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BIG LIZARD Log: 12.16.11

The ups and downs with Greg and his trusty Giant Iguana mountain bike, aka Big Lizard, as together we embrace the grind. No excuses. Do the work. Because “you can’t bullshit your way up a mountain.”

It’s been several weeks since I’ve been on the bike. It feels like several years.

Preparation time for a big trip to China. The 10-day trip itself, which you can follow in the IBIT in China series. The post-travel cold that flattened me for another week or so. The rain that followed that.

All the time, Big Lizard was hanging in the garage, waiting. Possibly developing a complex from all the neglect.

The waiting is over. We are back…and we are rolling.

Went back out to my favorite training course, the five-mile loop around Miramar Reservoir, wondering what kind of shape the bike would be in, with its not-quite-true rear wheel. Wondering that kind of shape I’d be in after so many weeks out of the saddle.

The answers came within the first quarter-mile. It was felt as if I’d never been away.

I can’t remember the last time I felt so good on the bike after a long layoff. My form was smooth, nothing awkward or out of place. My heart wasn’t pounding from the renewed stress. The legs weren’t complaining at all.

I felt like shouting for joy. But I know better than to do that in a public place:

“Mommy! There’s this big black man on a bicycle and he’s yelling a lot!”

“Oh, my God! Somebody call 911!”

So I was feel in’ it out there, no question. But what about Big Lizard?

Smooth, silent, fluid, flawless. Felt like a brand-new bike.

The only malfunction was that of the attached Echo F2 bike computer, which refused to give me any information except pedal cadence, measured in revolutions per minute. But that’s okay.

When you’re training, pedal cadence is really all you need, anyway.

You see what’s the highest pedal cadence you can maintain at a gear that you’re comfortable in. Then you start building on it until you can get it up to, say, 90 rpm and keep it there. When you can do that, you kick it up to a higher gear and start building up the rpms again, back to 90.

Wash, rinse, repeat.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but you don’t start out in the highest gears and grind your way to fitness. You hurt your knees that way. Nope, you start lower, easier, and spin your way to greater strength on the bike.

And once you have that strength, as I found out yesterday, your body is loathe to give it up.

Believe me, that’s a good thing.

I’d forgot what it was like to ride in winter — or at least what passes for winter in San Diego, where it’s illegal to be cold. It didn’t take long for the headwind to remind me. It was definitely chilly out there, which may explain why the parking lot was so empty at the res.

Only the hard-core joggers and cyclists were out on the loop, dodging around the huge puddles and mudflow left behind by the recent rains.

Fifty-degree winds have knife edges on them when you’re slicing through at 15 mph or so. Thank God for head wraps and full-fingered bike gloves. Next time, arm warmers.

All in all, a gratifying day. I haven’t lost nearly as much conditioning as I had feared. Time to start putting in work again. Just hope the Lizard is ready for it.

We’re BA-A-A-A-A-ACK!

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