I learned two things this evening:
- No matter how much I roll my eyes, the wind will not diminish just because I'm fed up with it. It doesn't respond any better than my preteen daughter.
- No matter how hard I scowl at the waterfall blowing water across the highway, it won't stop just so I won't get wet. It doesn't obey any better than my daughter, either.
It had to have been an unprecedented second day of May: temperatures hovered near 70 all day. Absolutely fabulous. More like the nicest day of summer than early spring despite the piles of snow that still cover my yard. I took advantage of the opportunity to go for a nice long bike ride, and to wear shorts and a sleeveless shirt instead of bundling up against the cold.
All was not perfect, however. As it usually does in Valdez, the many days of sunny weather with which we've been blessed were accompanied by winds. Today, it was blowing about 20 mph from the east.
I've been wanting to up my mileage by doing a 30-mile ride for a couple of weeks now, and today was finally the day. The east wind meant that I'd have a headwind during the first half of my ride rather than the last, so after work I pulled up my big girl panties and headed out the highway. My goal was the far side of Keystone Canyon.
I've been pleased thus far this spring that my average speeds have been slowly climbing up from 13+ mph. Two days ago, I averaged 14.1 over 20 miles. Today, for the 15 miles from my house to the other side of the canyon, I worked hard to manage 10.6 against the wind. I had to struggle for 9 for seemingly endless miles. I did have to laugh, though, when I found myself rolling my eyes at particularly strong gusts of wind. Pretty silly reaction, and totally futile. They were determined to push me across the shoulder and into the rumble strip, and it's no easy feat to move a mass like mine.
I was reveling in the sun and warmth until I entered Keystone Canyon. This narrow slot is usually fully shaded, and the temperature in the shade reminded me that it's still early spring in Alaska. Nonetheless, it was beautiful.
I wasn't truly cold, however, until I had to ride past the remains of the Damalanche. There's still a significant amount of cement-like snow left along the road, and that much snow retains a whole lotta cold. It was Damn cold, all puns intended.
Even once I'd passed through the three miles of the canyon and out the north end, it didn't get significantly warmer. The wind pouring off Thompson Pass carried more than a bit of winter with it. I found a sunny spot to stop for a stretch and a granola bar at my 15-mile mark, but I didn't linger long.
The struggle against the headwind was almost worth the grin I had as my computer rose and rose up to 20+ mph. By the time I made it home, my average speed had risen to an even 13 mph. Not great, but not bad given the circumstances. What fun it was to speed along nearly effortlessly. And to be warm in the sun.
It seems hard to believe that it's been two months already since my first ride of the season, and even harder to accept that I only have two and a half months until I need to be ready to ride 120 miles in one day - followed by an 80-mile day. I'm starting to be convinced that it won't kill me, however...I hope.