Sunday, June 15, 2008

Heavy Weather

There are times when a tailwind isn't the blessing bikers think it is; a sultry day in July that causes you to bike in your own sweat or that frozen morning in January when the wind eats at the bit of neck that is between the jacket and the hat. I've now experience a third -- getting caught on the front edge of a thunderstorm.

I biked to Town Hall for Pint Club and on the way spoke with my mother. My brother was coming into town for Father's Day (his daughter lives here, he in New London) and that he was grilling. Since Me Darlin' Mrs. was working at the Cedar, I decided to bike to Golden Valley and join them. I fought a headwind as I rode straight west down 55, but it was such a beautiful day and the ride so lovely, I hardly noticed it. It must have been more substantial than I thought, as I realized that I had voracious appetite that not only made itself known to me, but my niece heard my stomach roaring. Two cheeseburgers, baked beans, salad and a couple of Mike's Hard Lemonades later, it seemed to have calmed down.

My other brother called during dinner and notified us that there was tornadic activity in New London -- this precipitated the Minnesota ritual of turning on the TV and watching the breathless coverage of the weather. I generally don't concern myself as this is mostly the local weather news staff working themselves into a fine lather and justifying their expensive toys. But when they said that the storm was moving at 55mph (!) and would be in Plymouth in fifteen minutes, I decided that I should get my sorry hinder home. Over the protestations of my family "You're not gonna ride in this?" "We'll give you a ride." "Are you nuts?" I got on my Bleriot and headed home. The air was absolutely still -- a bad sign.

I had just crossed 100 on Glenwood when the wind picked up again -- with me, luckily -- along with a light sprinkle. I actually appreciated the rain as I was getting hot with the pace I had set. By the time I reached Cedar Lake, the rain was beginning to come down in earnest and the wind had picked up some more. Down Dean Parkway and across Lake and now the wind had changed from blessing to curse. It was still out of the northwest, but should I deviate from the direction of the wind, my front wheel would act like a sail and between the wind and slick streets the riding got treacherous. I couldn't see through my rain-spattered glasses and the branches that had blown off onto the parkway would reach up and grab a toe through my sandals. The power was out around Calhoun and I have scratches up and down my shins from riding through the debris.

As quickly as it arrived, it departed and soon I was back in a slight drizzle and calm winds. Travelling the parkway by bicycle was the fastest way as there were some very large trees that had either lost a major branch or had blown over completely blocking the road. Cars needed to detour, but I just walked around it and continued.

It was a pretty violent storm, but at no time was I concerned or felt I needed to find shelter. I don't know if that is confidence or stupidity, but I was determined to get home. Soaked and panting, I managed to pull into the drive only to notice that my car's windows were down and the storms were open in the house. The critters were pretty terrified and when I walked in, I was immediately surrounded by cats and dog that needed a comforting scratch or tummy rub. I dried off and we all curled up on the bed and fell asleep in a big pile comforted by nearness of the others.

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