Friday, April 11, 2008

Yesterday's Ride is in My Top 5

Top 5 worst experiences on a bike ever, that is. The forecast went out the window. The morning commute was dry and beautiful by upper midwestern standards for March. For the afternoon, I was thinking snow would move in. What actually happened was rain followed by snow. When I left work at 3:50pm it was raining, as in downpouring rain with just a few flakes of snow mixed in. I had not packed a rain jacket. I had a nylon vest and a windbreaker. I layered those together.

Pushing off into the precip was an adventure. I quickly discovered the rain wanted to switch fully over to snow, but the residual temperature wasn't letting it. The strong NE wind didn't help (as I had to ride north and east to get home). A mile into my ride I was soaked. Now the ride home might not have been so miserable had I not needed to make a stop at the Richfield government center to file my application for a passport. I pulled up just over halfway through my ride. I immediately went to the restroom to wring out my gloves and hat, and to remove my soaked outerwear. Still, my jersey was saturated, particularly in my sleeves. I took a number and waited 15 minutes to be called. All the while I was dripping onto the floor, trying to avoid soaking my documents.

After half an hour pause in my riding, that errand was over. I am now completely at the mercy of the Dept of Homeland Security. (I feel much safer just typing that.) I went back to the bathroom to layer on my wet garb. A couple of deep breaths and I walked out the door to unlock my bike and ride the remaining 5 miles.

Suffice it to say, I didn't rebuild body heat until I had nearly reached home. Completely water-logged gloves and shoes were a challenge. The icy snow pellets, driven by the wind, felt as if they might cut into my face. Turns east made me face a wind that nearly stopped me in my tracks. I tried to head east on my block, but the wind forcefully persuaded me to go north instead. I turned around on the sidewalk, pulled into port, off-loaded my cargo, stowed my bike and headed to the hot shower with a cold beer.

Later I fed Willa from her first ever bottle. April was getting Sylvia to bed. While rocking Willa I heard sirens, then more sirens on our block. It turns out a house was burning just a few doors down. Needless to say, this provided a distraction for an already distraction-prone 2-year-old Sylvia. I don't think anyone was hurt, but it was an intense drama through our side window.

I immediately thought my ride home sucked, but it's nothing compared to what those homeowners are going through.

The icy snow continued to fall, but today it didn't produce much. On the way home I rode up the alley to the burned-out house. Our family's house burned when I was 7 years old. I realized several years ago I've never gotten over that fear and I don't think I ever fully will.

Sylvia's had this thing lately before bed. She wants to go outside and say goodnight to the sky, moon, stars, trees, etc. Tonight she wanted to walk up the alley and say goodnight to the fire that burned the house. We donned jackets and hats and I carried her there. It was eerie, but I played a good dad -- confident and resolute. Still, I was happy when she said she was ready to go back home and get ready for bed. I was eager to retreat to the comfort and warmth of our home.

Be safe, friends.

1 comment:

Snakebite said...

I had the exact same commute on Thursday after work - less the stop for passport stuff. I did pack a raincoat, though. I was soaked from the waist down. Yuck.