Saturday, April 02, 2005

Jubilee Joy Ride

It was my daughter's 12th birthday and we had arranged a party starting at 2 pm, but I figured if I started the ride by 8 am I should have time to do the metric century. All did not go according to plan.

The first and last 8 miles or so of the ride run through the Clemson Experimental Forest and generally east, and so I was not so aware of the wind at first, just glad that yesterday's rain had ended. The frustrating part early on (and near the end) was almost 4 miles on the roughest paved road I have ever ridden on. It is as if in resurfacing the road with tar and gravel they arranged it just right so each piece of gravel sticks halfway out of the tar. The silence and speed and lack of vibration when I finally got to a smooth road was breath-taking.

This isn't a ride up towards the mountains, like Ride for the Raptors. It is beautiful for open farm country, not for mountain views. Open farm country turned out to be a real pain when the west wind was averaging 17 mph and gusting over 40 (according to Clemson Univ. weather). I nearly got blown off the road several times and I'm not lightweight (I weigh 155 lbs). When the gusts hit head on it felt like they brought me to a standstill. And I was wearing clothing that didn't catch the wind: bike shorts, kneesocks, and a tight fitting jersy and vest. I was just barely warm enough riding, but too cold to stand around at the rest stops. I took two shortcuts, one that cut out 10 miles and one that cut out 7 or 8 miles.

Somewhere after the second shortcut, in a particularly bad headwind, I got something in my eye. It didn't come out either just crying it out or with a tissue, so I rode a couple of miles to the next rest stop and tried pouring water over my eye. That didn't work either, but finally, trying again to rub without hurting my eye, it came out. That cheered me up somewhat, but it was still a miserable slog mostly into the wind back to the start--a total of about 45 miles after the shortcuts. The peace and quiet of the occasional moments sheltered from the wind was amazing.

I got home about 12:30, so I didn't mess up the birthday party. I have bad memories of my own birthday parties so I always have trouble with my daughter's, and this year my husband was out of town. I guess the bike ride worked; I burned off my stress and didn't get uptight about the birthday party. And my daughter had organized a good plan; a hike to a waterfall, which was sheltered from the wind. I am tired tonight.

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