For me, a favorite cycling route needs to include something out of the ordinary: a super hard or long climb, a particularly scenic stretch of road, some unusual or significant sight, etc.
One of my favorite routes goes east to Burton, then south to Hiram, then west and north back home. I did that route today, an unexpected September weather gift. It has 2 of those “unusual or significant” sights.
At Music Street and SR 44 I pass the spot where Miles Coburn was killed in 2008. I ride through here on average once per week.
Maybe 10 miles later, on Rapids Road, I pass the spot where Judge Charles “Chip” Henry was killed this past summer. There’s a little memorial there now, with an all-white bicycle with his name on it — with downtube shifters.
Both of these places are sober reminders that today (which just happens to be the anniversary of my birth) could in a moment be the anniversary of my death.
I like riding on these roads because they remind me not to be complacent. This is not to suggest in any way that either of those 2 riders were complacent or could have prevented their accidents.
But sometimes you can prevent it. I no longer assume that a car’s signal means it will in fact turn, or that the lack of a signal means it won’t. Or that it will stay in its lane, or leave sufficient room when passing.
I also like riding on these roads because they remind me what a gift it is to be healthy and able to ride.
I’m guessing that both of those cyclists would happy to know that others ride by those spots and remember.
In a couple of days I’ll be looking at the results from the UCI (road) World Championship. I’ll look at the time trial results and comment on the amazing speed of guys like Fabian Cancellara.
As fast as they are, I can still understand and fathom their performance being within the realm of possibility. It’s way over my capability, but not *that far*.
I mean, let’s say I won some contest and they let me do the time trial. I would be dead last, but I don’t think my time would be so embarrassingly bad that someone would think I got off the bike and walked.
In contrast, I read about Galen Rupp setting the American 10k (running) record, with a time of 26:48. He ran the last 1600m (about a mile) in 4:11.
I do a little running in the off-season, and am “respectably” fast for someone who’s a. old, b. not a full-time runner. But I simply cannot fathom running that fast for 10k. It just doesn’t seem to be humanly possible. I can’t imagine what it takes to run sub-5:00 for even one mile.
The curious thing about this is that I do just enough running to be completely awed by this performance, while on the other hand look at Cancellara and am certainly impressed but not completely awed. Perspective changes everything.
As a side-note, I was talking with someone from Denmark this week. He knew I was a cyclist, and we were talking about how he’s seen so few people on bikes in the U.S. versus Denmark.
Yet … he was completely unaware that the World Championships would be starting in Copenhagen in just a couple of days. Shocking!
Or perhaps not. When we see cyclists in the U.S., they are mostly lycra-clad enthusiasts. Whereas in Denmark, it’s like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FXw_t172BKY