I’ve mentioned in previous posts but not in quite a while that one of the things I really like about riding a bike is that I am an active part of the environment around me, that I am out in the elements. But even more than that, when I’m on a bike I see things that I really do not think would be possible if I were in a car. Today was a good example, but I’m getting ahead of myself as I sometimes do. I first have to preface this brief story by saying that being a cyclist (and I know that I am not the only one thinking in these terms) makes me keenly aware of the weather before I leave my house. The past two days, for example, have been really weird weather…autumnal-like temperatures (I have my wood stove burning as I type these words) and a near constant fluctuation of rain (sometimes light and other times crazy downpours), blinding hail, and sun. So as I was about to leave the house earlier this evening I see that it is hailing and raining at the same time, so I waited about 10 minutes and it stopped. Then, as I began my short ride to the health club, the sun came out and the pavement beneath me began to steam (from the cold hail, I suppose). Everything was covered in a light steam about six inches deep. At one point when I stopped for a traffic light and put my foot down fog-like steam swirled around my foot and tires. It was like being on a movie set (unfortunately I didn’t have a camera on me for fear of it getting wet). When I came out of the health club an hour later I could see that I must’ve just missed another hail/rain storm (my bike and the ground were covered in tiny pellets). But now the sun was shining brightly and everything had small droplets attached to it. When I arrived home I snapped a few photos in my front yard and a neighbor’s; it was as if things were illuminated. From now on when someone asks me why I choose to ride a bike I think I’ll answer simply, “So I can see things.”
When I left work today cold air was blowing out some of the warmer air we had yesterday, creating some fog. As I rode home I could see the top of our city hall shrouded in fog and thought it would make an interesting photo. So after stopping home I rode downtown. But by the time I arrived most of the fog had lifted and it had given way to a rather heavy rain, but I thought I’d still take a couple shots. I had my camera bag wrapped in plastic, and I walked the bike under a tree for cover from the rain to get a camera out (it was unsuccessful…I still got wet, but protected the camera–mostly–by holding it in my jacket. Anyhow, as I was wrestling with the plastic bag I glanced up in the tree and there–just a few yards from me–was the bird you see in the below photo. It seemed to be posing for me. That was the real prize. I snapped a few shots of it before it flew away. It made the short ride in a heavy rain worth it.
On the bike…two bottles of red wine and a gym bag containing wet clothes.
The views…directly below is a view of Allen and Elmwood, an intersection I usually cross multiple times a day. It was/is cold and wet. Not freezing cold, but halfway freezing. The temp is just above freezing and it has been sort of snow-slush-raining for most of the evening. I was glad I didn’t have too far to travel in it. Below is an image I took as I approached my house…just raised the camera skyward and snapped a shot with the flash on to capture the big heavy flakes.
What a difference a few hours can make. The above photo is looking skyward to beautiful clear skies, and the below is earthbound in torrential rain. The top photo I took this morning on my way to work. I was about to enter another busy day and stopped for a moment and straddled my bike to take a few deep breathes while looking skyward. And this evening, on my way home from the gym, I got caught in a heavy downpour. It was one of those rains where rather than trying to duck out of it (I was on a bike after all) it is easier to simply surrender to it. And at one point I stopped to snap a couple photos of the reflections of color in the wet street.
I took these photos just out my front door as I left for work today…droplets and small pools of rain rolling off two Brussels sprout plants in my front yard. It was raining pretty hard and it has rained all day; according to the weather forecast it is supposed to rain for the next four or five days. I’ve mentioned multiple times in the past that I have been car-lite for years and car-free for just a few months (six, to be exact). So hopping in a vehicle is no longer an option in foul weather. But so far I have not minded it (for short distances). If I arrive at work totally soaked there is a dryer in the basement where I can dry my clothes. And for longer trips I can use a car share or take a bus. And in certain instances, such as tomorrow morning when I will not want to be totally soaked when I sit in a pew at church, I’ll actually bring a change of clothes in a plastic bag on the bike and change when I arrive (if necessary); I’ve done this before. I’ve also said in the past how when you are on bike or on foot it makes one more keenly aware of the weather; I still believe this to be true. It also makes me more appreciative of it…yes, I like “nice” weather like the next person but I also like all of her facets. And this is what I was thinking as I stood for a few moments in the pouring rain snapping these photos, just before I hopped on my bike and pedaled the short distance to work.
I was in NYC over the weekend when I shot these photos. I was walking back to my room after having a couple beers at the Back Fence. It was raining and I cut through the park…sometimes it feels so good to walk in the rain. Walking through places like this gives me such a sense of history…of all the people–famous and not–who have walked the very ground where my feet fell. For me it has a bit of personal history as well; albeit rather minor or brief. In my college days we–friends and I–would make nearly weekend pilgrimages to NYC and would most often end up in Washington Square Park…we were poor and it was much cheaper to pass a bottle in the park and people-watch than it was to go to a bar. I can’t remember if I shared this story or not on this blog, but on July 4th, 1986 we shared a bottle with a guy who claimed to be Jaco Pastorius. I remember the date specifically because it was the Fourth of July and also because this guy jumped up on a short wall (on which we were sitting) and played the Star Spangled Banner Jimi Hendrix Style, except it was on an electric bass. In person, the guy was drunk, likely high on drugs, and super-obnoxious (which sounds about right) but he played the bass lucidly and incredibly beautifully. But that’s not what I was remembering or thinking as I took a short-cut through the park on my way back to my room while the cold rain pelted me. As I walked I was taken by how timeless the park looked and felt at night and in the rain. If not for the passing cars and lights it could have just as easily have been 1912 as it was 2012. The only camera I had with me was my little Sony Cyber-Shot point-and-shoot, so that’s what I used. And that too–I think–helped capture the moment. Click any photo for a slightly larger view.
I snapped three of these photos in my garden as I left the house this morning for work, and the other (the bottom one) after arriving home, after things had dried up a bit. I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion this summer about the lack of rain in Western New York…it rained something like twice the entire summer thus far, and only briefly. It was the same last winter. Other than a week or so of snowy weather it was mostly snow free…and I am talking about Buffalo, NY where we are known for our incredible snowfalls. It is all pretty weird, I have to say. Anyhow, at long last it rained yesterday, and for a good portion of the day. Normally I try to avoid the rain while on a bike but not yesterday; I relished it…it felt so good to be out in it as it washed over me on a hot and humid day. I forgot–and too it for granted–how beautiful it is and what a gift rain is.
Well it finally rained today. A crazy heavy downpour with thunder and lightening. I stood on the porch and watched it for a while. It lasted only about an hour. The rain is so infrequent this summer it seemed really special. I wished it would rain all day. It’s not very often I hope for rain (my least favorite element to ride a bike in) but geeze o’ man did we need it. Anyhow, after it stopped I went out to the garden to pick food for dinner. Everything had that strange misty hue that only happens after a heavy downpour on a hot and humid day. I grabbed a camera and snapped a few photos and thought I’d share. Click for a larger view.
Well, first of all, while I’m not entirely car-free yet, I don’t specifically have one to drive. What I mean by this is that my truck is officially off the road (no longer legal as the inspection has not been renewed) and is sitting in the driveway of my son’s mom’s house, but I still own it. It’s also officially for sale. If you want to see it or it’s description, here’s the sale page.
Interestingly, while I was getting information together in order to sell it I noticed that since I purchased it about 3 years ago I only drove it about 8000 miles (2666 miles a year)…according to the US Department of Transportation at this page, the “average male” in my age group drives about 18,858 miles a year…I’ve never been one to be average.
But with that said…
Today, being Monday, is one of the two days a week I would move the truck from one side of the street to the other lest I receive a parking ticket. And today it was also raining…hard. I wanted to go to the health club–which I did–but I have to be honest in that if the truck was there and I had to get in it anyhow I likely would have driven to the health club. But it wasn’t there. And I still went. And I didn’t melt.
This is just a test.
These photos were taken over the past couple weeks…definitely not the last couple days. The reason I say this is the past couple days we have been experiencing the outer edges and remnants of a Nor’easter that has really pummeled much of the east coast. We (Western New York) were lucky in that we’ve only experience cold, rain, sleet, and snow…but it’s the dreariness that gets me; cold, wet, and dark for days at a time. Anyhow, these photos were obviously taken during sunnier times–and they’ll come again, likely sooner than later–but for now I think they are nice to look at, and I thought I’d share them.
Today–as the title of this post stated–was cold and wet. Not the dangerous frigid cold you get in mid-winter, but that bone-chilling wet-cold that can only come in the spring. And it’s been sort of snowing and raining for the better part of the day. Anyhow, I mentioned in a previous post how dismayed I have been at the continual money pit of car ownership (and that my pickup has to be repaired before it passes inspection by the end of the month), and that I have been considering finally selling the truck and going car-free…at least as a test run. Interestingly, in my mind I already am car-free…well today was a test. Sure riding a bike is fun when it’s nice out…but it’s not always nice out. Rain is my least favorite element to ride in. But still I rode my bike in the snow/rain the short distance to-and-from work today, and this evening I wanted to go to the health club and by this time it was coming down pretty hard. While my truck is still “legal,” it’s really not safe until it gets repaired. So I had two choices: I could stay home or I could ride in the rain. I chose the latter, and you know what…I didn’t melt. But I have to admit that the steam room at the health club felt extra good today, as does the heat from the wood stove as I type these words. Small steps, that’s how it’s done.
It’s been raining, sleeting, and hailing for most of the day today. Maybe that’s why these flowers caught my eye…their bright colors in the midst of a drab and grey day. Beautiful aren’t they. I took a couple of these this morning as I left my house for work, and a few more on my way home during a minor hail storm. The one above I find especially incredible…so red and juicy it almost looks like raw meat. As usual, click any for a larger view.
I had a crazy chaotic day at work today…just one of those days. Busy all day. And when I left at around 4pm I was surprised to see that it was raining…a light but steady mist. It looked almost like fog. And after rushing around a kitchen all morning and afternoon it felt good to be outside; the mist felt good on my face. I am blessed in that the place that I work–while not the perfect job (but what job is)–is located in a beautiful century-old building and has a lovely walled-in garden just outside the back door. Anyhow, when I came out of the door–rather than hop on my bike right away–I looked at the things around me…needed a few minutes to decompress. Here’s a few things I saw.
It seemed quiet on the streets tonight; maybe I was just imagining it. It was also raining…not heavy, just a light drizzle; slightly heavier than a mist…a drizzle. It was also a typical autumn evening…cool and damp; I could smell wood smoke in the air as I pedaled. And as I pedaled and coasted I reveled in the silence of my bike (except for a small squeak which I’ve yet to locate its origin). It brought to mind a quote by Gertude Stein I remember reading but can’t remember exactly where; it may have been in her book, The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas, but I’m not sure. Anyhow, she was reminiscing about Paris prior to the automobile and one of the things that was different, she said (and I’m paraphrasing profusely) was how quite the city was. And that’s what I thought about as I silently pedaled and coasted home tonight in the slight drizzle of a crisp autumn evening. I love the rain–especially when I hear it while I’m lying in bed–but I generally do not like to ride a bike in it. Though there are exceptions…I don’t mind getting caught in a downpour on a hot summer’s day, for example. Or when I mostly coast home on a crisp fall evening in a drizzle. Sometimes when it rains and your on a bike it’s not so bad.
I didn’t intend on this, it just sort of happened (does that make it even more Zen?). The pool is closed this week for yearly maintenance (swimming is my primary exercise, besides biking, of course) and when I don’t get physical exercise on a semi-daily basis I start feeling antsy and annoyed (and I’m likely annoying to be around). I had planned on going for a power ride (ie, fast) on the Mundo purely for aerobic exercise, and being out of work early today thought I’d fit in a quick yoga/meditation session. Anyhow, when I originally left work it was beautiful and sunny (the reason I thought of the bike ride), but after my meditation session it was starting to rain…not hard, just starting. I had a route planned in my head, which I know is about 5 miles, and thought the worst that could happen is I’d get wet…and get wet I did. About 1/2 mile into it the clouds opened up and it came down in buckets. I was already wet so I kept going. It was one of those rare times when being on a bike in the rain (my least favorite element to ride in…I’ll take snow over rain any day) rather than fight it I surrendered to it. Maybe it was that I had just practiced a few basic asanas and followed it with meditation, or that my mantra was still at the forefront of my consciousness…but with the risk of sounding hokey, it was a spiritual experience. A good portion of my ride was along Lasalle Park, which runs along the eastern most edge of Lake Erie. I could see that it was a lake effect storm (regionalized) because while I was being pelted with rain I could see that the sun was splaying out in three directions across the lake. The scene through my rain-soaked eyes was beautiful…rain coming down in sheets but sunshine shimmering behind it as if the rain were a sort of veil. I felt as if I were getting washed far deeper than skin level. And I’ll add this…if you ever want to get a good workout, a true aerobic workout, ride a really heavy bike into a really strong headwind during a really heavy rain storm. You’ll get a workout and you’ll also have no other option but to surrender to it.
This has without question been an odd winter. The temperatures and snow have been fluctuating daily…and somewhat extremely (I think). Yesterday it was frigid, for example, but today it is warm and rainy; tomorrow the temp is supposed to drop again and bring with it more snow. This is something like the third time this winter we’ve repeated this pattern…when you’re on a bike you tend to be more aware of the weather I suppose (rain, incidentally, is my least favorite element to ride in…I’d take snow any day over rain). Anyhow, the rain washed away most of the snow on the streets and I took the Mundo for a short spin tonight. I haven’t been on it for a week or so and whenever this happens it makes me remember why I love that bike so much. Its long wheel base, upright riding position, and heavy weight offer a big cushy ride that I haven’t experienced on another bike.