Ok, so it’s not REALLY my first ride. But it’s my first ride since kicking leukemia in the @$$ almost one year ago (dx on 3/10/09 and remission on 4/10/09).
:edit, my plugin is doing something weird connecting the city hall waypoint with the end of my ride. I look at the file on multiple programs in the original .tcx format and the .gpx format, and I don’t see that problem. I don’t know what it is.
I’m really happy with everything. A total of 8 miles of riding. The portion along the creek was also a real natural dirt trail with roots, rocks, and a techy drop I forgot about (and had to walk). On my morning leg of the ride, I had to make a stop at the hospital for a blood test. On my evening leg, I made a stop at city hall to attend a council meeting to support an expansion of our local recycling program.
Post-council meeting was after dark. During the ride I got to test a handful of new gear.
First among them was my Garmin Edge 705. I’ve used it before to record my nighttime HR and trainer rides, but this is the first time I’ve used it outdoors on a real ride. I’m happy with it. I do not yet have a memory card for it for maps. I just used it to record my ride today. I’ll get a memory card eventually, though. A word of note: over the course of the day, I started and ended at the same point and my departure and return times varied by more than 9 hours. The elevation difference was -1ft, well within an acceptable range. Using Topofusion’s Climbing Analysis (nifty tool, BTW), I see that the GPS overestimated my absolute elevation compared to all other sources, but since the total change was negligible, I’m pretty satisfied with it. I did not use Garmin’s waypoint method to force the GPS to calibrate the altimeter.
The second piece of gear I used for the first time was the BikeGlow safety light (in blue). It has 3 modes: steady, slow flash, and fast flash. IMO, the slow is too slow, so I used the fast flash setting. Cars seemed to have no trouble seeing me, and they were all courteous and gave me a wide berth. Though I was lit up like a UFO compared to other cyclists in this town with a rear red blinky and a headlight, this light gave me the all-important side visibility.
The fourth bit I used was the infamous Magicshine light. In town, I only used it on the low setting. I didn’t want to blind anyone, and I didn’t have any problems being seen, either. With the streetlights, I also saw everything just fine. Once I got out of the center of town and onto darker roads, I kicked up the brightness just to see how it could do. It was quite bright. I don’t know how motorists might have seen that brightness level, as I encountered no traffic once I left the zone of street lights.
Number five would be the variety of reflective tape I used. I’ve always had a couple bits of white reflective stickers on this bike. But I recently added some red stickers and neon green ones. This certainly contributed to me being seen very easily by the cars after dark.
The final piece of new gear I used on the bike for the first time were my Oakley Jawbones. They’re my first pair of Oakleys and I am very happy with how they fit me (much better than my Smiths, actually). I used both sets of lenses it came with out of the box: black iridium and yellow. I used black iridium in the sunny morning and late afternoon. I used the yellow after dark. Normally I’d opt for a clear lens after dark, but being that I lacked a clear one, I used what I had. The yellow performed well. It was only 1-2mi in the dark so it wasn’t an extended test. But so far so good. The black iridium lens was used both on the road and on the trail in the woods. It was pretty solid. I didn’t have any trouble with glare or changing brightness from shade to sun. Very nice.
Now, as for being on the bike: nothing could have made for a better day! I let out a loud yell as I left my neighborhood on my way to the office. My balance was good (I had severe brain stem swelling a year ago that the docs likened to severe head trauma, and my motor functions and balance were impared for awhile). I had clearly not been on a bike in a long time, though, because I was twitchy with steering and I grabbed the brakes a bit too hard. Nothing resulted in crashes, but they did make for a couple tense moments. But once I got going, it all came back to me. Part of my ride home in the evening traversed dirt trails with a couple techy spots. I did well riding the parts where I read the lines correctly and I had no trouble controlling the bike. I was solid! My strength is a bit off, I noticed, but that’s to be expected. But I still made it up one of the biggest hills in town, which happens to be on my evening commute home. I was huffing and puffing when I got to the top, but I rode the whole thing. Oh yeah today was a good day.