I’ve discovered that I am a bit of a fair weather cyclist. I just don’t like to be cold. That being said, sometimes you have to do things that you don’t necessarily like. Saturday morning I got up at 5:45 AM to have my usual pre-race breakfast the recommended three hours before my start time. As I was mixing eggs and brewing coffee, I could hear the wind howling outside the kitchen window. The only thing I dislike more than being cold is the wind. I kept telling myself that I could always bail out at the last minute; but if the wind did die down, I needed to be prepared to race.
For the next hour and a half after breakfast, I sipped coffee and read more of my book (I am Malala – highly recommend). All of my warmest cycling clothing had been packed the night before and was ready to go. The trainer was already loaded in the car. I just needed to load my bike and hit the road. I checked 3 different web sites for up to the minute weather forecasts at Lookout Mountain. I got different numbers from all three – one had a temperature of 21 degrees and snowflake graphics; another had a temperature of 46 degrees and 27 MPH winds. No matter which one was correct, it was likely going to be a cold, windy race.
As I pulled into a parking space at Lookout Mountain, I saw a few team mates. This brought me some comfort… if they could brave this cold, windy weather, surely I could, too! As I pinned on my number and dressed for the warmup, the wind continued to gust. Today would be the first time that I would warm up while wearing my down coat. I was pleased that I began to sweat after a few minutes of pedaling and eventually had to remove the coat. My start time approached and I finished changing into my race clothes and loaded the trainer back in the car. I pedaled around a bit before getting in the start line to keep my legs and the rest of me from becoming chilled. The cold actually proved to be a great distraction from my usual pre-race nerves, which I hadn’t even given so much as a thought on this chilly morning. Normally, as I stand at a start line, I calm my nerves by telling myself that I can vomit at the finish line, if I still feel the need to do so by the time I get there.
Five, four, three, two, one… and I was off into the wind. As I pedaled up the 4.6 mile course, I tried to make myself as small as possible when the wind hit my face, and as tall as possible when the wind was to my back. At one point, the wind was so strong that I thought it would bring me to a complete stand still. At that point, I knew that today’s race would not result in any personal bests for me. My only hope was that everyone else would also experience such a gust, slowing the entire field of racers. After crossing the finish line, I pulled to a stop in a nearby parking lot, and for the first time in a very long time, I actually thought I might vomit… I guess that means I gave it everything I had.
As I drove home from the race, I realized that despite how windy and cold the ride was, I still had fun and I did not regret going. This is how 99% of my rides/races end. On only one occasion did I regret going for a ride – but that one ended in a crash and I wasn’t able to ride for several weeks afterward… so it doesn’t really count and maybe one day I’ll write about it, but not today!
Today’s lesson is that you should ALWAYS go out and pedal, even if you don’t want to. I’m just certain that when you come back home, you’ll be glad you went… 99% of the time!