Not True! Since I became self-employed (and stopped “working for the man”), Mondays aren’t much different than any other day. Not to mention, that today is Wednesday.
All that said, we came home today from Jersey and noticed lots of puddling in the medians. Frankenbutt and I shot a look at one another as we rode along in silence. We woke up to overcast skies and threatening clouds. It looked like a storm was brewing. We weren’t sure if a storm had just happened or if one was about to break loose.
We went about our errands, which included unpacking luggage, doing laundry and a stop at the eye dr.’s office to pick up the Beast’s prescription sunglasses. As I drove along, I watched the skies darken. The wind was kicking up debris on the road side and the sun was nowhere to be found. It looked like the weather report would hold true. I raced through my errands to make it back home in time. I called ahead to Frankenbutt to make sure he was aware. He was.
This weather was exactly what we wanted. No, we’re not part time storm chasers and we don’t have gloomy “Eeyore” personalities that make us delight and wallow in rainy weather. We are a couple of crazy folks preparing for a long bike ride in the “Sunshine State”, where a rainy day is few and far between. We are well aware that there are rainy days ahead and we need to prepare. We need to get some training in on wet roads, and see how well we work together in such circumstance and if our gear is up for the challenge.
When I arrived home, Frankenbutt was in riding clothes and had pulled our bikes from the garage. I sent the Beast to change while I pulled our rain jackets and filled our water bottles. I could hardly contain my excitement as I checked the skies again. It hadn’t started raining yet … perfect! We need a “real life” situation in which it starts raining AFTER we’ve broken camp and BEFORE we’ve ridden the number of miles we need to in order to meet our goals.
We hopped on bikes and headed for the Suncoast Trail. As soon as we turned off of Route 41, we ran into a wall of headwinds. They were so strong that our speed dropped off by half. As we pedaled hard into the wind, Frankenbutt hollered: “these are Florida hills we’re training on.” At first, I didn’t get it. Then I realized that the wind resistance is good training for the uphill runs that are hard to find in Florida.
We rounded the entrance to the trail and again the shifting winds nailed us head on. We kept a steady pace while Frankenbutt explained “drafting”; that long distance cyclists ride tightly behind the rear wheel of the lead rider during headwinds to lessen the impact. Within seconds, the Beast was drafting off of Frankenbutt’s wheel.
The driving rain and sleet slowed us substantially. We watched branches break off trees and scatter their debris across the path. The wind swirled and changed up so that the rain pelted us from every direction. At one point, the rain gusted so strongly that it pushed all of us to the edge of the path.
It was exactly what we wanted.
We now negotiated our way through the branches and became hyper aware of any branch crackling noises. We got lucky and no branches broke near us. There was a rather large downed tree, it’s trunk measuring about 8” in diameter. It was broken in two, leaving a 5-6” gap through the middle of it. I rode off the trail and into the grass to avoid it. Frankenbutt and the Beast rode through the gap, yelling “woo hoo’s” as they cleared the narrow opening.
As we approached a crossing, I yelled that I had limited sight and didn’t feel comfortable riding ahead and signaling them for the crossing, as we usually did. We agreed to stop at the crossing and walk across if need be. We continued to ride in the rain, wiping it from our eyes and keeping our heads down.
As we came to our turn off point, we yelled reminders to one another to stay in formation and stay close to one another, knowing we are more visible as a group. Frankenbutt turned on the flashing light on the back of his helmet, as well. We had purchased flashing mountable tail lights during our road trip north but haven’t had a chance to mount them yet. Today’s ride reminded us to get that task done before our next ride.
I was a bit more nervous on the road side than the trail in the nasty weather but it all worked about the same as it does on sunny days. I did keep a closer eye on my sideview mirror, which stayed pretty declare despite the shifting rains. Drivers respected our lane side riding as they usually do and thankfully none of them blew their horns! That can be pretty startling and give you a greater sense of impending danger.
After taking a few pictures, we left our shoes outside and we all pulled off wet clothes, leaving piles in the living room, bathroom and kitchen. I called “dibs” on the shower and enjoyed the nicest hot massage of water, reinforcing my belief that “trying times” give you a better appreciation for the simple pleasures in life.