At 3:30 in the afternoon, the sun is poised just above the ridge to the south. A sliver of pale blue sky separates the black ridge below from the bank of gunmetal grey rain clouds above.
By 3:00 I had the beginnings of a headache. Staring at the little laptop screen, concentrating on population numbers, percent poverty, average income, unemployment, business outmigration, business tax revenue, historic trends, had reduced the most powerful CPU ever known to a three pound mass of slightly throbbing gray matter. Work was done whether I continued to stare at the dope scope or not, what was needed was a battery recharge. What better way than a quick spin on the bike. Certainly it is cloudy and chill out but it had not rained (well not what we locals call ‘rain’) all day and if I hustled I could probably get an hour in before dark.
Given the current status of the CPU, it took me longer than normal to find the tights, wool garments, dry gloves, bandanna hankies, head happenings, bottles and various other ‘accoutremon’ necessary to make the next hour a pleasant carefee spin as opposed to an unpleasant hour enduing the elements.
As I prepared to ride away from the house, I looked over my shoulder and saw those pale but reassuring yellow rays filtering through the dark woodlot across the fence. The low sun backlit the trees and I could just make out the cloud bank above and the black ridge below: Perfect day for a ride.
Because I had taken longer than normal to get ready it had started to sprinkle. Not what we call rain but enough to make the rain jacket a better choice than the wool jersey alone. I felt vindicated and slightly hopeful. In this country the weather can get better or worse, but it rarely stays the same for long.
Rolling out of town it was easy to see that the darkest clouds were behind and the sky ahead was a mix of scattered clouds, high overcast, and sun patches. The headwind was pushing the storm into the Cascades. We would get relief but the mountains would get more snow. Shortly the rain stopped and, crossing the Chehalis River a weak rainbow
quickly turned to a bright neon road sign against the roiling storm clouds on the other side of the valley.
permanent within the time limit, it is entirely likely that I’d get dropped early and ride most of the event solo. I don’t mind riding alone, but it is always more pleasant out in the country than in the burbs. I prefer road junctions like this:
I wouldn’t say South Bank road was deserted but the few farm trucks that passed gave me plenty of room and oncoming drivers mostly proffered a neighborly nod. Possibly the countenance of something in the road with multiple little blinking lights, but too, neighborliness certainly plays in: there are a few local cyclists that like this road for its combination of low traffic and pleasant scenery. In one instance a plume of hay chaff spilled from the back of the truck, two full bales, a partial with a pitchfork alongside testimony that folks were coming home from feeding in a field somewhere back down the road. The little kid in the passenger seat peering through the rear window; I see him and wave, he breaks into a toothy grin and waves back enthusiastically, the driver, not looking back but raising a hand with a slight wave of acknowledgement. This is my neighborhood.
Small ponds have formed in the low spots in the fields.
Here and there small flocks of ducks rapidly paddle away as I glide past. Herons are more vigilant and lift off to put more distance between us. As the light fades, the ground fog forms out of nowhere and quickly settles on the fields,
I’ll get back considerably faster. The wind has all but died, and in complete darkness there won’t be any picture taking foolishness. With the air temperature dropping rapidly I will need to keep the pedals turning over to generate warmth. A successful ride by any measure on this winter night.
Even farmers take time to spruce up a bit in the spirt of the season.
(Hey, it's Christmas, I had to include at least one Christmas light shot!)