Friday Rides: The Tradition Continues
The email I sent out early in the week was short and to the point, “We should plan on a ride this week. It’s supposed to be 73 and sunny on Friday. We’d be stupid not to. I could be there by 1:30.” Weeds and Yoder were in. As Friday drew near, I was increasingly more apprehensive of the weather. It’s been cold, rainy and windy around here and I wasn’t excited about yet another ride like that. On the drive up to Des Moines, I talked to Johnny Rocket who was 76 miles into a century somewhere in Virginia on Day 3 of his Trans American ride. His century was made up of a hilly terrain and a headwind. It was exactly where I wanted to be. Filled with a special feeling, jealousy, I tried to focus on the 30-40 miles I get to ride with some of my favorite people. Yoder, RG, the bass player and New Zealand were waiting for me at the trail head. We rode west to connect to the Raccoon River Valley Trail leading west. It was about 70 degrees…beautiful. Weeds rode to meet us on the trail with a tip. The wind would be challenging on the ride back east. The wind was noticeable and coming from the SE. We continued west to Waukee and onto Adel. Weeds warned me not to blow my wad early. He kindly offered me a wheel to suck. When I refused the generous offer, he promptly dropped me. I pushed hard to Adel wondering if maybe he’s part machine.
While regrouping at Rendezvous, we made unconcerned jokes about the wind we would be facing eastbound. The portion of the trail from Adel to Waukee is a combination of tree-lined stretches and wide open stretches with a low-grade, barely perceivable incline eastbound. I’ve been pushed up this “hill” twice. Ancient history, I reminded myself. I committed myself to finding more strength this year through conditioning and my usual stubborn approach to obstacles. I saddled up without any fear. Once on the trail, I knew I was looking at winds similar to those on the ride I did a couple of weeks ago on the road when Naked tried to poison me with an old, rank smoothie. This would be shorter and not hilly, but that incline would certainly add some challenge to the windy ride.
It was tough in the trees. It was tougher in the open. I fought. My legs were burning and my speeds were between 11 mph and 13 mph before arriving in Waukee. The winds were between 23-26 mph. There were gusts upping the ante. I tried to get as small as I could. I rode in the drops. I fought the urge to get into a low gear. I was at a 45 degree angle leaning into the wind blasting at me from the SE. I focused on my quads. I pushed and pulled. I felt like I was using a huge amount of force to keep my glutes planted firmly on my seat. Why didn’t I use Chamois Cream?? Aaarrrgh. With about 3 miles to Waukee, my angle became even tighter. My mouth felt like it was filled with sand. A drink of water seemed too risky. Both hands on the drops felt necessary to keep the bike on the road. Surely with only one hand on the bars I’d go airborne. I kept pushing, sorry for the smiling leisure riders coming toward me now that I know what they will be facing. I said nothing to them. I saved my energy for myself. I saw Legacy up ahead. There was less than a mile before I could stop to regroup. I gave it all I had in that last couple of minutes.
I fueled up with a chicken breast and spinach on rye. I washed it down with a beer and looked forward to the remaining 6 miles to the trail head. The wind was still bucking, but the rest and food gave me new strength. We were pushing around 16 mph for the stretch before we parted ways. I continued solo on the last few miles, with some tree cover and several trail-goers, slowing my pace. I wasn’t complaining. Despite my complete lack of directional abilities, I managed to get to the trail head without incident.
The hour-ride home gave me time to reflect on my first Friday Ride with the boys of the season. We were a couple of Friday Riders short, but it was a great first Friday. A little sunburned and a little battered from the wind, I am reminded of how much I love to ride and how much fun it is to ride with my friends.