Monday, August 27, 2012

Singing in the rain

It was a thin grey rain: hard and fast and cold ... as was my custom in such elements, I hunched against the rain, drew my head into my collar, turned my eyes to the street, tensed my footsteps and proceeded in misery. But my hosts, I soon realized, reacted in quite another way. They strolled calmly and smoothly, their bodies perfectly relaxed. They did not lurch their faces to it and did not flinch as it drummed their cheeks. They almost revelled in it. Somehow I found this significant. They accepted the rain. They were not at odds with it, they did not deny it or combat it, they accepted it and went with it in harmony and ease.
I tried it myself. I relaxed my neck and shoulders and turned my gaze into the wet. I let it do to me what it would.  It was simply falling as rain, and I, as a man, another phenomenon of nature, was sharing the space in which it fell. I was much better regarding it that way. I got no wetter!

                                                                                                   -Tom Robbins

picture taken by Nathan Vergin

 Until this year, I would never have chosen to head out on a road ride while it was raining.  Oh sure, I'd commute to work by bike in the rain or keep riding if it started raining after five miles into the route, but starting when the sky has already opened up, with little chance for it to clear, is a whole different story.

What made me change my ways?  Ego and admiration had something to do with it, as well as not wanting to be left out.  You see, my Sunday ride group prides itself on riding through all conditions.  So far this year, we've done a blustery pancake ride in early March, have ridden through massive thunderstorms with hail (although most of that ride was spent either curled up in the fetal position under a metal shelter--the ducks nearby were even taking shelter--or huddling next to a fireplace at a local cafe), and we completed a century with temps. hovering in the mid 90's with high humidity.  Yesterday we added a beautiful, hilly ride West of rain.  My husband and I were the ride "leaders" this week which simply means that we pick the route and if the weather isn't looking good, it's our job to call it off or say it's a go.  I hate this job.  If we call it off, and then it clears up, I feel miserable.  Besides, we all wanted to ride.

6:45 am, the texts started rolling in.  "Are we riding?", "Is it a go?", "Radar not looking good...what do you want to do?"  The East side crew had to mount their steads by 7:15 to get to the starting point by 8am.  No one wanted to call it--it was up to us to decide.  The banter went back and forth.  In the end I called it off after seeing some cells Southwest of Madison that we'd have to ride through--with no shelter to run to.  So there it was.  We weren't riding and I felt like it was my fault.  By some strange miracle, a text rolled in "10 late" by one of the group's founders.  "What?  What do you mean 10 late?" I yelled into the phone.  My reply was ":Call me".  Didn't he realize the ride was off?  Shit.  He was on his way from the other side of town.  What to do?  Call another group member.  "What?  What do you mean he's on his way, as is another member?!"  Double shit.  Okay.  Deep breath.  I quickly called the other riders I had just told the ride wasn't going to happen.  Somehow, we pulled together, met at our house and decided to give it a shot.  Hey, we could always cut it short and turn back.  Of course I realized, deep down inside, that with this group, short of a lightning storm or hurricane, there was no turning back.

Still smiling even near the end!
We pulled out of the driveway, only an hour late, already a bit soggy.  This was going to be fun...right?  It was.  It was more than fun.  Even though we were all starting the ride on three cylinders since we'd spent the previous night doing a birthday and beer ride, and were all running on only four or five hours of sleep, we had a fantastic time!  We wove through the driftless zone valleys, hit many of the notorious big climbs in the area and spotted thirty-nine red barns (hence the name of the ride "Red Barn Delight").  None of us had fenders on--which proved to be a slight problem while riding through wet cow manure--so the whites of our eyes and teeth came through even more clearly when we smiled.

None of us had melted, there was no complaining, and the only downside was having to clean the bikes afterwards.  Thank you guys for making me just a bit tougher and turning what would have been a no ride day around!

No comments:

Post a Comment