Saturday, February 21, 2009

An Afternoon Ride

It was a balmy 52 degrees Fahrenheit out, quite windy, and I only had an hour, but I couldn’t resist spending that hour on the bike. Under the peculiar illusion that it was warmer out than it really was (which it never is) I passed over the tights and decided to wear knickers (which is cycling lingo for “pants in which I look extraordinarily silly”) and hit the road.

I had a route already picked out. Being the science nerd that I am, I figured I’d kill two birds with one stone (no birds were harmed in the writing of this blog) and find out which of two routes to a certain point was longer while I was getting in a ride. This had the added advantage of taking me by the house.

I don’t really know much about the house. I had passed it on a few club rides quite some time ago and was quite surprised to pass it recently in the car. I hadn’t had any idea that I was anywhere near the house.

Okay, enough with the italics.

The house is a very nice and very very large house set well back from the road. Rumors abound about how much the house cost to build. I have been told (and I pass this on without vouching for it but also without prejudice) that the driveway alone cost a million dollars. The driveway is, in fact, two parallel driveways, and, while I don’t know how far back from the road the house is, I know that it’s a long way. The house was apparently built and then never lived in and has been vacant now for several years.

A few days ago while driving past, I saw a man jogging down the driveway. This made me consider the idea of riding my bike down the driveway and founding out just how long it is. I was discouraged from this, however, by the large red and black signs reading “Private Property.”

A thing that I noticed on this ride is that a lot of people didn’t want me to encroach on their property. This was a fact which they made clear with a variety of appropriately worded signs. (I hasten to add that none of these signs actually had my name on them, so don’t I suppose they were addressed specifically to me, but it was quite inhospitable all the same.)

And I still don’t know how long the driveway is.

The most exciting moment on my ride came when a Chihuahua ran out after me. Though I have been told of the mythical thirty mile an hour Chihuahua, this was more like a two and a half mile and hour Chihuahua, but it was well ahead of me and ran toward my just as I was cresting a hill. It was well placed in front of to dive directly under my front wheel if it had a mind to. Why it would want to do such a thing, I don’t know, but the only dog of this particular breed that I ever met socially did not dazzle me with its intellect.

I stopped and glared at the dog. It barked at me. I set off again and the dog kicked up its speed to run along beside me yapping hysterically. I gave it a spray from my water bottle and it stopped, quite stunned, clearly obviously unprepared for this tactic. As I rode off, I did hear a few plaintive yips from behind me, but that was it.

When you have done enough rides with a cycling club, you never ride alone, even when you ride solo. I had advice in various voices in my head along the way. As I was coasting down a hill, for example, coughing from the cold and panting from the effort I had made to get up the hill, I heard Keith saying, “Pedal up, pedal down.” Sometimes I took his advice, and sometimes I just coasted down. It was good advice, but I needed a little rest all the same.

One polite fellow in a car waved at me, another gave the absolutely politest quietest toot on his own horn I have ever heard to let me know he was coming up behind me. Everyone else passed with courtesy and safety, and I got some miles in. It was altogether a most excellent ride.

I’m ready for another one, though.

See you on the road.

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