I woke up an hour before my alarm went off. Even though I had a late night at the Tractor Tavern listening to the Irish sounds of the Paperboys and stomping my feet to their celtic rhythmic beats and getting into bed way past my bedtime.
I couldn't help it. This morning marked the first team ride I could attend since our meet the team ride last October. Never mind that it was misting so heavily outside that visibility was poor. Never mind it was only in the low forties with a 80% chance of rain the rest of the day. Living in the Northwest requires a hearty attitude and an indifference to the weather.
Today was my first team group ride of the 2011 season and I was estactic.
I slapped on my fender (and truth be told my makeshift duct tape buddy flap didn't do the job as everyone who sat behind me had a mouth full of grit), put on my thick wool socks, bomber booties, 5mm diving gloves (thank you Jimmy for the best tip EVER!) and bright orange shower pass jacket. Cycling through the winters in the northwest demands dialing in your aquatic gear.
I may or may not have heard on more then one occassion that I look like I'm going underwater diving sporting my cycling cleats, helmet and bike.
But you won't see me turn back. You won't see me pick the trainer over the outdoors unless there's snow and ice or some specifically perscribed workout. I'd rather battle it out. I've only called for a rescue once - early in my winter gear testing and racing career. And that was more because I was hypothermic then wet - it was 36 degrees and pouring rain. I had yet to discover my wool sock/bootie combination. Yet to discover the wonders of stinky diving gloves and ridiculously visible ShowerPass jacket. That day I was shivering so badly I couldn't control my bike so I dialed my brother to come to my rescue. As they say - it takes a village.
Turns out the ladies are fit this time of year. The local road racing season starts in a month. Their zone two is my zone four. But did that keep me from gravitating to the front, taking a monster pull, faking it like it didn't hurt? Ha! I wish. I opted to turn around at the "church," about 20 miles north of the city. They were going a full 70 - and I knew with my early season fitness I'd have to pull the dial a ride card at some point. And that's not a card I want to go into a ride knowing I'd have to play.
No, no - turning around the church was a brilliant idea. It was even confirmed later by a text from a teammate who went the distance. "Snohomish was epic, long and cold. Smart move."
And guess what? By the time I got home it stopped raining. And I collapsed in a heap on my bed for at least an hour, enjoying the throb in my legs, the full body exhaustion and the reality that there's a lot of work to be done.