As y’all know, I really like bike commuting. I know I kinda cheat by throwing the bike on the back of the car in the morning, and driving in with Michelle, but we like our extra time together, we get to use the carpool lanes, and I get an extra hour sleep. All are GREAT reasons to do it this way.
On days I bring in the bike, I ride home no matter what, which means I am subject to the whim of the weather. Today that meant I was racing this on my way home…
I saw a tweet at work that said I had about 2 hours before the rain would hit. Now I don’t know what it’s like where y’all come from, but around here, even though the weatherman tries, he is NOT that accurate. There’s been times I had two hours, and drenched after 15 minutes, and times the rain never hit.
This week has been weird though, Saturday, while we got hit with a HARD thunderstorm, 30 miles south of us had water spouts and the first tornado warning in 45 years. So when I hear and see rain & wind are coming, I know I have to push it!
I was lucky that I could leave earlier today, and Michelle was a little late, this meant I could ditch the panniers! The good part about that is I could travel with less weight. The bad part: I had to pick what to wear now. There’d be nothing to change into…
It was flat too warm for rain gear, so I elected to just take my 1 day STP rider vest. It wouldn’t be any protection from rain, BUT it was perfect for the temps. No guts no glory.
When I got in the saddle I decided it was going to be THAT kinda ride. Leave it all on the trail, get home as fast as I could and try to beat the rain.
The ride started out well, the light gods smiled and hit every green light between work and the UW campus. Once on campus I was slowed down some. There was a bus that didn’t pull completely off the road and blocked us all for 5 minutes. Then there was some slow traffic once I got on the trail
I wasn’t impatient there, since with all the students it is not a place to speed or try to make up time, but I did finally get to maneuver around this guy.
Once I got out of UW, I started pushing it again. Even after the 30 miler yesterday, my legs felt fresh and ready to ride. I did have to stop for this though.
Around here, the weather comes from the ocean out of the west, the mountains are east of us. So while I was racing clouds, those who were hiking today were enjoying bright sunshine! The view on the ride home though was gorgeous I couldn’t resist the picture.
OK, back in the saddle, I had a tail wind now, and I was flying. There was no one else on the trail, so I felt ok going faster than the 15 mph speed limit. Normally, I cruise at 13 – 14. It gets me where I am going and I can keep it up for hours. Today though, I was clipping along at 16.5!
And I see someone has jumped onto my back tire and is drafting me. I will admit here, I am a bit fuzzy on the bike etiquette for this. I would never draft someone and hug the rear tire without asking. It seems rude to me. It’s different on a century or double century ride. I’ve had people who look like they are going to keel over do so, and to me that’s ok. But on a simple bike path commute, it seems rude.
When this occurs, I make people EARN the spot on my tire. I started speeding up.
Editors note: I NEVER do this if someone is passing me. Their on some cyclists that will kill themselves to prevent someone older, the opposite sex, or who looks like they are out of shape, from passing them. To me, speeding up when someone is passing is not only rude, and childish, it can be dangerous. I pass when I know I have room to do so safely. Speeding up lessens my safety window. Anyone can, and has passed me at any time.
I see no safety issue in speeding up with someone drafts without asking, but I will admit it is probably a bit childish.
Anyhow, I start to speed up, As I said, the legs were feeling good! I kicked it up to 18, held it for a mile or so, then checked behind me. The wheel was still there. OK, up to just over 19, sure enough, he (or she I couldn’t get the angle to see the rider) was right with me. This was starting to get fun.
I had about 3 miles till I had to leave the trail, it was still wide open and no people. I opened it up. I pushed it until I hit 21 and then maintained it! Sure as hell, the bike was right on my tire. We flew down the path, I was starting to feel it, I’ve been short on miles so the stamina wasn’t there, and I NEVER keep that speed.
With half a mile to go, I eased to the right and signaled I was slowing, and said “I get off here soon, the trail is yours!”
A gentlemen with a white beard at LEAST 12 years older than me passed me, said “Thanks for the tow!” and took off. I swear he was NOT even breathing hard! My first thought was BASTARD! ( In this case it was a term of respect I promise!) which was then followed by “Damn, I hope I can be in that kind of shape in 12 years….”
I left the trail and cycled up to the house, I made it record time, 17 miles, including 4 uphill, in 67 minutes. It honestly felt good! And I was dry as a tater chip! I gave it all I had and I beat the rain!
Oh, about that, I am finishing this just before 9 PM, and there is STILL no rain… Yeah, weatherman missed again! But it was one helluva fun commute home!