Pushing pedal over pedal, I trudged ahead on my bike through pouring sheets of frigid rain. My cold, drenched clothes weighed me down, but I forged on through last Saturday’s doom and gloom to photograph Mount Abe’s graduation.
With our trusty photographer Trent Campbell covering the Middlebury’s graduation, it was my duty to the community to ride through torrential downpour to capture moment-by-moment the Mount Abe seniors as they waved farewell and grabbed their diplomas.
“Did you have to ride your bike?” one might ask.
Well, no. But living the vehiculesslife, I felt an inner calling. My neighbor was attending the graduation, so I could have jumped in her car. But a force much larger than conviction penetrated the mind of your favorite (and only) five-town reporter — fun.
Fortunately, last Saturday wasn't as wet as March around Lake Champlain.
Photo by Brian King
That’s right. Fun. Riding a bike is joyful, and although Zeus decided to dump buckets on that day of all days, I decided to boost my endorphins after a weary week in front of a computer screen. Few acts of life are more enjoyable for me than biking through Addison County’s rolling landscape covered by June’s lush green veil. A bit of rain wasn’t about to spoil this guy’s plans.
Besides, I told Addison County zen cycling master Brian King — who does Houdini-like magic in the Indy’s production room — that I would stop by his Bristol abode before the ceremonies began. Whether it rains, shines or drops two feet of snow, you can rest assured that the zen master will ride his bike from Bristol to Middlebury (where our offices are located) and back every day of the year. There was no way that I could disappoint my friend and sensei by copping out and driving with my neighbor.
Speeding along the gleaming wet streets I made my way to Bristol via River Road. The New Haven River was up and rushing down towards Otter Creek. A deer sprang out from beneath a thicket of large ferns, and a bird of prey, resembling a northern goshawk, took refuge under the shelter of a towering tree’s overhanging branch.
Rolling into Bristol, I turned down the zen master’s hill and arrived at his house. Squish-squashing as I walked to the front door, my sensei appeared from behind a floating pool of mist.
“How the heck are ya?” he asked. “Let me get you some tea.”
So we drank tea and talked for a bit before I changed into some dressy-casual clothes for the ceremony. Leaving my bike at his house, I walked over to graduation — umbrella in hand — and documented ANeSU’s young talent belt out an assortment of heart-felt tunes.
Jim Ross made his final speech in eloquent fashion and the seniors were awarded their diplomas. After just avoiding a near-death trampling by a stampede of proud and gushing parents, I made my way back to Brian’s house.
It was there that I learned a simple yet brilliant trick or two from the zen master.
My cycling shoes were filled with newspaper and when I removed the paper they were completely dry. “A miracle,” I thought.
Brian then handed me two plastic bags. “You’ll need these,” he said.
We ate lunch and I prepared to head back out into the cold droves of rain.
With the aid of two rubber bands, he showed me how to secure the plastic bags over my cycling shoes.
“You may look like a dork, but those bags will keep your feet warm,” said Brian.
With that I biked back into the tempest — plastic bags crinkling in the wind and rain as my feet said a silent thank you in warm, protected paradise.