Sunday, May 24, 2009

The Afton Strikes Back

We did it again. As if last weeks adventure wasn't enough the TNT coaches decided it'd be fun to hit that course up again but they added a little spice to it. Last week we biked 50 miles. This week was 62! 31 out and back.

The day started out like any other. Nothing unusual to speak of. I got my coffee prepared, bike clothes on, nice lathering of body glide and chamois cream (it's good to start with a visual), put on some sunscreen, and got all the rest of the equipment in check. All was well. Time to pack the car. And that's when the fun began.

As I opened the garage door the ground looked a little darker than usual. Granted it was about 5 AM and everything looks dark then but this was not right. After my first step outside I knew why: rain. I wasn't pouring. Actually it was more like a mist than actual rain but the roads were definitely not dry. I really don't like riding in the rain but a thought immediately came to mind: cancer patients don't exactly like chemo treatments but they do it. That instantly put the ride back into perspective, quieted the negative voices, and got me back on track.

As it turns out the rain was patchy. On the drive through the metro and into Afton I noticed many spots of dry pavement. My hope being restored I moved on. When I actually got to the ride start the roads were wet but it wasn't raining. Today would be a good test of mental endurance as well as physical because rain puts me in such a bad mood when I'm on a bike. I decided my task for the day would be to learn a new appreciation for the wet conditions.

Our team left at 7:20 AM on the wet roads. It was an interesting ride because I kept reminding myself that it could be worse and to keep the positive mental attitude (PMA). It worked too. I got 15 miles down the road and barely felt like 5 minutes went by. To top that off I was the leader of the pack too. Granted it was only practice but still cool. I also had to take my sunglasses off too because they kept fogging.

One thing that marks the Afton ride is the absolutely gorgeous scenery. The Mississippi River valley is amazing. Pictures simply don't do justice for this area. You really need to experience it for yourself to appreciate God's hand in shaping the land. It's breathtaking.

We were about 20 miles into the ride when I had my moment of zen and appreciation for the rain and wet roads. Looking at the rolling tree covered cliffs I noticed that the light rain and moisture had created a mist. The mist ran through the trees like a finely knitted web. Again, it was something a picture simply couldn't capture. It was so captivating that in that moment I felt one with my surroundings. I now have a much greater appreciation for the wet scenery. And the good thing was this happened only 20 miles into a 62 mile ride. That meant I had 42 miles left to focus on other things like form and technique.

On that note the rest of the ride went very smoothly. As the sun came up the roads dried and became much easier to navigate. The hills completely trashed me by the end (as expected) and the 4 mile transition run we did immediately after the bike left me completely spent. But that's what it's all about.

At the end of the day it was a great ride. 5,000 calories later a lot of team building, spiritual building, emotional building, and physical building got accomplished. I'll get a map up as soon as Garmin gets their services working properly again.


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