The weather forecast called for a 27% chance of rain and the meteorologist believed it was unlikely. I was set to get some miles in regardless of rain, but looking out of my downtown office window, with the sun coming out from behind week long storm clouds, I believed the rain was over. As I got off work and headed north to my riding grounds the sun shone brightly and everything seemed perfect for a ride, cooler weather and it felt like it would stay dry. Things did not progress as well as I was hoping and my biking departure did not happen til shortly after seven. I figured with the sun going down a bit after eight, some evening twilight and the use of my new 500 lumens headlight and ultra bright tail lite, I should be able to go out for at least a couple of hours.
The ride started pretty good. I was going a bit slower than the previous weeks as this was the start of my fourth week before getting a recovery week in next week. At this point it requires a bit of work to push the legs as hard and fast as I did earlier in this five week cycle. But over time the muscles loosened and I was ready for some 4-5% graded climbs. In the rural roads I ride, 4-5%graded hills are frequent and I have accepted them as a way of life. I know with any mileage gained in my rides I will spend a good portion of the ride nearly vertical. Straightaways are few and infrequent. Initially I hated riding on these roads, but as I have grown stronger in my cycling I actually enjoy them now. Its fine pushing up a hill then building some speed and going down just to go back up the next one. I am still slow and plodding when it comes to speed, but I am building my base.
The first fifteen minutes of my evening jaunt were pleasant and scenic. I was enjoying my ride when suddenly the 27% became reality, I got stuck in a deluge of rain and the offending cloud just hung over head. To my surprise it really did not worry me too much, I just realized I was going to be a bit more wet. At times I almost enjoyed the novelty of riding in the rain and could not help but wonder if that made me seem any more hard core. Of course I felt a little bit more cautious on the downhills and the uphills became more of a true grit and meddle test. A few of the 3-4% grades gave way to quarter mile or shorter flats to go back up hill shortly after. For half an hour I endured and pushed on, but by then I was a soaking wet mess and my socks and feet were drenched. The rain had another side effect that turned out to pose a new difficulty, it dropped the temperature enough to make my feet feel like blocks of ice.
Of course even this did not deter me. At mile 15 I figured with dusk I would start to head back early and found a route that would get me there. I continued to enjoy the hills/mountains around me and the spectacular views. Then I realized why few if any people ever rode the direction I took to get back home on bike. It started as an innocent looking uphill, possibly a 3 percent grade, not too bad, challenging on sore legs, but it could be slogged out. Quickly I realized I was getting more vertical and later found out that for half a mile I was climbing a 7.5-7.8 grade climb. This climb really took some major grinding as I had the gears in the smallest it would go and still was struggling to make it to the top. Every pedal stroke was a fight and a struggle, a sheer test of wills to not give in and to make it to the top. I realized as I fought the climb I had two options: Fight it and get up the climb or get off my bike and walk it up. For me the walking option was off the table so I put my head down and focused on pushing and pulling each pedal stroke. At one point I started to weave across the road a bit just to give myself some other movement and ease the climb a bit. After half a mile I had finally summit ted the beast of a climb and was on my final stretch home.
The last couple of miles was a pleasant ride in the dark with the new headlight. It was bright enough that as motorists going the opposite direction passed, they turned down their bright lights. My new light provided plenty of illumination and I can see future rides extended because of this little device. It was very freeing not having to return home at the hint of dark. I was tempted to tack on ten more miles and continue past one turn off for home, but frozen feet won out in the end and I cut the ride at twenty miles. in an hour and forty minutes.
In the end it was a great ride with some very cool scenery, just a little bit wet and I had to fight a bigger climb than I expected for the evening. I loved having a headlight bright enough to get some extra miles and will recommend one to every biker. It is freeing not having to worry about night time creeping in and having to go home early. I can see a midnight full moon ride possibly in my future! Less than two weeks til the Tour De Cure Atlanta and I am excited, no matter what distance I ride in the end. Til next time.
- One Very Wet Weekend… Trained Anways (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)
- Rev 3 Olympic Triathon Knoxville – My Bike Summary (crushingiron.com)
- My First Multi-Day Weekend Ride!!! (chatterdoesfitness.wordpress.com)