Saturday, September 1, 2007

"We got caught!"

Well, it happened yesterday.

I snuck away from the office a bit early (getting a head-start on a long holiday weekend - it's pretty much standard practice at the office where I work). And I was taking the "scenic route" home, on my bicycle.

The clouds were looming ominously to the southwest (and were awesomely beautiful in every direction - I love clouds, except for solid-overcast). But I expected the dark clouds to stay far from me.

They didn't.

When I was maybe a mile from home (riding in shorts and T-shirt), the wave arrived. I saw it coming, directly toward me. The trees twitching and bending in the blast of dusty wind. Debris swirling. And then it was upon me. Suddenly I was riding into a swift, dusty wind... and then into wind and muddy rain.

(The weather people on the TV later said it was a 45-mph front that blasted through the area, knocking down trees and causing power blackouts.)

I saw a slightly-built lady at a stoplight, mounted on a scooter. She was working hard to hold that thing up. The traffic signals were dancing.

I crossed paths with another cyclist, also in shorts. He said, "Looks like we got caught."

Indeed we did.

Yeah... one of the few pitfalls of dedicated bicycle transportation is, you "get caught" every once in a while. A freakish weather event comes upon you suddenly and unexpectedly.

I'd say I "get caught" maybe twice a year.

"Getting caught" is different from riding in less-than-perfect weather. I can prepare for riding in the rain, or even snow. I can dress for a 100-degree day, or a 20-degree day.

When I "get caught," sometimes I take refuge under a shelter and wait it out. I've stood under trees, bridges, awnings.

Other times, that's impossible.

I vividly remember once when I was riding out on Gowen Road. A freak storm blew up, complete with hailstones the size of grapes. Ouch! The tallest thing for a mile in any direction was a 3-foot-high sagebrush. My only choice was head-down and forge on. (As is usually the case, the storm was over as quickly as it started.)

No doubt some of the folks in their cars laugh scornfully at cyclists who "get caught," and take comfort in how much better it is to be in a car.

Well... I'll tell ya... I'll gladly risk "getting caught" a couple times a year, for the reward of not being caught in a motor vehicle every stinkin' day of the year.

I rode on through the late summer mud-shower. I had to pay a bit more attention to my riding than usual, because I was twitchin' in the wind. A branch came off a tree, maybe 10 feet away, as I rode down the home stretch. I arrived safe and sound, albeit a bit wet and dirty... nothing a 30-second rinse-off couldn't take care of, just fine.


misc. said...

I left work about 45 minutes early, hoping to beat the weather home - only to find a flat rear tire. Doh!

Had to settle for a ride with a co-worker.

I have slime tubes and Specialized Armadillo tires, but something managed to sneak through. Haven't taken a look at it yet.

Anonymous said...

I got caught today too. I ride to work and about a block away from there this morning I picked up a goathead! Right through the Armadillo.