it has been a few weeks since that fateful thursday, and i've had time to mull it all over.
the usual thursday sufferfest at the hands of WattsUp computrainers had left me depleted, and thoroughly satisfied with my own exhaustion. i was getting stronger. things were getting harder. and the pain of it all only reaffirmed the goal: be willing. willing to make it hurt. willing to keep going when it does. willing to see it through to the finish. willing to exhaust.
i left the warehouse in a light drizzle, as so many days of april had smeared themselves across the forecast. it had been raining for over a month.
today's rain would be different.
as i turned the pedals and wished for the rain pants i had forgone in my sweaty haste to leave, the rain turned, and became something else. downpour would be an understatement. fat, pregnant drops of warm water cascaded in sheets from the sky. i pulled over to affix my lights, but neglected my rain jacket. it was just going to be wet.
accelerating out of the intersection, i met with lines of traffic, rough roads, and winds gusting to well over the freeway speed limit. the storm, sudden and lashing, was of biblical proportion. and i had not built an ark. the traffic and rough roads steered me to line between lanes, and i ground through the pedal strokes, working to maintain speed and direction in the whipping wind and slashing rain. i could mostly see. i could halfway pedal. and all of a sudden, the traffic accelerated.
now past the submerged creekbed of the right of the right lane, i would attempt to move back to my 'rightful' or 'proper' position on the road. i don't remember if i steered first and looked after, or if i looked as i steered, or if the wind was pushing me and my oxygen-deprived brain and spent legs were too slow in reacting, but all of a sudden that slow-moving city truck was right on me, and the horn sounded.
this is not the time to begin judgement of error or calculate one's reactions to the daily occurrences of traffic and urban cohabitation. sometimes we get along and sometimes we are too tightly packed and sometimes there is friction and the rain does nothing to lessen the rub.
i stuck out my finger and moved over anyway, furious with myself for going slowly and furious for reacting the way i had and furious with the wind for making me look stupid and furiously, furiously pedaling into a wall of rain.
the truck passed me then, around the bend, not with a wide berth but with one of consideration for all lanes of traffic, and i caught it and passed it one light later. two lights after that, "i had cooled my head and warmed my heart", and i waited. when the truck rolled up, i waved, the driver rolled down his window, and i told him i apologized for giving him the finger back there. my bad.
(no further explanation needed; i was just owning up to my own stupidity, and working to maintain positive relations between riders and drivers. he doesn't need to know about the wind or rain or that i'm just trying to get home and take my kids to daycare or that my legs are spent or that i stay up nights worrying about how my at-risk job working with at-risk kids is going to pay for said daycare. none of this is his fault. i shouldn't have ridden in front of his truck and then given him the finger about it.)
this part is what really gave me goosebumps.
after accepting my apology, the driver took it upon himself to speculate, and give me some advice. being proud, insecure, and embarrassed, i hate getting advice. regardless, he gave it to me, saying that i need to be more careful; that i don't want to die on my way to work; that i want to die being a hero, not riding my bike in the rain; that i should have a nice day.
it was the hero part that just about killed me.