How bad can it be?
I was sitting at the bar eating my customary Chicken Cobb salad, sipping on an Adirondack Bare Naked Ale and checking my Facebook feed every now and again. The bartender was busier than usual so there wasn’t much chitchat going on between her and the patrons.
By the way the bartender greeted him when he sat down, it was obvious she knew him. He moved over closer to me and she made a comment about how it was weird that he sat at the end of the bar first. She was more comfortable with him being on the side where he was now.
He kept looking over his shoulder. Finally, he made a remark about the ominous looking clouds so I turned around and took a look. It appeared as if the end times had arrived. The clouds were thick and black and low to the ground. A storm was brewing. And I had nothing but a motorcycle with an open face helmet for the ride home.
A woman, I assumed his wife or girlfriend, came in and sat down between us. They talked a bit about the oncoming deluge. She handed me her phone with a weather applet running and commented that it looked like it was going to just miss us. He said “I hope you’re not heading north.” The radar screen was filled with those yellow and orange blobs that indicate significant storm activity. They were indeed slightly to the north. Exactly where I needed to go to get home.
I couldn’t quite decide if I should stay and have another beer in the hopes it would blow past or just leave and pray it would miss us altogether. I reasoned, it’s only eight miles, I can handle anything for that short a distance. I stayed. It turned out that it wasn’t the best decision I might have made.
I finished my beer and stacked the empty dishes together. I paid my bill with the little kiosk on the bar in front of me and got up to leave. I walked out the door and looked around. Things looked better. It was still gray but most of the ominous looking clouds had moved off to the east. I felt pretty good about my chances. I mounted up, put my helmet on and switched to my regular glasses as it was a little too dark for the sunglasses.
I started the bike and did the usual little maze through the parking lots and back roads around the business park to get out to Route 50. I took the left at the light and started north. In front of me and to the left was a big thunderhead that was obviously dumping its payload. I hoped I could outrun it. I had about three miles to go before I would turn east. I’d be traveling in the same direction as the storm but if I could get there first, I might just make it home.
I made it about a mile and a half before the first needles of rain started hitting my face and biting through the t-shirt I was wearing. I twisted the throttle and went faster. I made the right turn onto King Road and opened it up as quickly as I could. But I wasn’t outrunning anything. I pulled over and put on my leather jacket.
The next four and half miles filled my boots and soaked through my gauntlets. Even my underwear didn’t escape the onslaught. I was tucked right down on the tank to keep my face behind the little windshield. I couldn’t see very well but I could make out the center line on the road and the white line to my right. I just prayed that no deer would jump in front of me. When things got difficult I’d peek over the windshield and my face would be assaulted by needles of pain from the rain droplets hitting me.
As I neared the top of Bacon Hill the lightning was striking off in the distance on both sides of the road. Another bolt flashed directly in front of me across the valley on the far side of the Hudson River. And as a final little incentive, just before I got home, I saw two bolts strike somewhere on the island between my apartment and the river itself. I’d guess less than a quarter mile away from me.
I pulled into the driveway, quickly rode bike up onto the porch to get out of the rain and dismounted. The water was squishing around in my boots. I took them off and dumped the water out. I went in, shut the door behind me and took off every stitch of clothing I was wearing. I was drenched to the skin. Even the leather jacket had soaked through.
So, how bad can it be? Well, I’ll just say this, I don’t wish a repeat performance any time soon. But, I am alive and my clothes are all dried out now. It’s highly likely I’ll still go without the damn full face helmet. So I didn’t really learn anything.
Funny, now that I think about it, there’s a theme that seems to run through my love life too. There’s gotta be a story somewhere in there about that……
Thank you for reading.