Rain and the Average Cyclist (Tour of Saints)
Here is the scene…
You’re sitting in your car watching the rain drops steadily hit the windshield. It looks cold and is obviously quite wet out there. You’ve been up for a couple of hours now, even though it’s only 8 a.m. right now, and to top it off it’s a weekend. You look up through the sunroof on the car and see the bikes that you put on the roof rack the night before mocking you as they drip with water. The car is telling you it’s a little over 50 degrees out. It really is cold. Is this actually the end of June? Man, Minnesota is a downer at times.
You scan through the radio stations for a while trying to get some read of the weather. If only you had an Internet connection in your car! Doppler radar surely would give you the answers your looking for. Of course, if you weren’t a wimp you would simply walk out in that rain, get your bike down and scoff at the world for thinking twice about riding and getting a little wet. However, last you checked you weren’t wearing the yellow jersey in the Tour de France nor were you putting food on the table by winning bike races. No, you are just an average Joe, weekend warrior out for his fix of adventure.
You spend a few minutes cursing the weatherman. 70 degrees and sunny? I mean really. How can you be that far off. Sure, 60 degrees and cloudy would be no problem. Wouldn’t fault the weather services in anyway. But 50 degrees and raining? That is a far, far cry from 70 degrees and sunny. How do these people stay employed? But, given the summer you’ve been having so far it seems that it’s time to build an arc and don’t forget your fleece because the sun just isn’t gracing your presence.
You get outside and just feel it. Yeah, this is no good. Here is where you have a real battle. You may actually leave. Really, why are you here after all? You don’t have to do this. Just go home. But you drove for over an hour to get here. And really, how can you just leave. So, after a lot of internal debate you decide that the war stories are worth the suffering and get on your bike and start to pedal.
If you’ve ridden a bike for a few years, you’ve been through this scene (you maybe didn’t drive away, Tammy and I did this morning though!). We were excited to go do a new ride that leaves out of St. Joseph, MN called the Tour of Saints. It is billed as a very nice “fun” ride with great food stops and wonderful roads. However, the weather was miserable. The ride offers both a 35 and 50 miles option. We embarked on the 50 miler but the weather turned it into a 35 miler. Given the weather forecast we didn’t come geared up for an entire day of riding in the rain which only combined to make matters even worse. I rode for a long time just dreaming of the cache of gear at home that would make this ride fine. Booties, leg warmers, full-fingered gloves. All just sitting there in a nice dry bin at home doing me absolutely no good here. Tammy gets the absolute trooper award since she did the entire thing in her sandals with nothing more than a soaked pair of DeFeet socks.
After riding a few miles we finally got warmed up and it got a little less miserable. We bypassed the first food stop at 12 miles, that’s too soon anyway in favor of the stop at 29 miles. In hindsight we should have simply rolled all the way to the finish, it was only 6 more miles but Tammy really wanted to warm up a bit so we stopped. The food stop was nothing to get excited about but we did get to sit inside for a bit. Here is the thing though, when we walked back outside it felt 20 degrees colder. And getting going again on the bike was incredibly frigid. I hammered up a few hills just to get some body heat going.
Among the more amazing sights today though we saw a guy riding in blue jeans. In the rain! Riding in blue jeans! That’s insane!
As several riders veered off for the extra 15 miles we sprinted into town to get out of our wet clothes and go get some hot food. It was miserable. But as suspected, the war story was worth it. :-)