Say the ‘R’ word in a group of cyclists and the enthusiasm for the ride is punctured: deflating right before your eyes. It’s one thing to be caught out, and quite a different thing to head out in anticipation of getting soaked. Riding in the rain by choice requires a mindset of determination seasoned with a liberal dose of junior high lunchroom humor. No one really likes water squishing in their cycling shoes – at least no one I’ve ever met. Riding in the rain demands we find another word than like. LIKE has nothing to do with it. Maybe it has more to do with love.
The sun was in and out of the clouds, with a strong probability of rain when I rolled out this morning. For the first hour I rolled along in my happy place, as the sun disappeared altogether and the clouds descended. The first drop spattered on the screen of my Garmin – rather appropriately poetic when you stop and think about it. My usual first thought is to hope that it will hold off for a while more, or miss me altogether. Instead, the rain increased in intensity and the temp dropped to 39 degrees.
There’s a point of sogginess where it ceases to matter. Wet is wet…there’s no more dryness to be compromised. Accept the situation and the fun begins. This is when the aforementioned humor manifests itself: riding through puddles on purpose, singing disco songs at the top of my voice, experimenting with the distance and trajectory of snot rockets. Though drenched, I was warm, and commenced to enjoy the effort that kept me that way. As I drew closer to home, the thought of a post ride espresso began to exert it’s influence over me, and drew me on with an invisible caffeinated string.
Now, I live in a small town where almost everyone you talk to thinks cycling is riding motorcycles. The folks behind the counter at the coffee shop are not quite sure why I dress the way I do, and regarded me with greater than usual suspicion as I wandered in looking every inch a drowned rat. I happily ordered a double shot with a blast of whipped cream and sat down while people stared at me while pretending not to. The coffee warmed me quickly and I found myself a bit giddy.
What a silly, miserable, glorious, wet, fun thing to have done. It’s not about like at all. It’s about love of the bike, and the many moods that make the ride what it is.