Monday, November 29, 2010

The Weekend Report: Biking in the Wind - A story of RAGE

Nothing makes me angrier than wind. Yes, I mean the weather. Snow? Bring it on. Rain? I actually like rain. But wind? Not ok.

After a Thursday of Thanksgiving eating - turkey, mashed potatoes, cakeballs, and pie (oh the pie! All hail LLC!) - followed by a Black Friday of trying on clothes, I needed some exercise. So Saturday morning I decided to go for a long bike ride.

The bike I borrowed was a bit too small, but I didn’t mind – it was a crisp sunny day and I joyously pedaled my way down the Mt. Vernon Trail. (I've done this once before with Co-Worker-Megan, but she's in CA so I was biking alone.)

I was in a little bit of a hurry. I left Dupont at 9:40, but didn’t actually get to the trail until about 10:00 (damn you Georgetown traffic lights!). I had no idea how long it would take (It’s 40 miles round-trip, and I guess-timated anywhere from 2.5 to 4 hours), so I kept my tempo up because I had a haircut scheduled that afternoon and I wanted to get the whole route in. There was a bit of a headwind on the way out, but nothing dramatic, so I looked forward to an easier ride back.

I pushed up those last hills to arrive at the Mt. Vernon parking lot (Oh hey George Washington!), dismounted, shook out my legs, and checked my phone. 11:09. Wow – that was faster than expected! I considered eating the Annie’s gummy snacks I had tucked into my sports bra, but meh, no, I got back on the bike to make the return trip.

Within the first 10 minutes I noticed some, ahem, issues. And by "issues" I mean wind in my face. Ugh. Not fun. I'm from Petaluma, home of one of the windiest tracks in the world (according to me at least), and plenty of hilly windy biking roads. Add onto that 4 years as a Bostonian, which is one of the windiest cities in America. (I'm just trying to give myself some credibility here - I know what bad wind is.)

Wind was in my face in both directions. HOW is that even possible? I only hoped it would get better. But it didn’t. It got much much much worse.

One of biking’s redeeming factors is the creation of inertia, the ability to coast. But I was having none of that on my ride back. I had to constantly pedal hard just to keep moving forward. I tried to look on the bright side – extra calories, right? A better workout, right? But by the time I got to Alexandria the wind had been roaring in my ears for 10 miles and I could see whitecaps forming on the Potomac River.

I was unreasonably (or reasonably?) angry. Nothing in this world produces unspeakable rage in me like wind in my face. I hate this! I hate this! I hate this! I repeated inside my head. I cursed the wind, cursed biking, cursed my hamstring for preventing me from running, cursed the Potomac River, cursed Washington DC and Northern Virginia, cursed whomever built that bikepath, and cursed myself for thinking that biking would be a good idea.

It was so windy I had to stand up out of the seat on the flats just to keep moving forward.

I may or may not have yelled expletives aloud when I ran into particularly brick-wall-ish gusts of headwind. I wanted to warn bikers blithely pedaling in the opposite direction that it was hell getting back and they should probably turn around now. (Don’t worry, I didn’t talk to anyone.)

After what felt like an eon, I finally crossed the Key Bridge (where I fought insane gusts just to stay on the bridge) into Georgetown. Homestretch - just 2 miles to go. The last bit should have/would have felt relaxing. It wasn’t nearly as windy in the city and I was almost home. But alas, I had long ago stopped having fun and just wanted to be done. STAT. (Plus the cab that attempted to merge into me did not help my mood. Woah woah WOAH! WATCH OUT! I shrieked in self-defense, disturbing countless clueless Georgetown shoppers.)

I pedaled up to my doorstep, feeling like a warrior returning from an epic battle. All I wanted to do was collapse on my floor and ask someone to feed me. (Mama! Where are you when I need you???) But alas, it was up to me to restore myself to normal existence. A shower and bowl o’Thanksgiving leftovers later, life was beginning to regain its natural colors.

But of course, being myself, my day did not end there. Despite the wind's best efforts, I made it back home by 12:30, giving me plenty of time to get to Eastern Marker for my haircut. Then LOTR-Emily met me and we walked to the Botanical Gardens to see the Christmas Trains exhibit (amazing!), and then we walked all the 4 miles back to Dupont.

For dinner I dragged myself up to Colombia Heights because LOTR-Emily was hosting breakfast for dinner. Pan-Seared Oatmeal – sounds weird but tastes AMAZING! You have got to try this, it will rock your world.

And then we went out. Because why not chase a 40-mile ride with a long walk and a night of dancing?

Anyway, hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving too! And more importantly, it’s now officially Christmastime. (I watched Love Actually and bought an advent calendar.) Get excited!