It was supposed to rain all day today and I was resigned to getting wet on the way to work. But when the sun came out late in the morning and looked intent on staying, I decided a rain jacket strapped to the rack would be more than enough insurance.
As it happened, the skies opened up about three miles into the 5.5 mile ride. Worse than the rain were winds, whipping off the river and slowing me to a near stop. I parked my bike in my office, dried off and decided to adjust my schedule to ride home as soon as the weather looked milder.
The sun came out and the winds stopped. But I hadn't been there nearly long enough to feel good about leaving. The sun stayed out and played among white, billowy clouds. But I was on a phone call I couldn't leave. On another call, I looked out the window at the perfect day and decided I'd make a run for it as soon as I was off.
Naturally, it was raining when I got back on the bike. But rain's not a big deal. Once you get used to the cold water on your face, it leaves you with mild temperatures and an empty bike trail. I was getting into it and really enjoying the ride.
Then the deluge came. Hard winds and rain, pounding off my rain jacket and soaking my pants and shoes. Still, it's just water.
Then I noticed the rain kind of hurt. Then it hurt kind of a lot. It was hail. A lot of it. A surprising amount of it found its way into my helmet and pounded icily on my scalp. A conservative estimate of the number of hailstones that hit my head is in the neighborhood of 67 quadrillion. It was like a tiny bird with a beak made of ice was pecking at my head at millisecond intervals.
Hail seems unfair, somehow. It's crossing the line, out of bounds. As kids, we understood that snowballs were fair but iceballs and slushballs were not. They were in violation of the Playground Geneva Convention and only the most cowardly resorted to them. What are hailstones but tiny ice balls? Not fair.