The ride plan was simple, really. We wanted to find out what the Ironman bike course felt like in its entirety. So we’d park at the reservoir, do the 22-mile ride to the beginning of the two-lap part of the ride, do the two laps, and then — even though this was not part of the course — we’d ride back to the reservoir.
A 140-mile road ride, give or take. Ambitious, but not ridiculous.
There was just one snag: the weather forecast for St. George that day was odd: “Windy,” it said. Honestly, I don’t recall ever seeing a weather forecast saying that before. “Sunny,” sure. “Overcast,” “Rainy,” “Snowy,” absolutely. But never “Windy.”
The weather forecast, as it turns out, was inaccurate only to the extent that it should have read, “Windy as hell.“
I imagine hell as a very windy place. Don’t you?
As soon as the ride began, The Runner and I — as a survival technique — started taking turns drafting, in a decidedly un-TT-like fashion.
By the time we had ridden the first half of the first lap of the course, I noticed we were averaging 12.5 miles per hour. I did some math for what that meant, finishing-time-wise, and didn’t like the answer I came up with.
I checked my math. I was not wrong. If the wind held (or got stronger, which seemed likely) and we stuck to the original plan, it’d be close to dark before we finished the ride.
I said as much to The Runner, who replied, “I’m determined to finish this ride.” Which was good enough for me.
Until it wasn’t.
The Right Thing to Say
At Veyo, about 20 miles from finishing the first loop, we stopped at a convenience store. At that point we hadn’t gone far enough that either of us should be cooked, but I was cooked. And The Runner looked tired, too.
But I did not say anything. I had already asked for an “out,” and was declined. I, being a macho, macho man, would tough out the ride, no matter what.
And then we began the ride toward Saint George and the beginning of the second lap. This section is primarily downhill, and should be an excellent place to recover.
But the wind was coming at us, hard, from eleven-o’clock. Meaning it had all the power of a nice hard headwind plus the exciting challenge of a brutal crosswind.
I did more math. And the math looked bad. I arrived at a conclusion: I really really really did not want to do the second lap.
But how to tell The Runner this? I used the ample time I had — courtesy of a murderous headwind / crosswind — to think of a convincing argument.
Here is what I came up with:
I am so tired. I don’t think I can handle a second lap. What do you say we just cut it short and head back to the truck?
I didn’t like that, though. Saying “I am so tired” is an admission of weakness, and as a man, I am contractually obligated to never ever (ever) admit weakness.
So I formulated another speech, this time focusing on a logical approach:
You know, we’re going eleven miles per hour right now. It will be dark in four hours, and if we do a second lap, we have seventy more miles to ride. I’m not sure it’s a good idea to finish this ride in the wind and the dark and the rain.
No good. She’d already know all of that. She didn’t need me shepherding her.
I crafted a casual dismissal of the second lap:
Really, I think we’ve got a good idea of what this course has in store for us. I don’t think it’s going to be necessary for us to ride it again.
I liked this approach at first, but as I practiced saying it in my head, I realized she’d see right through it.
I considered the pathetic approach:
I’m in my small ring, going downhill. I don’t think I want to do this again in the dark and rain. And I’m cold, I’m tired, I hate the wind, my nose is running, and this just isn’t fun anymore and I want to go home. [Then start crying for effect]
In addition to this approach being pathetic, it was in fact also the most honest approach, and I was just about to go with it.
Then The Runner said, “There’s no way we’re doing a second lap today.”
And my speeches — my wonderfully crafted and extremely persuasive statements — suddenly became unnecessary.
And my relief was as exquisite as it was poignant.