According to my cell phone it’s sunny and 84 degrees with a light breeze coming out of the southeast. Should be pretty close to perfect — so why was it that I found myself cruising along twenty miles from home and seemingly dodging lightning bolts, getting soaked to the bone and hoping that my brakes would hold as I began to tear down the slope side of hills in something that bore a striking resemblance to rain?
Don’t get me wrong: I didn’t find this to be any sort of predicament at all, although I am just a little amazed at what amounts to an ongoing perpetration of meteorological incompetence these days. In fact, I found riding in the rain to be terrifically invigorating, albeit entirely unexpected.
Moments after arriving back home, an enormous blast of thunder coupled almost simultaneously with a frighteningly huge show of lightning. Just for a second one might be forgiven for feeling a bit like Thor — well, you know … if Thor were to crap his pants at the very moment that thunder and lightning seemed to be occupying the same exact space as the god of thunder!
Early this morning and prior to any storms settling into the area, I headed east, warming up with ten or twelve miles of rolling hills. I grow more and more satisfied with my Boulder. Although not as speedy as the Paramount or my Freschi, I’m much faster than on my previous rando build, the Shogun 2000. As comfortable as I found the Brooks B17 Flyer saddle to be — especially for touring — some characteristics became a deal breaker for me. First off, the noise of the springs: the incessant creak, creak, creak as I pedaled hard, just bugged the hell out of me. I could also perceive movement as the saddle bounced under the load and that made me feel as though I needed more stability. Tied to the feeling of a compromised base was the fact that I couldn’t get the saddle positioned far enough back so that I could ride with my butt on the rear support of the saddle as I prefer to do: Instead, my keister was hanging over the edge and that was simply too distracting for me. My other favorite bikes have vintage Selle Regal saddles, which for me are far and away the most comfortable road saddles. I ordered a new Regal in brown to match the look of the build. More importantly, it is lighter and provides a much more solid base for me than the Brooks. Long story short, with about a hundred miles on the new saddle I am quite content with the Boulder build.
Today’s ride led me down into river bottom country. I thought to continue east but dark clouds at my back made me nervous. Thus, I wound up turning to the west instead and traveling along a favorite quiet highway that runs parallel to the Missouri River.
I stopped frequently to take photographs and munch on a new granola mix we conjured up last week. The fields on either side of the road will soon be overtaken by corn and beans but at this moment the plants are still relatively short. There’s a small airstrip and hangars where some locals get together to work on and fly vintage propeller aircraft. I nearly always see biplanes and triplanes in the air here. Dwarfing those buildings, a huge tree emerges from one field, a solitary monolith in an otherwise flat landscape, bound by hills and river bluffs.
Lest it be thought that this is the only tree around, I should point out that various “scrub” trees periodically line segments of the road. Mulberry Trees, for instance, will grow just about anywhere around here. They sprout up from beside building foundations, along fence rows, in road ditches, and from between cracks in the sidewalk. Left unchecked, they grow extremely fast — perhaps not bamboo-fast, but not too far behind — and are almost impossible to eradicate from one’s yard. (This is the voice of first hand experience speaking here.)
But in the country, the Mulberry is less of a pest and offers a an opportunity for the savvy rider to take a juicy and flavorful snack break. The berries are ripe weeks early this year and by next week the trees will be filled with plump, sweet fruit. On this day, I certainly took advantage of Mother Nature’s bounty.
On the Boulder I don’t worry overmuch about speed. I cruise along at about seventeen miles an hour, enjoying the morning and my surroundings. Every once in a while another cyclists passes by. As the sky gets dark and the rain begins to fall, I’m thinking that most other riders have found themselves a different and presumably more reliable weather resource than I have. No matter, I’m truly enjoying myself today.