The day the hardmen showed

I woke up yesterday and looked outside. It was the worst weather we have had in Southern California in over a year. The thermometer read a bitter 65 degrees, and the roads still had places that appeared to be wet, or at least damp. Twelve or eighteen raindrops pounded down, and a large cloud hung over the mountains.

These are the days that the hardmen greedily await, a day when we can disprove the calumnies spread about the softness, cowardice, and shickenchit nature of cyclists in the South Bay. I rummaged through my closet and took out my sturdiest, best insulated clothing. I drew on the armwarmers and wind vest, knowing that with these accoutrements I could weather any weather.

Sure enough, as I rolled down the hill to the start of the Donut Ride, the climate was even more terrible than I’d surmised. The wind in my face brought the temperature down to 60, or perhaps even 59 degrees. I shivered as I bit my lip. Drops of rain (I counted six) beat my face and eyes so hard I could barely see. The occasional roadside puddle required every bit of bike handling I had to keep from crashing. Parts of my bike got wet, and flecks of dirt and mud spattered onto my downtube.

I gritted my teeth and pedaled.

As I dropped down to the start, several minutes late, I saw the group coming towards me. It was as I expected. This awful combination of cool breeze, raindrops, and roadside puddles had kept all but the toughest tucked snugly into their beds. The usual sunny day contingent of 60 to 80 riders, decimated by the brutal cold and soul-drenching wet, was a tiny cadre of seven riders: The Wily Greek, Davy Dawg, PJ Pajamas, Cookie, some dude named Hector with a backpack, the Pilot, and I.

Although the first thirty minutes were run beneath sunny skies along dry roads, our bicycles became very dirty. No wonder the normally tough men and women of the South Bay had opted for breakfast and bex in sed. The effort and work it would take post ride to clean their bicycles, the terrible toll it would take on their fingers and wrists to hand-wring the dirty rain out of their kits, and the incredible labor it would take to clean their chains meant that only the craziest and hardiest would brave these bitter elements.

Wily kicked everyone in the gonads and road away at Trump, and just as we began the grueling ascent of the Switchbacks, the heavens loosed their fury. Rain began pouring down in an incredible wall, such a deluge as hasn’t been seen since the days of Noah. Each of us hunkered down in the pounding squall, feeling a handful of drops work their way through our rain vests as small splotches appeared on our sunglasses. The temperature plunged to 58 and our bodies froze to the core.

After a relentless, nonstop downpour of one full minute, we were each somewhat damp on our exposed legs, but we soldiered on. The descent was even more awful, with chills and biting winds cutting us to the core even though the temperature had bumped up to 65 degrees. Like the hardmen of Belgium and the iron soldiers of Roubaix, we pushed on down the hill and went home.

The entire ride lasted an incredible seventy minutes, each minute an eternity of suffering and misery. As I peeled off my somewhat damp clothing, soaked as it was with the frigid rain drops, I nodded in grim satisfaction to myself in the mirror: “It is the days like today,” I grunted, “that make the champions of tomorrow.”

END

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27 thoughts on “The day the hardmen showed”

  1. That was so incredibility funny that I felt ashamed to not have spent two dollars and ninety nine cents for the privilege of reading it. Maybe you could write another one about almost needing to clean your bike and then spam some more bike club email lists with it.

    1. Anyone who can use the word “incredibility” needs to send me their PayPal so I can send them the $2.99.

    1. Oh, we got it hard here. I read 15c on my euro thermo-meter.

      There were layers involved!!!!!

      Yeah, real hardmen/women were out in SoCal yesterday.

  2. I’m pretty sure I sustained a minor concussion yesterday when I had a brain sloshing tumble. The benefit of that appears to be that I actually understood and related to your blog. I do wonder what happened to Hector with the back pack though.

    1. He’s probably camped out somewhere, waiting for the terrible weather to subside so that he can hike back to civilization.

  3. You’re shull of fit. I need to get my bb regreased after yesterday. However I was descending like a pro (Sir Bradley no less). I did get out a tad late… Cuz… How’s your scions home brew coming anyway?

    1. We’re on the third batch. Should be ready for bottling in two weeks. Then we’ll really see who’s a hardman.

  4. When you say backpack, do you mean a full sized day pack kind of pack or simply one of those Camelbak style water carrier with extra room?

    We have a guy we call Backpack Bob, and he apparently isn’t too thrilled with this moniker. Personally I used to go out all the time with a camelback as I was usually by myself for years, and if I didn’t make it as easy as possible to hydrate, then I would forget.

    Anywho, I am pretty sure my backpack was noted by my friends, but it wasn’t enough to over shadow my constant state of yellowness, and with my height they settled in on Big Byrd, or as they simply call me today Byrd (Rhymes with…).

    Pretty funny post today. I like the parts about the cleaning, as I haven’t cleaned my bike in over a year, and that includes the pounding it took doing the Battenkill this year. I still have dried worms stuck to my frame.

  5. This is all not to mention the 80 degrees we had to swelter through just a few weeks ago

  6. “I woke up yesterday and looked outside. It was the worst weather we have had in Southern California in over a year. The thermometer read a bitter 65 degrees, and the roads still had places that appeared to be wet, or at least damp. Twelve or eighteen raindrops pounded down, and a large cloud hung over the mountains.”

    🙂

    Thank you.

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