Tag Archives: rain

What makes a great rain ride, and why you’d want one

Only one other rider out on the road this morning; the man in black! Think you can see why I'm not a huge fan of wearing all-black clothing on a bike.
Only one other rider out on the road this morning; the man in black! Think you can see why I’m not a huge fan of wearing all-black clothing on a bike.
How many people go to bed hoping to wake up to really hard rain for their bike ride? Not many I’m guessing. Most see it as a good excuse to ride a trainer, or maybe go out later in the afternoon when the forecast shows a break in the weather. But my son and I? We live for such crazy days. Days when there’s almost nobody out on the road, at least nobody that doesn’t have a really good reason to be there. Days when it’s not about riding fast, it’s about simply riding. Period. Riding because you can. Riding because your bike is an extension of yourself, and life is about pushing back against walls right? Limitations are things that others can’t do, but you’re not others.

And maybe that’s it. It’s about finding something that you can excel at. The easiest thing is to pick up a copy of OSQ (Obscure Sports Quarterly) and look for a sport where you might be a big fish in a small pond. Never mind the reality; that perhaps you become a bit player in a sport nobody cares about. But cycling is no longer a section in OSQ; cycling has arrived. It’s big, and getting bigger. So how do you make your mark in cycling? How do you push limits further than others? How do you make your name?

By doing things so stupid that others wouldn’t bother to try. It doesn’t start out that way; cycling is a significant part of your life, and you simply want to do more of it. Why let weather stand in your way? You go out on rides when the weather’s iffy, and sometimes get caught in the rain, making a mess of your bike and leaving you with a feeling that it just wasn’t that much fun out there. Maybe should have stayed home. Exactly the wrong way to look at life! You’ve identified a challenge. Should you run away from it? Heck no. Embrace it! Tell the dark clouds overhead to bring it on, ‘cuz you’re ready for it.

That’s about the best description I’ve come up so far for the state of mind that finds me out there in what most would consider to be miserable conditions. Preparation is key; you need a bike that’s reliable in messy conditions (and trust me, disc brakes make a HUGE difference, not just in stopping power but also control & traction), and the right apparel. You give up on trying to keep your legs dry; the key is to keep the engine running at a consistent speed. Don’t go too fast and risk running out of gas and getting cold, nor so slow that you don’t generate enough heat to stay warm. There’s a certain amount of skill in doing that. I’d say it’s safe to say Kevin and I have that skill.

But today wasn’t quite perfect. Sure, it was raining pretty hard a few times, and a good breeze blowing on Skyline. But it eased off just a bit towards the end, and a few hours later, stopped raining altogether. A perfect rain ride finishes hard (as in downpour), and it stays raining throughout the day, so you’re deluged with people saying “You rode TODAY???!!!” That would make it the perfect ride. :-) –Mike–

Cold, wet, 2 flats, let’s not do this again!

I woke up briefly at 4am this morning, looked out the window and saw clearing skies. Ah, maybe the weather was going to hold off! Back to sleep until 6:55am when I woke up to… rain. No quite right; at most a light drizzle, but really wet streets. Thankfully, I’d already made sure our rain bikes were ready, so Kevin and I dutifully hit the road at 7:31am, a few minutes earlier than normal ‘cuz the rain bikes are a bit slower and you’re somehow just a bit less inspired when all bundled up and staring into gray skies that are literally descending upon you.

First flat, descending 84. 37 degrees, raining pretty hard. Not fun!
First flat, descending 84. 37 degrees, raining pretty hard. Not fun!

Just one other silly person at the start, the other Kevin. It’s a bit confusing on a ride in which the only other people are both named Kevin; I decided to call the older guy (the pilot who’s done this ride with me for 20+ years) “Captain” and the other Kevin, the 20 year old whippersnapper who shares my last name and address… well, still trying to figure that one out. It wasn’t a pretty ride by any standard; 33 minutes up Kings tells that story! Not so bad across the top (Skyline) although we did notice the temperature steadily dropping, which isn’t normal. It’s supposed to start out cold and get warmer, not start out cold and get colder.

flat2But nothing too exciting, no drama, until just prior to heading back down 84 “Captain” Kevin notices his rear tire is low and stops to inflate it. We make it about 3/4 of the way down the hill before it’s nearly flat again, so we stop to replace it. In a very cold (about 37 degrees according to my Garmin) and steadily-increasing rain. Cold and wet enough that, after “Captain” Kevin used a CO2 cartridge and placed it on top of his gloves and the old tube on the ground, everything literally froze together. Seriously. And I didn’t get a photo! Darn.

Post-ride coffee not optional today, but required!
Post-ride coffee not optional today, but required!

We then proceeded down the rest of 84 and got less than half a mile down the road before his tire went flat. Again. This time with a bit of a bang, because during the inflation he’d apparently pushed the valve up into the tire a bit, causing the tube to wrap down underneath and rip. Sigh. At least it was now 41 degrees. 10 minutes later we were off again, no more drama the last few miles, and finally, clearing skies. We were left wondering if it was going to be a beautiful day for riding just as soon as we finished, but fortunately, that didn’t turn out to be the case as the blustery weather continued for most of the day.

It was a very, very good feeling finally getting up over Jefferson, half an hour behind schedule, knowing a hot shower was in my immediate future. One of those hot showers where your gradually-thawing hands become incredibly painful as they finally warm up, and one of those mornings where a Caramel Latte at Peet’s wasn’t optional, it was required.

Could we have skipped this morning and ridden tomorrow, when it will be much nicer, instead? That’s what most people would do, but we’re not most people. When it’s time to ride, it’s time to ride, and you can’t let the world tell you otherwise. That’s just how we roll. We’re stupid that way. Curiously, looking at Strava, very few others were out riding this morning. Wonder why?