Wednesday, August 27, 2014

So I got Hit By A Car Today.....

One of those WTF moments.  Windsor Heights, Iowa.  The intersection of University and the road that goes to Wal-Mart.  Just stopped by The Rookie to visit Anders Olson at said intersection.  Got behind 2 cars and waited for my turn to cross or turn right onto University.  Destination: Hy Vee.

The Impala in front of me made the right turn but despite being in front of the line I had to wait for a garbage truck and another car to go by.  I do not want to be remembered as the cyclist killed by a garbage truck.  Glanced at my crank.  Still in big ring so my take off will be slow.  Look up and at the garbage truck again and BUMP!!

Did I just get hit?  By the force of the impact I could tell no damage was done.  Fritz hits me harder with his paw.  Turn around and stare at licence plate.  red late model Chevy of undetermined small sedan size.  Another soulless Chevy somehow not a a dealer for a recall.  Reach for phone and prepare to photograph the plate, car and driver.

I pull up to the driver's window.  An old man rolls it down.  Good Lord, he must be 80.  This is definitely the last new car he will ever own and drive.

"Did you not see me?"
"I thought you took off when the others did."
"No.  I did not."

Perhaps the recent earth quakes shifted the tectonic plates enough to generate sufficient energy to create a wormhole and he saw into the future where I left the stop sign and rolled across the street.  Perhaps the radioactive orange shirt and the yellow reflective safety vest give the impression of movement.  Whatever the reason I am glad he did not push the throttle to the firewall and truly ran me over.

I could not swear at him.  "What the fuck do you think you are doing you piece of shit?  Have you ran over people before?  Is that how you get your jollies you fucking worthless sodomite!"  I could not yell at him either or leave an SPD cleat impression on his car.  Nor quickly release the front wheel and smash the fork through his windshield.  That's the best thing about road bikes, light weight weapons. He had to see the phone in my hand ready to record.  No harm done.  I got my point across.  He was probably picking up medication for his cancer stricken wife.  Why do I look at people and assume I know their story.

Now and then a car driver honked their horn.  Maybe 5 cars deep behind the old man in the red Chevy everyone of the cagers POed that a fat man in bright clothing holding a bike is impeding progress.  Time to get back at the front of the line and cross the road.  I took my time and opted to turn and take the turn lane.  I noticed that the truck behind me on University gave me 3 car lengths.  Yeah, don't fuck with me for the round is chambered and the safety is not on.

Much later i was nearing the horse stables along the Bill Riley Trail when a pedestrian asked me if I was an official or volunteer.  LOL.  "Nope.  I wear this so cars do not hit me."  Yeah right.  I wear it to hold my mobile phone.  I've put in 20 may 30,000 miles since I was last hit by a car.  I am a lot more aware of my surroundings and a lot more visible and always assume that there is a car behind me.  But stopped at a stop sign and legally obeying it and waiting for a safe time to depart I should not worry about getting hit from behind.  It is a busy intersection.  Last week a bicycle hit me, today a car.  What's a person to do?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The Bond

Seems once the weather improved we all went our separate ways.  New blurs in the dark replaced the familiar blurs of the morning.  At the end of the work day a sea of new faces greets, some familiar most not.  Every year more and more.  But the ones that matter to me are the ones that I can relate to.  The ones that go through the same hell year after year.  The Winter Commuters.

There were three of us on my route.  David, Paul and your humble author.  Every morning fighting the elements and staying alive while inching toward work.  And the struggle resumed in the evenings.  With the Spring we changed our routine.  We could sleep in longer since it was easier and faster to ge to work.  I have not changed, however.  I am enjoying coffee and breakfast in the confines of my office.  I know that in a few months, maybe up to 5 months that I might just be arriving at this very moment.  So Paul and David are memories.

Today I saw David.  We stopped and talked.  We have seen each other maybe a handful of times since March.  Different routes and extra sleep he said.  Told him I like to get in early.  No traffic and no peleton of racers to swarm me.  Coffee, yes coffee.

There is a bond between winter commuters that is both powerful and unspoken.  We know that each has each other's back should disaster hit--crash on ice or fetal position death pose.  Someone is out there to call for help.  This bond may not be as strong as that of soldiers but I'd like to think it is close.  Both face death in hostile environment.  Uncomfortable at times and occasionally thrilling.  Speed, expensive bike and clothing not impressive in winter.  Survival is.  And repeating it day after day all winter long is what is truly impressive.  Any fool can ride when it is nice.  Takes a special fool to ride when it is hell.  I love those fools.

Those that freeze their ass off with me shall be my brother/sister.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Mingo Friday Fun Between the Legs

"Would ride the Bondurant trail to the Greencastle Tavern in Mingo this coming Friday evening.. want to give a shout to all my friends if anyone would like to join. The Bar has bike nights on Friday and drink specials, bartender said its cool to camp out overnight, there's a park half a block away.. weather is gonna be GREAT for riding and camping this week! Plus this is a great trail to ride! Thought if anyone wants to meet at the trail head east of Bondurant around 630 or so.. take our time getting to Mingo with plenty of SAFTY MEETINGS along the way. Would love to kick up some dust with my fellow bike riding friends! Esp since all your livers are still pickled from RAGBRAI! Let me know what u all think! Would love some good company!"--Mel Allsion's post on FaceBook

Looking for adventure I rounded up the posse and headed to Mingo, Iowa, to crash Mel Allison'd Friday Fun Between the Legs ride.  Destination:Greencastle Tavern, formerly Ozzy's.  I successfully recruited Colin, Donnie and Joe.  Mary was supposed to go, joining us later but she was caught up in the Great Johnston Bike Lift and ran out of time and mood.

The IP was Mullets as it is the best location to gather up for the trip out east.  Mullets also had food available since the 19 miles from there to the Greencastle is pretty barren unless one goes off route.  All four of us ate and downed a few glasses of water.  It would be a long ride.

If the pannier is dripping then the beer is cold.  Altoona trailhead, Gay Lea Wilson Trail

The ride from Mullets was 30 miles.  It involved two trails which cut down street/highway riding. The first 5 miles would be a mix of Maury and Scott Ave to get to the Gay Lea Wilson Trail.  Industrial and ugly but it is the best route to the trailhead in Pleasant Hill.  When MLK expansion is complete/rideable a side path will take us there.

Joe Hildreth

The Gay Lea Wilson Trail is nice albeit short but takes us safely to and through Altoona.  Other trail users were present including runners and families on bikes.  Always good to see trails in use.  We diverted and stopped at the Kum&Go a few blocks from the Altoona Trailhead.  After gather supplies, ATM, food for breakfast, water and Gatorade we rolled back toward the trail on 1st Ave and took a right on 1st St and took that road out of town.  Turned at the cemetery at the NE 80th  intersection and rode that over I-80 and into Bondurant without crossing 330.  Stayed on 80th until we hit NE 88th, double infinity.  The Chichaqua Nature Trail trailhead is just to the left of this intersection.

We had our last break at the trailhead.  19 miles ridden.  Donnie started just south of Cumming so he had an extra 14 miles.  Late as usual, I spotted Brad Daggett's truck.  They are here.  630 was the meet time.  It was now approaching 9 pm or so and already dark.  Two bikes emerged from the darkness and told us that the bar in Mingo was dead.  Some of us expressed a desire for beer and our "new friend" offered up his last two Bud Lights.
Colin Lamb

The 11 miles to Mingo on the trail were nice.  Weird seeing frogs on the trail at night.  One of the bridges jumped out and attacked Colin but he maintained uprightness and rolled on.  A break on the Skunk River bridge had us listening to owls and staring at stars.

It was a most glorious sight turning the corner and spotting seeing 9 bicycles parked along the Greencastle Tavern!  Stretch, Melanie, Mike B, Brad were among my friends that were there.  Judging by the beer cans on the patio they enjoyed themselves in our absence.  The four of us quickly caught up.

The prized 6 pack with ice that I never needed.  Purchased 18, confiscated 1 and returned home with 12.  Must be the Jesus Cooler.

At some point we crawled away from the tables and found places to sleep.  Colin, Donnie and I chose the park shelter just off the trail.  FYI  picnic tables to sleep on and electrical outlets for electronic devices.  Joe slept on a landing of the red co-op building across from the pub.  Brad shared that spot, too.  Stretch camped at the grain  bins just off the trail where Melanie pitched her tent.  I think she was the only one to set up a tent.  Janice pulled a trailer and provided coffee for us in the morning.  We needed it.  HangOver City.

Slowly we woke up.  Some local on a Trek cruiser with an extreme need for a new chain (can you say 3 inches of stretch?) pulled up and quizzed us.  Our freedom must frighten people.  The inevitable, "did you do the Ragbrai" question popped up.  Kinda felt good to say "no, but we rode across South Dakota in June, ragbrai with only 100 people."  An elderly couple on a recumbent tandem trike rolled by on the trail at least 6 times and left blood in the kybo.  Their top speed, 4 mph.  So the ride back was a bit slow at first.  Some of us had a hard time overtaking the 'bent tandem trike.  I dropped my water bottle but Mel was kind and picked it up.  Colin rode off the trail at one point and had his knee abrased.  First stop was on the Skunk River bridge.  Hair of the Dog.

I had about 4 sips and placed the beer in a bottle cage only to dump it out on the GLW Trail.  I needed a blood transfusion and a gallon of Gatorade.  Instead got 2 slices of pizza and a quart of Mnt Dew at the Casey's in Bondurant.  Once again, quizzed about trail conditions and Ragbrai.  many locals are upset with the poor job on resurfacing the trail between Mingo and Ira.  Having traversed over it on carbon road bike and loaded tandem twice this year I can say it ain't that bad.  It is not dusty.  And it is 100% safer than before.  It all came down to $$ and the State did not match funds.  That's the problem, we use but do not pay directly for upkeep and M&R on these trails.  Hopefully when the High Trestle Trail connector links up and the MLK Trail gets closer to Scott Ave trailhead of the GLW Trail more awareness and M&R will happen for the Chichaqua.  Just keep the hordes of stick bike Lance wannabes off the trail.

This was a fun ride and near epic adventure.  I hope to ride and stay at Mingo again sometime this year.  Give me a shout.  It is a flat ride there and back.  30 miles does not take too long to cover.  Thank you Mel for creating this event.

Friday, August 1, 2014

What a July!!!

Finally broke a thousand miles in the month of July.  1202 to be exact.  Smashed the previous July record, 857, by 345 miles.  Owe this all to Mary for suggesting that we blow off The Ragbrai and head to Cedar Falls and the Cedar Valley Nature Trail.  4 day expedition on tandem that netted us with 350 miles.  Took two days off and cranked out another 50 before vacation ended.

May 2014 is the monthly record holder followed by July.  June did not see me break 1200 but its 1100+ is fine by me.  3  months in a row with 1000+ miles each.

August...I only want 800. 

Reamining Goal:  10,000 for the year.  have not done my maths yet but earlier in the week it looked like I would have 3500+ plus miles left for the year to make 10K.  Or 710 per month.  To achieve this I decided to  ride 30 miles per day Monday through Friday (commute).  Only tacking on 3 miles per day.  Plus a few weekend moderate rides to make the nut for the 710.  Probably need to hit it strong before the weather turns bad.