As wind gusts hit my right side again and again, and I continue to pump my hands in cow-milking motions to keep my fingers from freezing in a Lego-man position, I reach my breaking point. Or so I think. I’ve had it. I’m tired of being rain-soaked. I’m tired of being cold. And I’m tired of all the work that this is; work to stay upright in a strong crosswind, to stay defensive and safe when there are careless drivers everywhere, to keep my blood pumping in the cold, to pack/unpack/load/unload each day, and to get enough miles ridden to stay just barely ahead of winter. My heated gear works sporadically but only about half the time and then alternates between burning places on my skin where the wires are, and freezing the rest of me, making me feel like I’m breaking out in hives. It’s the strangest sensation.
Since leaving Georgia there has been some type of bad weather at least part of every day I’ve ridden – heavy rain, strong wind, or cold. Some days the forecast calls for ice, which is the biggest concern for me as that is a weather phenomenon that could park me and become expensive by forcing me to pay for shelter for a few days until the roads clear. I’m not going to take any chances with ice, and my nerves have been on edge for a few days as I watch to be sure the water on the roads isn’t going to freeze. My phone hasn’t had this much of a workout in ages as I try to keep up with current weather forecasts and temperatures in the towns I am riding from or toward. I’ve never monitored the difference between 36F and 32F so closely, and for days on end. The first thing I do each day and the last thing I do each night is check the forecast and road condition reports.
But through it all I keep going. I know…it sounds silly. Of course I keep going. What else am I going to do? This is what I wanted. This is what I chose and put into place for myself. And here I am, in all its glory. Wet, and cold, and tired. So after another exhausted fall-into-bed night somewhere in Louisiana, I wake to a new day. And as Jerry Maguire said – “Breakdown. Breakthrough.” The sun is out. It isn’t raining. The roads are wet, but not frozen and in a few hours they will be dry. There’s a steady breeze, but it isn’t stupid gusty like it has been some days. It looks like a good day. For the first time in a while I’m actually excited to get on the bike.
The sun is weaker this time of year and only warms the side of my body that it shines on while the other half of me rides in cold. But the further the day goes on the warmer it gets. I’m riding with the wind at my back in the afternoon, one of the little things you appreciate when you ride. And the forecast for the next few days is continuing to improve. While I ride I think about how grateful I am for the good weather and the change in the wind. It occurs to me, as it has many times before in my life, that the bad days make this attitude of gratitude possible. It takes the rainy, cold days to really make me appreciate the sunny, calm ones. The good days are only good days when you can compare them to the bad ones to gain the perspective that they are comparatively better. Everything is relative. The bad days are a gift to me as much as the good days are because of the perspective they offer, the memories I make and the laughter I experience having come through whatever trial I have had to endure.
I must try to remember that on the next rainy day.