Photo by Jason DeVarennes

Monday, January 23, 2012

At Least it's Not Raining

-Forbidden Topics of Conversation on Bike Rides-

As you may know from reading a previous blog entry, I like my bike rides to include lots of conversation. But there is one subject I just will not tolerate being discussed during any ride, and that's threatening weather. RAIN is a 4 letter word. There is simply no disputing that. And it is just imprudent to discuss rain out loud (or even think about it) during any bike ride.

Bring on discussions of politics and religion. By all means, we should get our heart rates elevated occasionally on a bike ride. The more controversial the better. And don't hold back when talking about your favorite sports team, especially if they aren't local.  Although don't expect me or Fear Rothar to have a clue whether the team you are talking about is in a sport with a large round ball, a small round ball, a large odd shaped ball, or a puck.

As cyclists, of course, most of us can chat away all day long about the pros and cons of carbon-fiber anything or integrated shifting or 1/4 inch ball bearings, as well as the best technique for blowing one's nose on the move, or how frequently one needs to pee and what drugs are the most effective at reducing that frequency. Hmm, the final one might actually be more an indication of the age of most of my riding buddies.

But we absolutely must not discuss weather. How many times have you been on a ride with threatening skies, when some fool utters, "At least it's not raining", shortly followed by the crack of thunder, a bolt of lightening and a torrential downpour? Sadly this has happened to me far more times than I can count. I do very distinctly remember the first time it happened. John and I were leading a ride into southern NH that we named, "It's a Long Way From Tipperary" for what should be obvious reasons. Just to set the mood, we arranged for dreary Irish skies. We were about a third of the way into the ride. Clouds were hanging low from the weight of all that moisture, but they were hanging onto it quite well, until our now-former friend, Bill said, "At least it's not raining." It wasn't 60 seconds before torrents of water were washing down the road. I've never seen such a display of the ill-temper by the weather-gods. Bill learned his lesson and has been allowed to ride with us again, but he knows not to utter the R-word ever again during a ride.

It happens again and again. Various friends refuse to believe that simply saying the R-word can actually conjure up a storm. But it has been proven causative repeatedly. Well, except when that its the actual goal... I do recall on one brutally hot sunny day, standing in the middle of the road, and screaming the forbidden phrase over and over. It just got hotter! The weather-gods can be vindictive.

But just let rain be unwelcome, and let one of your riding companions start talking about how the weather is holding, or repeatedly saying the dreaded R-word, and soon, very soon, the rain will come. Go ahead, test it out...  just not when you are riding with me, OK?

Also should the sun start to poke out on a cloudy day, the mere verbal acknowledgement of sunshine or shadows, often will scare it away. Just appreciate it... silently. Stopping to apply sunscreen is likely to bring on biblical flooding. Fear Rothar and I almost felt responsible for major floods in Europe in 2002 when we bought a tube of 50 SPF sunscreen. We called it cloud-genie-in-a-bottle. As soon as we opened it, the clouds formed and it rained for weeks!

And it doesn't stop at rain. It's any discussion of weather conditions. One must also never talk about an anticipated tailwind. The joker who says in my presence, "At least when we turn around, it will be a tailwind. " will suffer my wrath, when the wind-gods show how fickle they are, and turn on us!

So next time you find yourself in a heated political discussion, and someone suggests changing to a less controversial subject, like ... say ... the weather, remember my rule. Weather may only be discussed in the past tense, once everyone is safely home, including those who rode to the start! Best to wait until the day after!

Incidentally, as proof, the mere fact of my typing out this article, repeatedly spelling out the 4 letter word, and the offending phrases, caused rain to fall here. Fear Rothar just rode home from work in pouring rain. Shame on me!