“There’s only a 43% chance of thunder showers today,” Woodrow said before we started out.
“Those are terrible odds,” I said.
“Not at all. It actually means there’s a 57% chance of it not raining.”
“If the plane only had a 43% chance of crashing would you get in it?”
“Of course not. But you can’t compare the outcome of getting rained on with your plane falling out of the sky.”
“Why not?” I asked as I put my rain jacket in the top of my pack where I could get at it quickly.
“Because one is totally awful and the other isn’t.”
“Have you ever biked in a thunder storm?”
“No, but how bad can it be?”
We left the clean, dry, cozy hostel in Weimar under lowering skies but not before we had descended on the all-you-can-eat-for-seven-euros breakfast bar with incredible ferocity.
The other hostelites were picking at their food in a bored way when we swooped into the buffet like Fukdude and the Itonfly dudes on the fourth day of Man Tour. That was the day we emptied four giant tureens of oatmeal as the warm-up.
Woodrow and I piled our plates high with salami, black bread, fruit, cheese, and yogurt. I had three servings of cereal and cup after cup of scalding black coffee. The hostelites watched in amazed disgust as we returned again and again to the line.
On the road we immediately suffered from the three-mile ascent out of Weimar. Each day had been challenging, either from distance or terrain, and today we faced forty miles of endless rollers punctuated by short steep climbs.
We typically averaged about 10 mph but today was even less. Heavy bikes, backpacks, MTB tires, sneakers, and the constant undulations beat us down quickly.
What amazed me about my son was his refusal to complain and his good cheer. Over the course of the trip he had proved so easy to please: a hot shower, a full belly, a brief stop, ice cream on a sunny day, a cheeseburger when things were rough … this was the principal reason that traveling together was such a joy.
Then outside of Pfifferbach the deluge began. We threw on our jackets but the rain came so furiously that we were instantly drenched. Good thing I’d done sink laundry the night before. We rode for half an hour in the driving rain, which stopped as quickly as it had begun. The sun came out and soon we were completely dry.
In the distance we saw a McDonalds sign and raced for it. There was an outside patio with a canopy and we ordered big hot coffees. As we sat another huge thunderhead formed.
“Sure, but why?”
“You know how when it was raining back there and I was trying to stay with you?”
“Well, when it’s raining like that and you’re behind someone on a bike their rear wheel throws all the water and crap into your face and eyes.”
“Yep. It was horrible.”
“But not as bad as a plane crash?”
He laughed. “Close, though!”
At that moment the rain restarted. I pulled on a sweater and sipped my hot coffee as the rain pounded down. I thought about how nobody ever just waits out the rain anymore. Our schedules are too tight, and our means of conveyance make the weather irrelevant. Out in the rolling farmland a long way from the next stop on a bicycle you’re vulnerable, and it seems natural to sit back and wait it out.
Which we did.