As I finished up my work one beautiful day last summer I decided I needed to go on a bicycle ride. It was late in the afternoon, the wind was light and the sky was filled with soft billowy clouds. I broadcast my intentions to others but none of my regular riding companions could get away. Rather than letting such a perfect day pass and I ventured out alone.
Typically I would have headed north towards the mountains but today I decided to go south to the flat lands of pastures, corn and cows. The roads are narrow here but have very little traffic save for the occasional pick-up truck traveling too fast on these farm to market roads. I texted my wife telling her I was going for a ride neglecting to share exactly where or how far I planned on traveling.
Every cyclist has experienced those extraordinary days when their legs are strong, their breathing is steady and their energy level is high. I was having one of those special days, a good day turning the pedals. Riding by yourself with no one to race to the next stop sign is a lot like getting a hole-in-one playing golf alone. But it was okay, I was out in our greatest Cathedral basking in the glory of this wonderful creation, a pretty good place to be.
I had a couple of different routes to take and decisions I needed to make. I could ride thirty miles or sixty-five depending on the speed I was able to maintain and the amount of daylight I had left when I got to the half-way point. Coming up on the fifteen mile mark I still felt strong and even though the sun was dropping, I was making good time so I decided to shoot for sixty-five miles. I knew it would be close to dark by the time I got home and safety is very important to me, I decided to push on.
At mile forty the sky changed dramatically and the temperature dropped as well. The happy white clouds became angry and black and the wind which had been calm before now began pushing me backwards. I was no longer averaging eighteen miles per hour but twelve into the wind and my once strong legs now felt like I was wearing two water-logged boots. I decided the best thing to do would be to turn around and maybe with the wind at my back and a couple of short-cuts I could be back at my front door in fifteen miles or so.
The one thing you learn very quickly about wind and being chased by a storm on a bicycle is the validation of Murphy’s Law that “Left to themselves, things tend to go from bad to worse.” The wind will never be at your back and the storm you think you are riding from is in fact between you and your destination.
Suddenly all hell broke loose and I was engulfed in complete darkness, midnight darkness with hail the size of nickels pelting my helmet like lead BB’s. Lightning flashed all around me with load booms of thunder following seconds later. In a word, I was screwed and I didn’t have plan or a place to hide. The glorious Cathedral that had tempted me earlier had suddenly turned into Satan’s den without the heat.
And seemingly just as quickly as all this fun dropped on top me it blew away. I couldn’t believe it, gone. Black clouds transformed into white, the temperature rose and the wind died down. I had weathered the storm; no I had survived the storm, a very scary storm, a storm that left me with few choices and certainly no control. It was here, and I was in the middle of it and I pedal through it. I knew it couldn’t last forever, they never do, it just feels like it. But when the world turns black and it’s hard to hold on it’s easy to forget that “this too shall pass.”
“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.”- Rabindranath Tagore