If There’s Gravel, I Will Find It: A Morning Route

After getting pushed around during a particularly windy ride earlier last week, on a route I’d done several times in a row, I had a real fit about biking down here. About the same-ness of it all. About the lack of bike lanes and the overpopulation of Orlando, about whatever I could complain about.

The second I got home I stormed into the house, kicked off my shoes, threw my helmet on the chair, stripped off my sweat-soaked jersey, and had a good pout as I laid on my bedroom floor. I’d been in Florida for a week and I already wanted to go home to Colorado. Back to where the riding was plentiful and varied. Back to where I’d obviously become totally spoiled by the undulating gravel mountains and wasn’t shy about it.

But I knew my frustration stemmed from more than just the wind and the traffic and the driver of that Toyota Corolla who peeled out in front of me taking a right-hand turn. Deep down, at the root of all this, I just wanted to run again. And I was taking it out on the bike.

I’ve had to put running on the back burner the past couple weeks due to this pesky injury. The injury my PT and I thought was a nerve issue, but now I’m feeling like is more of a bone issue after some intense swelling and tenderness developed.

Lying on the floor, I looked over at my pile of clean shorts, sports bras and running shoes sitting in the basket I brought them in to Florida, untouched. I’m a more positive person since living in Colorado but I was having trouble finding the good in any of this and in any of the days I didn’t run. I closed my eyes, wiped the salty sweat from my forehead then got in the shower to rinse all of it and those feelings away.

The next morning, I started over.

The sun was shining, and the wind had died down a bit. I planned a new route the night before and had it all synced to my Wahoo and ready to follow. A new day, I breathed into the thick, humid air as I swung my leg over the top tube of my bike and rode away from the house. The route took me down both new and familiar roads in a neighborhood called Moss Park. It’s set back off the busy main roads in the area, it’s a littler quieter, the trees are older and covered in moss, and they hang over the streets like a rainforest canopy. Several miles and half a podcast episode later, my Wahoo beep-beep-beeped for me to take a right onto an empty two-lane road paralleling powerlines and railroad tracks. I didn’t know where it went, but there were no cars in sight or in earshot, and that was already better than the day before.

Pedaling, pedaling, pedaling alone I went until a construction truck rounded the corner down the road and kicked up something behind it that looked like dust. It can’t be, I thought to myself. There’s just no way it’s…

GRAVEL! A GRAVEL ROAD!

The drama.

Sure enough, the pavement ended and a beautiful sandy road began. It wasn’t Colorado gravel per se, but the familiar crunch of rocks under my tires was all I needed to hear. My skinny tires stuck like glue and every pedal stroke felt like running through a lake of peanut butter but, I’ll tell you what, it was pure magic.

I didn’t even care that I wasn’t on my gravel bike. A locked gate about a mile or two down the road turned traffic around the way it came, so I headed back while the sun glowed yellow and orange in the sky. Satisfied.

That ride certainly didn’t scratch my running itch. I still want to lace up my sneakers most mornings instead of my cycling shoes, but I really enjoyed those couple hours riding my mom’s eight-year-old Cannondale road bike on a little section of dirt way down here in central Florida.

This past weekend, I actually did end up running some miles that were kind of a breakthrough for me. That will be in another post.

Hope you all had a great weekend. What did you get to do?

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