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Ode To The Plastijacket

I was first introduced to gore-tex in its many forms during a short stint three years ago at The North Face. You can find the stuff under a million different names in a million different cuts and colors, all with varying degrees of waterproofness, windproofness, and breathability. The possibilities are endless when it comes to ways of getting gore-tex onto your body, and it’s generally agreed to be the best at keeping weather off of it. Until today. Today I discovered the perfect article of clothing- it’s got Velcro instead of a zipper, the most unflattering cut imaginable, and lives pretty permanently at the bottom of my bike bin- above all it contains zero gore-tex. Today I rediscovered my plastijacket.

I originally moved to California to do awesome rides in what I’d imagined would be almost perpetual sunshine. Visions of dry singletrack, warm beaches and blue skies have dominated most of my brain space for the last three months, and now that I’m here I know they actually exist. Unfortunately (and if you’ve been watching the news, you know) LA and the surrounding areas have been getting pummeled for the last month by an unprecedented series of storms. Extravagant houses are peeling off of cliff sides, roads are being washed away, and peoples’ yards are being obliterated by mud. The weather since I got here has shown an uncanny ability to change fast and violently, which is why, as I anxiously watched the windows at work, I knew things were about the head south fast.

By the time I could finally make a break for my car, big wet drops were already falling steadily.  The drive home was like a monsoon, and by the time I pulled into my driveway the gutters were already overflowing. Then, the moment of truth. As I munched a snack (something with lots of peanut butter on it) I weighed my options. On principle I’d left my trainer in Colorado, so an indoor ride was out of the question.  I briefly considered just taking a nap and switching my planned ride for a sunnier day, but then decided that was no way to behave during a hard week. There was nothing for it- I began to rummage around for my warm clothes.

Riding in the rain is a funny game. Especially if it’s raining as hard as it was today, the roads become a totally different place. Low points become raging rivers, you leave a wake everywhere you go, and all hope of staying dry begins to slowly sap away. This is when I realized that, while the rest of me was soaking, mud-spattered and beginning to cramp, my arms and chest were cozy and dry. Plastijacket to the rescue.

The deluxe plastijacket specs look a little like this:

Material: plastic.

Color: clear, yellowing

Breathable: no

Zipper: no

Hood: no

Pockets: no

Insulation: no

Waterproof: yes.

The jacket literally lets nothing in or out. It is like being encased in… well, plastic. I began to fall in love with it, and wondered why it had never garnered more respect among the pieces of my wardrobe. The plastijacket is a hero, but I also blame it entirely for what happened next.

Sometimes when riding in the crappiest conditions imaginable, a strange phenomenon takes place. You’ll be crawling along, dimly aware of headlights and needlelike bullets of rain, possibly wondering what it takes for a bike to hydroplane, when you reach your goal. You’re faced with a choice- turn around and return to warmth and comfort, or stay out just a little longer. Once the idea’s in your head you know there’s no turning it away. The rain even looks like it’s starting to let up… sort of. You pedal on. Stupidly.

Half an hour later the gods have unleashed their fury. California has obviously become the epicenter of a century’s worth of storms, and at the center of the epicenter there’s you, the plastic clad speck, toiling around on a ridiculous two-wheeled machine of death.

The last of the ride was insane. A segment of road that usually takes me about fifteen minutes to ride ended up taking the better part of thirty. The palm trees were thrashing insanely around and the ocean was a nauseating green-brown froth. The only high point was when I stumbled upon this gem of a toy in the road.

He doesn’t have a head, but his claw-hands more than make up for it.

rad. I ride for shit like this.

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