How cold is it outside?

How cold is it outside?

On Rule #9: The Badass Within

by / / 59 posts

The rain is coming down in sheets, blowing sideways out from the coast. I hear its intensity more than I feel it; the drops reverberate through my helmet as they lash down. The temperature is just cold enough to add a sting to the rain, like a thousand needles upon the 15cm of exposed flesh between the tops of my overshoes and the bottoms of my knee warmers.

My body is struggling to make sense of the opposing sensations it is receiving. My arms and legs are chilled through, yet my torso is like a furnace. My face is stiff from the cold wind, but the saltiness of the water running over my lips tells me I’m sweating profusely. I am suffering, yet am hit by wave after wave of euphoria. Cycling is contradiction.

I rise out of the saddle to start the climb up away from the coast. It is sur la plaque business at first, and breathing deeply is crucial at the start of the climb. The wind seems to make it harder to draw my breath, as if there is some sort of bernoulli effect causing the wind suck the air back out of my mouth before it makes its way into my lungs. As I approach the first hairpin, I sit back down and ease onto the brakes while I drop the chain into the little ring.

There is little in this sport that makes one feel more Pro than to have to slow down for an uphill corner.

I’m through the switchback and onto the steep middle section of the climb, the wind at my back. It doesn’t seem to push me along, but it does make it easier to breathe, not to mention the pleasant warming feeling on my cheeks. Up through the next switchback, a badly paved brute with an extra bit of gradient thrown in for good measure. Why is it so hard to maintain a rhythm on irregular pavement, when climbing on cobbles doesn’t seem to bother me? These are the questions that serve to distract from the work at hand. I push the notion aside.

The legs are burning now, but they feel powerful – the first time in a while that I’ve felt these two sensations simultaneously. The effort and the cold air begin to do their work and the asthma starts to kick in. My mind casts to my left jersey pocket where I keep my inhaler only to realize that it isn’t in there. Such a foolish thing to leave at home at this time of year, but I’ll just have to suffer through a further lack of breath; no way will I allow myself to cut a ride short on account of my own stupidity. Besides, it will only serve to heighten the effect of the training.

Eventually, the asthma gets tired of the weather and goes away. Normal breathing returns.

I descend as though the road were covered in ice, as if I had become the love child of Brad Wiggins and Andy Schleck. The only thing more foolish than forgetting my inhaler is to come off needlessly during a routine training ride, so I continue to descend carefully.

The next climb has small rivers of rainwater flowing down the tarmac. They’re fun to ride through because the motion of the water adds to the sensation of speed and the unfamiliar feeling of climbing well. The feeling is enhanced by the stone walls on both sides of the road that amplify the hum of my wheels. My head drops every so often to watch my legs go about their business. They seem to be operated by someone else, someone who knows the inside of my head, but who is not me. My role has become one of an influencer without control. My head rises again and I settle back into the metronomic drip of water from the brim of my cap.

When I return home, my hands and arms are cold, and I am soaked to the bone; water streams from every bit of clothing, possibly from my pores as well. My body has all the trappings of a good training ride; I can feel the depth of my lungs with every breath. My legs feel heavy but springy, and I am thirsty for a recovery ale. Sean Kelly once observed that it is impossible to tell how cold and wet it is by looking out the kitchen window. You have to get dressed, go training, and when you get back, you will know how cold it is. Truer words were never spoken.

Why do I love training in bad weather? Because training in bad weather means you’re a badass. Period.

// La Vie Velominatus // The Rules // Unforgettable Rides

  1. @Chipomarc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRmJF453Wrs

    Please advise when posting crap from that loser, I make a point of not clicking any link associated with him it only encourages him. COTHO.

  2. I find that I am very much like a cat. Not so much because of a tendency to land on my feet when thrown from a height but rather my dislike for getting the kit (and bike) wet. I do not ride through puddles intentionally, I’ll have you know. However when it is raining, I will kit up with nary a thought otherwise if it is a race day or someone expects me for the ride. The world is filled with pussies. It is best to try and separate oneself from them.

  3. Echos of my ride this morning, perhaps without the feeling of strength, just burn. This includes the rain, descending at speed the rain felt like tacks – tacks of water that feel like steel. Also took descents cautiously, I am sure sliding your ass on wet roads is less damaging than the rippin and the tearin on dry roads, but would be inconvenient nonetheless. We are not pros, making it home in one piece but exhausted is paramount.

  4. @Chipomarc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRmJF453Wrs

    Are you trying to make me hate Rule #9?

  5. @PeakInTwoYears

    Frank, tell me this ride happened on Sunday, the wettest day in Seattle in six years.

    It did indeed.

  6. Spot on Rule #9

    i did plenty of #9 rides this winter

    the east cost weather was pretty harsh this year

    viva le #9 along with a healthy

    does of #5!

  7. I love the weird looks that come from colleagues when you’ve ridden to work on a cold and wet winter’s day.

    Only downside to it is that once rain starts falling, the local motorists lose any semblance of what little driving skill they previously possessed in the dry.

  8. @piwakawaka

    @Chipomarc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRmJF453Wrs

    Please advise when posting crap from that loser, I make a point of not clicking any link associated with him it only encourages him. COTHO.

    We could so RickRoll you, only it would be LanceRolling…

  9. @Oli

    @piwakawaka

    @Chipomarc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRmJF453Wrs

    Please advise when posting crap from that loser, I make a point of not clicking any link associated with him it only encourages him. COTHO.

    We could so RickRoll you, only it would be LanceRolling…

    Do you really want Frank to pull the site down again?

  10. Nice one @frank. The romance of the #9 ride is undeniable, even if one may not brave the elements as much as one should.

    We’re coming off summer riding and I must say I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Just throw on the bare essentials and go. But having to layer up in your Flandrian Best and more then heading out into brass monkey weather brings a whole different kind of perverse pleasure.

  11. @Oli

    @piwakawaka

    @Chipomarc

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRmJF453Wrs

    Please advise when posting crap from that loser, I make a point of not clicking any link associated with him it only encourages him. COTHO.

    We could so RickRoll you, only it would be LanceRolling…

    well, ya learn something everyday!

    @brett

    Nice one @frank. The romance of the #9 ride is undeniable, even if one may not brave the elements as much as one should.

    We’re coming off summer riding and I must say I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Just throw on the bare essentials and go. But having to layer up in your Flandrian Best and more then heading out into brass monkey weather brings a whole different kind of perverse pleasure.

    A fine one indeed, a good reminder why we are one of the windiest cities on earth this week, from now on it’s four seasons, sometimes all at once!

  12. I know that there is allowance for wind and heat in Rule #9 but nothing compares to cold and wet.

    Does it get more Rule #9 than climbing the Koppenberg in snow and ice? I think not. Badass.

  13. @Frank

    The only thing more foolish than forgetting my inhaler is to come off needlessly during a routine training ride, so I continue to descend carefully.

    Now you tell me…

  14. @Harminator

    I know that there is allowance for wind and heat in Rule #9 but nothing compares to cold and wet.

    Does it get more Rule #9 than climbing the Koppenberg in snow and ice? I think not. Badass.

    The question is, how do you climb the Koppenberg in snow and ice? It’s hard enough to get traction in the dry.

  15. @brett

    @Harminator

    I know that there is allowance for wind and heat in Rule #9 but nothing compares to cold and wet.

    Does it get more Rule #9 than climbing the Koppenberg in snow and ice? I think not. Badass.

    The question is, how do you climb the Koppenberg in snow and ice? It’s hard enough to get traction in the dry.

    I was there last summer and although the sun was out, recent rain meant a slimy 10 metre section on the steepest bit. No way could I get through it. Then my RD cable snapped. Unfinished business…

    Maybe with these?

  16. My bike has yet to experience good weather. I bought it in November, so it’s always either been cold and wet, or on good days, cold and dry.

    Going out in bibs and a jersey (and without shoe covers) will be completely novel.

  17. @brett

    @Harminator

    @brett

    @Harminator

    I know that there is allowance for wind and heat in Rule #9 but nothing compares to cold and wet.

    Does it get more Rule #9 than climbing the Koppenberg in snow and ice? I think not. Badass.

    The question is, how do you climb the Koppenberg in snow and ice? It’s hard enough to get traction in the dry.

    I was there last summer and although the sun was out, recent rain meant a slimy 10 metre section on the steepest bit. No way could I get through it. Then my RD cable snapped. Unfinished business…

    I honestly don’t think you can climb the Koppenberg in snow and ice. Nor the Patersberg for that matter.

    But in really bad-ass weather, there is always De Schelde… No excuse to become a couch-potato!

  18. @bea

    Isn’t that what’s going on in the lead photo?

  19. I rode so much Rule #9 this winter my Bro Set CX1 ring wore out utterly – I have never seen such a shafted piece of metal on a bike.

  20. Great piece! Here in SE Wisconsin we’ve had a relatively dry winter so not much rain or snow. We did have the 6th coldest February on record which made for some rather nippy rides. Since the hour went forward, the temps have sprung upwards into the 40s, 50s and even 60s. It is truly one of the great pleasures in life when you do that first ride without overshoes, heavy tights, jackets, skull cap, winter helmet and heavy gloves, opting for knicks, summer gloves, light jacket/jersey and bare head under helmet. Bliss!

  21. ahh good old Sean Kelly, never fails to perfectly describe the mind set of a Velominati. I have been trying to get used to the seaons here in Istanbul which has not been too bad. The thing i really had to adjust to was the humidity and the wind. You can get some really strong winds blowing through here and once the weather starts to get a bit warmer the humidity really has a silent effect. It is nice to be able to get some real tan lines though which makes a change after living in the UK most of my life.

  22. @brett

    Nice one @frank. The romance of the #9 ride is undeniable, even if one may not brave the elements as much as one should.

    We’re coming off summer riding and I must say I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Just throw on the bare essentials and go. But having to layer up in your Flandrian Best and more then heading out into brass monkey weather brings a whole different kind of perverse pleasure.

    You remember the first Tour of Flanders we did on KT 2012? Hail, wind, rain, all with the added effect of cowshit-coated road spray.

  23. V & IX

    VVinter training in IX conditions is definitely part of my conditioning for 2015. Nairo has mastered the art when it counts – in the Giro last year and Tirreno last week.

  24. A Schliggins love child? Yikes, that would be one narrow-face stringbean.

  25. @Mikael Liddy

    I love the weird looks that come from colleagues when you’ve ridden to work on a cold and wet winter’s day.

    Only downside to it is that once rain starts falling, the local motorists lose any semblance of what little driving skill they previously possessed in the dry.

    That’s what gets to me. I’m confident in myself because I know I’m being cautious in the rain or snow but I can’t say the same for drivers of the two ton death machines behind me.

  26. @rfreese888

    V & IX

    VVinter training in IX conditions is definitely part of my conditioning for 2015. Nairo has mastered the art when it counts – in the Giro last year and Tirreno last week.

    You know, you’ve gotta like wee Nairo Q. Colombians in the past were known to be fast going uphill, but not so much going downhill. NQ could teach a few Euro pros about doing both. Rule #5 seems to apply.

  27. @frank

    @frank

    @brett

    Nice one @frank. The romance of the #9 ride is undeniable, even if one may not brave the elements as much as one should.

    We’re coming off summer riding and I must say I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Just throw on the bare essentials and go. But having to layer up in your Flandrian Best and more then heading out into brass monkey weather brings a whole different kind of perverse pleasure.

    You remember the first Tour of Flanders we did on KT 2012? Hail, wind, rain, all with the added effect of cowshit-coated road spray.

    Why is it that the roads in Flanders are always coated in cow manure? I live in a University town, but on the outskirts we are very rural. The manure spreaders do throw their prized fertilizer onto the shoulders of some of the roads in certain sections, which, as you know, makes for the “slick as shit” expression. But the roads in Flanders are covered in the stuff. Is that their way of insuring they breed badass cyclists? Because they always do.

  28. @frank

    @brett

    Nice one @frank. The romance of the #9 ride is undeniable, even if one may not brave the elements as much as one should.

    We’re coming off summer riding and I must say I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Just throw on the bare essentials and go. But having to layer up in your Flandrian Best and more then heading out into brass monkey weather brings a whole different kind of perverse pleasure.

    You remember the first Tour of Flanders we did on KT 2012? Hail, wind, rain, all with the added effect of cowshit-coated road spray.

    I do indeed, especially not making it up the Koppenberg in one hit…

  29. There’s a certain pleasure that you only feel when #9 comes calling…. thanks for a good bit of writing @frank, its a pleasure to reminisce on those times that we manage to enjoy suffering.

  30. We might be in luck for Roubaix this year!

  31. Nope, the rain gods have decreed that unless I score big on the Euro Millions, it’ll be unseasonably warm until 13 April when the weather will make MSR ’13 look positively balmy.

    Load up on the 60 SPF chamois creme…

  32. The first day of spring, “Dawn of the Dead” on 35mm on the big screen at local historic theatre (never seen it!), Milan Sanremo on Sunday, a ride with my pal and his new C-60…what an awesome weekend sits four hours away!

  33. Commuted and road all winter in KC. Coldest day was -9F with a -18F windchill. What I learned (in the cold anyways) is that when you’re dressed properly in the winter, the biggest challenge is not staying warm, it’s staying cool. Not sure it made me want to see it could set the bar higher for Rule #9…but there is something deeply satisfying about riding in shitty weather…especially when people in the vehicular coffins look at you weird and shake their heads. I just tell myself they’re thinking, “You are an amazing physical specimen and I wish I was as badass as you are.”

  34. @frank

    @brett

    Nice one @frank. The romance of the #9 ride is undeniable, even if one may not brave the elements as much as one should.

    We’re coming off summer riding and I must say I’ve enjoyed it immensely. Just throw on the bare essentials and go. But having to layer up in your Flandrian Best and more then heading out into brass monkey weather brings a whole different kind of perverse pleasure.

    You remember the first Tour of Flanders we did on KT 2012? Hail, wind, rain, all with the added effect of cowshit-coated road spray.

    damn, that happened to us two weekends ago. Fuck that shit…..

  35. I’m sure someone drowned in this incident:

    (c) getty images, in case some arsehole gets shirty

  36. @brett

    You were first to the top the next year though, no? Sweet revenge. Which is a dish best served cold (and wet).

  37. @frank
    @brett

    You were first to the top the next year though, no? Sweet revenge. Which is a dish best served cold (and wet).
    Can’t recall if I was first up, but I definitely stomped it up that sucker! What I do remember being first to the top of though is the Paterberg, where I Cancellara’ed your Sagan arse…

  38. @Kris Fernhout
    Commuted and road all winter in KC. Coldest day was -9F with a -18F windchill. What I learned (in the cold anyways) is that when you’re dressed properly in the winter, the biggest challenge is not staying warm, it’s staying cool. Not sure it made me want to see it could set the bar higher for Rule #9…but there is something deeply satisfying about riding in shitty weather…especially when people in the vehicular coffins look at you weird and shake their heads. I just tell myself they’re thinking, “You are an amazing physical specimen and I wish I was as badass as you are.”
    We got a lot of those same looks yesterday on our #9 ride. Started out dry, 20km in it pissed down and a decision was to be made. Someone said “I don’t want to make a bad decision” to which I replied “a badASS decision!” and on we went. Was one of the best rides of the year…

  39. Ohh… my weekend became very special. A winter of basketball and early spring soccer meant little time on the bike for the young lady. Until… yesterday she receives in the post her 2014 state champ jersey and today? A little inspiration for the new season, we’re talking races, and she’s riding no matter what and yep, it was Rule #9 kinda day w/steady cool rain.

    The Spring Classics are for Badasses.

    This was at bottom of 1km climb avg 6% with steepest at 24+%. She loves this kinda thing. @Gianni white sox and Rule #9 do not mix well! Cheers

  40. This was a weird winter for me. Plenty of Rule #9 weather, but very little motivation to ride. I partly blame it on my #2 bike just being an old aluminum frame without the necessities to make it roll on the road. I am not willing to subject my #1 to the crappy salted roads.

    @wilburrox thanks for sharing. I am keeping hope that one of my kids will ride.

    I need motivation like this. Have to keep

  41. @rfreese888

    V & IX

    VVinter training in IX conditions is definitely part of my conditioning for 2015. Nairo has mastered the art when it counts – in the Giro last year and Tirreno last week.

    Um, it’s pronounced “IVV”; we are a V-based community, if you recall.

  42. @Owen

    @Mikael Liddy

    I love the weird looks that come from colleagues when you’ve ridden to work on a cold and wet winter’s day.

    Only downside to it is that once rain starts falling, the local motorists lose any semblance of what little driving skill they previously possessed in the dry.

    That’s what gets to me. I’m confident in myself because I know I’m being cautious in the rain or snow but I can’t say the same for drivers of the two ton death machines behind me.

    Who are likely texting or at least looking for some mad beats on their iPhone.

  43. @frank

    @Owen

    @Mikael Liddy

    I love the weird looks that come from colleagues when you’ve ridden to work on a cold and wet winter’s day.

    Only downside to it is that once rain starts falling, the local motorists lose any semblance of what little driving skill they previously possessed in the dry.

    That’s what gets to me. I’m confident in myself because I know I’m being cautious in the rain or snow but I can’t say the same for drivers of the two ton death machines behind me.

    Who are likely texting or at least looking for some mad beats on their iPhone.

    Is it really too much to ask that drivers actually look at the road when they’re driving? Also, how about using turn signals? And putting on your headlights in pounding rain?

    I’ve almost been hit a few times lately by mothers dropping their kids off at school and rushing out of parallel parking spots and not signaling. If you sneeze around their kids they’ll get angry, but running over cyclists…nah, no biggie.

  44. @Ron

    @frank

    @Owen

    @Mikael Liddy

    I love the weird looks that come from colleagues when you’ve ridden to work on a cold and wet winter’s day.

    Only downside to it is that once rain starts falling, the local motorists lose any semblance of what little driving skill they previously possessed in the dry.

    That’s what gets to me. I’m confident in myself because I know I’m being cautious in the rain or snow but I can’t say the same for drivers of the two ton death machines behind me.

    Who are likely texting or at least looking for some mad beats on their iPhone.

    Is it really too much to ask that drivers actually look at the road when they’re driving? Also, how about using turn signals? And putting on your headlights in pounding rain?

    I’ve almost been hit a few times lately by mothers dropping their kids off at school and rushing out of parallel parking spots and not signaling. If you sneeze around their kids they’ll get angry, but running over cyclists…nah, no biggie.

    I used to live down the street from a elementary slash middle school. Never again. You’d think a 30 mph residential street was the interstate. Roar up, roar down. If I did that in their neighborhoods, they’do call the police. Kill someone else’s kids, fine.

    Best was when I was riding up the bike lane after work past the parking lot on the ingress side of the street. Douche in a truck was half up on the curb backing down the bike lane. At least he saw me frantically waving to avoid getting run over and stopped.

  45. @frank

    @Owen

    @Mikael Liddy

    I love the weird looks that come from colleagues when you’ve ridden to work on a cold and wet winter’s day.

    Only downside to it is that once rain starts falling, the local motorists lose any semblance of what little driving skill they previously possessed in the dry.

    That’s what gets to me. I’m confident in myself because I know I’m being cautious in the rain or snow but I can’t say the same for drivers of the two ton death machines behind me.

    Who are likely texting or at least looking for some mad beats on their iPhone.

    Unfortunately it seems I was a little too prescient. Got taken out on the standard Rule #11 child collection ride last night, that involved a little Rule #9 side dish.

    Riding along a straight suburban road with a colourful jersey & bright flashing light on the front, genius travelling in the opposite direction decides he has right of way to turn across my path in to a side street. Thankfully some quick reflexes allowed me to scrub enough speed that I only ended up bouncing up on to his bonnet without any apparent damage to myself…not sure Sir Bike was as lucky though.

  46. Bugger. Good you weren’t hurt though.

  47. @Oli

    upside is the insurance claim could end up turning a 2012 R3 Team in to an R5…

  48. @Mikael Liddy

    @Oli

    upside is the insurance claim could end up turning a 2012 R3 Team in to an R5…

    That shit scares the hell out of me. Glad you’re OK; and this whole “insurance” thing you guys have in Oz blows my mind.

  49. @frank well if I’d been injured, all of my medical costs would have been covered under the compulsory 3rd party insurance that is rolled in with his car rego.

    In terms of the bike, it’s covered for accidental damage or loss nationwide as part of my contents insurance, and if they deem that the damage was his fault, they chase him up for the costs (generally via his motor vehicle insurance). The only time my bike (and helmet, shoes, kit, etc) isn’t covered is if I’m racing or motorpacing.

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