Rides We Like: The Local Loop / #BraverThanTheElements
(2015) In my last post I talked about those curious little events Rapha likes to support. As luck would have it, their Braver Than the Elements commenced yesterday. Despite the fact that it's mostly geared toward women cyclists, I used it as motivation to get a couple miles in. Although I’ll say with certainty my experience didn't match the reasoning behind the event.
I woke up and took the dogs out, as I am wont to do. It being Sunday I like to take them around the block to do business. Curiously I walked outside and didn’t think twice about doing it in a t-shirt. Somehow it worked out that it was just that warm at 7am. The forecast for the day was a possibility of seventy degrees. Seventy. In December. As in winter December. Last year there was snow all about. This year people were walking by me in shorts and t-shirts with droplets of sweat forming on the brow.
I had a commitment to move furniture. This should have been a nice cool experience. Perhaps someone would accidently track in some snow. Maybe the dogs would step outside, put one paw in the snow, lower the tail, and head back for the comfort inside. Today we moved furniture with rivers of sweat coming down. Jeans were a bad choice. For some reason I thought long sleeves to be wishful thinking. The ride was looking to be in doubt. I was pretty beat up from some heavy lifting. The couch looked pretty enticing.
It was time to push the pedals. From my perch atop my plastic bike I looked down at my first few pedal strokes hardly believing it. No wool socks. No shoe covers. There were summer socks. My white kneecaps resembled Chuck Taylor toecaps. There were no leg or knee warmers to be found. My summer riding jersey felt at home gliding through the warm air. There were no arm warmers. There was no neck gaiter. As a matter of fact I decided to use a mesh undershirt to keep things cool. This was December right? I had reviewed cold weather gear anticipating things would get cold. Well when would they?
Typically late afternoon rides should be low in cyclist population. For some reason the past two Sundays have seen otherwise. I encountered the same group ride buzzing by both Sundays. They were dressed in leg warmers and jackets. They must’ve been sweating. A couple more solo cyclists would buzz by as well. This weather was getting people out.
It was toward the end of the ride that saw the most memorable moment: A woman was walking a bike that was way too small for her up a short ramp on Sweetbriar Road. Her companion first zipped by on a steel framed bike. When I caught up to her she turned to go the opposite direction of my own. She cruised down the hill and had the biggest smile on her face. That probably would not have happened in twenty-degree weather.
Rapha started the Braver Than the Elements ride to recognize those female riders who go out in the trying weather. It gives street cred to those who, despite hearing about snow and ice, still go through the morning routine with the same gusto as a summer ride. After scrolling through Instagram and seeing some of the shots of frozen bikes, snowy climbs, super mittens, and water bottles that could double as bricks, I figured my photos of riding in summer gear could lead to confusion. “Did he mean to post a summer photo in December?” No. It’s just that strange around here these days.