A CRACK-BOOM! is my fair warning. I give careful attention to the notice and step outside to view a threatening, Mordor-like sky. Off to the east, the increasingly tardy sun tries to muscle the clouds aside in a futile attempt to prove its best days have not passed. The red-orange glow of the struggle fades as the smokey throng obscures the valiant, disappearing orb.
The time to leave arrives too soon and I pedal from my sanctuary into a steady downpour. Determined raindrops smash into my headlight and burst in an explosion of bright droplets. All that's missing is the colors to bring out the characteristic "Oooooo's" and "Ahhhhhhh's" of people at a fireworks show. The only way I can explain John Denver singing "This Old Guitar" is that I must have set my iMind to select a random song and play it repeatedly.
Deftly avoiding my fenders, puddles mercilessly and repeatedly pounce on my shoes. A summer's buildup of salt in my helmet nonchalantly dissolves and flows down my face, stinging my eyes. Licking my lips rewards me with a revolting taste reminiscent of sea water. The third time triggers an empty retch and I switch to wiping the water away with the back of my glove. To divert my mind from the induced nausea I focus on the song and now I'm bothered that "To serenade the stars that shine from a sunny mountainside" makes absolutely no sense. How can--BAM!--a flooded pothole reminds me to pay attention to the road. I pedal hard just as much to stay warm as to get through the rain quickly. Between water on the outside and sweat on the inside, my doubly saturated rain gear clings tightly to me. It is determined to prevent the two sides from mixing and it is impossible to gauge its success.
Arriving at work, I bounce the bike to shake off some water before I park it in the rack. A puddle forms under me as I peel away my soaked outer layer. Water dripping from my panniers marks the path I take to the elevator doors. With each step my foot noisily compresses a spongiform sock and forces water around and between my toes only to have it rush back again. The wet rubber soles complain about the linoleum floor. Carrying my wet baggage, I step out of the elevator and squoosh-squeak, squoosh-squeak to the office where a new work day awaits me. My bedraggled appearance is a misleading disguise.
I feel like a million bucks.
But really, stars shining from a sunny mountainside?