The sun break arrived carving a huge blue hole in the sky, warm rays easing the temperature up near 60 while the late summer winds howled with a brisk bite of seasons changing.
When I see a chance, I take it, always listening to my inner Steve Winwood. I jumped on my bike and hit the road, my eye always on the ever-changing Oregon weather.
Keeping my enthusiasm in check is critical in these instances. Enjoy the ride, but don’t get carried away, least I find myself too far from home when Mother Nature decides to dump on me.
So nearly an hour into a great ride through the Baskett Slough, I paused at a crossroads to determine my fate. Storm clouds looked particularly nasty to the north, but still far off. The wind at my back from the southwest boosted my confidence I had nothing to worry about.
I hit another gravel road surrounded by vineyards and Hazelnut groves, and pushed on, farther from home, rather than heading back.
No sooner did I hit gravel than a marble size raindrop pummeled me. Suddenly the wind spun around and in a matter of moments, not minutes, that storm to the north swallowed me whole.
The stinging rain felt like hail, which it typically does when it’s hitting you from a sideways approach, the wind wailing at full force.
Just a half mile ahead I could turn south, and maybe outrace the storm heading toward the light. That’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
It takes just a minute or so for you to get soaked, so the idea of staying dry left the building with Elvis.
Still, my instinct remains to limit the impact since it just might be like this all the way home. That is, for the next hour or so. That means cranking it up. Just as I did, the cellphone rings.
I don’t answer, of course, more concerned with potential hypothermia as the temperature has plummeted. Then I figure I better check. No voicemail, instead a followup text. It’s a substitute teaching assignment for tomorrow. I need to act now.
That’s when weather becomes, well, irrelevant. In the middle of a raging downpour, I’m texting back and forth nailing down an assignment in-between wiping the water off my phone and attempting to dry my fingers so as the phone responds to my commands.
By the time this is finished I’ve entered the endure zone. Where my mind has accepted it is what it is.
I’m an idiot.
But I’m riding my bike and really, as a smile slips across my cold, slimy face, I can’t think of anywhere else I would rather be — including at my kitchen table with a hot mug.
So it is with Northwest rain, much the way we accepted snow in winter and thunderstorms in summer growing up in Wisconsin. Once you get that taste of the season, acceptance is simple. Resistance is futile.
Ah, but that first encounter this year a few days earlier. Let me tell you about that.
I’m headed home, hoping to beat a storm front slipping over the Coast Range. I can barely see the ridge tops through a blur of rain headed my way. Reality hits and it’s really about limiting my losses.
I just have to make it past this one short section on the highway where it narrows and the bike lane is just a foot or so wide. Not a great place to ride with limited vision for drivers from pouring rain. Too dangerous for my blood.
Just as I approach the section, I literally see this wall of water coming down the road, as if I were driving into a car wash.
No choice but to stop and hide under a huge Oak tree for the next 25 minutes. Eventually soaked when the sun pokes out, I make it home, ready for the next rain because, hey, I live in the Northwest.
Time to ride.