When Charles Dickens wrote “It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade” I believe he must have been writing about Michigan. I love my state, especially by Lake Michigan, but training for Ride The Rockies during the spring months will test your resolve and your endurance. My riding journal reads like something out of the Perfect Storm…
March 19 – 23.54 miles – 45 degrees, partly sunny, wind out of the northwest at 15-20 mph
March 21 – 50.04 miles – 42 degrees, mostly cloudy, wind out of the northwest at 12-15 mph
March 23 – 30.96 miles – 40 degrees, cloudy, wind out of the southwest at 20-25 mph
This is not ideal riding weather. I favor 85 degrees, sunny, calm and just a touch of humidity. But that kind of weather doesn’t happen in Michigan until at least July. So in order to ready myself for the arduous climbs afforded to me by Ride The Rockies, I dress myself in enough layers to resemble an Oompa Loompa, and ready myself for another ride that will cause my nose to run uncontrollably and freeze it instantly to my face (it’s not a pretty sight, trust me!).
When the cross winds blow like it does on the shores of Lake Michigan you get used to riding like a crippled ship that lists in the water. The only problem with riding in this manner is if the wind suddenly stops blowing or, if a large enough vehicle passes you and impedes the wind, you end up nearly falling over. The only redeeming quality of this wind is when it is behind you – oh yeah!! It is that one moment when you feel like Lance Armstrong when he was juicing – your average speeds are incredible, and of course you just want to keep going and going; and then you turn around and wonder aloud “Why didn’t I turn around sooner…what was I thinking!?”
It is in those moments that I remind myself to LEAN INTO THE STRAIN. It is not only good advice for riding in Michigan in the springtime, but also is good life-advice as well. Life rarely has a consistent calm and it will test your resolve and endurance as well. If we are to thrive in this life rather than just survive, then we must learn to lean into the strain, sometimes with our heads down and our lips pursed and our teeth clenched.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. wrote, “I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving: To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it – but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.”
So remember no matter what life throws at you keep moving and LEAN INTO THE STRAIN!