Sunday, August 26, 2012

When the Lights Go Out

As the days continue to get shorter -and the workouts longer - it's going to become harder and harder to fit my training into the daylight hours. Swimming (with the exception of open water swims) and running are less of a problem, but the bike rides will be a challenge. A two-workout day with a 2-hour ride (not to mention my day job) leaves precious little daylight for cycling. If only I could become a professional amateur triathlete.

Good planning is the key to any major training; I'll need to stay on top of sunrise/sunset times and structure my workout accordingly.  This past Wednesday's ride was a refresher course in what not to do. A swim and ride on the same day means I train both in the morning and the evening. On these days I try to get out of work a few minutes early and get training (not only do I want to catch some daylight but I try not to push dinner too late). I made it out of work early enough Wednesday but due to some golf-tournament-induced traffic that my buddy hit and some unnecessary tinkering with the bikes, we started riding way too late. Never fear though, I was assured that the sun was to set at 8:30pm. 

For future reference, here's what that does not mean: it will be completely light out until precisely 8:30pm, at which point it will become dark.

The tree-laden back roads of Long Island's North Shore didn't get the memo about staying lit until  8:30 and it began to get dark rather quickly. We pressed on with our hill intervals, hoping to squeeze in all six. By the 5th climb, things were starting to get dicey, so we called a meeting. The decision was to start heading back and work the last interval into our return trip.

It was too late though; we'd let the sun completely disappear and now we were stuck riding in the dark.  Normally I am an ├╝ber-prepared triathlete, but not thinking we'd be out in the dark I had only a small front light and a Road ID led in the rear.  Knowing that at home I had a variety of gear to both increase my visibility and light the roadway only served to make the situation more frustrating.  My fellow rider was about as ill-prepared as I; hopefully our little blinking lights were enough for the cars to see us.  On top of the fear of not being seen, we also had to worry about our ability to see.  Between my slightly tinted lenses and the lack of a proper lamp, seeing the road was a nightmare. Removing my glasses improved things marginally but I was basically holding on for dear life and hoping not to hit any big bumps or grooves in the pavement.

The ride home was nerve-wracking and I'm quite sure it shaved some time off my life.  Fortunately we made it home safely and we'll take the experience as a reminder to be more prepared in the future.

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