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.

Pretty soon the rain let up and the wind moved to our back giving our legs a boost. The sky started to clear and the sun broke free of the clouds. We could still see the blackness that had passed us but we were now out from under it getting a push. Soon we were gliding along with a stiff tailwind and the sun drawing salt stains on our clothes. We chatted and relived the craziness we had gone through, laughing about it like you only can after the fact when all is well.

That tailwind and sun were our passengers for the rest of our way back to the city. We careened up hills and swept down the other side, while taking the flats fast and smooth. My friend made the call when we hit the final destination. He hung up the phone laughing telling me half the participants quit when the storm hit. One of them being an organizer that told him to quit at lunch.

The beauty of riding when the wind is with you and the sun upon you, is some of the best there is. If you havenʼt felt the euphoria it brings, donʼt worry, itʼs right around the corner. If you need help getting there, Iʼll give your seat a push, count out a rhythm or get you in my slipstream. More often than not, we need to ride through rain that threatens to blind us, wind that threatens to knock us over, or say ʻI canʼ when others say you canʼt. Riding a bike has taught me so much, and for that Iʼm grateful.

Thanks for reading my friends.

ʻMay the wind be at your back, and the sun upon your faceʼ

Ian, aka – Pedalman, is from Toronto, Ontario.  He is an all weather cyclist and lives a life where helping others comes before anything else.  And, of course, he always Keeps the Rubber Side Down.
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20 Responses to “ May the Wind Be at Your Back, and the Sun Upon Your Face ”

  1. suzanne on June 16, 2013 at 2:01 am

    Just wondering if you are the Ian that lived with us in scarborough Martin and Suzanne

  2. Ken Walker on March 6, 2011 at 3:47 pm

    Reminds me of the Rideau Lakes Tour from Ottawa -> Kingston and back. The ‘back’ part was just so brutal last year (2010) but it was a mental game to be able to keep going (provided you hadn’t already gone hypothermic). Looking around at the people as we got back to Carleton University they were as happy to be there as your friend was to finish the day. They had made it and could live to tell the tale.

  3. Clive Chapman on March 3, 2011 at 7:00 am

    I know there’s a subtle difference between having to pedal in weather like that as I have to on my commute, or going out voluntarily, but the feeling is the same.

    The thing that gets me is the look of awe on my work mates faces when I rock up in snow or driving rain on my bike. I’m sure they think I’m mad. Maybe I am, but I’m sure enjoying life and the differences the seasons bring.

    Great story, though mate, really enjoyed that and boy did it resonate with me!

    • PedalmanTO on March 3, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      It’s not madness, it’s passion. Riding in all seasons gives you a totally different perspective on things. Thanks for the read my friend.

  4. Dave Krentz on March 2, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    Ian, you really captured the emotions that come with facing down a storm … I found myself nodding and laughing as I read it. Now everyone else in the cafe is staring at me uneasily …

    • PedalmanTO on March 3, 2011 at 4:09 am

      Thanks for your kind message. I still smile every time I think of that day.

  5. Katie on March 2, 2011 at 4:43 pm

    Beautiful post, thanks for sharing! Reminds me of my first bike tour, can relate to what your friend had to ride through.

  6. Heather Nielson on March 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm

    Loved reading your post Ian – and getting to know you just a bit more 😉 It’s those moments on the bike – when we push beyond what we think we’re capable of – that define us and mold us into who we are. I’m grateful for all those moments that I suffered beyond what I thought I was capable of, like last weekend where I finished a race as they were rolling up the start/finish line tape. Thanks for sharing!

    • PedalmanTO on March 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm

      Thanks for connecting Heather, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

  7. Archergal on March 2, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Great story. One big life lesson I’ve taken away from cycling is this: for me, almost ALL hills look impossible from the bottom. It’s only as you start up them that you see that they’re not as bad as you thought they were. 🙂 And when you get to the top, it REALLY feels good.

    • PedalmanTO on March 2, 2011 at 3:51 pm

      Happy to hear you’ve experienced the joy of owning a hill. Keep the Rubber Side Down.

  8. Mike Osborne on March 2, 2011 at 2:10 pm

    Amazing story! I can only think of one time a tailwind was not a welcome feeling.

  9. Darryl on March 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    Ian, you are the epitome of motivation and inspiration. Thanks for sharing another great post with all of us here at Loving the Bike.


    • PedalmanTO on March 2, 2011 at 2:53 pm

      Your welcome brother, thank you for giving me the opportunity.

  10. esagor on March 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm

    What a story! Thanks Ian for the post.

  11. Anonymous on March 2, 2011 at 1:57 pm

    Great story and having the tailwind and sun on the face is a great feeling. Also, I think it tells us a lot about you as a person and how you stuck it out for your friend and encouraged him the entire way.

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