I take my time getting ready for the ride today, as this is the first road ride I've been on since the weekend. I wait until the very last minute to pull on my spandex and load my back pockets full of the essentials - tire pump, spare tube, multi-tool, hammer bar, cell phone, and I.D. I remember to grab my shuffle, making sure I have enough batteries for the ride and then continue pulling on my "office" clothing. I say that because I've been putting as much if not more time into the bike lately than actually sitting behind a desk. Lucky me.
As I go through the get ready ritual, I concoct my route to Marymoor in my head. Do I follow the sleepy, bumpy Burke Gilman north? Or head over via I-90, a lap around Mercer and then follow the east side of Lake Sammamish? I'm headed south toward the bridge without a second thought. All of this track training has made me miss my regular routes - mostly, yet I still don't miss the Burke.
Lots of cyclists are out today. However I only see one woman to about 10 men. The Seattle to Portland annual ride is coming up mid-July and everyone is putting in some miles to lessen the saddle sore sting during the long 204 southbound miles.
I cruise along the arboretum, picking off commuters and joy riders without hesitation, listening to a mix of Built to Spill and Common Theory. I can feel my pace quicken depending on the tempo and Fujiya Miagi has me soaring down the bridge averaging 29mph. What's this? When did road riding become so effortless?
I decide that taking a lap around Mercer Island is necessary and enjoy the rolling hills and hidden driveways. Not to mention the other joy riders and when one passes me, I decide my pace is too easy and hop on his wheel. I know the slight riser coming up in 3 miles will tax him a little too much so at that point, I take over and provide a steady fast draft. The windy turns come up, I pedal through the corners and glance down to see speeds in the mid-twenties. It feels so good to be out on my bike - free of going around in circles and with specific training in mind. I'm enjoying the ride and forget about the guy sitting on my wheel until I come to the stop light and hear him huffing beside me and utter, "nice night for a ride," as sweat pours down his face.
We part ways as I continue East, thinking of Ryan and how much he used to love sailing by Fred's and dropping racers when ever he could. It's funny how racing so much can condition you to compete with everyone - regardless of the scenario. I chuckle at myself as I pass two guys laboring up the hill by T-Mobile corporate burdened with back packs.
I honestly miss riding my road bike and adventuring out. Traveling into the unknown - reliant on myself for survival and doing so without hesitation. In my head I start planning more adventures - San Juans, Canada, and then as I crest a hill and see the Cascades lit up in late afternoon/early evening sun I know that they are calling my name. My heart soars with the thought that I'll be visiting them this weekend.