For the final year of Loki’s long 18-year life he required some special care, which I was always happy to provide. My primary concern was that he would sometimes fall and was then unable to get back up on his own. Whenever he took a spill, he became very stressed until he was helped back up. The thought of poor Loki panicking on the hard kitchen floor for several hours with no one home to help him was unbearable to me, and so during his final year I never left him alone for more than an hour.
So, because of this, for nearly a year I have been unwilling to do rides longer than an hour unless Lisa was home to care for Loki. I never minded, as I would happily do the same for any family member or close friend. Bikes are awesome, but they are still a distant second to family and friends.
The silver lining around the very dark cloud of Loki’s death is that I am no longer restricted to short rides when Lisa is away. Last week I rode a total 375 kilometers, which is a new single-week distance personal record for me. I suspect that PR will not last long…
During the later half of last week we had nothing but nasty, windy, cold and rainy weather. So I back-loaded the week with three straight TrainerRoad workouts: “Thunder” on Thursday, “Carson” on Friday and “Tioga” on Saturday. None were easy (the 1.5 hour “Tioga” workout is an especially tough over/under workout), but I felt extremely solid during each effort.
The weather finally broke as a cold front (well, more accurately, a “cool” front) pushed through the area. The weather yesterday was, in a word, PERFECT.
So on Saturday my friend William Cruz posted on the WMBC message board that he was looking for a 60-70 mile (100-113 kilometer) ride early on Sunday. One look at the forecast and I knew I was in. I was also happy to see that Tracy Draper would be riding as well. I know Tracy from reputation and from the Internet/Facebook, and we’ve even done a few of the same rides together (for example, the 2013 Horrible Hundred), but somehow our paths had never crossed on any of these rides. Tracy is a monster rider, and I was looking forward to finally sharing some saddle time with her.
The three of us rolled out at 7:30 AM sharp. It was a brisk 48° (F), but as the sun came up it quickly warmed into the mid-50s. Not a cloud in the sky, just bright sunshine and crisp, cool air.
We traveled north on lightly-trafficked country roads, eventually winding though through the beautiful and scenic Ocala National Forest. Once we turned south we rode past Alexander Springs, which is at the northern tip of the Paisley Woods Mountain Bike trail. I’ve emerged from the woods on my mountain bike at this location many times!
The beautiful, cool weather, scenic route and great company made for one of the most enjoyable rides I’ve done in a long time. We wound up riding right at 100 kilometers at a 20.2 MPH (~33 KM/HR) pace, and it felt really easy. My average heart rate was just 144 BPM, which is extremely low/aerobic for me. Here’s the entire ride on Strava.
Last week was an incredibly difficult and painful time. Yesterday I felt genuine happiness for the very first time since Loki died. I’ve been miming a lot of smiles lately; yesterday’s were real.