My wife and I headed out this morning to do another of those training rides for an upcoming charity event. Usually, I put the bike rack on the car the night before so I’m not rushed getting in on in the morning when we should be heading to the ride.
Last night I didn’t. My garage is just too hot with the sweltering weather we’ve had here lately, so I decided to get an earlier start and handle it this morning. (I did remember to freeze our water bottles last night, though.)
So in the relative coolness afforded by 78 degree (25C) weather, I attached the rack at 6 this morning. I methodically added items to the vehicle: bikes on the rack, helmets and shoes in the back of the car, gloves, cell phone, a few dollars in the plastic bag with the phone, a Clif Bar, bike computer, tire pump. There. I think that accounts for it all. Oh — let’s put on the sunblock now, hm? And don’t forget the sunglasses.
We left the house five minutes before my departure deadline (That was a first!) and got to the ride start 30 miles away in plenty of time. I did the reverse of what I’d done at home, pulling all the gear out of the car, pumping the tires, getting into the bike shoes.
“Aw, I can’t believe it!” I exclaimed.
“What?” asked Pat.
“I didn’t bring a bandana.”
Sweat was already beading up on my arms. I always wear some kind of sweat band on my head. Without one, this would be an interesting ride.
Over the years, I’ve tried a variety of sweat bands. The first, and the one I still go to most often, is the lowly bandana. Although it becomes saturated with sweat in a short amount of time, I’ve found that if I wring it out at a rest stop, or maybe even a long stop light, it does a pretty good job of keeping my eyes free of moisture.
My next favorite is a commercial product, a Head Sweats doo-rag. It’s really my favorite, but because it covers the head and not just the forehead, I avoid it in hot weather. I want those big vents on my helmet to let the heat escape from my noggin.
I also have a couple of Halo head bands, which feature a rubber strip on the bottom. The rubber is supposed to steer the sweat away from the eyes, so that it drips off the temples. Problem is, these things get saturated even more quickly than a bandana, and after a month or two of use, they’re even less effective than a bandana.
Anyway, without one of these options, I would be reliant on the foam padding around the inside of the helmet. But on my helmet (a Bell Sweep) those pads are skinny. They’ll absorb sweat, but not a lot. And frankly, it had been awhile since I’d taken mine out and cleaned them. I adjusted the helmet as snugly as possible and headed out.
It was a simple 30-mile out-and-back. A tailwind pushed us north. I fell in with the ride leader and we quickly outpaced the rest of the 30-mile riders. We chatted most of the way to the turnaround. It wasn’t until we stopped there that I remembered my lack of a head band. I hadn’t noticed it. I took off the helmet and squeezed the pads to get out any schmutz, but there wasn’t much to be gotten.
On the southbound leg we ran smack into a headwind that slowed our progress. This route has long rolling hills, so it was slog up, fly down, and try to counter the effect of a wind that sometimes hit head on, and sometimes came at you sideways. Now I could feel the effect of no headband.
The sweat poured into my eyes. I found that if I turned my head, the wind would whisk the sweat away. I kept flicking my head to the left, and watching the water droplets fly off. It was a bit of a bother, but soon I forgot about it.
For some reason after several years of riding experience, the one item I find myself going back into the house for is a head band of some sort. I can never seem to remember that, even though I’m pretty good at other items.
As I put the bikes back on the car after the ride, my wife asked me about it.
“Not bad,” I said. “It didn’t cause as much trouble as I thought.”
“I’ve been after you about this for years,” she replied. “Your job when we get home is to make a ride checklist. It’ll stay in the kitchen and we’ll check it over before each ride.”
I wiped off my forehead and got into the car.