Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Invasion of the Mud Men!

Wouldn't you know it? I rode the carbon fiber Giant to work on Monday since the weather forecast called for high winds out of the northwest. That meant 20-30 mile per hour headwinds all the way home. There was a chance of rain in the forecast too, but it was supposed to be gone by mid-afternoon. You'd think I would be ready for the vagarities of Oklahoma weather by now.

Radar showed bands of rain marching in from the northwest. It wasn't about to let up by the time I left work, so I dug out the rain jacket and safety glasses. I had the sense to keep them in my pack for emergencies. The rain jacket is just a cheap plastic one designed for cycling, with a long tail and lots of vents. The glasses are ordinary safety glasses with dark lenses, maybe not the best choice for rain, but they offer excellent coverage that's far better than my normal glasses.

The temperature dropped from around 60 to about 45 as the rain started. I rode into the wind, my torso fairly warm, but my arms and legs were cold. A couple of miles up the road, I stopped to put my windbreaker on under the rain jacket. The extra warmth was much appreciated.

But I hadn't thought about 145th Street and the gravel trucks.

There's a quarry about halfway home. The trucks drop a little bit of limestone and it gets crushed under their tires. With hundreds of trucks per day, the dust can get pretty thick. And it turns to slime when it's wet. The stuff sprays everywhere as the trucks go by. I looked like one of the Mud Men from the old Buck Rogers serials. My helmet had a nice fade from nearly solid light gray in front to solid black behind. My glasses were about half covered and I couldn't see well, but I wasn't about to take them off and get all that stuff in my eyes. The bike was a mess too, of course, and it was made worse by the absence of fenders. I had a nice, gray stripe up my back! Sure, I was filthy and wet, but at least I wasn't cold. I don't mind getting wet and filthy, but I really hate being cold too.

And for some reason, motorists give mud-spattered cyclists a lot more room. I'm not complaining about that. Maybe we just confirm that we're more than half a bubble off when we ride in such conditions. I don't really have much choice, though, because I have to get home.

I hosed the Giant in the driveway. It irked me because I'd ridden it only once since the last cleaning, and now I have to clean it again. That limestone slime sticks and won't come off easily. I'll have to disassemble the bike and do a thorough job maybe this weekend.


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