Road Cyclists Blogs

Riding in the Rain - and other lessons learned

I have a training plan. I have only one season of riding on the road under my belt (or should I say under my saddle?) and I must confess that I am a bit intense about completing my training for an all-too-quickly-approaching Century Ride. Like those of you in much of the country who have battled weather and road conditions this season, my outdoor time has been limited. (Thank heaven for Spinner® bikes and Spinning® classes!) Thanks to Doug Katona for addressing this issue ? lack of time and making it count - in another post. But, I still need to lay down the miles. Last weekend, I grumbled when my alarm went off at 4 a.m. as usual. I was not headed to work, but I was headed out the door ? coffee in hand, bike in back of Subaru. I was determined to get in some miles before meeting up with a friend who would ride about 25 with me and then I would finish my long ride for the week alone. It was drizzling but, oh well. Let me back up a bit. I am really nervous about wet roads. I hate the image of helplessly skidding or falling. In the past, even if the roads were damp, I rescheduled or delayed my ride. This time, nothing doing. I rode 20 miles and met up with my friend. The drizzle was a little more consistent and the clouds were moving in. He shrugged and said ?I?m hardcore. Are you game?? What was I to say? Of course. So, off we went. Frankly I was having such a good time that I didn?t realize that the rain was falling more heavily. At the 10 mile point my friend called to me that perhaps we should return to the cars. It was then that I realized that I was riding on water-covered roads! (What does this tell me about the effects of my thoughts ? neurotic or happy?) Once the decision was made to go back, I got REALLY nervous. I rode along stiff as a board and taut like a spring. Fortunately I?m not quite that stupid so reasoned as follows: Ok, I have 10 miles of hilly roads to ride before I can get back to my car. My options are (a) to ask my friend to go back to his car while I wait on the side of the road and then ask him to come pick me up (absolute mortification), (b) get off and walk my bike for 10 miles (oh the cleats, and also the possibility that someone I know might drive by, or (c) shut up and ride. I chose (c). I quickly decided that if I maintain a steady pace and the best possible balance, I?d be just fine. So, I focused on the task at hand ? pedal stroke by pedal stroke, wheel turn by wheel turn. At one point I noticed that the brakes were losing some of their umph. So what, I was not speeding down hills anyway so some little squeezes on the brakes now and then got the job done. Then, tada, I realized that my tires were having zero trouble with traction! And then it happened. My friend called out to me ? ?Hey, I?m getting used to this and I actually LIKE it!? You know what? I could say the same thing. Mind you, I would not want to be on wet roads in the middle of some sort of speed event and would definitely not want to be trying to safely execute sharp turns. But for me, an everyday rider, I was doing it. Every time I go out I seem to learn something. What a bonus! Sometimes I must look for the lesson to be learned and sometimes it smacks me in the face. Last weekend I learned that I could survive some rain. The bigger lesson, however, was that, faced with a challenge, I need to calmly and rationally weigh my options, choose my approach, seek moderation, balance and diligence, and just get on with it. Once again in my car and driving home, the old tension returned as I had ?blown? my one opportunity for the week to get in my long ride. Not so! As soon as I got home, I jumped into some dry clothes and onto my Spinner® on which I did a really good 2-hour ride in appropriate Energy Zones and certainly logged my miles. ?Where there?s a will, there?s a way?? What about you? Are you experiencing similar frustrations this season? How are you handling them? It doesn?t matter if we are novice or expert, the challenges are individual anyway. Note: for my newspaper job, I recently interviewed an experienced cyclist (former Amateur racer) who said that he has reluctantly but wisely altered his plans and expectations for the upcoming Century ride ? the same one I?m training for. Because he has been unable to get outside and ride as much as usual, he is now training for the 50 mile ride. Hmmmmmm Blog posted by Linda Freeman for www.spinning.com 6/17/2011.
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