After viewing the above video, I was reminded of a recent bike ride up the mountain in my back yard.
It was a nice Sunday morning and my husband and I were gearing up to go for our usual 3 hour ride up Ucka Massif to Vojak. Our house guests were just stirring and enjoying their coffee on the terrace, and our cats were milling about, at times eating, at times playing with the kids of our guests. It seemed like a normal, late summer morning.
Living half-way up a mountain, we often get hit with sudden and unexpected weather – including hail storms, and crazy wild wind storms. But this morning seemed settled. As we were having breakfast, Al checked on our weather forecast, which called for a light rain shower in the afternoon. For this very reason, we decided to bike in the morning.
As we said good bye to our guests, and started to head off, I noticed the skies beginning to darken. While we zipped along our back gravel road, engrossed in conversation and getting the lead out of our legs, the skies darkened a little more. The back gravel road has a nice, undulating pitch and just as we were starting to warm up nicely and raise our heartbeats, Al blew out his back tire. Knowing that I was in the midst of a biking training program, Al urged me to keep going, saying that he would catch up. ‘What if it starts to rain?’, I asked.
‘Then, I’ll just go home’, he replied.
‘Alright. See you in a bit.’ I said, as I headed off.
Less than five minutes later, I felt one big, juicy raindrop fall on my head, through the air vent in my helmet.
Shortly after, I felt three or four raindrops hit my windbreaker and slide down my back.
‘What’s a few rain drops on an otherwise warm summer bike ride?’, I asked myself and I kept riding. I was feeling really good, nice and warmed up, and I was looking forward to the two hour+ climb to get to the top of Vojak. Despite the rain feeling a little chilly, my windbreaker seemed to be doing a pretty good job keeping the breeze off of me.
At this point, the heavens seemed to open up on me, and I was deluged with rain.
This was no little light sprinkle….
…..rather this was a proper, full-on, drenching summer rain storm.
Despite feeling drenched, I wasn’t cold at all. I was actually enjoying myself. And so, I decided to keep going. I had almost reached the asphalt, serpentine road that weaves and winds its way up Ucka Massif, when the skies darkened again….if that was even possible.
And it was at this moment, that I felt and then heard, the first crackle of a lightning bolt and then soon after, the deep rumble of thunder. Hhhhhhmmmm, I thought to myself. Ok – now a thunderstorm. No problem – thunderstorms come, and then they pass quickly, as I continued pedalling up the last hill, before the final turn before the asphalt road.
Suddenly, crackle and boom!!!!!!
I was so preoccupied trying to see the trail through my rain drop speckled glasses, that I hadn’t noticed that the rain had increased, the sky was so dark it was getting hard to see, and most importantly, I hadn’t noticed that the thunderstorm seemed to be heading my way. Yikes! What to do?, I pondered. After another lightning crackle and loud thunder boom, I decided to head back home. Suddenly grateful for the first half of the gravel trail being downhill, I set myself back on the saddle, and started pedalling super fast down the first descent.
The rain deluge seemed to have increased, and now I was so drenched, that I could feel the rain water sluicing into my collar, down my back and my legs, finally collecting in my socks and bike shoes. Squishy….
Visibility was decreasing with every passing minute, as the increasing rain was now streaming off of the front of my helmet onto my already almost useless glasses. Being familiar with the gravel trail was a comforting thought, and I started calculating how many more kilometers until home. I was one quarter of the way home.
Despite the driving rain, and wind, and dark skies, and decreasing visibility, I was totally fine. The soaked bike sorts, bike shirt, and the squishy socks and shoes aside, I was fine. The only worrying thing was the proximity of the lightning bolts and thunder. As I did as a child, I started counting the seconds between the bolts of lightning which were illuminating my way, and the now deafening boom of thunder. A little thought wriggled its way into my consciousness……Is counting the seconds between thunder and lightning to gauge the storm’s distance from my location just an old wives tale?????? Regardless, I kept counting, until I realized that I was barely able to count to two…..
Yikes!, I thought to myself – less than two kilometers away? Now what? Pedalling frantically, my mind started thinking scary things…..like…..does lightning like to strike moving objects? Moving objects that are made of metal??????
So, I felt that last crackle.
Instinctively, I hurled myself off of my bike, leaving it in the middle of the trail, while I ran on, slipping in the mud, trying to find some measure of safety. Which I did….under a bush….
Now, I realize that being under a bush was not such a great idea. However as I surveyed my surroundings, I reasoned with myself that the bush was lower than all of the other trees in the forest that surrounded me…. I hoped that the lightning would strike the taller trees, instead of picking its way through the forest, and finding my short bush….
Look – I am not a complete idiot. I know not to play golf in a thunderstorm.
I know not to be out in a boat on a lake…in a thunderstorm…
….but here I was, and I didn’t know what to do.
Now, my mind was conjuring up images such as this….
….and I was legit scared. The sky was still dark, but it had a creepy purple hue, as lightning bolts crackled across the sky intermittently. Trying to still my pounding heart, I attempted to take stock of my situation.
Problem #1 – the damn bike was still too close to me. I leapt up, ran to the bike, and hurled it farther away from me. In that instant, I realized that my glasses were also made of metal. I ripped them off my face, and hurled them onto my bike, as I, now almost blind, ran back to the safety of my bush. My vision was now reduced to this….
Back under my bush, I started the counting again. Crackle….one thousa…..boom! Damn! Crackle…..one thou….BOOM! Oh no! Crackle…on…BOOM! Oh shit!
I had now flattened myself onto the ground under the bush. Lots of thoughts were zooming through the old noggin’ at this point. Exactly how many kilometers to home? How many minutes might that be at top speed on the bike? Should I risk it? Is lightning attracted to motion? Holy cow – I am soaked. Just when I thought I couldn’t get any wetter, a fast moving river of rain found a new path down by back. Nope – that spot was not yet wet, but it is now….. My socks and shoes were full of water….and now I was starting to get cold.
Another random thought – My kingdom for this:
….or better yet this…
To be fair, I would settle for either this:
Scratch that – you are in the middle of a thunderstorm, I reminded myself. But, I would settle for a pair of these:
Crackle…..one thousan…..Boom! What? Crackle….one thousand….boom! What? What? What?
I peered out from under my bush, and while I may have imagined it, it seemed that the skies were lightening. It may have been wishful thinking on my part. Regardless, hope surged through me.
Crackle….one thousand and ……boom….
Holy cannelloni! The storm was slowly moving away. In that instant, I decided to make a run for it. I leapt up, ran to my bike, grabbed by glasses, smushed them onto my face, and started pedalling like a crazy person.
The rain had now accumulated on the trail, creating giant puddles…..of mud. Not the sexy kind of mud some folks pay money for…
…and not as muddy as this..
…just your regular bike trail mud, with deep mud puddles – the kind that splatter up nicely as your front wheel hits them, and then splatter your back like a Jackson Pollack painting, as your rear wheel rides through them.
Rain…mud…at this point, nothing mattered, as I pedalled furiously to get back home – all the while trying to count the seconds between the thunder and lightning.
As a new and worrying thought was slowly forming and taking shape in my mind….CRACKLE! BOOM!
F&%k!!!!! I came to an abrupt stop, threw the bike and glasses away from myself, and crawled into a little cave-like thingy along the side of the trail.
In that moment, the worrying thought became fully formed.
I was wearing cycling shoes, which have metal cleats screwed into the soles….
To find the metal, the lightning must…..go….through……me…..
I ripped off the shoes, and hurled them in the direction of the bike.
Almost blind, drenched, shoeless, and scared, with my teeth chattering, I hunkered down and obsessively counted the seconds or lack thereof, between the bolts of lightning and the claps of thunder.
Some harrowing moments later, I was able to start counting two, then three seconds and more between the thunder and lightning.
Screw this, I thought to myself. I am racing back home right now. I grabbed the bike, but left the glasses and shoes, and started racing home. It was perilous going, between the lack of vision, slippy socks, and a muddy trail. During all of this, I felt something was off……and oddly, it was my socks. Literally.
Water had collected in my socks. Now that I was shoeless, the water had collected in the toe area of my socks….like a slightly filled water balloon.
Several pedal revolutions later, each sock had filled up a little more, like this…
And half a kilometer later, I had to pull up the socks, as the weight of the collected water was actually pulling my socks off.
Racing like the wind, some minutes later, I drew a huge sigh of relief as I rounded the last bend before entering our village. Still a little scared, I did not decrease my speed, as I zipped through our little village with my water-balloon-socks swinging with each pedal revolution, and turned the last corner before turning into our driveway……where the guests were slowly and carefully pulling out of our courtyard.
Not being able to see very well, I almost careened right into their car. Through the driving rain, I was able to see the face of the father, who looked bewilderingly at me. And I sensed why……
He couldn’t recognize this drenched, muddy, glassless,…inexplicably shoeless cyclist…..with water-balloon-socks……who was grinning wildly and waving at him.
To be fair to him, how was he to know that I had just cheated death…..death by lightning bolt….
I hope you have enjoyed reading this silly story that I pulled off of the ‘REJECT’ pile. After reading it to a friend, I was encouraged to publish it, despite it not really adhering to the main topics of this blog.
I have several other stories in the ‘REJECT’ pile, that my friend thinks should also see the light of day, by being published here. They are silly stories of life unfolding around me.
If you would like to read more silly stories from the ‘REJECT’ pile, please vote YES below.
If you are a humourless curmudgeon, go ahead and vote NO.