Now, we don’t pretend to know what the hardy folks from the Snow Belt of Minnesota or New York endure this time of year. Chances are you guys have it way rougher, and our hats are off to you. Still, no matter how you slice it, Saturday’s ride was cold. We had a temperature swing of only 7 degrees, from 26 to 33. The 26 actually came at the end of the day, when an angry northern wind rocked the mercury back on its heels, sometime after three as the sun dropped below the tree line.
The cold considerably thinned the starting line-up. A couple riders bailed publicly on the NC Randon listserve; others had their wives phone it in. So there we were, the Magnificent Seven, cocooned in multiple layers, narrowed, skeptical eyes squinting out from the thin coin slots of balaclavas.
All that cold riding I mentioned? I have a lot of things figured out. How to keep the hands warm, and the arms warm and core warm. I’m still working on the feet. They ached for 30 minutes or so until I fired up the engine room and stoked a little warm blood through them. My threesome – me, Joel and Jerry - actually had it pretty good until the turnaround in Mt. Gilead, at the Food King! (that punctuation is part of the name). The wind was on our backs, so we knew we’d pay dearly – as we motored along at 15 or so, several leaves passed us, surfing the pavement on a cruel northwest wind.
When we turned, so did our fortunes. We battled icy headwinds for the next 60 miles. Joel did the lion’s share of the pulling, and we occasionally lost Jerry, who was riding a single speed and kept his own rhythm through the many hilly portions. The only thing that kept us warm was a back-and-forth about the cinematic merits of the various Scarlett Johansson movies and discussion about the wikipedia listing of an adult movie star named Joel Lawrence.
The unrelenting wind began to angle in from 10 o’clock, numbing the left side of my face and my lips. Twenty miles out and late into the afternoon, the thermometer shed a couple more degrees. Any pretense of fun was gone now. We were just looking to get er done and start an internal combustion motor and fire up the heater. We rolled in at 5:37, just as the sky began to darken.
We had a post-ride barbecue celebration – dark chopped pork edges, red slaw, French fries, hush puppies -- at the former Honey Monks in Lexington (now Lexington Barbecue #1). As I downed a second Styrofoam cup of Cheerwine, I could hear Joel hitting the go button again on the handwarmer in the men’s room.
Another fun day on the bikes. Thanks to Tony for hosting, and to all for the company. Sorry, no pix. The iPhone screen doesn’t work when you’re wearing gloves and it was too cold to take em off. A special congrats to Jerry, who I believe now has R-46, meaning 46 months in a row of a 200k or more.
Post script: Joel sent along this note, posted Saturday, by one of the local clubs:
Due to extreme weather conditions (18 wind chill at 10:00), there will be no ride leader tomorrow. For anyone still interested, it will be show and go on your own.
He also sent along a picture of these two dogs that chased us near the Rowan County line....