From the trainer to the wind

The trainer has seen a good amount of my rear tire the last 30 days. The days on the road have been few and far between. Yesterday, for just an hour and a half, I was able to experience again riding on the road — even if most of the time the wind was trying to blow me off of it.

I was starting to grow trainer mad. Yes, I was following the training plan and while not spending the entire amount allotted on the bicycle going nowhere, I did get in the intervals required and at least one hour each session. However, I needed a break to remind me why I was doing this stuff.

Matt Jaeggli was planning to do the route that the Boyd Cycling group takes each Wednesday during lunch time. I decided to connect with him and Neil Browne who Matt said would be coming along. This time I was determined not to be late and get left behind!

The weather app on my phone informed me that it was supposed to get up into the 50s for the day. However, as I headed home to get my bike I couldn’t help noticing how chilly it was. It wasn’t just the temperature. It was the sharp, biting wind that made things seem colder.

I layered up and headed out. This time I arrived right at noon and found Matt and another rider I did not know. Neil had gotten caught on a conference call and would not make it. So, we would be joined by Billy Campbell.

Billy has just moved to Greenville from Ohio. At first glance he certainly seemed fit enough and he wore his racing kit with ease. Seemed that the three of us would have a good ride.

We headed off down the SRT and I was glad I had layered well. Going beneath the trees and out of the sun made things even a bit more chilly as the wind filtered through. Before long the exertion as Matt lead us out of town began to warm me up.

As we neared Furman I was actually starting to to get a little warm. The sun started peeking out of the cloud cover that had been hanging around all morning. Now I was wishing I could get rid of some of the stuff.

Here we were at the base of Paris Mountain. By this time I learned that Billy does a fair amount of riding and was currently only about 10 points away from his Cat. 2 license. At around 145 pounds to my 175, I knew that it was going to be very tough staying up with him.

I won’t bore you with a pedal-by-pedal description. Just suffice to say that we started out at a fair pace. I was feeling pretty good even through the water tower section. However, about halfway, it was obvious that Billy was being kind to wait for me. By the time we reached my “blue pole of death” I had put out of my mind even trying to stay up with him. Still, I could tell he would accelerate and find he was creating a gap and then slow for me to get back in range.

He allowed me to come along side when we neared The Wall. He asked, “We’re nearing the final step section, aren’t we?” “Yes,” I replied, “We call it The Wall. You go ahead. I’ll meet you up at the towers.”

And so he went. As I started up the final incline I could see him climbing as I plodded along. The gap kept growing and by the time I was halfway, he had already made the left turn that would take him up to the line. I finished in 14 minutes. He must have climbed it in less than 13:30.

We went up to wait for Matt by the towers. It was COLD! The cloud cover had returned and the wind was even more biting at the top. We had fought it climbing up and knew it would be dangerous going back down. It was as we were talking about this that I learned that Billy’s best time up the Furman side was in the 9 minute range. Ha! Well, that explained it!

We decided not to wait for Matt, but to head down until we could connect with him as he climbed up. Unfortunately, we didn’t realize that we were supposed to have ridden down the CVS side and then back up to the towers. So, he slipped past us and we missed him. We were going down the Furman side looking for someone who would not be there.

Going down was an adventure! Dry leaves flitted across the road hiding little pieces of dried limbs. At least twice I came around a turn to find a branch that the wind had blown onto the road. They weren’t heavy branches, but the ends of branches with all the leafy twigs.

Twice as I got up speed, I got blasted by wind coming out of the north. You could feel it push against my body and attempt to turn my front wheel. Between the leaves, sticks, limbs and wind, I decided to back it off nice and easy to get to the bottom alive.

We made it. Billy headed back up and over the mountain to home. I decided to take the Old Buncombe route back to town. I had assumed that Matt had turned around and headed back early to get to work. It wasn’t until we connected later that I learned what had really happened.

That, my friends, is what you don’t get on the trainer. Yes, I rode about 10 more miles than I would have on the trainer, but more than that I got the experience of being on the road and got the opportunity to enjoy the company of others. It is making me look forward even more to this weekend and the time change.

Yes, the days will get longer and I can kiss that trainer goodbye!

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About Jonathan Pait

Jonathan started riding mountain bikes in the early 1990s. After discovering the ride can start at the end of his driveway, he moved to the road in 2006. Little did he know that first pedal stroke would lead him on an adventure that has become much larger than the bicycle.