June 11th, 2004

Oh My Aching Knee

After yesterday's attempt at half the hill on Old Milford Road, I decided to find something flat and paved. Yes, Seattleites, they have rail trails here, too. Some of which are even paved, with parking lots at the access points. Roland pointed me at the one that runs from Dunstable to Ayre. I thought maybe I'd ride it down to Pepperell, or even Groton if I was feeling really ambitious.

But it was a lovely day, and I'd carefully checked the profile in Topo USA, so I knew that the grade was up heading south, so it'd be easier coming home. I kept riding. And riding. And riding. Some time after Groton, when it was extremely flat (or possibly downhill, not sure as I hadn't checked that part ahead of time), I was telling myself I was an idiot, I should turn around. My left knee was twinging. And yet. And yet.

For one thing, I knew from the web site that Ayre had facilities. In the event, I used them, turned around and made it home in less than an hour, where it had taken me about an hour and a half on the way out. My left knee, however, was not happy. Is still unhappy. That's what 22 miles with the seat at slightly the wrong height will do, particularly when it's far and away the longest ride I've ever been on a bicycle.

And yet it was so very lovely. 70 degrees. A breeze. Shaded most of the way. People to say hello to, but not so many to cause traffic jams. Wetlands. A fox. Chipmunks (bummer about the dead one. Didn't realize a cyclist -- not me -- could take out a chipmunk) and squirrels and robins. Dragonflies and butterflies, and blackflies and mosquitoes cannot keep up with a cyclist so NO BITES! A beaver dam. Turtles. A cyclist who had parked his bike and taken out the fishing poles. People mowing their lawns. Cars only at well-marked crossings, and an overpass for the busy street.

Consider me a convert. I need to build up enough strength to get up the hill on Old Milford, but in the mean time, I'll be finding rail trails in scenic areas nearby (RHI there's one in Franconia Notch. Paved, supposedly.) and cherishing the joy of flat and paved. Or at least gently graded and paved. Thanks once again to Roland for the wonderful bicycle.
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