After mostly avoiding driving in the snow for the past couple of weeks, I was happy to see snow in the parking lot at Red Hook, where I could possibly do 360s without hitting anything. Most Sundays that would be a difficult task, as not only was there usually no snow, but the lot was normally filled with cars brimming with brightly colored cyclists and their steeds. This Sunday was reserved for the desperate, including David, Steve, Kole, Michael, Pete and me. Orin showed up with a dog which didn't look too good for riding on but he (Orin, not the dog) proved his worth when he loaned Pete a wheel that he'd forgotten at home.
The decision was made to go to Tully's and hide out until guilt got us on our bikes. No, that's not the reason, I can hear David saying, it's to wait for the rain to let up. Either way, we zipped around the corner to the fireplace at Tully's and hung out for about an hour. At the point at which we reached critical mass, we all got up and went back to Red Hook to set off again on a different conveyance: our bikes. Well, that's not totally true. Kole, known for riding everywhere, even to Red Hook from Seattle that morning, had ridden his bike to and fro Tully's. I rode to the fireplace, as well, as a show of how desperate I was to ride.
Before we set off on the actual ride that would take us south to Redmond and around Lake Sammamish, I showed them my tiara. It was my way of saying, hey, remember me, I'm a Princess, a Laugher Princess and I do not want to be blown out the back of a bunch of Rabbits. We set off into a drizzle and in not too long, David flatted and we stopped to wait for him to fix it. While we were standing around, the conversation turned from bearings to shifters to tires to hubs. I guess that's what a bunch of guys talk about and I wondered what the female equivalent would be- baselayers, socks, shorts, gloves, helmets? Partly because of this thought and because I realized I was riding with guys with beards (Pete has just a mustache, does that count as half?), I burst out laughing. I had been cautioned by Bill to beware the guys with beards but now here I was with nearly five of them in conditions that were less than ideal.
Once we started rolling again, Michael asked what pace I would like to ride so they wouldn't drop me. I hadn't been riding at all for a while and didn't have a quick answer so he came up with 17 and I agreed to it. I think we all need to re-calibrate our speedometers so they are synchronized to the same speed. According to mine, we were going 18 or 19 most of the time. Buy, hey, what's a couple of miles an hour among friends? Everyone was staying together for the most part so I figured they were already making a concession for me so I just went along for the ride, drafting as close as I could to whomever was in front of me (except for Steve, who had cool wooden fenders but no flaps-he created his own rain shower behind him). And this was an experienced group of riders so I didn't have to worry about squirrels or constant slowing and speeding up or other irregular movements that are common in some groups. But I'm glad I wasn't drafting David when he went on his off-road expedition around garbage cans and through the snow. He stayed up and rejoined the group, barely shaken.
And now for the nitty gritty. Well, it was mostly gritty, grit from sanded roads, grit from dirt, grit from who-knows-what. It was coming up from the wheels, running through the brakes, traveling the downtube to the bottom bracket and chainrings to the chain and into the derailleur. Yup, that about covers it; it was covering or filling spaces over the entire bicycle, to say nothing of what our shoecovers or front of our tights looked like. There was far less snow on the route than we had anticipated but, in its place, was sand and gravel, potholes and cracks.
We made it back to Red Hook and our cars (except for Kole, who was riding home) and we all decided to just dump the bikes in our cars and deal with the grit later. Beer was more important anyway- must replenish spent carbs after 38 miles. It was great to be back riding on the roads, in the elements and drinking post-ride. To quote Pete, all is right with the world again.
To make up for a lack of photos, here's a Dave Matthews video of Proudest Monkey. He sings, "car horns, corners and the gritty".