I think I have mentioned in an earlier post that I used to be the guy who didn’t train in the winter. The idea of it seemed like something only crazy, addicted, insane people would do. People with an inexplicable amount of dedication to cycling. I had a casual barometer to riding. Was it too cold for shorts? Then not riding. Raining? Not riding. Had too much wine the night before? Not riding. And then I made cycling goals. And I got faster. I climbed bigger hills and I made progress. I could be convinced to ride in the rain. As of this winter, I ride in the cold too. Bitter cold. 25° cold with a headwind but never in the dark. I wouldn’t ride in the dark based on the premise that “To ride safely, you have to make the assumption that cars can’t see you, then go from there.” That is in the daylight. In the dark? Well, that is asking for trouble.
Last weekend I had a big training ride planned. About 100 miles or so. It was supposed be a nice day, maybe mid 50’s and sunny. In my mind I am glad to put away the thermals and the wool. I was looking forward to it, even though I have had this lingering cough that I assumed to be allergy related for the past two weeks. Then I got a call full of tough decisions about the ride.
B: “Hey, I have something to do on Sunday, so I can only ride on Saturday. Cool?”
Me: “Yeah, that’s cool. Saturday works fine.”
B: “Oh. Thanks.”
… The next day…
B: “… listen… about Saturday, I have to be somewhere by 2PM, so we have to be done with the ride by 11:30. I know that will be tough, but if we start early enough…”
Me: “…<sigh> What I won’t do for cycling. OK. No worries. It is supposed to be warm, but only later in the day. It will be dark, and cold… I think I will need to stay over the night before to get started that early.”
B: “Great! See you then. We will start at 5:30AM, should give us plenty of time.”
Long story short… at 5:30AM we rolled out, headlights and tail lights on the bikes over the very hilly terrain in the balmy 25° weather. At 7:30 we saw the sun rise over the peaks to the east while climbing a long Category 4 hill. My breathing was labored, more than usual. I couldn’t get it together. My lungs were on fire, hacking and coughing.
At 10:30 or so we realize we are behind schedule and cut the ride short, which was a blessing for me. I felt completely drained (No O2 going in the lungs, no power to the legs). The rest of the day I am still coughing and trying to get my breathing under control.
Sunday afternoon I realize that the coughing is persistent. It feels like Bronchitis. I go to the doctor, and sure enough, Bronchitis. Just over a month to the Gran Fondo, and Bronchitis? Ugh. I blame it on training in the cold, in the dark, at 5:30AM when it was supposed to get up to 50° that day. Thank goodness for modern medicine to get me back on my feet quickly. Prednisone and a Z-Pack.
Oh, and hopefully, no more cold weather riding. Seriously. I am done with the below freezing riding for this year. The novelty has worn off.