For those living in the midwest, we are well aware of how windy a spring morning can be. Well, May 6th certainly was a reminder to any of us who had forgotten. My sis-in-law Keri and I signed on to ride in the Sudden Century - a 100, 75, 60, 42, etc. mile ride that takes cyclists to the speedway in Joliet for a lap around the track and then thru the rural roads of the southwest suburbs of Chicago.
I had done the ride in 2005. It was my first time being out on the road with other cyclists (not in a triathlon setting). For that day I signed on for the 42 miler. The day started out warm and sunny, and then clouds covered the sun and it began to drizzle, then it got cold, then a little more rain and wind. It was not a fun experience for me and I ended up riding home after just 30 miles.
Last year, the weather was picture perfect. I loved the ride. I signed up for the 42 miles again and finished them strong and happy. It was the kind of ride that causes you to want to do it over and over again.
Well, this year the riders were met with wind. Not just windy wind that dies down and then creeps back every couple of minutes. This was fierce, annoying wind.
Our ride to the registration area was deceiving. I was in a group of 22 people, mostly tri club members but others wanting to just ride, the wind was at our back and trees blocked any indication as to just how windy it was. It took about 3 minutes of riding after our group registered to realize that this was not going to be the fun ride it was in 2006. It literally felt like a broom was pushing me from the side and I was going to tilt off my bike. To make matters worse, well in my mind, I signed on for the 75 mile route. I wasn't going to quit tho, this wouldn't be like 2005. No mater what it took, I would ride 75 miles, even if I finished at 8 that night.
I had a lot of help riding with drafting and just good old encouragement as I was passed. The moments I was alone I stayed focused on efficient pedaling and staying relaxed. I tried to have a conversation with GOD, it went something like this -
me - Um GOD - what's going on with the wind? Do you think you could help here and take things down a notch?
GOD - What I can't hear you - it's to windy - ask me again when the wind dies down.
So I pedaled. And the group of 22 got smaller with each turn on the map. Keri was having some serious trouble and told me she was heading home soon. With about 20 miles left, she turned left with another tri buddy (who had to get home and mow the lawn and finish a playset for his daughter) and 3 of us turned right. (Keri still got 67 miles in!) We had a group of about 7 from the 22 in front of us. We couldn't see them but we knew they were out there so we just pushed ahead. We reached the last rest stop - I was starving. I can't remember the last time a ham and cheese sandwhich tasted so good! At this point I knew I was going to make my 75. The last stretch of the ride was one I have done 50 times. The joy I was feeling was going to get me home, well along with the tailwind and pedal power. A group of 3 different tri buddies came with me while the others moved on to complete 100 miles. The ride was smooth, the tailwind wasn't quite what we thought it would be but the conversation took over and before we knew it we were done.
Ahh, life is good. So was the hour nap I took when I got home.