I have been riding on a regular basis, but have not done anything particularly blog-worthy lately. Kristen recently recommended that I try riding in Valley Forge National Historical Park because the rolling hills there are similar to the terrain in Lancaster, PA where the PA Dutch Farm to Fork Fondo is held. I went there with the lofty goal of riding 20 miles, but quickly discovered that Kristen’s idea of “rolling hills” is a bit different from mine. I only managed 10 miles before the 775 feet of hills had me begging for mercy and beating a hasty retreat. So instead of milestone ride stats, I am going to share with you three important things I have learned recently:
1. Bicycle tires may need air added more frequently than car tires. Since my bike was brand new, I figured it would be a long time before my tires needed air (i.e., I figured I could forget about it for a while). On my last ride with Kristen, she pointed out that my tires were looking a little soft. Kristen told me she typically adds air to her tires once a week to keep them at the ideal pressure. Under-inflated tires mean you have to work harder to make the wheels turn and you run a greater risk of getting a “pinch” flat. Sure enough, I added air to my tires before my next ride, and sailed along at 11 mph (noticeably faster than my previous average speed).
2. In remedying the tire pressure situation, I purchased a bike floor pump at my local REI store where I learned that they have a bike shop (REI members get a discount on services!). They also offer classes, many of which are free. My store regularly offers classes called “Bike Maintenance Basics” (which I have registered to take in mid-July), “Women’s Bike Maintenance Basics” (which I would have registered for, except they’re all full until September!), and “Bike Maintenance: Trail and Roadside Repair” (which I will be registering for shortly). They offer assorted other classes from time to time, as well, including “How to Ride a Bike for Adults: BYOBike.” That one would have been perfect for me a few months ago! If only I had known about these classes sooner!
3. Riding on gravel is no fun. This one is somewhat subjective. There may be folks out there who love riding on rough and bumpy terrain. If that sounds like your cup of tea, don’t let me talk you out of it. I can definitively say, though, that it is not for me. I tried riding on a trail along the Schuylkill River that is “paved” with large gravel. The ride was so bumpy and jarring that my vision was reminiscent of footage from the Blair Witch Project and if my mouth hadn’t been closed, my teeth would have been chattering. I made it exactly 0.4 miles before I gave up.
In other important recent news, I’m now officially registered for the 2017 Farm to Fork Fondo! I will be doing the Piccolo 28-mile ride on July 29 in Lancaster, PA. I would like to point out that the title “Piccolo” is a bit of a misnomer as far as I’m concerned. It means “small” in Italian. Ha! 28 miles is not so small in my book! Though, I will admit it doesn’t seem as daunting now as it did a few months ago. When I first started riding in April and 5 miles seemed like a good distance to me, it was almost impossible to imagine myself riding 28 miles. However, now that I’ve reached a point where 15 miles is relatively tame, the last stretch to 28 feels much more do-able. Still, I’m considering petitioning for the name “piccolo” to be changed to “risultato fantastico.” That’s Italian for “awesome achievement!”