We were two miles into the warm-up and I was already thinking about taking my toy home. The wind was out of the NNE and it was cold. The forecast earlier in the morning showed promise, partly cloudy, 12 mph winds and 56 degrees. I can work with that.
We got entirely cloudy, 18 mph wind with gusts well over 20 and take twelve off of that temp. Folks, it was 33 degrees, freezing warmer yesterday. I went from shorts and short sleeves to three layers in one day. It was cold enough that even in three layers, if I wasn’t moving, I was shivering.
I rolled on anyway. I lined up with the group. I rode. And I didn’t like it. The whole damned thing was just a mess. I just couldn’t settle in like I normally do.
I was off the back before we rolled over 10 miles, and at only 28 mph with a tailwind (we hit 32 last week and I lasted quite a bit longer). I just didn’t have it last night. I couldn’t get my breathing and heart rate to slow down – none of the normal tricks worked. I simply let Mike know I was done, and slipped quietly of the back.
I immediately started to figure out where I’d cut miles off the route… Should I take the 21 mile route, or the 24? I knew I wasn’t going to bother with the full 30 though. I knew I was going to go for the 21 when the turn came because I really didn’t want to be out there, but I tried to talk the committee into the 24 (the melon committee).
Then, lo and behold I see a red jersey on top of a rise heading toward me. Mike was coming back to get me. He looped around about 75 meters in front of me and we could barely see the group ahead of us as we turned a corner. It looked like Chuck and Phill were off the back about a mile up so after an easy-ish mile to catch our breath and then we set to reeling them in. I did several stints up front but I had a hard time holding a decent pace. Still, Mike and I made the best of it as we struggled into the wind. So much for the shortcut…
We had Chuck and Phill within 4 miles, which I suppose was pretty solid when you think about it but I couldn’t help but be a little pissed that I was working so hard for so little. The wind was simply unforgiving.
When we formed up I realized that it wasn’t just me. Turns at the front were short all around, maybe a quarter-mile each. I was quite chilly but dripping sweat like it was 65 degrees out. With just a few miles left the faster groups started catching up to us. The group was completely shattered. The last two of the main group was nearly on us as I was starting a turn at the front and Mike hollered up, “I’m going to try to stay with them”. I replied, “You go, I’ll see you when I see you”. I was struggling and really not having much fun.
As they were by my side Mike said, “C’mon Jim, go with them.” And I did. I jumped on to the back and we rolled out 2-3 mph faster than we’d been going. My legs were bitching up a storm but I held on and pulled through for another turn at the front. Thankfully everybody in our group made the jump so we had a fairly good line going in.
Turns up front were short but fast and we ended up with a finish I could be proud of, getting up to 24 mph into a heavy cross headwind.
I didn’t bother heading to the café for dinner afterward. I was chilled to the bone and I knew, sitting there in my sweat-drenched clothing, I was going to be miserable company. I headed to a fast food joint, ordered a burger and fries and ate my quick dinner in the parking lot with the heat cranked all the way up. Afterwards, I headed home, unpacked, and showered up. I barely remember my wife and kids coming home from swim practice at 8:30. I was entirely out by 8:35.
There were several keys that I took out of yesterday’s ugly ride…
First, my friends are awesome. I am a very lucky guy to have them.
Second, even though I had no desire to be out there, it was worth it. My gut hates that.
Third, I can get something valuable out of even an ugly ride – but not if I take my toy and go home.
Finally, I may have made my peace with the wind a few years ago but it’s still a cruel bitch every now and again.