Abandoning the Ride

6:06 AM

Yesterday I abandoned my ride.  I pulled off to the side, threw up my arm, and waited for the dust wagon to come and pick me up.  Holding back tears as the race director tore my number from my jersey, I hung my head away from the snapping photographers.

…Um, no, I actually called the spouse while shivering in the Freewheel bike shop at the Mid-Town Global Market. 

Sometimes it is amazing – the speed at which a workout can go from good, to bad, to downright scary.  On the drive home from work yesterday, I suddenly realized that an outside ride was a definite possibility: the temperature had hit 38 (definitely within my newly-defined, cold weather riding boundaries), the flags I saw were listlessly floating from what appeared to be a weak west wind, and sunset was well over two hours away.  The weather report had already told me that there would be no outside riding this weekend, so I rushed to gather my gear and called to the spouse that I would try for 1 ½ to 2 hours as I went out the door.

The wind was the first surprise, as I began my westerly out-and-back ride on the Greenway.  It was most definitely not listless, but rather strong and steady.  No problem, it was still warm, so I moved into my drops and pedaled away.  As I neared my turn-around for a 90-minute ride, I started to get greedy.  The wind was taking it out of me, but if I pushed on for 15 more minutes, it would add 30 to the total and I could get a full two hours.  Two hours on a day when I originally thought I would struggle through a 60-minute spinner workout!

When I did finally turn, I began to notice that I was a bit cold.  All my hard work pushing into the wind kept me warm – so warm that I built up a sweat.  I have amazing gear – wonderful Craft base layers that wick sweat away quickly.  Unfortunately, I’ve never found a sports bra that can do the same, so now there was this clammy band around my chest, and it was starting to spread a bitter cold.  I realized my hands were no longer warm under three layers of gloves, and worry crept into my consciousness.  I have Raynaud’s, so when my hands painfully turn, they don’t come back without intense intervention.  I pulled over and got out two packets of hand-warmers and busted them open. 

It was at this point, standing on the side of the trail and praying that my hands were salvageable, that I became very aware of how far one can get from home on a bike ride.  I did the math in my head – times and distances from home, and places I could stop between.  The bike shop was 10 minutes away, maybe if I made it there I could recover my hands in a warm place before pushing on home.  The dozen minutes it took me to get to Freewheel were awful, as I tried to manage the bike while also gripping the warmers to get some feeling back. 

At Freewheel I frantically windmilled my arms and sandwiched my fingers between the warmers, but I knew it was futile.  I jealously watched as bikers dropped in to the shop from the Greenway – all looking comfortable in their gear, with fully functioning hands.  Some people are able to take the cold, I am just not one of them.  So I pulled out my remaining remedy – the cell phone – and called the spouse.  

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