It’s often annoying living in a city with suburban-centric news outlets. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, which moved from downtown to outside the perimeter five years ago, divides its “Metro” section by outlying counties rather than the city’s neighborhoods, and the only parts of the intown area that local TV stations pay attention to are crime and corruption.
One of the perks of this skewed focus, however, is that when local weather forecasters predict a 70-percent chance of thunderstorms all weekend, there are good odds of seeing little rain in Atlanta proper. In the meteorologists’ defense, dense and darks clouds crowded the city’s sky throughout much of this past Saturday and Sunday, but it was beautiful how many residents chose not to notice.
I had a day full of errands and activities that I expected to be washed out Saturday, so I got a 7am start to finish all that I could before the downpours began. The next thing I know, it’s 7pm and I’m cruising down Memorial Drive with hundreds of other cyclists for the “One Ride” portion of Atlanta Cycling Week.
Like the spokes of a wheel, different cycling groups set off from various parts of Atlanta and met in the heart of the city, then rode en masse toward the Beltline for food, beer and, for my set, a steady rotation of blunts unthreatened by rain drops. It was a wholesome celebration of biking, which, although I’ve been a commuter cyclist for almost two decades, is bringing new joy to my weekly routine.
About two months ago, I started riding with a crew that shares my passion for city cycling — the lights of Peachtree Street, the pulse of neighborhoods like Cabbage Town and Capitol View. We’re essentially the folks most drivers want to assassinate, but since we’re a mostly black group engaged in what’s widely perceived as a white activity, we get more honks and shouts of encouragement than rage.
I’ve always been aware of how much harder it is to make friends as an adult, and I’m grateful for a new social outlet introducing me to some dope and kindred spirits. However, it’s been a while since I’ve frequented predominantly straight circles, so I’ve had to discipline my desires and recalibrate my discernment between friendship and flirtation — because, under normal circumstances, as good a time as we’re having, we probably would’ve fucked 10 minutes ago.
The threat of severe weather was even greater Sunday, but all day I saw people outside running and biking, barbecuing and carrying sheet cakes to graduation parties. Thunder boomed as I entered Piedmont Park around 5pm, a chill blew over Midtown, the smell of rain filled the air, and it felt like a Category 5 thunderstorm was minutes away.
And no one cared. The joggers continued their pace, the kickballers kept up their intensity, and I saw a family desperately searching for an available grill to start their picnic.
I was at Piedmont for Indigenous House, which started 27 years ago as a group of friends playing house music in the park, and is now a permitted, Class D festival. The crowd was an ethereal mix of ages and ethnicities, and although it was predominantly gay, straight couples were scattered across the dance floor, at home in the collective sway.
One woman wore a “Not Today, Satan” tee, and in this instance, Satan might as well have been a thunderstorm, because nobody had time for that. It was one of those weekends that make me fall in love with Atlanta all over again, and the type you never see in the news.