I should have known that my first long foray on my recumbent would mess me up the next day. Not to disappoint, my body rolled out of be like Billy Ray Cyrus’s heart, achy and breaky. Even though recumbents are much easier on the body, they use slightly different muscles, or, maybe, they use the same muscles in slightly different ways. This is why I normally go all in on a particular bike, riding it for many days in a row so that my body adapts.
One of the differences with bent riding is that you need to get bent legs. Since you can’t pull on the handlebars or use gravity to help you push the pedals, you have to spin in an especially efficient manner. This takes some adaptation. Because of the threat of rain today, I decided to ride The Mule instead of Big Nellie this morning. The Mule is my oldest bike, and has a saddle that has seen its better days. The first few miles were a bit of a slog as I dialed out my bent legs and dialed in my Mule legs.
About three miles into my commute, I intersect with the Mount Vernon Trail. Just a few yards after getting on the MVT it becomes a boardwalk through Dyke Marsh, a natural area along the Potomac River. I like to stop at a bump out in the boardwalk to take a picture of the sun rising over the river. This chilly morning there was fog hanging over the river so it looked particularly inviting. The bump out, however, was occupied by three cyclists, one of whom is one of my regulars, a spry, petite woman rider whose hair fans out from the rear of her helmet. I see every morning on my way to work, she coming toward me with her glasses on and a big I-love-my-bike smile.
I continued to ride and found my Mule legs in short order. My usual trance overcame me and somehow I managed to ride another mile and a half before I came to a slight rise in the trail as it climbed to a bridge over a creek. The trail at this point is bounded on the right by the stone side of the bridge and on the left by the Parkway. There is not a whole lot of room for error. As I neared the top of the rise, I could see a bike approach me from up ahead. Just then, my regular passed me on the left. I don’t know if she called a warning but her pass was so fluid that it didn’t startle me in the least. After the approaching cyclist passed, another cyclist passed. As he did he said, “Passing left. I apologize for my wife.” I cracked up.
Another mile slipped away and I turned left under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to take South Royal Street into Old Town, Alexandria. The SUVs of parents dropping their kids off at Saint Mary’s School were clogging up the street with their drop-off-and-dash routine. One parent dropped her daughter off on the near side of the trail so that the little girl would have to cross in front of the cyclists to get to the sidewalk. Situational awareness is apparently not a requirement for the modern day, upper class Catholic parent. I managed to avoid hitting the girl as she darted in front of me.
After weaving through the SUVs (why can’t they all stay to the left of the lane so I can get by without passing in front of them?), I cruised north on Royal Street using a Lexus (Mrs. Rootchopper calls them Locusts) as a shield against crossing cars.
By the time I returned to the river the fog had lifted and the temperature had risen about five degrees. It was now perfect bike commuting weather, the kind that tempts me to ride right past the office, across the river, and up the C&O Canal towpath. Sadly, I need the money to edjumacate my kids so that they don't become modern day, upper class Catholics parents with Locusts.
I approached the underpass to the Memorial Bridge. Here, the MVT narrows to a single lane. I could see a bike coming fast on the far side of the underpass so I pulled over. As he came through he held up his hand and index finger and said, “There’s one more.” This kept me from turning back onto the trail and getting run over. I tip my bike helmet to you, sir.
After 8 1/2 hours of doing the government thing, I hopped back on the mule and moseyed on home. I must have been tired because apparently my mouth was wide open. About a mile into the ride, a big bug flew straight down my throat. GAG!!! SPIT!!! GAG!!! ACK!!! He wasn't coming back out so I rinsed him down with a swig from my water bottle.
Despite the flying protein, I didn't set any speed records on the way home.
By the way, I would never apologize for my wife. She's never wrong.
You can put the gun down, dear.