We just got back yesterday from spending about a week in Indiana. We visited our families, and I did some riding. I could’ve blogged, but I spent most of the week away from my computer, and it was a wonderful break.
Wednesday night, I went mountain biking with Dave at Brown County State Park. It was supposed to be a routine post-work ride, but there was some rain in the forecast. The radar didn’t look too threatening, so we thought little of it.
Shortly after we started riding, it started raining fairly hard. We really didn’t mind — it was warm enough that we were able to stay comfortable. But then we started hearing thunder. We counted 10-15 seconds between lightning and thunder and weren’t too worried when suddenly we saw, heard, and felt loud thunder and lightning, hitting simultaneously. We set our bikes down and walked away from them and waited for the lightning to clear up.
A few minutes later, we were moving again, but before long my brakes stopped working almost entirely. It was still raining quite hard and I had to stop frequently to clean my glasses and flush my burning eyes. I’m not sure what kept getting in my eyes, but it was pretty painful. I tried to adjust my brakes and get some stopping power, to no avail. I’m not sure what went wrong, as I have disc brakes, which are supposed to hold up in the rain. They didn’t — I had to ride with almost no brakes.
So, I did the only thing I could think of: I took a lesson from Fred Flintstone: I dragged my feet to keep my speed down. I had to make sure not to let myself pick up too much speed, or I wouldn’t be able to stop. During one switchback, I thought I was going to wipe out. I was going too fast and my feet were barely helping. I reached out and grabbed a small tree and held on tight. I was able to slow myself almost to a stop and make the turn.
Through all of this, we were having an absolute blast. And the trails were dry enough that they were just soaking up the rain; we weren’t causing any damage. We got to the end of the trail and I stopped to work on my brakes some more. I was able to get some functionality, so we opted for another lap, in the opposite direction. That lap was less eventful, and the rain even stopped for a few moments. But then it started again, and we finished the last couple of miles in near darkness, without lights. The descent back to the parking lot was harrowing, since we could hardly see.
I love it when a ride that could be routine ends up being completely insane. It was probably the most fun I’ve had on a bike so far this year.