Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Leg Stretch

Sofa ride time.

I really just needed to go out and stretch my legs, so I climbed onto the hybrid and set out to pedal the neighborhood. The computer on the hybrid doesn’t work, so I couldn’t worry about things like pace or cadence even if I wanted to, and sometimes that’s a good thing.

As I set out, I passed a red headed guy out for a walk. I only saw him from the rear, since the idea of staring at him as I passed him seemed rude, but he turned his head slightly as I approached, and I thought that I saw a bushy red moustache to go with the read hair.

I was ducking into and out of every cul-de-sac in the place, not raising my heart rate and barely breaking a sweat despite the heat and humidity. I saw the red headed guy in the distance at another point, and then, after a couple of loops and swoops we ended up facing each other. As I got closer to him, I realized that “he” was, in fact, a “she” and there was nothing even vaguely resembling a moustache. I don’t know what made me think there was.

Offering a silent apology, I moved on.

I decided to go across the road and on into faerie land – a magical place that I only visited once before.

To get there, you travel down a road that is in positively terrible condition, filled with cracks, ruts and potholes. Then you see a sign that says, “State Maintenance Ends” and the road immediately becomes wonderful – smooth and easy to ride on. Make of that what you will. You then pass a sign that says, “Private Property”. If you are brave enough to continue on, you go over three speed bumps and you have arrived where the sun shines brighter but isn’t so hot and the air is sweeter and more refreshing.

As I approached the entrance to faerie land I saw a man on a bike ahead of me. He was not wearing a helmet, and he had what appeared to be a baby seat attached behind his saddle. Just as I had this thought he hit the first of the speed bumps, and the bundle behind his saddle bounced up and almost out like that stuntman in the chariot scene from Ben Hur. Not a baby then. Perhaps a bag of groceries.

I took a little turn to pass by the swimming pool. The last time I had seen it, it had resembled nothing so much as a science experiment, but now the water was blue, clear, cool and inviting. Nice.

I headed back to the road and pedaled on. Ahead of me, I saw the man on the bike go to the right, so I went left. I didn’t want him to think I was following him, after all.

At the end of the road I came to a spot I had seen once before: it was a cul-de-sac surrounded by trees. There were more houses on the other side of the trees. The ground sloped downward at the point and there was a narrow wooden bridge over a ditch. I went down the slope and over the bridge, and I was not in faerie land anymore. I know this because the first thing I saw was a rusted out pickup truck, and the first thing I smelled was cigarette smoke hanging in the air. There was a sharp downturn in the condition of the houses and of the road. (I suspected that State Maintenance hadn’t ended here.) I rode around until I found myself at a road I knew, and then I turned around.

As I headed back toward faerie land, I passed the guy on the bike. He did, in fact, have a baby in the seat behind his saddle. The child was wearing a helmet and was strapped in, but when he went over the speed bump, either the kid wasn’t strapped in or the straps were made of elastic, because the child went six inches up into the air at that point.

From this side, the slope down to the bridge was steeper and there was a raised lip on the bridge. It was harder to get back into faerie land than it had been to get out of it. As I headed down the slope and over a root, I thought about all the mountain bike riders who wouldn’t even have deigned to call this an obstacle. I am not of their number, but I made it back across with nothing more than a little spike in my heart rate.

I cruised the smooth roads and headed back out the way I had originally come in. A sheriff’s car passed me, and, a few minutes later, passed me again headed the other way. Interesting. Perhaps there can even be trouble in faerie land?

I headed back home after that. What else could compare, after all? It was a nice ride, if a little bit strange in spots.

See you on the road.

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