cycling


12
Sep 18

The sun can set in any direction when you’re gassed

It is funny how you can have different emotional responses to the same thing. It doesn’t even take much to change things, either. I got home Monday, ready to ride my bike. Had to ride my bicycle. Couldn’t get out of the door again fast enough.

I didn’t ride yesterday because I couldn’t drag myself away from the pillow early enough. I was in the studio until dark, so that wiped out that day, which is fine.

But that meant an evening ride tonight! Which was great! I was happy to do it, and I had a nice ride after my legs started moving. But it didn’t have the same level of zeal as two days before. I did the same roads and same kind of roads. The weather was warm and grand on both days. So what makes the difference?

Anyway, this was me when I set out for a quick evening ride:


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‪Let's go ride bikes!‬ ‪#TheMilesAhead‬

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We’ve been doing a lot of small ring workouts lately, because you can always improve cardio, they say. (This is a terrible thing to say, for several reasons.)

Not pictured was about eight miles in when a guy on a bike came screaming by and tossed two syllables at me, his air at a premium. (He should do more cardio.) I said something almost as intelligible, ground mostly in the problem that I had no idea what he was trying to tell me. And then I looked over my shoulder and there was a whole angry pack of young riders. Fit, young, in their big rings, going fast. And suddenly I was swallowed up. And they pretty quickly spit me out the back.

So there I was, all alone, enjoying the sun and shade and little hills and quiet of an almost-country road, reminded that I really much prefer small or solo rides to big group efforts. There’s just not enough courtesy or regard for safety in packs.

If I’d been in the right gearing, though, I could have stayed in the group and hated it for a few more seconds, of that I’m sure. But, instead, I got 43 kilometers of good cardio work this evening.

(I’m supposed to use km, I know, when it comes to riding, but I haven’t memorized the conversions or the formula and it sounds awfully pretentious. Though the numbers are always higher … It was 27 miles and change tonight, and my top speed would have been 47 km/hour. So maybe it isn’t that pretentious.)

On the way back to the house:


Do you know how many times you have to see that before you realize the perfect shot will always be perfect right there? Three. At least three times I’ve been through there and thought, Oh, what a great place for a sunset shot. I should get one of those one day before I can’t. And then I finally realized it was an east-west road and that should be a fairly predictable photograph.

I blame the cardio training for lack of directional cognition and thought processing.

So, that covers my bike ride and today’s Instagram offerings. If you haven’t been on Twitter, there’s a bunch more there today. A lot of sports, somehow, in fact. Please do give me a visit there as well. Thanks for stopping in, and come back tomorrow for another adorable picture of the black cat and probably another thing or two of passing interest. It’ll be the regular iffy Thursday smorgasbord, and you’re always invited.


10
Sep 18

Time for a ride

A perfectly regular day in the office, and that means there’s a need for a special early evening:

I did the usual route and a nearby subdivision, which is familiar enough. No records were broken, and no great hills were climbed. But I did find a road that is closed for re-design and construction and for a few wonderful minutes I had both lanes to myself and no traffic to worry about as I went up and down the silent little stretch.

I had the road to myself, my lecture for tomorrow already in place and the sun off to the side. It was on my left as I went uphill and peeking through the same trees, now on my right, as I tucked into the bars and headed down the same hill.

It was as just about a lovely a feeling you can find by pedaling easily through neighborhoods.

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6
Sep 18

How can they see with sequins in their eyes?

I woke up before the sun this morning, before my alarm went off, even. And sometime after that I got my act together and walked out the door with my bicycle and had a little quiet ride. Some of the roads were mine alone, as the day stirred into action.


I could go for more rides like this. It is only the up and at ’em part where I struggle.

Class today was a continuation of sportswriting. We had a guest, a local writer of considerable talent and ability. The only problem is that in addition to his talent and experience, he also has some sort of stomach bug. So I was on my own.


Fortunately I had just enough time to dash off some slides and we discussed lead writing for an hour.

Then I caught up on email and went into the studio for the evening. There was television to produce.


They shot two different shows tonight. One, a highlight show, will be out tomorrow. The other is a talk show, and they are really getting those segments down to something tight and special. That show will be out sometime over the weekend. This was week two for the sports crew, and they’re off to a great start. Next week the news folks start their shows for the semester.

I made it home just in time for dinner.


4
Sep 18

Almost every goal of the day was met

I got out for a morning bike ride. This was a special treat, which mostly involved me waking up early enough to do it.


Being on empty roads was easily the highlight of my morning. Later, I went to work and put together a quiz and wrote an AP Style primer and then lectured a tiny bit on news writing. I was supposed to go into the studio this evening and watch some historic television being made, but that got delayed until next week. History waits for no one! Except when it does.

I did get to do this, however:


A few times a week I walk by the building named in honor of the scrawny old Indiana journalist. We’re just rich with the Ernie Pyle stuff around here. His desk is one floor beneath my office. Two floors down they’ve recently created an installation showing off his medals, some of his books, his war correspondent field jacket and a whole bunch more. Just outside our building is a sculpture of him sitting at a table and banging away at a story, somewhere in Europe or the Pacific. One day his ghost will show up and point out my typos. (He’ll be a busy spirit.)

Also, I got to ride my bike this morning:

I climbed two little hills on my short ride. It was all a freewheeling, downhill adventure from there.

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16
May 18

We went flying over the Tuscan countryside

We woke up so early this morning that I actually demonstrated how upset I was. On any other day, this would be strange. But this was a vacation day, of course, and so there’s a layer. And I’m terrible at time zone adjustments, so there’s another layer. And it was obscenely earlier, friends. Had it been any regular day, then, this would be the thing that was remembered, the bit that was etched into family lore, the part of the tale never untold.

But, we did this, and this is a way better story:

Now, I don’t know about you, but occasionally I see a hot air balloon and I think, “Oh, how neat.” But it has never really occurred to me to be a thing I should pursue. I’ve always thought I’d enjoy it. But it always seemed like it belonged in a different world than mine, maybe. I’ll just blame all of the places I saw it on television as a child. It was always an extravagance, or an incredibly low-speed getaway. Well, no one chases me, thankfully, and I’m not an extravagant person, so the hot air balloon ride was someone else’s achievement, some other person’s signal.

And to do it in Italy? Well, friend, that just seems right out, doesn’t it?

But, of course, if you’re going to enjoy a hot air balloon ride — and how we did enjoy it! — you probably ought to start in Tuscany. So we did. And there it is. So much fun, so beautiful it all was, that I really struggled cutting this footage down. But if you’re going to glide over Tuscany, you want to record a lot of it. And you may as well show it off, so people can see, and you can remember.

And if you’re going to glide over Tuscany in a hot air balloon, make sure you get the pilot that struggles coordinating the landing zone with the proper speed and gas variables, so your flight is longer.

These things are very weather-dependent, as you might imagine. We shared our balloon with a very fidgety couple down from Rome. They’d been trying to take this trip for some time and had their flights canceled four times because of one kind of weather or another. They both worked the overnight shift at the da Vinci–Fiumicino Airport and had come down at the last minute to finally get this in. We were fortunate to get our balloon ride on our first try, despite unseasonably gray skies.

And after you do that, make sure you stand around in a Tuscan field and eat meats and cheeses and drink heavy drinks because it is barely 9 a.m. and you’re on vacation and you were just up there, using physics and the wind and basic aeronautical design that started carrying people more than 300 years ago. Also, you’re in Italy and it’s beautiful and wonderful and perfect.

Then you go back to your 17th century farmhouse and take a nap, because this is going to be a beautiful and wonderful and perfect trip — it already is … — but you need your rest.

When you wake up, your rental bikes have arrived. And so we’ll spend a week going up and down the hills of Tuscany on a pair of nice, 10-year-old-or-so Motobecanes. We took our first ride this afternoon, a simple shake out ride, but I didn’t take my phone because it looked gray and rainy and I was too tired to remember it anyway. We road up and down the Via di Botanaccio, a perfectly unremarkable country road suitable for bicycles. Except we’re in Tuscany and there’s vineyards over there and olive groves over here and that’s just everything. Oh, and there are two 15-degree ascent climbs on the road. We’re going to be trying to get over the top of those a lot in the next few days, too.

Tomorrow, we’re going into Siena.