Friday, March 25, 2011

Riders on the Storm

Last weekend, I got together with the core of Team Two Wheel for a ride on Sunday. I wish there was snappy video like mechBgon, but even if there had been a camera it wouldn’t have survived the onslaught that we endured. It would seem that if you had perfect prescience or the ability to track the weather systems and then go back in time, we managed to follow the exactly worst weather that the day had to offer. In fact, I was almost insulted by the pleasant spring afternoon that emerged after I spent hours in the freezing wind followed by freezing rain, freezing sleet, some freezing hail and generally freezing hell.

Here was the plan:
• Meet downtown since team sponsor The Scoop isn’t open on Sunday yet (winter hours, don’t ya know);
• Ride out to Cheney;
• Ride the short road race course from Frozen Flatlands;
• Ride home;
• Have a special and delicious meal together at Rider Two’s home prepared by Rider Two’s indulgent wife.

Sounds like a hella good plan right?

Here was the reality:
• Meet downtown since team sponsor The Scoop isn’t open on Sunday. On the way there, notice that the wind is very biting and cold. Colder than the day before, even though the temperature was supposed to be 10+ degrees higher.
• Think about the amount of clothing you wore, based on a projected high temperature 10+ degrees higher than Saturday’s ride. Wish I had brought more clothing or different clothing or something.
• Ride out to Cheney – enjoy decent weather and good conversation; notice cooling temperature and building wind speed; contemplate a new nickname for myself or TP – Tailgunner – since both of us seem to be constantly working into the rear spot in the group the most protected from the wind.
• Have Rider 1 say, “Hey, I think you can take the city limit sign” as I was in the rear and no one ever sprints for city limit signs in our group. Brashly dart around group to be first to city limit sign, marking the first appearance at the front of the group since the ride began. Some would call this poor sportsmanship, but Rider Two defended it with Merckx’s words that a win is a win, no matter how gained. That’s why I like Rider Two and Merckx.
• Head out of town on the Frozen Flatlands short road race course with a serious tailwind. So serious that it incites Rider Two to take the pace up to 30-31 mph. Sustained for miles. That’s why I hate Rider Two. The group strings out into single file and I am second. The only good thing about that is that when I literally yell, “UNCLE”, Rider Two hears me and slows way down – to 28 mph.
• Turn the corner across the freeway and head directly into the teeth of a wailing, howling and cold headwind. Re-secure my spot at the back of the group whenever I can subtly take it from TP.
• Realize that Salnave Road back into town is going to be the most open and windy part of the trip. Dread it for miles before we get there, hate every foot of its undulating, miserable tarmac, and then, inexplicably, move to the front of the group next to Rider Two for the first time in 30 miles as the city limit sign appears. Discuss looming city limit sign with Rider Two and then not subtly brake to make sure that I don’t get there first, at the same time Rider Two brakes, which not subtly causes our teammates to exclaim as they ram up our proverbial tailpipes.
• Look at threatening sky and get pelted with first rain/ice/hail drops. Discuss quick stop at store to get food and install any additional clothing. Have sky open up and completely soak each of us in the few thousand yards between this discussion starting and the store.
• Stand at the store wondering if it would look bad to my teammates to call my wife and ask her to pick me up in Cheney. Stare back at shoppers pointedly looking at us or commenting on our idiocy as the wind/rain/sleet picked up velocity.
• Inadvisably leave the shelter of the store to ride back home, only to be greeted by increasing wind/rain/sleet/hail.
• Become completely and absolutely soaked to the bone from wet and wind. Wonder why we ride bikes except in August. Wonder why God hates us. Wonder what it would feel like to pull over and go to sleep in a ditch never to wake again. Wonder why we ever agreed to go on this stupid damn ride. Wonder why weather forecasters can’t ever get the forecast right. Wonder why we ever trust weather forecasters when we already know that they never get the forecast right. Wonder whether hypothermia can kill you at the same time you ride a bicycle. Wonder whether the drooling is helping or hurting the situation. Wonder when Cheney became 11,000 miles away from Spokane.
• Finally arrive back in Spokane as wind and rain subsides and the sun starts to come out.
• Coldly, numbly, haltingly peel off wet clothes with non-functioning fingers. Put on other clothes.
• Have a special and delicious meal together at Rider Two’s home prepared by Rider Two’s indulgent wife.
• Contemplate how you can go from feeling so bad to so good. Wonder whether it would be impolite to slowly and quietly get off of dining room chair at Rider Two’s home and go to sleep on the floor near the fireplace.

I guess the moral to the story is, all’s well that ends well. I guess it was a hella good plan.
Rider Three

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