As a cycling commuter, I don’t mind a bit of rain. In fact, I’ve been ignoring Environment Canada’s weather forecasts for the past few weeks because the “rainy day ahead” forecasts haven’t materialized for the most part.

If it’s not raining when I get up and the radar is clear, I typically will ride to work. The only exception is days I dedicate to walking home with my “walking pool” buddy and when I have errands or appointments.

Yesterday was one of those days where I had an appointment. I looked at my options: bus, car, and cycling or a combination of the three. By bus, it would take me 52 minutes, providing I made my bus connection. By bike, it would take 30 minutes. By car, it would be a lot less time, but I’d have to pay for parking in both locations. Of course the bike has the added bonus of burning calories, not gas, so I decided to ignore the weather forecast again.

My morning commute was fine. It was still sunny, but getting muggier by lunch. I needed to be on the bike by 2:15. I changed into my cycling gear just after 2:00 and headed down to the bike. I realized I hadn’t checked the radar since lunch time. But I’d already committed to this mode of transport, and I’d brought my raincoat in case I needed it.

I pedalled along the river pathway with the wind mostly at my back. This will be a breeze, I thought to myself. I cut over to Scott Street, then up to the Byron pathway at Superstore. From there, I would need to zig and zag through the residential streets and find the shortcut to the building. I made one wrong turn, which took me down a crescent. When I got back on track, I thought I heard a rumble. But I’d passed a few construction sites so I wasn’t sure. Then I felt a raindrop. Then another. I decided to pull over and get out the raincoat.

As I stopped under a tree, ripping at the Velcro tabs to open the coat, I thought about the young cyclist who had died in the last week. He and his girlfriend had stopped under a tree to put on their raingear and were struck by lightning. He died a few days later. But I told myself there were many trees around me and it wasn’t raining hard yet.

I made it to the office building, but couldn’t see a bike rack. I pushed the old clunker back out into the rain, and locked it around a signpost. I apologize to the little impatiens that I crushed in my rush to get it locked before the rain really came down.

I entered the building and sweat started to pour off my face. This always happens when I stop cycling. But I was prepared, and used a cotton top in my bike pannier bag to wipe my face. A woman in the lobby saw me and pointed out the location for the washroom. She suggested some cold water on my face might do me good. And did it ever!

From there, I headed up to the office and sat alone in the windowless waiting room. Eventually it was my turn. As I sat in another windowless room, I wondered what was going on outside. I found out a few minutes later when I was called to a window to see the hail coming down.

Back in the waiting room a FEDEX guy was dropping off a package. We rode the elevator down together. I laughingly asked him where his next delivery was and whether he could fit my bike in his truck. He smiled and said that his drive to the building was really scary. He thought the hail was going to crack the windshield.

Back downstairs in the lobby, people were waiting out the storm. After 10 minutes, the thunder and lightning seemed to have stopped. The people walked back to their cars and I headed over to my bike, which was now sitting in mud surrounding the small, drowning flowers.

Lightning cracked again, and I retreated to the overhang, and pulled out the raincoat. Should I stay or should I go? The old Clash song reverberated in my head. I counted to 10, and decided to go.

The rain was actually refreshing on my ride home. The coat kept me dry from the knees up. And no more booming or rumbling, except for the sounds of construction that are constant in this neighbourhood.

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