Dark clouds to the east as the road enters Butts Canyon. Another cyclist is putting on his yellow rain clothes at the little summit just past Langtry Winery. Uh-oh, I think, unwilling for this feeling to end.
Somewhere in Butts Canyon, in a shower of mixed rain and hail, a vague memory. Did a local rider once mention that Butts Canyon is a total magnet for precip? I ride on, refusing to stop and change clothes, refusing to give up ground. That option is granted by the grace of my thick wool jersey and wool leggings. I stubbornly watch as the white pellets accumulate on the jersey's black sleeves. But there are riders around me; I am no longer alone.
The clouds are unambiguous - dark and close on the hills in the direction of Cardiac and Davis. We are clearly in for it. 'If it doesn't stop in 2 minutes, I'll change into my rain jacket and rain tights.' It does not stop in 2 minutes. And I do not stop and change clothing.
Leaving Butts Canyon, at the summit of Honey Hill the rain slows, then stops for a few sweet miles into Pope Valley. At the rest stop it is 4:53pm. In deference to the obvious, I add a jacket and neoprene socks. Down a PB&J sandwich and a hot chocolate. It starts to pour, raindrops so big they make a slow rushing sound as they fall through a rip in the cloud.
Being out there on the road and in the elements without hard protection does sharpen the mind. It highlights priorities, among other things. My priority is to make it through the Cardiac area near Lake Berryessa before dark. The other cyclists wait out the downpour, but I head right into it. The good news is, soon every trace of the morning's mudbath is washed away. The bad news is I can't feel my feet.
Later someone asks me how long it rained. I have no idea. It rained as long as it did. Several miles outside of Moskowite Corners is probably where it stops. The road around Lake Berryessa is still wet, as if it was raining just 10 minutes ago. Near the summit the final rays of sun flash under the clouds:
Almost no traffic on a beautiful, hilly stretch of road. The daylight lasts almost exactly as long as I need, to Pardhesa Store.
Darkness falls all at once before the turn onto Putah Creek Road. The towns glow under a blanket of cloud cover: Woodland east and north, Davis due east, Dixon to the south, Vacaville south and west.
A quick mental note that in the dark, the way back on Putah Creek Road always seems much longer and the nuances feel more arbitrary. True this evening as well.
At one point the road edge jogs in suddenly and I am once again in a field, in quicksand mud. The bike stays upright - only one foot has to touch down. But, weird rubbing noises for the next few miles. This tells me that the wheels were coated in mud, which they have in turn deposited onto the brakes.
I clock in at the finish just after 10pm.
|The grand prize: seeing Dan and Ann!|
Just the adventure...