BIG BLOW HARD
3 October 2002
"Do you think you'll be warm enough?" Cindy asked me.
I was wearing shorts, a t-shirt and a denim long-sleeved shirt. The
wind was blowing a bit. "I'll be fine," I said.
Then a gust hit me and I decided maybe I should put on a real
jacket, so I got my windbreaker and zippied it up tight. Off we started. It didn't take
long for me to be very thankful I'd put on the jacket.
September and October are notorious "wind" months around
here. We've had a couple of years where we have not experienced "the big winds,"
but this is not one of those years. The wind has been blowing for a couple of days now.
Winds up to 35 mph (the news just said). You won't find any debris on the streets these
days--it's all been blown to that place where garbage goes when it blows away. Yesterday
the air was full of dust particles, but today--at least at 5 a.m.--it was crystal clear
and you could see every star, as well as the beautiful crescent moon shining overhead.
We took off on our regular run. I love biking at 5 a.m. because you
can ride in the middle of the street and never ever encounter a car. Occasionally by the
end of our ride, the city is beginning to come to life and we might pass a car or two, but
for the first half hour at least, we have the town completely to ourselves.
Up three blocks, over to the park, through the park, over the
overpass, down the bike path and onto Covell Blvd. This is a wide road which heads out
into the countryside. It's also a lot of open areas--no buildings to divert the wind and
as we made the turn, I was nearly knocked off my bike by the force of the wind. It took
all of my energy and concentration to keep up with Cindy--we talk a lot on these rides,
but this morning conversation was difficult because I was breathing so hard from the
effort to keep the bike moving. A couple of gusts caught me off guard and I was afraid I
was going to topple over
When we turned to ride past the marsh, the wind dropped to almost
nothing. The trees made a wonderful windbreak and we flew down the curves of the path
until it met up with city streets again.
Wind met us again as we turned onto the streets. Not as bad as on
Covell, but I was aware that I was riding along in 5th gear most of the time (where I
usually ride in 6th, with occasional bits where I can shift up to 7th gear...bear in mind
that I know nothing about bike shifting. I know I have umpty-ump gears on this bike. All I
know is that 99.9% of the time I keep the left gear at 2 and do all my shifting with the
right gear, so in my mind, I only use 7 of the available gears--the low numbers are the
wimpy numbers; the higher numbers are the jockette numbers).
We fought the wind until we got to campus, where the tall buildings
again provided a good windbreak and we could coast along pretty well and I could shift up
to 6 again.
The wind was blowing so hard it even blew away the smell of the
cows, which often permeates the campus. UC Davis got its fame as one of the best
veterinary schools in the country and with vets come animals, and with animals
come...well...smells. Cows are very definitely a part of this campus and make themselves
known long before you actually see them. But not today. The wind had blown it all into the
We left campus and onto the city streets, stopped at the bank for
Cindy to make a deposit and then onto the last leg: F Street. Wide street with a straight
shot at the incoming wind. It's a nice flat street, but there were times when it was an
effort even to creep along. I shifted down to 4. I've never ridden in 4 on The Blue Angel.
And still I was huffing and puffing and fighting the never-ending wind. It reminded me of
the day we did the Ride for Hunger
in Sacramento and I had to pedal downhill because the wind was blowing me so
forcefully from the front.
We turned off F St. for the last half mile to the house and Cindy's
car. The wind was a bit less forceful here, but still a struggle to keep moving forward. I
was totally exhausted by the time we returned home and my jacket was soaked with sweat. I checked our time. We usually do this
ride in 40 minutes, and it was a surprise to discover that it had only taken 45. The wind
had slowed us down, but not by much. But I sure got my workout this morning!