A Note from Fatty About Today’s Post: This is the sixth part in my “Actions and Consequences” story: short installments about a 200-mile ride The Hammer and I embarked on to test ourselves for the upcoming Salt to Saint Race. If you haven’t read the earlier installments, you should read them before starting on this one. You’ll find handy links to them here:
“So The IT Guy’s coming out anyway?” I asked.
“Yeah,” The Hammer replied. “He’s in Spanish Fork right now, so he’ll get here in about an hour, I’d guess.”
“Well, it’s nice of him to come by and say hi, I guess,” I said.
The rain picked up as we neared the gas station in Moroni — the one where I had gotten a not-so-great frozen yogurt cone just a little while ago. A thought occurred to me: “Maybe we should go in and wait this out.”
We kept going. By way of conversation, I told The Hammer that I had thought about hunkering down in there.
“That’s funny. I did too.”
Five minutes later, the rain really began. And it brought a friend to the party: wind. A really strong wind, coming at us from our ten o’clock.
And it was a nice gusty wind, too. The kind where it hits you all of a sudden and shifts you about eight inches to the right, pushing you smack onto the rumble strip and rattling your brain. The Shivs — broad as a barn — are fantastic in a headwind, tailwind and in no wind, but are absolutely horrible in a gusty crosswind like we were riding in. We had to lean hard left as the wind tried to push us right. Then the wind would briefly and abruptly let up, and we’d suddenly be veering left into the road.
Using the aero bars was out of the question. Our speed dropped down to about nine miles per hour. On a completely flat road.
I tried to be a good husband and shelter The Hammer from the wind as well as I could by riding up front. It didn’t help at all, though; if The Hammer got close enough to me to get some protection from the wind, she’d also be getting a face full of water and grit from my back tire kicked up into her face.
Every minute, the rain fell faster. Every second, the wind blew worse. The sky overhead was so black with clouds overhead that it felt like night.
Cars zoomed past us, hurrying. Their lights on. I hoped they could see us — us, with no lights. Or reflective clothing. But we had to stay to the left of the white line; immediately to the right of that was the rumble strip, and it wasn’t the kind of rumble strip that’s inconvenient to ride on. It was the kind of rumble strip that made it impossible to see straight. The kind of rumble strip that hurts to ride over.
And to the right of the rumble strip — about a foot of shoulder, and then dirt.
Every time a car went by, it would block the wind for just a second; I learned to anticipate it so I would stop leaning hard left as the car passed.
I never learned, though, how to cope with the huge arc of water that would hit me right after the car went by.
Waiting for a moment when no cars were passing, I dropped back and rode alongside The Hammer. “How long ’til Blake gets here, do you think?”
“Maybe ten more minutes.”
“You know what? I’m really glad you got that flat!”
It was true. If The Hammer hadn’t gotten that flat — or if I had had better luck and sense in repairing it the first time — we wouldn’t have called for help until about an hour later.
And that, as it turns out, would have been disastrous.
Which is where I’ll pick up (and conclude, I’m pretty sure) tomorrow.
PS: If you are in the mood for more stories about riding, Doug Bohl just posted a good one in the form of a letter to me.