Thursday, June 26, 2014

Riding the Storm

Last night, after wrapping up a meeting at my church, it was time to go home.

But the wind was howling, the branches lashing about, and the flags on the house across the street snapped angry and horizontal.   The rain came, fat and fierce, a summer storm in the South.  It passed,  and I went out to the bike to head home.

I could see, looking to the southwest in the early summer twilight, that there was more coming.  In my path, the clouds were dark and towering and alive with lightning.  I geared up, put on my overgloves, threw a leg over the Suzuki, and rode towards the storm.

It started hitting hard as I reached the sprawling mansions of Potomac.  Rain in sheets, heavy and relentless.  The water streamed across the road in torrents, impromptu rivers and streams, splashing up in fountains cast by my excellent off road tires, against my legs, cascading down my waterproof boots.

Ahead of me, the cars slowed to a crawl, struggling to see, their wipers flailing wildly.  I have no wiper on my helmet visor.  Just a small blade, embedded in the thumb of my left over glove.  I wiped, but the rain was too intense.  It spattered past my visor, cracked to prevent fogging, and the taste of fresh summer rain filled my mouth.  It was warm and pleasant, the flavor of a water park on a hot day.

I followed the lights of the car ahead, half-seeing, my world a moist, incoherent blur.

Ahead was the highway, the Beltway.  I pulled onto eight lanes of open road, as the cars around me struggled with the downpour, the darkness, and the blinding rain.  And I got to the far left, and I opened it up.  The Suzuki snarled forward on her eager little engine.

Because I have ridden for a lifetime, I knew the reason I could not see the road ahead: I was moving too slowly.   I forced my way into the storm, and the wind of my progress drove the water from before my eyes.

The visor cleared, the beaded rain streaming away.  I could see again.

I pulled onto the high occupancy toll lanes, empty but for myself.

The road home was clear, and I rode on into the rain, as the lightning danced all around like fireworks.