Tuesday, February 23, 2010

300k A Return to the Beginning?

This of course is a vain attempt to appease the rain gods of the Picacho by saying it's going to rain and so, since they find pleasure in spiting us mere mortals, they will not in fact rain on our brevet. That being said, as of today there's a 50% chance of rain at this time. For a desert area that's a pretty good chance and it's also a pretty good chance that somewhere on the course we will find rain.

I think if there is rain I will pull out my good old commuter and throw the fenders on. I just picked up a brand new windstopper jacket on clearance at Performance so that is all set. I also scored a new helmet cover. I think I will need to test it to make sure it is as waterproof as my goretex one first though.

My training has not been optimal at all the last month. I don't know how much fitness I have lost but I think I will still do alright. Endurance is not something that goes away quickly. Speed yes, endurance no.

It's been a long time since I did a ride of any length in the rain. I got the wind at Cochise so that's not too long ago on that front, but for a long rain ride I think we need to go back to the epic 400k of 2006. It would take a lot to match that one. Interestingly enough, the very first time this course was run was in the rain. It was only the third brevet held in Arizona under Susan's rookie year as an RBA, and rain it did. That was my first experience with drafting in the rain. Coincidentally it was also my first experience with gritting road scum between my teeth and wondering why it seemed to rain twice as hard when we were moving.

I seem to recall riding much of the last half alone and in increasing rain as I passed Picacho (which is usually where the rain picks up again). I recall dipping my feet in deep puddles as I peddled amd meandered the back streets of Casa Grande and finally pulled in to a line of wet, dark, and lonely buildings. Sitting hunched up under the roof of "From the Heart Yoga" watching the rain was a dark figure. Pulling out a flashlight when she saw me, Susan came out and welcomed me back and signed my card.

I distinctly recall wondering if I would do any more of these as I pedalled soggily through the rain down to I-10 from La Palma. Of course once the bike is in the car and the pride of finishing set in I was up for another. Anyone can ride in fair weather. Brevets are not always about comfort despite what all the folks who tell you that steel is real and the only brevet frame is a lugged touring type of frame modelled by some French Rennaisance artist, think. Being able to stay on the bike is key and comfort has a part to play in that for sure, but weather is not a comfortable thing you can plan on. No matter what you wear, you will be wet either from the inside or outside, the water will get in your eyes, despite fenders your feet will probably get a splash or two or be dipped in flash flooding road crossings on the frontage road. You will likely swear at the wind and rain a few times, you might even sit in front of a Circle K and ponder why you are out here in this and that perhaps all the folks that are calling you crazy are right. They probably are. There is, however, another side to rain riding. There is the pauses in the rain where the clouds swirl around the mountain tops, the desert turns green and the lichens on the rocks get almost flouresent. Water flows in typically dry creeks, the desert smells fresh and new as it has been cleansed. Dry clothes are appreciated far more at the end of the day. I suppose it is worth more than bragging rights. It of course also teaches you about yourself and shows you what you can do. Most people have no idea what they are capable of and lead lives of lazy ignorance. So, friends, countrymen, Randonneurs. Lets put on our fenders and jackets and learn!


Anonymous said...

Yes, Yes, Yes! Let it pour! Let the sky empty every droplet of water and let the wind howl! Just make sure when I am bitching about it you remind me how much I enjoy it. Thats all I ask.


Steve Atkins said...

Paul, great post. I headed out Sunday morning to test out a new rain jacket. By the time I started up S. Mtn. it was pouring. Great day on the bike, had the whole road to my self! Plus it forced me to clean and wipe down the bike to get ready for the 300.

See you Saturday!