Thursday, April 12, 2007

By Accident

This post was from February of last year. Miraculously, I manged to correctly navigate all of last year's AIDS ride. I still rely on S to get me back on track when I get turned around, but luckily those request have become much more infrequent. Without further ado:

I was chased by a dog today for the first time! Luckily it was a smallish dog... with stubbly legs. OK, it wasn't really a threat, but it was exciting. I was doing my longest ride yet, a loop around the South Bay. I made a little detour around mile 19, mistakenly thinking it would reconnect with my route. As I was turning around, I heard the barking of a dog preparing to protect it's territory. Rather than get off the bike and trying to settle the dog down, possibly involving small teeth embedded in my skin, I took off. Its instinct aroused, the dog gave chase. Winding through a small park, I eventually lost him as the park path connected to the street. I'm not saying that I look forward to my next canine encounter, but surprises like this turn out to be essential parts of my training, pushing me a little harder than I would on my own.

One of my most common surprise is the wrong turn. The Sand Hill/Alpine/Page Mill region around Portolla Valley still manages to confound me. My medium commute was originally going to be shorter, cutting into Palo Alto on Alpine Rd. instead of going around to Sand Hill. However, the "wrong" turn I made on my inaugural trip ended up being a much better morning workout; my original route would have shortchanged me.

Of course, the next time I rode, I missed the Arestradero turn, and ended up stuggling up Page Mill. After about 800 feet of climbing, and no real idea of when it would end, I decided to turn back. The climb was a great challenge, though; pushing yourself up hills like these are the best way to really increase the body's ability to process oxygen.

Last weekend's ride was determined en route as well. Rolling out of bed at 9, I realized that I had missed nearly all of the weekly AIDS training rides. Hastily I decided I could make the 9:30 roll out time for the South Bay group, but driving up to the Union City meet point, I saw the big group already cycling down the rode. Foolishly undeterred, I parked and hopped on my bike. Not knowing the route, though, I was never able to catch up to the main group. Riding in a southern direction, my best guess as to the route, I found myself serendipitously in S's neighborhood. After a quick consult of Google maps, and a good-luck kiss, I was back on the rode, solo. I don't think I would have attempted such a long route without having taken that first stumble forward. So, while next time I hope to be better prepared for a ride, I'm thankful for all of my surprises so far.

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