In the spring, I ride with a subset of people from the Lake Erie Wheelers. Starting as early as February, our fearless leader Eric organizes century rides (for noncyslists: 100+ miles rides) every Saturday that range from flat to rolling to somewhat hilly as preparation for his two favorite events: Calvin's 12 Hour Challenge and the National 24 Hour Challenge. Eric's rides typically start in February while I am still coaching so I was pumped that I had the first weekend in February free of tournaments that I could actually ride! To say I was excited is an understatement.
As a debate parent predicted to me, the weather was not as forecasted and was definitely not ideal, as I woke up, I went through all of my organization, put on my 4 shirts, my riding jacket, my two pairs of socks, made sure I had my gloves, my shoe booties, my two bandanas for my head and headed out the door to discover an inch of snow. What?!?!? I felt sick to my stomach, how could this have happened? I sent Eric a text and asked if it was snowing there, and he said that there was no snow there and that the ride was still a go. Okay, I thought, and I decided that I might as well go up and ride. I have ridden in some bad conditions, how bad could it be? Never a good thought, just never!
I pulled up to Eric's house, and as I got out of my car, a driver pulled up next to me to say, "Your rear right tire is low." Sure enough, as I looked at it, the tire was low and steaming. Someone later explained to me that the reduced air pressure increases the friction when it is making contact with the road, causing the steam. I called my mom, and she suggested to call my roadside, which I did and scheduled an appointment for them to come at 2:30 (when I thought would be finished riding).
As I rushed to get out the door at home, I forgot one of the "must haves" for me for cycling... my helmet. During the season, I never take my helmet out of the car. It and my air pump get used every ride, then go back in the car and do not leave. But, in my rush to get moving, I forgot to grab the helmet out of my bike room. While I know others who ride without one, you will never see me riding sans helmet unless I am on the trainer or the rollers. Fortunately, Eric had an old one that he let me borrow. It wasn't the greatest helmet, but it looked like it could handle the job.
Now, while there was no snow in Berea, but that didn't mean it wasn't cold and wet. As we started to ride, I got warmed up as I normally do, but was struggling to see out of my foggy glasses. I could see well enough so I didn't let it get to me, but I was starting to wonder if the foggy glasses were causing the problem or something else as I could barely read my computer. Seriously, enough hasn't gone wrong that my bike computer now has to stop working? Sure enough, 25 minutes into the ride, my computer died. "Oh well," I though, I will just keep up with the other 13 crazy people riding and figured I would be fine. As we continued to ride, my semi-exposed lower back started to feel very exposed, starting the misery of cold rainy 35 degree weather.
I should also mention that Eric is the guy who basically introduced me to SO. Man, on every ride, he gives me grief. Oh, Marie is smiling, guess who must be here! Sure enough, half way to Grafton, Eric rides up to me and said, "I am surprised to see you riding up here since SO is back there." Of course both he and SO started laughing.
As we rode, I think we all underestimated how wet the roads would be, causing everyone's feet to get soaked by the spray from the tires. Now, I was wearing booties over my shoes plus 2 pairs of socks, but it didn't seem to matter. My toes were starting to feel numb. After about an hour, we made it to our first stop in Grafton. As I got off the bike, I knew there was no way I was riding any further away from Berea, confirmed by the stiff frozen sensation I got from my tights as I went to the bathroom.
Sometimes, when you are that cold and wet that your clothes start to freeze, the worst thing you can do is let those clothes thaw and get wet again so as make you even colder when you go back outside. I learned that the hard way a few years ago when I was running in about 4 degree weather...that warm bathroom felt nice, but I thought I was going to get hypothermia about 5 minutes later. So, about half the group (me but not SO included) opted to ride back to Berea. Now, I was suppose to ride until 2, or at least that was what I had told the roadside, so I quickly called and was able to have them come at 11:30.
SO had stopped at a Rite-Aid to buy socks and to get some plastic bags for his feet, so I rushed off ahead of a few people to tell him my new plan and that I would see him later as he was going to keep riding.
As we started off, we were all pretty cold, you could see people shaking their feet and their hands in attempts to get blood circulating through the cold extremities. As we left, someone said to me, if we are going to ride short (35 miles), we might as well ride hard so hard we rode. We got into a pace line with short fast pulls, about a minute tops, and kept the pace up as we sprinted for the warmth of cars and showers and blankets. With a couple of miles left, I started to notice my feet, particularly my right foot was numb. We got stopped by a light, and as I tried to clip my right foot back into the pedal, and I couldn't do it... my foot was just too numb to control so I rode for a few seconds and tried again, no luck. After a couple of minutes, I was finally able to clip in, but it was a struggle. Then, with about a mile left to go, my phone rang and rang and rang. I was worried it was the roadside people telling me they were at my car about to leave so I pulled over. Thinking I was fine, I let the group keep going. I got the message that they are on their way and get back on my bike. The problem is that I never pay attention to the exact route back to the starting place. I could have pulled it up on my map, but I was too cold to think straight so I ended up wandering around Berea for a couple of miles until I spot a familiar church. Note to self: stop chatting at the beginning of rides and start paying attention to road names!
I finally got back and there was the roadside guy. He got right to work, which was fine, except I couldn't exactly hope into the back of my truck and change out of the wet clothes while he had the car jacked up. Plus, I had forgotten the code to SO's car to use it, so I ended up standing in soaking wet clothes for about half an hour waiting for the guy to change my tire. To say I was cold was confirmed by the uncontrollable shivering that I started doing. I called my mom to see if she could give me some names of some tire places, and she did, but she could only find one in Berea. I finally get squared away with the roadside guy, turn my heat up to full blast and make my way to the nearest tire place...which was closed because it was after 12PM on a Saturday. Not being familiar with Berea that well, I started to get nervous and googled Conrads (which my mother mentioned was in Parma). I found a Conrad's about 4 miles away in Brook Park and slowly made my way there.
They were open and said it would take an hour so I went into their bathroom and changed out of my cold wet clothes and sat there and finally stopped shivering after about 45 minutes.
So, yes, I did get to ride, and I did have fun. I adore riding with this group of people (whether SO is there or not), but it wasn't nearly as much fun as I had hoped. To summarize all of the things that happened:
2. Flat tire - on car
3. Forgot helmet
4. Computer died
5. Near hypothermia
ALL in the name of cycling!