Badass by Association: Winter Riding

Hardmen of the 1970 Paris-Roubaix

To me, there is nothing cooler than riding in awful weather. It automatically associates you with the Spring Classics, held in wet, wind, and rain, over the the worst roads you can imagine. There is no image of cycling that I love more than of a tough Belgian Pro dressed in knickers, arm warmers, cycling cap perched beneath their helmet, grimace upon the face, and rain pouring from the skies.

The only good thing about winter and spring training is the fact that simply climbing on the machine that day means you are an automatic badass. Hell, you don't even have to ride hard, just being out means you're awesome. But I'll be honest: I never ride harder than in the pouring rain, the drops of water dripping off my cycling cap tapping out my rhythm like a metronome, looking down at my knee warmers and shoe covers and imagining I'm cutting my teeth as a Pro on some godforsaken road somewhere in Belgium or Northern France.

Today was actually a beautiful day, but it was cold, so I dressed in my warmest gear and headed out on the road, Badass by Association. It's one of the Rules.

I even took some shots of myself, Dan O Style. How did we satisfy our narcissistic self-portrait needs before cell phones?

[dmalbum path=”/ Galleries/[email protected]/Winter Riding/”/]

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73 Replies to “Badass by Association: Winter Riding”

  1. Apocalyptic weather played a key part in my greatest-ever cycling moment: in October 2008, I rode the Braveheart Ride, a well-known cyclosportive in aid of the Braveheart Fund which is a charity to support promising young Scottish cyclists. Road conditions are always pretty terrible in the part of Ayrshire where the ride is held, but on that particular day there was also a month’s worth of rain and 100kph winds. Organizers of an off-road marathon just south of the Border that same day actually ended up having to call in the military (!) to rescue a number of participants ( But we went out that morning regardless.

    One thing about the Braveheart Ride is that it attracts some of the biggest names in cycling: that year, it had Mark Cavendish, Thor Hushovd, Scott Sunderland, Sean Yates and others in attendance. One of the regulars is none other than legendary hard man of the Classics, Sean Kelly.

    Conditions on the ride were absolutely appalling, with driving, horizontal rain and 100kph winds. Cavendish, probably sensibly, packed it and returned to event HQ after about 10km. I saw the pro group go by pretty early on in the event and pressed on by myself.

    On the return part of the loop, with about 15km to go, a huge gust of wind literally blew me and my bike off the road and into a ditch. It was at that point that a group of riders pulled up alongside and stopped to check that I was okay. Looking up from the ditch, none other than Sean Kelly stretched out his hand to help me climb out of the ditch! After a quick check to make sure that me and my bike were okay, he and his group rode off back to the HQ and the finish line. Later on, back at the hotel where guests of the Braveheart Fund were staying, he asked me if I was okay after the crash and I offered to buy him and his friends a round of drinks for having stopped to help me.

    How many people can say that Sean Kelly helped them out of a ditch after a crash? Whatever experiences I may have on the bike in future, that simply can’t be topped. Ever.

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  3. @Steve

    Steve, that story is more awesome than a potato in the nackers and a bee sting on the leg. Just awesome.

    One day, I hole to have A Story like yours too.

    Note to self – more Rule #9 riding with Pros.

  4. I haven’t ridden through discovery park in years. But I instantly recognized it by the photos alone. That short hill leading down to the point is steep.

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  6. We’re having a crazy winter here in WI. Last year my first ride was 2nd week of Feb. because of shiity weather and conditions. I got 5 rides in this January alone. How crazy? Sunday was sunny, 25 degrees, stiff wind and snow that had blown over parts of the main roads and all over minor roads. Merckx knows what the wind chill was. Still ad to get out as it was either that or the gym. The snow was kinda bad in places so I had to stop a few times to clear brakes etc. Luckily the winter bike is 7 speed so gears still worked despite being packed with snow. The freewheel is taking a bit of a beating though. Did about 30kms and was well satisfied. I’m also figuring my bike handling skills are getting a bit better too.

    Tuesday it was in the upper 40s. Total change of gear from full-on winter to mid weight stuff – even wore a cotton cap. To feel the slight warmth in the air was a real pleasure. Still rode the winter bike as the roads were covered in snow melt, sand and general crap.

    I have the horrible feeling that we’re going to pay for this nice weather with vicious temps and a boat load of snow. Moral of the tale? Enjoy it while you can and when you have the opportunity.

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  8. Plus One Frank, especially after yesterdays ride here, sleet and gales and a 300m climb, I had a weird pleasant feeling when I clocked a few passing drivers just shaking thier heads, but being honest I had to accept they do not know what Rule #9 is and just thought I was an idiot.

  9. In amidst all the Schleck love in this thread, is it just me or is Schleck’s bike fit looking less fucked now than it was? At the TOC it at least looks like he’s on a bike the right size.
    If I’ve got the wrong schleck I couldn’t care less they’re probably both as fucking stupid as each other.

  10. @minion

    In amidst all the Schleck love in this thread, is it just me or is Schleck’s bike fit looking less fucked now than it was? At the TOC it at least looks like he’s on a bike the right size.
    If I’ve got the wrong schleck I couldn’t care less they’re probably both as fucking stupid as each other.

    Aah…did you suspect it was bike fit that was causing his pitiful showing…I thought it was actually his mind.  He has always been a bit timid (moaning about descents in 2011 TdF etc) but since his accident he has looked as strong as me….well…you get the point.  I thought between his lack of love of suffering, his lack of oooomph and aggression when not operating as the Brothers Grimpeur, and his accident, his poor time trialling and his girly descending (no disrespect to girls, apparently Twiglet has one at home) he was pretty much a lost soul.

    It is sort of, in a wierd way, good to see him growing a pair…small though they may be, and hopefully finding some love for the sport once more.  I hope he continues his recovery and gets back in to contention, even if he continues to moan and bitch it is still more interesting with him in there, rather than DNFing on every race.  He has talent, he just needs to get his mind in the right place, and his body will follow….pretty much like me then I guess!

  11. Bit new to all this “Rules” stuff and all, but was wondering if one can add to the Rules or get the Keepers to add….if so I would like to add an addendum to Rule #9….call it

    Rule #9b

    If you ride after attending an AC/DC concert and a skin full of beer, the night before, then you are a bad ass with “Big Balls” !!!

  12. I always used to ride the bike regardless of the season ever since I was in school and nothing has changed the only thing that I have troubles with until today is the fact that my seat gets wet over the night and thus my butt while riding the bike.

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