I went on my hardest ride of the winter this morning — not hard meaning I was training hard, but hard meaning I was battling horrible weather the whole way. One of my first thoughts as I headed away from my house was that I shouldn’t be out here at all. I didn’t listen to myself, though, and spent an hour in terror, first of the ice on the roads and then of the wind.
The problem is that after all the flooding from yesterday, there was a lot of water left on the roads, which froze last night and left patches of ice everywhere. And the other problem is that I could see none of this from my house, situated as it is on a section of road that drains well and therefore was dry. I knew the patches of ice were likely to exist somewhere, but as I couldn’t see them from my windows, it was a little hard to take them seriously.
But they were there, in particular abundance right at the place where traffic was fairly heavy and where I was heading downhill and so was reluctant to turn around and slog back up the hill to head home in defeat. I got lucky, though; every time I came across a patch of ice that covered my side of the road there was no traffic in sight so I could swing over to the other side to get past.
The middle of the ride was okay — I even had fun practicing holding my balance as I rode over ice patches — but the last five miles or so I was out on a road that’s a little more open than the rest and where the wind gusts hit me hard. The gusts were coming from all directions, so I never knew where I’d get hit next or how to compensate for them. I spent the time hoping a gust wouldn’t hit me right at the moment when I was between a car and a guardrail on a section of road where there was no shoulder, so that I’d get knocked over with no room to spare and have a horrible accident. At one point, heading downhill on a section of road with open space next to it so that the wind could really pick up some speed, I got hit by a gust so hard I stopped for fear of toppling over. Once the gust died down I was on my way again, riding my brakes the whole way down the hill.
That was no fun! So far I’ve been lucky this winter to have reasonably good weather to ride in; I don’t mind the cold so much (although 20 degrees is my limit — at least for now), which means that it’s only rain and snow that keep me inside, and the rain and snow have generally fallen on days or parts of days when I’m not planning on riding. But I’m bound to have a horrific ride or two, especially since I’m also bound and determined not to get on the trainer and ride indoors unless I absolutely positively have to. I simply can’t stand the thought of riding on a bike that goes nowhere, and so I’m willing to put up with a horrific ride or two instead. And I’ll admit I enjoy going on rides that I probably shouldn’t go on, at least once I’m home and can feel triumphant in the safety of my own living room.
Oh, and I’m probably going to race with the women in the upcoming race series, with the idea that if it goes horribly I’ll switch to the Cat 5 men’s race. I’m not exactly looking forward to how hard I’ll have to work to keep pace with the other women, but I want to give it a try just to see what it’s like. I’ll spend too much time wondering about it otherwise.
And one more thing — once I settled into it, I had a nice time lounging around yesterday on my day off due to rain and got most of Woolf’s Night and Day read. I’ll finish it tonight.