Mostly Sunny

Mostly Sunny. That’s what I was promised, both by the weather app on my phone, and a quick consult with the weather site I look to for more detailed back up. Before leaving the house, I removed the clip-on fender I had affixed. That’s how confident I was in the guidance I’d received.

So when, in the waning hours of my work day, a massive black cloud slid across the horizon, a cloud so pregnant with watery anger that it was tinged with a menacing yellow, I knew I had been betrayed.

As a cyclist, practitioners of the meteorological arts have generally been my friends down the years. How many times have they warned me of a possible drenching? How many times have they informed of a dramatic temperature shift in the offing? If not exactly oracular in their pronouncements, I’d bet on my local weather people as the house bets its own hand in Vegas.

When at last the cloud burst, thunder rumbling from its edges, the deluge overwhelmed drains and gutters and sprang up from the pavement in rebellion at being cast down. We peered from the front office window and wondered at the fragility of our pale forms. Someone, somewhere penned a fresh bible verse.

At that point, there was the suggestion we might load our bikes into the company van and decamp with our tails tucked, but then Neil said flatly, “I’m riding.” And just as quickly as the storm had pitched up, the mood in the room changed as well. The consensus came that, while not Devo, we were still, in fact, men.

Mine is a short commute, five miles, and so I had little more than a pair of regular shorts and a cotton t-shirt with which to steel myself against the elements. I resigned myself to a drenching. I’ve been drenched before and will be again. NBD.

But maybe the thing you just never get used to is that sensation of cold water flying up your backside, that direct assault on your comfort zone. It unsettles. It offends. The cyclist’s bidet.

When I arrived home my wife cheerfully asked, “How was your ride?” This cheery greeting is the just dessert of the cyclo-spouse, the small recompense for having been abandoned for the bike over a period of years. I chuckled when I heard it. Betrayed by the weatherman, mocked by the wife.

Then I turned and showed her my wet, sandy ass. “Pretty good,” I said, “mostly sunny.”

Image: Matt O’Keefe

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  1. Peter lin

    The joys of new england weather. Riding in the rain isn’t so bad. It’s cleaning up the bike that sucks.

  2. Jesus from Cancun

    That’s why my wife and I got waterproof cellphones. I got a NEC Medias, she got a Sony Xperia Go. We’ve been lied by the weatherman before going for hikes, too, and our cellphones are one less thing to worry about.

  3. Ron S

    Mr. McGuire: I want to say one word to you. Just one word.
    Benjamin: Yes, sir.
    Mr. McGuire: Are you listening?
    Benjamin: Yes, I am.
    Mr. McGuire: Plastic (bag)s.

    Slightly modified from “The Graduate”.

  4. postrideburrito

    Cyclo-spouse. I love it.

    For me, the feeling of my slow-draining shoes filling up with water beats out tire spray for offensiveness.

    But even in a downpour, the looks I get from sane, dry people more than make up for it.

  5. patrick

    Robot, you are indeed a brave and adventurous soul. I don’t mind getting rained on in the middle of a ride, at least once I’ve warmed up. It’s not such a big deal, and at times, think blisteringly hot days, can be a nice cool-down. But to START a ride, to walk out the door in dry clothes, and immediately be wetted and chilled; that’s tough. It sends shivers down my spine, as it probably did yours too.
    I would feel honored to one day have the chance to go on a ride with you. But not on that day.

  6. Miles Archer

    I did a charity ride a couple of years ago in pissing down rain (in the Napa Valley in May – go figure). We’re riding along soaking wet and one of the riders looks up and starts laughing hysterically at her husband who was riding up front. Apparently she didn’t sufficiently rinse the laundry and soap suds were foaming out of his shorts.

  7. LesB

    Here in SoCal I’ve had just the opposite problem. Weather report says “rain”, so I stay home.

    I stay home, and the rain never comes.

    I’ve denied myself a day’s ride too many times this way, for naught.

    Now, unless I personally witness water coming down out of the sky, I ride.
    With a 32 gal. trash bag stashed in my pocket.

  8. Hautacam

    If I stayed home every time it looked like rain, well, I’d only ride reliably in July and August.

    But that’s what you get when you live in Seattle.

    Ride. Get wet. Dry off. What’s the big deal? Sure, you need a waterproof bag, and a plan for a change of clothes at the other end, but those aren’t impossible to manage. And maybe your bike gets wet, and you have to clean and lube the drivetrain more regularly, and you will go through brake pads at a shocking rate, but even those things you can get down to a quick routine with practice.

    Trust me when I tell you that riding in the rain will become second nature, and you will appreciate those warm dry sunny days even more because of the miles you logged in the wet.

  9. SusanJane

    “…soap suds were foaming out of his shorts.” The suffering of being wet is one thing. But having a soapy backside only adds insult to injury. Mom always said to wear clean under ware… takes on a whole new meaning now.

  10. LesB

    I tried going out once for a day in the rain and it was fun. Problem is not with getting water on me and a mud slick down the center of my body.

    It’s the bike!

    The grit flung up from the tires can be mean on the drive train of a road bike, and when grit gets imbedded in the brake pad, it scores the braking surface of the aluminum rims.

    Abuse myself as I will, but not the machine.

  11. Keith

    I rode the MS 150 a few years ago. Around mile 50, it started raining. By mile 70 I was shivering and hating the fact that I was riding a bike in 48 degree rain. I was pissed off, uncomfortable, and getting angry about the situation.

    At mile 80 there was a rest stop where all the volunteers had MS. As I pulled up, a lady in a wheel chair waved me over. With help, she stood and took my hand in both of hers. She looked my in the eyes and said, “Thank you, Thank you.” With help she sat back down.

    The last 20 miles, I forgot about the rain.

  12. Brian

    I rode the Cadillac challenge in Maine last year. 30% chance if rain. Poured the whole 100 miles. The descent was bone chilling. As we were climbing up, waterfalls were running along the side of the road and washing across us. Great stuff that I will remember forever. The best part were the tourists taking pictures of us from their cars.

  13. Peter Leach

    Like many others, I usually avoid starting a ride in the rain (other than an essential commute).
    Over the years I’ve ridden in some miserable conditions, with Charlotte’s Pass (the highest paved road in Australia) in rain / sleet / snow and 2 degrees C for over two hours taking the prize so far.
    It’s amazing – and reassuring – what riding for a charitable cause will encourage us to do 🙂

  14. Michael Schlitzer

    I remember doing the Mountains of Misery one year when rain was called for. MoM has two big climbs – a Cat 2 at 100 Km and a Cat 1 at the finish. Of course it rained on me ONLY during the two climbs (and one descent).

    My wife and two little girls came down for this ride and were waiting at the top…under a canopy in the deluge.

    Visibility must have been 20 feet. I’ll never forget coming up to that finish and hearing my little 5 year old scream above the rain and general noise “Daddy! There he is!”

    I still smile remembering that day.

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