Craze Before the Storm

Before weather forecasts, signs of nature foretold of approaching storms. Instinctive receptiveness possessed by our forebears allowed them to sense weather and react as if it were a part of their lives, not some catastrophic inconvenience to be avoided.

In the modern world, much has changed. Weather forecasts bombard us on TV, online, on our cell phones. Predictions of rain, wind, snow, and thunder storms govern our actions.

Nothing quite compares to predictions of blizzards. Helpless modern creatures, incapable of fending for themselves in mounds of snow, spring into action for the sole purpose of hunkering down.

Roads are jammed with panicked cars racing to brick structures where the goods of modern living are stacked neatly, row after row, for mass consumption. Fears of forgoing favorite foods, facing the dreaded darkness of an electrical outage, fending off the shivering cold of a failed furnace all drive the shopping frenzy of an impending storm.

Amid the rage, hearty cyclists pedal through swirling winds. Braving the elements with the storm swooping down, they’re hoping to find shelter before the storm unleashes its fury.

Contending with the crazed drivers plowing through imaginary piles of snow, disregarding everything in their path, the cyclists hang on. Drivers don’t see them because they are focused on the goods they believe will protect them from the storm.

There is something about being outdoors with nothing between cyclist and weather; it simultaneously produces a sense of vulnerability and invincibility. Fleeting thoughts of being stranded with no way for the bike to roll through heaps of solidified water unsettle the cyclist’s mind. A brief reminiscence of a magnified snowflake – the kind shown to grade school children – distracts the cyclist. But there is no time to stop and marvel at the gathered flakes who’ve lost their individuality.

Meanwhile, the cars dash and bolt to beat perceived competition to the stores. Can they just make one stop or will they have to ride from one location to another to stock their pantries? Angry drivers shout from partially opened windows, rolled down to relieve vision distorting condensation. The radio blurts out warnings; the storm is moving rapidly, descending on their turf. With all of their machinery, they can’t forestall the inevitable.

Motorists feel invincible in their rolling shelters while unshielded cyclists fight for one inch of the pre-storm road. The first flakes become visible, steadily falling faster as the cyclist spits them out with every breath. A thin layer of slipperiness forms under the bicycle. The sparse snow is unearthed by the cars’ tires, making it possible to ride in their wake to keep the bike upright.

As the snow grows thicker, the cyclist’s mind fills with indecision about whether to stop for food. There is a fine line between comfort and survival. As the storm intensifies, the cars grow thinner. Drivers flee the storm while cyclists enjoy the freedom of inhaling a blizzard’s wisps, just as our ancestors did before us.

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