Monsoon Season in Cleveland Has Begun
Training ride, Thursday, 27 July.
No camera would have survived this ride except those rated for serious underwater use.
Mike Su. crafted a way cool ride, which included an architectural tour of parts of Cleveland and Cleveland Heights. We started with St. Ann's Church at Coventry and Cedar, progressed to the Alcazar Hotel, then Lakeview Cemetery and down Mayfield Rd. through Little Italy.
Did I say "down Mayfield Rd"? Literally DOWN. It's a two-lane road on a very steep hill as you approach Little Italy from Cleveland Heights. It requires description at this point because of what happened next on our adventure. A not-so-polite car driver got right up behind Rick (our last wheel at this point), rode quietly for a bit, then laid on with the horn. So very considerate. What a kind-hearted person. I will trust that this person's karma rewarded him richly!
We took a glance at Severance Hall and continued onto Chester, a 3-lane (each way) divided boulevard. Plenty of room for cars to get around us! And not a bad place to ride: well-lit, the traffic lights are timed fairly reasonably, and again, there were 2 whole lanes motorized traffic could use to get around us. Despite the abundance of room, a woman yakking on her cel-phone nearly sideswiped me while making her turn from E. 55th St. onto Chester. Ah well, the important thing is that she missed.
After a little noodling around the E. 40th St. neighborhood, heading north of Chester (including a quick ride past my old workplace, Mazzolini Artcraft on E. 41st) we saw lightning. It started to hint at drizzle. Although we had only gone 1/3 of Mike's planned route, it was wisely decided to return to Mike and Patti's.
What a good thing we did, too! The skies burst. Biblical rains pelted us; we were drenched as completely as you can imagine before we got back to E. 55th St. The sky turned black (only partially due to the setting sun), which helped emphasize the size and frequency of the lightning.
The lightning was spectacular. It was the kind of show that, if I'd been home, I'd've been sitting on the front porch watching. We didn't have the same feeling of security, riding around on our "lightning rods on wheels"! But there was no other way to get home.
I wore a bright red windbreaker, anticipating earlier there might be a little rain. Do you know, that same nice, bright red looks absolutely black when wet, and the only source of light is streetlights? Well, *I* didn't know prior to the ride. I'll make another choice the next time we expect to ride in the rain. Sounds like a trip to the thrift store is in my future.
Red, regardless of how bright the shade, may not be the best choice when selecting visible clothing colors for night or twilight rides.
We all made it back to Mike's house, each of us in one piece, very soggy but unelectrified. "Soggy" was definitely preferred over "crispy". Patti made yummy grilled cheese sandwiches, we popped some corn, ate other starchy-salty goodness (chips and more chips), and dried off in fluffy robes with fun conversation while our clothes tumbled in the dryer.
Yeah. That was an adventure. We do carefully monitor weather sites before every ride. This was a whopper of a storm that developed without the hours of warning we count on. In a way I am glad it surprised us so we didn't cancel the ride. I'm *more* glad the experience is behind us. But we all agreed we feel infinitely better prepared for the proverbial "anything" that is predicted to happen on the ride.
There was never, at any point once the rain started, a safe opportunity to take a cameraphone picture. I probably could've gotten a really charming shot of the four of us in warm snuggly garb, but I was worried the phone had been damaged by the rain. I didn't bother checking until today (it's fine) because after all that rich life experience, I didn't want any bad news. You will have to take my word for it, or check with Rick, Mel, or Mike Su. to verify the tale.