Racing the Rain

This short episode has all the aspects of real adventure, man against nature, man against man, and man against himself. I knew it would be a stormy day, but took a risk and decided to ride my bike to work. The morning would be fine, but the afternoon was when the storms were expected to appear. Storms this summer have been particularly violent, coming in with fury, bringing down limbs and uprooting trees.

A downed tree and downed wires a few weeks ago.

As often happens, my day stretched out, and what started as a potential departure at 3:30 became a reality at 5:30. Also, as sometimes happens, the storms which were supposed to reach us by 2:00, were now predicted to start around 6:00. I walked across the street to where my bike is kept. I tried to assess the clouds as I walked, but our office building blocked my view of the western sky, from which direction the storm was approaching. What I could see to the east looked like a pleasant summer day, some blue skies, cumulous clouds, no rain.

After I crossed the street, I looked back to the west. There were dark clouds with swirling patterns, moving in quickly. No rain yet. I changed into cycling clothes, got my backpack on, and got on the bike. Already the wind had picked up. It was variable, sometimes in my face, sometimes from my side. The traffic was heavy. I made my way out onto the road for my seven mile commute. I knew from the look of the clouds it would be close, me getting home. That’s why I felt I better put the hammer down and turn this into a time trial. With the threat of lightning and rain imminent, the adrenaline kicked in and my usual leisurely pace going home changed to a hard ride. The darkened sky meant all the drivers (or most, there were a few clueless ones) had their lights on. I had mine on, too, blinking front headlight and bright flashing taillight. Along the road bits of tree branches and leaves were falling from the wind. I had to look out for these as I rode alongside the traffic. Sometimes the cars were stopped from traffic congestion and sometimes they were zipping by me. I stuck close to the side of the road. There’s no bike lane, but there is a wide enough shoulder so there is room for me and the cars. Yet, I got honked at several times as I zipped along. I did not look to see who honked. To do so would be to take my eyes off the road. A couple of drivers sped past me only to make a quick right turn. Instinctively I saw this coming and slowed, but it is a dangerous move for the driver to pull. I then had to crank up to speed again.

About three miles from home the rain started. It was very light and spitting at first, but the dark gray cloud in front of me that had no borders said it would get worse. Above me, there was a brownish cloud with a swirling unicorn shape pointing to the side. Tornado? Well what would I do if it did develop. Fortunately, that did not happen. As I got within a mile from home there was another traffic light. I stopped and waited as the rain became light and steady. I saw a lightning bolt off to my right and counted six seconds to the loud thunderclap. As the traffic light turned green I pushed for the last stretch to home, and a driver did a quick left turn in front of me. The driver was looking at a cell phone. Another driver pulled out in front of me from a side street. She clearly saw me, but I guess didn’t care. Drivers are not usually this awful on my way home. They must have been in race mode themselves. I finally got to my house as the rain and wind picked up. I looked at my watch. I knocked four minutes off my usual time for this ride. Backpack off and cleat covers on, I stood on the porch, unlocked the door and wheeled my bike in. A few minutes later, the storm hit with strong wind gusts and driving rain. The streets were filling with water and turning into rivers. I felt very fortunate to get in the door before that happened.

Leave a comment

2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

     /  August 19, 2019

    Great story – way to make a typical humdrum afternoon commute exciting & an Adrenalin rush.

    Reply
  2. Well… That had to be an adrenaline rush for sure …Glad you made it home ok Frank!!

    Reply

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