“Into every life some rain must fall.”Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.
A few years ago my tri-training buddy and I decided to start looking for supported rides while we were getting ready for an Ironman. We thought that the group rides might be a safer way to get our miles in. Also, the food was usually good, porta potties were in abundance, and we didn’t have to think too much about the routes.
I signed up early this year for the RSVP, an annual event sponsored by the Cascade Bicycle Club. This ride starts bright and early at the University of Washington. The first day is a 106 mile trek to Bellingham. The second day covers 80 miles and crosses over into Canada, ending at the incredible David Lam Park in Vancouver, BC.
This is how the first day went. We woke up at 3:30 a.m. (meaning 2 am waiting for the alarm to go off) for a 6 a.m. start. Around mile 12 we watched a cyclist get hit by a car. Thankfully, there was a doctor and a nurse riding nearby. The rider was conscious and an ambulance was on the site within about 15 minutes. It sounded like a broken shoulder. Prayers to him and his family. This was terrifying. After pulling it together from witnessing the accident, it started raining at about mile 50.
I admit that I had to think through this one. The weather app said 10% chance of rain. In Oregon this is usually a sunny day with blue skies. I was not prepared for rain in the least and chilled to the bone on this 59 degree August day. As I was riding along, I started trying to distract myself by thinking of quotes or songs that involved rain;
“Raindrops keep falling on my head.”
“I am the rain king.”
“Rain rain go away. Come back another day.”
“I wanna know…have you ever seen the rain?”
In between my mental gymnastics, I wondered if my brakes would work if I had to stop quickly. Would my thin wheels slide out from underneath me on the wet pavement? Maybe I would start mountain biking again if I made it safely to the end of this one. I was not amused. Water soaked my socks and spewed up from the rear wheel in uncomfortable back of my shorts places. Cars sprayed cyclists with wet road soot everytime they passed. As the water dripped down my back, I wondered why I keep doing these things.
At the end of day 1, my friend’s amazing uncle took us to dinner. He graciously provided support for us on the first leg of this trip by transporting baggage, making dinner reservations and cheering us on. Such a relief to get a hot shower and a huge dinner with some great wine.
Day 2 was a different ball game altogether. A good night sleeping, a ton of food, and warmer weather changed everything. I was feeling better but still having some nagging thoughts about why I keep putting myself through these paces. Yesterday was intense and my butt did not feel good about my bike seat.
I had some time today to contemplate the reasons why I do endurance sports. Maybe it is for that reason. Because I have time to contemplate. I don’t think that’s it. I have a story to tell. No, but that’s cool. Comradery, adventure, staying in shape? I came up with “because I can.” That’s actually true. I do this because I can. I don’t always know that I can. There are a lot of times when I’m scared, tired or uncertain and I make it. I didn’t know that I could do a triathlon or ride my bike 180 miles in two days 5 years ago, but now that I have started I never want to stop.
- If the weather forecast says that there is a chance of rain then it might rain.
- I do this because I can and it helps me believe that I can do more.
- Cold weather happens in August.
- The Canadian border is easily crossed on a bike and Canada is a beautiful bike-friendly place.