At least I was not out cycling when THIS hit town! (photo by Greg)

I scowled out at the grey sky that afternoon and then looked at the calendar one more time. Sure enough, it was the first Saturday of June 2000, two weeks before my favorite bike rally. For weeks I had been preparing for the Tour of Italy – that’s “It-lih,” a small Texas town, not to be confused with “It`-uh-lee,” as in Europe. My goal was the 100-kilometer “Metric Century” route, which translates to about 62 miles Texan.

When you’re training for a rally, two weeks beforehand is the time for the longest training ride, which should be about two-thirds of the target mileage. I needed at least 41 miles, then, and I needed them today. Sure, the forecast mentioned a chance of rain, but it hadn’t rained in forever. Besides, a little water never hurt anyone, right?

So I ignored the clouds and pedaled off to the south, then west. At the farthest point, just over 20 miles, I turned north again. Soon after, I turned off the main road, glancing back over my shoulder at the sky as I did.

Good news: Grey clouds no longer blanketed the southwest.

Bad news: Those clouds had turned into a towering mass of navy blue thunderheads, traveling in my general direction.


The first large, slow drops hit me within minutes, and soon it began raining in earnest. Plenty of trees grew along the roads but the raindrops drilled right through the canopy. As accumulated oil floated loose, the pavement became so slick that I had to slow down, practically walking around corners. By the time the oil had washed off and the road was just kind of slick, I was soaked through.

The terrain turned to fairly steep rolling hills. Naturally, that’s when the lightning started to strike. I ducked as I topped each hill, whatever good that would have done, and started looking for shelter. There were some houses out there, but I hesitate to knock on strangers’ doors. You just never know.

After nine miles in the storm, I was shivering with cold and the lightning had stepped it up. I decided I would stop at the first house that had “Little Tykes” toys in the yard, figuring that a family with young children was less likely to house an axe murderer. But then I saw the Railroad Crossing sign. I knew that the Banana Boat restaurant lay not far beyond those tracks, and they would have a phone and probably no axe murderers, so I breathed a prayer and made a run for it.

Never have I been so happy to pull a bike up onto a porch. I stepped inside the building and stood dripping on the indoor-outdoor carpet.

Suddenly a masculine voice rang out from the bar area, where happy hour appeared to be underway. “Dawrlinn,” it drawled, “would you cayre for a bev-er-age?” The speaker was a blonde man in work clothes, who had turned toward the door as I came in. He looked younger than me and had a longer pony tail.

An astonishing number of things ran through my mind in the next millisecond:

1 ) “Bev-er-age” = “beer,” which I don’t even like.
2 ) Who are you calling Darlin?
3 ) How dare this redneck try to pick up a respectable middle-aged wife / mom / church secretary?

Fortunately, in the same millisecond and before I could go all stiff and huffy, a few more thoughts popped up:

4 ) I am wearing helmet, sunglasses and Lycra, and am wringing wet.
5 ) As such, I look neither middle-aged nor particularly respectable.
6 ) I also bear no resemblance to one’s typical idea of a church secretary.
7 ) I’m the one who walked into a bar during happy hour. This is his turf, not mine.
8 ) This man is offering hospitality to a damsel in distress, so cut him some slack. Sheesh, give the guy props for speaking to me at all, the way I look.

And so instead of snubbing him, I told him cheerfully that I planned to get me some coffee. By this time I had been inside the building for about ten seconds. The owner appeared, solicitous over my bedraggled state. He let me use the phone, then handed me a pile of bar towels and invited me to go dry off in the ladies’ room. He also brewed fresh coffee and then would not let me pay for it.

Both my muscles and my heart had thawed considerably when Brent arrived to rescue me. I gave back the towels, thanked the owner – again – and bid a friendly farewell to Mr. Redneck.

Two lessons have stayed with me from that experience. First, don’t judge. Second, pay attention to the stupid weather forecast!

Thanks for reading–

And now for some company — I’m linking up with Company Girl Coffee.

About Jan C. Johnson

Welcome! If you like food, reading, laughing over life's little disasters, and maybe thinking about the bigger things of life, you have come to the right place. Besides blogging, I write humorous fiction, though real life tends to leave fictional humor in the shade. But I'm not a total goofball. No, really. I'm also working on a biography project. I live in North Texas with my husband, Brent. We enjoy bicycling, Mexican food, and traveling to visit our kids and grandkids.
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12 Responses to Bedraggled

  1. Brent Johnson says:

    This isn’t the only time she’s gotten caught out in a storm.


  2. Jeannine or Grandma Johnson says:

    That is a cute story.
    Rednecks can be rough around the edge but can have a good heart.
    and as for clouds right now they don’t mean a thing, but some days they do.
    Love, Mom


  3. lora says:

    How could I NOT read? That was awesome writing and a captivating read!
    What a story! 🙂
    Isn’t it funny how your perspectives change as we get older and more “respectable”. 😉
    I’m finding that I’m falling in love with offering hospitality on the streets, at the check out counters, in the post office… to the people of my community. I really think it’s a combo. of God’s Good Work in me, and the responses we get as “women” versus what we got as “girls”.
    Thanks for linking this. I will be visiting again for more good stuff like this!
    In Him,


    • Jan says:

      Welcome, Lora, and I do appreciate your thoughts. You’re right about the different responses: as we get older our kindness can be given a motherly interpretation rather than a “flirty” one.


  4. joyceandnorm says:

    Wow! What a story! I’m glad you found shelter. My husband checks the weather all the time. I was nagging him about it one time because he just keeps checking. But after awhile, I realized that I always asked him what the weather would be so I could think of what clothes to put the kids in the next day. I guess we just need to be prepared.


    • Jan says:

      Thank you, Joyce. I’m with you; my husband is the one who’s good about checking the weather. I often potter around during the forecast, then just ask him for the essentials.


  5. Being from Norway you learn very early to check the weather, living in Seattle you learn to check the hour for hour forecast. Still I do regularly get caught in the rain, but there is nothing like a bikeride in rain and hail with your two year old on the back of your bike. Jepp that’s me with my daughter in our raingear singing the cat in the hat song… GO go go on an adventure… Love your story, but must admit I am glad we don’t have many thunderstorms here.


    • Jan says:

      Seattle IS quite wet, isn’t it? What a charming picture: you and your little one merrily riding through nasty weather in your raingear! I told Brent about it too. Thanks for visiting and commenting!


  6. I loved the story. I have had some trouble getting my training runs in due to the weather so I can relate to this story! One day I ran 7 miles in the pouring down rain & it was quite miserable. I’m glad they helped you out & also were not axe-murderers at the Banana Boat restaurant.

    And I must admit, it made me chuckle when your husband commented that it wasn’t the first time you’ve gotten caught in a rainstorm!! I’m glad that it was only a rainstorm and not the tornadoes.

    Are you not from Texas? When I first moved to TN from MN, I would have similar thoughts when strangers called me Honey, or Sugar, etc… I have adapted now & do it myself sometimes now!!


    • Jan says:

      Thanks, Kathleen! Yuck, running in the rain would be worse than bicycling in it! Although bike cleanup is probably more tedious than runner cleanup…

      My family moved to Texas when I was in first grade, but in my experience it’s mostly women who call everyone Honey, etc. Men seldom do that.


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