A bad day on the bike...

Published 2014-01-13

I bookended this weekend’s 45mi (flat, cold and very wet) team ride with 18mi to and Hillsboro. So an 81mi ride the whole way. The ride to the ride was dampish but warm, I arrived overheated. During the back half of the team ride the sky just opened on us, I was soaked to the bone. Still not too cold though.

As conditions worsened I found myself getting perkier. Man vs. God. I pulled more at the front of the group on the return.

But the real misery set in on my ride home. Despite having changed gloves after the team ride, my hands became icy blocks. Too frozen to shift gears, it’s a miracle I could brake. I forgot both my beanie and my “lobster claw” bike gloves, mistakes I will never make again on a winter team ride. So I rode 10mi or so home on 54T×24T with chattering teeth.

I resisted the powerful temptation to stop at a coffee shop or take the MAX, I knew that a) my soaking wet kit would be more cold than warm, even indoors and b) if I warmed my hands up and then got back on the bike they’d be even more useless.

I have a moment on every long (60mi+) ride, usually around 5–10mi from home, where I enter a kind of fugue state and wonder if I’ll ever get home. And that’s on a sunny day.

Of course I did get home. I arrived in a state of advanced bonk (did I mention all I had to eat was one PBJ and a Clif bar?), dehydrated (only one pint of water), and too numb to unzip my jersey or remove my gloves. I just sat in a puddle in our mud room trying to shake life into my outer limbs. Jenny and the kids pulled off my gloves and shoe covers. I was covered head to toe in road grit; still digging grit out of my ears two days later.

Strava tells me I burned about 2500(k)cal on the ride. Probably more like 3500cal when you factor in the shivering, and the fact that we were working against the wind almost the whole time. So, like a pound of body fat in one day. I didn’t eat any more or less this weekend than I usually do. Am I a pound lighter now? Where did that pound go? Did it literally evaporate as I pedalled?

So this was definitely a tough day, probably one of my least “enjoyable” bike rides in recent memory. But I’m fond of saying a bad day on a bike is better than a good day in a car and this proved it for me.

For starters, home never felt so homey before. Hell, the garage felt homey.

And a day like that resets my notion of “suffering.” Any 15mi commute — in any weather, really — will feel like a picnic.