When I started this blog, I naively thought it was going to be all about me and Scooter piling up the miles for the cross country trek. I really did not expect this to evolve into a 9 month long dialogue about WIND! But, with every ride, it becomes more apparent that this year, in Colorado anyways, the headlines are all about the wind.
Today the wind was even more of a factor than usual — it was strong and relentless. There was a steady 15-20 mph wind out of the south/southwest with gusts that were easily 10 miles stronger. It was a full time job just to keep the bike upright! I stayed with my training plan though and rode from the farm up to Raymond (at 7740′) above Lyons. I rode by myself today but spent most of the ride within shouting distance of two guys who seemed to be struggling at least as much as I was. They had an additional obstacle in that they appeared to be running some pretty big gears. When I was only turning my pedals at 65-70 rpms, they appeared to be down in the 45-50 range! Oh, my aching knees!
There was a stretch of the canyon where the wind was clearly winning. Scooter and I were getting tossed all over the place! Luckily traffic was light. We did get blown right off the road once — by a three-pronged gust that lasted about 15 seconds. Each mini-gust pushed us farther off the road even though I leaned hard into it and corrected Scooter’s trajectory as each gust hit. It wasn’t too dangerous since we were getting blown OFF the road and not into traffic, and the fact that we were going all of about 6-7 mph. Once it was clear we were going off and I could not recover, I merely let Scooter drop off the edge of the road into the soft, sand shoulder — unclipped my shoes and walked us back onto the pavement. Getting started back up was the hardest part (especially since the wind was still howling at us!).
When we got to Raymond, I got myself an ice cream sandwich (may be my cross-country snack of choice if there turns out to be a shortage of Dairy Queens!) and listened to the proprietor of the little store (the only commercial building of any kind in the area) go on about the woes of the world — over population, dependence on oil, waste and people just not thinking. Not exactly what I expected to find in a little rural community tucked into the mountains. Idaho maybe, front range of Colorado, no – not really.
Anyway, the wind alone would have been a fine foe. Joining it was the 5%-7% grade of the canyon. Even with a brisk tailwind the canyon is a serious effort. I saw my speed drop to 6 mph several times while my heart rate rose to 140 or so. In my book, that means I’m struggling! I stuck with it and much to my surprise, found a comfortable cadence and breathing pattern on more than on occasion. I never felt like I was in trouble, or that I would be dead for tomorrow’s ride, but I could tell I was digging deeper than I want to on a regular basis. It will be interesting to see what tomorrow brings.
I did take a bunch of photos today — any excuse to take a break in the canyon. I wanted folks to see what I have to put up with as a training venue. Seriously, the rest of the USA is gonna have to come with its ‘A-game’ to beat this!