Yesterday I had to bike to two different places: leaving work in Stoneham/Woburn a bit early, I had to pick something up at a store in Burlington, then ride down to Cambridge for an evening activity.
Yesterday’s forecast: 30% change of an afternoon thunderstorm, with up to a tenth of an inch of rain possible. A pretty good storm rolled through during the day, but things cleared up a bit… Until I left for Burlington. At that point, 17% of the fresh water on planet Earth landed in Middlesex county. I was soaked to the bone within 30 seconds, and from there on, additional soaking just didn’t matter. The National Weather Service was off by considerably more than an order of magnitude.
Anyplace where the road was flat, the water accumulated in four inch deep pools that spanned the entire road surface. Cars on the other side of the street threw up 15 foot roostertails that hit me in the face and chest like a water canon. Some roads only had one passable lane, and cops stood by and signaled road closures.
Where there was a hill, the water poured down it like a mountain river. Every side street and driveway had a tributary torrent that poured out of it to join the rapids that flowed down the breadth of the roadway. I pedaled upstream like a salmon. Perhaps that cliche about fish needing bicycles isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds.
My front tire, of course, threw a lot of water up onto me, and by the time I reached Cambridge I was completely encrusted with road dirt and grime. Every few kilometers I had to take a swig of Gatorade and spit it out in order to wash the gravel out of my mouth.
Fortunately, it wasn’t cold, or that afternoon’s 15 mile ride would have been a recipe for hypothermia.
The bike—my old hybrid, of course—didn’t fare any better. By the end of the ride, constant horrible gravel-on-metal noises were coming from my bottom bracket.
You’d think all that would be a formula for misery, and the first few minutes were annoying. But after a certain point, it was just something to do, and an experience that was, in a strange way, superlative. It certainly was memorable, and perhaps an interesting enough story to make it worth sharing with you.