A couple of 'firsts'

Here we are nearing the end of February, which means closer to warmer weather and then my moaning can stop over the task of putting on endless layers of clothing to go for a ride. Sorry, but I digress.

That's me zooming through "The Res."

Anyway, I've had a couple of "firsts" as we finish up the month. Number one was my long-overdue initial cycle this winter at the Hallowell Reservoir Recreation Area, locally known as "The Res." And number two involved that same fat bike outing — which was with my usual pedal partner, Jon — thus accomplishing our first of countless rides together during the 2021 season.

The miles of trails at "The Res" were primo. The snow was hard-packed, indented with track marks left by snowmobiles. The surface was so firm we were able to run higher tire pressures, allowing us to gain more speed. When I looked down, crystalized sprinkles created by the studs were being thrown up against the bike's blue aluminum down tube.

There was plenty of hill climbing, which is really my favorite part. One monster — that heads up toward the Maple Hill Farm Inn — maxed out my heart rate at 140 bpm. Jon had signaled for me to take the lead, knowing I would end up passing him at some point. He showed up nearly a half hour later ... just kidding! My elevation gain for the ride — of only 11 miles — ended up approaching 1,000 feet, so there were indeed some big hills.

The temperature was 16 degrees. Needless to say, no one else was crazy enough to be out in that kind of cold, so we had the entire woods to ourselves. We made frequent stops to catch up on each other's news; and yes, to also catch our breath. After all, the two of us aren't youngsters anymore.

Jon showing his stuff on hard-packed trail.

During one of our conversations, I came clean on all the miles I'd accumulated since the new cycling season had started. As some of you know, who kindly follow my blog postings, Jon and I have this "unofficial" but spirited competition over who gathers the most miles for any given year. It's one reason, among many, that drives us to ride our bicycles. Upon hearing my total, Jon — who was laughing — pleaded with me to stop cycling for a month, so he could close the gap. As expected, I declined his request.

It was a great day — one of those you store away to recall over and over again; most likely on a hot summer day when the temperature reading is 92 degrees and you're sweating buckets during a long ride. It also was grand seeing Jon, who still loves riding a bike despite his advancing age. Stay safe, my old friend!

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