I really wanted to do a bike ride out to Grand Haven this afternoon. The weather forecast had temperatures in the 50’s, wind out of the east, and only a 10% chance of rain (10% my ass – more on that later though). Thankfully, I was able to do the ride, but not without a few obstacles.
I headed out at 2:00. The skies were slightly overcast, but precipitation free. I was cruising along when I got stopped by a train on Wealthy street. There is NEVER a train at this time – or at least there has never been a train at this time the other dozen times I have done this route. I got there just as the train was starting through the intersection and it was a long train. I sat for more than 5 minutes waiting for it pass.
When the end was in sight, I put my helmet back on, clipped in and was ready to go when the gates went up. I took off over the tracks only to have my water bottle fly out of the cage. This has NEVER happened to me before. Seeing a pattern yet? So, there goes my water bottle skidding across the pavement. I pull off into the first driveway and look back to find that I have managed to stop traffic once again. Two cars (one in each direction), stopped for me so that I could retrieve the water bottle before it was flattened. Whoever you two mystery people are, “Thank you very much!” I am sure they were just as annoyed by the train and with traffic already backed up, they probably didn’t want to stop and hold up traffic any longer. Question. Do water bottle cages stretch out over time? Once I got my water bottle back in, it seemed like they were looser than normal, but I may have just been paranoid at that point.
So, after the delay of the train and water bottle debacle, I was back on my way. Or so I thought. I proceeded to get stuck behind a pickup truck towing a car. It was going so slow that I couldn’t get into a decent pace, but just fast enough that it probably would have been unsafe to try and pass it. Finally, after a mile or so, I finally had open road.
I let loose on the O’Brien street hills, flying up the inclines with the energy I saved behind the slow moving traffic. I thought I was in the clear. Not so, I guess.
When I got to Wilson (the county border), I felt a couple rain drops. I guess 10% was turning into 100%. I figured that if I could make it to 40th avenue (another 5 miles) before the rain got any worse, I would be in the clear because after that it is all pretty much flat. However, after only a mile, the rain started to pick up. At that point, I felt my phone buzzing in back pocket. Crap. I pulled off the road and checked it. Work emergency. Lovely. Thankfully, I was able to get a hold of a co-worker who was able to advert the crisis for me. By the time I had work all straightened out, the rain was picking up. At this point, I was so pissed at my bad luck that I was determined to finish the ride. No turning back now.
I got back on the road and started flying. I threw my bike in the big gear and started mashing away. After a couple miles, I looked down and realized that I had averaged 23-24 mph over 3 miles. Yikes! I realized that I had to pull back a bit not only so I didn’t burn out, but also because by that point it was pouring and the road was getting slick. The next few miles were in the 19-20 mph range which was probably a bit safer for the conditions.
While it was pouring, I looked down and noticed that my tights were foaming. Interesting. Backing up a bit. This morning, I hand washed my tights and threw them in the dryer in preparation for the ride. Apparently, I didn’t rinse them enough and now I was foaming. Thankfully, it wasn’t too bad and with enough rain, they seemed to fully rinse out.
At last, nearly 20 miles into my ride, the rain started to let up and my luck started to improve. I made it the rest of the way without incident – other than getting filthy dirty. Green Lightening and I were completely covered from head to toe, front wheel, to back. I gave up on drinking from my water bottle. For some reason, this didn’t look very appetizing:
By the time I made it to Grand Haven, I was soaking wet and filthy. When all was said and done, I had a pretty good ride. My time spent riding was 1:44:35 although it was more like 2 hours including the time I had to stop for the 36.27 miles. I averaged 20.8 mph over the ride, but had the wind at my back nearly the entire time which obviously helps a bit.
Jennie shot a couple pictures of me to capture the dirt.
I should have grabbed a a picture of my backside too. I had a skunk from seat to neck – it was impressive. When I got home, I threw all my clothes in a bucket of soapy water. However, I will be shocked if my bike jersey is ever white again. If it does whiten up, I could do a commercial for our laundry detergent. After showering, I had to hose off Green Lightening – again. It seems like I am washing it after almost every ride these days.
Oh well, I survived and in the end had a good ride and experience I won’t forget. All part of the training I guess!
In case you lost track, here is a summary of the events from the first half of my bike ride.