Saturday - The weather was tough for bike riding on Saturday. Early morning downpour followed by wind and intermittent rain for the remainder of the day. Due to work and kids I rode by myself.
The primary thing of note on this ride was the wind. I usually like riding in the wind because I am large enough that my power is somewhat effective against the wind, whereas anything uphill becomes power-to-weight. I lose on this scale. On Saturday though, the wind was blowing hard enough that there wasn't any sense of "pushing" against the wind. Instead, the overall effect was "why have my legs abandoned me?" I know that rationally I would have been able to deduce the impact of the wind. I could look around and see trees, grass, occasional flags, or whatever blowing straight back at me. Instead of taking "comfort" from this, as in, "oh, the wind is blowing like a __itch, so I guess I'll just slog along", instead there was a veritable chorus of "you can't ride a bike!", "you have no legs!", "why don't you just put the bike away and focus on your other hobbies, like drinking beer?" that were all I could hear in my head. I should have known better, since this was one of those days when even downhill into the wind I had to pedal. No coasting without slowing to a virtual stop.
Nonetheless, I made my way out to the Valley Chapel hill and took a very slow, extended trip up that sucker. As I was contemplating my lack of cycling ability and my corresponding lack of value as a human (these things correspond when you are beat down on a bike, right?), I decided that I had tortured myself enough and it was time to head back into town. I stopped pedaling and the wind brought me almost to a stop as I looked over my shoulder to make sure I could cross the road and head back. As I turned, I was suddenly struck by how quiet it was. I was amazed at the way the cacophony of noise that was failing to silence my depressive thoughts was just gone. Nothing. Moments after I made my turn-around, the very slight slope had quickly caused me to pick up my pace. As I started to roll along the Palouse rollers back to the top of the V-C hill, I found myself shifting through my gears to something bigger and bigger. Uphill, downhill, didn't matter, I was eating up gears and gaining speed. I shifted into my biggest gear before the top of the hill, coasted down for a number of minutes and then stayed in my biggest gear for a total of 18 minutes. I don't know whether that strikes you as much, but for me, it was a source of the divine spark. It turns out I CAN RIDE A BIKE! Yes, sir! As long as I have a howling wind at my back and a downhill slope I can go on forever!
I was still a pile of mud when I got to the soccer field to watch my son's game, but as I stood in the wind on the sidelines, I realized that it wasn't a good wind or a bad wind, but just a question of which direction you were going.
Sunday - I am looking out for the Cycling Spokane blog on the Paris-Roubaix ride and fundraiser, or the Pedals2People official take on the happenings, but let me add just a brief comment (yes, I can be brief).
11 am - Pulled up to the Sandifur Bridge. Under-dressed and no rain gear. Sky: dark and threatening. Two others were waiting. John Speare, local cycling spiritual leader, had set a 24-mile route to give us our own taste of dirt and mud to get ready to watch Paris-Roubaix.
11.15 am - We headed uphill to join the Fish Lake trail. The non-John Speare rider called out that the pace was a bit high for the first ride of the year and he would just meet us at the Steam Plant Grill. I wanted to go with him, but I felt obliged to keep up with JS.
11.30 am - We were still riding uphill.
11.35 am - We turned uphill from our current hill to follow an unholy triumvirate of Scribner, Jensen and Goss roads. All dirt, gravel, uphill and occassional snapping of dogs (all behind fences, this time).
11.45 am - At this point, it was clear that this was the perfect P-R ride. The worse the road was, the farther JS pulled away from me. I was Hincapie to his Boonen.
11.50 am - JS tells me that the ride from this point on is paved roads and downhill.
11.52 am - We take a right turn onto a dirt road. JS has lost his credibility.
12.00 pm - We finally have covered our last of the dirt and start the long haul along Cedar. The wind is finally behind us, pavement is below us, the dogs are still separated from us and I feel okay. JS reminds me that the drop down Cedar hill is one of the best in town. He is right.
12.30 pm - We make it to the Steam Plant Grill ahead of schedule. I am tired but very happy that we didn't get more than a few rain sprinkles on us, I mostly kept up on the dirt and didn't embarrass myself by falling off or flatting with inappropriate equipment.
1.00 pm - People start to roll into the Steam Plant Grill to eat and drink beer. A mix of Pedals2People supporters, FBC riders, racers, Bike To Work types, and others all helped to fill up the lower level and stake out spots in front of the seven televisions, all tuned to the race.
2.00 pm - Paris-Roubaix coverage starts. A hush falls over the crowd. Not really.
3.00 pm - P-R starts to get serious.
3.15 pm - To my disappointment, Big George Hincapie falls out of contention. To my younger son's, Fabian Cancellara does shortly thereafter.
3.45 pm - Tornado Tom does it again.
4.00 pm - After an excellent Scottish Ale, an IPA, and a bacon-cheddar burger to make sure that I can't keep up on the next hill, we are ready to call it day. Pedals2People collected some funds, the rest of us had fun, and everyone who didn't have to mount a bike to ride home in the rain storm waiting outside was gratified.
Thanks to everyone who turned out for the P2P P-R fundraiser at the SPG. Let's do it again next year.