Yesterday, we had the kind of ride that’s the convergence of nightmares—and thankfully both lived to tell the tale.
My SO and I had a very rare day where we were both off at the same time. The weather was gorgeous, and the forecast (and radar) looked beautiful, so we decided to ride to lunch.
J had found this great seafood place along the Fox River that looked like it would probably be amazing. The sun was shining, the birds were singing…perfect day for a ride, right?
And Then, The Skies Opened
We were happily eating our delicious lunch when J looked at the weather again on his phone. Suddenly, everything had changed. We could see the sky rapidly getting darker outside, and the radar showed a fast-approaching series of storms heading directly for us.
We hastily finished our lunch, washed our hands, and abandoned the rest of our ride plans in favor of tearing ass home. Sure, we probably wouldn’t beat the rain entirely. But it looked like it was going to get quite heavy later in the afternoon, so we wanted to get moving.
We’re both ATGATT riders, which can be really helpful in the rain. All your gear might get wet, but it’ll dry out. With a full-face helmet, at least you aren’t getting rain in the eyes making it difficult for you to see.
However, neither of us expected the rain, and we weren’t planning to be out late. So we both had smoked visors on our helmets for riding in bright sunshine. We have clear visors for both lids, but had left them at home. Oops. Riding with the visor open would be difficult in a downpour, especially since I have to wear glasses to do pretty much anything except read. Double oops.
We geared up, I slipped the rain cover over my tank bag, and away we went. At first, things went well.
What’s more fun than riding in an unexpected downpour? I’ll give you one hint.
My bike has skinny tires that tend to follow imperfections in the pavement. Tar snakes are loads of fun. Rough Grooved Surface moments are worse.
But they’re not the worst.
That’s really the key. That ride home was miserable, and ass-clenching the whole way. There were sudden stops and starts (construction vehicles were hard at work, of course), and unpredictable rain patterns, and other traffic that could probably see only slightly better than I could.
We got separated on the way home, and J got there first and had to sit and wonder if I was okay.
As sucktastic as that was, it still could have been worse. That ROUGH GROOVED SURFACE could also have had a FRESH OIL sign next to it, for example. Or there could have been manhole covers sticking up out of the pavement for us to slalom (which is my personal favorite when roads get ripped up). Those are pretty easily avoided when it’s dry, but when it’s a torrential downpour? Not fun.
When I got home, I stripped off everything, dried off, and changed into dry clothes. I stuck a hairdryer in my left boot (which got more soaked and squishy than my right, although both were quite damp). I was freaked out, but pleased I rode through it and didn’t end up with anything worse than some thoroughly soaked clothes. I had a well-deserved beer and enjoyed the rest of the day.
I guess my point is, sometimes you end up in truly ass-clenchingly scary, bad situations. But if you’re able to somehow combine skills and luck in such a way that you pull through, you’ll end up feeling pretty pleased with yourself.
And even if you’re momentarily freaked out of your mind, eventually you’ll laugh. And then you’ll spend time thinking of all the ways it could have been worse. Because in the end, if you’re able to read this at all, it could always be worse.