Wednesday, October 05, 2005


Some of my co-workers are almost gleeful about my prospects for riding in the rain today. There’s a front coming through this afternoon, and like all cold fronts in Oklahoma, it brings the possibility of thunderstorms. Sure enough, radar shows some cells forming northwest of here, moving toward Tulsa at a sedate pace destined to put them directly overhead at quitting time! Oh, the joy.

Some of these guys find that very funny. “You’re gonna get wet!” they chirp.

“Well, I don’t drive the car much”, I replied, “unless I’m feeling sick or really puny. Sure, I’ll get wet, but you’ll get FAT if you keep driving….Oh, wait, never mind.” A lot of them are already fat guys on perpetual diets.

But I can’t get on them too much since I’m not exactly svelte myself. When I started riding to work way back when, I tipped the scales at 245. Pushing the lawnmower around the yard was as much effort as I could handle. But what really pushed me over the edge was the day I stood in front of a clothes rack, looking at jeans with a 42 inch waist. My 40s were getting a bit snug. The 42s looked ENORMOUS! There was no way I was going to wear fat-boy trousers!

So I made a decision to ride to work. That decision lead to others, most recently, a commitment to riding as much as possible and driving as little as possible. That’s not because I have ideological, ecological, or economic reasons to ride, though to be fair, they’re part of it. No, I have a teenage daughter with a driver’s license. That’s reason enough to have her in a car with air bags and anti-lock brakes.

Our budget won’t stretch enough for a second car. Lyndsay has offered to buy her own car, but for the time being, I’d rather she drove mine and saved her money. That puts her in the ‘want to work’ category rather than the ‘need to work’ category. A car would see that she was behind the counter in that fast-food place even if she didn’t want to be there. Cars are a form of economic bondage. We need jobs to afford cars and we need cars to get to our jobs. That thought gives me a headache.

But I was writing about feeling fat and slow. One of the things that happens when riding regularly is that occasionally I’ll get caught in the rain. The worst part used to be getting very grimy from the wheel spray. Tires throw up a rooster tail of water containing all the dirt from the road surface. It’s just plain nasty and it won’t all come out in the wash. I have some formerly white socks that are now a permanent off-white. She-Who-Must-Be-Obeyed was not amused.

I put fenders on my Centurion fixed-gear bike. They keep the grime down very well, and although they don’t make riding in the rain a pleasant experience, it’s lots better than going without. I have a rain jacket and a hat with a bill too. I really hate getting crud all over my glasses and the bill helps with that.

(Later that evening)

I made it home just ahead of the rain! By the time I left work, the wind had changed around to the north at 20-30 mph. I rode directly into it most of the way home, with a wary eye toward a big rain shaft to the northwest. It moved off to the east before I reached it. Amazingly, the temperature had dropped almost 20 degrees in 45 minutes. It got steadily cooler as I rode.

A few raindrops hit me on the way up the hill, but I got the bike into the garage, kissed Mary, and sat down in the living room to take off my cycling shoes. The sky opened up and I watched it rain horizontally for a few minutes.

My legs are gonna hurt tonight. I expect they’ll reek of Icy Hot before long.


Blogger Fritz said...

That cold front that passed Tulsa today went through Colorado yesterday afternoon. I was five minutes into my ride home when *FLASH* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 *KA-RACK*

Okay, it's less than two miles away, which is closer than is safe. I should probably catch the bus, but I see my buddy Nenad a quarter mile ahead of me and instead of safety, I get into the stupid Alpha Cyclist mode and I have to catch him.

I take every shortcut I know and I pedal a little faster. By the time I catch Nenad, we're both counting to three before hearing the thunder. Very close.

We're now sprinting not to get in front, but to get out of the lightning storm when we see Nenad's wife driving down the street to pick him up, but Nenad lives just around the next street. I have another mile to go. Just as I pull up to my house there is a simultaneous blinding lightning & deafening thunder *KAPOW*.

10:55 PM  
Blogger ItsJustMe said...

I actually like riding in the rain.

Dude, you must buy Icy Hot by the case; either that or you've got an endorsement contract; every other post talks about icy hot.

6:57 AM  
Blogger mallfellow said...

Ah, riding in the rain; sometimes I feel great - like I could ride forever - and sometimes I just can't wait to get off the bike...

However, having just recent built up a fixie for my daily commute, I have come to enjoy riding in the rain even more as I feel so much more connected to the bike and to the road.

6:59 AM  
Blogger Ed W said...

I like the fixed gear for bad weather too. I used to ride a Paris Sport track bike in all sorts of weather, but these days I don't miss that twitchy ride. A road conversion is more stable and more comfortable.

You're right - there's a 'connected' feeling about riding a fixie on a wet road that compares favorably to a geared bike. Since it's getting colder here in Tulsa, I'll probably do a bad weather commuting piece before long. The overnight low was about 48F and the high was only about 60F. Tuesday, it was 92F when I was riding home. I think someone threw the switch and fall is finally here.


8:57 PM  

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