You're Not Made of Sugar
Our Workcycles FR8 wearing proof of our muddy adventures.
"You're not made of sugar." I have been told, or read somewhere, or once imagined that the Dutch say this to their children, so it must be true. Anyway, my impeccably sourced quote is supposed to signify that going out in the rain will not make our children melt. Therefore, they need to quit bitching and head outside where they might get a little wet. Since I have been a resident of a city renowned for its fair weather, sunny days, and crippling droughts for over two decades, it is incumbent upon me to explain to the rest of you how to bike in the rain.... In truth, I have generally avoided biking in the rain in LA. As someone who has lived in both the midwest and the northwest, I can attest that LA streets are 1000% more dangerous in the rain than roads in other regions. Various hypothesis for this phenomenon have been put forth by others: Angeleno's have no idea how to drive on wet roads; nine months worth of oil & dust combines with rain to form a slippery film on the asphalt; LA drivers have more trouble gripping wet iPhones when they're texting and driving...I do not know which one of these variables leads to the demolition derby that is LA in the rain, but I do know that I don't want to be anywhere near it. However, when one mistakenly places their faith in a weather report, sometimes Mother Nature chooses for you...as happened this past Saturday.
I discovered my meteorological faux pas whilst sitting in the Chipotle on 7th Street downtown: the weather app I was using had changed the forecast from rain in the evening to rain arriving in a couple of hours. My plan had been for my six-year-old to pedal his own bike next to me to DTLA (yup, he regularly bikes himself from Silver Lake to DTLA), force my two children to attend an excruciatingly painful public meeting (for me - they played in the back), then take the subway to Koreatown, and finally use 4th street (a quiet, shady tree-lined street) to ride our bikes together to the Tar Pits. Now that rain was coming, the idea of a six-year-old biking himself on or near rainy LA streets was a non-starter...and I'd arrogantly passed on charging the electric car back at home because "I wouldn't need it." I obviously didn't want to put my bike on the bus ever again. That left canceling a play date at the LA Brea Tar Pits or biking both boys on my bike through the rain w/out rain gear when it started raining. I really wanted to cancel, but my eldest son has been SO GOOD about letting me work while he's been stuck at home during his last week of X-mas break and this was the play date I'd been PROMISING him to make up for it... Fuck it. By the time his mom finds out, either we'll already have successfully completed our daring mission or she and I will be chatting in an ER where she can't murder me because there will be witnesses... I locked up the six-year-old's bike. Tossed him on the back of The Beast and pedaled west...and the baby promptly fell asleep. He and I are veterans of bike naps, so I tilted his head onto my forearm; then I had a lovely time chatting with one son while propping up the other as we rolled past the sights. They generally fall into two categories: cool buildings and fire stations. CUT TO: Two hours later. A deluge of rain smacked against the windows of the Tar Pits while I futilely tried to improvise a little rain gear. Reputedly, (another impeccably sourced quote by me) certain Nordic peoples are also known to say, "There is no such thing as bad weather; only bad clothing." I was failing on both counts. My friend kindly offered to drive us way out of his way to drop us off at home, but I'll be damned if my lifestyle choices are going to put other people out. I declined. We waited fifteen minutes for the worst of the rain to pass; then hopped on the very wet bike. It was... SO MUCH FUN. We splashed through a light rain on the sidewalk and then down calm, residential streets. There was no way I was going to take a path that mixed with cars on a rainy day, so we took the scenic route. The rain felt like a fun little blessing over our adventure. We sang songs. We chatted. We waved at smiling strangers. The only challenge was the fact that as the boys (and my belly) grow it's getting tougher to pedal all the way to the top of the hill on which we live. Once I could finally breathe again, I asked the eldest how he'd rate the adventure: "one" for cold & miserable/let's not do that again or "ten" for awesome adventure. He proclaimed it a solid "nine." I saw the faces of the car drivers as we pedaled past them. We definitely scored a higher number. A couple of days later I consciously made the decision to "bike pool" the youngest through the rain to day care, something I had avoided doing in the past. This time I was prepared with proper rain gear and the proper route to stay away from cars...We had a blast. He and I even got to see a cormorant splashing in the swollen LA River. So, get out there. You're not made of sugar.