Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pineapple Express

The moment the weatherman utter these words, skiers around the northwest shutter and hang up their skis for a few weekends and watch the snow melt before their eyes. Unseasonably warm, humid air gets blown in straight from Hawaii and bombards the west coast with torrential rains. The cold drizzle of January gets drowned by heavy rains and temperatures in the 50s. The snow level jumps up to 8 or 10,000 feet and people living in the river valleys bring out the sandbags and the pontoon floats as they watch the water creep closer to their front doors. I decided this would be an exciting weekend to go for a ride.

Although the thermometer read a balmy 51 degrees at 6:30am on Saturday morning, leaving the house in the pouring rain reminded me of diving into the cold water of a swimming pool. Instantly water was running down my face and splattering on my rain jacket. Scott was the only one crazy enough to join me for a ride during this deluge. We spent the first few hours on the bikes verifying the forecasted 10-15mph winds out of the south west. Bent on the drops battling headwinds with a hose in the face was shocking to the system. Finally, the sky started to brighten and we turned west to head over the hills in Capital Forest. Rivers of water filled the swollen drainage ditch beside the road on the climb up Bordeaux. The trees provided a shelter from the winds and rain; the patter and splat of large drops fell around us on the road.

I was nervous about getting across the Chehalis River as it typically spills its banks each winter. Water had filled the wetlands and spread into the nearby fields, but the road was high enough to escape flooding today. We followed the valley into Elma and then turned west and back into the rain towards Grays Harbor. My speedometer jumped between 12 and 13 mph even though we were at maximum effort. The only hope was that this wind would continue for the return trip. I couldn't pass by the coffee shop in Montesano. The sweet pastries and hot coffee tasted better today than ever before. We squeezed the water out of our gloves and pushed on to our turn around of Cosmopolis. We picked up our time stamped receipts and turned around to head for home.

Hot soup with crackers, bread, maybe another cup of coffee? Chips? maybe. I had a warm vision of what I was going to eat at the grocery store back in Montesano. Mostly the soup from the big pot sitting in the deli section, but not today. The soup pots stood empty and the deli was closed. Devastated, I settled on a turkey sandwich, the Randonneuring standby. My lunch disappointment was pushed aside, or blown aside by the much anticipated tailwind. The rain even started to let up a bit as we cruised back to Elma at 20 mph. We followed quiet roads back along the Chehalis River into Oakville. The post lunch food coma dulled our pace but sparked up some conversations as we pedaled through a light mist and even patches of clearing sky.

First ride of 2011 (r35)
For a brief second I considered taking off my rain jacket, but that would certainly make it rain again. Small showers chased us back on familiar roads, and a pleasant tailwind kept us motivated. We crossed through a few places with water still running over the roads including one spot that you could feel the current pulling the bike to the side even though it was only 4 inches of water. We left in the dark and wet and returned in the same fashion. A steaming cup of hot chocolate with whip cream ended our adventure. I wondered if a hot shower would feel good after being wet all day, and was glad to find out that it did. I still feel like a sponge that has soaked up as much water as possible. It will probably take a trip to the heat of Texas in May to dry me out. That's right, Stampede 1200k will start on May 11th, more details to follow.

1 comment: