The World Smells Like Summer


Yes, I do realize that the fact that it is summer might have something to do with this. Whatever! For a girl who spent the better part of the last five years smelling nothing but downtown Baltimore, I’ve been oddly appreciative of cycling with its exposure to all the “outdoor-type” smells.

I went for a quick ride Tuesday night on the Los Gatos Creek Trail. Someone from Willow Glen Bikes had called earlier in the day requesting that I return the demo Butterfly saddle ASAP (gah! But I’m not ready yet!), as another woman wanted to try it out. I didn’t get home in time to drop the thing off Tuesday night, so decided to put in a few more miles with the demo saddle…just to be sure before committing and all.

It was an excellent night for a ride. The weather was cool, the saddle was well adjusted, and I didn’t have to work in the morning!! Even so, I started out struggling a bit. Honestly, I am my own worst enemy in any sport. I seem to have this amazing ability to psych myself out when not distracted by the presence of other people, which made the first 5 miles or so pretty crappy.

And then something odd happened. I took a deep breath to try and relax, stopped worrying so much about keeping a decent pace, and just started looking around. That’s when I noticed the smells. I know this sounds a bit bizarre, as the creek in San Jose doesn’t exactly smell like roses…but the farther I rode, the more things I noticed (other than my whiny legs). It’s weird how a whiff of a certain scent can instantly trigger memories. One minute I was struggling up a non-hill, darting around annoying pedestrians, the next I catch the smell of some unidentifiable night-blooming flower and I’m 10 years old again, running around my Grandma’s farm in the late summer evening.

Instantly, I stop thinking about my legs, my neck, my work and am just …somewhere else. The bike and I are getting along, and I’m taken in by everything around me. Apparently the trail past San Thomas Expressway (my previous end-point) has less people, and it’s pretty easy to relax. Someone is BBQ-ing, and I’m remembering 4th of Julys on the beach in North Carolina. I pass close to the water, get that o-so-nice pond smell, and I’m mentally clambering through high weeds trying to catch little frogs.

I’m feeling so much better on the bike at this point, that I figure that I could easily pull off a 20-30 mile ride…except it’s already quarter to eight and getting dark. Just as I’m deciding to ride out two more miles …BREEEEAAAAAAAAAAAK! At least 100 geese choose that exact moment to walk out of the pond, over into the park – directly across my path. The memory reverie is broken. My trip odometer reads exactly 7.00 miles, which I take a sign to get my tail home.

Other than a real-live (not roadkill) skunk sighting, the ride back was pretty uneventful. I apparently gave Mr. Stripe a wide enough berth to avoid taking that smell home with me. I hit my driveway at exactly 1 hour, feeling like I could have gone twice as far. If only I could learn how to randomly space out and “smell the roses” earlier on rides, I’d probably enjoy these solo jaunts much more! I did the same exact route last night in place of hill repeats – more on that later!

Distance: 14.00mi

Time: 1:00:45

Avg MPH: 13.8

Max MPH: 22.7

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What do we have here?

An often sarcastic, occasionally humorous journal of my training adventures in preparation for the Livestrong century ride. I took up cycling back in '07 in hopes of meeting new people, and, with the help of Team in Training, making my small positive difference in the world -- and haven't stopped spinning since. Follow along as my Trek road bike and I try and hash out our differences, hopefully with me upright and in the saddle.

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