The Bike Before a Rule #9 Ride

The Bike Before a Rule #9 Ride

Guest Article: Me, My Bike, and Irene

by / / 53 posts

Ian Stannard KBK 2010 photo: Skysports

This week Velominati is publishing a selection of guest contributions.

It shouldn’t be fun but it is, until it’s not. I’m talking Rule #9 here and @King Clydesdale brings us a perfect example of why a Rule should be a Rule and why the proof is in the riding.

Yours in Cycling,

Gianni

Sometimes being a meteorologist is a tough job. This week has been no exception. Hurricane Irene has done plenty of damage to the East Coast of the US, overloading my overnight weekend shift with plenty of work. Phones were off the hook, forms had to be sent, tracks had to be adjusted, and on and on. It was stressful to say the least. I could bitch about work, but I’m sure you all don’t give a shit. Before I move on, let me say this: The next time you watch a meteorologist and think, “That fucking idiot gets paid to be wrong half the time,” I guarantee you my forecast error is less than the broker dealing with your 401K. And you didn’t give me your money.

Anyway, I was inspired last night by some news coverage of some lucky bastards, most likely wasted, playing street hockey and using the rain-filled streets of NYC as slip and slides.  It looked like a hell of a good time. I thought to myself, “that’s badass.” And in a moment of divine clarity, Rule #9 came into my head. I asked myself when was the last time I did anything rebellious, ill-advised, or deviant? I knew what to do. I went home, checked more weather stuff (I never really stop working), changed, and went for a ride.

I have never been for a ride in steady rain before. It hasn’t rained a lot since I’ve started cycling again this summer and I’ve chosen to stay indoors in the past on days like today. And despite all the recent appreciation I’ve gained for the sport and the love of all things cycling, the main reason I have been riding is to lose weight and get in shape, not punish myself. And here in Central Pennsylvania, the threat of getting wet usually comes in the form of thunderstorms. While riding through a thunderstorm may be really badass, I would prefer not to have the ironic death of “meteorologist killed by lightning” if I can avoid it. But there was no lightning with this rain shield from Irene, so I left the apartment for a new experience.

It was magic. I felt more like a real cyclist then I have in a while. The rain was pelting my face. My shoes weighed a ton. The wind gusts fought me as if the wind was trying to punch me. I loved it. At first it was like a rush, I felt like a “hardman.” The Sunday church traffic looked at me like I was crazy. I didn’t see a single cyclist other than myself. I was soaking wet, and for once it wasn’t all sweat. I understood Rule #9. The only way to experience that Rule is to live it.

Slowly however, my ride turned into more of a zen experience. Climbing out of the saddle to attack a roller felt natural. My stroke felt more magnificent. Keeping a pace below the red zone just felt more automatic. I didn’t have to think about anything. And yet at the same time I was focused. It was beautiful. It was natural. It was perfect. That is how pro cyclists must feel when they are in the zone.

I know I break plenty of rules. Being fresh out of college, with plenty of bills, and a starting salary much less then anyone who learned the amount of shit I learned in school should be paid, I just can’t afford to abide by some. Others require breaking old habits. Some rules are just like food you used to dislike. One day you try it, and you realize you might have liked it for a while now, but you have been too stubborn to try it again. For me, Rule #9 was one of those last instances. I didn’t know what I was missing.

But from now on, I will never be afraid to roll out in the rain. It would be an opportunity lost to appreciate the beautiful art that is my sport.

// Defining Moments // Guest Article

  1. I don’t know what it’s like to race in the rain but it is fun to train in the rain unless one is freezing to death (Tour de Blast). Being a big boy I’m usually overheated when riding so being wet is OK and that dramatic cyclists versus the elements theme is a good fantasy to keep the pedals turning over. Warm, wet, good, cold, wet, bad.

  2. “:I went home, checked more weather stuff (I never really stop working), changed, and went for a ride.”

    So I gotta know. Which weather website do you use?

  3. Good effort. Riding in the rain is not all that bad. But don’t let others catch on! It is nice to be the only one getting those “WTF is that idiot doing” looks.

  4. Nicely done KC!
    Riding in the rain can be pleasurable, I’ve found but only if you can keep from freezing your ass off. When it’s warm enough, I find that I really enjoy it. It adds something intangible to the ride where the stroke seems to get easier, and I go down one level in my consciousness into some sort of protected shell where I feel what’s happening to my body less. It’s hard to explain but I just feel like I’m going faster.

  5. @Gianni

    I don’t know what it’s like to race in the rain

    it’s amazing fun and utter shit all at the same time. As long as you don’t think about the Belgian toothpaste, you’re half way there!

    I won races that I shouldnt have done just because it was raining. I beat people that if it were dry I would be lucky to hold their wheel, but as soon as they saw the rain their heads went down (literally).

    And remember, there’s no such thing as bad weather…

  6. @Gianni

    @Unica
    Agree – as odd as it may sound – in sunny Australia there is plenty of opportunity to race in tha rain because we run our road racing season in the winter and the track/crit season in summer. Never thought to ask why but I think it is because track racing has been a predominantly outdoor sport and summer is better for spectators.

    My theory on racing in rain (as a dud amateur) – if u r a little more prepared to risk crashing by following wheels closely and/or rely on your handling skills – you can save a lot more energy.

    Great article Clydesdale. Your comparison to brokers made me laugh. But as someone who does advise people on money- I can say my job would be a lot easier if I had something like your big satellite maps tellingly what the market “should” do tomorrow. So there!

  7. Nice one KC! Those of us who follow Rule #9 to a T do not think of rain as any different from riding in any other element – you just adjust your strategy and get on with it (Would Merckx have cared whether Roubaix was hot, dry and dusty or sopping wet?).

    For the rest I go with the rule of thumb that says if it is warm like a bathtub go out for a splish-splash. So at least once a summer (hopefully in Irene like drama weather) if the mercury is above 70’ish I head out for the fun of it and love it.

    @Unica
    You summed up the old feeling, with the exception of racing in the city (really dirty). Give me a crit in the rain, wait patiently while half the field slides out in the first half and then have a great race with the rest of the guy’s who knew their shit – whooeee – no water bottle cause your drinking off the roostertail in front, if you fall going for a prime, a fifty meter slide and no road rash – get right back up and catch the field as they pass, the thrill of blowing through 5 inches of puddle at 50kph!
    Thanks for the memories.

  8. Bad. Ass. Nicely done, Roi.

  9. “Some rules are just like food you used to dislike. One day you try it, and you realize you might have liked it for a while now, but you have been too stubborn to try it again. For me, Rule #9 was one of those last instances. I didn’t know what I was missing.”

    this is spot on for me. I felt the same way. i used to think i couldn’t ride when the weather was bad, now i look forward to it, in a sick sort of way. great article.

  10. On Rule #9: I willingly ride through cold weather. Precipitation on the other hand does not interest me. I will only ride in the rain if fate dictates that it happens. Where rain is concerned I will only be a badass when Mother Nature forces my hand.

  11. As a former pilot and student of weather I must say I appreciate and envy your profession. Very cool. As to the financial advisor vs. meteorologist debate with Marcus, I’d say both money and the weather rule our lives but when one goes to serious shit we’re dead. I’d rather pay more attention to the one that will kill me. And I think this is the weather map Marcus is referring to.

    One of the reasons I like riding in bad weather is that convection motivates me to go harder. When I slow or stop I cool down quickly so I’d just as soon lay into the pedals one more to stay warm.

    Great article K.C. Thanks for the contribution.

  12. As a current pilot (thus the handle “Anjin-san”) I appreciate meteorologists on a daily basis. Riding in the rain (or snow) is one of the secret pleasures of a cyclist- get out and do it more often! Just remember it’s a little rough on the bike so make sure you take care of your ride (dry, lube, etc) or it will look and perform like shit after a few rain rides. Well written!

  13. Hmmm…who knew so many velominati are pilots? My “80” moniker comes from my glider contest number from many years ago. I sure miss my LS-1f….but not all those students that tried so hard to kill me.
    -eightzero, CFIIA/G

  14. @Eightzero

    @Anjin-san
    I’m not a pilot but I’m working on getting my A&P. Good stuff.

  15. I pilot a few different bicycles, and sometimes, on the mountain bike, I fly…does that count?

  16. this reminds me of one my rides in Mumbai monsoon. It had been raining for a day and there were no signs of it abating. I decided to roll out on my mountain bike in the torrential rain. It was a Saturday and I didn’t see any cyclist during the ride only to see one at the end, flying past me in the opposite direction. We both exchanged smiles and a nod of the head. I was not happy to see another cyclist in horrendous weather as I wanted to be the only badass on the road but then I respected him too for his love of the sport. Rule #9 is serious, it gives you the existential feeling.

  17. I used to be a parapente pilot. Does that count?
    Come to think of it, the conditions and terrain that I was riding in today would have been perfect for a day of soaring.
    To wit;

    Ah, Summer in the Southern Hemisphere…

  18. I think one of the hideous parts of riding in the rain is the feeling of weight and dragging water with you in your kit – nowadays however, with lycra and neoprene those days are past

    Indeed, and it is maybe from my past experience of windsurfing in the snow, where you stuck your hands in the sea to fend off frostbite and regain some limited sensation (big winds = big windchill; gloves = forearm cramp/ no grip), means that that wearing neoprene and being wet, means you only notice the rain until you are wet, then you forget it is there

    Stick the right gear on, don’t try to stay dry, you can’t

    Keep the layers plentiful but snug, to stop water gathering and sagging, overshoes and a good hat under your helmo and you will be as toasty as you are on a warm day, only you are wet

    Nothing better than getting looked at by passers-by who are thinking, “is he fucking mad?”

    – yes and no – “mad, maybe, definitely BAD”, you think to yourself

    Maybe the next time it is 0C and sleeting, I’ll do some hill reps in my E-Bomb 2/3mm summer wetsuit….probably overheat

  19. @Jay

    On Rule #9: I willingly ride through cold weather. Precipitation on the other hand does not interest me. I will only ride in the rain if fate dictates that it happens. Where rain is concerned I will only be a badass when Mother Nature forces my hand.

    The day I picked up my new Bike Number One it was one of those days. There were afternoon thunderstorms forecast but I decided to temp fate and lit out. Twenty miles out, dark clouds rolled in as I turned onto the road that returned me home.

    Fortunata smiled and gave me a tailwind.

    As I made the final turn to the 6 mile push to the finish the skies dumped. Thunder crashed, the wind was howling and the rain was coming down in sheets. I laughed maniacally and felt like the Bishop in Caddyshack.

  20. Great piece.

    Over here in blighty the weather almost mandates Rule #9 compliance.

    I’m off out now to re-assert the theory!

  21. Nice one, KC!

    What a timely piece – I woke up today to cool weather (mid 40s*F) and pouring rain. Probably the first truly bad weather we’ve had here this winter. Hmm, today is a soccer day for me, but I might have to fit in a short ride just to Rule #9 it for a bit!

    Today is a day that makes me very happy that I have a fully fendered bike. I don’t like how they look, I don’t like how they get caught on things, make putting it in my workstand hard, make putting it on the car rack hard, and that you can’t flip it up to wheel it through narrow spaces like hallways, but darn, full fenders almost make it not a Rule #9 day when they keep you so wonderfully dry and grime free.

    With the right clothes, riding in the rain can be awesome, as many of you clearly realize. Now I just need to save up for that nice rain cape someone linked to a few weeks back.

  22. mouse – that bike is awesome! Love the two white bits with the all black. Very classy looking.

  23. @Ron

    Yeah, my least favorite thing about riding around without fenders in the rain is the roostertail that eventually soaks the pad in your bibs… I can handle being wet, but when sitting on a wet chamois is just plain annoying and sort of takes the “hey I’m out here in shite weather” fun out of the ride, at least for me.

    I have to admit to throwing on a rear raceblade when I am certain the skies are going to dump more than just a “shower” (which I won’t bother with the fenders), because a wet rear-end isn’t very fun.

  24. The old man with the Ever present wool cap and cigarello reminded me regularly, “the rain only makes you wet. The wind makes you strong.”

  25. @Riverbud
    Welcome Good Sir Riverbud, but do not deny us the juice. Forget your wet mug, we need photos of bike #1. It’s all about the bike for us bike junkies.

  26. Here’s the VMH rockin’ some serious Rule #9 and Rule #10 action in Seattle today. Great day for a ride: 3 or 4 degrees, steady rain, and hills.

  27. @frank
    Are you motor pacing your VMH?

  28. Nice piece, KC! As Marko pointed out earlier, weather is a key feature of riding. I’m wondering, though, whether someone in the biz interprets the forecast””and what it means for riding””more carefully than the rest of us. I’ll have a quick look at precipitation and maybe wind before going out. What criteria is on your list to check and anticipate?

  29. I don’t mind the odd wet ride. I usually check the radar before going out but that’s primarily to check I’ve got appropriate kit. The V gillet has been extremely useful so far, this Sydney summer being unusually wet. What I do mind is the additional bike cleaning / servicing. There’s only so many bike cleaning sessions that can be regarded as therapeutic, meditational catharsis. Otherwise its a chore for me. I’ll happily rewrap the bars or clean the drive train but an all over wash and lube soon feels like work.
    Agreed – wet is fine but cold is hideous. And my descending sux as soon as the road gets slick.

    Me and Dr Grog rode the 3 Peaks this year. We got soaked in the first 30k. I remember the first drips reaching inside the shoes and thinking “this is going to be a looong day”. We got soaked again at about 210k but the wind was kind. Thank Merckx.

  30. Kudos! I’ve had some great rides in the rain.

  31. @mouse

    I used to be a parapente pilot. Does that count?Come to think of it, the conditions and terrain that I was riding in today would have been perfect for a day of soaring.To wit;

    Ah, Summer in the Southern Hemisphere…

    Flat bottom cu all streeting up. But hey…my bike never needs a towplane.

  32. @harminator

    I usually check the radar before going out but that’s primarily to check I’ve got appropriate kit.

    Radar: Radios Around Dummies Aren’t Reliable.

  33. @frank

    Here’s the VMH rockin’ some serious Rule #9 and Rule #10 action in Seattle today. Great day for a ride: 3 or 4 degrees, steady rain, and hills.

    A-MERCKX! Rockin’ the leg warmers!

    I will now go back to the couch with great shame…

  34. @otoman

    “:I went home, checked more weather stuff (I never really stop working), changed, and went for a ride.”
    So I gotta know. Which weather website do you use?

    I have 24 websites bookmarked at home in my forecasting folder. While I will use my companies website in a pinch, I prefer to do my own forecasts.

    @Steampunk

    Nice piece, KC! As Marko pointed out earlier, weather is a key feature of riding. I’m wondering, though, whether someone in the biz interprets the forecast””and what it means for riding””more carefully than the rest of us. I’ll have a quick look at precipitation and maybe wind before going out. What criteria is on your list to check and anticipate?

    To be honest, the biggest turnoff for a bike ride (besides the lethal kinds), is humidity. Dry heat is beautiful, just drink plenty of water and let the wind do the cooling. But the sticky heat is the worst for me.

    I also make sure to check out the pressure gradient and due a look at the wind for the day. I attempt to plan ahead to where I finish my ride on a tailwind sometimes, if I’m giving it that much thought.

    But as always I will continue to make forecasts for all the cogals with as many details as possible. It’s my little professional contribution.

  35. @King Clydesdale
    Interesting. I’ve only learned to pay attention to the wind (and that >30kph really sucks as a headwind). Never thought too much about humidity as I’ve never fully understood the numbers (or related them to the conditions, which genuinely suck). I presume topography must play some role, too. I live in a valley, so noting the winds and humidity levels makes a difference as to whether I want to stay low or get up on the flats. All interesting stuff. My professional alter-ego is an historian, and I’ve been playing around with a history of technology project that examines the history of the future and past predictions””how they were made and how the future was imagined. Weather forecasting plays a role in all that (though I haven’t done any work on it yet).

  36. @Steampunk

    Anytime you want some information on the history of forecasting let me know and I’ll fill you in on all that I know.

    I’m sure if you asked every cyclist here there perfect riding conditions, I’m sure you’d get a wide range of answers. For me, around 12-13 C is a sweet spot.

    Weather has of course played an important role in professional cycling. An interesting tidbit about the record hour is that many attempts at the record took place in Mexico City due to the thinner air. For some light scientific reading about the hour record and altitude, enjoy: http://www.wolfgang-menn.de/altitude.htm

  37. @Anjin-san

    @frankAre you motor pacing your VMH?

    No, they’re both motor-pacing the vehicles behind

  38. Hi All,

    Just new to The Rules, your best bet for some accurate met forecast information is to use the airfield forecast and actual data for a selection of the nearest airfields to your location and location of your ride. You can get apps for a variety of smart devices such as ‘aeroweather’ or can just search for your local airfields info, ie. ‘XXXXXXX taf’

    The TAF is the short term forecast and is usually very accurate especially with regards to the wind direction and velocity, the METAR is the current measured weather at the airfield location and will have a time field indicating when the data was collected.

    The Flight Sergeant

  39. @The Flight Sergeant

    Welcome!

    Ah yes, TTAA and TTBB reports. Learned to decode them in Junior year, but don’t deal with them much seeing as I don’t deal with aviation forecasting, and when we want a forecast similar to a taf, we prefer to make them ourselves, seeing as they are human produced. As a private meteorologist we aim to beat the feds, not copy them. Metars on the other hand we use all the time.

    There are some new forecasting tools in the works that are incorporating advanced boundary layer physics to create some awesome point forecasts. These will be very valuable to people who partake in recreational activities. Its just a matter of R&D and getting computing power to keep up.

  40. Frabk – were you snapping away with surly cagers hot on yer heels?

    I can only imagine the conversation in the car.

    “Look at these fucking twats. Riding their bikes in the rain. And getting in our fucking way. Assholes! I’m gonna give that guy a piece of my mind…”
    As they angrily pull around to pass. “Honey, I wouldn’t say anything. That guy is pretty fucking tall. And, he is riding in the rain. He must be insane! Just drive by.”

  41. HOLY COW – now I’ve called you Farnk and Frabk. Goodness.

  42. @The Flight Sergeant, @King Clydesdale
    Amazingly interesting posts both. What amazes me about meteorology is that its based on finite elements rather than area elements. Area elements are essentially the same as vector graphics; mathematically determined elements rather than scale-determined and have been used for ages as the competing approach in ground water modeling. Since air is a fluid (albeit a less viscous one), the principles should apply with the necessary adjustment and, assuming you have the data points to support it, should scale from local to global forecasting without a loss of accuracy. Building the model is a ton of work, though.

    And before I sound like (a) brilliant or (b) a total jackass – my padre established this model for groundwater, and is now interested in using the same model for weather forecasting, although at an amateur level.

    @Ron
    This is Seattle. The conversation in the cars was “Look at these fucking twats, getting in our way. I bet they raise their own chickens! I’m gonna pull up and remind this guy to recycle and eat local!…”


  43. Prepping for this morning’s ride, I was reminded that it’s not always the air and atmospheric conditions that matter, but what the ground simply looks like that plays a role. Dry roads, expecting rain and wet roads in dry conditions mean two very different things. The pic above is an indication that I should be able to navigate my cul-de-sac””but I’ll need to plan the route to avoid more snow on top of the escarpment.

    @frank
    Before I sound like (a) a sycophant or (b) a total geek””this modeling stuff sounds fantastic (have been working on the history of modeling recently). You’ve just become my second favorite Strack.

  44. @Steampunk
    Attaboy Steamy! I’m expecting an updated km total (“km-age”?) on Sunday for your Rwanda Project.

    PS weather here will be 20’s and sunny all weekend; Witte-Kit weather!

  45. Fantastic ride in the fog today! Life is so much better in the saddle. Temps hanging around 0c, and bits of slush on the road to avoid, but glorious. Rule #9: when your bike is twice as heavy (grit and grime) at the end of the ride as when you start out. For the first time, I gave up trying to clean it off immediately in order to let it dry first; I just kept moving the grit around…

    @sgt

    @Steampunk
    Attaboy Steamy! I’m expecting an updated km total (“km-age”?) on Sunday for your Rwanda Project.

    Again: thanks. Hoping to get out again tomorrow. I haven’t so much as a sniffle all year, and came down with sore throat, chest infection, and aches last week, which has kept me off the bike for ten days. Had hoped to rack up a bit more this week to no avail.

    PS weather here will be 20″²s and sunny all weekend; Witte-Kit weather!

    This doesn’t help. Not one little bit. (Enjoy, though!)

  46. @Steampunk
    Cripes! Respect for getting out in that weather. If that gets any worse you’ll need a set of these

    My secret weapon for when sheet ice makes the road bike a bone crunching impossibility.

  47. @Spearfish
    Do you keep those tires on the bike for any length of time or are they a daytime decision? I’ve gone back and forth on getting some studded tires for my commuter bike, but the ice gets cleared reasonably quickly here, so I’ve never bothered. Maybe if I were to get some new wheels for the MTB, I could throw some of these on the old ones. Are those homemade?

  48. @frank

    @The Flight Sergeant, @King Clydesdale
    Amazingly interesting posts both. What amazes me about meteorology is that its based on finite elements rather than area elements. Area elements are essentially the same as vector graphics; mathematically determined elements rather than scale-determined and have been used for ages as the competing approach in ground water modeling. Since air is a fluid (albeit a less viscous one), the principles should apply with the necessary adjustment and, assuming you have the data points to support it, should scale from local to global forecasting without a loss of accuracy. Building the model is a ton of work, though.
    And before I sound like (a) brilliant or (b) a total jackass – my padre established this model for groundwater, and is now interested in using the same model for weather forecasting, although at an amateur level.

    Sounds like a interesting project! The fact that the atmosphere a fluid was the bases of some of the first numerical weather models, appropriately called “shallow water models”. The basic equations for such can be found here: http://cims.nyu.edu/~gerber/pages/climod/GFDL_shallow_water_eqns.pdf

    My senior research was modeling based. I ran simulations of a supercell over complex terrain using a microphysics cloud model in an attempt to explain a localized tornado maximum in New York State. Really fun stuff since we optimized it to run on a tower server, utilizing 16 processing cores. I’m quite proud what I accomplished, despite the fact the results didn’t answer the initial question. But sometimes thats how research works…

  49. @Steampunk
    Those are indeed home made. Way cheaper and grippier than the factory made ones (they cost me about £12 each in total) the only down side being that they do have quite alot of drag. They certainly aren’t something to put on “just in case”, although they will run on clear roads and they are great in mud!
    Fortunately, here in the UK, we are incapable of dealing with even a little snow and the roads are iced for days. And it’s brilliant fun when some douche on a fixie tries to race you, you generally don’t see them after the first corner…

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