May the Wind Be at Your Back, and the Sun Upon Your Face

The last time I had my friend Ian (aka @PedalmanTO) contribute to the blog, he told us all about “Keeping the Rubber Side Down“.  He’s back again with another motivating and inspiring cycling story.

May the Wind Be at Your Back, and the Sun Upon Your Face

- by Ian “PedalmanTO

At some point we as cyclists get to experience the giddy feeling of churning in the big ring with little to no effort. Sailing at speeds exceeding your exertion, all the while, the sun dancing upon your face giving warmth and an enveloping sense of freedom.

A few years back a friend of mine was training for a 600km charity ride and asked if I would join him on a particular scheduled session. It was the first one that would take him past 100kms in one go, and asked if I would ride it with him. I jumped at the chance, and the organizers were happy to let me ride with the pack. My friend was a slower rider and didnʼt have the mileage behind him as so many of the others. We were given a map, directions and sign-in locations.

Within 20 minutes I knew this ride would either give him strength or weaken his belief that he could do the journey he signed up for. We got dropped off the back and a stiff side wind was picking up. The map detailed a route I was familiar with, especially the hills. There were two thigh burners I knew all too well and those were before lunch. Before hitting the first one, I coached him on how best to take the hill and own it. I would stay right behind him and keep the pace he set. He struggled but made it to the top without stopping. The second one was just around the corner and I knew this would be the make it or break it. He asked if I would take the lead and he could ride my stream as his energy was wavering. As we came within sight of the hill, a few words escaped his lips not fit to print. He got into my stream and was sticking to my wheel. I was singing out a beat to keep cadence to for the both of us and all was good, until the headwind hit.

It slapped into my right shoulder and took me off course by a foot. I dropped my head and regained cadence, singing stronger and louder. I ducked my head under my arm and saw my buddy almost at a standstill 50 feet behind me. I swung around calling out for him to keep going. I got up along side him, grabbed his saddle and gave it a nudge. We both battled, but made it. He was grinning ear to ear until the lunch stop 2kms from the top.

Upon arrival the organizers were in the process of packing up. The sweepers for the ride didnʼt realize they had passed us. They made us some food and then suggested my friend abandon the ride as we still had a little more than halfway to go, and a storm was brewing. They didnʼt think he could make it before the storm hit and he could retry this ride the next week. His grin vanished and the shoulders sagged, I jumped in and started to negotiate with the organizers. I told them he would ride with me and check-in by phone when we got back to the city, they would be absolved of all liability. I knew a few of the stronger riders as I had raced against them and the organizers recognized my team kit. They reluctantly agreed and took off like a shot trying to stay ahead of the black clouds creeping up on us.

Back out on the road, the wind started to really kick up and knock us around, a little rain started and then the sky went black. We started to scream at each other even though we were riding side by side. We needed to find cover, and fast. The challenge was we were on a back road in farm country. Within minutes, rain was pelting us being driven by a gale force headwind. We found a porch in which we both flopped, looking wilted and haggard we both started to laugh uncontrollably. My buddy looked at me, shaking his head knowing the only way home now was on the bike and the route I argued for him to be able to complete. The porch sheltered us for 20mins as the worst of the storm passed. We headed out in the rain and wind.

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