Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

The adventure begins

Every good quest must have a nemesis.  Sometimes it’s physical ability, sometimes it’s a competitor, sometimes it’s an angry wizard…  You never know quite what you might encounter.   While I was really hoping not to have to take on the angry wizard, I had figured I might have to tackle such obstacles as lack of time, lack of fundraising skills, and of course, lack of fitness.   I was prepared to tackle two of the three and a little bit counting on the kindness of friends and strangers for the third (HUGE thanks once again to those who have already donated to support my effort to help the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre).

But no, my nemesis was more sneaky than that.  Should, perhaps, have been obvious.  Would have been obvious were I a trained cyclist.  Alas I am not.  And so on my first real training ride, I met my nemesis: The Wind.

Okay now I can accept the knowing laughter from the cyclists in the group.  But those of you rolling your eyes – let me tell you, that’s what I thought too!

So, to set the stage, because I’m told that’s what you have to do, the day I decided to take on this challenge, I dusted my bike off (literally!) and rode it around the block.  Now this block is a large block and it does involve a bit of a valley that lets me get some serious (to me) speed – about 60km on a good day – and then ALL the peddling on the easiest of gears to get back up the other side.   But even still, we’re talking less than 3km all in, and I was all kinds of puffing by the end.  Now to be fair to me, part of this was undoubtedly due to my well known and dreaded habit of holding my breath.  Lol – the first cross-country round of every eventing season usually sees me just about pass out after the fourth fence before I remember to breath.   And generally I do showjumping without ever bothering to waste time on such an unimportant function.  But even still, I took this as a pretty serious sign that if I wanted to ride two HUNDRED kms, I’d better give my fitness level some intense attention.

Acknowledging that, along with my complete dislike of anything that resembles winter weather, I hit up the spin bikes at the gym.  Now these have the advantage of being an intense workout in a short period of time (there’s no cruising or downhill!) but I know fully well that it’s not really the same.  So I had determined that on Wednesday (when I don’t have to commute and save myself 3h of daylight) that I would go for ride after work.   I have an “easy” 10km route that I used to do on the cross-training days from my running (which was last year’s adventure).

Right, Mother Nature was in one of those moods where she wasn’t going to outright say “no”, but she definitely wasn’t supportive of the idea either.  “Wind warning” – right.   Well what’s the worst that can happen?   I honestly thought it’d just be really hard to push into and it’d take me a long time in an easy gear.   Optimistic me put it as a good workout.  Right.  Hindsight’s a nasty little beast.

First of all, I would like to know how I could be riding into the wind BOTH directions.   I was doing a loop – logically one direction of the loop should be *with* the wind – super zoomy and all kinds of fun.  While the other would be the unpleasantness I had mentally prepped for.   Right?  Doesn’t this seem logical?   Well evidently Ms Nature and Logic were not on speaking terms.   I had about one block where I felt a significant boost.  The rest of the time it was just varying degrees of how hard the ride was.  And that was the easy part!

I’m not even kidding – I seriously thought the hard part would be riding into the wind.  No my friend, that it is not.   What I had failed to consider was what happens when the wind is coming at you on a ninety degree angle.  This, this is what nightmares are made of.   To put in perspective, earlier in the day this same wind blew a semi-truck over on the skyway (not far away).  It too had problems with the sideways gust.   I was SO very lucky there was zero traffic where I was riding, because when it hit I was instantly on the other side of the road and fighting for control.

And *then* when I thought I had figured out how to counter balance against said wind, it got angry at me and started THROWING THINGS.   I couldn’t even make this up.   Branches.  Leaves.  Garbage – ugh, so much garbage.

I never realized how grateful I’d be to turn a corner and *only* be riding into the insane wind.   Yet still it happened.

I did, in fact, make it home, uninjured, and in one piece.   The luck of small children and idiots was with me that ride – I’ll let you ascertain for yourself which one was protecting me ;-P   And all I can think is when I ride TWENTY times as far, I really hope Mother Nature can convince my nemesis The Wind to back off a little.  Or better yet, support the cause and give us all a push!


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