Jackie Link's Blog

- A blog for no good reason

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Singin' in the rain

I knew no one would show up for the First Sunday ride this morning: it was, if not raining, very wet outside. But I just felt like getting out in it and so I put all my rain gear and my bike in the car and drove down to Burlingame where I started riding in the rain.

And if it wasn't on-the-radar-map rain, it was very, very heavy mist, because my glasses needed windshield wipers and I had a rooster-tail. Every once in a while it would clear up for a few minutes, but it stayed that way for nearly the entire ride.

You know that part of the Gene Kelly number where he's stomping in the puddles, singing in the rain? That's what I feel like every single time I get out in it. Like I'm for sure getting away with something deliciously wicked.

Pedaling along, with just Me, Myself and I for company, I started trying to remember the details of this or that days-long ride in the rain on my travel adventures.

I thought about my very first bike touring experience in early May 1984. I'd gone into the VVV in Amsterdam and within ten minutes they'd set me up with a self-supported bicycle tour, with vouchers for various hotels and meals, and directions that I swear were translated from the Dutch to English by Japanese---they made almost no sense.

Every day it rained and every day I'd be lost on some bike trail, too early in the season for the signposts in the shape of cement mushrooms to have been repainted, in a country so flat that there were no visible landmarks and no sun shadow to tell directions, and I'd laugh because I knew I would eventually run into a train station or a village and sort myself out.

Oh but it was so cold. I'd bought a Dutch rainsuit in Arnhem, but I finally shoved newspapers under my sweater to stay warm. Sometimes I'd come across a working windmill, grinding grains, and be given a tour inside. Every village had something happening, like a noon-time organ concert, always Bach, in the open church, or a farmers' market, or people sitting out with their coffee and paper in the brief break between rains. I paid extra for a 3-speed rental bike; on the last day I went up over a highway overpass and finally used a lower gear. Every day I'd say to myself, it's only fresh water (those were my sailing years; salt water is so much harder to deal with!).

And I was hooked. The next time I had my own bike and my own maps. It's all good, rain or shine.

Well, it was a good ride this morning, but afterwards I had all my wet stuff to hang up after a warm shower. And no matter how good your rain gear is, you will be wet inside it. Warm wet. Cozy wet.

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