St. Thomas Lane. I know every pothole on this road, and the ones on every road throughout Baltimore, Carrol and Howard Counties here in Northern Maryland, at least the ones along the dozen or so regular training routes I do. Same goes for the many dogs that chase or don't chase and watch me each day on these same roads. I miss the Beagle that seems to wait for me at the end of her driveway on Dark Hollow Road many days. Tonight she wasn't there.
I recall many of the Thursday night group rides and how we'd always split on this hill, then fly down Trenton across the bridge and by the old mill and up a steep section past the church before stopping and waiting for some of the slower riders at Blackrock. The memories of those rides always seems to have me pushing hard here even though I don't have to.
I'm riding alone. Plenty of time to think about everything and nothing. The big layoff at my workplace and how I'll probably never see most of those 18 people again that I spent 8 hours a day with for the last 3+ years. The freelance design project I picked up out of the blue this morning when I opened my email. I wonder if the girls got their homework done yet and why this Road Closed sign has been laying here along the road for the last two years. Mari told me she had a test for me to take when I got home that she was quite sure I'd fail and warned me that all the girls passed it and all the boys failed it at school today.
Some miles pass where I think of nothing and when I snap out of it I wonder where they all went. I spot another rider's helmet cresting the top of the next hill and try to catch him. As I crest the hill and look ahead it looks like he's gotten further ahead so I go faster still. A couple turns later I'm right behind him. He's wearing a gray sweatshirt with the arms cut off at the shoulder, looks more like a ragged tear. All of a sudden I feel overdressed in my matching head to toe team kit. I don't think I've seen him before along this road, but I turn on Geist and he goes straight. Chase over.
Now heading up this next hill I start to feel the lack of miles in me and the going gets tougher. It doesn't bother me much because this time of year the riding for me is more about fun than training. Besides, my knee feels 100 Percent which I find to be a huge relief after the way it felt recently. I still find it amazing what 3 weeks off the bike does to my fitness, and weight. I think I'm 10lbs heavier now than I was in August. Why can't I perfect the bunny hop onto this bridge after so many tries? Bang! My Dura-Ace rear wheel hits the edge of the metal beam crossing the road at the end of the bridge.
For the rest of the ride I go a bit easier, slowing down to just enjoy the ride, the roads, the familiar potholes, the bike, and the time to think.
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