Sometimes, in the interest of HTFU, I enjoy setting myself an unreachable goal. Yesterday’s ride was like that. Leaving at 3 for a three plus hour ride, the true length of which would be determined by riding hard for an hour and a half on the way out with a predominant tailwind, and returning fatigued into a headwind while trying to beat the sunset at 6:00. This is, quite simply, a formula for not getting back by sunset, for bonking into a headwind miles from home as the darkness slowly and inevitably descends, and for getting home solely on the anticipation of warmth and a hot cup of tea.
I had taken a hooky day and was feeling quite Buelleresque. The miles rolled by as I headed north on the Burke-Gilman, not to any physical point on the trail, but to a point in time. I love this trail on quiet weeknights, the cold February wind keeping the fair weather riders, joggers, and walkers away. As the trail turned east and then south at the top end of Lake Washington, my tailwind turned to a sidewind to a headwind, and I got my first real taste of what would await on the return trip. My legs turned to mush, but I still had 20 minutes remaining to meet with my date in time, which I stubbornly refused to miss, despite my legs telling me otherwise.
|The wide open and windy stretch of the Sammamish River Trail where I turned around. Beautifully deserted on a cold Winter day.|
This is how it is early in the year, the legs unaccustomed to rides lasting more than a couple of hours being reacquainted with such efforts. I checked the phone a couple times to see whether it was time to turn around yet. Nope, 14 more minutes, then 4, then finally it is time. This too frequent checking a sign of weakness of resolve, it must be quashed. Turning around for the short downwind leg brings brief respite, a chance to get some food and fluids down in preparation. A turn back to the south, and boom – headwind. I knew it was coming, it was a part of the calculations, and these situations often feel to me to be both easier and harder than anticipated. Harder as the legs are protesting against the increased mileage, and easier because there is nothing to do but keep going, keep changing position, stand up and push a big gear, sit in the saddle and spin a small one, change rhythm.
Most of the way back down into this headwind, I get a text from Velomihottie, who is done with a frustrating day at work and wants to take a ride, she will come and meet me on the trail. In a short while, she is there at the side of the trail, and proposes I turn around to go back up to Magnuson Park with her. No, thanks, I tell her, let’s just head home. With her, we chat about the day we’ve each had, plans for the evening (Taco Tuesday), and just generally converse. This takes my mind off the legs and makes the rest of the ride home a relative breeze. In fact, the last couple of miles, I seem to recover a second wind, and we joke around by her grabbing onto my jersey and me pulling her along coasting. We got home, and then it was time for Taco Tuesday (all you can eat for $6.00 – I had 8) and a couple of large beers which taste like the best beer ever due to the effort.