When you live in a place where its not uncommon to have snow in April, you develop a real appreciation for Spring. And when Spring comes as early, and as gently as it has this year, you don’t even mind a little rain.
In my never ending quest to get back into shape I have vowed to ride as often as possible. While fitness in its own right is a worthy pursuit, I confess my real reason is vanity. I’m tired of looking at my jowly middle aged face in the mirror. I can blame it on my Germanic ancestors. Once the men in our family hit forty, their chin starts to swell until they look like Sargent Schultz. And while a jowly face may look respectable if you are serving in the army of Kaiser Wilhelm, it isn’t exactly the face I want staring back at me when I shave.
So yesterday morning, I got my butt out of bed at 7 am, poured myself several cups of coffee, and struggled for motivation. The sky was the color and consistency of steel wool, and the weathermen were calling for storms in the afternoon, so I decided that it was best to get out early before the weather turned. So I pulled on my warmest wooly, and leg warmers, and made a date with my dark eyed Catalan mistress, Isabella Cuevas.
No sooner had I gone a block from home than the grey skies started pissing rain. It wasn’t a real rain, just a misty English rain, and since 90% of the effort of exercise is finding the desire to do it, I decided to push on. Normally, I don’t ride in the rain. Not because I don’t like getting wet, but because I don’t like getting my bike wet. Isabella complains that it messes up her hair. (Yes, she may be beautiful, but she’s also a little high maintenance)
Sunday mornings are my favorite time to ride. The streets are nearly empty, and the city is so quiet. Rolling through North East Minneapolis, the only sounds were the birds chirping, and the hiss of my tires on the pavement. The crab apples, and cherry trees were in full bloom, and the lilacs were just beginning to pop. The scent of the lilacs was intoxicating as I pedaled through the grey mist. It may not have been Kyoto, but it was as close to Hanami as we get here in Minnesota.
I was lost in day dreams as I rolled over the hills of NorthEast, imagining myself at the 89′ Worlds in the break with Sean Kelly, Fignon, and Lemond. There’s something about lousy weather that makes cycling seem epic. Nothing between you and the elements for mile after mile. You can suffer like a dog, but at the end of the ride, no shower will ever feel better.
The mist continued until the water dripped from my helmet, and plastered my rain jacket to my arms like paper mache. I was plenty warm in my wool jersey though. There’s nothing as good as wool for keeping you warm and comfy in the rain. Those British sheep are onto something. It wasn’t until I was 45 minutes into the ride that I noticed my rear tire going soft. Then I remembered why I don’t ride in the rain.
There’s nothing romantic about changing a flat in the rain. Its times like those that I could really use a team car, or neutral support vehicle, to quick hand me a new wheel so I could catch back onto the peleton. Sadly, there was neither a support car, nor a peleton. 10 minutes later I was back on the bike finishing out the ride, while obsessively checking to see if the tire was holding air.
The hot shower, lived up to my expectations and I could have spent an hour in there. Afterwards it was time for Isabella to get cleaned up. She’s not the kind of bike you ride hard, and put away wet. By the time I hung her back up in the garage she was sparkling like new.
It was at that point that the rain stopped, and the sun started peeking out. Freakin’ weathermen.