Sunday, May 11, 2014

Cycling Explorations

Since I need to take time off from running, and I can't stand to not exercise regularly, I have had to embrace this whole cycling thing.  It was frustrating at first, because I didn't have the right muscle to ride with the same intensity that I was used to putting into my runs.  But after a few weeks, I have gotten much stronger, and am able to get a satisfying workout out of a bike ride.  It can still be hard to find the time for bike rides of a decent length, but I seem to be finding it.  I thought I was busy when I was running 30-45 miles a day, and now I find myself biking an hour or two, often longer on weekends.  Somehow it seems to fit in.  And on the days when it doesn't, I ride hard for 30 minutes or so.

My favorite part about cycling is that it takes me places my runs don't.  I am seeing parts of the area that I have never seen before, and since spring time has finally arrived in the Greenbrier Valley, the scenery is gorgeous, and often breathtaking.  The one-lane roads through farmland have very little traffic, but lots of cows and beautiful green fields.

I don't like stopping in the middle of a workout, so I don't have pictures of any of the scenery, except for today.  Today, the road I took turned unexpectedly into a dirt/gravel road.  Having already been chased by two different pairs of dogs, I really didn't want to turn around and backtrack.  So I took my chances that the map was correct and that the road would in fact continue to the next road I planned to take, and I stuck with it.  Parts of the road were decent, parts of it were very rutted and rocky and muddy.  But thankfully, my tires handled it beautifully.  I was rather angry about the state of the road, and desperately hoping I wouldn't end up lost, but as I looked around, it was so peaceful.  And every now and then I would get a glimpse of a breathtaking view as I wound my way up and down a mountain.  I had to break my no-stopping rule to snap a few pictures.
This was a part where the gravel road was relatively smooth.  
I love green trees and blue sky, such perfect weather!

Almost Heaven, West Virginia. 
What a view.

Eventually, the dirt road came to a T with a paved road.  With no street signs.  So I had to guess...up hill or down hill.  It wasn't how I remembered it looking on the map, but it turns out I hadn't looked closely enough at the map.  I knew that the place I was headed was most likely downhill, since it's near the river, so I chose downhill.   It turned out that where I had thought the road I started on continued straight and I needed to turn off to the left, it actually didn't go straight. The road I was on continued to the right, the one I had planned to turn off onto, was to the right.  I have no idea why that intersection wasn't labeled, but good thing I have a decent sense of direction! In the end, the road I took spit me out on a two lane road that was also unlabeled, but which I knew had to be the next road I wanted, Highway 63.  So, I made it home without actually getting lost, even though I felt lost for about half of the ride.  Adventuring is fun on weekends when I have the time for it!  Especially when the weather cooperates.

Yesterday, I went for my longest ride so far.  40 miles.  It didn't have any significant mountain climbs, so it wasn't particularly difficult, just long.  I actually felt like I could have kept going.  The only reason I didn't, was because the skies opened up and it started pouring when I was about 7 miles from home.  So, I got drenched.  It stopped raining right around the time I got back into town, which made it tempting to continue riding, but in the end the desire to get warm and dry won and I headed straight home.

Last week, I rode 90 miles, which I felt was pretty impressive for a busy person who has just picked up this new cycling hobby.  This week, I made a goal of hitting 90 again.  And then I hit a grand total of 118.9 miles for the week.  I would continue this quest to see how many miles I can ride in one week, but this coming week is looking pretty busy, so I suspect it will be a lower mileage week.  Time will tell.

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