Weather has been weird around Central Texas lately. While much of the rest of the country is dealing with late winter snow, it’s been extremely dry around here, and extremely windy. I got out for a ride yesterday after work, and it was 88F! The heat gave me a headache before the 15 mile ride was over.
Quite a change from last weekend, when I went out for a group ride with some folks who are training for the Hill Country Ride for AIDS. It was cool, but not bad, and the forecast called for a cold front later in the day. Plenty of time to get in a ride before the bad weather hit. I got to the bike shop starting point in plenty of time, but it seemed that the weather was worsening by the minute. Near the appointed start time, the cold front hit — hours earlier than forecast — and brought rain.
I was about ready to call it quits before the ride started. But the rain eased up, and the wind picked up. We decided to go ahead.
The group got less than two miles from the bike shop. The north wind was howling. The leaders stopped under a bridge for a confab.
The leaders confer. Would we bail on the ride, or toughen up and go on?
We decided to go on. The wind was tough. But once we put a couple of miles behind us, we were warmed up, and suddenly, the weather wasn’t an issue anymore. It was a good ride through the city, with some decent hills to climb.
So I was looking forward to this morning’s ride. It would be with a different group — a Bike MS training ride — and would start just a mile from my house. But after the high temps of Friday — actually setting a record of 91F (32.7C) — the forecast resembled last week’s. But colder. And windier. But it was a route I wanted to ride, and I figured it would be a good opportunity for me to learn more about our upcoming Houston-to-Austin extravaganza.
This time, the forecast was right. Again, it was very tempting to forget the whole thing when I saw the conditions. But I rode over to the starting point, and riders starting dribbling in, many sharing tales of fighting the wind during their rides to the start.
However, the ride leader told us all we would abandon the planned route. The strong wind would simply make it too dangerous, because of the exposed roads we’d be riding. Instead, we would ride through the neighborhood, which iteself offers some decent hills.
The route, though on familiar streets, was one I hadn’t ridden before. Amazing how streets that seem flat in a car become a challenge on the bike. Once again, after a couple of miles, we were warmed up. The route turned onto my old standby, Mopac. On the eastbound leg, I hit a wind-assisted 35.2 mph, without much effort on my part. But turning north, the wind hit us in the face again.
Several times, I nearly lost control fighting the strong gusts (Oh, by the way, your helpful tips from a couple of weeks ago really came in handy today). I was in the small chainring, on a large cog, much of the way. Going downhill at 8, 7, even 6 mph and fighting to stay upright isn’t a lot of fun.
But we got through it without a mishap. I rode a shorter route today than I’d planned, but it felt like double the distance. If nothing else, I’ve learned over the past two weekends that skipping rides because of perceived tough conditions isn’t necessary. We’ve already got our ride planned for tomorrow. The forecast? Cold and windy. Again.