I was dreading getting back on my bike last week.

Last summer, I usually rode either after work, or to and from work. But in the spring, it isn’t warm enough in the morning or evening, so I decided to try riding mid-day from work. I can’t take my bike in my normal car, so on Tuesday I packed up my gear and my bike in our (very) old mini-van. Then I planned a route from my office, and watched the hourly weather forecast and my schedule of meetings. At 3:00 I set out for my first ride of the year.

[My normal car, by the way, is a Honda S2000 roadster. It’s sleek and small, a 2-seater convertible. It hugs the road… Carolyn hates it – she calls it the “stupid car” or “the snowflake” – I call it the “fun car”. She prefers the minivan, which can hold a household full of what she calls furniture and I call crap. She refuses to believe that you can even fit a week’s worth of groceries in my trunk. Which you totally can! Carolyn adds: if you don’t plan on much cooking that week.]

Right off the bat, there were annoyances on my ride – I forgot to bring my sun glasses, the fancy new helmet intercom wouldn’t sync with my phone to play music, and I couldn’t find my full finger bike gloves. (I think one of the kids stole took them, but I’ll never know.) These annoyances were quickly overshadowed by the pain of struggling up the first hill out of the office complex. In the end I managed to slog through 10 miles and ended up cutting the ride short. Sigh.

It was during this ride that I finally realized that the reason my foot hurt was because my bike shoes were pinching my foot. And since the shoes lock into my pedals, they have to be aligned correctly or I’ll develop other aches and pains and injuries. So I decided to get new shoes and get a complete bike fit at the same time. I scheduled one for the next day.

Of course, the weather that next day was beautiful, but with taking time out of work for the bike fit, I didn’t have time for a ride. The bike fit, however, was great – I was gratified that I had the bike set up just about perfectly in the back (seat and pedals), and was surprised by the suggestion to get wider and higher handle bars. I had been thinking of raising them a bit, but had never considered widening them – something that seems to have come into fashion in the 23 years since I bought my bike. The guy at the shop set me up on a trainer with the higher and wider bars, and I really liked the result. Perhaps this will fix the pain I get in my right shoulder while riding (it’s only been bothering me for 40 years).

It being spring, the bike shop is very busy. They estimated a week to change the handlebars, so I decided to do it myself. It really isn’t hard, but it’s a pain to take off the bar tape, brakes, and mount for the front pack and remount it all on the new bar. The hardest bit was the retraining cable for the front pack mount – it is a standard braided wire cable and the end frayed a bit – I had to tin it with some solder to be able to feed it back through the locking bolt.

Thursday I tried riding again – I did the same little 10 mile loop and felt much better. I found my sunglasses, and I charged the helmet intercom so that I could listen to my music – listening to music while I ride really makes it much more enjoyable for me. Again I cut off the ride at 10 miles, but at least it did not kill me like it had on Tuesday.

Friday was supposed to rain so I drove the Snowflake and didn’t bring my bike to work, but I kept looking out the window and it was sunny and nice outside. I decided to leave work early, go home and ride and then work from home for the rest of the afternoon. Once I was on the bike and on “home turf” I decided to do one of my regular routes – a 20 mile route. I was sorely tempted to cut it short, but managed to finish the whole route – at a pathetic pace, but I felt good finishing it. I think if the weather holds out, I’ll be feeling much better in just a couple of weeks.

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