Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Riding to the Root: The war against wind

When I was in junior high, one of my favorite Vikings players was running back Leroy Hoard.

It wasn't because he blew anyone away statistically. Robert Smith was the Vikings featured back at the time and Randy Moss and Cris Carter were putting up far more illustrious offensive numbers. There also wasn't anything flashy about him. He wasn't a likely candidate to break for a 60-yard run a la Adrian Peterson, nor was he likely to blow through a defensive line like an in-his-prime Jerome Bettis.

No, Hoard endured himself to me for being what NFL analysts termed as a "grind-it-out" running back. He hardly ever broke for a long run, but he could always be counted on for 3-5 yards a pop and was one of the best at "moving the chains." Matter of fact, I distinctly remember a commentator saying this about Hoard: "If you need two yards, he'll give you three. But if you need 6 yards, he'll also give you three."

You're probably wondering what this little flashback has to do with my biking exploits to the Root River Trail. Well, as I sit in a gas station in Dexter, waiting for the rain to blow over, only one thing comes to mind when I look back on a full day of cycling: Wind.

Simply put, the wind has been relentless today, coming from the southeast all day and ranging in speeds from 15-25 mph (a woman in Lansing told me that Austin had a wind advisory today, I believe it). Given the direction of my travels (south and east), the wind was kind of like having an anchor attached to my bike.

I dealt with the wind fairly well at first. But as the day wore on, it drained my energy and sapped me of much of my enthusiasm.

However, rather than lamenting about how Mother Nature dealt me a crappy hand and calling it a day, I settled into a grind-it-out mode, much like Hoard back in the day. I didn't care if I had to downshift to lower gears of hop off my bike and walk for a stretch. All that I cared about was making forward progress.

This isn't a race, and I'm not trying to get to Lanesboro in record time. If I were going for speed, I wouldn't have packed most of the things that are currently bungeed/strapped to my bike. I also wouldn't have brought a laptop with to keep my readership entertained.

No, this trip is closer to the principles I lived by at RAGBRAI last summer. Nobody cares how you get there, just so long as you get there. If that means having to hop off the bike and walk, so be it.

Just keep moving the chains...

*On a positive note, my bike had zero malfunctions today and, up until now, I've had good luck with avoiding the rain that has apparently blanketed the state. The people I've met along the way have also been exceptionally nice. If the rain lets up, I might try to grind out a few more miles before setting up camp for the night.

1 comment:

  1. So cool what you're doing! Hope you're having a good time. Maybe you could compile some of these blogs into a Monday Health & Fitness cover upon your return. Just a thought! Ride safe.