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Stormclouds.
Editorial by Tom Demerly.

Tom with King


Mike Aderhold, Hugh Templeman, Michael R. Rabe and I were on a ride approximately 35 miles west/northwest of here. Storm clouds were gathering to the north and you could almost feel the barometric pressure taking a big belly stretch getting ready for a massive, atmospheric belch. Pressure was plummeting and the rolling cumulus looked like lead ingot.

Michael R. Rabe will be the first to tell you he has "superior intellect" ("People have to realize how intelligent I am…") and this includes weather forecasting skills. He was in the Navy, and his atmospheric acumen was honed to a razor edge. An old rusty razor. Michael R. Rabe (or, Michael R. Rabe for short- his friends call him Michael R. Rabe) was on a submarine. What I didn't realize is that weather forecasting is neither important nor commonly practiced when you spend 30 days submerged. So Michael R. Rabe was steering us away from the storm, or so he claimed:

"If we jog north to 7 mile road we should miss it and catch the wind going back toward Northville and then back to Hines Drive…." We corrected our course 90 degrees north to a heading of 000 degrees in naval terminology. If the storm was a steel jaw leg-hold trap we rode in up to the thigh. It was like a Sebastian Junger book. The sky swung down with the leverage of a sledge and the speed of an arrow in flight and we collided head on with the thunderstorm. We were drenched. We got five flat tires between the four of us. We hid under a party store awning briefly but realized we could not wait the storm out. So we struck out again and continued to get drenched.

The color of pavement mixed with the color of bouncing water as the droplets splashed off the pavement. At one point there was a half-inch of water across the road. The spray coming off Aderhold's wheel in front of me completely obscured my vision, but I didn't dare loose his draft. Forget cars, we could have slammed into the back of one at any instant. The fist of the storm was punching us home with a massive, bloated tailwind. We rode the storm home. For 27 miles the tailwind made 28-34 M.P.H. seem nearly effortless. So this is what it's like in The Tour.

Had I been with three lesser men I would have been bothered. But I know I can ride on any of their wheels, and them on mine, with a 30 M.P.H. tailwind in a torrential downpour at 28 M.P.H. at 15 feet visibility. We were like The Blue Angels doing a flight demonstration in a cloudbank. At night.

The storm pushed us all the way back to Dearborn. And, as evidenced by this story, we still talk about that epic ride. The Storm Ride, two years later.

Michael R. Rabe still takes abuse for his ineptitude regarding weather forecasting. Aderhold and I still talk about the spare inner tubes we used. Hugh Templeman has since returned to Australia, having nothing to do with that ride.

Each year there seems to be an epic ride, but few have topped The Storm Ride. I know for people who live in more geographically diverse areas of the country this is lame stuff. But to us, it was an epic. Each year the ride gets longer, the rain harder, the speed higher. And that ride lives on. An epic of now Biblical proportions.

I wonder what our epics will be this year. Getting ready for Ironman is always a breeding ground of some epic training days. Rides and runs. This year will be no exception. Michael R. Rabe swears he will do the longer rides. His season tends to revolve around preparation for cyclocross, so he is doing me a service by joining me on these rides. The stories of what has transpired on some of those rides are for another editorial altogether.

On Sunday Colin (Calvin), Michael R. Rabe, Nate (our store manager) and Dave Koesel rode 40 out to Northville and back. It was bastardly cold. They returned haggard and mud spattered. Not quite an epic, but miles earned.

Here we go toward a season of new epics. I am so looking forward to it.

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© Tom Demerly, Bikesport Inc.
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