I peek outside and take note of the frequency of raindrops hitting the puddle in the muddy parking lot outside our motel. “I think it’s raining again today” I announce and grab another cup of coffee. After waiting a bit I open the blinds again and see the same pattern of raindrops in the puddle, no different than before. “I think it’s letting up, should be fine after breakfast.” Chelsea isn’t buying it. It worked the first few times, but not anymore. She knows just as well as I do that we will be spending the next 7 hours riding through the rain.
The first twenty minutes in the morning are always uncomfortable as we wait for our bodies to warm up and counteract the cool drizzly day. The degree to which we get soaked will be based on the intensity of the rain and the speed and direction of the wind which is summarized as follows:
Stage 1, heavy mist and light rain-
Under calm conditions and a light drizzle we’ll stay reasonably dry except for our hands, feet and face. I wear waterproof mittens when it rains (all but 3 days of our ride have been wearing these thus far) and they do a decent job of keeping the water out, but inevitably moisture works its way in somehow. I don’t mind it as my hands stay warm. Our faces have beads of condensed moisture rolling off them. The lenses of our riding glasses have small droplets on them that don’t affect our vision much.
Stage 2, cars change their windshield wipers from intermittent mode to constant-
As the intensity of the rain picks up, the arms and the legs of our rain gear begin to take on water. The water weighs the fabric down and pulls it tight to the spandex beneath, removing any dead air that had been keeping the appendage in question warm.
Water begins to run down my cheeks and follow my jawbones to my chin where a steady dribble pitches forward onto the cross bar of the bike.
The voids between the aggregate in the surface of the asphalt are now full of water and runoff begins. This causes a neat little rooster tail of water to launch off the front tire about 5’ in front of me when going 10 miles per hour. Higher speeds yield higher rooster tails. The dry bag on my rear rack blocks any spray to my backside while a mangled license plate from Washington serves as Chelsea’s rear fender. It’s pretty rad.
Stage 3, it’s officially raining-
The shoulder of the road frequently has puddles that we try to avoid as much as possible. We clip out often when crossing dodgy sections. Our speed on the flats drops to 7 or 8 miles per hour.
The flow rate of water off my chin increases to a steady stream and a new rivulet begins to pour off my nose. If I look up towards the sky I am provided the unique feeling of having raindrops injected into each nostril.
Despite our over-booties, the road spray inevitably starts to work its way into our shoes and the dreaded Slurpee-foot beings. Slurpee-foot is just what it sounds like- Imagine filling each shoe with your favorite Slurpee flavor and then putting your foot in it.
Things start to get exciting when a headwind picks up during Stage 3 rain. This causes rain to work down the back of my neck and between shoulder blades before hitting the back of my cycling bib. After enough water droplets reach the bib, they seem to conspire together and select one brave soul to make a break for the butt crack. This is not pleasant.