Could be worse. …

August slipped in wearing its gray flannel suit.

Sixty-four degrees at 8 a.m., with a monochromatic sky and a forecast that would have Noah muttering, “Not again,” as he reached wearily for the red phone next to his spyglass and Mae West.

“Hello, San Diego Zoo? Two of everything, please, chop-chop. No, no delivery necessary. I’ll pick ’em up. Just truck ’em up to Hot Springs Mountain and keep a sharp lookout for a real big boat.”

Welcome to August.

It’s not what I expected, frankly. With The Visitation on hiatus and my calendar remarkably free of to-do items I had been pondering a brief escape from the sodden Duke City to air-dry the old brain-case.

Fewer deer, more roses.

But the weather is proving uncooperative, and it seems silly to drive somewhere else to watch it rain when I can do that right here at home.

Especially since travel involves either a cheerless motel room that was no bargain before the daily rent shot into the mid-two-hundies (plus you can’t find one anyway), or pitching a tent in a flaming puddle full of vampire bugs, shape-shifting cooties, and hobos who wish all these slumming hipster dickheads would just dig into their Hilton points and piss off so they could enjoy their mulligan stew and squeeze in peace.

Masque of the Dread Breath

Well, at least we’re back to the face panties again, hey? Some of us, anyway. The checker was not up for casual banter as I hit the Sprouts to replenish the larder, possibly because The Great Remasking seemed to be a few faces short of a full team effort at 9:30 on a gloomy Sunday morning.

I had noted some diamonds on my windshield during the drive to the grocery and was hoping the actual tears from heaven would hold off long enough for me to sneak in a quick ride without fenders or jacket.

Sure, we need the moisture. And no desert dweller should bitch about rain, unless he parks his shopping cart in an arroyo. But I’m just enough of a hipster dickhead to need the ride, too.

With the deer rustling their own grub up in the hills we were getting a rerun of roses in the yard, so, yay. But the murky mornings and low ceilings recalled Corvallis, Oregon, the only place I’ve ever lived without a bicycle.

The clouds sagged all the way down to the ground in that burg. The moist walls of my tiny apartment closed in around me like hungry freegans swarming a Whole Paycheck Dumpster and the firewood steamed before it burned in the cheap tin wood stove.

A neighbor’s ducks loved that climate, quacking contentedly outside my bedroom window. I drank a lot.

Horses for courses

Back home, with the groceries put away, I took another glance at the sky and decided to go for it. I used to race cyclocross, I thought. I’ve covered school-board meetings. I can do anything for an hour.

I felt another drizzle tuning up as I approached the base of the short climb to the tram. So I swung around and headed back south, weaving Tramway and a network of foothills avenues into a rolling 20-miler. It was just the ticket. Smoove like butter and dry as a good martini.

Today — eh, not so much. The rain started before I even left the house.

I thought about taking the day off, but I ride with a small group of graybeards on Mondays and Wednesdays, and had already committed to the meetup. I had a feeling they’d be out in it, and it was unfortunate that I had mentioned my fondness for cyclocross in their presence.

So I left the New Albion Privateer parked and pulled a Steelman Eurocross down from its hook. A cyclocross bike for cyclocross weather. A man must carry on.

Sharp-dressed man

I stuffed a jacket into a jersey pocket to make sure the rain stopped, but it didn’t work. Didn’t matter, either. The rain continued, but never turned into a frog-strangler; it was barely even chilly, though I kept my arm warmers on. The jacket stayed in its pocket.

And yes, the geezers were all there. And yes, the Steelman drew many admiring glances. So yes, I’ve fooled ’em again.

At one point as we took shelter under a tree there was a short discussion about cutting a climb and subsequent descent from the usual route. It ended when one of us (not me) observed, “Well, we’re already wet, so. …”

So on we rode, taking the downs along with the ups.

It made me wonder what I’d been missing by not riding a bicycle in Oregon. I mean, I was gonna get wet anyway.

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19 Responses to “Could be worse. …”

  1. SAO' Says:

    The kiddos chalked up the driveway for a city Fourth of July exhibition slash contest, and just realized that 31 minus 4 days, plus 2 for August, it’s still there, so that’s how long it’s been since it has rained here.

    We did get two days of almost blue skies, so I assumed someone west of us had their fire doused just a little. Now we’re back to trying to see our hand in front of our own face, and we’re all wearing masks, not because of COVID, but because we’re missing the days back when air came in one flavor, original recipe, and extra crunchy wasn’t an option.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I see youse guyses have been enduring the air-quality alerts. I hate that shit. It’s all the way down to Trinidad now. This keeps up much longer, Devil be all like, “C’mon, man, ain’t nobody scared of Hell anymore!”

      • SAO' Says:

        And because the wind blows all four directions at the same time here, doesn’t matter where the fire is, we get part of the smoke.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        I ’member that wind bidness from the glory days, doing the Buckeye Road Race. Every time you turned a corner, fresh headwind.

        A buddy was fighting it with his head down and T-boned a rogue sheep. For years afterward, whenever we saw him we all went, “Baaaaaaaaa.”

  2. JD Says:

    PO’G: Your comment about covering school boards was spot on! Ditto for Homeowner Association Boards too!

    Not being a philosopher or human behaviorist, I’ve often wondered, hypothetically of course, if humans had nothing to worry about or become divisive about, would we invent something? 🙂

    • carl duellman Says:

      have you read the book ‘sapiens’? i guess it all started with agriculture and went downhill from there.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      JD, I feel certain that we hairless apes would find some molehill to turn into a mountain. We just seem to be wired that way.

      • JD Says:

        PO’G: Spot on! I used to jokingly say to my teammates: “It takes unbelievable energy and creativity to turn a molehill into a mountain …. wait for it …. and still make a 10AM tee time!”

        Not b-a-a-a-a-d for a non-golfer, eh? 🙂

    • Pat O’Brien Says:

      As the old Chinese feller said, “ life is really simple, but people insist on making it complicated.” Or, something like that. Since Confucius’s copyright has probably expired, I shouldn’t get a cease and desist letter from his ambulance chaser.
      My smarter half has been on a HOA board for 4 years, with one as President and one as Vice President. I printed out a short timer’s calendar for her. She has 87 and a wake up to go. Old folks can be a real PITA.

  3. Herb from Michigan Says:

    The worstest part about riding in the rain is if you have to wear eyeglasses. Followed by drivetrain cleanup later when you get home. Round these parts if you don’t wipe down your frame as well you might get dried out worms adorning your tubing. I had one stuck to my commuting bike for years. Named him Cheney after well…you know who and why. While the Mitten State doesn’t have forest fires going we still see the haze from you all’s blazes which makes sunrise and sunset off kilter.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Fo’ true. I had to take a break a time or two to wipe the specs with my undershirt. And I really need to consider replacing the chain, cassette, and chainrings on the Eurocross. But issues of availability and cost multiplied by the screeching of Herself (“More bike shit? Really?”) keep that project on the back burner.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        More bike shit? More guitar shit? I’m sorry my dear, but I am a man and attracted by shiny shit. It’s not like it was your only bike, or my only guitar? Riding with a group? Twice a week no less? Good on ya! Sell the Steelman to one of them, and shock Herself good.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Sell the Steelman? No, sir! My man Brent isn’t making any more of ’em, and I’m down to three.

        This is a good group I ride with. I’m the youngun at 67, but you’d never know it. I gotta chase a couple of these old fellas pretty hard on a hill.

  4. Shawn Says:

    Hmmm? I forgot what rain looks like. Is it really as irritating as they say it can sometimes be?

    Hot and muggy up here. About 96F up here now and hazy smoke in the air. I don’t know if the smoke is from the Boot Leg fire down south or from another fire that popped up recently in the area. I’ll have to check out the western states fire map.

    I do recall an issue about August and rain up in Fairbanks, AK. It seemed that every year the Fair came around, the rain would follow. Squish, squish across the wet grass between venues. Almost as fun as riding the wet trails.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      If I have a choice between too much rain and too much fire, I’m liable to lean toward rain. You can always get dry.

      Well, maybe not always, but more often than you can get unburnt.

      The breathing in a moist environment is also greatly improved for us elderly asthmatics, who tend to wheeze on a diet of scorched forest and mobile home.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        The humidity around here is staying around 50 to 60% and higher at night. Good breathing and skin weather for sure. But, with all the rain, the crop of ragweed growing all over town is frightening. When that shit starts blooming, look out buddy.

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