The Breakfast Club: Mostly Dry

Sunday, 5 Mar 2017

The weather forcast is calling for rain showers. Yep. When I got up and looked out the window I could see both blue sky and dark clouds. I opened the garage door to blue sky and wet roads. Time to ride.

While waiting for other riders at the on ramp to westbound 92 at Ralston I noticed rain drops hitting the puddles maybe 25 feet in front of where I was parked. No raindrops on me or the bike. Interesting. My interest turned to action about 2 minutes later when the rain turned to hail and moved in my direction. I started the bike and pulled under the Ralston overpass.

A few minutes later the hail had stopped. Mike rode by and I joined him for the ride to breakfast at Mollie’s. We rode through a few rain showers, but for the most part the ride to breakfast was dry. Neil and Alberto were already drinking coffee at Mollie’s when we arrived.

Not everyone was up for a ride to Scotts Valley. The picture of Markus and Jerry was taken by Harry at the Country Inn. Mostly dry wasn’t dry enough for that group.

After breakfast I led Alberto and Mike up highway 9 to highway 35. It was a wonderful ride on almost dry roads until we approched the 9/35 junction. A couple miles before the junction the temperature dropped into the upper 30s and it started lightly hailing. That must have been enough for Alberto as he continued on 9. Mike and I turned left onto 35.

The ride from 9/35 to Alice’s was cold. The sides of the roads showed an accumulation of snow and hail. The temps were mostly in the mid 30s. The instrument panel on my bike was flashing at me, warning of the possibility of ice on the road. I listened to the warning. The roads were wet and the temperature sometimes dipped to the freezing mark.

Mike and I were the only two riders at the 35/84 junction. No other bikes were at Alices or in the Skywood Trading Post parking lot. Not many cars there, either. Mike had a hot drink to warm himself up before we geared up for the ride home. Chance would have it that we let at exactly the wrong time.

As soon as we got on 35 a dark cloud overhead decided to unload a lot of hail. The pellets weren’t very big, maybe 1/4" in size, but there were a lot of them. At its worst the road was covered about 3/4" deep in hail. And Mike went down.

Mike is OK. His bike is mostly OK. His steering feels wrong. He likely tweaked the forks which is easy to re-align. His brake lever is slightly bent. After getting the bike upright and mostly off the road he had to make the decision to continue on 35 toward 92 with unknown conditions, or turn around and take 35 to 84 where the road descends quickly. After a short hike to look around the turn in the road on 35 he decided to turn around and take 84. By the time he was on his way most of the hail pellet had melted.

I continued on 35 toward 92. There was no more ice or hail until about a mile before 92 where there was a patch of hail on the road that generated an “Oh, No!” moment because I came upon it out of a turn and was going faster than I’d have liked for riding on ice. It was only about 50 yards long, though. No slipping or sliding.

So… the ride was mostly dry. Too bad the non-dry portions consisted of ice instead of rain.