On Sunday, the Laurita Winery in New Egypt, NJ, hosted a training ride opportunity for some of the big MS Bike Ride teams participating later this month. They marked out a 15-mile loop starting from their winery, and included a free wine-tasting. From what I notes on their website, his is tied into their “Spring Fling” event, so this is all probably a marketing/ promotional thing. Still, why not take advantage? A number of the Team CentraState ride group would be attending, and this would be an excellent opportunity to try out my knee, and my new gear. The ride starts at 9am, people could so as many loops as they want to reach 15 miles, 30 miles, 45 miles, etc. I was aiming to achieve 30 miles for the day. That’s a healthy distance in my book.
I was running a little late this morning, as I still had stop and pick up some Gatorade and a Powerbar. I got caught in some local traffic, but I got to the winery by 9:06am. Most of the team were just finishing stretching, so I hurried to park, unload the bike, sign in, and jump on. Again, another ride where I didn’t get to stretch properly, and specifically was supposed to. Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Thankfully, the first loop around went well, and I kept up with the slower half of the team. My knee held up fine, and I wasn’t in bad shape. We kept a decent pace at around 15-20 miles per hour. We stopped back at the winery after completing the first loop to rest and for those intending to head home. The team rested for what I thought was an all-to-brief 5 mins, and mounted up again.
I was about to depart with them, when I realized I had forgotten my helmet on a bench. I went back to get it, but by then the group was gone. I hurried along, but there was no sign of them. How fast were they going? I guess they didn’t realize I was doing the 2nd loop with them. Ah well, no big deal. I’m more of a solo rider anyway. Instead of being despondent, I took a deep breath, and said hell with it, I’ll go at it alone. And I was fine. The route was marked with spray-painted green pine tree symbols, so I wouldn’t get lost. I had no issues during the second loop, and I kept a comfortable 14 MPH pace. I reached the winery just before noon, and loaded up the bike. I saw at least one CentraState rider in the parking lot, so I think the rest were getting in on the free wine-tasting.
Free or not, it was a little early for me to be drinking, and I had to get back to meet my family. They were getting out of church, i needed some lunch, and Josh had a soccer game at 2pm. The weekends are so busy these days, but it was good to fit in a little riding time. This morning, I reset my cyclocomputer odometer, so now I’ve clocked my first 34 miles of the year.
The best news of all? The most difficult part of the ride was not my knee, but adjusting to the new SPD-SL pedals. They’re a little tricky to get into, but practice will make perfect. So, to recap, I’m not too terrible off. I need to lose another 8 lbs in three weeks, but my knee should be able to hold up for the big ride, if I take care of it. I’m pretty saddle-sore, but that’s to be expected.