Ending the Year with a Ride

New Year’s Eve Day. By 2 pm we’d each finished the errands set out for the day. Neither of us has ridden a lot in the past 2 months. I’ve continued my the brief bike portion of my multimodal commute and done some short recreational rides. On Thanksgiving John got the nasty morphing virus that takes weeks to recover from, so not much bike time for him.  I caught something similar but less severe a couple of weeks later. We returned Friday from a 7-day holiday trip (sans bikes) visiting family and sojourning for a couple of days in Hudson NY.

So here we were on a sunny and amazingly warm winter day, with some time available. What to do? The decision to bike ride was a no-brainer. Choosing what to wear was a bit harder. While the day’s high was 60 degrees, it was windy, and getting cloudier and cooler. My choices mostly involved wool. An Ibex long sleeve T and sweater, Darn Tough socks and Ibex wool knickers. Did I need a hat? Standing outside, no, but I guessed that once moving there’d be an unpleasant chill wind in my ears. I chose a fleece earband, and for my hands, all-purpose fleece lined REI gloves.  Finally for eyewear, I put the rose-colored lenses into my Rudy Project sunglasses (which are the kind with an inner Rx lens covered by changeable outer lenses).

John’s choices were similar. Wool short sleeve T and wool sweater, topped by an Ibex vest, spandex cycling shorts, wool socks and Ibex gloves and a snug fitting warm hat of a type whose name I don’t know.

Realizing we weren’t in top shape, we avoided the most difficult climbs and opted for an easier, though still hilly, 15 mile loop. Heartbreak Hill could wait for another day. Once away from the congested traffic on Ellicott City’s Main Street, the roads were pretty clear.  We saw a couple of other cyclists, including a guy on a mountain bike who totally blew past us toward the end of the ride. The bareness of the winter landscape revealed creeks, houses  and vistas that we don’t notice at other times of year. Our pace was leisurely, accommodating lingering congestion and underused muscles. We turned off of Old Frederick Road onto St Johns Road, to see where it lead us. This lightly travelled road took us out near the local high school on a different leg of Old Frederick. I actually don’t get how Old Frederick winds around and breaks up. I need to look at it on a map one day. Our route’s 3-4 mile finale has  three goodly hills. I have had many times when I felt I could barely make it up the last one. I think that challenge must be as much mental as physical. Yesterday, as out of shape as I am, I churned confidently – if very slowly – up the hills. Flying down the hills earlier in the ride was of course more fun!

During this ride I thought back over the year’s cycling experiences and envisioned local rides and tours I’d like to do in the coming year.  For tours, we’ve considered doing the Bon Ton Roulet again. After visiting Hudson we realized you could do a nice trip, cycling from Glens Falls (where John’s family lives) in a day, staying at Croff House again for a day or two and exploring more of the area,  and then riding back.

The Croff House is great B&B, highly recommended if you decide to visit Hudson.  Hudson was settled in the late 1600’s and chartered in the mid 1700’s. It’s a tiny place with the challenges of a declining population and high poverty levels. In recent years it’s making a resurgence as the shops, restaurants and neighboring beautifully restored homes attest. While we were there the local paper announced the winning of a $400,000 Promise Neighborhood grant, aimed at helping strengthen communities and improve learning outcomes for children. It will be interesting to see what they do with this opportunity. There’s quite a lot of things to do in the area beyond Warren Street’s shops and restaurants and I look forward to a return visit.

My clothing choices worked pretty well. Somewhere midway into the ride I considered taking my sweater off, but guessed I’d go from a bit too warm to chilly if I did that. My feet were comfortable in the wool socks and Merrell cross trainers. After climbing the second of our 3-hill finale, I removed my gloves as my hands had become too warm. The sunglasses were just right for the conditions, keeping the wind out of my eyes and keeping down the glare without being overly dark.  John found his clothing choices comfortable and the Ibex gloves perfect – warm  without overheating. Maybe I should get a pair of those!

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