Essay: On Springtime Wind
(2016) It has been said that for every mile of French country roads, there are two miles of ditches. This could be stressful for one of my ride buddies whose goal – according to his spouse – was to never wind up in a ditch. Luckily for us in these parts, it’s hardly French backcountry roads with expansive fields and cobblestones.
It is quite difficult to find a balance among real-life, watching the Spring Classics (especially Holy Week), and getting on the bike to ride. It sometimes feels like one must pick two of the three, longing for the ability to engage in the third option. Except nature has made it easy of late.
Since successfully completing last weekend’s Hell of Hunterdon, the region has experienced some un-cycling weather. Some people will say there’s no such thing, but let’s review what Bucks County riders have been served recently.
In the past week there have been a few storms that have moved through with gusto and darkness. As much as I love riding, looking over my shoulder at a storm that resembles an angry peloton makes me terrified at how people will find me. As one fellow rider once said, “I don’t mind going for a ride and having it rain. I do mind going out for a ride when it’s already started.” Rain is one thing, but the recent weather around here involves one other obstacle.
For the past week Bucks County riders have been tested with extremely high winds. Three separate times the winds have been over thirty miles per hour. Last night a powerful storm blew in winds of up to sixty miles per hour. The winds stuck around all the next day. These are hardly ‘worth it’ conditions. I’m sure a rider could obliterate a Strava segment going one way but spend hours on end trying to return in a relentless headwind. Supper will have been served and the weekend will have concluded by the time the rider returned. It’s perhaps even blowing hard enough to take the water bottle right out of a rider’s hand. Forget about the water actually getting to the mouth; it’ll just stream right into oblivion next to the road. Perhaps that’s what those ditches are for.
Watching the Gent Wevelgem last week, I was reminded by the media of Geraint Thomas’ remarkable experience of being blown off his bike. If a professional cyclist of that caliber can manage to find his way into a ditch, then perhaps high winds should be taken seriously. Today the bike will remain parked (or dare I say applied to the rollers?) because if there’s one call I don’t want to make, it would be, “I’ve been blown into a ditch!” The Missus may ask next, “How did you get to France?”