Saturday, September 3, 2011

47 miles with only 2 minutes to spare. Wind sucks!

"Rain or Shine? No! Shine Only!"

That, or words to that effect, is the advice of my son Sean, regarding my Birthday Ride. He's tough, and he's no stranger to endurance feats, so his suggestion that I should not be bull-headed about riding in the rain carries a lot of weight with me. When still in his teens, he rode out of our driveway one morning, pushing his rat-trap pedals with his bare feet, and came back in the evening announcing that he'd been to Richmond and back -- 65 miles away. He and I had a five day cycle tour through Nova Scotia when I was in my 40's, and to say I couldn't keep up with him doesn't begin to tell it. After moving out to the Portland area, he traded his bike for running shoes and ran Hood-to-Coast for Nationwide until sidelined by a brain tumor and ensuing illnesses.

So when he suggests I plan to allow myself to be rained out, I listen. Especially when I remember the grueling 35 miles in the rain I rode last July 18. No, I don't think I want to try to do that for 80 miles.

And after this morning, I was wondering whether I should be ready to postpone on account of wind conditions. Because the breeze I was riding in today offered a major challenge. On one stretch where I normally travel about 12 mph, I was heading directly into the wind (East North-East) and I was struggling to go 6. I figured the breeze to be between 10 and 15 mph, and when I got home I checked accuweather, which put it at 13, so I was probably close to right. I was riding a loop, so there were times when the wind was (diagonally) at my back, actually helping me, some, pushing me along. (And there were times toward the end, when the temperature approached 90, when it was undeniably refreshing.) All in all, though I think it took a toll. You'd think that the headwind I encountered going east and the tailwind going west would cancel each other out, but it sure didn't feel that way.

But no -- I can't postpone because of wind. I can't postpone, period. We've got other commitments starting the weekend following my birthday (the 28th), and I'll need the preceding days to get ready. I could arguably postpone the ride one day, but I have an orchestra rehearsal on the 29th, and I'm pretty sure I'd be too tired to play my violin the night after I rode 80 miles, so that won't do. (I'll be missing three rehearsals in October as it is, and I can't afford to miss a fourth.) So I'll just have to handle what wind there is as best I can, and hope for the best.

Today's ride was successful, under the circumstances. Forty-seven miles in elapsed time of 4 hrs 40 minutes = 10.07 mph. Not much of a cushion, there. Doesn't leave much leeway. However I was feeling stronger than last Tuesday, and I think I handled the wind better than I would have a few days ago. So I'm going to go on the assumption that the training is working, that I'm still gaining strength and endurance. I'm on track.

Can anybody tell me: is September usually windy in these parts?

And if any experienced cyclists reading that can tell me: Is it my imagination that the tailwind doesn't make up for the headwind, or is it real?


  1. Hugh, your son Sean knows a heck of a lot about "going the distance." He was a teammate of mine on 2 "Hood to Coast Relays". And he ran 3 separate legs over the course of 24 sleep-deprived hours, to help us complete that 195+ mile endurance journey. He was a great teammate, a great competitor, who remains a great friend...His HTC effor was nothing, however, compared to the determination and resilience Sean has demonstrated in the face of the mystery illness that he has battled since the mid-90's. He has persevered; he is a warrior....And I can now see that Sean is a chip off the old block :-). "Postpone or no postpone" - your call. Either way, I can tell that you, like your son Sean, are going to lay it all out on the line. I predict that you will achieve your 80-mile goal, but that's somewhat immaterial. - The bigger piece to me is that you are "Going for IT", you are going to give it everything you've got - there is always "victory" in such an effort...Here's an old Hood to Coast quote, I've shared with my teammates..."Push yourself, until the pain comes. Until you think you cannot survive. And then - GO ON! This is your VISIONQUEST. Here the ego will let go. Here you will be purified. It is here that your journey begins and ends."...Go The Distance Hugh! - Best regards, Tim

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