Even though I’m starting to get into a groove with my early morning rides again, this morning I leapt out of bed with even more sense of purpose than usual. Why? Because “weather” was in the forecast.
I’ve always been a weather junkie and I blame it on my Dad. When I was young he took the family on camping trips to New Hampshire’s White Mountains and on a couple of occasions we drove up to the top of Mount Washington, the home of some of the nastiest and most dangerous weather outside of Antarctica (and yes, you can drive a car to the top of it in the summer). Can’t quite fathom a small 6200ft peak as being a dangerous place? Well neither could the scores of people that underestimated it and died on its slopes over the years (137 fatalities since 1849). Wind is its most prominent feature and gusts have been recorded in excess of 200 mph on its summit (with a maximum of 231 mph). In addition, temperatures routinely reach -40 deg F during the winter. With these sorts of conditions things can go wrong in a hurry for the unprepared.
I was captivated by the alpine environment that exists on its summit and when I lived back East I used to hike and ski on its slopes whenever I could, forever mindful that it was an environment that packed a punch. Come to think of it, I’ve sought out places like it ever since. So now that I live in a place that is more famous for its LACK of weather, whenever I hear that a storm is brewing I try to head out into it. It spices things up for me, and this morning’s ride turned out to be just what I was looking for.
I planned on riding a nice 40 mile loop before work. As I clicked into my pedals lightning flashed in the cloudbanks to my west while the rising sun peaked over the usual clear blue skies above the Santa Ana mountains to my east. My bike and I balanced on the water molecules of the humid air between. The Christmas tree lights of the traffic signals were a nice touch, too. Very festive. They might as well have been signaling a change in the seasons. Fall has finally arrived and I’m ready for it.
I didn’t have my camera with me so these are all cellphone snaps, yet somehow the grainy, indistinct quality of the photos is fitting – they look like watercolors to me. “Indistinct” is also an apt description of our seasons in these parts, too. So frequently is the sky plain, boring blue around here that it’s nice to have some water (and some color) in the atmosphere.
Can you smell the rain? I could even through all of the diesel exhaust that there is along this stretch (it’s near a landfill so there’s a steady stream of trash trucks droning along here). It’s nice how the camera lies sometimes.
Eventually I left the landfill behind and headed up through Santiago Canyon where the water began to fall from the sky. I arrived to work a sodden, smiling mess. This is the first time I’ve ridden in the rain in many months, and I enjoyed every “tires hissing across the pavement, lightning bolt dodging, water filling my shoes” minute of it!