I recently bought a new bicycle as a means to get fit. Mastering 27 gears, the handle bar position, and the narrow seat was a challenge.  But I stuck with it and found my passion for the sport increasing.  The question is when does passion become obsession?

A friend of mine who is an avid cyclist advised me to buy a computer for my bike to measure speed and distance traveled.  I asked “why”?  I don’t care how fast or how far, I just want to have some fun and get in shape.   But the dealer threw one in with the package, so there it was.

Soon I became obsessed with the computer.  I wanted to get my miles in.  If I don’t get in at least 10 miles a day I feel bad.  I thought I’d never be caught wearing the stretch riding pants.  But they have padding in all the right places and are very comfortable.  And I got the shirt to match, and then I needed a new helmet, just like the one Lance Armstrong wears.  And so it goes. My general interest in bicycling for fitness and health is turning into an obsession.

I ride 10 to 15 miles a day time permitting.  I feel good, and I truly am getting in shape.  But is that enough?  Recently something happened to convince me that I’ve turned the corner.

On Tuesday, June 5, Naugatuck experienced a hail storm the likes of which Connecticut rarely sees.  I was preparing for my daily ride and noticed some threatening clouds off to the west. I had already missed Monday’s ride due to rain, so I need this ride. I figured I could ride my 15 mile loop and beat the rain.  I pumped up Route 68 towards Prospect.  The ominous looking clouds were still of to the west and I was making time.   I sailed down Route 69 into Bethany.  On Route 42 I may have felt a rain drop.  As I started to head north on Route 63 into Naugatuck I could no longer ignore the impending storm. I pumped as fast as I could. I still had a chance to make it home.

I passed a man standing on his porch watching the lightening.  “Hurry up fella” he yelled.  I gave him the thumbs up.  I would beat this storm.  Huge Lightening bolts were starting to strike. With each strike I yelled “Yea ha”! Perhaps out of fear, or was it excitement.   I counted the time in-between lightening flash and thunder clap.  One-one thousand, two…crack!  The lightening was getting too close.

The sky started out as dark gray, like a typical thunderstorm. But as the storm intensified it changed to a yellowish green color.  This couldn’t be good.  There was a cold, stiff winter wind leading the storm into town. Even going down hill I had to shift to the easier gears, the headwinds were significant.

The storm hit with a fury. I made it as far as the Route 8 overpass just past the Mobile station, only 1 mile from home.  Cars started to join me as the hail increased in diameter from several centimeters to golf ball size stones.  I had to move further under the bridge as the larger stones hit the pavement and traveled at speed along the road and bounced off my tires.  The storm let up slightly and I scrambled to the next overpass near Nelson’s Pharmacy.

The hail turned to rain, so I decided to continue on home before a tornado decided to blow in.  I crunched up High Street and realized that even with the delay I was still beating my best time for this 15 mile loop.  There is no better incentive to pedal faster than tornado threats, golf ball sized hail stones and freezing rain.

High Street was covered with a layer of leaves that had blown down off the tree lined street and then was covered with melting hail.  Soon the entire road surface was covered with this lumpy green sheet of ice.  I crunched up the street as one car slid by me going down hill.  Okay, I thought, this is serious. I had to ride up the middle City Hill Street because water was streaming down both sides of the street.  Visibility soon became my concern as a layer of ground fog formed.  I pumped on up the hill as fast as I could.

Finally home, I checked my computer, 1 hour.  Typically it takes me a one hour and seven minutes to complete this loop. Shaking from the cold and the exertion I went into the garage and towel dried my bike. I felt energized, I beat my best time.  I realized that tomorrow, weather permitting, I’d ride again. This is obsession!