After the work week in a cubicle in a government skyscraper I was itching for adventure! So I had breakfast with my 15 year old son (homemade pancakes for him, oranges for me) who did not want to go outside this chilly morning. He was not feeling too great, but was well enough to leave with his sleeping mother and older brother. For me it was bicycle time!
I took a different street than usual out of the neighborhood passing a young lady on her porch with her two large dogs. She waved and said good morning and her dogs launched! They raced me the length of the road, then headed back home at the stop sign. Ahead there was a fat man standing, smoking in his front yard with a small, yapping, leash pulling mutt. He cussed out the poor dog to shut the <censored> up you little <censored>! I sailed down the big hill past them, around a sharp right angle curve and onto a busy road running two stop signs without slowing. They should be yield signs anyway.
Pedaling along in my son’s old high school soccer jersey I noticed a teenage girl riding with her mom passing me in their minivan. She was smiling and then frowned and turned away when she realized I was a grownup.
I was making good time down a hill when another minivan up ahead backed onto the road. Who backs into traffic? I nearly caught up to it, but then he took off and I just kept going on the white line, kind of gaining on him but ready for him to pull away as cars tend to do. Then without warning he took a sudden right blocking my way! Screech went my back tire as I skidded a bit sideways to keep from T-boning the van. He was oblivious. I gave him a “WTF?” wave and a lady passed me holding her palms upward shrugging in a mutual “WTF?” gesture.
All this adventure less than ten minutes into the ride!
It was a blustery fall day. Windy that is. The kind of wind that makes the US flags stand out straight like sheets of rippling plywood. Leaves and litter raced right along with me like the dogs. Easy speed. Other times, most of the time it seemed, the wind was severely anti-Steveward.
I rode to the Chickasaw Trace mountain bike course seeing a couple of vehicles with mountain bikes on their roofs or trunktop carriers passing me. I veered off the park road, across a ditch and onto the end of the “Trail of Tears” instead of starting at the official start. What a tough ride. Steep uphills. Insane downhills. Roots. Rocks. Hairpin turns. After a mile of that I got to the start and rode the easy flat part along the creek. It seemed different. Looked like someone had worked on the trail… DROP! Yeah, they had moved the trail! A sudden and deep drop with a right angle turn at the bottom took me by surprise but no crash. Close one though!
I was cranking up a hard, hard steep rocky stretch that I have yet to clear without having to put my feet on the ground at least over a few pedal scarred rocks. Was that brakes I heard? I turned to see there was a guy behind me. “You’re OK! Keep going!” he yelled. I did, making it farther than ever before but still having to bale. He passed and I saw how you make this part. Maybe next time. Although he did ride over a rock the size of a fat suitcase, and this is steep uphill mind you, so I don’t know if I’ll make that any time soon, but someday.
More riding riding riding. Alone. Slaloming through the trees, the trail soft and slippery with leaves concealing roots, rocks and fat green walnuts. “On your right!” a second young guy in a yellow jersey yelled as he passed smiling but intense. There’s always someone younger, thinner and more fearless than you are, placed there to keep your ego in check.
A mile or so later I came up on a chubbyish man and his preteen son who he instructed to get out of the way “Rider coming through!” he yelled. I slowed and passed them on the right barely missing trees saying “You’re OK! Keep going!” There’s always someone faster, thinner and more fearless than you are, you see. Eventually I broke out of the woods and back onto the park road for the long ride back to town.
When I got home, the wife was warm and cozy on the sofa still in her pajamas, one son sleeping the other playing in his room. Sadly they will never know the adventure they missed, waiting just outside the door. But I’ll tell them about it and maybe someday at least one of them will come along or go out on their own.
(Originally posted on 11/13/2010 9:54 PM)