Monday, September 1, 2008

snowtoja practice

alternate titles for this piece:

the wicked wind of the north
goosebumps on my sunburn, or, welcome to utah
sun and moon and rain
timing is everything
on toe covers and full gloves

lotoja is not a weather-dependent race: it happens no matter what the weather decides to do that day. a few years ago, the weather decided on a dramatic showing full of wind, cold, and snow, and thus the event that year was nicknamed "snowtoja." many cyclists had to quit before the end, and I've heard stories of those being pulled off the course, off their bikes, and treated for hypothermia. finish times were much longer than other years, and all in all, it sounds like an absolutely miserable day. to me, that is.

today I did some snowtoja training. it wasn't my intention, at all. I naively thought I could sneak a little ride in before the rain, and I was wrong. but being the determined, tenacious soul I am, I stuck it out. for a whole hour, for 17 entire miles. that would be about 8 percent of lotoja's distance . . .

at 9 this morning I was ready to ride. I'd slept in, had coffee and reading time, and now was ready for a 30-miler, up emigration and then probably down to mountain dell golf course and back. I had my new, long-sleeved cozy jersey on, capris because it was semi-cold, toe covers and full gloves and my bright neon wind jacket. I had two water bottles in my cages, and my sunglasses, and was ready to roll when I opened the garage door.

then a little brown spot appeared on my driveway, and then, another. spaced widely apart, they were friendly little things, soon joined by another a good three feet away.
I looked up into the sky, and saw gray. and more gray. and then, over there, more gray.
so I hopped on my bike, zeroed out my odometer and set off. I studied the clouds as I took off down the street, and they looked most threatening to the north. okay, well, I had decided I really didn't want to do city creek canyon anyway. the west looked ominous, too, but I never ride off to the west. safe there. south looked okay, but I really didn't want to go south.
east, now east, that was almost looking good. I could see pale blue sky, white clouds, and even some sunshine peaking through. east was good.
by this time I was close to foothill, heading up to wasatch drive. and emigration was looking, well, almost clear. and possibly even nice up there, and I bet the threatening, ugly dark gray clouds were just going to hang heavily in the valley. I would be fine, as long as I kept heading east.


I did think that perhaps I should have checked the weather site a little more closely, possibly even looking to see which way the wind was blowing, and how the storm was moving through.

but I kept pedaling up the canyon, thinking how nice it was that I wasn't facing the huge headwind I usually do heading up. I was even sweating a bit, and thinking that it was colder at my house than it was up the canyon. I also noticed that my "clear to the east" observation had been accurate, but that it seemed to keep moving further and further to the east, and no matter how hard I pedaled I wasn't getting one bit closer to the clear part.

and then it started to sprinkle. which is just fine with me.
and then it started to rain. which is fun, refreshing.
and then it started to dump water in bucketfuls from the sky. which is no longer really fine or fun, and I really don't need to be refreshed anymore.

I reached the Sun and Moon cafe, and decided I'd better turn around. I'm all for fun and adventure and new experiences (see august 9, and "drowned rat at brighton" photo), but this appeared to possibly be crossing the line over into stupidity. glasses off, phone re-tucked into semi-dry pocket, I headed down the hill.
ow. (rain pellets striking my cheeks)
brrr. (everywhere)
slosh. (the sound of my feet in the swimming pools that were my shoes)

I am devastated, of course, to know I won't get my 30 miles in. or even a very long workout. so I decide I will ride for an hour, no matter what. which means when I get down to the mouth of the canyon I will hop on wasatch and ride south for a little bit. in the rain. with my soaking wet gloves, feet, pants, helmet, hair, face . . .
are you questioning my sanity?
I kept thinking of those people who rode lotoja three years ago, who stuck it out for as long as they could, some until the end. here I was, 50 minutes into a slightly uncomfortable ride, complaining to myself about 10 more minutes? I don't think so.
and I was really okay with it all, until I turned around to head toward home, and faced the wicked wind of the north. ARGH! I pushed and fought, water pelting me, puddles kicking back at my feet, wind wrapping itself around my soaking form and whispering "you're cold and miserable susan, you're wet and only 55 minutes into a wimpy ride." where's dorothy's flying house when you need it?

I made it home, where I managed to peel off my 10-pounds worth of cycling clothing in the laundry room, where they are still making a dirty puddle on the linoleum. my shoes may not dry out until wednesday.

so, as I sit here and type, I watch the gray sky just sitting there, having released its heavy burden. the ground is wet, but the wind has stilled and no rain is falling to earth.

timing is everything.

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