Friday, April 8, 2011

The Wind! (the wind) ...

Is there anything that sucks the fun out of a ride faster than a strong headwind?

Strong Wind out of the South

There are so many things about cycling that are inconvenient or less than ideal. It's expensive for one, it takes time and preparation. On really long rides my left hand goes numb and on really, really long rides I chafe, no matter which chamois concoction I try. Recently (about mile 4000 last year) I started experiencing the 'hot foot' phenomenon which dregger tells me means I'm irritating the nerves in my feet and my podiatrist neighbor tells me that I can do permanent damage to said nerves. People in cars yell at me and occasionally they spit or throw something more substantial than angry epithets ... but I don't care about any of that. I love being on my bike it's satisfying on a Freudian level, it feeds my id and my ego. But all of that changes when I turn my bike into the face of a nasty headwind.

I spent a good portion of every blog entry from 2010 discussing the way the wind blew. Cursing it, blaming it, threatening it but oddly enough, never actually crediting it. That's right, the wind is your ally too. My biggest concern re: finishing LOTOJA last year was the fact that 100 miles of that race go through Wyoming, a state that seems to be the origin or terminus of every, breeze, gale, gust, chinook or zephyr that moves on the face of our planet. I've always hated Wyoming, wind was just one more reason not to go there. My strategy for the Wyoming portion of LOTOJA was to stick myself the rear wheel of anybody willing to pedal in front of me, tuck my head and not look up until I reached Jackson. Never mind that my training was done mostly solo and I really suck at group riding and drafting, doing it for 5 hours was probably going to result in me crossing wheels with an unfortunate fellow cyclist and going down in a bloody heap on the side of the road, but I was determined to try. Then an unexpected thing happened:

Unlike some other years when the riders battle a wind crossing Star Valley and going up Snake River Canyon, they got the benefit of a tailwind.
“We had that tailwind almost the whole day,” Burbidge said. “It was great. You couldn’t ask for better wind conditions.

That's right, the wind came through for me. If I haven't said it already, I will say it now. If not for a constant 10mph tailwind through all of Star Valley Wyoming and up Snake River Canyon, there's no way I finish LOTOJA 2010 before dark. The wind, then, is my friend and my enemy It's a frenemy

Urban Dictionary, frenemy:

Someone who is both friend and enemy, a relationship that is both mutually beneficial or dependent while being competitive, fraught with risk and mistrust.

The friend you may or may not have cornered about their quicksand like ways and keep around because "its in the past"...and so was one minute ago. The person that will continue to bring you down until you demand better for yourself.

According to Wikipedia, the best way to deal with a frenemy is to deny them space in your life and in your thoughts. In other words, ignore them, pretend they don't exist. Yes it's immature, impractical and possibly futile, but then so is pedaling into the jetstream winds that blow around Point of the Mountain.

The best analogy I could come up with is the wind is like a referee in basketball. Just part of the game you can't control. Some days the calls will go against you and you will have to pedal hard even on a 5% negative grade and some days the cheap stuff will go your way and you'll spend the entire ride on the charity stripe sinking gift free throws and hitting 40.8 mph on a flat road (like I did yesterday out on Bacchus Highway with a 30mph tailwind).

(but if the wind is playing dirty and is ruining your ride for the sole purpose of greed? Then yeah, it deserves a Sopranos style beat-down)

So my cycling resolution for 2011 re: the wind is, I'm not going to talk about it (if you just said to yourself "too late" I invite you to show up at our next group ride so I can slap you). I'm not going to discuss it, not going to blame it and I'm not going to name it. I responded to a text from Rodzilla that he sent me during a recent ride in which was whining about the fierce headwinds. "From now on the Wind is He Who Shall Not Be Named ... The wind is now Voldemort*

Ultimately whether I get what I want/need out of my ride, whether I put in the effort, whether I finish strong, whether I roll into my driveway and say to myself (yet again) as I'm putting away my equipment "Man I love this sport, why did I wait till I was 40 years old to start?" Has nothing to do with the wind and everything to do with me.

Happy riding and may you always find yourself out in front of a brisk TV (tail Voldemort)

blog/talk soon,


*Disclaimer: I am one of the seven people in the free world (and one of only 237 on the entire planet literate and otherwise) who has never read word one of any Harry Potter book or seen a single frame from any Harry Potter movie. What I know of Voldemort I learned from Office episodes in which Jim uses it as a device to mock/vex Dwight.

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