The wind is not my friend: TOSRV 2009

I know it’s a great source of natural energy and, as a liberal, it is my duty to praise it for its promise of green energy. I’ve even contemplated buying wind energy as part of my electric mix. However, I wish the wind would blow in lands I’m not destined to pedal amongst. Like Siberia. Or Antartica. Contrary to certain proclamation I made in college, the wind is NOT my friend. We have parted ways. I no longer have any desire to show my love for the wind.

Yeah. Well, at least it didn’t rain. There’s always that. Saturday’s clouds threatened to deluge us with rain, but nothing ever happened, thankfully. You know why it didn’t rain? I brough a rain coat, that’s why. Though, maybe I would have traded some wind for a windless rain.

I’ve now experienced a windy TOSRV (this year) and a rainy TOSRV (last year). I guess I can claim my TOSRV balls now. I’ve now ridden 420 miles in less than desirable conditions. Yay.

Really, it wasn’t all as bad as it sounds. I still managed to have a fun time. Unfortunately, I was forced to draft, which I hate doing, to survive the wall of wind on Saturday–25-30mph SSW winds that were pretty relentless all the way to Portsmouth. We got some relief for a period of time after Chillicothe to the infamous School House hill where, once we reached the top, we were again attacked by wind gusts all the way to Waverly/Lake White (the last stop before Portsmouth). Fortunately, the downhill trending ride to Portsmouth was mostly protected by the Scioto River valley, except in a few exposed areas. Thank goodness for this or we would have really suffered long.

The sun also broke through the last leg of our Saturday journey and really made the trek into Portsmouth, as well as the party at Tracy Park, very welcoming. We relaxed for about an hour at Tracy Park, talking with fellow ABCers, and enjoyed a beer and a hot dog. I met one of the people who has commented on my blog–bAD dOG–who, I learned, is a member of the famous partying group known as the Polka Dots. He handed me a Bud Lite–free beer makes you an instant friend of mine–and told me to buy the Surly I’ve been drooling over. Don’t tell the guys at CC, but the best way to get me to buy anything is ply me with a few beers. My judicious frugality goes out the window when I’m intoxicated. This has resulted in a few late night purchases via the internet. Dangerous!

Fortunately, Michael and I–unlike many of our fellow riders–had a coveted room at the Ramada Inn. So we did not have to sleep on the gym floor. Unfortunately, we weren’t aware that the co-ed gym we signed up for as our back up plan was located at the Life Center at the top of a steep hill which we had to climb to get to our luggage. Which was no fun to climb after a beer and an hour of rest. Further unfortunately, I stupidly put my clothes in a gym bag instead of a back pack. So had to loop the handles around my shoulders (fortunately it fit) to make it a backpack. The ride from the Life Center to the Ramada was unbalanced, making me nervous. I chastised myself for my stupidity the whole way.

Once checked in, our first activity was a visit to the hot tub located by the pool. Aaaahhh… refreshing to painfully sore muscles. We met a few other riders in the tub, one woman whom Michael had met last year in the hot tub while I simpered in the hotel room because I’d forgotten my swim suit. We chatted about the ride, traded stories, and reveled in the fact that we had hotel rooms instead of sleeping on the gym floor with the rest of the suckas. Ironically, the name of the woman at the Ramada who is in charge of finding rooms for TOSRV riders is named Angel. We all generally agreed that she was our personal angel of mercy.

After the hot tub, we showered and headed for dinner at Damon’s, which is mercifully attached to the hotel. I know there are lots of all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinners for just $10 to enjoy at the local churches in town, but it’s so much easier to just go to the restaurant attached to the hotel. And I wasn’t too interested in spaghetti being that we’d had Italian on Friday night at an Olive Garden in Columbus. My goal was not to gain weight on this ride. Instead, at Damon’s, I enjoyed a salmon skillet and, of course, a glass of wine–Pinot Grigio since I was in the mood for cold drinks. I also downed an entire glass of water in about five minutes.

Just like last year, I pretty much crashed halfway through dinner and could barely finish my glass of wine. We went back up to the hotel room where I conked out within a half hour of brushing my teeth. The last time I remember is 9:30. I had the dreamless sleep of the dead and woke up at what seemed like just a moment later at 5:30am. So much for a Saturday night, eh?

The second day is always harder than the first. It’s hard to motivate yourself to get up and ride another 100+ miles, especially when you’re aware of the fact that the damned winds changed direction–of course, north, the direction in which we were headed (God has a sick sense of humor). It was a chilly morning of about 47 degrees so I had to don the arm warmers and tights. I was also glad I’d brought a fleece jacket even though I knew it would be a pain to crunch up and stuff in my rack pack (fleece does not compact well).

We cheated by dropping our luggage off at the Portsmouth High School instead of dragging it back up the hill to the Life Center, figuring all the luggage was going to the same place (the Hilton in Columbus). Then, we set off into the foggy morning around 7am.

I immediately felt strong climbing back out of Portsmouth. Again, we were shielded mostly from any wind in this valley and perhaps, also, the wind hadn’t really started for the day. We were flying along the first 30 miles to Waverly/Lake White and I felt pretty good. By Waverly, I was able to remove my jacket. I left the arm warmers on all the way to Circleville where my freeze-baby nature finally warmed enough despite the chilly air.

Waverly to Chillicothe was windy. The weather claimed the wind speed was 5-10mph. Michael and I believe it was more like 10-15mph. It was pretty tough and we didn’t seem to have much protection from it during any stretch of this leg. It seemed like there was a lot of uphill climbing in the wind.

Nothing was as bad, however, as the stretch of State Route 104 between Chillicothe and Circleville. This is a pretty exposed area and probably the most trafficked segment of TOSRV. It was rough and my legs were starting to really feel the strain of the ride. Michael had to pull me mostly on this leg, which I guess makes up for me pulling the last several miles into Waverly earlier, but I still felt guilty like I was somehow cheating. Somewhere along this stretch I started wishing I were done. Which made the rest of the ride a bit torturous. But then, pushing myself through this kind of thing is why I like the challenge of riding. So I guess I really can’t complain too much. If it were easy, I wouldn’t enjoy it as much. If that makes any sense. (I think that’s why I love hills.)

Of course, nothing is as bad as the last 30 miles back to Columbus from Circleville. I started checking my mileage about every five minutes, which was totally demoralizing. I know I’m tired of riding when my eyes keep drifting downwards to the computer. It seemed like getting from 62 miles–when I first started checking–to 90 took forever. At 95 miles, we rested at small pit stop along one of the last country roads. It sucked to know that we really had about 10 miles left. The second day, as I said, is always the worst.

During the last few miles into Columbus, I had one near accident on a side street where a bunch of kids were playing basketball. Yes, in the street. Of course, since I was merely an nonthreatening bicyclist, they continued playing (which they wouldn’t do in front of a car, most likely), and, of course, the ball bounced out of control, across the street, missing Michael who was ahead of me, but crossing directly into my path. Had I not been the nervous cyclist I am–always prepared for disaster in my post-traumatic stress from the infamous Dog Incident–I might have hit the ball, or one of the kids who came running after it, or both, and gone down. I’ve really improved my reflexes for, in one fluid movement, I unclipped my left (favored) foot from the pedal and pulled the brakes hard to stop right in front of the kid who grabbed my handlebars. We were that close.

“Sorry, sorry, my brother is stupid,” the kid sneered, half-sincerely. I wanted to slap his little snotty face around. I said nothing to him, didn’t even grunt, looked straight ahead and pushed on. I felt like crying for a moment because at about 100 miles, I was in no mood for near-accidents or stupid kids with no respect for the cyclists that were surely going down their street pretty regularly. I wonder if any other cyclists had to make a quick dismount due to this particular obstacle. I swear, I’m never reproducing and this is just further proof of why I shouldn’t.

Anyway, I cooled down when we turned down the next street and found ourselves facing the tall buildings of downtown Columbus looming ahead. Almost to the Promised Land, nothing could bring me down now. Not even the idiot cyclists who decided to run the last several red lights. Evolution will weed them out eventually, I figure. I tried not to think anymore about how their blatant defiance of traffic laws reflect badly on all of us (I saw lots of entitled abuse of traffic laws throughout the ride, so at this point nothing was surprising me anymore).

When Michael and I rolled past the corner near the statehouse, we congratulated ourselves for another successful TOSRV. It was a proud moment for me to complete my second TOSRV; this was Michael’s sixth successful completion as well. But I think both of us were just happy to get off our bikes. Michael bragged he could still have ridden 20 miles. I admitted that I could if I had to. But I had no such desire. In fact, I decided, I was done with my bike for at least a couple of days. (Although, I think I am ready to ride again tonight.)

I took yesterday off work and did absolutely nothing. Well, not nothing. Michael and I went out to see the new Star Trek. I won’t even go there. I’m a bit disgruntled about the movie, though I did find the new Dr. McCoy very scrumptious. The guy playing him was pretty dead-on with his impersonation of DeForest Kelley’s McCoy so I loved him all the more. However, the plot… eh. Maybe I’ll bitch about it in a later entry. It’s hardly worth it though. I vented on Facebook and I think I’m done. Just as I’m done with bitching about TOSRV’s wind. I still completed it so I must be unstoppable. Or stupid.

No, no, don’t get me wrong. I had a lot of fun. I’ll probably do the ride again next year. There’s an excitement on this ride, a feeling of tradition, that you just help but throw yourself into. And, anyway, when registration opens in January and I haven’t ridden in months, TOSRV sounds exceptionally fun, despite whatever weather you think you’re going to encounter. It is a fun ride. The volunteers are top-notch and cheery. It’s a well run ride. Sometimes the smile or the wave of a volunteer is enough to pull you through the next several miles.

I think, though, after riding 100 miles on Saturday and realizing how much it knocks me out, I won’t be taking the 100 mile option on any of the days it’s offered on XOBA. I’ll never make it through the week if I do…

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6 thoughts on “The wind is not my friend: TOSRV 2009

  1. 18 miles of headwinds on Sunday with the Toledoans were enough for me. (The tailwind home was great, though!) Congrats on finishing TOSRV.

  2. My, My. I am in the Portsmouth newspaper, on the radio AND on mARS gIRLS blog. I am so honored.
    Should you wish to try a Surly or a Gunnar CrossCheck (52cm frames)on something more than around the bike shop, just say the word.

  3. I only have a bike that I got on my birthday in 1985, and when I ride it 30 yards I start gasping like Homer Simpson, but I wanted to join in on the wind-dogpile. I hate the wind, too. The wind BLOWS. It’s dumb. I detest the wind so much, I don’t even WANT its energy. In fact, if I could, I’d like to have a reverse windmill that ran on the most inefficient motor ever AGAINST the wind. Just to show the wind. The wind always tears important papers and receipts out of my hand in public, and makes me look stupid trying to pick it up– and right when I can almost touch the paper– there it goes again! Facedown into a puddle. If I try to rake up stuff on the ground? You guessed it. Here comes the wind! Scatter it everywhere, wind! Who cares? I mean, even Bob Dylan thought the wind was idiot. Enough said.

  4. bAD dOG, yep, all it takes is free beer to get a mention on the blog. ;)

    What was it you were saying I should get? You were mumbling something, I think about crank sizes…

  5. Long and short of gearing. Unless you plane to race, a stock triple for the Surly will give you gears that suck if you ride dirt. Both my Gunnar and Surly have a top end a good 20% lower than anything with a stock triple, and I still have never used high gear. Spend a bit of extra money and get gears you will actually use. bAD dOG can be found at gumbycycling@juno.com, the corner bar or watching Family Guy on Sunday nights.

  6. Thanks, bAD dOG. Now I’m back to obsessing about the Surly… =) I am tempted to drop that college course I was going to take and get one the Surly instead. Who needs school anyway? ;) My current job gives me enough money to buy new bikes!

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