Thankful this is behind us, at least for a few days…

Sure, it was a bit dark and ominous up on the other side of Skyline Thursday morning, but I don’t recall it looking quite this spooky!

Tuesday’s ride had finally been epic quality, but the forecast for Thursday had the angry yellowish-orange storm cells hitting just towards the end of our ride. Pretty much on-target; it was windy and raining lightly as Kevin and I headed out (and we’re finally getting the wet-weather-get-all-the-gear-together timing right, so we’re no longer showing up a couple minutes late and having to race after imaginary rabbits).

Would anybody else be there? Yep. Kevin (pilot) was willing to brave whatever weather might come at us. The climb up Kings was pretty slow; in truth, I felt terrible for the first half, but fortunately did work into the ride as it went. Any fear that we’d be in the way of locals and construction equipment was unfounded; we were passed by maybe 3 cars on the way up, and saw a dozen or so coming down. That’s over a half-hour period!

This photo makes it look like we’re really flying around the corners! Largely an illusion; I cropped out the part of the bike computer showing us at just 18mph.

It wasn’t a good idea to trust any other route back down the hill, given all the mudslides lately, but we really wanted to get in a few more miles than “just” up and down Kings. Pilot came up with an excellent suggestion… we ride down Tunitas to the “grassy knoll” and back. That was actually a pretty nice little addition, with maybe one or two cars and a bit of fog to give things a slightly-eerie appearance. Got to say though, it didn’t seem as cool at the time as the photo above shows!

Back up on Kings it was time to put on the rain jackets and things started to look threatening, and no more than a minute or two into the descent, we were glad we did. It started coming down pretty good, but traction remained excellent (one of the benefits of heavy rain is that you don’t get any oil sitting on top of the road) and we made pretty good time down the hill. We did stop to let a couple cars pass; we’re doing our best not to inconvenience anyone trying to get around on whatever roads remain open.

As much fun as the ride was, I am looking forward to a few days without rain.

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High winds? Check. Heavy rain? Check. Sleep in? No way!

Heading up Kings Mtn this morning, where we got to watch some slow-motion slides in action.

Who knew Kevin and I would be famous for our ride today? But we’ll get to that shortly. First off, yes, when any sensible person was sleeping, and what those sensible people later on came into our stores to buy Wahoo Kickr trainers so they could have simulated rides on Zwift’s Watopia.

But Kevin and I aren’t a subset of those “sensible people.” We woke up to heavy rains driving hard against our windows and though finally, that epic ride we’ve been waiting for! Finally, our wet-weather bikes and wet-weather clothing would get a full test. We really weren’t suprised that nobody else showed up to enjoy our idea of a good time though… I guess they figured that much fun could be bad for you. Roads were pretty much deserted, but we did come across two women out running and exchanged remarks and glances that clearly we were all part of a club in which there are very few members and little evidence of sanity, and yet we were all having a very good time.

The ride up was pretty easy and quite spectacular, with miniature waterfalls everywhere, slow-motion mudslides, and the sound above us of very high winds but we felt only the rain. That’s the interesting thing about climbs up to Skyline. You don’t really ever feel the wind, but it sure makes a racket. Even on Skyline itself, at least the section north of Sky Londa, you can hear it but you’re riding in a special protected zone that seems to exist just for us. Towards the top someone driving the other direction rolled down their window to ask if the road was open. That’s kind of funny if you think about it; there’s an assumption that the bicyclists will get through places the cars can’t. Or maybe they’ve just seen me one of the several thousand times I’ve climbed Kings.

Because we didn’t know if 84 was open or closed, we headed back down Kings, descending very securely on our disc-brake Trek Boone ‘cross bikes. I cannot possibly overstate the advantages of disc brakes for rainy descents. The reduction in stress (on you) is enormous, because your brakes act exactly the way you want them to, when you want them to. No delays, great road traction. Our descend was interrupted by a flat tire close to the bottom, causing us to pull over into a driveway and apparently give great pleasure to a motorist who didn’t think bicycles should be on his or her roads when they’re in such bad condition. You can see “PanicFan”s write-up of us here, and just under it, my response. Kevin and I try to be nice people when we’re cycling, and if we did something that brings a smile to someone’s face, hey, how can that be a bad thing? Balance had been previously provided when, as we were climbing during the height of the storm, another motorist rolled down his window and yelled “You guys are awesome!” Yeah, I’ll admit it, that made my day. 🙂

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