I went for my virgin bike ride to day. My first of the season. The long winter here just put a damper on any riding. Dark when I leave for work, dark when I come home, and colder than a witch’s thorax. We loaded up the Langster single speeds and headed to meet our good friends, and head off to Zion National Park to do a bit of road riding.
First, we stopped off at our favorite local bike shop, Red Rock Bicycles, bought some new tires and tubes, then we were off. We parked the car outside Zion in Springdale, got the bikes together, and rode off. Within the first few minutes, I knew the day was going to be hard earned for me. Having not been on any of my bikes since Nov, my legs were beginning their protest early. We road through Springdale and headed into the park on our way to the back of Zion canyon, the end being The Temple of Sinawava. We passed by the visitors center and headed to the Pa’rus trail. The Pa’rus trail is the only one to allow bikes. It cris-crosses over the Virgin River several times. Now we were on our third or fourth bridge crossing, the first few I had noticed that my bike was slowing down unusually fast, and I wasn’t applying the brakes. I looked to make sure my tires weren’t flat, but by that fourth bridge, I had to stop and see what the hell the problem was. I un-clipped and checked out the situation. Squeezed the tires to make sure I wasn’t losing my mind, nope, good and full, mind intact. Then I realized what the problem may be, and it was. I haven’t had this happen since I started riding mountain bikes 6 years ago. My front brake was tweaked, and the left pad was rubbing on the rim. So, being the dimwit I am, I had been riding, essentially, with the front brake on, making the ride up to that point some kind of resistance training. Poop! Hopped back on and the ride was much easier, imagine that. Easy being a relative term though. We continued our ride, but I was also realizing how out of shape I was. We got off the Pa’rus trail and hit the main drag, Zion Canyon Scenic Byway, to work our way to Sinawava.
This time of year at Zion is tough for cyclist, because the park shuttles aren’t running yet,they don’t run until April. So, any and all traffic can run their occupants all the way up the canyon, causing the ride for cyclist to be a bit precarious. During the tourist season cars aren’t allowed past Canyon Junction, to keep the levels of carbon monoxide to near nil. The park shuttles are propane, emitting very little pollution, preserving the canyon walls, plant life and wild life.
We continued on our way, mind you the ride to the back of the canyon is all up hill. We hit our first, and biggest climb, and I made it about half way, and my legs wanted nothing to do with it. I also forgot my inhaler, and was having a minor asthma episode, not enough to shut me down, but it made getting enough oxygen a bit difficult. At the three quarter mark, I was all but falling off the bike. Pedal, pedal, think I’m going to fall, pedal, pedal, going to fall, etc. I pushed myself to the top, and it took everything to get there and my legs were jell-o. We took at the next shuttle stop so I could regroup, damn I am out of shape. The day was beginning to be quite frustrating. Rested, rode a bit more, hit The Grotto, and took another breather, trying to get the asthma to chill out and relax, which it did, but I could have still used the inhaler, because I continued to struggle the rest of the ride. We hit the road again, a few more climbs and we hit The Temple of Sinawava along with too many cars. Tooled around, relaxed, filled our water bottles, geared up, and headed back down. Yes, down, being the operative word, for all of that climbing, we got to rip down most of the way back. There were still a few climbs, my legs we not enjoying themselves at all. Flew out of the park and back to the car. It was at that moment on the way back, my frustration kicked in. I couldn’t keep up, or close any gaps, I was pushing and pushing, but achieving little. I need to ride more, even through winter, because my performance, to me was unacceptable. We changed and we headed into Springdale to eat at our favorite Mexican restaurant Oscar’s Café, some of best in the near vicinity.
So, my first ride of the season was frustrating, but I enjoyed being back out on the bike. I am going to start riding from work into town to meet my wife, two days a week. Get my legs and body back to some sort of acceptable shape. We will also be setting up a Wednesday after work mountain bike ride, since there will be more daylight available.
Ride On – Ride Safe,