Will I be okay if it rains on me??? :(
And received this response when I got back, three hours later:
Yep :) Have a good ride. I have ridden in the pouring rain and it is cold and hard to see but fine. Just be careful on painted surfaces...slippery.
Well, she was right. I was okay, but it was laughably hard at some points. I'm signed up for my first official ride, 55 miles on 2/12/11 in the Tour de Palm Springs, so I needed to get in a 40 miler this weekend, weather forecast be damned. I headed out from Newport Beach/PCH in my tank jersey, a bit envious of people in their light-weight, technical rain gear but thinking I would be fine. The weather channel said it wouldn't rain until 3pm and since I started at 11am I thought I would be fine. What did they need that stuff for anyway?
There's a public restroom around mile 15, just past Angel Stadium and The Honda Center. I stopped there and, as always, took my bike in with me and locked the door. Different groups of homeless people were huddled together around tables and since I was alone, my mind started wandering. I did a mental tally of how much my bike, iPod and gear were worth and thought of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. Sure, my bike doesn't have a carbon-only frame but they don't know that! I didn't even refill my water bottle and headed off, eating my shock blocks on the way. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between an overactive imagination and intuition, and I'm sure it was was the former, but there wasn't anything to be gained by sticking around to find out.
Around mile 17 it started raining. It felt good and I kept plugging along, happy to almost be at my 1/2 way point. Before I turned around in Yorba Linda, I wiped my sunglasses off and put my iPod in my light-weight, technical rain gear: a plastic bag. The rain wouldn't last long.
One of the drawbacks to being an optimist is that you're always surprised when it does get worse. It kept on raining, and around mile 25 I had to take my sunglasses off and put them in my jersey pocket. And then it really started to come down. This is what they mean by driving rain I thought. I mean, those little bastard raindrops actually hurt! No longer protected by my sunglasses that I couldn't see out of anyway, those lil' droplets were hitting my eyeballs with force! It continued to pour, and right about the time I became aware that my socks were soaking wet I looked down at my arms. They were some weird shade of pink and covered in goosebumps. So I pedaled faster, trying to warm myself up.
But I was now facing a strong head-wind, and I had to switch to an easier gear, resulting in a slower ride. Gusts of wind came and actually blew my bike a little to the side and still, I did not warm up. This is when I actually had to laugh. I couldn't see! Water was dripping off my face and helmet and all I could think of was falling over. I cautiously breaked on the downhill when I went under freeways. I remembered how my neighbor told me to call her if I wanted to be picked up and how I would do that if I could. But I didn't bring my phone.
The rain finally stopped around mile 34. I eased up on the death grip I had on my handlebars and looked around at something other than the next 2 feet of road for the first time in at least 10 miles. To my right was a parking lot of seagulls. Really, there must've been about 100 of them evenly spaced out in the shallow water, ruffling their feathers every so often. I was still freezing and if willing myself home and into a hot shower was possible it would have happened. But, I was also almost done.
My optimism crept back in and I realized how the difficulty that went along with the weather made it more of an experience. With only 2 miles left, 'Bloodbuzz Ohio' came on my playlist and I turned it up, singing without fear of anyone hearing me since there wasn't anyone around to hear me. Then the cliché thought 'I really feel alive. Here in this moment, I feel alive' popped in my head. Except that it wasn't a cliché. It was actually how I felt.