Like the Wind

Time: 1 hours 45 minutes
Distance: 20 miles
Average speed: 12.6 MPH
Weather: WINDY
Ride Rating: 3/5

I wanted to do some flat/gentle hills riding last night, in order to see about just getting the mileage in for distance, and not worry about speed so much as consistency. After we both got home, we loaded the bikes up onto the car, and drove to Cherry Creek State Park. First of all, neither of us had ever been there, and had no clue where was the best place to get on the trail, park the car, or anything. So, we headed to a bike shop right next to the park, which happened to have an access trail and let us park our car right there. Since we were there to ride, rather than shop, that was quite nice of them. I’ll have to make a point to check them out next time I’m around that area as a thank you (since I can’t seem to ever walk into a bike shop without spending at least $100).

We got on the bikes, and headed into the park. Since this was our first time, we also didn’t know anything about the trails. There are many many many trails in Cherry Creek State Park….but not all of them are suitable for road bikes. I had tried to plan ahead by looking at the trails map, but that was still quite confusing without being on the ground and having a sense of the space. So, we just hopped on our bikes and went in for the ride.

First, it was very difficult to figure out a way all the way around the dam while staying in the park, so we ended up doing 3/4 loops back and forth. Second, due to the doubts about the path, the stops and starts, and the strange turns, we also ended up going a lot slower than we wanted to, and covering less distance than I had wanted to get for the evening. And third…the wind.

God. The wind. It was a steady 25 MPH with gusts up to 35 MPH, and it was variable in direction, so you would be plugging along with a nice tailwind for a while, then suddenly a headwind would bear down and you, and your 25 MPH pace would grind to a mind-numbing 9 MPH. I am not even kidding. I had no strength for this fight. And after about 45 minutes of confusion, disorientation, very bumpy roads, and the non-stop pressure from the wind, I was even more cranky than I had been at the beginning of the ride. I had wanted to ride a moderately fast pace for a constant level of exercise and see if I could get in 45 miles. That wasn’t happening at all.

At that point, though, I had a choice. I could quit. I could be miserable and push on. Or, I could just accept that this was not the ride I had planned, but it was still a ride. I went with the latter option, and got in another hour. We explored the area, went slower than normal, and yet still were able to get in a few swift runs when blocked from the wind. My max speed was around 29, which is pretty good considering that it was not on a downhill – that was just on a flat…I pushed that speed out.

The lesson here is acceptance. It’s one I need to learn, and will learn over, and over, and over. It’s about acceptance of what your body can do, what your wallet can do, what your mind can do, and what your heart can do. My body was not able to overpower the wind last night. So I didn’t fight it. My body can only hold crow pose for about 30 seconds before I start to weaken and lose my balance. My knees can’t always handle 3 1/2″ heels for a full day with lots of stair climbing. These are things I have to accept. They won’t always be true, or maybe they will. I have the ability to try to change them, either by making the work/yoga/cycling/physical therapy a priority, or I can say “My existence doesn’t rest on my ability to do X.”

I’m going to work on the acceptance part, because my personality has always been “go big or go home.” This had led to risk taking that is sometimes good (grad school!) and risk taking that is bad (jumping a railing on roller blades and crashing, with a busted knee as a result) and sometimes, not even taking a risk, but staying in one place to be so steadfast and with a level of patience that would even wear a saint out, or melt a glacier. In some says, I just have to say “This is not the way I expected things to be, but this is the way things are now.” And that is ok.

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