Deciding to Ride on a Squally Spring Day
With grey gloominess clouding my bicycle mirror, I venture forth,
Garage to driveway to street and, with the clattering clip in, climb my hill
And crest at the crossroads, glancing back at a maritime spring’s cantankerous sky.
Bundled, wrapped tightly in unimaginable fabrics, helmeted, booted, gloved,
Protectively steeled, behind windproof shades, I gaze aloft,
One question on my mind: will you cry, sky?
Too late, doesn’t matter, wheels are turning, places to go, must get away,
Wake myself from midday stupor, slip silently, self-propelling along the lanes.
And cheat the weather gods, while I’m at it.
Six blocks, no more, and the chill breeze gets a wet smattering
Kiss from the clouds, a moist meeting, with me spinning alone in the way.
It becomes a shiny sheen on the street below my wheels, beneath the fine layer of gravel
That I am dodging, looking for the glint of metal or glass.
One mile, and wet kisses become slobbering dog licks to turn away from,
Overeager hounds that relish a dawdling walk in any weather
To stick their snoots in the air and read the breeze,
Lapping my face like a slap to attention, like a brisk wake-up yank on the leash.
Drizzle easily wiped from the lenses becomes showers sending drips down the bill
Of my protective old Gore-tex-wrapped hat
That shields my eyes from the worst of the wet.
Two miles, my outer shell lays down against the skin, and the coldness
Begins to seep in, as water will find its way
Around the loosely sealed seams, between the layers,
At the joints and wherever two high-tech fabrics meet.
My stalwart, steering hands feel the wet with every flex
To shift, to brake, to squeegee off a lens.
Saturated gloves encase my stiffening fingers in their matching wet suits.
Oh, for my Cascade ski mitts with their wiper-blade-embedded thumb!
But by mile five—or is it ten?—the stiffness starts to give way
To an internal ambient temperature change, a response from within.
Puffs of exhaust from my windpipe echo the tailpipes of the snorting, kicking
Vehicles whizzing by, each with a resounding gush:
‘My kid’s an honor student’—splash! ‘I’d rather be skiing’—splash!
Even the girl on the mudflaps can’t contain her gurgling laughter—splash!
Rain churns up through my mini tire tread, propelled forward from the fender’s front,
Deposited again under my wheels to again be rotated up.
If not for fenders, it would be in my face, fanning out over the handlebars,
And rippling up my back to leave a skunk’s stripe on my slick yellow rain jacket.
If not for the rain, if not for the spitting, squally early spring day,
This ride would be a downhill spin in top gear,
A somnambulous solo sojurn of no contest,
And really, what’s the fun in that?