September 21, 2012
It’s amazing how something unfamiliar can scare us into thinking it must be a bad thing. Take riding your bicycle in the rain, for instance. Over the past few days I’ve had several opportunities to do this, and I must say that my initial apprehension has given way to something else far more informed. At first, I was sure that I would be cold, wet and miserable. Now I can say, after today’s 96-mile ride in the nearly all-day rain, that I was completely wrong about the whole thing.
Riding in the rain made me cold, wet, and joyous. I got cold, but I didn’t freeze. I got wet, but skin is both waterproof and breathable – far better than Gore-Tex. But the really amazing thing is I got joyous. There’s something about being out in the elements, having good gear to deal with it, and being able to do your work as if the weather was beautiful. At this point work becomes play, and the bad weather just makes it that much more satisfying. And the “bad weather” itself becomes beautiful once you can really see it without that lens of comfort we hold as our usual standard. I recommend a good bike ride in the rain to you, my friends.
Now, riding a bike in the rain is a bit hard on the bike, and it’s going to require some extra maintenance along the way. Even though I had that old 1980 Trek 515 of mine set up for “bad weather,” I had to give it some extra TLC when I got into camp this evening. I didn’t notice it while it was raining, but as soon as the bike dried out a bit the chain and cogs and pulley wheels were squeaking and grinding like nobody’s business. There has been so much rain, road grit, and sand that this bike has gone through the last few days that it was beginning to sound like the old balloon-tired paper-boy special bike I had when I was a kid. That old ‘special, I used to just run it up into the front yard and jump off it while it was still moving. The bike would go crashing into the lawn and that would silence the squeaking until the next time I got on it. That kind of treatment isn’t how it has come to pass that I’m still riding the Trek more than 30 years after I bought it, though. It’s been a good and faithful riding machine, and I will lovingly keep it that way.
All in all, a good day…