Study of a Madman: Riding in the Rain

Study of a Madman: Riding in the Rain

by / / 88 posts

// The Rules

  1. @frank

    I was at Herkimer Coffee on Greenwood.

    I’m making an assumption that it was you, unless there are other residents of Greenwood who wear the V-kit, ride Cervélos, and could take down Indurain in a fist fight.

  2. @Matt 2.0
    I have a Castelli Sottile as well – the gilet version – and as crazy as a sleeveless rain jacket sounds, they work very well indeed.

  3. I’m fixin’ to build up a rain bike here in the next few weeks and would like full input from this community.

  4. Now, I’m as big a fan of the V as the next man who’s peaking in two months but … here goes …. there’s nothing wussy about fenders*. Do us Rule Holists not believe that the rules are there not only there to ensure we respect the traditions and etiquette of cycling, but also (to misquote Frank) to look fucking good doing so?

    The odd wet ride on a summers day: fine, and, if we’re racing Paris-Roubaix, yes. But, like a cold shower, good every now and then for a bracing hangover recovery cure after one too many 50cl** glasses of fine Belgian beer. But, not what you want to do every morning.

    Especially as round these parts, from October to March the roads resemble farm tracks, the surface water transformed into a cocktail of mud, gravel and cow shit.

    Where’s the ‘looking good’ in a muddy stripe up the back of your best Assos shirt and bibs, which you remortgaged your house and divorced your wife in order to buy? What’s ‘hard’ about turning that minty-green FI.13_S5 insert into a cold wet gritty sponge and sitting on it for 5 hours in 5 degrees**? Where’s the ‘etiquette’ in spraying your fellow Velominati with a faceful of slurry on a winter training ride?

    Which is why you’ll find me in full length fenders* for the next six months.

    Oh, and whilst I’m on a roll here:

    * Fender: (fen-der), n., (mid-20c) 1. A guitar or other stringed instrument manufactured by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation of Arizona 2. a metal fire-grate. 3. The US name for what are properly known as ‘mudguards’, for reasons specified above.

    ** In accordance with the principle of Rule #24, temperature should always be measured and referred to in Celsius. Beer (and certainly Belgian beer) should be measured and referred to in ‘cl’. Perhaps a rule update is necessary here, though I would have thought that this would have been obvious to most Velominati.

    Just sayin’

  5. @Geoffrey Grosenbach

    Geoffrey Grosenbach : And watching those mammoth 177mm cranks in motion was like seeing some Dutch windmill roll down the road under its own power.

    Sounds like there is something wrong with your stroke Frank.

  6. @Geoffrey Grosenbach
    Sounds like me, and it was close to home. I’m just glad you weren’t at Paseo when I rode by. I was hemorrhaging the Anti-V. On the other hand, I Rode Like a Lion on Interlaken and on Lake Washington Blvd.

    @Marcus
    He left off the big about my Magnificent Stroke.

  7. @ken

    Fender: (fen-der), n., (mid-20c) 1. A guitar or other stringed instrument manufactured by the Fender Musical Instruments Corporation of Arizona 2. a metal fire-grate. 3. The US name for what are properly known as ‘mudguards’, for reasons specified above.

    Touche. Nicely done all around on this post. You get the highest marks possible. Did anyone say there’s a Rule against mud guards? While there should be, obviously, a new Rule about calling mud guards “fenders”, I think various people (including me) just commented that it’s less aesthetically pleasing that it detracts from indulgence into Rule #9.

    Very cold weather and riding on roads covered in shit are fantastic examples of times where mud guards would be must helpful.

    As for the beer, I might agree with the caveat that Ales are to be measured only in Pints or Litres.

  8. @frank, you left out the “idiot” part of “idiot savant”.

    I’ll gladly have a completely dedicated rain bike with permanent fenders. I’ll skip the fenders on the good bike and risk getting it wet a few times a year, but have no reservations on taking the rain bike out whenever I feel, rain or shine.

  9. Sorry for the double post, but in the US, we call them fenders, across the pond they call them mudguards. I’ve finally put that much together.

  10. @Marko
    Awesome project. I also have a stalled rain bike project on the balcony (it hasn’t been wet enough here yet – and I can’t find where the Ullrich my cable cutters are).

    Give us all some clues. What are you starting with?

    My choices would be below:

    Continental rubber. GP 4Season 25mm on the back 23mm on the front.

    Brakes – Koolstop. I swear by these. I suspect that if I tried SwissStop I would prefer them, but they seem absurdly expensive to me.

    Gruppo – old Veloce.

    Mudguards – no thanks. Many reasons – don’t start me.

    Controversially, I would fit a saddlebag (Is that the word I mean?? I’m glad to say I haven’t used one for long enough to forget.) Defence for Rule Contravention: my saddle is split and it prevents me getting a jet of gritty water up the ass. Also I tend to take two spare tubes and some cash – that i’d like to keep clean and dry.

    I’ll be interested to follow your progress.

  11. @ken
    Ken, wise words!***
    However, I am not wise and while I wouldn’t want to cause offence, I suspect that some others on this site are also not wise. So I’ll give you the dubious benefit of my stupidity:

    I don’t do mudguards.
    Reasons:
    1. Aesthetics. I don’t like the look of them. This detracts from looking fuucking good when cycling. On Rule #9 days, I hate the water from the front wheel bouncing off the downtube and straight into my shoes, but that’s all part of the Rule. I certainly wouldn’t want to soil the Assos if i had any; but for shitty weather, old kit. Cycling at a good pace in a thunderstorm with wheels spraying everywhere looks fucking good anyway. So much the better if you end up like this:

    2. Cleaning. I’d rather the cow shit went in someone else’s face than picking it out of the mudguards at home. Some things are fine outdoors and wrong at home. You shouldn’t have to deal with clotted cow shit at home.

    3. Most of my Rule #9 riding is done solo and if not, I don’t want someone cycling right behind me when their brakes are unlikely to perform in an emergency. A plume of dirty water, grit and slurry is a suitable and gentle hint that they might like to drop back a touch and do their own fucking work in the wind.****

    *** Your footnotes are absolutely spot on!
    **** In the unlikely event that you get sprayed with shit by me on some ride over the winter you are most welcome to punch me in the face as you pass – firstly for spraying you, secondly for not dropping you!

  12. So what is the final Velominati ruling on mud guards? Do they ruin hardman status or are they acceptable in winter with four straight months of wet roads?

    In the summer I can put up with it raining every so often, but months of wet feet and chamois just aren’t worth it to me. I’d rather wear my nice kit year round and suffer the style points penalty for a few months with mud guards on instead of wearing ugly ol’ threadbare kit.

    And, if it hasn’t been mentioned already, the Crud road mud guards do a nice job, are pretty minimal, and don’t look too bad.

    And beyond this, shouldn’t any true Velominati hardman have a bad weather/winter bike that already likely suffers from some aesthetic issues, prior to getting mud guards put on? If it didn’t it would be harder to be the heck out of it all winter.

  13. On the best bike. No, no and no

    Doesn anyone care what happens with the hack bike? I ran crud guards. But if I was to ever run mudguards again it would be Crud’s Racer Guards (or whatever they’re called) /got to run, screaming child

  14. There’s a big difference between going out for a ride in a thunderstorm or shower and riding day-in and day out 7-10 hours a week whether it’s raining or not in a town where it rains almost half of the year.

  15. @Ron

    So what is the final Velominati ruling on mud guards? Do they ruin hardman status or are they acceptable in winter with four straight months of wet roads?

    Mud guards fall into the same category as do compact cranks. It’s obviously more Awesome to roll without them for the simple fact that your life will suck more. That said, there are a multitude of excellent reasons why one might run them, so just make sure – absolutely sure – that you and the bike look fucking good.

    Personally, once I rebuild the steel with Campy and restore the EV2 back to it’s original glory days, I’ll be using lightweight race blades or something similar that can be easily taken off. I’ll use them when needed in the cold, and otherwise I’ll just indulge in the glory of Rule #9.

  16. Harden the f%^k up! It’s just rain. What do want a cookie for doing a ride in the rain.

  17. @chad
    Eating cookies is out of the question if we have any designs on reaching racing weight and Peaking in Two Months. I’ll happily take a post-ride beer, however.

  18. As for the beer, I might agree with the caveat that Ales are to be measured only in Pints or Litres.

    @Frank

    I’ll admit to a crisis of confidence on this one. It’s a ‘horses for courses’ sort of thing, that defies rule making. But if there were a rule it might go like this: Continental beers, notably finest Belgian ales, should always be measured and referred to in ‘cl’. Ales, English and American beers (watery piss or otherwise) should always be measured in pints. Half-pints are an acceptable alternative assuming you wish to be regarded as a pussy.

  19. @George

    Nicely put George. Your embracing of both Rules #5 and #9 is deserving of our admiration. And having spent several hours cleaning cow shit out of my mudguards I’ll admit you have a point. But, whilst you mean an excellent point that spraying slurry in a wheel-suckers face is an entirely appropriate response to some unsolicited wet-weather drafting, I’d still rather not have it all over my best cycling kit.

    Especially, as if I did look like this:

    …then, heroic though it undoubtedly is, I’d find myself barred from my favourite cafe and unable to indulge in a mid-ride expresso. Instead, I’d probably only be allowed into a Little Chef and then be forced to drink Maxwell House instant coffee and find myself in contravention of Rule #56. That would never do …

  20. Damn. No ‘edit’ function! Please forgive my unforgivable misspelling of “espresso”.

  21. ken :

    As for the beer, I might agree with the caveat that Ales are to be measured only in Pints or Litres.

    @Frank
    I’ll admit to a crisis of confidence on this one. It’s a ‘horses for courses’ sort of thing, that defies rule making. But if there were a rule it might go like this: Continental beers, notably finest Belgian ales, should always be measured and referred to in ‘cl’. Ales, English and American beers (watery piss or otherwise) should always be measured in pints. Half-pints are an acceptable alternative assuming you wish to be regarded as a pussy.

    Correction: Irish beer is measured in pints; English beers are in mugs or glasses (so the publicans can stiff you); Canadian beer comes in pitchers; most American beer doesn’t deserve the name.

  22. Practiced Rule #9 and Rule #65 practiced today to great satisfaction. The morning started out below freezing; while the sun was out and began to thaw the frost on road and verge by the time the first climb was behind me, I could feel the cold in ears and lungs. No rain, but that would only have meant the world was warmer. And then I almost got hit by a deer while doing roughly 30kph. Big buck stepped out into the road and almost into me (not me hitting him, but him into me), which I take to be the epitome of Rule #65: how quiet do rider and bike have to be for a deer not to hear me coming or notice me on the road?

    Beautiful morning, beautiful up and down ride: good way to start the day…

  23. I feel that there are three distinctions in non-snow weather conditions. Dry, raining, and recently raining. After a dry ride, there may be some dust accumulation, but otherwise my steed is in similar condition. After a raining ride, my bike is visually clean, sometimes cleaner than before the ride*, and only requires a bit of lube at the moving joints. It is after recently raining rides, though, that the grimes jumps on the bike and requires a serious cleaning. While raining, the water keeps flushing the grime off, but once the rain stops and the roads are just wet, all the crap gets lodged into every crevice.

    * I don’t do a full clean of my bike every ride or even every week. I keep the drivetrain happy, but otherwise only do a full clean where I remove cosmetic dirt about once a month.

  24. @ken: expresso. Shame on you. Even with the correction after. Go find a micro pump and/or CO2 canister, and beat yourself around the head until there is nothing but bloody pulp. And then HTFU, and do it all again. Jesus. Next you’ll be asking for a soy latte.

  25. @ken, @Steampunk

    I’ll admit to a crisis of confidence on this one. It’s a ‘horses for courses’ sort of thing, that defies rule making. But if there were a rule it might go like this: Continental beers, notably finest Belgian ales, should always be measured and referred to in ‘cl’. Ales, English and American beers (watery piss or otherwise) should always be measured in pints. Half-pints are an acceptable alternative assuming you wish to be regarded as a pussy.

    Correction: Irish beer is measured in pints; English beers are in mugs or glasses (so the publicans can stiff you); Canadian beer comes in pitchers; most American beer doesn’t deserve the name.

    I was at a business dinner tonight with a fellow European. He was English and, while I freely admit that Brits are not Europeans, as a Dutchman living in the States and him an Englishman living in the States, we weren’t about to split hairs.

    During the conversation, he mentioned to another subject (non-Europeans, in my eyes, are Subjects) that Europeans are very good at establishing and following standards. Which is, of course, true. Except when it comes to measurement.

    So I asked him, “How is it that Europeans are so good at standards, but a beer in any European country other than one residing in the UK or Ireland is measured in cl’s, in England they’re whatever you’re not too drunk to call them, and in Ireland they are strictly measured in ‘Pints’?”

    And he said, without batting an eye, “Because when it comes to pints, you don’t fucking mess with the Irish.”

  26. @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.

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

  28. @Frank

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

  29. @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.

  30. 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.

  31. @mcsqueak
    Well played! Very well played!

  32. 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)

  33. I believe this may apply here

    http://vimeo.com/16259685

  34. @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.

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

  36. 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.

  37. 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!

    Michael,
    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.

  38. 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.

  39. 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…

  40. @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.

    @Steampunk

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

  41. @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.

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

  43. 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.” ;)

  44. @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?

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

  46. @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.

    @Rhodri
    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.

  47. 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.

    @frank
    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.

  48. 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 !!!

  49. 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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