Klink, thunk, ping

I’ve learned a few things today. Valuable, important things.

None more important than this: riding your bike through a hail storm can be painful and hysterical. A big chunk of ice cut my right thumb, right in that crinkly part of the joint. I could hear the hail pinging off my top tube and grinding away under my tires.

This was on an abbreviated ride this afternoon. There were things to do and there were storms. Don’t judge. This was one of those days that featured a storm that defied conventional forecasting and radar. I headed north, saw the clouds gathering and heard the foreshadowing of far off thunder. So I turned south, calculating my time and distance and trying to figure out just how much I could get in for the day.

At just 16 miles it was time to go home, so I made the big turn and noticed the soaked clouds had followed me. Now I’m gliding under them despite all of my previous twists and turns. Big drops start to fall, but this is nice because it cools me down. For the first time ever, I’d managed to forget my phone, so I can enjoy the rain without worrying about ruining electronics.

Before long this turns into movie rain. There was sideways rain and stinging rain and even some that came up from the ground. I’m riding through puddles that reach my feet in the pedals. The temperature drops by what feels like 20 degrees. I’m counting lightning and thunder reports like lifeguards. I’m this close to finding someone’s porch to hide under.

That’s when the hail started. At first they were tiny little bits that were so unremarkable you wouldn’t notice. Is that … hail? Now I’m riding with wet socks and watching ice bounce off the asphalt. I hear it striking my bike, trying to notice the difference between an aluminum and a carbon fiber impact.

The hail is getting larger. Marble sized, in fact. I find myself in a weird position of needing to get home, but dreading going any harder because hail hurts. Now I can hear it thunking and plunking off the shell of my helmet. I’m in the neighborhood, but riding faster means more hail, somehow. I put my hands right over the stem and hope my back is up to the challenge. I’ve got a half mile to go.

A minivan pulls up and offers to give me a lift. “It is getting nasty out,” the stranger says.

Yes, it is. But I’m almost home. The nice thing about riding in the rain is that wet socks make my feet heavier, and that means the pedals turn faster. I don’t even remember the last hill onto our road. I think I top it better than ever before, but the hail still looks like it is growing when I make it to the porch. I’m drenched, laughing and cold. I open the door and ask my lovely bride to bring me a towel. But there is no towel to be had. She is not home.

She’s out looking for me because there’s a bad storm coming, apparently, and I didn’t have my phone for the first time ever. She tells me I’m in trouble. We laugh about this while I dry my bike. Riding in the rain is great. Riding in the hail might mean something entirely different.

Other things I learned on this ride:

Honey Stinger’s packaging keeps their product dry even in a blinding rainstorm. I had one in my pocket for the drenching and figured I should try and eat it as I got cleaned up. If I’m soggy, I figured, I wouldn’t feel too bad about eating something that was also full of rain water. But the waffle held up, and that’s comforting.

Putting balled up pieces of paper in your shoes dries them out.

Your standard cycling kit, which is designed to wick away moisture as you ride, can get so wet in the rain that it takes hours to dry. It takes only about 20 minutes when you pull it out of the washer, though. There was a lot of rain.

Turns out trees were downed. The high school nearby had a fence ripped up in the wind. In one of those weird dynamics of storms I didn’t get any of the wind.

We drove through another small storm cell this evening to have dinner in Prattville. Picked up Brian, who’s going on a beach trip with us this weekend. We had barbecue at Jim ‘N’ Nicks. Haven’t been to one in ages. Miss the place. We more than made up for it in peppermints, though.

And since we are traveling tomorrow, I must pack tonight. So here are some links to bide your time.

More than 1,000 shots recorded by Birmingham’s ShotSpotter during July 4th holiday. I find this difficult to believe, somehow. Bullets are expensive, after all.

Federal judge: Websites must comply with Americans With Disabilities Act. This will be huge.

Forget politics, here are 10 things that really divide Americans. Number one is “Dogs.” You can stop reading after that. And probably ignore everything else the site ever publishes on anything. They didn’t even include the Continental Divide.

5 things the public wouldn’t know without FOIA. FOIA is your friend.

Smartphones hardly used for calls. Great chart to ponder there. Jeff Jarvis writes:

Mobile = local = around me now. Mobile is my personal bubble. It is enhanced convenience, putting the device and the world in my hand. But next imagine no device: Cue the war between Siri and Google Glass to eliminate the last mediator, the thing.

I see companies assuming that mobile requires maps and geography or apps and closed worlds. But I think what we now mistakenly call mobile will instead be about getting each of us to what we want with fewer barriers and less effort because the service has gathered so many signals about us: who we are, where we are, what we like, whom we know, what we know, what we want to know, what we buy…. The power of what we now call mobile, I believe, is in signal generation and the extreme targeting and convenience that enables.

What we call “mobile” is disruptive in ways we can’t yet figure out. We call it “mobile” but we should call it “what’s next.”

Finally, News Cat gifs.

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