There are times on the bike when I wonder just what the hell I’m doing. Like when I’m battling through the sheeting rain into Bigtown in order to get to one of our summer rides, knowing that I’ll basically be standing there for 15 minutes at the appointed meeting place with the other ride leader waiting for nobody to turn up so that we can go and dry off in a cafe somewhere before heading back into the rain and home again. Because who on earth would come out for a fun, family-oriented ride on a day when the rain is coming in sideways?
Kids, that’s who. We’ve had a few regular families come and join us on these rides over the summer and two of them showed up this week: not because the parents are sadists who had dragged their kids out into the rain for a bike ride, but because the kids themselves had been adamant that was what they wanted to do. When you’re a child, it turns out, rain means nothing. If anything, it’s a bonus because rain means puddles, and riding through puddles are what bikes are for. I had forgotten this, but I remembered it this afternoon watching the eight-year-old swerving from side to side to make sure he got his wheels through every one.*
Fortunately for the adults the rain cleared up and held off and we had a good ride along the cycle path and through the woods, and stood around eating biscuits and admiring each others’ bikes, which is as much the point of these occasions as the ride itself. And then we parted ways and I hurried home before the threatening clouds could burst again. Because, while I admire the way kids can shrug off the rain and just get on with having fun, at the end of the day I am no longer eight and I still cannot learn to love riding in the wet.
One day, perhaps when I am eighty, I will re-learn…
* sadly, he learned the hard way about the dangers of lurking potholes at the bottom of puddles, but was back on the bike and ready to go after a few tears – and still swerving into every puddle like a good’un.