Saturday, 15 April
Today was payback for those three dry Saturdays we had at Mason Lake in March. It made the Tahuya-Seabeck-Tahuya road race an ugly epic this year. On a good day, it's a tough 65-mile loop. On a bad day, it's awful.
The forecast was for rain, rain, cold temperatures, and high winds. But the forecasters were wrong: instead of wind, we got snow! It's amazing that I did not hear of a single crash, and although I saw some horribly cold riders, I don't think there was any irreversible damage.
It was pouring rain and 42 degrees when we got to Tahuya (which is on Hood Canal), and it just never stopped or warmed up. Nobody really warmed up before our race--because of the rain. We staged--in the rain. We bowed our heads and thought warm thoughts of Brad Lewis and his smiles and encouragement for everyone (thanks, Effie!)--in the rain. We should have also thought happy, supportive thoughts for Emily, who's an active member of our peloton and past participant in this race.
Backtrack a little here. After Thursday night's laps in the rain, I developed a hacking cough. I don't feel sick, but it sounds pretty bad. After the first kilometer of today's race, I could feel every breath like a knife in my lungs. Probably not a good thing, eh? After another kilometer or two, my hands and feet were soaking wet and well on their way to numb. So. Ride 65 miles in steady, cold rain, or not? This is not rocket science. I rode to the top of the first hill (about mile 5) and turned around and went back to the car. Lots of the men who had started before me were already there.
All our cars in Tahuya were jammed in one small parking lot like we were at a football game, so there was no getting out to go to the feed zone (like anyone would have wanted a bottle of cold water!) or drive the course to pick up hypothermic riders. I was able to give refuge to two returnees who were locked out of their carpool buddy's car, and I maybe helped out a little at the finish line. And I heard so many stories of snow, shivering too hard to control the bike, inability to grab the brakes because of numb hands, willingness to abandon bikes if only someone would offer a ride back to Tahuya.
I never once thought I'd made the wrong decision for me. But there must be a more competitive side to my character than I acknowledge. When I got home, I was grumpy. I considered the day pretty much a waste of time. I didn't do anything constructive, I didn't do anything I enjoyed, I didn't get a workout, I didn't see much that was beautiful (on a clear-ish day, this course has a fantastic view of the Olympics), and I saw lots of people suffering. And I'm so behind in my training because I rode just 11 miles today!