Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The absolutely last, final bike ride home

Last nite I rode my bike home.

End of the road
Now, that in itself is not at all unusual - I do it all summer, and most of spring and fall.  In early spring and late fall, I don't make the entire ride - I ride from Shilshole to the Ballard Locks, and put my bike on the rack on the front of the bus - this is enough of a ride to be invigorating, and it keeps Jane from having to fire up The Beast just to deliver/pick me up at the end of the bus route.

But last nite, the bus didn't come.  I don't know what it is with the 46, but it seems to be the most unreliable bus in the system.  So there I stood at the bus stop last nite, with my bike, waiting for a bus that never came.  "No problem!" I thought, "I'll just hop on my bike and ride home!"  Having the bike does give you a great feeling of freedom.  So I coasted down The Av and turned right onto the Burke-Gillman trail.


Things are certainly different from the last time I rode the trail, earlier in the year.  There are leaves everywhere - slippery, wet leaves.  As a thin sheet covering everything, and in wet, sloppy drifts that try to grab your wheel and pull it out from under you.

And it is dark.  I mean really dark - the trail is not lit, and so the only light is what filters in from nearby street lighting.  And my little headlight?  Well, it is more of a "please don't hit me" light, warning oncoming traffic that I am there.  It does almost nothing to illuminate the route.

There is not much traffic - bikes or pedestrians.  But what there is, is a real problem.  Many of the oncoming bikes have headlights that are seemingly as bright as car headlights - they blind me...  to the trail, and more importantly, to the pedestrians.

The pedestrians and joggers are the real concern - they are very difficult to see (why do so many wear black coats?!) - literally impossible to see if there is an oncoming bike with one of those very bright lights.  But blessings be upon you pedestrians/joggers that have retro-reflective stripes on your outer clothing!  My flashing headlight makes those stripes flash back at me, as if they were internally illuminated.  Those stripes really work!

It is a good thing that I have ridden the trail so much in daylight - there are several places where the trail curves and where it is simultaneously very dark.  Without the daytime familiarity, and with only my weak "don't hit me" headlight, I am certain that I would have been off in the weeds (or worse, splash!) in one of these corners.

I have two criteria that I use to determine whether or not I'll leave the boat on my bicycle in the morning:
  • Can I get to the bus stop reasonably dry?  I don't want to start the day in wet clothing, and
  • Is there frost on the dock?  I don't want to start the day in clothing wet with saltwater either.
So, aside from the scary dark experience last nite, those two criteria are closing in.   I am hereby declaring that the biking season over, for me anyway.  The bike goes into storage this weekend.

And the skis come out.


Anonymous said...

"I have two criteria that I use to determine whether or not I'll leave the boat on my bicycle in the morning:"

Must be one heck of a bike. So - you get them to lift the boat and then what? Bungee cords and a couple of straps? But the up side is if you get the sails right, you don't have to peddle uphill.

Robert Salnick said...

Anon -

The hardest part is to get the boat to balance there, on the seat.


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