Yes, it was wet. Yes, it was chilly. But neither of these things even comes close to the horror that was The Wind. While catching up on blogs this morning, many folks had not so nice things to say about the conditions at the Ken Woods Memorial on Saturday:
"Weather was crap, rainy, 45deg, 10-20mph winds. Absolutely miserable from start to finish" - Red Lantern
"It's 2 o'clock, temps are hovering around 45-50 degrees, the wind is kicking hard out of the East at maybe 18-20 mph and the rain is steady." - Pete
"Misery index, on my own personal scale of 1-10, with ten being the most miserable and one being only slightly miserable: 36" - Shannon
"The Cat 1/2 men's race had started with 25 dudes, and only 7 of them finished." - Gilby
"Pain." - Tuffy
100 miles to go
I wanted to keep my computer dry for this ride, so I rubber-banded a ziploc baggie over the top of it once I got in to Lakeville. I rode up to the High School, laid my bike down, went inside and registered. By this time, it was five minutes before 8. Way too late to start a Century on a day like today. When I got back to my bike, my baggie had already been blown off. So much for keeping the computer dry.
In retrospect, I should have ridden the 62 mile route. When I started off we had a superb tailwind. About 1 mile after the 62/100 mile route split I wanted to take advantage of that tailwind and I went to the big ring in front. And promptly threw the chain. I tried to tweak the front derailleur a bit but couldn't get it to work correctly, so I rode to the first rest stop in the small ring. The guys from Hoigaard's fixed me up and I rolled out of Jordan at 9:30, averaging 16.5mph so far according to the long-suffering bike computer.
77 miles to go
I rode that big tailwind to Belle Plain and was out of that rest stop by 10:30. So far, a great day. Belle Plain to Montgomery is mostly south, but the wind was coming East/Southeast and while it wasn't a full-out headwind it was certainly an attitude adjustment. But I made it to Montgomery in decent time. And so did the guy who rode my wheel for somewhere between 5-10 miles. Not once did he offer to take a pull out front. As a matter of fact when we were going downhill, he apologized for passing me. He said he had "good bearings" and didn't want to hit the brakes. Once his downhill momentum was lost he tucked back in behind me. By the way, even though no thanks were offered, you're welcome.
44 miles to go
When I hit the next rest stop, water was starting to condense inside the computer housing and I couldn't read the clock any longer, but my average had only dropped to 14.6mph. To this point, I hadn't looked at a route map so I wasn't sure where I was. Inside I talked to some guy riding the 62 mile route who was, in retrospect, hopelessly lost. But since the 100 mile and 62 mile routes were supposed to converge for the first time in Lonsdale, I figured that's where I was. I looked at the map, figured I could gut out the next 20 miles into the headwind and then the last 15 would be cake.
I ran into the nameless wheelsucker at the rest stop. He said he had stopped to call in the sag wagon for somebody on the side of the road. And again, it felt like he was apologizing to me for not drafting behind me. Had there even been a slight show of appreciation, I might have waited for him. But as it was I finished my snack and headed out.
34 miles to go
Imagine my disappointment when I actually reached Lonsdale. I took a closer look at the map and realized that I had another 20 miles of eastward suffering ahead. And since the last 10 miles had felt like 20 I was a little disheartened. My bike computer was no help for the time or mileage at this point, but the clock in the Legion said it was 2:10. I made it with only 20 minutes before this rest stop was scheduled to close. I thought about calling it right there. The mental adjustment from 15 miles of no headwind remaining to 20 miles of headwind plus 15 was just about too much. I sat around and thought, and talked to a couple other guys. And I rolled out again.
As I headed out of Lonsdale I met up with Dennis. As we headed south for a few miles we chatted and talked about how long the day had been. Dennis had about 20 years on me, and had ridden a total of 70 miles this year before the Ironman. And he was suffering. As we turned into the wind he tucked in behind me. And he stayed there for the rest of the ride. I kept telling Dennis (and myself) that once we made it to Dundas we were home free. The route starts to turn north at Dundas, and while it's still a crosswind, it's not a headwind. We made Dundas and we made the last rest stop in Northfield right at 4:00, it's scheduled closing time. We stopped, talked and refueled and headed out again.
15 miles to go
The wind had been shifty all day. It mainly came out of the east, but earlier it was East/Southeast and now it felt more East/Northeast. The last 15 was harder than I thought it would be, but we made it in. There was one point where Dennis just completely bonked. One minute he was there behind me and the next minute I looked over my shoulder and he was probably 1/4 of a mile back. Cooked. I thought about just riding on. After all, I'd pulled him through the worst of it. But he'd helped me too. Not by pulling through the wind, but it was nice to have somebody ti commiserate with and something else to think about other than the repetitive squishing sound my soggy neoprene booties made rubbing on the crankarm. And, more times than I can count, he had thanked me for pulling in the wind. I stopped and waited.
As we approached Lakeville, I told Dennis that we were within 5 miles to keep his (and my) spirits up. He said that all he wanted was to not be pulled in by the sag wagon. We rode into Lakeville and up to the high school together at 5:45, 15 minutes after the course was officially closed. We grabbed our shirts and pint glasses, shook hands and went our separate ways, home to our families.
This was my first century. It took way longer than I ever thought it would, and it was way harder than I thought it would be. Nearly 10 hours on the bike on a cold, wet, windy day means I'm still sore today. But not as sore as I thought I would be. And I know now that I can ride a century. And if I can ride this one, in these conditions, I should be able to do just about anything.
Date: April 30
Ride type: Ironman, baby!
April mileage: 482
Year to date mileage: 1186