Yesterday was the first real test of how my stenosis recovery is affecting my bike riding. It was in the high 40s when I left home, back on The Mule for the first time in a couple of months. A nice little tailwind pushed me to DC where I found my way to Rock Creek Park after 15 miles of dodging kiddies on wee bikes and bouncing up and down over scores of tree roots. I am pretty sure that the CrossCheck does a better job of cushioning my back from these bumps. Nevertheless, I made it to DC without medical intervention.
Up the creek I rode. For 1 1/2 miles the trail bounced me all over the place. Then I arrived at the cross over point where Beach Drive is closed to cars. The pavement is new and deliciously smooth. The ride is a gradual uphill all the way to Maryland. The creek was babbling. Roller skaters, both old school and in-line, were in heaven. I made it to East West Highway and began the short climb to Jones Mill Road, the halfway point.
Jones Mill took me over a series of rollers to downtown Bethesda where, rather than stay on Woodmont Avenue, the street that I was on, I started wandering about looking for the Capital Crescent Trail. Soon I found myself pointed back the way I came on Woodmont. Hmmm.
I checked the Google, turned around, and rode to the trailhead, managing to avoid two unsignalled right hooks by drivers.
The trail was almost completely blocked by dog leashes. It was like a scene from that Tom Cruise movie where the jewels are protected by criss-crossing lasers. I cruised on through (sorry) without incident. The next seven or so miles were gradually downhill, weaving in and out as I passed walkers and more kiddos learning how to subdue their unruly bikes on training wheels.
By the time I made it back to Georgetown I was pooped. Normally, I get this far without too much fatigue. Normally, I stop in Bethesda for lunch. Today, I was abnormal. So I stopped and ate some mini cookies that Mrs. Rootchopper had put aside on account of their blandness. The bag had only 150 calories of food in it so the cookies barely put a dent in my pathway to bonkdom.
Of course, the last 15 miles was into the wind. Just grind it out, my brain said. My knees and lower back were not in complete agreement but they had no say in the matter. I descended from the 14th Street Bridge to take a hard right onto the Mount Vernon Trail. It was here that I discovered that my brake pads were so worn that they no longer could stop The Mule.
I somehow managed not to hit anybody or anything. I even managed to stay on the pavement.
I carefully worked my way through the crowds at Gravelly Point Park and the tourist throngs in Old Town. Claiming no victims, I cruised homeward. I arrived with 51 1/2 miles for the day. My back and knees were sore, but it wasn’t stenosis, just what-hell-are-you-doing-to-us muscle fatigue.
Today’s plan: buy some brake pads.