Where to start. It was almost a perfect Spring afternoon. A bit cool, at 55 degrees (12 C) but that’s still a lot better than we’ve been getting around here. The sun was peeking out of the clouds and even threatened to break free of its restraint… The wind was a bit brisk but was supposed to calm down, so it was pretty much “all is well on the western front”. Well, that’s the way it should have gone…
I dressed according to the forecast, knee warmers, wool socks, toe covers, arm warmers, jersey and a vest. Only a Headsweats Shorty, my melon protector and clear glasses above the neck.
The warmup was literally laugh-out-loud funny as we started out with the east wind at our back. 21 mph soft-pedaling. Heading north, as one might expect, stretched us out a bit but if you leaned your bike into the wind about 10-15 degrees, it was almost livable. Turning into the wind it was the baby ring all the way – which is really rare. Still, any more than that and it started getting into work.
Now, this should have meant a perfect ride – a helping wind for the first half, followed by calming winds and plenty of help into the wind for the cruise home. That’s not what we got – and I was not factoring in the 29-31 mph push at the start with the wind at our back. That’s right folks, 30 mph on flat roads. We had guys dropping like flies, Mike, Phil and I were part of the casualties as well but Greg, a Cat 3 racer, got us back in short order. Greg is one of those guys who is so fast and controlled on a bike, you just can’t figure out where the power is coming from. He never gets frazzled and he never looks like he’s hurting. Actually, the best way to put it is he’s always composed.
After we latched back on, it didn’t get much better. We were still at or above 28 mph and within five miles or so, we had a group of five that decided all at once that enough was enough and we dropped together. We kept it at a much more manageable 26-1/2 mph or so and really didn’t lose much off of the main group. That is, until we turned into the wind. It got ugly in a hurry. The wind hadn’t slowed as predicted, it picked up – and the floor fell out of the temperature. We kept the pace to a respectable 16-18 mph into the 15-20 mph wind but it was some nasty hard work. There was one positive that came from the northeasterly wind… We never had much of a full-on headwind – the whole trip back was on roads that were dead north or dead east.
We rounded out the 30 mile trip at 20 mph on the nose and everyone in our rabble was glad it was over. We packed up, made our plans for the weekend and headed our separate ways to replace the calories we’d burned.
In the end, we’ve all heard that wind builds character, or that it’s like hill repeats without the hills but good God, I wish building character didn’t suck so bad. Complaining never helps, but damn, it sure seems like there’s a lot of character building going on this spring. That said, though, starting Friday afternoon, it looks like were about to be treated to some normal temperatures with sunshine – low to mid-60’s! I can’t wait.