Thursday, May 14, 2009

Walk and Ride

In honor of bike to work week, I ended up walking to work. I suppose that’s a bit messed up, but that’s how it is. Work, by the way, is about six miles away from home, so it’s a bit of a hike. The problem was that circumstances beyond my control (or at least beyond my awareness) meant that I had to leave my bike at work a while bike, and a good opportunity for getting it back home again was slow in coming. Today turned out to be the day.

The six miles are practically all on the same road – two lanes, with the speed limit ranging from 45 to 55 mph and no shoulder. It actually isn’t a bad ride (assuming the traffic is right) but it’s a bit difficult to walk. This is largely due to one two mile section during which the road is bordered by corn fields and wheat fields and then a bunch of trees.

There is a ditch that runs along the road maybe 18 inches away. It is generally filled with black water and a variety of plants. The ground between the road and the ditch slopes downward toward the ditch, so the footing is a bit uncertain, and the thought that, if you stumble one way you get smacked by a car and if you stumble the other way you end up standing in the black water is a bit disconcerting.

The most beautiful section, where woods border the road on both sides, is the worst for walking, since it’s unmowed and the grass before the trees is lush, thick and very high. At one point, I was standing there as a truck towing a very large farm vehicle (large, in fact, than the lane it was occupying) came toward me. I wanted to move farther away from the road, but something that seemed quite large was scuttling around under the plants just there. Nice.

I finally got to work where a few little details had to be taken care of, then I climbed in the saddle and headed back home. Unfortunately, my bike had been here for rather longer than I realized, so the tires were a bit soft. Well, it was only six miles. I could live with that.

(My first group ride was also my first 20 miles ride. It was hard, but I enjoyed it. My bike was still so new that it was due for a free servicing the next day. I went in an told Steve about the ride, and he said, “You might have enjoyed it more if you have more than 20 pounds of pressure in your tires.” That was how I learned you have to check the air in your tires a lot more often than I thought you did.)

The ride home was more fun than the walk to work, but, as you can imagine, I didn’t push the pace at all. I just cruised gently along on my soft tires. I don’t know what kind of picture I present all kitted out and riding my road bike. I probably look like nothing on this earth, but I was struck at that moment with how I must have looked just then sitting up on the hybrid and wafting my way along in comparison to how I look pushing the pace into a headwind. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ride bicycles.

I was also a bit concerned, as I rode back along the route I had just walked, to notice how many dead snakes there were right at the edge of the road. Hmm. So how many live snakes were there hidden in the grass I had walked through earlier? Best not to think about that.

Steve says, “Any walk over a quarter mile sucks. That’s why I always carry a spare tube.” Well, all I can say is that riding back over that road was sweet. My legs were tired and my feet were tired and I was glad to be pedaling instead of walking.

I’m ready for a real ride now, though, and the weather and my work schedule may combine to allow me to get it. I hope so.

See you on the road.

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