Written Dec. 2008
The weather report called for evening showers. Every source I checked online showed patchy overcast skies on the radar image, but it looked to me as though my afternoon ride would be dry with a light drizzle towards the end… Better ride the MTB, just in case.
I finally got my 29er put together and I’d been using the cruddy weather as an opportunity to ride the new rig (not a Gary Fisher…) on days which I’d normally want to be out on the road bike. I usually go for a mostly flat road ride on mondays to recover a little from weekends spent in the foothills. I decided that a few laps around Granite Bay on the new 29er might be a fun recovery ride alternative to the usual road ride.
I have been living part time in Roseville, so Granite Bay is within riding distance of the casa. Of course, Granite Bay is within riding distance of a lot of places, but it’s within realistic riding distance of my Roseville digs. I used to ride out to Granite Bay on my cross bike when I lived in Carmichael by way of the Arden Way bike path entrance. But in that scenario, Granite Bay is really the turn around point rather than the spot where you’ll be riding… In any case, I hopped on my new Cannondale F29 and pedaled off towards the sandy little six and some odd mile Granite Bay loop around 1:30 pm (after sitting in class all morning under ominous, but dry, rain clouds) having just listened to an encouraging weather report which assured me that there would be some light showers, but “nothing like we saw on Saturday. We’re expecting just a sprinkle with rainfall totals less than 1/4″ throughout the night…” Sweet.Being the ‘glass is half full’ sort of fellow that I am, I decided against bringing a rain jacket, or a jacket of any sort actually and set out in my arm/leg warmers, vest, and toe covers for a pleasant afternoon spin. My feet go numb if someone mentions the word ‘cold’ and so I did pack some full neoprene booties and figured I’d be alright in the event of the light showers the weather man called for. I think the only reason that I come to races so well prepared is because I spend the entire off season doing training rides hopelessly underdressed and under supplied and the early winter rides are always the worst as I haven’t yet figured out that the weather is going to be crappy. Period, hands down, no gray area open to interpretation. My ride at Granite Bay was my first cold wet slap in the face this winter.
The wind was at my back as I headed towards Folsom Lake and I felt like I was tearing along on my new uber fast big wheeler. I’m not 100% sold on this big wheel idea just yet, but dang I’m close…. The thing is just dumb fast and I can ride over everything, it’s kinda like cheating. I actually found myself thinking that I didn’t want to race the new bike because it would take the challenge out of racing. I have since realized that 29ers do have their drawbacks and I’ll feel okay racing the new bike afterall. Back to the ride. The rain held off for a while and I completed my first lap of the classic Granite Bay loop in relative comfort. I was really patting myself on the back for dressing properly for the conditions and feeling pretty stoked that I wasn’t hauling around a ton of un-needed clothing. Then, rather abruptly, my ‘glass is half full’ attitude got poured all over my head…
The heavens opened up and I went from feeling the stoke to wishing that the ride was over quicker than you can say “light drizzle”. I had planned on getting back to the homestead around 5:30pm and jumping on the road bike so I could ride to Folsom for another bike fit session (look out, Dez is about to be super comfy on his bike next season…), but after about half an hour in the rain, it became clear that I was going to need to be home a little sooner in order to change/add clothing and/or change so that I could drive to Folsom instead. I don’t think that I think clearly while riding my bike because I decided a sort while later that instead of getting home early and driving to Folsom, I would get home at the original time, change shoes and get on the road bike. I was already sopping wet, what would a little more time on the bike hurt?
Conditions continued to deteriorate at Granite Bay and by the time I left the park and headed back home, I was thouroughly soaked and extremely cold. Then, I left the tree cover and I may as well have just jumped in the lake! I was cursing the weather report as I rode down Douglas Blvd in a down pour, but I didn’t let the gnarly weather change my plan to ride to Folsom. I just said to myself, “I’ll bring dry clothes to the bike fit and this will clear up in no time, it’s only supposed to be a drizzle. No way it can rain like this for too long.”
It wasn’t dumping when I left on my road bike en route to Folsom, in the dark. With the dry clothes I’d thrown on at the house and a new helmet mounted light set up I’d won a few weeks ago at a 24 in socal, I was feeling totally confident that my decision to ride to Folsom instead of driving was the correct decision afterall. I changed my mind about five minutes later.
The rain came back with a vengance and I got absolutely dumped on the entire way to Folsom. It was one of those situations where you aren’t bummed or angry so much as you are just unable to believe what’s happening. I couldn’t believe how hard it was raining, I couldn’t believe that it was dark, I couldn’t believe how wet I was, and most of all I couldn’t believe how entirely stupid I was for being in this situation at all. I have a car! I even had money to put gas in it at that point. I could have been dry and warm upon arriving in Folsom, but was I going to be now? Nooooooo…. After weaving through some “Yes On 8″ picketers at Auburn Folsom and Greenback, I arrived at my bike fitting; soaked to the bone, and late. But, feeling rather bad ass none the less.
I learned a few things from this little adventure, among them are: Winter sucks, and it will always suck. The weather is the thing that makes winter suck, and one must plan accordingly. My new lights are extremely water proof. My booties are not. 29ers rock and roll as much in the rain as they do in the dry. Bontrager road tires handle suprisingly well in a down pour in the middle of the night (no flats!). And most importantly, Weather Men are not to be trusted.
In case I needed any more reminding of this last point, just as I started to think that I was going to make it back home after the fit in relative dry comfort, the sky opened up one last time and gave me everything that it had left. Right on! I totally wanted to wash and dry every single piece of cycling clothing that I own tonight…. he he he, yeah right.