I think it was Belgium Knee Warmers that introduced me to the idea of "garbage miles." Radio Freddy and Padraig characterize anything that's not a focused training effort or racing as garbage miles. It's not that they're being mean spirited, that's just where they draw the line. If I applied that strict standard to my mileage, my 125 commuting clicks each week wouldn't count... and as far as I'm concerned if I'm pedaling, the miles count. That was until today.
I took the day off to work on a photo essay that should be in the next issue of Embrocation magazine and, engrossed in the work, lost track of time as the morning disappeared. Reluctantly I pulled myself away from the project and dressed for the ride I knew I had to take for this series. For the first time in the 30-day project, I really didn't want to get on the bike. I put on the Cross Kit, Bibs and Jersey with the Winter Gilet on top and somewhat aimlessly took the bike out on the road.
Garbage miles. When you're heart is not in it, your head's not in it. Without thinking I found myself riding in the direction of the office. "Is that the best you can do?" I thought. One-thirty in the afternoon is a strange time on the roads. Previously I've considered the late morning the worst time to ride. Traffic light cycles change and with less traffic on the road, the cyclist is left to trigger pedestrian crossings or wait for a car to appear before lights will change. Seniors on their way to medical appointments and nervous drivers dominate. This afternoon, I encountered a new dynamic. It was as if all the drivers were in a panic to run their errands and get home before the rush hour. Everyone was impatient and inattentive... a dangerous combination.
To make matters worse I was riding into a 10 mph headwind. I thought about turning back several times in the first five miles but eventually I got far enough away to break the string and I finally recognized it was a beautiful afternoon. I glanced into the office as I rode straight past wondering what they were up to inside. Determined to get out of my funk I decided to head back via Central Expressway.
For most of you who haven't ridden Central, it's a main North/South artery that runs from San Jose to Palo Alto with an unnecessary name change along the way. The average speed is 50 mph and its entrance ramps are notorious for causing rear enders. There are cyclists that commute daily via Central, but I'm not one them. Closing speeds are just too high, and crossing the ramps is plain dangerous as I reconfirmed today watching drivers exit ahead of me without so much as a touch of their brakes. I felt good when I turned off Central onto Scott and the familiar surface roads home.
Perhaps the leg on Central redeemed some value from the afternoon. At least it generated enough sweat to justify a hot shower and a short nap when I got back. Refreshed I returned to the Embrocation feature and acknowledged an email from Mr. Palmer of the wmp who's off for a well-deserved week of holidays. He graciously encouraged his readers to tune into Velodramatic in his absence. He'll be back, I hope, just as we wrap up the series here... so I can collapse in a heap, happy that you'll all have plenty to read when it's my turn to take a break. Ah, but that's ten days away, with plenty of "real" miles to log yet, now I've taken the garbage out.