Last Monday was a Civic Holiday (Saskatchewan Day for us), and most of the city was quiet and businesses were closed. My wife had the day off and since the temperature seemed pretty mild, I thought it would be an ideal day to try and achieve 70 kilometres on the bicycle. I had discussed this plan with my wife a few days prior, and given the amount of time that it would take me to reach this distance (I cycle at about an hour for every slice of 20 kilometres, give or take) she suggested that I leave during the early morning hours in order for it to be cooler outside and so that I wouldn’t lose the majority of the day to my trek.
I decided to take her advice and set my alarm for 6:30 am. I probably could have gone a bit earlier, but COVID has made me a bit lazy in my old age, and getting out of bed is a definite “not like” for me. My CGM sensor was scheduled to need replacing in the next four hours and I knew I wouldn’t be home in time, so I opted to remove it and simply run without for the duration of my trip. I loaded up the satchels on my bike with cereal bars, protein sticks, electrolytes and jelly beans. I checked the inflation on my tires and I took to the road at about 7:30 in the morning.
The first leg of my trip went flawlessly. My goal was to take a 35-kilometre route to a local community called Lumsden, stop for a light bite to eat and make my way back. My plan was to use secondary Highway 734, since it had a paved surface but would be quieter than the busy, four-lanes Highway 11. It also takes a roundabout route, allowing for a longer mileage. I had tunes going, my mileage was being tracked by my Runkeeper app and I even achieved 10 kilometres in 20 minutes, which was a speed goal I had been trying to achieve the week prior.
I managed to reach Lumsden in just short over an hour, but the route I used only took 29 kilometres! You’d think this would be a good thing, but it meant I’d have to find a different, longer route in order to get home otherwise I’d have to spend time lapping my neighbourhood streets in order to hit my 70. I examined the map and decided on a route that should have allowed me to reach my goal.
I had plenty of company on the road, despite the light traffic. Between prairie dogs, horses and cattle in the fields and the dozens of caterpillars walking about the road surface… Since it was a fairly chilly morning, the caterpillars are drawn to the asphalt’s heat, which it absorbs from the morning sun. But before I go off on a tangent, let’s get back to the ride…
Not only was I sitting on cloud nine from the speed I had used to reach Lumsden, I was pretty confident that I would be able to get back home in roughly three hours’ total, which would have signalled a whole bunch of achievements in terms of time and distance. But as I often say, life doesn’t care about one’s plans. And in this instance, nature and technology had a much different idea of how my morning would go.
First, I experienced the AWESOME pleasure of climbing the Lumsden hill on a bicycle. In case my sarcasm isn’t quite oozing through my typed words… It was ridiculous. Then I hit the top of the hill into the open area and got hit by wind. Directly. Into. My face. It was the kind of wind that brought me to a complete stop as soon as I stopped pedalling.
I know that a lot of people joke about how flat Saskatchewan is, but does there seriously have to be this much wind ALL THE TIME??? All the time I gained during the trek towards Lumsden was blown out of the water by trying to ride against the wind over the next three hours. It didn’t take long for me to become exhausted and with the lack of CGM, I was curious as to how my blood sugars were doing.
I stopped on a quiet stretch of highway and tested my blood. I was sitting at 4.1 mmol/L, which isn’t a HUGE issue but since I still had about 20 kilometres to go I thought it would be a good time to stopped for a snack. I texted my wife to let her know I was still alive and stuffed my face, followed by some electrolytes. I got back on the road and kept struggling against the wind.
Then, right in mid-song, my phone went quiet. I stopped and checked on it, only to find the the battery had died. This struck me as odd since I’ve often cycled for four hours or more and still got home with a charge. So now, not only had I lost my ability to track my progress, I also lost any means of communicating with my wife (or emergency services, if need be). There’s a certain psychological effect to recognizing that you’re in the middle of nowhere with no means to call for help, if needed.
I made my way home and realized that as I was angry at the fact it was windy. And then I realized? Is there any point to being angry at the wind? After all, the wind is a natural occurring phenomenon. It serves a number of purposes in nature. It wasn’t INTENTIONALLY making my ride tougher, despite the fact that I kept asking ti to “give me a break.”
And this is an important aspect in everyday life. We’re often faced with naturally-occurring obstacles that we have no control over and aren’t set out to make our lives difficult, despite the fact that they often do. Life doesn’t care about our plan and we have to work through or work around those obstacles accordingly. Ultimately, I managed to reach my 70 kilometres. It sucks that the phone stopped tracking at 58.9 kilometres, but at the end of the day, I still reached the mileage. So it wasn’t a wasted day, despite how blasted I was when I finally got home. ☯