|I always fall for pretty colors being a visual person. This is from the bridge at Gray's Lake.|
Another beautiful January day. 65F when I checked before leaving work. Because I need to carry a load home I take the 520. So I take the long way home after work. 61st to Thornton the SW56th. This route takes me to McKinley and then a left turn on to the GWT about 1 mile south of Orlando's.
On 56th the commercial and industrial landscape turns to rural residential lp tanks, farm land and dead cars. The first signs of douche baggery become visible after the right turn at Sieg Works. A house that uses trees and shrubs for privacy. Unfortunately, the land between the shrubs and the road are covered with discarded beer vessels, auto parts and other evidence of human activity. Perhaps the people who dwell here do not take this road and therefore are obvious to the mess on their land. Maybe they are douche bags that do not care. The road takes a sharp turn to the left and goes by their front lawn. A rusty Buick with its hood ajar greets people 6 feet from the road. The rest of the property is similar, scattered debris of broken dreams and hording.
But these people are not the only douches on this road. Although the rest of the homeowners keep up on their property they all fail to clean up after the beer swilling douche bag that leaves empty Steel Reserve cans from the GWT to Thornton. Not only SR but Busch Light, Natty Light, an occasional Bud Light and bottles of the 40 oz variety sprinkled with a rare Heineken. Every time I travel this road this is what I see. They do not bother to pick this trash up. When the shoulders are mowed the cans are chewed up and left.
Half way up the final hill someone deposited a deer carcass. Possibly they were feeding the coyotes. Further up the hill there has been a garbage bag of clothing ripped open. It has been there for 3 months, bras and all.
McKinley is not much better but there are no home on the stretch from 56th to the GWT trail so things like mattresses and empty laundry detergent bottles get discarded here. More blue and white beer cans, too, and the Steel Reserve in paper bags.
The section of the GWT from McKinley to Park Ave is a little over a mile long. This is my section of trail. Countless times I give 110% riding to the trail head on this stretch. Generally, no douche baggery here. One time, however, at night with a group of friends Mary and I made our break here and nearly killed everyone because a pair of douches without lights suddenly appeared after we committed. The longest second ever. Staring at death, squeezing the brakes as hard as I could, damn those behind me, and getting back in the pack. Johnny Paco was behind me. He would have been my first victim. I was speechless. JP called them assholes. Thank you.
But today was different. Different douche bags were in the air. After the turn onto the trail I re situated myself on the bike and glanced into the mirror. Something shiny. Could be the sun reflecting off a sign or another bike. Back stretched out, hands on the brake hoods time to pedal.
The wind was a bit strong from the north.. That is the usual Iowa air battle, warmer south air versus the cold north. Keep a low profile and pedal. One mile, nothing bad. This is my mile. I own it. Another glance in the mirror and nothing to see. Recall Mirror Rant posting a few months ago.
As usual the lights were not favoring me at the Park Ave intersection. 4 bikers on the other side waiting patiently to cross. I hit the button and hoped for the light to change. It took forever. The road was too busy to run the light but I looked for an opportunity. It is bullshit to have to wait so long on the light. This is the only drawback to taking the long way home. Then the shiny object from the mirror pulled up. Two females on newer road bikes. And as luck would have it the light finally changed. I jumped.
The next section of trail is very short. Orlando's to George Flagg Rd. Almost dangerous because after the trail head parking lot there is a sharp turn to the blind intersection of Flagg. Large trucks, utility vehicles and semi trucks barrel down this crumbling POS road at and above the 45 mph posted speed. These vehicles cannot be seen until you are 3 feet from the road. I like to stop and look both ways when crossing. Cue Murder.
But what do I hear when I am about to give the signal from the brain to the hands to squeeze the cantilevers and slow the bike down? "ON YOUR LEFT" in a female voice. You got to be fucking kidding me. Passing someone here? Is this person high? Is this person unfamiliar with this intersection? Has this woman seen a Steve King movie? I held my line. She had plenty of room. To pass me here would be the 2nd douchey move you made today. The first was announcing the pass.
Crossing the road was easy enough. Downshift one gear to get rpm increased. Flagg to the road in Water Works is short enough but there is a 90 degree turn at the end and a curvy bit. I signal my turn, no cars so I take it wide with speed.
With my speed maintained I up shift one then two and bring the bike up to 19 mph. Yeah, I know, slow. But after all I am riding a lugged and brazed steel touring bike with front and rear panniers, some not zipped shut, loaded with work clothes, warm layers from the morning commute and 12 Naked Juice bottles that were about to expire. The bike was state of the art in 1991. 7 speed Hyperglide with a 50, 44, 28 tooth crank. I read somewhere that it weighs 26 lb WITHOUT racks and bags and dirty clothing and Naked Juice. 19 mph seemed good at the time.
Occasionally they got close. I could here some tune from the 90s, "simply unbelievable" it went. But I maintained this comfortable pace. The trick is to make them work at it and not to burn yourself out when on a slower bike. Keep a reserve. So IF and WHEN they pass you do not drop like a turd. This allows the possibility of drafting and recovery and ultimately SAVING FACE.
Getting close to my turn I was still feeling strong. My turn was where the trail to Gray's Lake begins. Then the third douche bag move they made occurred. Now passing near my turn is not bad in and of itself. BUT passing then slowing right in front of me is. WTF??!!?? Pass me and be gone! Do not slow me down. You wanted the lead then take it. Establish some distance, please.
Apparently they were also turning but to the north over the Raccoon River bridge. I heard them conversate about this as I examined the rider in front of me. Skinny female with lower back exposed. Decent tan for January, probably artificial or some Southern or non-European genetics. Bike shorts too big or ass and waist too small. She had them cinched inside. Awful look but kept them up. Boney spine. The spine is what got me for a second. This weird thought went through my damaged brain.
What if deer ate humans? Would they go after the meat that grows along the spine, the back strap, as we humans prize from the deer?
Then back to the situation at hand. I had to get these girls out of my way so I could maintain momentum and make my turn without sacrificing precious speed and energy. The trail was clear. These douche bags were the only thing in my way and I was occasionally activating the brakes to scrub speed.
"Turning the other way," my announcement startled them. "He's still there?" I read from the look on their faces. Yes bitches I am. It took you over two miles to pass me at the very moment before you had to turn. Object impermanence? Scoot over so I can continue forward since you have already slowed me down. Nothing more douchey on a bike than to pass someone and then slow down immediately. Car drivers do that! Can a woman be called a douche bag?