Slipped My Mind.

I had forgotten about the wind.
No, more likely I had just blocked the painful memories as a self-defense mechanism.
No matter what my recollection of wind was going in, it came back to remind me just how much it can affect you on a bike. We've had steady, low intensity winds recently, as the cold air off the mountains rolls down and the relatively warm afternoon air off the inlet rises. It makes for interesting rides, which often seem like there's a headwind in every direction. However, those breezes were relatively mild.
This one had the flags sticking straight out. That's one thing nice about riding on a military installation. Chances are, no matter where you are, there's a flag nearby to give you a visual indication of wind direction and intensity. All of the flags were telling me this one was going to suck.
When I got to the bike path alongside the Glenn Highway, I passed several other riders, hunkered down and suffering. I noticed they were wearing rain jackets and other flappy kit, which only magnified and extended the agony. It was a little bit chilly and overcast, but I was glad my clothing was relatively aerodynamic. I was going slow enough without a parachute. The ride down to Eagle River is usually a 30 MPH cruise, but today I was lucky to grind out 20 MPH. The wind grabbed my cheap/heavy/impractical Chinese deep-section carbon wheels and gave them a series of shakes, just to see if I was still awake. I was. By the time I got to the climbing part of the day's menu, I was cooked. I paperboy-ed my way up each pitch and dreamed of lower gears and seat tube motors.
However, today the wind was only going one direction. Eventually I got my tailwind. I was screaming down descents, only to remember that much of Eagle River's streets have not been swept yet (which I had noted on the slow ride up). I immediately tensed up, then cursed myself for the reaction. I drifted a couple switchbacks and plowed through a few gravel berms before I got my speed back in check, then wore my brakes down to the calipers during the remainder of the downhill parts. It's early May, and I want to be intact until at least mid-September.
The return ride, with the wind at my back, was a casual affair. It's was like drafting in a large peloton, hiding like a douchebag sprinter until the last few hundred meters. I was right at home. I reflected those other riders probably enjoyed their return ride as well, with their kite-kit aiding their efforts. Then it started to rain lightly, and their choice of clothing seemed slightly more justified.
That's spring in Anchorage. You ride against the wind until you get stronger or stop and take up basket weaving. Gradually the wind drops off a bit and the delusion you are improving will grow as the winds abate. Then race day comes along and you realize everyone else was fighting those same winds and you actually suck. Eventually you forget about the wind and focus on the hammering stronger riders are inflicting upon you.
Until next spring...


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