It was a terrific day for a ride - about 70 F, clear with scattered clouds. The only downside was the wind - out of the West at about 15 mph, gusting to about 25 mph. I decided to do about a quick 20-miler on the LHT.
I started out heading East, and with the wind at my back was making really good time. I usually ride at about 12 to 18 mph, but today I was seeing 20 to 22 pretty regularly. Of course when it's time to turn around to head home it's a different story. Bucking the headwind I was down to about 10 mph, so I got down on to the bottoms of my bars - I hardly ever ride there - to offer less wind resistance. I was able to go along much easier down there.
Lesson #1: Riding in the drops is not so bad! My bike is set up for a fairly upright stance, and I usually ride in a fairly upright position, but I always seem to have two areas of discomfort. One seems to be that my hands and fingers tend to get numb, and I find myself shifting my hands around a lot for relief. Also (I have a Brooks B17 saddle) I find that after 10 or so miles my bottom gets a little sore. Not chafed sore, not numb, just kind of bruised feeling, which I just put down to riding a fairly hard saddle on less-than-perfect roads - lots of cold-patch blacktop and expansion cracks. Today I found that the lower position caused both ailments to disappear! I think I'll lower my stem a little and see if the trend continues to improve. I was kind of surprised, especially about the hand thing, as I always figured that a lower bar would put cause me to put more weight on my hands and make the numbness worse. Whodathunkit?
Lesson #2 (the re-learned one): I took a different route home that involved a long, not too steep grade. About 2/3 of the way up there's a place where the road briefly takes a short downhill through an S-turn, first left then right. It felt so good to stop grinding up the hill in a low gear and to swoop through the S-turn at about 25 mph, that I guess I zoned out and when I got to the right turn I forgot to plant my left pedal. I just kept the right pedal down as I leaned into the turn, and the next thing I knew I drug the right pedal hard on the blacktop - actually ground a little aluminum off - which caused a minor loss of control. Since I was cutting the apex of the corner just then, it caused me to run off of the pavement into a ditch, which luckily was filled about knee-deep with a bunch of soft leaf debris. I managed to pretty much stay on top of things (and the bike) as it mushed to a stop. Luckily no damage, no loss of skin or blood, just a slight loss of pride. I'll accept that as the price of my lesson, and from now on will pay more attention to my technique.