First Monsoon

Ride report, July 2

The skin on my arms was beet red and puckering from hailstone impacts.  I was riding my bicycle on Snowbowl Road when the first monsoon of the season let loose.  A grey cloud drop had appeared in the morning above the San Francisco Peaks and steadily grew.  By midmorning deep rumbling thunder was sounding and a few dense raindrops splattered on the pavement.  When I looked to the south the sky was a crystalline blue unique to Arizona.  The Peaks were creating their own weather.  At mile marker two on my second repeat the pauses between rain drops ceased and cold air descended in heavy downdrafts.  I turned around just before the torrent was unleashed.  The pavement darkened and  washed over in seconds, completely slickened.  I rode carefully as this being the first rain in months, no doubt there was oil and industrial fluid washing away, left by leaking motor vehicles and probably some splatters from bicycle and motorcycle chains.  I made it down without getting too cold and the lightning strikes were not terribly close.  Most of Highway 180 on the way back into town was dry.  Past the alpine gardeners pullout on the descent towards the city limits the forest clears to the north and vista of the entire mountain opens expansively.  There it was, a curtain of rain showers drifting down, the droplets coalescing into a three dimensional liquid veil across the classic silhouette of the mountain reigning over town.  Monsoon season has arrived in the high country.  Cyclists, ride early and carry your wool covers!  When you hear the bird song that precedes the huge thunder reverberating off the mountain sides, begin considering a bee line for the sweet shelter of home!

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