Wednesday, January 23, 2013

High Heat Adventure to Beat the Freezing Cold Temperatures...Biking through the Freeze

"Looks will fade as we age, but the good-hearted soul will naturally radiate an everlasting beauty"

Today I not only embraced the "suck", I dominated it and then spread the domination to one of my fellow riders.
Let me first start by telling you that the temperature today was somewhere between 11-15°F.  COLD!  This story is about me and the Orange Bike Guy! You may not know my buddy but he's been involved in some of my other stories as well, and this time I finally learned his name, Jack!  Now we are officially friends and riding buddies for anytime we see each other after tonight's bonding. 
Tonight it started with me turning onto the bike path that follows the West Side Parkway like I always do. It's a path along the Hudson River and tonight I saw two riders in the distance.  I wasn't catching up that fast but I wanted to see who it was. I sped up and didn't recognize the rider struggling to keep up with the guy further ahead.  Then for a second I caught a glimpse of an orange Pannier and, bam, I put on the thrusters!  Maybe I was going a little too fast as I sped past him but I turned and waved to say hi anyway.  I didn't want to lose speed at that point so I just kept it up hoping he would try to keep pace with me. He did! which made me feel good. 
As usual, no words were spoken, but I knew it was my turn to lead, also known as "pulling". "Pulling" means that you take the brunt of the wind and the other person stays directly on your tail to avoid some of the wind because they're sitting in your air stream. I felt my adrenaline pumping hard... It was crazy intense!  It was freezing outside but I was overcome with heat. My face mask was so full with steam that it was hard to breath and the steam eventually spread to my glasses which almost instantly iced up.
Along the ride, there were a few really cool moments. The light was hitting the floor and creating shadows. They were playing with my mind and convinced me to push harder and longer.  As we pumped our legs, we would pass street lights and I would see my shadow grow and then his pop up right behind. Then mine would get smaller and his would as well. We would vanish for a second until the next light and the process would start all over again. It felt as though time was slowing down  but we were hauling ass and in reality we passed light after light after light within seconds. 
Then we reached another section of the path that has no streetlights. My bright light was shining, illuminating the way in front of me and I noticed that he had thrown his light on as well, for safety reasons, so he could see the ground as well as my wheel. which I am sure was only a few inches from his. The effect the light had was just as cool.  From my light, I could see the shadow of my bike and I in one shade of bright light and from his light a smaller darker outline of his figure almost layered on top of mine. I could tell he was still super close. 
I don't know why, but these lighting effects both got into my head, my legs were on  fire. I was sweating like a beast on a fridgid night but for some reason I just kept on pushing harder.  I was not trying to test him or myself but I kept pushing because it felt good, it felt right, things were clicking.  It is a feeling I have not often felt since the days of playing soccer when I swear time would slow and I would pull moves out of nowhere that I didn't even know I was capable of. 
We finally slowed, not because we wanted to but because we came to a road block. The path had water covering it and the whole stretch had become a huge sheet of Ice. We had to stop and duck under the yellow tape line, slide over and across the ice pond before continuing on our journey. When we did, our race was over and we had a nice catch up and talk session.  He remembered my name although I had to ask him of his. 
It was funny because he had no idea how old I am but found out through the compliment he gave me.  He said he was trying so hard the entire time to keep up with me. He said he had not seen a good paced rider who rides quite as aggressively as I do in a long time.  It's funny that our ages are inversed. He is 42 and I am 24.  Although he is much older and I am much younger, we are the "same" and I can tell we both sense this fact.  I jokingly brought up that I hope to be like him when I get older (especially shape wise) and his response was, "You already are, just keep it up, never stop". I liked that.
He is as young and peppy as he ever was and even though he was catching that side wind on his panniers, he made himself keep up. It was also funny that we both complained about how cold yesterday's ride was... It was terrible. It had drained us and seemed to drag on and on.  However, tonight neither of us noticed the cold or wind at all until we slowed down, even though the conditions were just as cold as yesterday. 
Although time had seemed to slow down at the same time it had sped up as well.  It seemed like the ride was done in the blink of an eye. I look forward to riding with him again soon, who knows what will happen next. Limits, for sure, will be pushed.