Tag Archives: skyline

Riding the BRB (Big Red Blob)/Bill Watterson understands me

I was thinking about Calvin & Hobbes as Kevin and I descended 84 in Monsoon-like conditions (except that aren’t Monsoons usually warm?). That BRB (Big Red Blob) in the weather radar map? At 9:05am this morning, it was right on top of us.

Finally, everything lines up for the almost-perfect rain ride. Or so it seemed last night, with the Big Storm dominating the new. Rain bikes checked out, lights charged, wet weather gear laid out. We were ready!

Except, at 6:50am this morning, there wasn’t much going on outside. A bit of wind, light rain bordering on drizzle. I felt like Marvin the Martian in the Bugs Bunny cartoon, wondering “Where is the Kaboom? There was supposed to be an earth-shattering Kaboom!” Many past potentially-epic rain rides have fizzled out, and I was afraid this might be one more. Nevertheless we put on our “epic-ready” gear and headed out.

It was pretty warm as we approached the base of Kings, and the drizzle upgraded to a legit light rain. We climbed… methodically. Nice talkative pace, also aware of the need to ride consistently so, if things did become epic, or even semi-epic, we wouldn’t freeze. From bottom to top we saw a gradual decrease in temp, and a gradual increase in rain & wind. 40 degrees on Skyline and we were still pretty comfortable, but I did make a point of going to the front and burning some fuel to stay warm.

The first sign of good things to come? The roadwork at Bear Gulch is complete! No more one-lane traffic control. A very good thing today because that’s exactly where it began to really rain as well. Descending towards Sky Londa we could tell we were immediately entering a darker-green territory, and thinking we just might see yellow. Little did we know we were about to very quickly move through the full spectrum, dark green, yellow, orange and, we couldn’t be sure, we’d have to verify later, but about a third of the way down 84 it felt like we found the BRB. The Big Red Blob, the way the weather radar depicts the very heaviest of rains.  Victory!

Of course, when you’ve found the BRB on a descent, you really don’t feel the need to spend a lot of time in it; it was very nice to get to the bottom of the hill and be able to burn some fuel again. The rain gradually decreased as we rode home, which normally would take away a lot from the ride because it’s the beginning, and the end, that provide the benchmarks for those who think you’re nuts to be out there. But not today; we have proof! Proof that, at 9:05pm, we were solidly within the real of the Big Red Blob.

Perhaps riding a trainer on Zwift Island might be more sensible?

I was really looking forward to an epic, or at least semi-epic ride this morning. Unfortunately, indications were that the storm was largely heading to the north, leaving me with the icky drizzly stuff to contend with. Light rain, mist, the sort of riding that makes a total mess of your bike without the satisfaction of being out there in the elements.

It did start out that way, but turned out the ride had a bit of a kick to it after all! First off, nobody but me this morning. My son’s getting over a cold (and he seems to think it makes sense not to ride when sick; he certainly didn’t learn that from his dad!). I did come across a guy I know on an electric mountain bike who was descending Kings when I was about halfway up, and further up, a young woman whom I think we’ve seen a number of times before, also heading down. Funny. Nobody was going up! But me. Albeit kind of slowly. Very slowly. I was even concerned about being overdressed, as it was 46 degrees and, like I said, not much rain.

Until Skyline. As I headed south, it began to get a bit heavier, and you could hear the wind blowing through the trees. At Skeggs Point I rolled to a stop and put my lightweight jacket on (helpful hint- leave your zipper connected a few inches when you put it into your bag. It’s still easy putting it on over your helmet, and you won’t have to try and deal with a zipper that doesn’t want to connect when you’ve got gloves on).

The descent on Skyline to 84 felt fine; I was on my rain bike, with disc brakes and 28c tires and felt totally confident. No slippage, excellent braking. And, by the way, I was lit up like a Christmas Tree with multiple rear flashing lights to. Not taking any chances! But I was caught by surprise when I heard what sounded like nearby lightning! A loud crackling noise, and there, on the left-hand side of the road, part of a tree is crashing down to the ground and heading towards me! Truthfully I didn’t even notice how close it got until I looked at the video, and thankfully I’m almost impossible to rattle on a bike (nerves of steel, legs of lead?). But it’s pretty cool watching the video now; glad I had the camera rolling!

I stopped by the fire station at Sky Londa to report it, which they didn’t seem to take too seriously yet when I descended I saw a road-scraper truck heading up, so maybe. Hopefully nobody ran into it in the meantime; there were maybe three cars heading in that direction and no good way to warn anyone.

But yes, one begins to wonder if maybe spending a couple hours on a Wahoo Kickr trainer, one of those fancy ones we sell that varies the resistance according to whether you’re climbing, drafting, descending etc., and displays idyllic surrounding (at least until you get to some gnarly climb and you suffer like a dog!) might make sense on a day like this. –Mike–