Friday, April 26, 2013

Dancing with the Trickster

One of the many beautiful farms I passed today
My friend, Michael, has a saying when it comes to 'challenging' bike rides..."What doesn't kill me makes me stranger."  Yep.  That about says it.  If you've been reading my blog for awhile, you know the one thing that will bring me to my knees is wind.  I have become a bit tougher in the mind over the past year when it comes to wind, however, I am the first to admit, I don't welcome it.

Yesterday, I made the mistake of taking an easy day.  I chose to catch up on housework, grocery shopping and the rest of domestic chores versus ride after work.  I knew the forecast was calling for wind today, but it was also supposed to get into the 60's--something I haven't experienced since last fall.  I also knew I didn't have to work today, which took the pressure off and would allow me to ride my own pace.  When I woke this morning, I cringed.  I could already hear the wind howling at 6am.  Damn.  I also knew I had to get some miles in if I were to be anywhere near the shape I needed to ride Almanzo in a couple weeks.

Downtown Malo
After lingering over breakfast a bit too long, I geared up and rolled out.  The goal was 65 miles with hills.  I was to head down to Riley, come back through Middleton, over to Mazomanie and then head a bit North to come back on the big hills.  Although I had a few sections into the wind on my way South, it wasn't actually too bad early in the ride--now, I can link this to being fresh and only having 15-20mph winds to start.  Honestly, even though I had to battle cross winds for my entire ride to Mazo, I felt good...until I turned around and started heading back on Carter road.  There was a split second I thought "No way in hell will I make it back before dinner."  And then I made up my mind to gear down...way down, hunker down and just focus on turning the pedals over.  There was a moment, as I began climbing up Scherbel--into 25mph winds--when I started to laugh.  Hills are supposed to block wind--at least until the end near the crest.  How was it possible for the wind to funnel down the hill?  Then I remembered the wind is a trickster.  It's invisible, it follows no rules, it can change on you in an instant and I'm pretty sure I heard it mocking me.  I tried my best to find it's beauty--not being a sailor, this was a difficult task.  Then, I looked up and saw a redtail hawk literally hanging in space.  For what seemed like eternity--remember I was just creeping along--it sat in the wind as if it were kept up by a thread.  When it grew tired of this game, it dove down at lightning speed.  Beautiful.  The wind also brought me the lingering scent of prairie burns--something I've learned to love.  Without the wind, our air quality would be shit.  We also wouldn't have the diversity of plant life we do since pollination would be left to only the bats and bees.  Yes, the wind can be a good thing.

There was no way I could pass my favorite goats without saying hello.  They
have gotten so big!  Almost six weeks old now.

A very cool house that was featured in my favorite magazine, Dwell

As I neared the top of my last big hill, swear words were taken far away with the wind.  No one should have to hear a cyclist say these things as they climb.  I turned onto what is usually one of my favorite stretches, Schneider road.  This road is a play land, a spot to paceline and sprint, a place to test how much I have left in me before hitting home.  Nope, not this time.  Instead, I was nearly pushed off the road three times with gusts.  Damn that tricky bastard.  I would have given the wind the finger but I was to afraid to take my hands off my bars.

Freshly burned prairie
After I pulled into my driveway, I relaxed once again.  I rode 67 miles, not a big feat if the wind was calm, but I felt good.  Now, let's just hope I've paid my dues and the winds are calm for Almanzo!

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