Saturday, October 4, 2008

Fantozzi's Cloud

Many Italians are familiar with the figure of speech "Nuvola di Fantozzi". For the others, please see the illustration below:I'll call it the "Tourmalet Curse": ever since this past summer's Etape, every organized ride I'm in is doomed to be a wet one. This morning's Harvest Ride was no exception: after one of the hottest October weeks I remember, I guess it was time for some refreshing rain. We left comfily at 8 this morning from Ventura, looking ahead to an easy ride. The course was mostly flat, with a few classic, and very short climbs (Gubernador Canyon, Skofield Park to El Cielito etc.). One hundred easy miles which came to a sudden stop when my riding partner Dom calls a flat. It doesn't matter, we passed plenty of people already in the 6.5 miles we had been riding. Just one more chance to pass them again.

Then right after the tire is fixed with the kind assistance of the Rotary club SAG team the tube blows up again, scaring almost to death one of the two SAG people. Meanwhile, two more riders pass us, then no one is apparently left. We better move before people from the family ride start arriving and tossing candy at us.

Dom fixes the second flat, and we have the time for a quick rest stop for the rain to start in earnest. This is a familiar scenario to me. First you get drenched, then when you can't stand it anymore you put on a rain jacket. Now you are still drenched but relatively warm. As long as you don't stop of course. I was almost envying the guy with a Rivendell Saluki, full fenders double headlights and tires. Looked like a 2-ton machine of iron and chrome, but at least he did not have a constant stream of water freshening up his nether parts. And clean water it wasn't: pretty soon I realize I'm completely covered in road grime, my legs look like they belong to a neanderthal, but it was not additional hair growing, just tar. After all it hasn't rained in the area for five months or so, and the ash of the Gap Fire was still on the ground. Luckily, I think I took most of it home, so now other, smarter people can go out riding and come back clean.

I also realized that this ride for some reason was taking us through UCSB. I felt quite bad to ride to my workplace on a Saturday. I felt even worse realizing I had to drive to Ventura first to get there. It was too much, I knew had to pull another Tourmalet. After all, 250 yards from the road back lays my house, a warm shower, a hairy dog --feathers for my tarred legs were not available, so I just had to cover myself in dog hair instead.

At the end of the day, I had ridden about a hundred kilometers. After all, I'm European, I guess I'm doomed to measure my athletic achievement in metric units, willing or not. Another occasion for an imperial hundred will present itself soon enough. Local populations, beware, and dust off your umbrellas: I'll be pedaling through town, the black malicious cloud right over my head....

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