The Soggy Bottom Boys

I’m not a man of constant sorrow, you know.

As previously predicted, I rode my bike to the park with Boy this weekend.

And if that was all the story to it, I wouldn’t bother posting, would I?

We had storms blow through early on Saturday morning, dampening things down and making it generally as humid as hell.  We were desperately low on groceries, so I wanted to make an early grocery run.  I got up just before 8, fairly early for a Saturday, and made some muffins because that’s really all we had ingredients to make.  Just after I’d finished mine, Boy woke up and found his breakfast waiting for him.  I made my grocery run and got back about 10.  The roads were drying and it still wasn’t too hot – a big difference from what we were expecting later that day.  High 80’s and afternoon thunderstorms, etc.

So I suggested to Boy that we go ahead and make our ride.  He was definitely up for it. So I packed a backpack with the camera, a book, my iPod, a bottle of Gatorade and a bottle of water, and as an afterthought, a bottle of sunscreen since the last time we did this it was a busy afternoon in the park and all the benches in the shade were taken.

After the first quarter-mile or so, it became clear that the humidity more than made up for the heat.  Holy buckets o’ sweat, Batman!

The best route to the park for us takes us on a back road over the big hill we live behind, along a secondary street for about fifty yards, across a primary street at a crosswalk and right into the park.  Boy is inclined to push his bike up the big hills, and with my legs still tired after having worked out on Friday, I was more than inclined (no pun intended) to join him.  We still had plenty of work to do for our legs, so we cruised on along.

We made it to the park about 10:30 or shortly thereafter, finding it lit by bright sunshine and largely empty.  I grabbed a seat in the shade – and then moved over one bench, as the one I’d originally sat on was still wet from the morning rain.  I then settled into a book and watched Boy play for a while.  But soon it was clear that he was just hanging out.  All the other kids there were significantly younger, so he was just moving back and forth between the swings and some of the climbing equipment, mostly watching the others.  So I put down my book, called him over, and asked if he wanted to repeat one of our older rides and climb the hill to the city overlooks.  He gave it some thought, and after I assured him we could push up the big hills and fly back down them on the way back, he was in.

Up we went – doing a lot of pushing, actually, enough that he started to get bored but didn’t seem to want to ride even though I assured him we’d get where we were going much faster if we rode instead of walked.  After finally getting passed by bicyclists coming back that had passed us going up, and being reassured by me that we were near the first overlook where the hills would slacken off, he finally mounted up again.

We made it to the first overlook and dismounted for a few.  I took the opportunity to grab the camera out of the backpack and take a few pictures.  (I forgot to upload them – I’ll have to provide a pictorial update later.)  As I did so, Boy says, “Dad, I think it’s raining!”  “Nah, it’s just the wind blowing the drops off the trees.”  And the wind was blowing pretty hard, but the weatherman this morning said we were done with rain until the afternoon.

Can you tell where this is going?

Yep, my weatherman LIED.

It actually did start to sprinkle a little bit, so I put away the camera.  Boy said, “Maybe we should go home.”  I said, “Actually, this little rain makes me feel cooler than when we were all sweaty.  I kinda like it.”  He pondered this for a second, and said “Yeah, you’re right!”  “You want to keep going to the north overlook and see the city?”  “Sure!”

100 yards up the hill, and we were deluged.

“We need to go back, Dad!”

My mind raced.  Stay where we were, under partial cover of the trees?  Race 200 yards through the rain to the nearby picnic shelter where we could be under full cover?  I hollered, “follow me, son!” and started hauling ass for the picnic shelter.

We should have stayed under the trees.

In 25 yards the front of my shirt was soaked, the tops of my thighs were soaked, and my glasses were so wet that I couldn’t see through them – I had to tip my head downward and look OVER them.  We passed a man and his dog under the shelter of a tiny tree and sprinted on to the picnic shelter, where two other bicyclists in cycle-racing jerseys were holed up.  We sat there for a minute, exchanging pleasantries about how soaked we all were, how the weatherman had screwed us, and how ridiculous the whole situation was, wringing out our clothes all the while.

I stuck my glasses into the backpack so they wouldn’t get all misted up and useless again.  We waited for ten minutes or so until the brief cloudburst almost completely stopped, then we turned for home.  About 25 yards from the shelter, I asked Boy one more time if he didn’t want to go to the other overlook before we went home.  He said, “Sure, why not?” and we turned back around and headed north.

It was then that I realized that not only were we soaked, but so were the roads.  And neither of our bikes have rear fenders.  And we were a good solid three or four miles of wet roads from home, no matter what we did.

The Soggy Bottom Boys were born.  Whattaya do.

We rode to the overlook, where we could barely make out downtown over the heavy clouds and just-rained-in-the-summertime mist.  We took a little detour on the way back, cruising by the old stone walls (actually, the ones where my header picture was taken) and back up to the basketball courts, where we could see the moisture steaming off the asphault already.  Humidity?  Nah.

I gave Boy a brief warning about the trip downhill – that the roads were liable to be wet, and so he should be extremely careful about taking turns too fast on the wet pavement.  There aren’t any guard rails, after all, and while an accident was unlikely it would REALLY SUCK to a) go nipple-surfing on wet asphault at 25 mph (DAMHIK,IJK) or b) go off the side of the road.  It’s a long, steep ride down at one or two points.

And with that, we cranked the pedals a few times and rocketed down the hill, with no incidents other than our butts and our backs (well, his back, and the bottom of my backpack) getting even more thoroughly soaked.  We crossed the road, pushed our bikes back up the big hill near home, and hauled butt back to our driveway, with me warning him not to sit on anything before he could get downstairs to the laundry room and strip off his wet clothes.

We ended up going for another ride to the park on Sunday morning, this time taking the longer but less steep ride around the park instead of up the hill – and while it was fun, it wasn’t as memorable.  I told him as we left the picnic shelter on Saturday that as crazy as it was, one day he’d be 35 and telling his kids about the day he and his dad went for a bike ride and got caught in the rain.  I hope so.


7 Responses

  1. You’re correct about the very last bit. I have a story about my father and rain and Salem, MA that is on par with this one, and I tell it frequently.

    Good; I hope he can do the same!

  2. You forget about your ass hurting when it is all wet, huh?

    Honestly? Not so much.

  3. Yeah, it’s been raining like hell here too. So much so our roof is not holding up to the weight of the water.

    Holy crap! That’s a big ol’ pile of suck if I ever heard one.

  4. You guys made such a great memory together!

  5. It’s nice that you two were able to share that…at least until he’s old enough to get him on a motorcycle. 😉

    I said as much to him at the time!

  6. I’ve always been puzzled by people who freak out over a little rain. I mean, it’s WATER, not snot or mud or hydrochloric acid. And yes I do hate wet socks and undies, but that just makes it all the better when you can finally dry off.
    This sounds like it was a really fun day.

    The only things I worried about were 1) Boy wiping out at speed on the wet curves on the way downhill, and 2) Boy sitting on the furniture before taking his pants off.

  7. […] So, Boy and I were making what is becoming our regular weekend-morning bike ride to the […]

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