Thursday, October 15, 2009

Harvest Homecoming-Where's the Hot Chocolate?

I was initially excited about the Harvest Homecoming ride in Indiana when I read about it in July. First, a scenic ride rolling through the hills of Floyds Knobs, Indiana followed by a fun afternoon of pumpkin picking—could the day be any better? Did I also mention a winery? However, the start of the morning was marred with one problem…it was 38 degrees at my house when the sun was coming up (7:20AM). Loading up the car, my teeth were chattering and I was hoping not to damage any of the preteen dental work my parents worked so hard to pay for. I had anticipated a “nip” in the air, so my bag was packed with an assortment of warm wear gear but after securing the bike to the car, I noticed my fingers turning blue so I raced back in the house and like a mad woman emptied out my warm weather drawer compiling every piece of cold weather cycling gear I had into one bag .

Once at the starting line, it was evident that there was not going to be a tropical warm front rip through the area anytime soon. I started to wish my bottles were filled with hot chocolate or coffee. Even the start of the ride was downhill which instantly created headwind and set the overall "feel" for the rest of the course. So basic math here….38 degree surface temperature+ head wind+ 10-15mph wind gusts= FREAKING COLD. Some cyclists were dire hardcore riders and stood there in their shorts and tee-shirts waiting for the start. I, however, double checked my thermal fleece gloves, my head buff that was covering my ears, and my thermal tights to ensure that there was minimal skin exposure. From there…it was what you would expect: FREAKING COLD!

5 miles in: Little or no feeling in toes or fingers, teeth still chattering. Large downhills caused groans among the 1000 or so riders. We huddled en masse to attempt to collect warmth. Our noses ran like faucets. My ride partners and I sought out taller riders to draft behind with little success bringing our core body temperature up.

10 miles in: You would think we would be a little warmer by now. NOPE! Part of course was in the shade and that shade really does reduce the temperature by a few more degrees (GREAT!). Spinning was the best option to keep your organs warm and we actually began to look forward to climbs because they warmed us up. Normally on rides, we discuss we were wishing the SAG stops had hot chocolate (with or without marshmallows).

15 miles in: Okay, so we were FINALLY warmed up—kinda-- but we were afraid to stop for anything…bathroom, pictures, etc. We could not resist the lemonade stand overlooking the city though. Kids know just how to get ya! We took it upon ourselves to suggest some marketing advice as a girl bounced around in her hat and gloves...."can the lemonade and make some hot chocolate!" (We were on a mission).

20 miles in: Even with layers, cold mucus, and long hills we were still cold but not only cold….we could now feel our body ails. My fellow rider informed me her knee was on fire. I looked over enthusiastically thinking I could huddle around it if indeed flames were spewing from her joints…but she OBVIOUSLY only meant it metaphorically. Damn her for getting my hopes up but then we realized that pressing on for a longer ride would not be wise. We pulled in sometime after mile 25. It was still cold. Even after loading up the car again, we found our bodies working against us as we each took turns coughing and wheezing.

Being the troopers that we are, of course, we did not let this minor meteorological mishap detour us from the rest of the day, including pumpkin picking. The Harvest Homecoming is an excuse for ALL city dwellers (including ourselves) to drive themselves 20-miles outside the metropolitan and harvest our own ugly pumpkin (see above). Strolling through the fields, we were forced to take pumpkins with less than perfect complexions. However, we were finally warm. We could finally take off our gloves, head buffs and arm warmers. It did make for an interesting site pumpkin picking though (see below).

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