Internal Detours
Saturday, February 04, 2006
  A windy Saturday

Today's club ride didn't go quite as planned. It rained until maybe an hour before the ride was scheduled to start. The forecast called for 18-20 mph winds, so I rode Stripe the Mercian Colorado in all his fenderless glory. Unfortunately, I went downtown without a windbreaker or full gloves, trusting to a longsleeved wool undershirt and the classic crochet back cycling gloves. Bad move. We were late getting away from the fountain, giving me time to chill down dramatically. Halfway down the rail-trail conversion, I bailed out and went home to add clothes.

It was a shame, really. Speedy Young Zac was with us, fighting off some nasty respiratory junk, and the opportunity to be on a ride with someone coughing up blood should not be missed, if only for its story-telling potential, but my fingers were turning blue, so there you go.

About 20 minutes later I was back where I'd left them, grateful for warm gloves and amused that the sun had broken through the clouds. I pointed Stripe towards Ninety Six, taking what is normally the return route in hopes of intersecting my buddies. The wind was at my back, and I shifted up onto the big chain ring and spun along in the mid-20s. I was struck once again by how well-mannered the old Mercian is at speed.

The favorable wind and the (for me) big gear drove the old racing bike along like a bomb down the length of the old Ninety Six highway and along Lebanon Church road. No sign of the crew, so I turned left and headed for town. Going past the old Star Fort course, I saw golfers staring at me. I couldn't decide which of us were dumber to be out in the wind, and kept rolling.

No sign of other riders at the 3-way stop, so I kept rolling. The wind was quartering now, still at my back, but sweeping right to left and carrying my scent away from the dogs that live along the main drag. I rolled along to where Scotch Cross road finally dead ends into Highway 246 at the Hardee's. No sign of anyone, so I turned and headed back.

Immediately, I was down in the drops and shifting onto the small chainring, grateful I'd ridden gears. My speed dropped rapidly - but I kept rolling along. I could remember a time when this wind would have had me gasping for breath. Today, I just dug in and kept going.

I came back in the way I went out, just a lot slower. Every so often the winds would slacken, only to come roaring back. When I made the turn back onto the rail-trail, I was finally sheltered by the trees and rode along taking it easy, glad not to be buffeted about.

I never did catch up with my buddies, but I did manage to get in 33.5 miles.
 
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