Tuesday, August 2, 2016

The Doll and the Tempest

Someone designed this, made this, sold this, bought this, discarded this: minds at work, and play

Near the end of the work day on Tuesday, the sky grew dark, lightning flashed, and thunder rolled. A coworker glanced outside, and told me that she hoped I had rain gear for the ride home. I laughed, and said yeah, it's August in Phoenix, I think I'll wear skin. 

I hit the street and the sprinkles grew into a steady rain. When I hit the canal path, the drops were heavier, but not remarkable. As the wind picked up, I started shouting to God, to the universe, to the four winds, is that all you got? This isn't even really rain, doesn't count, these pitiful drops, couldn't you do better?

Then the tempest came. A purple eye on the radar map. Winds in my face, clouds opened up the faucets, streets filling fast with running water. The visor on my helmet really helps keep the rain out of my eyes, but if was falling fast and furious and obscuring my sight. Yeah, now that's more like it. One afternoon it's 110°F and kind of oppressive to ride in the shimmering heat, like this:

It was 110° another day, I was kind of stuck in traffic momentarily, and the shimmering heat caught my attention

Then the next afternoon, I'm daring the weather to rain, really rain, and it comes through, and just nails the city with a deluge. I've seen more intense rain at commute time, but I think today was the most water I've ever seen in all the streets, the whole way. It was deep enough that drivers were concerned about drowning me in their wakes. The nice woman in the pickup who slowed next to me, rolled down her window, and yelled through the gale to ask if I needed a ride was sweet. But no, this is kind of my favorite thing, a drenching, refreshing, hard rain in August in Phoenix.

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again. -from The Tempest

Commuting by bicycle in a hard, driving rain is a good workout. My old steel mountain bike with skinny tires and fenders plowed the waters effectively, and my water-resistant cotton duck Carradice Bike Bureau pannier did its job admirably.

I've been feeling down, doobie do down down, lately. The odd doll torso in the street, and the shouting at the rain and the drenching tempest ride, cheered me some. This is indicative, I think, of the need for even more time on the bike. Or bikes. I'm hatching plans for more early morning mountain bike rides on Shimmer, my new full suspension bike. I'm also planning some uphill (or up-mountain? Shall we debate if Camelback really qualifies as a mountain?) diversion rides on my commute home to try to improve my hill-climbing abilities, which suck badly, for mountain bike riding purposes, since it seems that riding up steep places is more or less inevitable in that mode. The more surreal scenes in my bike lane, the more fresh air, the more drenching rain storms I get to feel on my skin in August, the more rocky trails I blast down at potentially unsafe speeds, the better for getting rid of the down doobie do down down feelings. At least I hope so.


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