Our winter has been unusually slow in arriving this year. Most years you can calibrate your calendars because the first good frost hits Seattle on Halloween evening. We are past Thanksgiving and we still haven’t had ice in the morning.
I am not complaining. In fact, this supports my winter training goal of not breaking any ribs. It has allowed some riding without yet having to dress like I am a scuba diver. On a recent Coffee and Lies ride we faced rain and temperatures below 10C (50F for you old school laggards).
With the exception of Big John most of us were underdressed. The rain went from light to heavy and the mild temperatures were our saving grace. We were in the early stages of hypothermia but all was good and it looked like everything would be okay until one of our clan flatted.
Sooner or later we all get a chance to be "the guy with the flat tire"
Moonlight Burnside displayed either kindness or impatience and took charge and made quick work of the tube replacement. In less than five minutes we were rolling again. The problem was that those five minutes of inactivity, in the rain, were enough to get way behind the hypothermia power curve.
Before the flat tire triggered the stop my socks were wet. My feet were still warm, but they were wet. After we stopped they were still wet but now they were cold. Water that had soaked into the Lycra that wrapped my shins was likewise chilled now.
El Chefe’ commented that his gloves had become useless bags of cold water. When we came to a short climb I refused to get out of the saddle for fear the rain would wet my saddle and then get my chamois wet. Since my chamois was the only thing below my waist that was dry I stayed seated and just downshifted.
Though I knew hard pedaling would warm me up I was still inclined to hold my steady pace. I’ve seldom done a good job at really taking it easy for an extended period and I am somewhat determined to keep the rest of 2016 Z1-2, Z3 max…..
Finally I settled in with Big John and El Jefe’ and we just platooned back. John remarked that we the three of us formed a grupetto that had a cumulative nineteen feet of handsome and we didn’t argue. Flattery is rare at my age.
Hey, we're ALL good looking.....
The prospect of hot coffee kept us smiling and soon we were getting close. There is a shortcut that takes a more direct route but involves a crazy steep climb. Nineteen feet of awesome turned sharply south and wrestled up the hill. As a result of the climb when we rolled up to Fuel for our post-ride cup of Joe we were finally warm.
When I stood up after sharing coffee and lies there was a puddle below my chair and my wet gloves left a ghost print of dampness on the table. I felt like one of the fabled soggy bottom boys.
After putting a towel on the driver’s seat I left the hill and returned home and spent a good long time enjoying a hot shower.
A week later we assembled to do it again. Predictably, this time we were dressed for battle. Some wore better, some wore thicker and others simply wore more layers to protect them from the elements. I was reminded of a ride in the spring of 2012 when Hank, who had missed the previous week’s ride looked us up and down and commented, “Man, it must have been really wet last week.” If you are going to have a reaction it might as well be an overreaction.
In the true spirit of the off season our jaunt around the island was a refreshingly leisurely-paced affair. We chatted and savored our man time. Maintaining a modicum of movement through the dark days of winter will allow us to resume in earnest in the New Year without the awkwardness of having to get reacquainted with our saddles.