Cycling is an extremely dangerous sport. In the saddle of the bike you are vulnerable and susceptible to peril by wind, rain, dogs, cars, mistakes by other cyclists, distraction, stupidity of oneself, etc. The list is endless. Cycling puts me in dangerous situations every time I ride. I frequently ride solo for long periods to train for triathlons. I also ride in packs with other cyclists at dizzying speeds with our wheels inches from each other in a pace line. I will climb, then hurtle myself down the other side at speeds of 35-40mph. All are dangerous situations in their own right.
I approach cycling with a healthy dose of fear (a.k.a. knowledge of the reality of what could happen.) I remain diligent at all times. I refrain from using my phone, do not listen to music, take pictures or fiddle with my gadgets.
The weekend finally arrived, we packed the cars and headed down to Chattenooga, TN as planned Friday morning. We knew the weather forecast was not favorable, but were remaining firm in our belief the rain would pass and we would ride as planned. We hit the expo, picked up our race packets, took fun pictures and had dinner together. The night was filled with nervous tension, laughs and fun. When we woke the next morning, I had all of my gear for the day carefully laid out, my bike was clean and prepped, tires pumped and was in the mindset to ride when we headed down to meet for breakfast at 6am. Until I looked out of the window, then checked the weather radar. It was a deluge. Literally. It rained, it was cold and it was dark. The weather forecast had been dismal, and it played out as anticipated.The conditions were horrible. Climbing mountains on a road bike is dangerous under normal conditions, especially the long, very steep downhills. Today's forecast was for highs in the mid 50's, steady heavy rain and very poor visibility. The storm seemed to be locked directly across the three state area and up into Kentucky.
After much deliberation, a large number of cyclists including myself, opted out of the race. It was the most difficult decision I've had to make in a long time. As an experienced cyclist, I know the risks and I was not willing to succumb to the dangers of riding in such conditions. It seems many who attempted did not get far onto the course before turning back and very few finished the 100 miles. There were 2 fatalities, sadly. Numerous crashes. Cases of hypothermia. I am happy to report that everyone in my group was unscathed.
I was disappointed. It was devastating that something I had looked forward to for so long was taken by Mother Nature. Things did not go as planned. I tend to still have my issues with wanting to control, so it was a major let down.
However, through it all I rallied and remained positive. Since we returned to Indiana earlier than anticipated, we had the rest of the weekend free. Some of us decided to do a hundred mile ride in Indianapolis on Sunday, to get in the mileage. It was rainy and windy, but there were no mountains! We completed the ride safely, and it was a nice consolation to what might have otherwise been a weekend gone bust.
I am grateful for the experience. I grew from this, and will apply this growth to life. Disappointment will come but it's how I handle it that matters. Instead of muscling through and plunging into a ride I knew was dangerous, I followed my gut and opted for safety. It was the right thing to do. Think before I leap, then handle the repercussions with grace. Keep on moving forward.