Saturday, February 27, 2010

the art of racing in the rain

this is the title of a book my mom and her husband lent me to read a while back.
this may also be an appropriate label for my activities today.
and I want to talk about both of these, beginning with the latter.

I've ridden in the rain many times, and lived to write about it here. there is some perverse pleasure in it: the discomfort, the ridiculousness of it, and at times, the irony of the fact that had I scheduled things just a little bit differently, I wouldn't be doing it.
I know to go slower, I know how helpful fenders are, and I know that a breathable rain jacket is a necessity. I know that wet feet make for a miserable me, and that the drops that make their way through the helmet to my scalp are only pleasurable if the rest of me is warm.
today's century ride in southern utah may necessitate a bit of riding in the rain.
weathermen are often wrong, so I am hopeful that the entire ride will be dry. and to be completely truthful, I wouldn't be racing in the rain anyway, as I don't race as the word is used in the competitive sense.
but the word race may also be used in another sense, that of just moving quickly or rushing.
and this I plan to do, so that I might possibly beat the incoming rain.
regardless, there is definitely an art to it, and I hope that I will be artful in my riding whether the pavement is wet or dry.

now on to the book.
this book, by garth stein, is a beautiful book.
it is a book about love, about life, about triumph and commitment and achievement. about hopes and dreams and goals and loss and karma.
written from the perspective of a dog. a clever, loyal, witty canine gifted with human understanding, of course, but nonetheless, a dog.
I cried when I read it, at the beginning, at spots along the way, and wholly and fully at the end. I cried because it reached into my heart and touched all those places that connect with others, those places full of empathy, humanity, divinity.
I love a good, quick, no-brainer read---I need this kind of book for escapism---and I love a good literary novel that takes me somewhere I've never been. this is neither, yet it's another kind of book I love, a book that points out with startling clarity that one of the greatest gifts we humans have is the trait of resilience. and another of these greatest gifts is the ability to love, and this theme leaps and bounds through the book as well.
the art of racing in the rain hit me hard, possibly because I've just experienced a loss of my own coupled with the fact that I am a dog person. perhaps a cat lover who has a neat and tidy life wouldn't care quite so much for this book.
what I know, though, is that I will carry a bit of this book with me as I ride today, remembering that riding in the rain is an art, that love abounds, and that we all have the resilience inside to carry us through whatever comes our way.

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