A Heavy Rain Fell on Me and My Mind

A heavy rain fell

Would periodically wipe off the computer, to see how long I’d been out there

Rain fell on me like a junk drawer pulled from a cabinet, off its guides onto the kitchen floor yesterday. Read on Twitter that Californians think they’re riding in the rain too, but they’re not, just on vacation from the Sun. Saw another cyclist and we gave each other a, “Make it home safe Bro,” nod.

Been riding so much in it this spring, concerned I maybe experiencing PTSD, cause that wasn’t epic at all, just what I had to do. Epic means you enjoyed it somewhat and there was a triumph, however small. This ride was rote, like writing lines on a blackboard. Pedal to this corner, turn left or right, then pedal some more. If I expect to perform at my late-season goals in road and cross, then there’s no choice but to ride in all weather.

After procrastinating all morning, I proved to myself I could still do it. Didn’t want to at all and I got caught out, which is unusual. If there’s one thing I do well, it’s prepare for all conditions and last time I got hypothermic was about 8 years ago. That’s when I rode down Weber canyon in the shrub-steppe desert of Eastern Washington. A cold winter wind blew up the valley and took with it all the heat from my body. It’s an odd thing that happens there, like a reverse gravity situation where your speed on the steep grade descent is stalled by a headwind.

I lost count of the storm fronts that passed over me yesterday, but the last one dropped ice water from the sky in a hostile squall. Soaked through and cold, I knew I was in trouble with 40 minutes to go before home. In the last 20, as my hands couldn’t pull the brake lever hard enough, I cursed the loss of Hydro to a recall. If you don’t know what you got till it’s gone, then rubber pads scrapping an aluminum rim on a long descent reminded me that this bike is using an iteration of wagon wheel technology to stop.

After pulling off my clothes in the mud room and throwing them towards the washer, and feeling a bit disoriented, noticed my belly was bright pink with toes and fingers numb. In the shower, digits burned and tingled, a symptom I imagined the drug Lyrica is for.

The Gabba, Nanoflex, and Gore kit all did their job, the elements just overwhelmed them. Mother Nature reminded me again who’s boss. Guess I’d forgotten in 8 years since the last time she hurt me, what she can do.

I get a rush from mastering the elements. Being comfortable in miserable conditions with the right gear.

As I wrote in 2012 on a similar day, a focus on gear keeps us on the road during the dreariest of days, and a bike like the Roubaix I’m riding smooths the roughest of roads. The Zertz and layup, geometry, and whatever secret sauce makes the bike just roll, like a rouleur wants.

As hard as the weather is on your body in Seattle, it’s harder on the roads and with rivulets running down them, you can hit a pothole without seeing it. That happened on a fast descent, as I steadied the bike between painted white lines and cars roaring past me near SeaTac. Sequestered into a bike lane, I didn’t have much room to recover from the hit, and the bike took it without the expected carbon shudder. Wheels stayed true to the line, on track, with the rubber on the ground. Banking left away from traffic and to a steep, 14% grade, the compact cranks I’ve been struggling to adapt to also proved their worth with gearing I spun.

The S-Works SL4 Roubaix I have in to demo is built up with Force 22, a compact crank, and an 11-34 Wifli cassette. The big-ringing, muscle-memory I have was struggling to find the gear with a 50/34 setup.

That was until yesterday, when I really needed it, and again today when I’ll ride again.

The gear and bike I’m riding are all the right choices. I’ve just got to pay attention to the weather patterns and how long I’m out there. Having been humbled, I also remember how to keep my sanity in the wet. It’s like doing the dishes after a fine meal, enjoying something good takes time and effort.

Shed

Left the bike on the shed to think about what we just did together

The aftermath and cleanup of a ride like that weigh on me. I left the bike outside to think about what happened, like I was doing. The difficulty will reward me later but in the moments when I’m pedaling, that doesn’t make it any easier.

As Equipped

As noted above, that’s a Roubaix SL4 frameset built up with Force 22 (50/34 & 11/34) Zipp components, including the 30s wheelset. Every part on that bike I recommend and what I run for myself cause I don’t F around in the Winter with products not liked or trusted. The cockpit includes a Joule GPS and Knog lights. I run the Knogs, just like a car, as daytime running lights. The SKS longs fit the Roubaix just fine with Hutchinson Fusions at no more than 100 PSI.

Props to Padraig of Red Kite Prayer for the edits on this story

And the Giraffe On a Bike


Indie-rock band from Nashville And the Giraffe strapped a film camera to the front of a bicycle with some spare rigging equipment found in their friend/director’s garage and some duct tape and made this video. It cost about $200. They rode around LA and out into the desert for some gorgeous shots at the end.

The manufacture of the camera they used is Black Magic Design. As much as we shoot on the bike, me and David are very interested in this setup, because there’s a live preview and it looks like it’s being steadied. The video they produced reminds me of REI’s video from a few years ago when they attached DSLRS to a bike.

Next week, we’re in Austin for our annual bike show. We’ll also pull focus to mobile photography, shooting wonderful stuff like this.

Joining us are Pei Ketron, Dan Rubin, and Jeremy Dunn. We’ll post our regular channels and new ones just for SXSW.

If you like And the Giraffe, download their album for free and we’re bringing the SYCONS with us to SXSW too. They’re our house DJS for the weekend.

Riding Across a Prodigy Cover

Fat of the Land

Breathe with me

Yesterday I posted about Southby bikes and our animal-encounter origin story. That’s how Bike Hugger started, after I saw a lamb being born during a ride from Austin to Creedmoor Texas, a cactus in a tree, and then a buzzard eating a black act outside a boarded up megachurch.

Freaky shit I know.

Meanwhile down the coast from us in California, Richard from Cyclelicious was just riding along and found himself on a Prodigy album cover. Now that I’ve shared with you the lamb, buzzard, and cat creationism, also know these animal encounters

  • Rode through the middle of a cow carcass during the Tour of Willamette
  • Watched a crow fly through legendary mechanic Eamon Stanley’s rear wheel during our legendary ride to Snoqualmie Pass
  • Avoided the squirrel that jumped up onto a fender, off a shoulder, and the back of my fellow rider
  • Stopped to inspect a road kill badger (very cautiously cause badgers are mean)
  • Seen enough dead possums to conclude they are the stupidest animal
  • Rode over a seagull on Alki, felt really bad for about 32 seconds, until realizing there’s no shortage of seagulls (I also never liked that Jonathon Livingston Seagull novella)
  • Slowed way down and rode really cautiously past a small moose during our tour of South East Alaska (a small moose means a big moose is nearby)
  • Rode past a coyote hunting rabbits, while the sun broke through black storm clouds

And that’s the theme for Issue 10 of our Magazine that contributors are writing now. The issue will include stories from SXSW 14 too and I’m expecting to see more animals out in the Texas Hill Country while riding with Jeremy Dunn and Chris Distefano. When I told Chris we were going to ride to that boarded up megachurch, he said.

At which point I will transform into the unholy terror as has been prophesied for thousands of years. Prepare for hell, everyone.

Yeah and if lighting strikes twice and we see a buzzard, our drivetrains will get electrified and our tires forever sealed from flats.

Southby Bike

This One Time, Walked into a Pedicab Rodeo

You riding with us in Austin? Please do!

Austin is one of Bike Hugger’s collectively favorite cities thanks to the highly athletic population that happens to adore good food, drink and coffee. That’s one of the reasons we’ve headed to SXSW for so long and it’s the reason we’ve spent time in Austin as tourists as well.

This blog started because of a ride I did to Creedmoor Texas and back. That’s where I saw a lamb being born and a cactus in a tree. Later, buzzards and Mobile Socials

Freakiest thing I’ve seen is a buzzard eating a black cat while we were in Austin. Spooked me for days and still does. The scene occurred in front of a boarded up house, a few doors down from a Mega Church.

That still freaks me out and all the more reason to ride in Texas. If you haven’t already signed up for a SXCycles rental or our free bike and a phone promotion with Nokia, find a Southby bike with

Or what Susan does every year. She buys a cheap bike and leaves it behind. Whatever Southby bike modality you choose, it’s way better than back in the day when there were only two rental bikes in town and one was broken.

Town and Country with Ti

Gravel Ahead

Gravel Ahead

Posted the start of a gallery for the adventures will ride on gravel and forest service roads this Spring in the Pacific Northwest. On test for this ride are Sammy Slicks from Schwalbe, a tire we now recommend, with Zipp 303 Firecrests.

The bike is the D-Plus, a handbuilt, custom Ti Davidson cross bike. For gravel, we changed out the wheels, tires, and adjusted the brakes. Read more about the D-Plus here, all the posts on G+, and in the moment on Instagram.

When Mark V designed the D-Plus, he anticipated lots of time out in the country, on access and forest service roads. Ti is, after all, the original performance, comfort bike material. As I wrote when it was getting welded

A bong-sized BB, massive John Holmes head tube, and over-sized, thin-walled Ti tubing means a bike so stiff, it’s gonna hurt. Just not too much.

For a primer on gravel, see the Adventure issue of our Magazine, my posts from Reba’s Ride, and we’ll see you at a Vicious Cycle event soon. As much as I liked and dug deep with the Crux during Cross season, it was too stiff for a day on forest service roads.

wish those signs said BEER AHEAD

Long day in the Saddle

Bouncing along an Idaho backroad somewhere, my mind wondered to smooth pavement. I fantasized about a ribbon of black asphalt with predictable white lines, instead of a washboarded moonscape with sharp rocks and cattle guards. The springy, light, resilience of Ti should keep my mind, in the moment, on the ride next time.

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