The Answer My Friend.

Elmendorf Air Force Base and Fort Richardson (I'm too old and cranky to adopt Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson) sit between the Chugach Mountains and the Cook Inlet. Warm air rises off the inlet and cold air rolls off the mountains, which is funneled at ground level by the trees and terrain, so chances are you'll have wind in your face no matter where you're headed. The wind seems worse in the spring. Maybe it's because the temperature differentials between the snow-covered mountains and the sun-warmed(ish) water are greater. Maybe it's because it's just colder than during the summer. Maybe it's because I have the great sense to ride at the times when the winds are the highest. Maybe it's because I'm shocked by any wind in my face that isn't generated by a fan after a winter in the trainer dungeon. Maybe I'm just too feeble to fight the gentle breezes.
 
Yesterday I caught as much of a break as I could possible hope for.
 
I rolled out of the parking lot into a headwind. I tried to make my aerodynamic profile as small as possible, folding my fat rolls into a makeshift wind fairing, and started grinding away. Every once in a while a gust would try to knock me off course, but the one advantage of carrying all of this extra weight is that I create my own gravitational field. I concentrate on compacting the fat rolls on my neck so I can look ahead, breathing deeply, and generally keeping myself moving forward. Don't look at the speed, because that's just depressing. Try to keep the power level measured and relatively stable, even if it isn't impressive. Don't blow up. Look for any little bit shelter from the wind- trees, buildings, passing black-smoke-belching diesels... Any port in a storm.
 
I reached the turnaround point well off my average time and far more fatigued than usual. Finished with fighting the wind off the mountains, I girded my shriveled old man loins for battle with the wind off of the inlet. Imagine my surprise when it didn't materialize. The second half of my ride was all tailwinds (with occasional crosswinds). Soon I cruising along at more than respectable speeds. My spirits boosted, my power levels increased. When I needed the additional power the least, I suddenly found reserves. For the first time in a while, I felt good on the bike.
 
I know it was an illusion, an artificially-enhanced sensation of strength, but right now I need those moments of suspended disbelief. I need a boost to the mental game so I can attack the intervals and weight-loss with a sense that it all might mean something. Even though it means nothing. Self-delusion is a powerful tool.
 
Perhaps the answer to finding my mojo again is blowing in the wind. As long as that wind is blowing in the right direction.

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