February 14, 2011

Winter Storms. Riding Bikes.

From the windows on my second story perch, the trees danced back and forth; pushed and pulled by the twisting wind gusting off the ocean and around the cape.  Rain tickled the windows as it hit and just as quickly bounced away.  Water made patterns on the asphalt below as it danced with the wind, traveling southward, to the ocean.  It’s Saturday morning on the Oregon Coast.

The parking lot at Cape Kiwanda was vacant, not a car in sight.  The surf reflected similarities to a front loading washing machine; the kind with a window into the secrets of the wash and spin cycles.  Ben, thankfully, did not venture in to that caldron of certain death.  The walk down to the beach, clad in a full-body wetsuit with surf board tucked underarm, was treacherous enough.   More than once he was nearly thrown into a passing car as a gust of wind came and pushed him, and his board, across the white line and into the street.

The weather was not improving.  It was time to go.  Excuses were easy, but the idea of a long trainer ride in the garage below my perch was more unappealing than the alternative.  I would ride into this storm. 

Crazy, stupid, dedicated?  You pick. 

I had intervals, long ones.  They would keep me warm.  I would ride fast, get it over with.  I would ride into the wind on the way out and complete the loop with my back to the force of my least favorite element.  I would be fine.  I would only be gone for a couple of hours.  Booties, Ibex beanie, gloves, Houdini, and off I went.  In hindsight, this list should have included galoshes and waterproof coveralls, but heck, I’m tough.  It was 48 degrees…. Tropical.

The weather did not improve.  The wind howled.  The rain fell.  My shoes filled with water.  My fingers cried out, unable to shift.  The Little Nestucca River flowed high, white caps atop a normally rambling stream.  The passing cars knew little of the spray they left in their wake as they too rushed for home, seeking refugee from this storm.  Rounding a corner that would typically show off the mighty Pacific did nothing of the sort.  The dark wall of storm was all that was to been seen.

Climbing the last hill toward home, my face was blasted with skin-stinging sand.  My eyes squinted, lips pierced.  I was almost there.  There; home; to hot showers and hot chocolate and chocolate cake.  This was the kind of ride I would remember.  This was the kind of ride I would appreciate…. in October, when the rain falls and the mud flies and I am atop the Yeti cyclocross bike.  This was the kind of ride I would not repeat… until I did, on Sunday.