I have a reputation for not wanting to get any of my bikes dirty. Believe me, I haven't the foggiest idea how this notion came into being. Maybe it stems from the fact that when one of my rides does get covered in mud, or some other kind of crap, it doesn't remain stuck to the carbon or aluminum for very long. Hence, it's rare when they aren't nice and shiny.
This mistaken belief by others, not surprisingly, has involved other aspects of transportation during my lifetime. Without naming names, I have a very dear friend from my time in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan who would give me a hard time for supposedly never venturing far from Main Street in my Jeep; it was meant for two tracking he would proclaim loudly.
I've been striving to shake this undeserved and so-called clean-cut image. One doesn't possess three off-road bicycles — cyclocross, mountain and fat — to think they can remain looking like new. Where's the fun in that? All my bikes have gotten up close and personal with bad conditions, except for my Trek Domane. You could hardly see the name Specialized on the down tube of my Crux after this year's Frost Heave Fondo ride. And I've participated in the Lobster century ride more than once in the pouring rain. But I will admit, they don't stay gunky once I get home.
Let's just say I don't go looking for trouble. If I'm out riding and I get caught in the rain, and sometimes it's even been snow, so be it. But if there is a hint of moisture, then I have three options: rest day, wait for things to dry out or cycle indoors.
I have another confession to make (in case you missed the first one, please read 3 Hail Marys, 4 Our Fathers). I guess I was a bit of a weather weenie this past weekend. I'd mentioned my plan to stomp on my pedals in the Northwoods Gravel Grind in Rangeley, Maine, for a second straight year, a 50-mile journey on everything but real roads. Well, I got ready to go and was truly fired up to go — despite some last-minute tire issues — and even woke up at 5 a.m. on the day of the event to go. But, I didn't.
My lame reason was the forecast. Rain and temperatures in the 50s. I was bummed out not to go, but I'm older now — and wiser. I heard indirectly from two people who did ride, and they reported it was pretty miserable. I did end up going for a spin here in Hallowell that day, but it was short and sweet because of, you guessed it, the rain.
Truthfully, there is probably nothing I can do to shake this "my bike might get dirty" opinion my friends and family have of me. And that's fine. But just stop by my house, go down into my basement, and then take a gander at my 31-year-old Schwinn Circuit road bike. It's a sight to behold — nice and shiny.