Watch the Weather

Last night I had scheduled myself for one of my 2 hour gravel shoulder rides along Lake Macatawa and Lake Michigan. I call it my ‘Big Lakeshore Shoulder Ride’ in my tracking sheet (I keep track of all my riding and running in excel – more on that some other time). It’s just less than 29 miles and is fairly flat with a couple of hills thrown in for practice. With Courtney launching into yet another night of one of her winter painting projects after we put the kids to bed, I dressed and thought I’d get an early start.

Normally I leave the house around 9. Yes, I’m a night owl. I’ve invested in adequate lighting, reflective gear, and warm clothes to be able to do this through the winter. It’s part of my own personal compromise in an effort to get as much riding in as possible without it affecting too much family time. Unfortunately it leaves me with less sleep, but I’m working on a plan to shift that a bit.

After a hard week of running and riding last week I thought I would take Monday and Tuesday off this week (I had a meeting Monday night anyway). So when I stepped outside at 8:15 and noticed the pavement was slightly wet, I was a bit irritated. I remembered reading in the 5 day forecast (on Sunday) that there was a 30% chance of rain/snow, but it wasn’t supposed to start until ‘late’. I guess I should have researched The Weather Channel’s definition of late. An hour into my ride (and the furthest point from my house) the weather turned nasty.

Up until that point I was having a good ride; 15 minutes of easy warm-up, 4 solid hill climbs in my favorite Lake Michigan shoreline dune neighborhoods, and 7 miles of gritty gravel shoulder. The precipitation was very sparse. Just before I got to my Pigeon Lake switchback, though, the shoulder became over saturated with water and began pooling into puddles. I could no longer keep the sand and water out of my face and mouth. Shortly after I hopped over to the bike path to avoid the mess, the sky opened up and dropped a heavy mixture of snow and rain.

I thought I could make it back without getting too wet if I cut my route short by taking Butternut (a relatively straight shot back at my neighborhood). Immediately after I made the turn at Pigeon Lake, however, I started to feel my butt get wet and knew it wasn’t going to be pretty getting home. I picked up the pace (which makes me look like a clown on my single speed) knowing that if I got wet and didn’t generate enough heat I was going to be as cold as a piece of raw beef in a meat locker before I got into the house.

From Pigeon Lake it’s about a 25-30 minute ride to get back on my single speed (35-18 gearing). Sure enough, by the time I pulled up my driveway I was soaked to the bone. Fortunately, I had worked hard enough that I wasn’t shivering. Not quite the workout I was planning, but a good work out all the same. I peeled off all my gear and hung it up in the basement to dry (shoes are still soaked today) and then hit up a hot shower. Next time I’ll watch the weather a little closer.

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