Monday, August 9, 2010

Things I Learned on My First Low Country Bike Ride

I've been a Georgia resident for a little over a week now and while that is not much time in the whole scheme of life, I decided it was enough time to consider myself somewhat "settled" and therefore time to start to get back to some of my regular routines, including training.  I had been itching to get out on the Blue Beast (my bike) and explore a little bit, so I actually managed to drag myself out of bed bright and early, slap on some spandex, and take a little 15-mile jaunt around the islands. Like everything when you move to a completely new place, it was a learning experience. Here, in no particular order of importance, is what I learned on my bike ride:

1. LOW COUNTRY MEANS FLAT COUNTRY. I mean, looking around it is very obvious that the terrain is super flat here, but you don't really realize how much so until you go for a ride, especially if you're used to riding in a place like Southern Indiana, where there is pretty much no such thing as flat terrain. I literally encountered three hills today on my ride, and they were all going up man-made bridges over the intracoastal waterway, rivers, and marshland. It's kind of fun because you can ride a lot faster with a lot less effort than it takes in hilly terrain, but if I ever go for a ride back up north it is going to kick my butt!

2. THIS PLACE IS GORGEOUS. I already knew that. Duh. But seeing some of the backroads today on the islands with all the huge, waterfront homes and the intricate maze of docks stretching out through the marsh into the water and the mossy oaks that drape so far over the roads that they create a tunnel-like effect was impressive. For a water person like myself, there is something very peaceful and awe-inspiring about not being able to ride more than a couple minutes in any direction and not run into some sort of body of water.

3. BIKE PATHS MAY END SUDDENLY. While the bike path on the islands is fantastically convenient, especially the one that follows along the Islands Expressway all the way through Wilmington and Whitemarsh Islands, it has a tendency to stop  and merge onto the highway without warning. Therefore, if you don't keep your eyes open, you may suddenly find yourself biking directly ON the Islands Expressway with all the cars headed out to Tybee. Not that I did that or anything... Whoops...

4. I NEED TO KEEP DOING TRIATHLONS. Or half marathons. Or something that involves trying to meet physical challenges. I have to feed the competitive beast that lives inside of me, or I do crazy things. For instance, as I was prepared to turn onto our road to go home at the end of my ride today, I saw another biker further down the path in front of me. What do I do? Well, obviously, I change my plans and high tail it after the biker, determined to catch up with him just to know/show that I could. I got close, but he was hauling it and, after he turned into a neighborhood, I lost him. Next time, mystery biker, next time.

5. NOT EVERY STICK IN THE WATER IS AN ALLIGATOR. Although thinking every stick in the water is an alligator is great motivation to ride fast.

There will be many more bike rides and, therefore, many more lessons in the near future, I'm sure. It hit me yesterday pretty hard that I have NO FRIENDS here other than Gearry, and without a job it's hard to meet people. Gearry has been encouraging me to join the local bicycle club (Coastal Touring Bicycle Club) as a way to get to bike with others and meet other like-minded folks, which is a great idea. They do group rides every week. A local bicycle shop also hosts 30-mile group rides every Saturday starting at Chippewa Square in the historic district, so I just may hook up with one of the groups this weekend and give it a try.

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