This morning I headed out early and stayed just ahead of the second round of thunderstorms to hit our area. Last night tornadoes ravaged sections of the country a few hours south of us. Locally, we were fortunate to avoid the brunt of the weather system, but the winds still dropped quite a lot of debris onto the path. In fact, there seemed to be sticks and seeds and leaves of all sorts, along with a crust of tiny, brittle stuff that led to a constant sound of crunching as my tires rolled forward. I paused briefly about 5 miles on because my legs were itching. Sweeping a gloved hand up and down my shin, I noticed that I was brushing away loads of miniscule flying bugs of some sort or another, the hairs on my legs substituting as an air filter that was swooping them up as I rode along the trail.
My 1971 Raleigh International does a better than passably fair job as a leisurely path rider. Having changed the drive train to a three-speed internally geared hub seems to have re-purposed the bike from a sports touring model to a neighborhood rider – with the capability to extend the range well beyond the neighborhood.
Which is pretty much what this morning’s journey has turned into. The path I ride is paved, with plenty of ups and downs – but nothing terribly challenging. It loops around through the woods, with quaintly wooden bridges crossing equally quaint brooks that feed into a small but quaint looking lake. Side paths on this day are far too muddy to consider attempting, but under different conditions I could venture up the narrow footpaths and wander through the trees. Some of them exit the woods in a meadow near a few nineteenth century buildings: an old one-room schoolhouse, a woolen mill, and other such fare.
There’s a picnic shelter ahead, and that’s quite convenient because the brilliant morning has suddenly clouded back over again, the winds are whipping across the lake, and I can see a wall of rain on the other side, blue against the fresh green foliage – and it’s heading my way alarmingly fast. Ducking under the shelter, I take cover as huge rain drops pound on the roof above me.
I’ve been caught by rain at this lake before, and the last time Mother Nature drenched me about a mile before I could reach shelter. I remember the day well: I watched the system roll in from the east – unusual for us because it normally comes from the opposite direction. This particular trail had been my destination then also, and the journey had taken me a few more miles than I’d anticipated because one of the country roads I’d followed was blocked off for construction. Having to turn back and find a different route left me knowing I’d be caught in the rain; it was just a matter of when, and how long I’d have to ride in the downpour. Today, I’d managed to elude the deluge!
The storm passed, as they are wont to do. And I ventured forth once again, thankful for fenders that allowed me to traverse roads and trails bathed in puddles.
It’s really quite a nice day.