Today was a very windy ride. I think I dislike the wind above all other weather elements. The only thing that can make wind worse is combining it with.... Oh, there it comes... rain. Now that I am sopping wet and heading into an apparent hurricane (we don't have those in Colorado, do we), I basically buckle down and just go as far as I can.
The great thing about being at the depths of misery at a specific point while cycling is that it really can only get better from that moment on. Once I'm wet and the wind is at my face, all I can do is keep pedaling and let my mind wander. Today my mind is focused on an upcoming organized ride: Venus de Miles. I'm supposed to do the 100-mile route, and I am consumed by the idea that I won't be able to climb into the mountains. I've been able to complete two centuries this summer (Note to readers: I know I haven't discussed the second century here yet, but details on that ride are coming soon), but somehow that doesn't feel as though it's appropriate preparation for what is coming in just a few weeks.
|*Image found here|
In the distance, I see a cyclist coming in the other direction. I don't normally pay too much attention to who a rider is and tend to just offer a nod or a wave in their direction. This person looks familiar somehow to me though, so I slow a bit and actually look. I know her, but from where? She seems to be looking at me in the same way - as if she recognizes me. After we've passed each other, I believe I know her from Venus de Miles. There's a woman I met for the first time a few years ago at my first VdM, and I've somehow managed to meet up with her randomly during the ride every year since. Since she's a local, we always talk about doing training rides together because the universe seems to be putting us in the same place at the same time every year, and we seem to ride about the same speed, but our training rides never happen - at least not together. Was that Helene? It must've been. I swear, this is the third time I've passed her on the roads this summer and I've not said a word. I really do need to call her.
Continuing down the road, I can't help but mentally chastise myself. I'd like to say that I'm not angry, but it wouldn't be the truth. I'm angry at the weather and the forecasters (because, of course, they somehow control the weather patterns), I'm incensed at my body for not being capable of doing the things I expect it should be able to do by now, I'm furious at myself for not running in almost two weeks - even though I promised myself I would run at least 1-2 times every week when I had started again earlier in the year. I'm upset that I don't follow up on all the things I say I will do - like getting in touch with Helene to ride.
The rain... make that hail now... is pelting me in the face. It hurts, but somehow feels appropriate. Ping...ping... ping... I can hear it bouncing off the bike. Why am I out in this? I could make a phone call and ask someone to come and get me, but then again, I knew what the weather was going to be and made the decision to come out in it regardless. Do I really want to explain to someone that I need to be out on this ride today... that this is my therapy and how I work through all of the garbage in my head? Would anyone even understand?
I'm approaching the largest climb for today's ride and I start to cry. I feel weak, incapable, and stupid for venturing out into this mess. My body is tired and even though I haven't given it a day off in who knows how many days (...or has it been weeks... I search my memory banks for the last time I did nothing... I really can't recall), I seem to expect that it will cooperate anyway and be at its best now, when I need it. For a brief moment, I consider walking up the hill. I want to believe that there's no shame in walking it, but I just can't convince myself and continue pedaling. By the time I reach the top, I'm breathing - nearly hyperventilating - so hard from crying that I want to stop, but I don't.
I've cried through a lot of moments in my life, and I can't help but think about every person who's ever told me that crying is a sign of weakness. I may be emotional at times, or express frustration through tears, but it is absolutely, without a doubt, not weakness. Suddenly, I feel stronger, more capable. Has the wind stopped? I think I can see the sun trying to break through the clouds, or perhaps it's just my imagination. No matter, I'm almost home now and ready to get about the day. Really, that wasn't so bad I tell myself, as I smile and start pondering where tomorrow's ride will take me.