Wind. It can drag your front tire magnetically all over the road, attractively inflate your cheeks, and turn even the flattest stretch into an out-of-saddle redline test. Debris and small animals might whip across your path, your eyes might get filled with sand, and you’ll inevitably start to imagine the laughter filling each passing car as they witness your futile struggle.
“ahaha!” They say, sipping their drinks (which would likely be alcoholic and not be almost-blown out of their mouths) “What is that git thinking?” (they’re probably also british)
Indeed- what IS that git thinking? It definitely takes a certain mindset to keep the pedals turning despite sandy eyes and wayward field mice; adjectives chosen to describe it could easily be “masochistic,” “monomaniacal,” or even just “stupid.” Unfortunately, in my experience, the use of such adjectives does nothing to make the ride better or eliminate the three hour block on ones training plan- therefore the one I chose for my last windy epic was “zen.”
Sunday… was windy. To say the least. I’d rolled into Big Timber naively hoping for a change of scenery and some dry roads, but I hadn’t planned on getting “hurricane force” winds thrown into the bargain. I poked around all morning hoping for the noon trail-off prophesied by the weatherman, but the only significant change I noticed was in the pitch of the howling corrugated roof. So it was with an air of nervous anticipation that I kitted up.
The survival mechanisms started going off as I buckled my helmet. You could do a core workout today and save this ride for tomorrow. As I locked the door (almost getting blown over in the process) Just go back inside, you might get impaled by something. As I adjusted my seat. Is that a rain cloud? That looks like a RAIN cloud. And finally as I swung my leg over and clipped in, angling my shoulders to brace my body against the wind, hair whipping my eyes, breath ripped from my chest. THIS IS IDIOTIC! WHY DO YOU DO THIS SPORT!?
Like always, everything quieted down with the first pedal stroke. Not because I was so happy to be on the bike, like usual, but because it took every ounce of my strength and focus just to keep the wheels inching forward. I started in a head wind and I think it took me about ten minutes of LT effort just to get past the dirt driveway. I started to panic- three hours of this?
Then something miraculous happened; I realized I was still moving forward. It was slow, it was difficult, but no slower or more difficult than a tough climb or a sand pit. Sure the road was angled down, and sure it was a beautiful sunny day, but that didn’t mean it couldn’t feel like the steepest, muddiest, most godforsaken drainage route in Germany. So I did exactly what I’d done there- I ignored the beauty and settled in for a slog, confident in the knowledge that all slogs do, inevitably, end.
And as soon as I accepted the challenge, things got immediately fun. Each gust that caused me to zigzag erratically across the yellow line was another competitor, and the wheelsucking headwinds became walls to push through. I started to appreciate the patterns of the frantically waving grass and the stringy, stretched clouds- even the bits of stuff that hit me in the face couldn’t phase me. Best of all were the occasional tailwinds. At one point I saw a climb coming, anticipating the effort it would take to reach the top- but I found I barely even had to pedal. It felt like a reward for my zen mindset, and suddenly an element that had intimidated me so much became just another dimension to another good ride.