Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Rain's back

Date: July 8
Mileage: 37.1
July mileage: 116.4

When I told Geoff it didn't rain in June, he didn't believe me. So we looked it up: A mere 2.07 inches spread across 30 days. In Juneau, that's the same as not raining. "It would be just like Juneau to start up again the moment you came back to town," I said after waking up to another thick layer of liquid sunshine over the Channel. And it would be just like Geoff to miss the best part of summer and return to the waning daylight and strengthening precipitation ... prime conditions to temper new desires to get out of town.

I have been trying to drop hints that I want him to go hiking with me, but he is still in deep recovery from the Great Divide Race, eating multiple breakfasts and taking naps inbetween. Through it all, he's trying to train for the Crow Pass race. But I think he's just now beginning to realize what's left inside the shell of himself - amazing what eight days can destroy - but I know that any couch time this week can only do him good. So I set out on my own in the pouring rain, sticking to the bike because the mountains were socked in. It took me a while to work through the old gearing-up process. My PVC jacket was nowhere to be found. Same with my neoprene gloves - remnants of reality buried in the gear pile, somewhere, beneath my oh-so-rarely-usable short-sleeve jerseys. I pulled on my tattered rain pants and grabbed an extra pair of wool socks stuffed in a zippy. I felt no anticipation or dread about the conditions. Rain's just a given in Juneau, even when it's been gone for a month. It's like riding a bike. You don't forget.

The stream of water pouring off my front wheel had me squinting immediately. A friend in Whitehorse removed my front fender himself after mercilessly teasing me about it. "But I'm from Juneau," I protested. "We all have fenders and it's not even considered dorky." Then I neglected to put it back on when I came back to town. I regretted that move today, but not really. Plenty of water dumps from the sky; who cares what comes from the ground?

With eyes half open and mouth clamped shut, I began to hit my stride. Sharp raindrops rode the gusting east wind and I could smell the tidewater, rich with salt and sweet with rotting seaweed. Those are the kind of smells that dissapate with dryness until you almost forget they're there - like the earthy mulch, the bark and lupine, bursting out of the ground in a swirl of fragrance. Rain seeped through my helmet and dripped down my face. It tasted sweet and earthy, too. Tufts of fog rose from the treetops like steam as darker clouds crept down the mountains. There was something about the weather that was not just tolerable, but maybe even ... enjoyable? And I kind of missed the way rain felt, cold and refreshing against sweat and skin.

You know you've become a true Juneauite when you begin to miss the rain.

Remind me of that when September sinks in.