Tuesday, December 15, 2009

riding in the rain with rose-colored glasses

For too, too long lately I have been reading other people's winter biking adventures - no more! swore I - I will live life Myself and not just vicariously by the written word!  But then I succumbed to Scheduling Issues and then to sub-freeZing temperatures and iCe on the road - for though I have learned that studded bike tires are not somebody's funny idea, they are not as yet a budgeted item on my shopping list.

"I will bike next Tuesday," I said, promising rashly.  "Definitely Tuesday.  One deadline down by then.  And Christmas packages will all be sent.  No matter what (as long as that matter is not ice) I will bike on Tuesday." 

And woke this morning to rain.  Not ice.  But also not just the soft condensation of heavy mist that Northwest rain often is.   Deep, drip-drop, soakyoutotheskin rain.

"You don't really have to bike," said the pale snail inside me.  "Why don't you take the car?  You don't want to get those books and papers wet."

"Hah!" scoffed the few drops of Viking blood that have made their way to me through a Danish grandmother.  "What rain?!  Pfft!  this is nothing!" (You probably did not know that Vikings said Pfft.)

So I biked the miles into town in the driving rain.  Stopping to shed wool scarf and the second pair of gloves as I warmed up.  Wiping the steam off the inside of my rose-colored glasses - why yes, I do look through rose-colored glasses when I bike! (but only because they cut down glare and protect eyes from bulleting raindrops without obscuring detail) -

Biked, not fast, because I would be meeting others later - having given myself plenty of extra time to run errands - and didn't want to arrive over-perfumed d'essence sportive.

Biked on quiet roads with almost no cars until I came to the heart of town.  Biked to the hardware store for this.  To the pharmacy for that.  Poked my head in another shop to see if they had an item in yet.  Everyone in the different shops laughs when they first see me, dripping, exultant, laughing back.  Even in the rain it is so many more times easier, more human, more rewarding to run errands by bike.  I wonder when shop owners will realize how much more accessible to the quick and profitable drop-by their places become once their clintele set their selves down onto bike saddles?  Meanwhile, my skin tingles, warm against cold air,  all the blood cells in my veins singing their happy little song of renewed activity.

Biked to the bookshop.  As I tied up my bike, saw a guy in the rain on his bike with a vacuum strapped on behind, headed toward the Sew & Vac & Chimney place just down the road.  I tried to get my camera out in time to show him to you, but my hands were clumsy in their wet gloves and by the time I'd laid hands on camera he had pedaled away.  So I took this picture instead of my deluxe weather protection system:

As I did, a friend pulled up, she parked her car, and we joked our way into the bookshop to wait for the others. 

"You clean up good," she said after I'd ducked into the restroom to shed and trade layers.  Because yea, I, even I, am guilty of GoreTex.  It is appallingly yellow and wonderfully waterproof.  "What'd you do? Completely change?"

"Just a matter of wet layer off into one bag and dry layer over out of the other."

And I who have been half-alive with busy-ness and indoor lethargy, am whole and all-alive once more.  All that old air in my lungs traded for the new and improved ultra-oxygen mix.  Seriously, I think I must be addicted to the buzz of biking - even now hours later I'm still feeling the sharp vigor of weather on my face and the heat of my own work warming me up like the feeling of courage. 

Soon the others have gathered.  After last month, scribbling in my hermit's cell, seeing no one but the necessary, it warms my heart to see all these others' faces, hear their voices.  There are too many of us to grab a table at the bakery next door, so we cross the street to Sunshine Pizza for our soup and salad.  (There may not be a lot of choices in our once-a-milltown town, but there are choices.)

"You didn't bike here?"  the cry goes up, when at last, having between us established new rules for the Running of the World, I mention I'd better get going so that I can get home in time without having to sweat it up the hills.  "You didn't ride here today? in the rain?"

"Aw, she bikes everywhere," which I only wish were true.  We've already discussed how Fritz's father's truck that Fritz drives now has completely wiped out any environmental credit I've built up.

"She has to bike to make up for MY truck," says another grinning.

"Someone has to," I grin back.

I slip into the restroom, slip somewhat soggy raingear over wool pants and long-sleeved knit.

"So, I've got to ask you," one of the last lingerers asks me when I stop in the vestibule to zip my waterproofs tight at the ankles.  "Why the boots?"

" . . . I like them?"

"Oh, I thought maybe there was some technical reason."

"Nope.  They keep my legs warm."  That and tights (and -  but you have to promise not to tell anyone - black fluffy Dr. Scholls diabetes anklets which is a keep-your-wet-feet-warm trick I learned from my 60-year-old friend who goes on walking adventures around the world.  They fit beneath even snug boots and no one - except you now - the wiser.)


Lisa B. said...

I am afraid that all I can do here is admire you. I am a slug of the first order, and the only thing that gets me out the door in winter is my dog. Especially if I've lost momentum because of the sick. Yes, let's blame it on the sick. You are intrepid and awesome.

Mrs. Organic said...

I feel as though I've had a nice exchange of oxygen just reading this post. I've been sitting indoors recovering and knitting away.

Dottie said...

Great story. I like your deluxe weather protection system :)

The dialogue is funny and familiar.

Ride on!

Related Posts