Sunday, March 2, 2014

The Happiness of Pursuit


The temperature was forecast to reach almost 60 degrees -- before a massive winter storm was to arrive around 4:00 p.m. I wasn't looking for a long ride but checked the Potomac Pedalers' website and found one at Brentsville that left at 11:00 a.m.  The time was 10:40 a.m.

I grabbed my stuff and jumped in the car. When I arrived the group was gone but I had wheels down at 11:10 a.m. There were cue sheets on one of the cars and I grabbed one. I saw their route and knew a shortcut that I could take and intercept them. But I decided it would be more of a challenge to chase. So I followed their exact route.

Around Mile 15 I spotted a couple of riders and slowed a little so as not to catch them. Too early for a catch. Finally at Mile 19 I caught one rider then a second. I caught the group at an intersection. And then it hit. What now? Ride with a group that was butt slow that I caught? They went straight. I went right.

I enjoyed the happiness of pursuit but like a dog, it wasn't so great once I caught them. I enjoyed the solo ride.

The temperature crashed almost at once. It went from 57 to 42 degrees almost immediately. Although it was party sunny at start, it turned gray and was getting darker. I really thought the cold rain was coming in later in the day.

I wasn't sure where I was and without the sun, my sense of direction wasn't helping. Actually it was. I have a good sense of direction which at times means that something isn't right. I sensed I was going in the wrong direction if I wanted to get back to the car quickly. My Garmin has a direction indicator and when I saw I was headed south I turned around.

At a post office and store which proudly proclaims "You Are Now in Downtown Somerville" I asked a woman for directions to Brentstown Road. Once she confirmed my directions I pedaled off and it started to rain. Cold rain. It was bouncing off my helmet. I had no jacket. I was dressed for 57 degrees.

I worried about - my phone. I even made a decision before I left home not to grab a Ziploc bag for my phone. That was a mistake. I pulled over, it was the only time other than asking the woman directions that I pulled over, and disassembled my repair kit. I keep a spare tube inside a Ziploc bag and used the bag for the phone then put the tool kit contents in my rear pocket.

For the final hour I hoped that one of the many SUVs or trucks that passed would see me riding in the rain and offer a ride. None did.

Before the roads turned wet they were a bit gritty in places. But once the rain came it was a sandy, salty mess. 

Dirty Bike safe at Home

I suffered. Greatly. Cold and wet. Numb.

I got to the car. I turned the heat on high and never turned it down.

At home, a 90 minute hot bath made everything better again. And I just rode 60 miles.

NOTE: The Happiness of Pursuit is also the title of a book by Davis Phinney detailing his cycling career and his battle with Parkinson's Disease. It is a great read and highly recommended.

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