We rolled out yesterday morning, joined by Diane, Mike, Jason, and Justin with Mike & Diane on their tandem and my wife and I on ours. Two tandems, four single bikes, and we picked Phill up en route. We had high hopes for the day.
The weather service had been predicting early morning storms but, as dawn approached, they were pushed back to 10:00 am. We had enough time to squeeze in a nice 30-ish miles at our Sunday Funday pace (18-ish mph).
We headed into the wind to get it out of the way and had a really nice pace going. The tandem has been less of a struggle of late and “Sunday Funday has become a much enjoyed addition to my cycling week. We decided on a route change to split some of the headwind up. Traveling south was a bear, even on the tandem. We had to make an early stop, but it was a quick one… and this simple ten minute stop will be important later.
Rolling out, we had a cross-headwind for a few miles that was a little tougher than it should have been. With a left-turn south, we learned why. The wind had shifted from SSW to WSW. That was good for us. Coming into town, my wife and I took advantage of a downhill City Limits sign and put the hammer down. We crossed the line at 32-mph with no one on our tail. That tandem is tough uphill, but downhill it’s comically fast. We pulled into our normal gas station stop and I pulled out my phone to check the radar. The future feature put showers over our head at 11:45. With an hour and three-quarters left, we had more than enough time to fit the deer loop in. We rolled out, heading west, into the headwind.
Two miles of three in, my wife tapped me on the butt and said, look right. The sky was unmistakable; we had showers rolling in. The question was going to be when.
We headed north, into the ugly, for two miles, then we turned for home. 13 miles if we went the shortest possible route, but that would require a dismount and walking the tandem through a construction zone (Sunday, no workers), or 17 miles if we went around the construction zone.
It’s hard to say how hard we were pushing the pace – we were keeping it between 21 & 23-mph except on the climbs – but my wife and I were very much in tune with each other. We were matching power well and cruising. Once through Gaines, with the sky darkening considerably and my wife and I out front, Phill split for home and we put the hammer down. With just eight miles to go, taking the shortcut, it was going to be a drag race. We bumped our already fast pace to 25+. While we were trying to outrun a storm, I can’t ever remember a tandem ride feeling quite so… awesome. We were really laying down the watts while my wife tried to keep an eye on everyone to make sure they were holding wheels. Heading north again, Justin split for his run home after a mile and Mike and Diane headed the other way for home. That left Mike and Diane on their tandem and Jason with us… and it started spitting on us. Then the lightning started – and it wasn’t that stretch across the sky heat lighting, it was cloud to ground, big blasts, straight down. And then the rain hit. Instantly going from a spattering to high winds and downpour. My wife and I were hammering for the last turn and the three mile home stretch when Mike shouted over the wind-driven rain, “We’re finding shelter, we’re out”. I hadn’t even looked around, as if I had horse blinders on. It was bad.
We stopped and dismounted. I ran our tandem over to a nearby garage and leaned it. Mike put theirs right behind ours. Jason around the corner, and we ran up to the porch. We knocked on the door and asked the woman who answered if we could borrow their porch to ride out the storm. She said of course, and asked if we wanted to come in to warm up. We told her we were more than happy outside on the porch but thanked her for her hospitality. She went inside and returned a few minutes later with folding chairs and towels so we could dry off.
Just a random house and this nice lady is bringing us towels and chairs… folks, it restored my faith in humanity just a little bit.
I checked the radar again and it was bad. We had three more waves behind the first and they were dark green, yellow, orange and a little red on the radar. Jason called his wife who hopped in their truck and came to pick us up. Mike and I climbed in his truck while the ladies stayed on the porch. We returned with our own SUV’s a short while later and loaded up the tandems…
Cleanup took a while, but with the fenders, there wasn’t any dirt to speak of… I just had to wipe the tandem down. And my daughter made some French toast while I was cleaning the bike.
My wife and I talked about what a good ride we’d had while we ate. And it was good.
We’ll have that story forever, about getting caught in the rain with our friends and what a crazy trip it was. I always love beating the rain by a few minutes, but every now and again it’s good to get caught in it. As long as everyone is okay but waterlogged, it’ll at least make for good dinnertime stories.