It's been raining on the front range for an eternity. Our dirt trails are too muddy to use and if you're going to ride the Cherry Creek bike path you'd better take a snorkel. It's easy to drive or take the bus instead of commuting, and to watch TV during rainy afternoons instead of going on a road ride, but eventually all of that sitting around (while usually consuming beer and cheese) is bad for the waistline and worse for the mind. The rabbit hole that is Netflix does have a bottom, and at the bottom of that hole is a movie called World War Z, and believe me you do not want to have to watch that.
There can be some problems with wet rides, for sure, but the largest problem is often getting started. On rainy days like this, even our Yawp dog Thelonious won't get out of bed. Part of our duty in being human--or at least our privilege--is to make something good where nothing good existed. Where there is only rainy day ennui, make an adventure. Put on some wool, a raincoat, a helmet, and put this song on your iPod:
Remember being a kid and playing in the rain? There were puddles to jump into, moats to dig, mudpies to make. At some point along the way, someone told us we should have the sense to stay out of the rain and we believed them. As long as we have the sense to dress for it, riding in the rain can be pretty good for us. I sometimes don't believe this myself, and I look out the window at a gray world with as much despair as anyone. However, today I made myself ride in the rain and as I rode through a puddle I rememberd something important. It will probably take more words than it's worth to explain, but what are blogs for if not unnecessary words?
Routines can be born of refinement, which is great, or of habit, which is probably not so great. I make my coffee a certain way because over time I've discovered I like it best that particular way. However, I put my right shoe on before my left simply out of habit, and when I accidentally grab my left shoe first and try to put it on my right foot, I feel that I'm the victim of some grave injustice for really no reason at all other than that reality doesn't always tolerate our dumb little habits.
Riding in the rain isn't painful or difficult, it's just not what I'm used to.
In fact, on this particular day, riding in the rain was good for me. There's an entire world that goes along with the phrase "you should have the sense to stay out of the rain." That world is grown-up and routine. When I'm in that world, I have little fun and don't think creatively. I always worry that my investments aren't sound, and then I remember I don't have any investments and worry about that. I worry about what people think of me. I worry about my water heater. I get into imaginary arguments with people I haven't seen for years, and even though these arguments are taking place within my own head I often lose them.
Riding a bike is one of the best antidotes for that world. By the end of my ride this morning my false priorities had fallen away, and I was wet, dirty, happy, and ready for more.
All of that said, I'd really like the sun to come back.
If you don't normally ride in the rain, then there are a couple of things to keep in mind. When riding on bike paths, you may encounter some things that get extra slippery when wet. If you've done any Urban Walking in your life, you probably already know about these things:
If it's chilly outside, make sure you keep your feet dry. Get some waterproof shoe covers or--if your ride isn't too long--put some baggies over your socks. Cold feet can make an otherwise great ride pretty miserable.
One additional bonus of riding in the rain is that you can go ahead and eat that donut, because you exercised today.
So let's remember that crying only makes more rain and riding bikes makes donuts.