Summer Legs on the C&O
Lately I haven’t had a lot of words to describe my riding. I have things to write, but my mind has been fuzzy and my motivation rather stilted with regard to writing any posts. I also have some work things that have required my time and attention.
However, friends, I have been riding. My summer legs are starting to come in now. These are the legs that show themselves during the brevet season. They have the urge and strength to ride and just keep riding. How long? Until daylight ends. Until the battery in my headlight dies. Until dinner. Until I need to be in bed for work the next day.
Summer legs are eager to make the most of the light in the sky. The rising heat of late May gives a sense that I’m ready to rocket anywhere, no warmup necessary.
I used to fear summer. A decade ago, I didn’t understand my body well enough to know its needs and how it reacted to hot days. I also hadn’t trained myself to endure long hours in the heat and humidity. I’d overheat and feel miserable, head exploding, empty of energy.
Now that I have more experience, along with several toasty bike tours and randonneuring events to my credit, I have learned what’s needed to prevent my body from overexertion during the warmest months.
My fears have been addressed and I embrace summertime. It’s the best time to ride. I only need water and a minimal amount of clothing. Lobster gloves and balaclavas are but winter memories.
This week I spent my spare daylight hours riding along the C&O Canal Towpath from D.C. out to Mary’s Wall, about a 28-mile round trip from mile marker zero on the towpath. This car-free historic park is one of the closest outlets available to give the summer legs a good stretch.
Grass has grown tall on the C&O. Ride along and the pollen floats into your eyeballs as bugs fly down your shirt and stick to your damp arms. A film of towpath dust is kicked up by the bike wheels’ revolutions and coats the shins.
Stop for any length of time, and a swarm of gnats gathers enthusiastically around your head as sweat begins to bead down your face and moisture fogs up your glasses.
But this clammy gritty bugginess is the wonderful sensation of summer, and even though the insects bite along my socks and bra-line while my glasses slip down my nose, I don’t want it to end.
If the weather is perfect, everyone wants to be outside exploring. Turn temperatures up to the 80s, throw in a threat of rain, crank up the humidity, and only the dedicated remain.
This is the time for me and my summer legs, pedaling pedaling.