Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Awe of the Wind


In our vast country we are blessed to experience many different climates, diverse environments and a variety of different weather. We’ve already seen the Pacific coast, mountains, prairies, desert, and the boreal forest of the Canadian Shield. Of all the different things Mother Nature has thrown at us, wind presents the biggest challenge by far.

A little reminder of Mother Nature and her wind here as told by Brad

Must always be ready for Mother Nature!
Whereas a mountain looms high above you, its imposing stature striking fear into your heart, it has a summit. Get to the summit and your legs stop burning and you can bask in your accomplishment on the descent down the hill. Wind, on the other hand, does not give you a preview of what’s to come. There is no summit to strive for, not an indication of gradient to tell how hard the next section will be, just a brutal soul-crushing force working against you, making every pedal stroke a battle. Imagine balancing all your weight on two points of contact no bigger than a few square inches and then trying to get where you’re going and there is an invisible force pushing and pulling you at over 70 km/h. A headwind can make it feel like you’re towing a tractor trailer behind you and crosswinds feel as if an invisible team of strongmen are having a tug of war and you are the flag in the middle of the rope.

As with many physically demanding feats, when battling wind the rider must look within to have the strength to succeed. There are a few techniques that may help get a rider where they need to go while in the grips of a gale:

1.    The Lieutenant Dan: Remember that scene in Forrest Gump when Lieutenant Dan “makes his peace with God?” Yelling and screaming with each torrent thrown their way, Lt. Dan Taylor begs for more, insisting that the storm isn’t that that bad. In riding terms it translates to refusing to shift to a lower gear, gritting your teeth and attacking into the wind as if you’re trying to catch Mother Nature herself to give her a piece of your mind. Swearing and yelling may accompany this technique as well, though passing motorists may alert the authorities that a crazy man is on the loose.
2.    The Little Engine That Could: Let the power of positive thinking wash over you. Click into a gear you can spin in comfortably, don’t let the lack of speed get you down and push play on the imaginary reel of inspirational movie quotes in you head. It may be hard riding and it may take you a while but you set a goal and through positive determination you’re going to make it.
3.    I Doubt I Will But I Might: This technique usually rears its desperate head towards the end of a long ride. You’ve eaten all your bars, your bottles are almost empty, you have no money and you’re feeling so fatigued you’re seeing spots. At this point you’re considering ALL your options to get you to the end of your ride: I could fake a mechanical breakdown, I could knock on a stranger’s door (despite his mean looking dogs), I could rob a convenience store for sustenance, I could call a cab, hop on a bus, call my roommate or friend or even a hated enemy. In the midst of weighing all these options, you’ve fought the wind the entire time and you now find yourself close enough to your destination and you’ve made it, barely.
4.    The Quitter: You’ll never need to know any of these techniques because as soon as you see the wind blowing, you aren’t leaving your house. You will certainly have a great excuse like, “I had a big day yesterday,” or “I won’t be able to train in my appropriate zone in that wind,” but everyone knows you’re too chicken to willingly put yourself into that kind of difficulty.

Anything you can do to get you through the wind is a good thing. Every day you fight the wind should bring you closer to the exhilaration of a tailwind. For all the times you can hate the wind with every ounce of your being, they all seem to fade away when you turn that corner and the wind is at your back. With that glorious blessing at your back, you can fly faster than your legs alone could ever take you. Whether you’re 10 years old or 50 years old, you can’t beat the feeling of pedaling your bike and going fast.

Erik Marsh (Co-Pilot) 

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