Tuesday, April 05, 2016

It Was a Wicked and Wild Wind

On Sunday we decided to ride our road bikes. According to the Weather Channel, it wasn't supposed to be as windy as the day before...But it was more than windy enough. I thought the gusts were supposed to be up to 30 mph, but once we got out onto roads with nothing to break the wind, it was closer to 40 mph.

It was the first ride of the year for one of guys and the wind was killing all of us, so we stopped for a minute in Hills, and a random guy pulled over to where we were standing, behind a building trying to shield ourselves from the wind. He was some kind of RAGBRAI blogger, and he gave us his card, so we could check out his blog. Crap. I still need to do that.

We took another break about 8 miles from Kalona. If you look at the photo above, you can see by the red rag on the Embargo sign exactly which way the wind was blowing and just how strong.

We take a couple of dirt roads that aren't bad for a road bikes, but when we were getting ready to turn onto the last one, we realized that they had just regraveled it and that new gravel was crazy thick. One of the guys we were riding with said that it was tough enough to ride with the wicked head and cross wind without trying to maneuver on thick gravel with road bikes, so we continued straight onto Highway one, which can be busy but has a really wide shoulder for all of the horse and buggies from the Amish community,

As we reached the Highway, we saw a woman getting blown away just walking along the road. She laughed when she saw us and asked, "What are you guys doing?" We wondered the same thing. The Highway was even worse with a cross wind. I have never in my life wished that I weighed more before, but I would have paid money for another 50 lbs to keep from blowing into traffic with each gust. It didn't help that I was riding a bike with dish wheels that worked like sails.

We crossed the highway and tried the other side of the road, so that the wind would blow me into the ditch instead of into a truck on the highway. Blowing into the ditch wasn't all that much more fun, so about a mile from Kalona, I told the boys to go ahead and I'd meet them there. John was nice enough to stay with me and we walked until we got to Highway 22, where we could finally turn and get the benefits of a tailwind into town. Whew!

We made it to the brew pub and I was starving. I normally get the salad there, but I needed something more substantial. Pizza! I had a migraine earlier in the morning, so I couldn't drink alcohol. John thought it was sad that I couldn't even drink a beer after putting in that much work, but drinking lemonade was actually perfect after all the wind and the heat. After our other friend, also named John, found out that it was 80 outside degrees, he said, "So, basically, we've been riding into a hair dryer?" Pretty much.

As we were sitting at the table, we all agreed that if over the course of our lunch, the winds had changed and we had to ride home in a head/cross wind like on the way there, we would give up and call for a ride. Luckily for us, we didn't have to do that. We rode back and for the first half of the ride we had the most glorious tail wind I have ever experienced. I have never ridden my bike that far in winds that strong before, so I had no idea what kind of joy that tailwind could bring. We had contests to see who could go the longest without pedaling. For me that was almost two miles of uphills and down, with an average pace of 20 mph. I wish I had my bike camera on me. I would have loved to get a photo of the boys riding in front of me with both arms outstretched and not pedaling. It was beautiful.

Of course with all good things, it had to come to an end. Once we got back on Sand Road, the winds had shifted enough that we had a bad West cross wind. The two boys fell behind, but I couldn't go slowly enough to wait for them to catch up, without getting blown off the road. So, John slowed down for them and they caught me waiting at the red light on the way into town.

I was talking to John about the ride later on, and we both agreed that however hard it was at parts, that ride was so worth it. Talk about an incredible adventure...

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