Last night, it was about 60 degrees and raining. 10mph winds that were shifting direction constantly. A miserable night to ride.
Before last night, I hadn’t ridden in 11 days. I had been out of town a bit, but frankly, since Kanza, I haven’t had the fuel to ride. Ordinarily, I’d be riding 4-5 days a week. Through June, it’s been 1-2. So I knew I was going to be off my game. I knew I was going to be riding with a group of guys who were really on their game. I knew I was going to suffer.
The weather was awful, as expected. Spray from the road, pelting rain, the feeling of suffocating. Trying to breath heavily while getting sprayed with a hose of water off of the tire in front of you. The relief of reaching the front, getting out of the spray, and then realizing that you’re now facing the headwind.
I rode ok. I got dropped, a few times. I wasn’t in the money on any sprint. (I wasn’t really there for the sprints, frankly). You know how when you overcook a sausage, it stretches out the casing…and then when you cut it, as soon as the knife pierces the casing, it splits open? That’s how my legs felt…like overstuffed, overcooked sausages.
At one point, coming up to Alp D’Kalb, I was pushing as hard as I could and the main group was pulling away from me. Feller slowed down a bit and tried to pull me back on. (Feller? Seriously? When did that dude get so strong?) I was done. My calves were starting that pre-cramp twitch, my quads were burning, my lungs were burning, my eyes were watering, and my vision was narrowing down to a tiny pinhole in front of me. And I didn’t make it to join back on.
Coming back into town, I was sore. I was experiencing the dull pain of fatigue, rather than the sharp pain of a hard exertion. It sucked.
And I’m so glad I did it. I’m so glad I rode. I’m so glad it hurt–it was a reminder of the perils of not riding. It was a reminder of how good it can feel to ride well. It was a reminder of all that is good and wholesome about sprinting to the yellow sign. I was wet, sore, tired, and feeling just this side of water-boarded. And it was good. It felt like a baptism back into riding.
My desire to ride has been rekindled, borne out of suffering. Sometimes, you have to suck, to want to excel.