Study of a Madman: Riding in the Rain

Study of a Madman: Riding in the Rain

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I awoke Sunday morning to the sound of the driving rain on the windows, buffeted by gusts of wind. I got up, made myself a double espresso, and called to the dogs for their walk. Smackimus, the mutt who embodies Rule #5 in everything he does, came bounding down the stairs. Beene, the lummoxy Great Dane, followed quite a distance behind, yawning and smacking her lips. I opened the front door and the three of us headed outside.  I made my way down the stairs and zipped up my jacket as both dogs followed. Smackimus slowed noticeably as we left the shelter of the front porch and stepped into the rain, and Beene stopped altogether.

After using all my skills of persuasion, I managed to get both the dogs to do their business, but it was a minimum-commitment operation; both dogs did what they needed to do and bolted back up the steps to the shelter of the front porch.

A great day for a ride, obviously.

We are a sick lot, those of us who find more pleasure in riding in bad weather than in good.  I have decided, however, to remove my fenders from the Rain Bike, as they do tend to detract from the considerable pleasure of feeling the spray from the road coat your body in Rule #9; the fenders definitely diminish the indulgence in the rain, and, generally, the volume of Suck that the weather is dispensing on your person. Fenders or not, the ride still merited camera-phone self-portraits, Dan O-style.

Oh, and – Merckx help us all – I think Rule #9 might actually be a Garbage Song.

[album: Galleries/ Happy When it Rains/]

// The Rules

  1. @frank
    As an Englishman, I’m bemused by you lot thinking we don’t use a measure for beer. It’s a pint – always. A half-pint is not used for human consumption. It is acceptable to order a half if your dog drinks and you don’t share its taste in beer. Velomihotties and other girls have pints – either because they want them, or to avoid making it difficult to carry the round.

  2. @frank
    Having been married to an Irishwoman for close to 15 years, I have the scars to support that claim.

  3. @Frank

    Just noticed the Rule #1 Rule #5 on Bibshorts…a great reminder on every pedal stroke! awesome :-)

  4. @Dave Harding
    Ha, yeah – that was a stroke of genius. I can’t remember who’s idea it was, but it has pulled me through many a dark time.

  5. I may be a day late and a dollar short on this observation, but I would like to add that all fine German beers should be consumed in a mug no smaller than the Bavarian maß (mass). (This would include Spaten Optimator, which I believe should be considered among the top German beers for any man worth his salt.)

    First, it conforms to the rule of measurement in metric units, as the maß is equal to exactly one litre of beer.

    Second, the large size of the drinking vessel is much like running a standard crank vs. a compact, you are just that much more of a hardman. As stated earlier, sure there are reasons to run a compact crank, and sure, there are reasons to consume less than a litre of beer in one glass. But if you are CAPABLE of drinking such a quantity with ease, there is no good reason not to do so.

  6. @mcsqueak
    Well played! Very well played!

  7. Well since I currently live in the UK I have to use mudguards (yes, we don’t say fenders on these shores); and I also ride a couple of fixedwheel bikes most of the winter, a lovely 17-year old converted grass track racer and a heavy duty commuter. The Grass Track sports “elegant” and efficient Crud Road racers Mk2 which keep me a bit dryer & sans muck when I travel along the local country lanes, and keep my team mate dryer too. @George, don’t show up on one of our local wet chain gang or club ride or stick to the back! ;o)

  8. I believe this may apply here

  9. @michael
    Yeah. I don’t see any fucking mud gaurds. Just dudes and Velomihotties layin’ down loads of The V in massive Rule #9 conditions.

    My Merckx I want a cross bike. Let me rephrase that, I need a cross bike.

  10. @frank
    I fear your height may put you at a disadvantage on that thing.

  11. I just read a comment above about not using mudguards because you wouldn’t want to clean the cow shit out of them at home and would rather spray it on people following you.

    I suppose that the rest of your frame, brakes, components, drivetrain, kit, shoes, glasses,WATER BOTTLES, etc. probably won’t get covered with the aforementioned cow shit that is also spraying on your riding companions without the mudguards?

    I would much rather clean the cow shit out of a couple fenders than off all of my shit including my mouth. But that’s just me.

  12. Shit. I make a stupid comment and people are STILL reading it a fortnight later??? This could seriously limit the amount I write in future if people think it’s serious!

    Yes, but the rest of the bike is easily washed down. My Rule #9 kit is old, worn and cheap. My comment went on to point out that I really don’t think it’s wise for people to be drafting in proper Rule #9 conditions anyway and what could be a better disincentive than a stream of liquid shit up your nose.
    Anyway, there’s not that much shit around on wet days, it’s not like we’re all doing cyclocross races in slurry lagoons. HTFU and take the odd mouthful as a high fibre snack.

  13. All this talk of mud guards makes me die a little inside each time i read it.. Mudguards, in my opinion, are for commuters and pensioners. There are so many reasons that they are bad but possibly the most important one is that they reduce the amount of badass that you experience when you are fiving it up.

    My main peeve is the fact that they keep your shoes and saddle drier than necessary. Is there a more glorious feeling than getting up on a sunny sunday (obviously feeling a little disappointed that it is dry) and putting your feet into a wet pair of shoes, the cold water slowly absorbing into your socks, and being reminded of how badass you were indulging in what was a glorious nine day previously? i think not.

  14. frank :My Merckx I want a cross bike. Let me rephrase that, I need a cross bike.

    A little out of the way for you, perhaps, but check these guys out. I’ve been eyeing a nice ti custom build cross from these folks for a little while. And once I knock over a bank it will be mine…

  15. @michael

    Les Claypool can always be relied on for a kick-ass soundtrack. I wonder if I should put a Bocephus sticker on the cross bike, hmmmmmmmmmm.


    There are some pretty looking steeds on that site. I like the Pegoretti inspired paint job on one of them.

  16. @George
    It was just one of those things, the page loaded I scrolled a bit, it caught my eye. Having a mudFLAP on the back of your mudguards is merely a gentlemen’s courtesy to your riding companions.

    @The rest of you
    I think you anti-fender guys don’t understand what riding in the rain means and your ignorance is forgiven. Here in Portland where it rains 151 days a year and we have clear skies 67 days a year, it doesn’t mean scheduling your riding week around the weather, it means looking at the temp and choosing the temperature appropriate clothing, then going on a ride, with no regard to the rain. It doesn’t mean looking at the radar to see if you can squeeze your ride in between showers, it means going out at 11am because that’s when you want to go. It doesn’t mean that you have a few months of riding a bit less, it means riding as much as you did all summer but this time in the rain, continuously, for hours on end, every single fucking day. It doesn’t mean you get the pleasure of putting wet shoes on a sunny day as a reminder of yesterday’s rain, it means every time you put your shoes on they are wet because yesterday you rode in the rain, today you are riding in the rain, and tomorrow you will ride in the rain. It doesn’t mean your fenders keep your saddle dry, it means your saddle is wet, all the time, despite any fenders. There is no getting fed up with the rain, after a hundred some days of riding in the rain, you will still want to ride the bike and won’t look outside and say “Fuck it, I’m sick of this rain”. And it certainly doesn’t mean, “Look how badass I am for riding in that thunderstorm yesterday and not having fenders, I’m truly a hardman”. That is nothing, I eat thunderstorms for breakfast then go for a ride in a extratropical cyclone for lunch (for dinner I eat sausage like the rest of you). I intend to ride at least 4 days a week this winter and that will more than likely mean riding 4 days a week in the rain.

    That is a madman riding in the rain.

  17. @michael
    A-Merckx. That my friend is a worthy manifesto.

  18. My only regret is that I didn’t take a little more time writing that and that I didn’t think of some clever phrase like “Riding in the rain isn’t an event, it’s a lifestyle.” ;)

  19. @michael Would you like some cheese with that manifesto? It’s only a bit of rain and sounds like you are looking for some sort of award.

    I am proud to admit that i am fender user (i do wish weren’t such a pain to take off/put on and i never leave them on if it is dry) I have noticed though that there is a certain type of person that i have started to associate with fenders…The fender evangelists. These are the guys you never want to end up next to on a club ride. Conversation usually consists of a rant about the bad habits of other riders – half wheeling, not pointing at pot holes and forgotten fenders are favourite topics of the fender evangelist. These thing are very annoying habits, it’s true, but are they as annoying as listening the the rants of the Fangelist?(see what i did there?.. i know genius) I think not, i would rather listen to a creaky bottom bracket.

    What i suggest is a new rule that states that fenders are not to be spoken of ever, ever again. Perhaps a sub-claus to the Principle of Silence?

  20. @Rhodri
    I’ll have some of the cheese you served up.

  21. @Rhodri, @michael
    As the rain has truly set in the PNW, I have to admit that, while I stand my statement that mudguards take a little je ne sais quoi from the complete indulgence of Rule #9, as the rain gets colder, heavier, and more constant, I do realize why I installed those full-length mudguards with mudflaps on the Rainbike the winter before last.

    Fact: Mudguards take away the pleasure of riding in the rain and feeling the spray from the road as you ride.

    Fact: Being soaked to the skin day after day after day by cold water being splashed on you from all directions gets a bit old.

    For me, from May to September, the mudguards are coming off. From Oct to April, they start to make some sense. I’m still opting for some lighter-weight clippable fenders, though, after she gets restored to her former glory.

    Spot on. A Fangelist is at least as annoying as a YJA. For those riders who are better than the rest of the riders in their group, they are welcome to ride alone. If you choose to ride in the group, shut the fuck up and ride.

  22. re: Fangelist / YJA – When I first moved to Portland, literally maybe the second day I slept here, I stumbled upon a “Portland Wheelman” ride and knowing better but not knowing where to ride at all I followed. I was totally confused why they waited and helped the woman on the ride with her flat and then asked the guy “You know where you are going?” as they hammered away from him.

    I’m starting to believe that your rain bike might not be the the Perfect Amount of Shabby. I’m of the opinion that the rain bike must be of insufficient quality as to leave fenders on full time, but of sufficient quality to not mind riding any day of the summer. This I believe has more to do with our attitudes about the bike than the actual frame and componentry of the bike. If you don’t own this bike, you must now create it to bring your bike count to the correct number of n+1.

  23. Over here in the North of England if its Racing Season i.e-from 2 weeks before the Eddie Soens Handicap to the end of the Racing Season i.e. a couple of weeks after the last race of the year generally mid September it is generally agreed that winter bikes are the norm. No one thinks any less of anyone else cause we all do it. Winter bikes mean Mudguards. Its part of the rules to observe the traditions of our religion. Here we have the “English Summer” which is usually rainy. Then we have the “English Winter” which is usually rainy too.
    All the Argument over mudguards is a waste of time. They even make it harder when its windy so extra rule V. Smashing !!!

  24. In alteration to my last post during the period from the end of Feb to mid March Racing Bikes ate the rule not winter bikes appologies for my typo its very late here

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