Sunday, March 16, 2014

Breaking Bad(Ass)

We're due for some nice, dry weekend weather here in San Antonio - for two weeks in a row, Saturday morning has been a rainy mess, which makes for some unpleasant cycling. Last weekend, the girls and I hit Castroville and managed to get all our efforts in before the rain came. The last hour of our ride was spent in misty drizzle in traffic on slippery streets with road grime flinging up from passing cars and trucks into our faces. The highlight of that ride was having a driver pull up at a traffic light next to us in her (warm, dry) car and tell us "I just want to tell you guys that you are so badass." Were we badass or stupid to be out there? We decided on "reluctantly badass" because we had tried to outrun the rain, but failed. It still felt good to hear. 

Last Saturday's mudfest.
When you're on a journey trying to morph from not-so-badass to Super Badass status (whatever that looks like to you), you're going to have to face your fears at some point, whether it's on purpose or not. Yesterday turned out to be an exercise in facing fears, although I didn't know it when I set out. I rode with Dawn and Trent, a new member of our squad. Dawn was planning on an easy 70 miles. 

Fear #1 - Dawn's "easy rides" are never easy for me. I don't know Trent and I don't know how fast he rides. Will I be able to keep up?

Then, as soon as we exited Dawn's neighborhood, it started raining. ARGH.

Fear #2 - Robert just detailed my bike for me last weekend after I rode in the rain. He's going to kill me. (just kidding - sort of)

Real Fear #2 - I'm afraid of riding in the rain in traffic in a group that I'm not at the front of. I always feel safer in front. And clearly I am not going to be riding at the front of this group. 

As we rode easy up Blanco Road, Dawn was trying to decide on a route. She picked Kendalia/Edge Falls because it would have less traffic on this rainy day. 

Fear #3 - The route. Dawn described this route as "Alphanso's first 100 miler, remember, last year?" I do remember, but not because it was Alphanso's first 100 miler. It was a ride that I totally melted down on. On a rainy, cold day, very much like this day, we rode with a ton of people out to Kendalia/Edge Falls, and I was having a bad day. I couldn't keep up and I was pissed. The folks on the ride who were doing IMTX were expected to do 100 miles, and some were just along for the group ride. Freezing our butts off in the rain on scary high-traffic highways, Orissa and Brian, who were not doing IMTX, decided to turn back and cut the day short early. I opted to go with them. I ended up standing in the middle of Amman Road with Dawn (who had turned back to check on us) screaming at me about mental toughness, and me screaming back that I didn't need to build any character, I had plenty, thank you very much. I ended up continuing the ride and reluctantly building mental toughness. It's hilarious to look back on now, a year later, but as we rode yesterday, those memories kept resurfacing as I struggled to stay with our speedy little group that now included a stray roadie that we had picked up along the way.

Dawn, me, Trent, and the Stray Roadie (think his name was Greg).
Fear #4 - Riding in my aerobars in a group. Yep, I'm still not over this. And I need to get there before I race again. I know I won't be racing in a peloton, and that sometimes it's safer to sit up on a group ride, but sometimes you need to just suck it up and practice being around people in your aerobars. So yesterday, I did a 10 minute effort in the rain at the front of the group, in my aerobars with Dawn next to me yelling to stay in my aerobars. I did, and I even turned corners and I didn't fall down, and I lost a tiny bit of fear.

It ended up being a ride that I was proud of, and I do feel somewhat more badass for facing some fears and pushing a little bit past them. I've had conversations about fear - with Dawn, regarding riding in aerobars in crowds and wet roads - "aren't you afraid to fall and break your collarbone again?" "Yes, but I'm more afraid to ride slow and let my coach down." Maybe sometimes it's about choosing which fear to listen to. And then today on our run, I talked about it again with Brian - "Aren't you afraid to ride in the rain?" "Yes, but I'm more afraid to be screamed at by my coach for being a weenie." Whatever works, right? Moving forward. :)