The rain broke and the sun came out. It was the first time it had stopped raining in days. I felt like one of the insects flying towards my porch light at night. I walked outside and just stood there. This was it, my chance to go for a ride.
Typically, I don’t have the luxury of riding when the weather is good. I ride when I can. Morning, night, lunch. Whenever it works with my families schedule, that’s when I go. Fair weather cycling is a totally foreign concept to me, but today, I was going to find out all about it!
I had some free time and when the sun came out, the temperature warmed up to 60 degrees (in January!) and I knew this was going to be a special ride. I imagined cruising down the road, warm and in short sleeves. I geared up as the day dreaming continued. I had planned to ride the boring trainer, but this would be 100% more fun! I was still tired after a long ride the day before, so this was going to be painful for sure. Having sun would make it tolerable.
I rolled out and not 30 seconds into my ride, I saw it. Directly west was a massive storm cloud. Ominously dark, it looked like something from a movie. My dreams of sun and warmth melted right in front of me. In a few minutes, the sun would go behind those clouds and no doubt the rain would start. I thought about turning around. I was 200m from my front door. I could just cut my losses and go ride inside on the trainer, for what would definitely be boring and a lower quality workout.
No way. I want to ride outside. Defiantly, I rode on, towards the clouds. “I’ll just ride fast,” I concluded, knowing there was no way I was outrunning a storm. But it sounded reasonable in the face of riding directly into a rainstorm despite being underdressed. But it was all I needed: a challenge.
My legs were aching as I revved things up without an appropriate warm up. I had ZERO time to waste. Churning the pedals, I mashed up each rise, and tucked on the flats to keep things as fast as humanly possible. 9 minutes in, I felt the first drops. And they were cold.
I quickly turned east, revising my route to hopefully outrun the storm. I hammered away, and the drops slowed. Phew! It was working.
No sooner had I thought that, the rain started in earnest. It wasn’t a sprinkle, just a solid, steady, hard rain. Wearing a summer jersey I was soaked immediately. But I pressed on.
If you’re going to ride in the rain and be cold, you might as well make it worth your while. So I rode harder. This was turning into a solid interval that had no end in sight as the rain kept coming down. The cold began settling in and every downhill became a battle of warmth.
Then it happened. I looked back west and saw it. Pure blue sky, headed my way fast! I couldn’t believe it! The sun would be back out in a matter of minutes! After 30 minutes of rain, I was practically overjoyed. A rainbow appeared and I stopped to take it in.
The sun warmed my cold limbs as I pedaled, now soaked to the bone. But I was happy. I made the right decision coming out. Sure the first 40 minutes were rough, but now it would be all sunshine.
So I thought.
I picked a new route and headed out of town, further from home with no way to get back quickly. Why would I need to though? The storm was gone. I rode over a bridge heading east and looked around, taking in the beauty of this January day. I happened to glance behind me and my jaw dropped. There it was, storm number two.
Now, I like to have proper expectations. It’s one of my biggest pet peeves in life, when my expectations are completely wrong. You can then imagine my surprise that having checked the weather before heading out the door (and the radar!) that I was experiencing not one, but about to be TWO, surprise storms, totally shattering my expectations and dreams!
I had a choice to make. Should I turn around and ride like a madman back home? Or should I continue my loop, and embrace what would certainly be a rough 40 minutes?
Like I talked about in the first part of this little series, You Have to Want It, no amount of reason or logic could have persuaded me to seal my fate of getting nailed by a second storm. That’s the type of decision that comes from the bigger picture, the long term goals, deep rooted determination to accomplish something at all costs.
I know what I WANT my fitness to look like come race season. And I know that while turning around wouldn’t likely effect that fitness much at all, it would certainly make me more comfortable with quitting, giving up, and not embracing future challenges fully. Giving up on a challenge today would mean that giving up tomorrow would be easier, and come race day, irresistible. I want to be mentally tough, and I want that badly. So I rode on, away from home.
I was getting cold. The new storm was pushing in a cold front and the temperature was plummeting. As I hit my turn around point, a headwind kicked up, and my muscles started getting stiff. Then the rain started again, but much harder than the first storm. I pushed as hard as I could, but the cold was taking its toll. Shifting was becoming tricky as the torrential downpour continued. Every inch of me was soaked again. Opportunities to stop and take cover started appearing but that wasn’t the point of being out here. I pushed and pushed into the wind; it felt like I was barely moving. The last climb came into view and I smashed it with all I had left. Looks from people in the passing cars confirmed I had made the right choice.
Want is a powerful tool. It can drive us into places we would never normally go. Next time you find yourself saying “I could never,” ask yourself honestly, how much do you want it? Because if you don’t want it enough, you’re right, you will never be able to do it. Inject that same idea with a deep rooted drive to do it no matter what, and you’ll be surprised just how much you can do.