Over the weekend I attempted to work in a quick ride in between thunderstorms:
As I rode, I tried not to think about all the ticks hitching rides on my feet. (And no, that’s not a tick, that’s a mole. Sorry.) I also tried to will away the clouds gathering in the distance. However, as I guided my neon-hued bicycle onto the dirt trail that runs along the mighty Hudson, I could no longer ignore the inky blackness roiling over the prehistoric rock face of the New Jersey Palisades across the river like the fear-induced sploodge of some giant celestial octopus.
Had I turned around at this point I might have made it home before the storm hit, yet foolishly I pressed on as the trees flailed violently in the gusting winds:
I now realized that I had mere moments to find and take shelter, and I experienced the same sense of ominous urgency that you do when your stomach starts churning and you know you must strike out immediately for the nearest toilet…or else. In such situations you do not have the luxury of being picky; if the toilet is filthy you must lay several layers of toilet paper upon the seat and hope for the best, and if the storm shelter was once the site of ritualistic sacrifices and all manner of nefarious goings-on in the name of Satan then so be it:
By the time I opened the
creaky newly refurbished gate the raindrops were hitting me like water balloons:
Hoisting my bike, I ran up the stairs, away from the tempest and towards my fate:
Diabolically, the structure lacked a roof, presumably to facilitate demonic ingress and egress:
Still, it shielded me from the worst of the wind and the rain, and I took in the sinister graffiti and delightful plantings while waiting for the opening riff of “Black Sabbath” to kick in:
The rumbling of thunder was portentious and incessant, and the rain fell with a relentless monsoon-like intensity, which caused me to wonder just how long I’d be stuck here:
But then I thought about the birds and rodents and deer and other unseen creatures waiting out the storm alongside me, and how such interludes are part of the rhythm of life. It was a lot like the time I got blocked in by double-parkers at a mosque; sometimes the Universe calls time out, and instead of getting all flustered and impatient you’ve got to take the opportunity to regroup and reflect and re-center yourself before returning to the game.
Untermyer Gardens is a beautiful spot easily reached by bike, and it’s cheap and lazy of me to play up its more macabre aspects, though there’s no getting around the strange markings:
And the little nooks where you half-expect to find goblins tending to their toenails:
And the scowling gargoyles or whatever that is peeking out at you from the crannies and nooks:
Eventually the rain did start to ease up, and when the birds finally started singing again I knew I could prepare for departure:
Now able to explore my surroundings, I discovered that there was in fact a spot with a roof:
Though I’d have enjoyed this interlude far less if I’d spent it in a subterranean death grotto:
By now it was still raining, but it was the sort of rain that welcomes and cools you you rather than forces you to seek shelter from it, so I alighted from my redoubt and resumed my ride:
I mostly don’t mean it when I malign Zwift and the cult of riding inside (in fact I’m something of a Peloton apologist), but I do think that if you love cycling for cycling’s sake that in hiding from the weather there is the risk of sacrificing the opportunity for reflection upon the Altar of Fitness. Riding in the rain can be quite pleasant. All it takes is fenders, and a little patience.