Sunday, April 29, 2012

Training for a tour: Just like touring, except without the fun.

Yesterday, I rode out to Nobleton and had some delicious toasted coconut Working Cow ice cream at River Oaks Landing Antiques and Gifts. It's close to 80 miles out and back, but the time and miles went by a bit faster thanks to the fact that my riding bud, Steve, had agreed to come along.

The ice cream stop was not actually on the route I had laid out on Friday night, but I knew it was there. We had stopped there on our tandem mini-tour to Inverness (Florida) with the wives some months back. Our route had us turning south before reaching Nobleton, so as we got close to the turn I asked Steve if he might like to go a bit further to stop for some ice cream. He quickly endorsed the idea and we pedaled past the turnoff. A few minutes later there was a road sign that said it was four miles to Nobleton. That meant it would add eight miles to our trip unless we figured out some kind of shortcut on the way back. I kept hoping that the shop was actually on the near side of the "town" but after a few miles I sensed Steve pulling up alongside. Not surprisingly, he remarked, "I guess I should have asked you to define 'a bit further'." 

As we came up on the Withlacoochee River, a group of about 20 motorcycles passed around us, and turned into a parking lot about a quarter mile up. There were plenty of motorcycles on the road because this week is nearby Leesburg's annual BikeFest. Initially I thought it meant we would have to wait on a long line for our ice cream, but thankfully they were stopping at a restaurant just short of our destination. We pulled into the gift/ice cream shop, and had the place to ourselves. A couple of minutes later, the proprietress, Patti, appeared and served us with the same warmth and friendliness as on our last visit.

BEEP! Now for a flashback to my years as a psychologist treating offenders: Our route back took us past Sumter Correctional, a Florida state prison that used to be called "Gladiator School" because it was where the youngest inmates were sent, and where they learned the survival skills they would need for the remainder of their incarceration. 

We ultimately did cut a few miles off the return trip by just staying on State Road 50 instead of doing a loop south of the highway. There is now an ample shoulder on that section of the road, so what used to be a hair-raising adventure on a bicycle is now no big deal. It had reached mid-afternoon, the temperature on the road was well into the 90's and we had an energy-sapping headwind, so it was a wise choice.

I was pretty much dragging myself up the last series of hills. By evening, however, I was sufficiently functional to go out to pick up dinner at our favorite local eatery, Lil' Anthony's.

OK, that brings us to today. I slept in, so I finally got on the the bike at around 10:30. We did just under 80 miles yesterday at a pretty good pace (15.1), so I figured I would just loaf out a 60 miler on the local rail-trail. I rode into the wind on the way out, so I consoled myself with the thought that it would be an easy sail back home. Well, the "sail" back felt pretty much the same as the slog going out, proving the cycling truism that the way home is always uphill and into the wind. Anywaayz... about three quarters of the way back it occurred to me that these long training rides are really not all that different from days on tour, so why am I not enjoying myself? Oh, yeah. The FUN part is totally missing! The fun part? Yeah. The after-ride pig-out at the nearest buffet. The beer and trash talk with the tour-buddies. The meeting new people. The discovery of new places. The mystery of what waits behind the cheap motel's door.

One thing WAS the same, and it is one of the best of the secret reasons to do a bicycle tour. My post-ride meal of leftovers with a generous squirt or ten of Panola Bat's Brew hot sauce tasted INCREDIBLE! Another touring truism: The taste of the post-ride face-stuffing is directly proportional to the level of suffering experienced on the ride. Sorry, gotta run. There's a slice of cold pizza in the fridge that keeps calling for me.