We tend to have a windy spring here in Texas. One of my cycling coaches used to always tell us that the wind and the hills were our friends. If we suffered a little bit up the hill or into the wind, we always got a free ride on the downhill or with a tail wind. This spring has been no exception to the rule only that the wind has been intense....every day....into the night....without ceasing. Last weekend it was cold and windy and then it warmed up and was still windy. This weekend it was warm and windy the entire ride.
When I climbed out of the car at 6:25 am at the ride start, the wind blew the car door out of my hand and yanked it all the way open. I looked up and could see the low clouds racing across the sky out of the south. Ugh! If it was this windy already, what was it going to be like once the sun got up in the sky. I have seen many days of still, breeze less pre-dawn mornings only to have the wind kick up once the sun rose past the horizon. At least there would be a tail wind for part of the ride. As everyone began showing up and getting set up, the wind only kept blowing. Our fearless team this week would include Greyhound, Coach Luke, Christy, and Cassy.
Our first 30 miles to the Wal-Mart were uneventful. Windy, but uneventful. I had over hydrated and was in physical pain until we got to the Wal-Mart. And as usual, the cleaning crew had the women's bathroom closed at the front of the store and I had to clip-clop my way quickly to the bathroom at the rear of the store while Easter goody shopping people looked at me and my flashing blinky lights like I was a huge moron. So far we had not seen any other riders on the road which I thought was strange since it was a day off for many people on Good Friday.
From the Wal-Mart, we headed north to back to Montgomery and had the wind at our back for most of the way. We saw a few riders including one "Fred" who was wearing his aero helmet on a training ride. Whatever. He gave Christy some grief for "cutting" the IMTX course and not riding through The Woodlands. Whatever. We were going to end up doing 100 miles. Just pedal on dude and leave us alone. Close to Montgomery we got a downhill and a tail wind together and I hit 32 mph before having to start to feather the breaks for a highway intersection ahead. Dang, that is what Chris Lieto must feel like on his bike. Dang that was fast and fun. We hit the gas station for a pit stop in Montgomery at mile 50, and then continued north into the Sam Houston National Forest.
I had shared a Coke with Greyhound at the gas station and it had left me with gas. My tummy was not happy with that. Note to self: Avoid Coke at the aid stations on race day. Christy, Cassy, and Luke had gotten a bit ahead and Greyhound was a little bit behind me so I had a solitary ride through the forest where I could hear the birds warbling and hear the animals dodge through the brush at the side of the road. The temps were climbing, but the shade of the trees helped. We all regrouped at a turn and continued on towards Richards, TX. We did have to make a stop to check out Christy's tire that was going flat from a slow leak and about another mile or two down the road we had to stop to change a flat 3 or so miles before Richards. We all welcomed the rest break.
At mile 70 in Richards, we refilled bottles and worked up our courage to start battling the wind. On the loop from Richards on the IMTX course, the wind was so strong that I was not comfortable getting down into my aerobars with the strong cross wind. Once we turned south and took the wind head on, I saw my speed drop down to 7.8 mph at one point. Seriously??? Come On!!! Weather. com had said 18 mph winds but both Luke and Christy said the wind was stronger than it had been in New Orleans for the 70.3 race the weekend before and the winds there had been over 20 mph. I pulled over and waited for Greyhound so we could work together and caught up to the rest of the gang at a turn. We would have a bit of a tail wind and cross wind back to Richards, but then it would be 12 miles into the wind with some hills thrown in as well.
Greyhound and I worked together as we let Christy, Cassy, and Luke pull ahead and then out of sight over a hill. We caught up to them with Christy off her bike and fiddling with her rear tire again. After we had emptied all of our CO2 canisters trying to get her tire inflated, a group of riders we had seen at the ride start pulled over and offered some help. I changed Christy's tire and got it pumped up and we got back on the road. No sooner had we gotten going, but I had to pull over because the wind had blown something in my eye and I could not see. I cleared my eye, emptied a bottle of water into my aero bottle and worked a bit harder than I should have to catch back up to Greyhound. We had just a few more hills into the wind and then 5 miles back to the cars.
On the last stretch, Luke said he was bonking hard and not feeling good, Cassy looked like she was ready to be finished, and for the life of me I could not catch up to Christy. It seems that her rear tire was going flat again and she wanted to get back to the cars as fast as she could. It was now time to transition to running. Cassy and Luke packed up and Christy, Greyhound, and I headed out for a very hot and windy run.
I was supposed to run for an hour, but 30 minutes was all I could manage because the heat was to intense (92 degrees) and I could feel my heart rate going through the roof even at a slow shuffle. When I got back to the car, I found Greyhound sitting up against my car in the shade finishing a beer. I threw my carcass on the ground in the shade and cussed out Ironman. We still had a 19 mile run to do the next day. We found out that the winds had been 30 mph with higher gusts.
Once home and after the ice bath, I decided that I would skip Masters swim on Saturday morning and just run. Greyhound was cool with that. Saturday was windy as well and I was glad I was not out on a bike. We got the 19 miles done and it was hot. Heat training has begun. It is now less than a month to go and even though I know I am ready, I hope that I can do this. Will the wind still be around in a month to kill me on the bike and shatter me on the run with his buddy, the heat?
There is one more week of big training volume. One more week. One more. Just one.