Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Broke Dick Biker or Exile on Indianola Ave

Not mine but sorta similar.  I like the text!

Sam Auen's hurtin' ribs reminded me of a time that I felt like I was hit by a truck.  I believe it was on June 6, 2010, that my biggest fear confronted me and slammed me onto the ground.  Bicycle crash at high speed.    For years I often thought about how awful it would be to crash a bike at high speed.  I think about this every time I ride fast down hill.  It does not stop me from riding this way, but it makes me think.  After that day in June I think about it more.

The south side of Des Moines is geographically marked  by three zones: flood plain, cliff and numerous hills in that order from the river to the county line.  Living in the flood plain I must climb my way out if I desire to go south of Little Italy.  And consequently, I have several opportunities to fly downhill on my return.  Indianola Ave is my favorite.

I first encountered this road on the Mayor's Ride way back during the John Pat Dorian era.  They routed us down this long steep hill.  I hit 40 mph on my Mottobaccane.  This is my standard.  Two lanes in both directions with a stop light on the top and other one after the road flattens givers bikers an excellent opportunity to get into the 40s.

On this particular day I went to a friend's house south of County Line Rd.  Sam is smart.  He bought his house in Warren County.  I helped him move furniture.  Just a shade over 6 or 7 miles south of my house, which is not a considerable distance, it is a pain in the ass to get there and back.

I usually take SE 6th/5th all the way, mostly, avoiding the high traffic narrow sections.  Sometimes I opt for sidewalk action on SE14.  There is an option to take SW12th/SW14th but that is out of my way and requires riding up Mac Rae Park.  This is extremely steep and out of my way and places my way out of my way on a busy narrow road with a shit sidewalk.  On this day I took one of the former and SE5/6TH back.  At night that road is safe enough.

Decision was made at the intersection of SE6th and Indianola Ave.  I could go forward and cross to enjoy a short steep descent, what out for rough pavement by a church and hit the light at Hartford, turn left on Hillside and wind back home.  OR I could turn left and get a run for a loooonnnngggg modestly steep hill and try to hit 40 mph and enjoy a view of the downtown skyline.  Been some time since I was in the 40s so I turned left.

The 520 was my bike that night.  26 lb without rack and bags, its weight is a good accelerant.  I have hit 44mph on this bike once before going into Elk Horn, Iowa, a long long time ago on a ride supporting what became the T-Bone Trail.  The possibility of my wish being granted was quite good.  the only thing really holding the bike back was the big ring.  50 tooth rings while good for accelerating and touring, are lacking in the downhill department I always felt and still do.  Strange, because the 2 times I'd been in the 50s, tandem, were with a 50 tooth ring.

The light near the intersection of the Git n Go was green.  Time to work the gears.  Hands in the drops.  Proper position is essential for speed.  Teach that back to stretch.  Besides, the drops are the best weapon against headwind.  7 speeds. I spin out each as I push the shifter forward with my right hand.  The 520 should have come with barcons but when I purchased it at Barr, used, it had downtube shifters.  Fine with me, I hate wrapping bars with barcons.  Work the gears until the 11 is reached on the cassette.  Then really stretch the back and keep head down.

Keep the head down.  Look up occasionally to see if there are cars or obstacles in the way.  Very important.  Things can change very quickly.  I've had clear lanes one glance and then bikes in my way at a later glance.  Today the road was empty.  Check speed, 30+  good,  Put head back down. 

At this point everything was going well and my mind began to drift.  Tomorrow is a big day at work.  Lots of shit to do.  It's late and I've lost at least an hour of sleep.  Been a great two weeks riding.  Got 200 miles last week and today is day two and I will have 50 by the time I get home.  Better look up.

Standing next to my bike I felt a bit confused.  What to do now?  I don't know how long I had been there.  Knowing me, I probably jumped up right away.  Instinct.  I looked at the bike, concerned that the front wheel had collapsed.  I always worry about this.  It seemed fine.  There was a bright light.  Must have been a car.  A voice, "do you need help?"  "Nope, I am fine."  Automatic response wired deep in the back of my brain.  "No thank you, please fuck off as I need to do this on my own."  Surely that was a thought not a verbage.  The light went away.  Good.  No need to drag strangers into this mess.  Having a hard enough time dealing with myself let alone others that I do not know.

Did I need help?  Why?  I am standing.  Always a good sign of health.  My arms are still attached.  Hands still there.  Obviously I still possess eyesight and hearing.  Breathing is not labored or noisy.  No sign of severe bleeding.  Well, it is dark, for all I knew I could bleed out before reaching my destination.  My bike is laying down beside me.  Something happened.  I picked up the bike and wondered which way I needed to go.  What destination?  Where am I going.  Lost? 

Oh yes, I am going home.  Must get to bed because I need to be at work tomorrow.  But where is home?  I look around and everything is a bit unfamiliar.  To this day I cannot tell you where exactly I landed.  But why did I crash?  I am standing on a sidewalk.  Someone's driveway is 3 feet from the bike.  Must have drifted onto it and wiped out.  But which way do I go now?

Look around again and I see the EMC building and immediately had my bearings.  That way.  One mile from home.  No hills.  The safety of residential neighborhoods.  Disappear and get home.  No need for speed.

Suddenly the shock wore off a bit and the pain hit.  I felt like I was tackled by a truck.  No where specific, just my entire midsection hurt.  Just get home and sleep this off.  Big day tomorrow.  Sleep and a shower will cure all.   Get back on and take it easy.

The ride home was slow.  No need to go fast.  The bike is handling ok.  Nothing on it seems busted.  Get home and sleep.  Everything will be better.  Leave the bike on the back deck.  Deal with it later.

Mary was asleep when I crawled in.  Must have been 1030 pm.  2am found myself awake.  The pain was just as intense as it was when I got home.  Humm...that is not part of my plan.  Go back to sleep.  The alarm will give me another 4 hours.

I woke again at 4 am.  The pain still as strong as ever.  Something is definitely wrong.  If I lasted this long I can wait until Mercy South opens.  Avoid the ER as it is full of people I  do not want nor need to see.  Cheaper to go to the clinic. 

I woke up Mary.  "Honey, I need you to call in sick today.  I think I really fucked up."

Anders did not have this option.  His kids were little when he limped home with a busted collar bone.  He had to take a cab.  All I have to do is wait for the kids to go to school.  Seems easy enough but someone needed something and my needs waited for a bit.

While the family was roaring back to life I cleaned up and assessed damage.  The shower was quick and refreshing but did not improve my condition.  Scrape on head.  Scrape on left elbow.  Chest looks a bit out of whack but pain is everywhere.  Nothing hurt more or less than anything else.  Orange shirt is completely green on the back from grass.  WTF did I auger in like a meteor?  The bike fared better.  Some grass on a the left brake hood.  Bar tape ripped as if a dog bit it.

My helmet fared worse.  Cracked in several places.  Giro saved my life that night.  Don't crash without one!

This lid's time has come.  Notice that the pads are shot and missing.  Got my $150 worth out it.

After what seemed like an eternity it was time to go.  First stop was at work.  Had to let them know that I would not be in today AND give them the keys to the company truck.  Visual face to face with the boss would be better than a phone call.  Besides, we had time to kill.  I think we had to make a stop for one of our children.

Finally we get to Urgent Care.  Not many people there.  I get a room quickly and wait for a decade.  This is when I really fall apart.  Felt like whiplash was setting in.  The severity  of it all washing over me.

I forget the name of the doctor.  Never saw her before, have not seen her since.  I did get a letter saying that she moved on to bigger and better or different.  Basic description of the incident and pain was given.  I was fighting back tears.  She asked me if I took anything for it.  No.  My kids go through our over the counter pain meds like Pez.  Rarely do we ever have anything in stock unless we plan ahead.  No planning lately.  She then started to touch me to evaluate my pain.  Clavicle was suspect.  When her finger touched my right clavicle my left hand made a fist and began a round house that surely would have cold cocked her if it was not for Mary grabbing my arm..  "Found the trouble maker.  Let's get you to x-ray."

If possible, if you find yourself in the x-ray room, take your cell phone with you.  There is a moment after the radiation dose and subsequent exam of the photo that you are left alone to stare at the aftermath of your sin.  And it is much easier to take a photo of it right then and there than ask them for a copy.  So there I was staring at the image of my bones.  Not a pretty sight.  my collar bone was in 3 pieces. One long piece was sunk just below the level of the outer two as if a press stamped into that position.  The doctor said that surgery was unlikely but that I needed to see an orthopedic.

Then she placed my arm in a sling, telling me that in order for the bone to heal that it needed to be immobilized.  A discussion of drugs then ensued and a prescription was given to me and an appointment with the ortho. 

STOP  If it is very likely that surgery is not necessary this all one needs for a broken clavicle.  A sling and a supply of pain meds.  Of course, a visit to the ortho to confirm that surgery is not needed I recommend.  But after that you just contribute to the ortho's boat payment and get unnecessary exposure to x-rays.  Sure, you may be given a brocure on rehabilitation of the shoulder after the 3rd or 4th visit but common sense is just as good.  You may need the ortho to write a work release for you and a release to work again.  BUT the healing process is pain killers and lack of arm movement.  I stopped visiting the ortho after my 3rd or 4th visit.

My ortho was and probably still is a real asshole that showed no concern for me whatsoever.  Sure, he thought I was in pain every time I saw him but my pride did  not allow me to take advantage of that for extra prescriptions, something I regret although I was not in pain.  But when the fucker walks out of the room without telling me he is done with the day's visit I get pissed off.  I hope to never see him under similar circumstances.

My recovery was spent managing pain.  1 Darvocet and 4 Aleve did the job.  I remember reading the drug information.  The first sentence said, "if you are an alcoholic DO NOT TAKE THIS MEDICATION."  Addiction and the use of Tylenol = dead liver.  So that Friday I went cold turkey.  I thought I was over the pain, having not felt any since the pills first took hold.  I wanted to drink some wine over the week end since most likely I'd be on the couch watching a movie.

I was wrong.  Saturday I woke up in pain.  My 5 pill cocktail to the rescue!  Put on Exile On Main Street, remaster, and drift away.  Mary was in a particularly chatty move but I could not form the words, "please be quiet and enjoy this music and stare at the ceiling."

Biking was difficult.  Having been on the 100+ miles a week kick I was quite sad that this campaign came to a halt.  I think I was at 16 weeks in a row,  So when one's goals are impossible, aim for older goals.  Ride at least once a week every week.  I had 50 miles the week of the crash so there was time to rest.  Now working downtown, a mere 2 miles away, did not really require a bike.  I walked.

A mile round trip to B&B Supermarket was my first ride since the crash and burn.  Scary.  The red bike really requires two hand when taking off.  I needed a cheap bike with "flat foot technology" but that was not going to happen.  That trip, that 1 mile was the only mile I rode that week.  Got one ride in and that was enough to say that I rode during that week.  The next week I had 30.  I got tired of walking to work.  I even rode to the ortho.

Sometime during this mess I received a phone call about my daughter Katie.  Apparently, she was at Mercy getting examined after a car hit her.  not the best news one wants to hear over the phone.  Given that I just downed my meds and was drifting into  la la land was not good either.  I had to drive a car to be there.

At this time we had a classic Saab 3 door.  Great little car for it was fun to drive and could carry 2 road bikes in back with the hatch shut and the bikes fully assembled.  Rare.  But today it was not fun.  Power assist steering was lacking and it was a 5 speed manual.  The ignition was located behind the shifter between the driver and passenger front seats.  Use of right arm/hand was necessary.  I have not driven for quite some time and certainly not since my crash.  Somehow I managed.  Fortunately, Katie was alright and 6 months later she received a check for the damage to her bike.  The wheels of insurance are fucking slow.

I felt healed enough for Ragbrai.  I captained the tandem and Timmy was my stoker and we had our panniers stuffed to the gills.  I carried the pain killers, now including vicadons.  It takes more upper body strength to control a tandem than a single.  I felt tired and sore after every day but I was doing what I loved most and with the people I loved most.  I live all year for this week and had over a month to heal.  The hundred mile week campaign started anew.  Back in the saddle again!!!

Pass the Wine

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Electronic Warfare

Been an interesting month for the occupants of Festung Ebar, our fortress of solitude in Little Italy.  Beautiful weather followed by shitty weather followed by beautiful weather and more shit. Yes, change of font.  I like this one better.  People would think that I would be taking advantage of the good weather.  And I have somewhat.  The winter that never happened yet never went away.

The weekends are a different story.  I tend to get my 100 miles between Monday and Friday and then slack on the next two days.  Such is life.  No love at all on the trail of dolls, no love lost.  February has been marred by shit weather on Saturdays.  The first weekend was BRR and it was started with some of the heaviest snow we experienced all winter.  But as quickly as it came it went away.  Yep, I stayed inside and only rode when I had to.  I made sure that I got my 100 miles in BEFORE the weekend.  I dropped out of BRR fearing that I would be stranded or have to ride 8 hours straight in wet cold conditions. 

The next couple of week ends have been much cooler or colder than their Monday through Friday counterparts.  If I don't need to ride then I don't.  But the week days have been great, mostly, a few hiccups now and then but some great temps and sunshine.  For this I am grateful.  These are the days that i get my miles.

Call it the blues.  But my life became even bluer last week.  Within 5 minutes of safely getting home Friday, my 'smart phone' went for a swim in my Diet Dew.  Cat like reflexes pulled the bastard out and removed the battery within nanoseconds but the damage was done.  I grabbed a bag of rice and let the phone dry out in there.  No joy.

Returning from the kitchen to my computer room I noticed that The Beast was on but the screen was blank except for a blinking cursor.  Hit reset.  Get the Pentium 4 screen, hear the fans turn and witness the blinking cursor again.  Unplug and reboot.  No joy.  Try to start in safe mode.  I forgot how to do that but brought up two different bios modes.  Still SOL.

Oh well, I still have the other pc.  Rebuilt and given to me by my buddy Sam.  Clean and empty on the HD I just use it for Panzer General and downloading music.  The Beast is almost completely full.  Time to call Sam Hildreth.  FUCK, dead phone.  Email.  Unfortunately, the remaining pc lacks anti viral software.  Do not let the children use it.  I am impressed that Dora listened to me and uses her siblings laptops.

Back to The Beast.  I think Sam built it for me 7 or 8 years ago.  A fast machine built for gaming.  Back then I flew virtual Focke Wulfs more than ride real bikes.  The Beast is a fast and hot computer that is past its prime.  Back in the day I flew in Fighter Ace I'd have to open the box to let it cool down.  Grab extra fans.  Give that bitch a blow job often to remove dust.  All fan cooled pcs are air cleaners and dust magnets.  But It is still a wonderful pc for music and videos and bike logs and photos.  All of lost, maybe.

So I have been scribbling down my mileage on a Christmas card until a day or two ago when I started a log on this puter.  This slow ass bitch but a stable and quiet machine.  I vaguely have a clue where I am for the year because I have been sharing the same bicycle computer between my 2 main winter bikes.  The other two bikes I have ridden lack computers but I have only a handful of miles on for them.

But what really makes me depressed is that my log from 1994 to present is on The Beast.  Sure, I can dig up the old paper logs that I stopped doing prior to 2007.  But that leaves a 5 year gap.  Should have sent the shit to the cloud.  If only I had emailed it to myself.  Oh well.  the HD can be saved or the files can be extracted.

The phone is another story.  It turns on.  It has a pull out keypad for those who have fat fingers and/or the fear of using the touch screen keys.  I always thought this was dead useless weight.  But now I learned how to text with it.  Just as long as it is in text mode it is a useful communication device.  If I get out of text mode i have to reboot the phone to text again.

One night this week it acted like a strobe light on my dresser.  I let it flash way until the battery died.  F it.  Thursday I charged it and discovered that it still works for texting despite having a dead touch screen  Took it to work Friday and AMEN the bastard works!!!

Still a bit buggy but fully functional until, Friday night, I plugged it in.  Touch screen FAIL.  Back to text only.

Friday was a fun ride to work.  Thursday it rained and later snowed.  I wore sandals on Thursday and got to work dry.  The commute home was wet but a light wet as the rain was soft.  Friday was a dry ride until I hit Park Ave.

As I have done all winter long, I looked at the falling snow and debated about putting the studded tires on.  I did not.  Jeri Ann Ritter said that the temps would not drop too much.  I gambled on that the snow would be rideable and with 50s for Sunday everything would clear up.  Once again it was true.

The layer of snow on the trail was crunchy and slowed the bike down somewhat.  It took an extra 10 minutes to get to work.  Absolutely zero slips or slides on the trail.  Park Ave was clear but wet.  Having taken the red bike I lacked the 520's mirror so I had to constantly look over my shoulder for cars before switching to the turn lane.

And then the one and only slip.  One last peak over my left shoulder.  And I am glad that I do this over my left because since busting my clavicle my head does not turn as far to the right as it does to the left.  The car is far enough behind where I can safely leave my lane and cross another to get to the safety of the turning lane.  Slight yank on the bars and OOPPSSS  ice or slick spot.  Just a small wobble but one probably visible to the car whose lane I am now occupying.  He or she is probably thinking, "WHAT STUPID FUCKTARD IS RIDING A BICYCLE ON THIS ROAD AFTER THE SNOWFALL??!!??"  But I recover instantaneously and reach the turn lane with plenty of time to spare.  That was it, no more slips.  No falls.  Nada.  No studded tires, just a worn set of Kenda Pro Cross tires, $19 at your friendly neighborhood bike shop.

56Th and Thornton offered a different terrain.  Frozen slush.  These roads are never plowed in the morning.  Sometimes they never plow them at all.  All the night's snow was still there but now rutted by vehicle traffic and refroze into an icy mess.  One climbs up a hill from Park Ave when turning onto SW 56th.   I pick a line of a smooth tire track.  Remian steady and true because if the bike wanders off that track the ice becomes bumpy and crusty and the chance of kissing the ice covered pavement becomes a reality.  The space between the track and the curb is virgin but a crusty surface like the bike trail.  Since the bald tire on the Red Phoenix is not losing traction I hold the line until my turn. 

Thornton is exactly the same.  The incline is less pronounced.  Pedalling must be maintained.  Occasionally, I am passed by cars on this road.  Today is no exception.  I hear them first and then in a theatrical way I turn my head to inform them that I am aware of their presence.  This is only necessary to let them know that they are dealing with a professional and they may safely pass and get the fuck out of my way.

This car is lingering.  Come on, I hate vehicles in my 7 o'clock.  Pass and be done!  Apparently, this black Lexis RX400 SUV was having traction issues of its own.  I am on a bicycle with a balding rear tire and am not experiencing any problems.  Perhaps it was afraid I'd fall down and slide into its path.   BLOGGER'S NOTE:  NOTICE THAT I REFER TO ALL VEHICLE DRIVERS AS "IT" NOT "HE" OR "SHE"??  IF THE SEX OF THE DRIVER IS UNKNOWN I CALL THEM "IT".  TRYING TO AVOID SEXIST REMARKS It eventually passes and I am officially done with cars for the morning.

My head lamp died last month.  I miss it for two reasons.  It provided another source of light to become visible to others and to illuminate the eyes of deer.  Eyes always give away the presence of deer.  And it also allowed me to read my bicycle computer in the absence of sunlight.  Now that it is gone I can only read the computer when I am underneath a street light.  After the SUV was gone I had a chance to check the computer.  37 mph!  WRONG!  Said I had gone almost 10 miles since I started.  Wrong again.  Another piece of electronics screwing up.  Usually i get false readings when the computer is in the presence of my home pc, work pcs, cellphones, door scanners ect.  I look around.  Nothing here.  Must be moisture.  Not cold enough for a temperature related fubar.  No time to fret about this, I am behind and my time to relax, eat a bowl of Fiber One and change clothes is running out.  One inside I looked at it again..  Instead of the 6.3 miles it recorded me at 10.1.  My top speed was 55 mph instead of the 20 I would have had on a good day turning into the parking lot.  My top speed was more like 12 mph.  Let it sit for 9 hours and hope it works right later.  Subtract 4 miles form the distance and add .2 miles to that for the true total IF it functions properly on my return commute. 

The rest of the ride is unremarkable.  At 61st I coast downhill to my turn into the PFG call center.  I need to watch my speed since SW 61st is never plowed.  The parking lot of the business just south of the call center has its snow dumped into the street which makes things worse.  And my brakes...are now covered in icy slush and snow thrown up from the road that the rear is not functioning at all.  I had to brake amost of the way down the hill.

For the first time ever the call center's lot is icy.  A1 Lawn Service did not pretreat the lot with the brine solution because this snow began with rain.  Many people commented that the worst part of their commute (cars) was the last 100 yards and the parking lot.  I noted the ice right away and rode accordingly.  Followed the salty bike tracks in the warehouse to my parking spot.

Yes, salty tracks.  When I worked downtown and parked at the rack at PFG's auditorium there were big white blothes on the concrete underneath the bikes of the 4 or 5 brave souls that rode everyday in winter.  Now that I get to park inside a building all the road slop belongs to me.  The 520 left a nice mess once.  I do park the bike on top of old carpet samples.  As the bike warms up salt, grit, sand and muck fall down to the ground as the snow and ice melt off the bike.  Just marking our territory.

I was amazed how much of the snow melted away.  Once again the sun came out and cleared and dried the trails and streets.  Sure, there was some water in places.  But what a diffence 9 hours can make!  And my brakes and computer were working too!

That night I took The Beast to sam's house.  I would have put it in the Burley and rode over there butriding 6 miles south from here is dangerous.  No trails.  Roads and sidewalks and it was cold and windy.  I had my buddy Keith pick me up and drive me home.  The three of us have ridden together.  Sam has done Ragbrai.  So has Keith, I think he rode the second one.  We drank homebrew and Templeton until nearly 230 am.  He said me files could be saved.  A nice way to end the work week.  Saturday's ride to the store was painful..  Disconbobulated and over fed on tacos.  Such is life.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Touched By The Hand of God

Bill Paxton smashing the window of Katherine Bigelow's car.  Sometimes I wish I could do that.  Sometimes I need to do that.

A stubborn man will fare badly in the end, and he who loves danger will perish in it.--Sirach

BLOGGER'S NOTE.  This tale was started last week.  Due to LIFE I failed to finish it in a timely manner.  The events that may or may not have occurred happened on Valentine's Day.

What a beautiful day for a bike ride!  The sun finally came out and not only did snow and ice melt but trails and streets dried off!!  No more Mr. Refreeze!!!  A clean slate for tomorrow's mix of rain and snow.  But savory the moment, it may quickly be taken away.

It was one of those days that I should have packed a lighter pair of gloves for the ride home.  26F was my morning's temperature.  I opted for a chance of sweat.  Clothing can dry out in 8 hours and I did not wear anything cotton.  Wool and synthetics are biker's friends, not cotton. 

I was a bit nervous before stepping outside.  My last adventure outside was a wet one.  Drizzle.  Drizzle sorta rhymes with miserable in a hip hop or Sting kinda way.  And that is the best description of the soft misty form of precipitation that covered the Greater Des Moines Metro on February 13th, 2012.  It really was not that bad BUT if the temperature would drop far enough trails and streets would be very icy.  However BLOGGER'S NOTE: THIS IS AS FAR AS I GOT.  SHIT.  WHY DID I BOTHER SAVING IT.  ALL WEEK I HAD THIS ONE IN MY HEAD AND HONESTLY I THOUGHT I WAS FURTHER ALONG.

However...lost thought.  It never snowed.  Weather was good great although once again it dipped on the week end.  So today it is raining and I must continue the story.

SE 8th and Indianola Ave or Road I never know which except I am on top of the hill and the street is busy.  Returning from GameStop after purchasing a gift card for Timmy's birthday.  It is rush hour now.  I must cross the busiest street I've encountered all day.

There is a white Cadillac on the other side.  Its driver desires to make a left turn.  I am going forward.  Both of us are waiting for a break in traffic.  New Caddy.  White sedan with the latest "hey we can build them to look look Japanese like BMW and the rest of the world has done".  I check for Illinois license plates.  Iowa.

A wave of contempt sweeps over me.  We have been fighting in the Middle east since 1991 for oil.  No end in sight.  Gas prices are soaring to $4 or $5 a gallon thanks to sabre rattling with Iran, demand from India and China and fear of  Exxon and BP disasters (Obama).  Millions of people out of work and this fool flaunts his wealth for a shitty car instead of purchasing a better quality auto that costs less.  Fucking rap star.  Bling.    The Schwinn of automobiles.

The waiting game begins.  Too many cars from both directions.  Nobody behind us.  Too much time.  I NEED to beat this bastard across the street.  Technically, since I am moving forward and it is turning left I have the right of way.  But it looks impatient as the Caddy rolls back and forth a bit. 

These are the time I feel like the John the Baptist of the asphalt.  A voice crying out from the pavement.  REPENT YOU GAS SMOKING HEATHEN SINNERS.  THE DAY IS AT HAND!!  Now this mofo is going to cut me off simply because I am on 22 lb of aluminum instead of 3 tons of steel, plastic and leather. 

What I needed was to have the break in traffic occur on my right.  This would delay the Cad's launch by a few precious seconds.  I'd be close to the center line by the time the driver's foot left the brake and depressed the accelerator.  I'd give the driver a look, "ha ha!" and cross to the safety of an empty street and pleasant downhill.  Denied.

The break occurred on my left.  It was a Jeep Cherokee.  We both saw it.  I would have to yield.  But then again,,,and it was a long opportunity, albeit a risky one, was present.  At the right moment SOON I could enter the intersection and get as close to the Jeep as possible and cross the center line as the Caddy begins to cross.  Risky.  The Jeep would hide me in a blind spot and create a blind spot for me.  Both the Caddy and I would be invisible to each each other during my take off.  AND if my tormentor was thinking like me there would be a possibility that it would be aiming for the first available space behind the Jeep.  Head on.

I had to act fast.  No other choice.  Every nanosecond counted.  the Jeep was in the left lane and appeared not to be wavering from the fast lane.  Time to go.  One last look right and left and right again.  Release brakes, push down on drive side pedal and push off with left foot and

"Chris, Hey Chris!"  A ram stuck in a bush.  Full stop now and turn head.  It was Rito.  The option I never considered.  At the very instant I was propelling myself to a most certain collision with a white Cadillac out of nowhere a friend appears and distracts me from my suicide mission.

I met Rito in October the very day my Giant Via was stolen.  If we would have met say 15 years ago or maybe 10, one of us would probably be dead or in prison.  But he has stopped taking the things in life that cost you too much.  Back then, the two of us together, Safety Shack x 10.  Pee Wee Herman and Adam Sandberg.  Rito and I meet every Sunday evening with 7 others for a project we are doing in May for church.  Not AA.  However, we have poured our souls out and shared the sorrid details of life unrestrained.  Would have been some fun times.

But at that moment he was there for me.  Sober in a new Dodge truck.  Saved my pride.  Gave me an out.  Caddy be damned.

Which brings me to the title of today's post.  Back in 1987 4 people from Manchester, England, were bored in a LA hotel and turned on MTV only to see shitty American hair metal music videos.  Being the free spirits that they were and still are, for their next single they took took a piss on the that crap music genre.  I admire that spirit.  That is exactly how I felt  when I saw the Caddy. 

The "Hand of God" also refers to Argentina's soccer legend Maredonna who stopped England's World Cup title bid back in 1990.

Perhaps I picked it because God sent someone to prevent me from being hit by a car.

Touched By The Hand of God

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Oh the Critters You Will See!!!

Skunk tracks near Thornton Ave

Pulling the needle of car addiction out of my arm and taking the bicycle way of life allows one to discover the world around them better.  Close encounters with wildlife occur without a Goodyear Eagle GT smashing a squirrel or a horny white tail deer sliding over the hood and crashing through the windshield.  Literally, stop and smell the stink badger.

The first fox I ever saw, and for that matter, the only foxes I have ever seen have been while riding a bike.  Jefferson County Park south of Fairfield  I encountered the first one while off road on my Trek 7000..  Later I spied one in Walker Johnson Park in Urbandale during the 90s.  Now I see them all the time near Gray's Lake.  Classic ones with the iconic big bushy tail.  Sometimes in the pre-dawn hours I follow their paw prints in the fresh snow and catch a glimpse of one trying to hide from me.  I can never get close.  They are shy.

Everyone sees deer in Iowa.  Daily.  The only time I rarely see them is when I go hunting on my in law's farm.  Hard to believe that when my father in law was growing up, 40s or early 50s, that people were not allowed to hunt them.  I yell at them STAY OFF THE TRAIL FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY.   I know two people that had been touched by the corn rat.  My darling wife Mary collided with one on the InterUrban Trail in between 30th and Beaverdale.  She stopped and encouraged the deer to move on.  When it did not Mary resumed her journey only to get hit by the white tail.  Her wheel was bent and shifting messed up.  Her clothing dirty and a few bruises on her body.  That has been the only time we have to had her Bontrager wheels trued.  She may have 7000 miles on them.

A friend from church, Jenia (pronounced wah neena with a Polish accent) was hit by one on the Great Western Trail.  She was about at the 5 mile marker when her husband said something to her.  She slowed down to hear him at the moment a "gigantic" buck leaped over her, striking its hoof on her hand and knocking her over.  Quickly a crowd assembled around her asking her if she was ok or needed an ambulance.  She got up and rode home.

Skunks.  It seems that the population of this member of the weasel family has exploded in recent years.  Local barber suggests that recent flooding has pushed skunks away from the river and deeper into town.  My daughter Dora said she saw a family of skunks on her way to school.  I have seen one once or twice in my front yard.  They are one of the few animals in North America that people can rightly freak out when spotted.  Like people in HD clothing this animal relies on its looks to ward off enemy.  Unfortunately, their poor eyesight shortens their average life span to 3 years.  Cars being their demise.

On my commute I have seen a skunks several times.  Thornton Ave seems to be homeland for one.  the first time I saw it as it ran across the street, turned around to look at me and raised its tail.  "Buddy, I mean you no harm and merely want to pass.  It let me go.  Several times later I see it at the corner of Thornton and 61st, usually digging for grubs.  One particular morning it was at 56th and Thornton and we both looked startled and said "wait a minute, you don't belong here".  The photo at the top is from my last encounter with the skunk.  I was riding up 56th and saw a black object.  At first I thought it was a garbage bag that was blown there by the wind.  Then it moved.  Perhaps a feral cat.  But a sulfurous odor revealed the identity of the black critter.  It moved quickly south to Thornton.  Its head so low I thought it was digging for food.  I paused at the intersection to let it cross, hoping that it would continue south.  The skunk never turned around.  I wonder what it sprayed.

FYI skunks can spray accurately for up to 10 feet but only have enough vile juice for 5 or 6 shots.  It takes them 10 days to refill.  Skunks are related to badger and in Indonesia there is a skunk called the "stink badger" not to be confused with the African Honey Badger.  European skunks are smaller and some are called pole cats.  The spotted skunk is an animal on Iowa's DNR list of critters not to be hunted or killed intentionally, just like the Grey Wolf.

One creature in Iowa that the DNR does not acknowledge is the mountain lion.  I have not seen one in Iowa nor while biking.  But in New Mexico I came with 25 yards of one.  I was walking at night with my friend in a place appropriately named "mountain lion canyon" when we noticed two flash lights to our left.  When we looked away the lights went out.  We looked to our left again and saw them.  They were a pair of eyes.  We had been warned of bear sightings south of our location and been told not to worry since we were headed the other way.  All we had were our head mounted lights and our brains.  I was thinking that I'd kick Sam in the nuts and make my run for it but then again I'd hate to have him be killed.  he is my best bitch.  Instead we stared at the cat.  That was the most evil face I ever saw.  These critters think about their dinner.  It spotted us long before we spotted it.  If I was alone I probably would be dead.  Eventually, Kitty wandered south.  Sam and I walked slow north to our tent, I backwards keeping an eye out for Kitty.  both our heads swiveling back and forth scanning the darkness for hungry felines.  More people in the last 150 years have been killed by mountain lions than wolves.

Other mammals I routinely see are ground hogs and beavers.  The former waddle fast to get away.  Usually around the rive on the levy.  I did come within 1 foot of a beaver on the Neal Smith Trail.  In the wooded area between North HS and the trestle bridge a huge beaver was crossing the trail early before sunrise.  I got super close and hit him with maximum wattage from my lights.  It slowly turned its head and looked at me then slowly moved off the trail.  How slow it seemed.  It appeared to be half the size of a Labrador retriever.

Marsupials, I've seen a few.  Opossums, I really hate them.  they look like rats but I suppose they are harmless.  Back in  the days before the Great Western Trail was paved the Des Moines Cycle Club would meet at the Tap and ride to Martinsdale and on Friday nights during the winter.  I was with a group of 5 or 6 riders, probably in the middle of the pack when a possum ran out in front of me.  All I could do was grip the bars harder, close my eyes and hope that I would not suffer a catastrophic wheel failure.  I felt a solid bump and reopened my eyes.  The bike was still upright and the group was still together and people were like "whoa, did you see that?"  On the way back there was no sign of it.  Taken away by a coyote or limped home.  I was on my white Trek 7000.

One quick note.  I think that crushed limestone trails are much better in winter than their paved counterparts.  But paved trails are better for the remaining 3 seasons.  It must have something to do with the snow and moisture being absorbed into the ground versus ice formation.  Just my thoughts.

Back to 'possums!  Mary and I were heading to Windsor Heights on the trail when she had an encounter.  We were south of Center St, the dog park, when I spotted a set of eyes.  Domesticate house cat I thought (why I always see cats I do not know why) then I looked forward and heard Mary scream.  rounding the curve I saw the opossum run across the trail and Mary laying on the ground.  Apparently, she said, the bastard ran into her wheel and knocked her over.

Creatures of the air.  Everyone is in awe when they see a bald eagle.  And these raptors have made a significant come back.  Their is a nesting pair near Gray's Lake.  When I was a child we would have to go to the Mississippi River to see them winter.  now, less than a mile from my home, there are up to 30 of them along the Des Moines River at SE 6th.  Where I work and in the territory of the skunk, there is a juvenile eagle that roosts on a light pole.  Almost common these days.  I sometimes view them as the first sign of winter.

Other raptors I see are the buzzards.  Turkey vultchers live in Iowa in great numbers until it is time for them to fly to Central America.  During team Mystery Machines Fall Classic ride on the Wabash Trace trail we spotted 50 in the air migrating south.  In the spring I came across a nesting ground while mountain biking in northern Iowa.  BSA camp Igwanis and the scout camp near Marble Rock offer great off road adventures.  I remember taking a break with Rob Prunty and having my peripheral visual stimulated with what I first dismissed as traffic.  Realizing that we were miles away from roads I looked around.  Hundreds of vultchers in the trees.  Later I rode up a prairie section with many of these scavengers flying about me.  What a sight!

Odd as it may be be, I am more excited when I see an indigo bunting.  Perhaps my favorite bird.  Small but the most brilliant and gorgeous shade of blue, I only see them on bicycle trails during the warm months.  The Raccoon River Trail is home to many.

Another blue draped bird is the blue bird.  Distinguished from the jay and the bunting is its orange belly.  For the past several years I see them before the robins return.  Yet it is always the robin that gets its photo on the front page of the newspaper, above the fold, buried in snow with a caption that says "back too soon!"

Wild turkeys are common in Iowa.  They freak me out when I hear them in the pre-dawn hours while riding to work.  On a ride from Cumming to Osceola I saw one fly over the road between St Mary's and Martinsdale.  the next week when we repeated the ride, near century each time, it was dead on the side of the road.  Sad.

Of course geese, the dirty bird that never migrates south any more and shits green turds all over the trails...

Strangely, the only lizard, amphibian critter in Iowa that I have ever seen in the wild was a salamander crossing the White Pole Road west of Anita on our way to Ragbrai.  I turned the bike around to take another look.  For as much time as I have spent camping and exploring woods and playing in water this was the first and thus only.

Snakes.  Yep.  they like to sun themselves on the trails.  Taste like chicken I understand.  I really could live the rest of my life without seeing another one.  Let me see more salamanders and lizards.

And by the way, anyone see that huge grey cat with white paws near Orlando's?  It is too big to be homeless yet it is out all the time.  I hope it is alright.

We All Stand or For a Few Miles More

3 miles to go.  Got 3 miles to go.  At the end of the road there's a warm house and a Blue Moon Abbey Ale waiting for me.  3 miles to go.  Life goes on in this real life fantasy. Forever to be still, breath held tight inside of me.

The last mile and half started out real silent.  Mary and I lost in our own thoughts.  Just a matter of time.  Cross the 7th St bridge and lose the protection from the 20 mph north wind.  Prepare for  broadside cross wind attack.  And the stench of the sewer access points, both of them quite foul this season.  The beacon of hope was Mullets.  Here we'd turn south and enjoy a tail wind for a third of a mile before turning left for 2/10ths on the final stretch protected from the wind by the humble homes of Little Italy.

We started in Windsor Heights.  Hy Vee.  It took two trips this week.  Two pay days to gather enough goods to hibernate at home.  The weather started taking a turn for the worst.  I have no desire to leave the house until the cold wave flees.  But I needed to reach my weekly goal.  100 miles per week every week.

Good to have goals.  Jesus had a goal.  Hitler had a goal.  Obama had a goal.  Bush and son had goals, I think.  JFK had a goal to get as much pussy in the White house as he could get his disease ridden pecker in.  Many years ago my goal was to ride the bike at least once a week every week.  This helped me hit my first 3000 mile year. That was the 90s, last century.  Two years ago I increased the goal.  100 miles per week.

This is not always easy.  Sometimes it is a bitch to get it in.  Sometimes life gets in the way, say breaking a collar bone, too much snow and ice and Christmas.  But I have kept the current streak up since the first week of 2011.  IF I would have ridden to my sister's dwelling for Christmas Eve 2010 the stretch would go back as far as Ragbrai that year.  AND IF I did not crash my 520 at 30 mph on Indianola Rd or Ave (one goes north and south the other east and west) this record would go back to the last week of March 29/April 4.  Stumble and fall  over... 

This week started out shitty.  Monday I had no energy.  I had a meeting at 615 pm that I blew off.  Mary had her monthly meeting and would not be back until 8pm.  The kids needed to be fed.  I came straight home.  Saturday's snow and ice were still around, messing up roads and trails.  A mere 13 miles.  Got home and watched South Park on NetFlix and made dinner in time for Mary's return.

Tuesday was not much better.  Threat of rain did not prevent me from spending 10 minutes mapping a route to Cumming since Polk County refuses to clear the trail.  And when I opened the warehouse door to walk the bike out (I would ride it out but the security camera is pointed at my door and PFG security gets pissy.  Already had one run in with them downtown concerning my bicycle and I really do not want to lose my ability to park inside the warehouse) the wet pavement told the story.  Rain.  I do not ride in the rain unless I have to.  I do not ride in the rain when the temps are in the 30s unless I have to.

When I grab the bars and throw a leg over a bike I ask myself these questions.  1) Will this be fun?  2) Is this necessary?  Hours of riding in cold rain in the mud is not my definition of fun.  Sorry Sam, it was not necessary to get tacos.  I'd get home way late, kids would be hungry and grumpy and my immunities would have been greatly compromised.  No for both questions as I let out the F word and headed home from the PFG call center/warehouse.  14 miles.  I had to stop at B&B grocery store for something.  That much was necessary.

Wednesday was better.  But this is the day I need to be somewhere by 530 pm.  After work I turned north up the Bill Riley and went to IngerDahls.  I really hate this store, way overpriced, but time was important and I did not possess enough to go to Windsor Heights Hy Vee.

"They don't give out medals for riding in winter," Mike Lamb said to me as I was locking up the Red Phoenix.  This was our first encounter in what seems like a year.  He purchased a house a while back and has buried himself in fixing it up.  He said he quit drinking.  Nice to see old friends.  I hope he survives.  I wonder who my friends 20 years from now will be.  17 miles for the day.

Damn, midway through the week and a mere 44 miles.  The weather bastards were calling for a cold front to ruin the week end.  Single digits for lows.  Prepare for hibernation.  Take stock of what we have at home and make lists for 2 shopping sprees.  Time to switch bikes.

Thursday I took the 520.  I'd need to go to Hy Vee for major shopping.  Pork loin was on sale.  we could get 3 meals out of that.  Beer, could always use more.  Fixing for tacos, a good choice.  New issue of Bicycle Times, a necessity.  Caffeine and high fructose corn syrup, that would make others happy.  Cat food.  Milk.  But most importantly this trip would double my miles of my commute.  I met Mary there and her bike carried what the 520 could not.  We stopped underneath the Fleur Viaduct for a one beer stop.  Weather was great, mid 30s.  Felt great to be outside.  A shame we had to go home and feed our children.  Sometimes they remind me of little birds in a nest waiting for their parents to puke in their mouths.  29 miles.  27 more to go.

Friday was weird.  27F was our wake up temperature.  Weather bastards were wrong!  I was expecting single digits for today's ride to work.  But the joke was on me.  The temp fell and by the time I got to work it was barely 20F.  When I left work it was 17F.  Round 2 of Hy Vee was in play.  But I needed extra miles.  It was cold and there was a 20 mph wind from the north.  I had to go into the wind. 

The plan was for me to go home and grab the Burley to redeem all our empty beverage vessels.  It has been some time since I had done this.  Mary's idea.  The week end would not be good for this.  But pulling a trailer with strong winds sucks.  And I think the bottles and cans are frozen on our back deck.  Punt.

I rode to Water Works contemplating my next move.  We were to meet at 530 pm.  From the Raccoon River Bridge it is 5 miles to Hy Vee.  Another 8.5 miles to home plus the 9 I had already.  24 miles.  Not enough.  I doubled back and spotted two bicycles.

I caught up with them by the shelter former known as Santa's workshop.  One guy was turning toward Flagg.  The other guy welcomed my companionship.  He was about 10 years older than me and on a early 90s Trek 1100.  Downtube shifters!  It is his winter bike.  never caught his name.  Rob I think the other guy called him.  His goal is 50 miles per week.  Aiming for 5K for the year.  And I knew he was a good rider when he said "I was saving my good lights for the ride back..." during a discussion of crashes.  We lapped the great field 2 or 3 times before heading on.  He was shy of 30 miles.  He lamented about Thursday.  Said he changed his clothing situation and was cold and miserable!  Today, he said, it felt like 50F!  Strange how two people who ride in this miserable weather can have totally different opinions about the weather.  However, company on such rides always makes it better.  How many rides did I cut short out of loneliness and boredom?

Hit the north!  This was my first venture to Windsor Heights in a week.  Yes I am a creature of habit.  Yes, I enjoy going to the store.  Yes, I'd rather make a 17 mile round trip to this Hy Vee than the 4 miler to the closer store on my side of town.  Then the 911 call.

My son Joe called form the Hy Vee on my side of town, Park Ave.  He went to his bank and returned to a frozen bicycle lock.  I was 8 miles away.  "Purchase a lighter and heat the lock up.  call me back when you succeed."  He did not for a long time.  I called him.  "Not working."  He was heating up the key.  "Heat the lock and for God's sake do not break the key."   Another long stretch of silence ensued.  then I got to thinking.  The chain on his bike was Gatorade orange the other day.  He rides on the streets more than I do.  I lubed that chain a few days ago and noticed how the rust particles were everywhere on his bike.  Perhaps he got the road salt into his lock.  He wraps the lock around the top tube.  He also allows his bike to get wet.  WD-40!!!  I called him again as I was approaching the train trestle on the Bill Riley.  "Still no joy?  Go back inside and purchase a can of WD-40."  He called back 3 minutes later, bike was free!  Crisis over.

I arrived at Hy Vee at 5pm.  Moments earlier and about a half mine away I took the photo of my shadow that i placed at the top of this blog.  Half hour to kill.  Locked the bike and walked in with everything but my helmet.  Let any sweat dry off inside and keep clothing warm.  I bought a soda and sat in the cafe and waited for Mary.  I was tired.  Caffeine and high fructose corn syrup in the mode of a Mello Yello fountain drink was in order.  Channel 13 said it was 17F.  Phone battery almost dead.  We did our shopping and headed out into the cold.  At least we'd have a tail wind. 

Uneventful ride home.  Caught up on each other's day.  Mary had shitty kids affected by the full moon.  I had a dead freezer and no internet at work.  Long day with fix it mean and tech support and my GM snooping around my fortress of solitude.  Only one other person, a jogger who was on the proper side, on the trail.  It must have been after 6 pm when we left.  A quick prayer to God when I rolled over the ice underneath Grand Ave.  Crashing here would not be good.  Does the ground hurt more during the winter since the molecules are closer together??  No beer for a Fleur Viaduct stop but 2.5 miles left to go.  Conversation waned as we focused on the remaining journey.  Mary broke the silence and we laughed about how quite we became.  I left when it was dark and I returned when it was dark.  Warmth awaits.  Food awaits.  Children and pets await out return.  A bottle or 3 of winter Abbey...A few more miles to go.

We All Stand

Saturday, February 4, 2012

On the Douche Bag Road

I always fall for pretty colors being a visual person.  This is from the bridge at Gray's Lake.

This posting was started several days ago when the weather was nice.  I delayed releasing it and then I revised it because not only did it suck as usual but made me look like a worse douche than I am.  See, "I" used three times in one sentence.  Suggested music: Hellbent by New Order.  Our story begins....

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?