Friday, December 5, 2008

A rainy note from my old friend James...


It's good to get back to a place where cyclists aren't afraid of a little rain. I was in Portland a few nights ago and there were riders everywhere. It was raining softly, the sort of non-stop precip I remember from my lost youth. Every bike has got fenders. 

A kid named Gilligan came down from Portland about 1988 to race and work (for me) at Marina Cyclery. I got him doing the (Bike) Nook Ride every morning from the flagpole at the Golden Gate Bridge. One rainy morning he came into the shop on his bike and said, "Nobody showed up." 

I said, "That's 'cause Californians don't ride in the rain." 

Gilligan laughed like it was a joke and went home to get ready for work. The next morning the same thing happened.

"I told you, Californians don't ride in the rain," I said. 

"So what happens if there's a race and it's raining?" 

"No problem," says I. "You win!"

A few weeks later was the first race, the Cherry Pie Criterium. It was pouring rain. Gilligan blasted off from the start and after the first corner he looked back and saw that everyone was riding their brakes. So he took off and lapped the field.

Once I was riding on the bike trail in Marin, right by the seaplane base, and it was absolutely pouring. Rain running down my chin, my shoes squishing water out with every pedal stroke. Suddenly a fast young guy is alongside me. He looks sideways at me and says "Portland? Or Seattle?" 

I say, "I'm from Portland." 

He says, "Well I'm from Seattle!" and takes off.



RIHans said...

I wish that were the way in Rhode Island, Maynard. Here in New England, if it's raining, the roads are not good(poor), could be like shite.
I hope the youge-uns get it.Smooth.

Maynard said...

Please note:
As a California rider myself, I make no claims to heroic, sodden rain-riding. When I have done it, I haven't hated it. But start a ride in the rain...? Probably not.

beth h said...

In most parts f the country, I think you just deal with whatever conditions your region hands you and keep riding. In the Northwest, we just go a step further and actually celebrate it.

Case in point: this morning at the USGP 'cross races, early-round riders lamented because they'd already ridden their races before the rains came at noon. Most whom I spoke with were from Portland or Seattle.

I rode to the races this morning to watch, and rode home again in a downpour with a friend, both of us laughing the whole way. I figure that, with as much as it rains here, if I don't ride in it I'm not going to ride very much at all; so I may as well enjoy myself.

gewilli said...

rain's never kept me off the bike here in RI...

but then...

I grew up in Seattle.

great story, thanks for sharing!

Dan Brekke said...

Of course, the Northwest rides I've loved hearing about have been the last two runnings of the Cascade 1200, a big old randonee out of the Seattle area that crosses the mountains into eastern Washington. The California folks I know all got ready for rain, and what they encountered on the far side of the Cascades was triple-digit temperatures (just as if they'd gone for a ride in the Central Valley).

If you don't ride much in the rain, the biggest hurdle is mental: it doesn't sound like a lot of fun, and it often isn't. Once you find yourself out in the elements, though, not so bad. The San Francisco Randonneurs has long enjoyed a reputation for its long winter rides in lovely, blustery, rainy conditions. You could look it up. Which would lead me to say that more people down here are riding in the weather than used to be the case. And occasionally, they even enjoy it.

Anonymous said...

Rain, including torrential rains with intense lightening, don't stop us in Florida either! (although usually this stuff catches up to us in mid-ride, typically if the lightening is heavy we wait it out if the ride hasn't started yet! )