In the saddle: Bikin’ in the rain
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
BASALT – When you’re outdoors and it’s about to dump rain, there’s always a decision-point: Do I take shelter, continue on my way or some other split-the-difference strategy?
Last Saturday, I consciously decided to get wet – in a big way.
From the moment I left my house for a midday bike ride up the Fryingpan, I knew I might have problems. The sky looked grim to the west and it wasn’t the perfect window of time. It was, however, my only window of time. So off I went, with a short-sleeve riding jersey and a sleeveless windbreaker.
The first few miles brought a couple of sprinkles, but no big deal. For a while I even enjoyed a brisk tailwind, but when I neared Ruedi Dam it became a gusty headwind and I knew things could get strange. I heard a distant rumble of thunder but pushed on, the patches of blue sky giving me hope.
Above the dam I heard another rumble, somewhat closer, and then, at mile 17 – the high point between the dam and the Meredith store – there was a deafening crack and a cold gust. I pulled over, looked backward and saw a wall of rain racing toward me from the west.
I threw on the semi-useless windbreaker and quickly elected not to continue to Meredith. No need to lengthen a wet, miserable ride. However, I also knew that I’d rather ride than sit by the road and shiver, waiting for the storm to pass.
So I hopped on the bike and turned around. I’d pedaled about a quarter-mile back toward Basalt when the first sheet of rain hit me like a waterfall; I braced for the impact and continued downhill as huge drops pounded the pavement and stung my arms. Soon the road surface was covered by a quarter-inch of water and my glasses were pelted by raindrops from above and spin-off from my front tire below. All was blurry and gray.
The deluge continued solid for a couple of miles, by which time my shoes were filled with water and a salty mix of rain and sweat dripped into my mouth. I was soaked to the skin, but could only laugh, keep pedaling and wait for the air-dry to begin when the rain let up. By riding hard I stayed warm. By the Cap K Ranch, birds were singing, and the sun was out when I rolled into Basalt.
As I poured the water from my shoes, I thought of my wedding day, when I drank champagne from my bride’s shoe. But the water issuing from these cycling shoes gave a new meaning to the term “road soda,” and I opted to drink a beer instead, with some hot leftovers. After that, a hot shower made everything right.
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The past sneaks up on us in the strangest of ways, and I don’t mean bounty hunters flashing those “Wanted: Dead or Alive” posters in our faces.