Sunday was a fantastic ride! Okay, it's already apparent what time of year is my favorite: I think more than anything, I thrive on a feeling of having accomplished something extraordinary: while most riders have hung it up for the year, waiting for that next 70º weekend forecast to come out, Krishna, Akil and I met up at 7:00AM in the stinging rain and blustery, 20 MPH south winds of a 50º morning for a 50-mile ride. Call me crazy - call me insane -- but THAT, my friends, is love. Don't get me wrong; I really enjoy the 80º, sunny days with tailwinds and pacelines just like everyone else -- but it's almost, dare I say it, too easy! The rainy, 50º mornings??? NOBODY likes that crap! After polishing off a ride like that, I truly feel alive, like I accomplished something or beat some kind of 'odds'.
We took off from the parking lot, into the gale and rain, jackets flapping like angry flags. Making matters more intense, the entire first leg of the ride was INTO the 20 MPH wind -- it eventually took us three hours to reach our turn-around, and less than half that for the return. On the way, however, we were rewarded -- as the sun rose higher, the clouds began to part, and the rain slowed -- eventually, the skies were alive with birds and a piercing blue hue - the sun broke through, and the harsh wind slowed slightly into a warming breeze. Trees were alive with color against the ocean of sky, and the road seemed to ease up a little under our tires. Before long, we were at the Cidermill, sipping on hot apple goodness, and taking in a few donuts.
PURE HEAVEN. Nothing else tastes quite as sweet as good food earned in sweat and toil.
I packed a half-dozen more donuts into the saddlebag for the wife and kids, and poured the rest of the warm cider into my waterbottle, and we three were ready for our return. The sun was getting higher, the roads nearly dry, and the breeze was relentless - still from the south - perfect!
After a little harrowing cross-wind action on K-68, we were back on the safer secondary roads -- which reminds me that not all good riding HAS to be paved. A spark that was originally captured by Ort and I back in early July has me wondering if there is a better, if not harder, way to get to the Cidermill -- this highway stuff is for brevets. Anyways, making excellent time, we flew north with the stiff tailwind, and with good food in our guts and smiles on our faces, we shed layers and spun away the last few miles at a very relaxed effort.
It was perfection -- nature's reward for tenacity in the form of a postcard perfect cycling day. Next time you stand at the precipice of your garage staring out into the gloom, remember: it's probably going to be worth it. It was cold, wet, harsh, and arduous for the first 1/3rd of the ride, but the reward, and riding along as the very skies transformed above us, was magical.
Man -- fall cycling is the BEST, and I'll probably remember this ride for a long, long time...