We, or at least I, have a saying: There are three types of riding – “Safe, unsafe, and stupid.”
And often the line between unsafe riding and stupid riding is blurred.
I came to Trexlertown, Pa. which is home to the famous Valley Preferred Cycling Center’s
Velodrome. It was cold (38 degrees) and windy (winds steady 30-40 mph with gusts even higher). I had budgeted time to ride before meeting my sister, Betsy
, in Allentown.
|Velodrome – All locked up
Snow was blowing. The roads were clear so the snow wasn’t sticking but it was blowing. And here in the mecca of east coast cycling, I saw no one.
I took my time. Ten minutes passed. The van was shaking from the wind and I could feel the cold air blowing in. I didn’t want to go but yet…
…I was here and it was time to MAN UP!!
Then I saw three cyclists arrive and that was my cue. If they could ride, I had no excuse. I kitted up and headed off. I had briefly thought about asking to join them but figured they were stronger than me. Plus I am nursing a torn meniscus so I didn’t need to push it to keep up.
I headed off into the wind. And it was strong. I had downloaded a ride that was on RideWithGPS.com with just the right distance (28 miles) and turns (a bunch) to be interesting. After 3-4 miles of fighting the winds I saw three cyclists coming at me and they were soft pedaling. It was the three guys that had been in the parking lot.
|Windy. And cold.
My thought only turned to how slow they were going, with the wind, and me kicking myself knowing I could stay with them. I regretted not going with them.
I then hit the open road unprotected by houses or trees; just open fields. The winds were howling. At times they were incredibly loud and other times there was an eerie silence.
Down the road a gust hit me and almost caused me to crash. I fought with both hands to steer and although I stayed upright, I had been blown across both lanes of the country road. Had another car been passing me, or another one been coming from the opposite direction, I would have been in a crash with an automobile. It was scary that I could not steer the bike in a straight line. Nor could I hear cars coming because the winds were howling so loud.
This was stupid. I guess it took me to realize that it was stupid to know that it was unsafe. And it was unsafe. At that point I decided I had to return.
I turned around determined to retrace some of my route but also to follow road signs for the shortest way back to the start. And then I discovered why my three friends were going slow even with a tail wind. They couldn’t hold their bikes in a straight line. I thought a tail wind was a reward for fighting the wind but today it was no reward.
In a year in which all my rides thus far went a minimum of 16 miles, I had to cut this off at 11 for which I was thankful. I was smart enough to park the bike knowing I can ride another day.
Now stupid riding
was yesterday. Bob Ryan
had forecast a high of 70 degrees and I came prepared for 70 degrees. It never got out of the 50s and I headed out for a ride in the pouring rain. Stupid.
I went around Hains Point and was soaked. What was the point? I hadn’t done a ride all year less than 16 miles and riding in the cold rain became a matter of pride. I couldn’t let this be the shortest ride of the year. So I suffered on.
Yesterday was stupid.
Today — today was simply unsafe. It is why it was the shortest ride of the year although in a few days when I start evening rides I will go shorter.
This area is beautiful. I would like to return some other day but without these winter winds.