the bike behind me.

I ended my day in Jacksonville, North Carolina. I infinitely prefer staying in Jacksonville, NC than Jacksonville, FL. As the town is on the outskirts of a military base, there are men with closely cropped hair in the streets instead of women practicing the oldest profession. I had a large selection of hotels, but better yet, I came across a bike shop. I found out one of the reasons why I was struggling a bit during the day. My tires were inflated to 80 PSI as opposed to the 120 that they should have been. If you let a third of the air out of a basketball, it wouldn’t work very well. Neither did my tires. Again, there is no one to blame but myself.

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