“Did he try other stuff before the finger, too? It just didn’t work out? ‘You know what, suck my back!’”
– Dane Cook
Before we get to the meat of the post, this bears mentioning again: Iowa wind is absolutely brutal. I made a point at the end of the day Friday to spend some time researching the wind forecast for Saturday, including the specifics of whether a southeasterly wind meant that I would ride with or against the gale when riding in that direction, so that I didn’t ride directly into it. Such research included a hearty Google marathon as well as a phone call to D. The confusion, it turns out, lies not just with my ineptitude but in the fact that some sources report the wind as the direction from which it originates while others report the direction it is bearing. All of this research was futile anyway as I still spent 20+ miles heading straight into the gust. So that is twenty miles with no rhythm or comfort, bringing the entire morale of the ride down significantly.
It still also baffles my mind how incredibly bountiful dirt roads are here in Iowa. Even being on a paved road isn’t enough to make you reconsider the notion that a significant percentage of roads in Iowa are dirt. When traveling even on a main highway, some 50-80% of the turn-off options appear to be dirt roads, which severely limits my options for bike routes. This is quite the departure from Philadelphia and Ohio where I rarely, if ever, came across an unpaved route. So not only does it mean limited route options, but it also means more time spent on Google Street View in an attempt to sort out a 100% paved ride before heading out.
And now back to the ride at hand.
After heading those 20+ miles West into the wind, I then turned North to experience the ever faithful heckler.
A Chevy Camaro whizzed by, its obnoxious inhabitants leaning out of the window, the proverbial “bird” flapping in the wind as they shout and gesticulate their manhood in my general direction.
We could spend some time talking about the origins of the middle finger and why that should be considered offensive to a human or we could also talk about whether or not the addition of the thumb extension dulls or even negates the offensiveness of the finger jutting proudly into the air. However, the individuals responsible for waggling their fingers with such pride do not, upon however brief consideration, seem to be the type to understand history of any kind so explaining to them that it dates back to the ancient Greeks as a symbol of sexual intercourse will likely not have much impact.
As if this particular appendage waving in the wind wasn’t enough for one bike ride, I was also met by another hand gesture, this one considerably more positive, however, as another car whizzed past with a “thumbs up.” In both instances, words were shouted at me, but like most people, their knowledge of the Doppler effect was sorely lacking.
These instances are innocent enough but they highlight a deeper issue. Perhaps if it had been later in the day, the dudes in the car more inebriated, feeling the need to be more masculine, or whatever the reason, they could have been more aggressive than signaling their desire for me to copulate with myself with single-digit gestures. Instead, they could have run me off the road or worse. One trip to YouTube will find numerous examples of this and other reckless behavior from drivers wanting to show off and otherwise express violent tendencies.
In the case of Saturday’s ride, I am left wondering what exactly is the end goal of the finger or the thumbs up? What happens later that day? Does the thumbs up dude bring it up as a battle story? “Hey…do you guys like…do you remember that time that we drove past that guy on his bike and I like stuck out my thumb at him and yelled when we went past…do you…do you remember that? That was awesome.”
The final interaction of the day was also a potentially dangerous one. I was biking along Route 6 at a stunning 12 mph riding into the headwind when I arrived at a weird intersection where the incoming road on my right was a “Y,” allowing the right hand turning traffic their own lane. I biked through the intersection just as a truck pulled up on the left fork, intending to turn right. He/She honked at me as I continued cycling because apparently I was impinging on their ability to turn right onto Route 6 which, technically speaking, I was. Instead of keeping my head down like I probably should, I merely pointed to the giant sign that was a combination of a stop sign and a yellow sign stating that cross traffic does not stop. As a cyclist on the road, I am part of traffic. Therefore, I do not need to stop in the middle of the Y to allow the truck to go first.
For more on my love of stupid people shouting out of their car windows, please read my post entitled Let Them Yell: Riding on the Sidewalk is Still Illegal. You’re gonna love it.
All of these interactions ruined, or at least dampened, a pretty good ride overall on a beautiful day and with the successful completion of my longest ride since last May. The miles, although still daunting, are going up and up each week and have begun to enter the mental excitedness phase in which I begin to anticipate the ride with an edgy sort of nervousness before departing. Anyone can blast through a 30 mile ride (relatively) easily. But get past 40 miles and you have to start thinking more about hydration and breathing and nutrition and heart rate. Like I said at the beginning, the headwind threw this off a bit, but the beginning of the ride was great.
Friday night, I ate a big homemade sausage quesadilla and woke up the next morning to some cereal with strawberries and blackberries, and a big glass of orange juice. I then snacked on chocolate covered cashews and banana chips throughout the morning before leaving late again for temperature reasons. However, unlike last week when I was waiting for temperatures to go from 13 to 22 degrees, this week I was waiting for the temperature to climb from 28 to 50. On the ride, I ate an oatmeal cookie at 21 miles and 32 miles and had a Special K Coconut Cashew Nourish Bar at the 42-mile mark. This was the third ride I have done with the oatmeal cookies and although they taste good, they are very dry, making it difficult to eat while riding. When I got home, I made an oatmeal cinnamon waffle with some bacon and about an hour later, I had a Chobani Flip yogurt and some more strawberries.
Sunday morning, I had another oatmeal cinnamon waffle for breakfast and left for the ride around noon with the temperature at nearly 60 degrees. Winds at 16 mph greeted me but I was able to get the nastiest headwind out of the way in the first half of the ride, turning North at the 14-mile mark. I ate an Init granola bar at the 13-mile mark and made it through the trip with nothing remotely interesting happening, unlike the day before. I finished off the day with a 7-mile walk to keep my legs from getting too tight right after the ride.
Physically, I am starting to notice a difference. My legs are starting to feel heavier and heavier, perpetually tired. My bum is also beginning to show significant signs of chaffing. Daily application of Bag Balm should keep that at bay, especially with rest day coming up tomorrow.
Something new that I noticed after getting home on Sunday from the ride was that my face felt hot. This happened last week as well on the bitter cold Saturday ride but I had chalked that up to a lack of hydration. This week, however, hydration was not an issue and still my face felt flush. The current hypothesis for this is prolonged wind exposure. Call it windburn or whatever but I think bashing my face with 16-18 mph wind for over an hour on Sunday and however long I was getting hammered on Saturday caused some significant irritation to my face. This is something I think I have only ever experienced a handful of times, but given the increased wind exposure since biking in Iowa, I will need to consider options to reduce this in the future because even as warmer weather approaches, the likelihood of strong gusts across these planes will not likely decrease.
For the week, I was able to finish off my 100-mile commute goal and with the addition of the weekend rides, I reached my highest weekly total this year of 193.6 miles.