Probably the best thing about doing a hard ride is that you then get to do a recovery ride the next day.
A recovery ride is supposed to be kind of like taking a stroll in a park. You don't attack the hills. There's no sprinting. You just ... saunter.
I've decided that this is going to be my mode for the rest of the year. I'm going to take a couple of recovery months.
This does not mean that I won't be riding. That would be kind of like punishing myself, really. It just means that I'm going to take it easier, look at the trees, and stop any time that I see fresh-baked goodies.
I came to this new resolve Sunday, after I set out early for a long recovery ride. RandoGirl slept in, so that she could meet me in College Grove about 10 am. They have a good parking lot, and there are some wonderful route opportunities from there. More important, however, is that they've re-opened the grocery store, and carry lots of fresh-baked goodies.
There was a stiff wind blowing Sunday -- mostly in my face as I headed south. I went through McKay's Mill (where I took the first picture), and then headed to Bethesda. On Choctaw Road, just after passing through the above tunnel of leaves, I came across a bunch of turkeys sitting on the pavement. When they saw me, they proved that wild turkeys really can fly.
It's been a dry fall in middle Tennessee, so the trees have not been as colorful as usual in many places.
One good thing about sunglasses: They tint things with a little more yellow. In fall, this makes mild foliage less ho-hum.
On Giles Hill Road, the headwind became a crosswind as I finally turned east. Going down another tree-canopied lane, a gust came up, and I was suddenly biking through a red, orange, and yellow kaleidoscope as leaves tumbled down and across the road. I decided yet again that this is the prettiest planet that I can ever remember living on.
Sure, the wind can be a bitch sometimes. When it's in your face, you work hard. When it's at your side, you work hard. When it's at your back, you get a break ... but it's never as much of a break as you feel that you should have earned after all that riding into and across that wind. However, if not for that strong wind, I would not have gotten that incredible moment riding through a fall-tinted kaleidoscope.
You gotta take the good with the bad.
RandoGirl and I did another 30 miles together, using a route that mostly kept the wind blowing across us. We still ended up with a good stretch near Murfreesboro where the wind was at our backs, and RandoGirl took off.
Back up on Patterson Road, however, the wind was blowing us over.
Later, it was in our teeth on Arno Road, and then Eudaily-Covington. By the time we got back to the car, we were tired enough of the wind that I didn't mind putting the bike into the van and catching a ride home. Maybe another 30-40 miles would have been better for me to keep my base for randonneuring, but I was tired. I also wanted a couple of cupcakes from the grocery.
Between slow riding and cupcakes, I'm probably going to turn into a slug during the winter. Come spring, at the few races that I plan to do next year, I may do very poorly.
But fall is a time for moderation and balance -- and not just by leaning into the crosswinds. You can't be "all hammer all the time," just as you can't look at every ride as a 100+ mile suffer-fest. If losing a little of my edge is the price that I must pay for keeping joy in my riding, then it's worth it.