Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Not pretty

Date: July 9
Mileage: 38.2
July mileage: 244.2
Temperature upon departure: 51

The day started out so well. Drizzling rain tapered off early. I rode a light tailwind out to the valley and managed some strong intervals on the Glacier spur road. Mileage increased rapidly, and just as I was thinking “this whole summer cycling thing is way too easy,” the brunt of the storm blew in.

It was the kind of storm that earns its own regional designation. I think in Juneau they’re called "Taku Blasts" or something equally ominous. But no matter where you are, these storms always feel the same to a cyclist - headwinds that suck the air out of your lungs, sideways rain that could pierce a helmet, and an unexpected drop in temperature. I fought the storm like an outnumbered conquistador all the way home, knowing defeat was imminent because I was going to have to maintain my early pace just to make it to work on time.

Do you ever look at yourself in the mirror after a ride like this? I try not to, but it’s like trying to look away when you pass a particularly disgusting lump of road kill. The bloodshot eyes caught my attention first - swollen and framed by dark shadows. My entire face was checkered with blotchy red patches and spatters of mud; wet hair clung to my forehead and dangled in snarled strands over my neck. To top it all off, I had a stream of snot oozing down my upper lip. I didn’t even notice it before because my entire face was numb, like my hands, but I still know attractive when I see it.

I always wonder how much of this image lingers even after I’m showered and blow-dried and sitting at my desk in my khaki pants and turtleneck. Can my co-workers tell how I’ve spent my morning? Is it obvious to anyone that just an hour earlier, my face looked like a half-rotten salmon laboring for breath in the shallow end of a creek? I may never know.