Well, sort of.
Put on your smoking jacket, my friends, pull out your pipe, sit in your favorite leather reading chair, slide your feet into your comfy slippers, and get ready for a good few minutes of reading. This one is a doozy!
As recently discussed, there are certain scenarios in which all rules of style are thrown out the window for the sake of survival. In other words, there’s no sense in trying to look ridiculously good by maintaining the King of Style’s rules if you’re being killed by frostbite anyway. Although the King of Style often reinvents the wheels with his (my) revolutionary rules pertaining to style, I think the rule of survival-over-style is fairly obvious.
But as you perhaps have noticed, the title of this particular blog entry doesn’t mention KoS. We’re merely back to Toughening Up Sissy Boy… or TUSB to those in the know. Hypothetically speaking, if there were a conversation on this topic, it would go down in the following manner:
Blog: “Hey Teddy, Toughen Up Sissy Boy!”
Teddy: “Hey Blog, screw you. I just had one of the top three worst experiences on a bike in my life. In fact, top three worst experiences ever!”
And that brings me to the subtitle of this blog entry: I.J.H.O.o.t.T.T.W.E.o.a.B.i.M.L. Allow me to extrapolate.
I have five hours of training assigned to me today. There is a bit of climbing to be done, a touch of big gear/force work, but basically it’s an endurance ride. Today marks the third day I’ve been in Spain; day one was drizzly but suitable for three hours, yesterday was overcast but dry all day so I enjoyed four hours of riding, and today was… just… plain… horrible. But I didn’t realize it until I was already out on the roads. Moreover, I didn’t realize it until I was nearly halfway into my ride. And by then it was merely Darwinism – only the strong survive.
I knew rain (and even rumor of snow according to my Irish neighbor, Dan) was in the forecast for today, so I was pretty excited to wake up to dry ground. About a half hour before I headed out the door whilst still noshing the last of my plain oatmeal (Mmmm) it had started drizzling, and then by the time I truly rolled out it was definitely a noteworthy rain falling down.
I was wearing virtually all of my cold-weather gear. I figured this would be more than enough to keep my body temp up since it’s basically the exact same thing I wear when riding in the WTF-harsh conditions of New Hampshire in the winter.
It’s raining. Check.
I’m wearing all the clothes I should need. Check.
I’m mentally ready for a cold and wet ride. Check.
The kicker? It’s 37 degrees Farenheit (3 Celsius) here in Spain! (…you know I’m being completely serious because I opted for bold, underline, and italics.)
I had a nice loop planned out that included some climbing up an easy grade. It’s 20km of really tame climbing, so speeds are fairly high plus you don’t get any windchill since you’re protected by sinuous curves throughout the ascent. Pedal, pedal, pedal, I’m now 1:15 into my ride, I’m at about 1500 feet above sea-level, and I notice it’s snowing on me. Crud. More importantly however, I’m at snowline, so the ground is covered, the trees are snow-encrusted, and the roads are getting slick. Therefore, rather than continuing and risking sliding out, I flip it about 8km shy of the summit (where I was planning on rolling down the other side to complete the loop).
The advantage of this road being ridden in the wet is that – like a fine woman or bottle of wine, it’s very curvaceous. Therefore you can’t get going too fast on the descent either and therefore you don’t get too cold from windchills. Right? WRONG. By this time, it’s merely fifteen minutes later and my fingers are starting to get chilly and a bit painfully tingly. I do that thing where you treat your arms like really out of tune and hyper-fast pendulums and whip them around aggressively to get more blood into my hands. You know the motion, right? Right. By the time I’m at the foot of the climb, I’m forced to do this every five minutes in order to avoid heinously frigid digits.
I consider a few alternative routes home while on the aforementioned descent, so as to add a bit of extra mileage and to avoid the glut of traffic I experienced while rolling out of town. But I soon realized that I was really freezing cold and no matter what route I picked, this five hour ride was going to be anything but five hours.
I opted for a route that took me a bit shy of three hours total, but around hour two, I reached the cruel irony where I could no longer feel my fingers at all, yet they’re horrifically painful. Think: fingers-down-the-garbage-disposal painful. Plus I have lost all finger dexterity, so braking is extremely difficult and shifting is impossible. Nice, last hour on a virtual fixie!
Long story short, with tears streaming down my face in pain, I made it home. By now, the temperature shown on banks and other buildings around town reads 2 Celsius. It’s still pouring down rain and my mood is even lower than the temperature. Once in the shower the real tears start streaming and – I kid you not – I am crying. Alone, in the shower, cold as a human ice cube, I am crying. You want real? That’s real.
Freezing cold and snow works fine. Warm and wet works fine. Cool and wet, although less desirable, still works fine. Cold and dry works fine. Warm and dry works extra fine. See, there are two variables – temperature and precipitation – to consider. There are two that don’t work so finely unless you’re racing and your body temp is somehow warmed up by the adrenaline: cold and rain.
Lesson learned: invest in a trainer or else just do three hours of jumping jacks and sit-ups on days like today.