After making a deal with Mrs. Noob that I take care of some things around the house, I got out for a nice 17-mile ride this afternoon. It’s a ride I haven’t done for some months now, although I did it at least once every couple of weeks during the summer.
The difference in today’s ride was that I started at about 3 p.m. During the summer, I rode the route closer to 9 or 10 a.m. Man, do things look different in late afternoon!
The shadows are so much longer. That’s not news to riders who do a lot of commuting, but this is not a typical time for me to ride. And once you get past the novelty of the long shadows, you see some of the trouble they hide.
One of the attractions of today’s route is its hills. They’re nothing like the ones my friend Mike tackles, when he rides Austin’s Tour Das Hugel, but they’re a good workout for me. I like the downhill part best. I was moving along at a pretty good clip, about 33 mph, when some of those long shadows darkened the road ahead of me. The next thing I knew, I was fast approaching a raised manhole cover. Lucky for me, it was built up around its edges with blacktop, so it didn’t abruptly stick up out of the asphalt. But I didn’t see it until I was upon it, and when my front tire hit it, I had the sickening feeling that here we go again, I’m going to lose control and fall. But I didn’t.
For the rest of the ride, I tried to really concentrate on what was under those shadows. Sometimes, it was a layer of acorns, fallen from the live oaks that line the road. Other times, it was broken glass. The shadows kept the glass from glinting in the sun to warn you of its presence. Most of the time, though, it was just irregularities in the road surface. I could feel them under my tires, but I couldn’t see them in time to dodge them or brace for them.
So the ride was a mixed bag. On the one hand, it was great to get out in cool but not chilly weather and ride. On the other hand, all things being equal — I think I’ll go back to my morning rides as often as I can.