This is the story of nine dollars worth of gloves and a two dollar hat — and how they saved my ride yesterday. But it really isn’t about those things. This is really a story about making decisions and taking action when you’re in the midst of a workout or a race. What I hope you take away from this story is that you need to keep focused on making it to your goal and do something about it when something doesn’t go as you planned.Yesterday I had set out to ride 100 miles in preparation for an upcoming Ironman distance triathlon. I prepared all of my gear, including a backback full of full or food, spare tubes, money and the like. I was fully loaded to spend several hours out there on the road. The weather called for a dry day. There was supposed to be no chance of rain. It was over 40 degrees (F) out, so it would be perfect weather. I dressed accordingly, wearing what I would consider more than enough clothing for the weather. Multiple layers on top and bottom and — this important — wind-stopping gloves and outwear.
This is a critical detail. There’s a difference, as I was reminded, between wind-stopping and water-proof clothing. I was plenty warm as I set out and for the first 20 miles things were going great.
Then the rain started to fall. The skies darkened. It started to pour. I could see that this was no passing shower. Indeed, for the next three hours the rain pummeled me seemingly from everything direction. My gear was completely soaked. I could feel the water pooling up in my cycling shoes, even despite having neoprene booties over them.
So now I’m almost 50 miles from home and completely freezing and soaked. This where the advice comes in. I had to take an inventory of my options and you need to do when things go awry. My fingers were number and starting to tingle in that way that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to use my hands much longer.
I had four options that I considered: 1) continue the ride, risking a crash or frost-bite (not a good option), 2) turn back and try to cut the ride short, potentially changing clothes at home and then continuing the ride (but I honestly didn’t know if I could make it), 3) bailing on the ride and calling a friend or a cab to get me, 4) do something else. ..
None of these options sounded very good and “doing something else” didn’t seem to be panning out. But then something happened. I was way out in the middle of nowhere, but I passed by a small market. I thought about how that might help me out. I thought that if I could just get some new gloves or even plastic bags to put over my hands. I knew they wouldn’t have cycling gloves, but I thought I would check it out.
I imagine myself now looking like Macgyver, striding purposefully into that little market. In actuality, I was dripping and so badly that the woman at the store had to mop up after I left. In the store I found a rack of gloves and hats. I bought three pairs of gloves: a pair of rubber cleaning gloves, a pair of cotton mittens and a pair of canvas gardening gloves. I put all three pairs on with the rubber gloves closest to my skin to keep the water away. Then I put the new $2 ski cap on under my helmet and drank a cup of very hot coffee.
And it worked. Within a few miles, I could feel my body temperature coming back up. I could feel my hands and fingers and, quite amazingly, they stayed dry for the rest of the ride. Problem solved. Ride saved.
This could have been a different kind of cautionary tale — one in which I told you that I didn’t make it through my ride or had an accident. But this tale turned out positively because I kept thinking, took action and tried something to correct the problem. Keep that in mind the next time something goes wrong on your long workout or ride.
Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News
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