Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Bike Report (1/5): "Riding in the Rain"

Day 1

We've ridden in rain.  One does if one lives in the Great Northwest and wants to ride in any month other than August or September.  But usually the rain here is laidback and easy like a true Oregonian should be - Oregon rain a slightly more serious mist.  Not the deluge it has been this - do we still call it spring?  because it can't be summer.


Though some fools don shorts to tempt the sun to come out and play.

And the calendar did promise June. 

And sometimes clouds have been known to burn off later in the day. 

Though  many times they don't . . .

Twenty miles in (out of 80+), the glowering clouds opened up and poured down. 

Temperatures dropped below 48F. 

Wools socks - the night before scorned as hot and heavy bulk - now accepted like gifts.

The despised snow pants and parka  rolled up last minute in the place of missing rain gear suddenly a godsend.

No delight this year in the cool swoops downhill from the top of Monster Hill and Monster's Other Brother. 

For once, it was the long grinding up hills we looked forward to for the heat they generated. 

And at the top we didn't linger, but plunged down with teeth gritted to get the cold coast over and quickly. 

Middlest wrung her gloves out at every stop, prodigiously.  Streams of water poured out. 

"More water in my gloves than on the road," she shook her head, disgusted.

When my bargain-buy grocery-store winter gloves - rough wool on the outside, soft fleece on the inside - finally soaked through, I joined her, wringing my gloves with a more than matching glee.

"Makes you feel heroic, doesn't it?  Riding through rain like this?"

But then I was warm. 

And it's always easier to feel heroic when you're warm.  As resident pessimist I'd held no truck with smiling weathermen and their piecrust promises (easily made, easily broken) of warmer weather for the weekend.  Looking on the dark side, and the dark clouds outside, I had swathed myself in wool from head to toe - hoodie sweater, gloves, leggings, socks.   I have since gathered that it was maybe not entirely inspiring to hear me point out once again how the raindrops just beaded up on the surface of my fuzzy red sweater, hovering above the surface of black merino leggings, each glistening pearl a drop that didn't soak through to lucky lucky me.  I'm still hearing a snarky chorus of  I love mah red sweater! whenever I tell people the ride wasn't really all that bad, really.  So, not to go on too long about it, but if you plan to ride in wet, do wear WOOL.  Though even the less wool-endowed have admitted ~ 

There is a vividness to riding in bad weather. 

Not just the visual color-saturation as the world damps down.

But you never feel so much alive, never feel the visceral bodily rejoicing over every mouthful of a hot reuben sandwich at the Birkenfeld store, tasting the layers of flavor, the perfect melding of delicious and nutritious that will power you thirty more miles down the road and up and over Jewell hill.

If you stay comfortable only and never leave your ease,  you never know the delight with which the whole skin nearly chirps to sit for half an hour in the warm wooden tavern at the top of Olney hill, nursing a bowl of creamy hot chowder. A kind of bliss even in the sting of raindrops against your face, telling you again and again how alive you are.  

Sitting in the rain for ten hours would be a misery, a sad kind of masochism, but riding through the rain, lit with your own internal fire, that's a-whole-nother thing. 

And at the end, the golden lights of the Crest Motel at 9 o'clock at night dancing up ahead as the gray sunlight slips away.  Our Biking Friends waiting under the eaves, cheering us up the last rise.  Fritz' parents, worry draining gratefully from their faces.   

No other shower feels as good as the one whose steam you step into out of your cold and dripping clothes.

Day 2

We slept. 

Then coasted down into town and met our Biking Friends for lunch (and whipped milk with cardamom) at the Blue Scorcher Cafe.

There was no rain.

Until we came back to our motel. As the rain started up again, we ducked out to the campstove (carried up and over hills by Fritz' parents in their motorized vehicle)  where we'd rigged up a roaster to cook a local salmon.  

And ate it, crowded together in the tiny motel room of our Biking Friends.

Day 3

Minor catastrophe.

A rusty bolt tossed off in the gutter.  A moment of inattention.  And what was a Sunday coast into town for church turned into triage. 

Our Biking Friends had already gone on ahead, but other friends (also cyclists - funny how it works that way) recognized us, pulled over, offered alcohol swabs, medical tape, the scissors I'd decided not to bring this year because we never use them.  All that and a ride to and from church for poor Middlest, her bike strapped onto their bike rack on back. 

Abrasions and a jammed elbow. End of the ride for her.

Day 4

End of the ride for us all.  The whole point of a family ride is that the whole family does it.  We piled into the grandparents' truck, tossed the bikes into the back.  The sun shone.  We passed our Biking Friends as they pedaled their red tandem through a green meadow, red jerseys vivid against the fresh grass.

We were home soon.  And dissatisfied.

Route map and details here.


Velouria said...

80+ miles? That is a whole lot of cycling in the rain! You are brave and endurant, and the scenery is beautiful. We are planning a similar tour on the East Coast, though hopefully without the rain : )

suzanne said...

How lovely your home place and your children. We almost never have rain. But we have it this minute, in the night, at 85 degrees.

Anonymous said...

YoungSon says:

Just looking back at this bikeride i feel sorry for myself

Emma J said...

I know. But you're a super trooper. And luckily you dry off, huh?

Emma J said...

Velouria - "endurant" a word to conjure with! I keep planning biking trips along the East Coast - someday!

Suzanne - nothing like the smell of desert rain, especially on a summer night. I miss that.

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