Monday, October 19, 2009

Musings: A dark, cold downpour

I went riding this morning in the chilly, wet darkness. It was wonderful. The weather in Guangzhou has been spectacular in the past two weeks. The hot, sticky summer is finally over. Until about mid December, we'll have a second spring - sunny, dry weather with temperatures at 21 degrees Celsius (70 degrees F) in the early morning and climbing to 32 degrees Celsius (90 degrees F) by noon. But I was getting sick of it. Lately, I've been hoping for some rain.

Well, I got it this morning. I forgot to look outside before I got into the elevator and pushed my bike out the front door at 6 a.m. A steady rain was falling. There was a perfect combination of demotivating forces working on me. It was dark, wet and a bit chilly. It was like stepping into a cold shower shortly after getting out of bed.

I didn't want to bother going back to the apartment to get my rain gear. I got on the bike and did a circle in my apartment complex and started thinking about canceling the ride and doing a run on the gym's treadmill. I was just about to hop off the bike when I started thinking how dissatisfying such a workout would be. I wouldn't be pleased with myself. I'd feel defeated by the weather, and I don't want to be that kind of cyclist. I thought: Hell, it rains like this everyday in Belgium, and it's usually at least 10 degrees colder. Plus, afterwards, I never regret doing these types of life-affirming rides. They're a way to renew your vows with the sport. And you always come back with some kind of story or memory.

I love how the migrant workers just throw on a plastic rain poncho when it's pouring and just pedal to work. They're tough, hearty people, a real inspiration.

Today, when I was just two kilometers into the ride, I had to cross the Pearl River on the Guangzhou Bridge. It was still dark and I thought I saw a cyclist up ahead of me, halfway over the bridge. But as I got closer, I saw that it was a broken-down scooter that someone had left on the bridge. It took up about one-third of the right lane. The abandoned gray or dirty white vehicle didn't have reflectors or any other illuminating devices. I see this all the time. Someone just walks away from a vehicle and doesn't bother to move it to a safe place. It amazes me that these things don't cause more accidents. My theory is that the vehicles are probably stolen or the drivers - who probably don't have licenses - are too drunk to bother with them.

A plea: Can anyone recommend a good rain jacket? I've got a decent Pearl Izumi windbreaker but it doesn't repel rain. I'm looking for something that is waterproof and can fold up somewhat flat and compact and can be placed in a jersey pocket without creating too big of a bulge. Any suggestions?

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