Yesterday = FANTASTIC! Today = Active Rest Day!

Oh, man, oh, man, oh, man!

Yesterday was quite possibly the highlight of my time here in Blacksburg (so far)! Talk about an exciting and HAPPY day! I slept like a log last night and I couldn’t be the more glad for it!

Not only did I get a job interview scheduled for the local library (in which the folks sounded pretty excited to meet with me–Eeeek! Yes!), but Amelia (my bike) was assembled, I met a handful of (active) people, and I rode and rode and rode and rode. Amelia rattled a little and attacked a few gigantic potholes; I grunted, battled humidity, climbed plenty o’ rollin’ hills. Together we flew for hours. I also had a really killer swim session that day, too. Then, I finished the day with a pint of Guiness. “Life is good.

Let’s start with the swim set. I got to the BBurg Aquatic center and it was closed due to swim lessons. I hate it when they fail to update the webpage, but I figured, no problemo, I’ll just come back in an hour. I’ll go visit Josh at his work. So I stopped in at his job, he bought me lunch and a Take 5 candy bar (yum!) and I helped him compile some data reports. Finally, time to go swim! Off I went to dive into the water.

The water was really cold. Way colder than the reported 83 degrees, but I knew I was swimming 2000 yards. A lot of it was going to be drills interspersed with aerobic 400 yard sets, so I knew I was going to be working hard and welcomed the potential hypothermia. :D Anyway, I had to share a lane with two others, so we did that circle-swim thingy. That’s tough to coordinate when working on drills. Kickboards are really slow. I ended up ditching the kickboard for most of my workout routine and opted for backstroke (heavy on kicking) and/or streamline drills instead. After about 20 minutes, the girl (of whom I often see there, but have yet to catch her name) exited my lane leaving two of us remaining to split it.

I swam, and swam very well. I was smooth, strong, long, lean, and controlled. Despite becoming fatigued by 1600 yards, I managed to finish the last 400 yards all in one set including flip turns and did so without a hitch. I love days like that. No water up the nostrils, no inhalation of aqua, just pure, streamlined swimming–like a silvery fish slicing through the current. Yes, I be that fishy.

I then called Cole, my roommate, to arrange for him to assemble Amelia. He was there within the hour. It was a bit of a mess as I lack most of the necessary tools to put her all back together. Somehow, my front tire was blown out also. Off to East Coasters! Cole got me setup right from there. Time to head out!

Not knowing how my cycling legs would fare and with Cole not being familiar with my abilities, we decided to ride a local favorite “down into the valley.” Excellent, I thought. We rode out from Harding Ave., down-down-down-down-and more down-we went. What a rush! A couple of tight turns were present and it was a good thing I learned about counter-steering and lean before coming out East! (It came in very handy!) At the bottom, there’s a series of BIG pot-holes; I managed to hit all of them dead-on. (Must be the mountain biker in me, hmmmm?) At the bottom, we shored up at the “Old Cheese Factory” (which obviously doesn’t produce anything nowadays) and hung a right onto Lusters Gate.

Let me state that I live in Scenic-View-Ville. This place is ridiculous. I thought the areas around Chico, CA were pretty. I’ve always thought the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s were pretty. My hometown looks like the ugly step-sister next to the New River Valley’s Cinderella. I’ll take the camera out with me next time and actually stop a few times to shoot some pictures of what I’m talking about. All I can say is: rolling hills of green dotted with white puffs of sheep, black-and-white tuxedo cattle, and rustic picket fences all around. Nevermind the azure blue sky kissing the tops of the maple tree lined hills. This place is eye-candy–no, it’s more than that–it’s visual-crack. I think I could become addicted.

So we rode until we arrived at the Citgo gas station. It’s apparantly a local ritual to stop there to replenish/refuel/rest before “the climb.” Ah, the “what goes down, must go up” rule in the world of cycling. Cole and I chatted, he complimented me on my pace and strength thus far and after a few minutes we headed up the hill.

People, there’s a reason triple cranks exist. I only have a double on mine. It’s a good thing I have plenty of “junk-in-the-trunk” that happens to be muscle or I would never have made it up that thing. For all you Chico, CA folks: It’s not as steep as Honey Run, nor as long as Cohassett “to-the-dirt,” but it was harder than Centerville. I did run out of gears at one point and that happened to be the last half-mile (go figure). I was afraid I might have to get off the bike and walk, but somehow I just regulated my breathing and steadily climbed up and out of there. Wow. I don’t know if I could do that again today, I thought. Glad I’m going to the “Social Ride” tonight and not doing anything tough.

Cole and I crested the hill, re-entered BBurg, and he again complimented my strength and stamina, “You’re really strong. I hope you’re not offended, but you’re a lot stronger than I thought you’d be. You’re probably going to be one of the strongest female riders around here.”

“Sweet! Thanks! Hearing that makes me feel really good. I always got dropped by the guys back home, so it’ll be nice to be able to keep up with somebody for a change!” I laughed.

We rolled up to the Library and parted ways as he was off to the Wednesday night road race (think: Chico’s “Fast 50″) and I speed off towards the NRV Mall to meet the NRVBA Social Ride group. As I arrived, I got a phone call to set up my Library job interview, and after that I began socializing with an array of new folks all interested in cycling on some level or another. There was Frank, a high-school biology teacher leading our group ride; Geno a Northeasterner transplant having been in BBurg for the past 25 years; Kevin, a cute professor of Art at Radford with the sweetest Alabama drawl; a husband-and-wife team with a love of the outdoors and multi-day events (whose names I’ve forgotten); and many others. There were lots of “new” people (including myself and several visitors from Northern VA) as well. The ride plans were discussed and then presented: we were to ride a local favorite “down into the valley.” Uh-oh. This sounds familiar.

Frank, the ride leader stated, “We’ll ride down Harding Ave., right at Lusters Gate …”

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! Oh, what I would give for a fresh pair of cycling legs right about now.

It was totally worth every bit of the pain, however. This time I avoided the pot-holes. This time I cornered faster and better than before. This time I was solid, fast, and stable on the flats and straightaways. This time I flew up the last hill, passing everyone … ha, ha, just kidding about that last one. Actually, I ended up being among the last up the hill, having had to dismount and walk the remaining 200 yards or so with another guy who was also cursed with a double. I was bonking, too, and knew I still had to ride at least 12 more miles before I was going to be done. No sense in burning myself out completely. It was a good call on my part, I think.

We regrouped and then rode back to the starting place. Food? That’s nearly all I could think about. Of course, in my vocabulary, “food” equals “beer” (sometimes accompanied by soup and bread). Was anyone game to dine out afterwards? Indeed, several were. It was to be me, Kevin, Geno, and the husband-and-wife team sitting around a table at Red Robin. The food was good, the Guiness was excellent, and the company was fantastic. I learned a lot about how “outsiders” pronounce everything in Virginia incorrectly and found that Kevin also kayaks and loves being active outdoors, too! Ah thinks Ah gots me an Adventure Buddy! Woo-wee!

Being dark after dinner and with me not having a light, Kevin drove me back to my apt. and I rolled Amelia up the stairs and back home into her corner. I showered, ate again, and collapsed into bed. Only after 8.5 hours elapsed did I wake. And thus concluds my first real day of my new life in Blacksburg, VA.

I know I’m going to like it here.