The Speeding Cyclist

It’s Christmas Eve and I’m riding my bike to work in the cool, low light of morning. I reach the end of our road at the top of a long hill and stop at the stop sign, waiting to turn left. A man in an RV pulls up beside me in the right lane and rolls down his window.

I wait, wondering what he will say, trying to keep my mind alert for a response. I can be pretty terrible at this conversation thing.

He smiles. “Better be careful,” he says.

Oh, great, I think. He thinks I shouldn’t be out on the roads on a bike. Well, I won’t let a misinformed driver ruin my day.

He continues, “There’s a police car behind you.”

Whatever, I think. I’m following all the laws, and then some–headlight and taillight. Helmet. In left lane only to turn left. 

“He’s going to pull you over…”

You’re wasting my time…

“For speeding.” He grins, and my thoughts come to a sudden halt. His joke isn’t really funny–like asking a unicyclist where his other wheel is or telling a tandem cyclist his stoker isn’t pedaling, the joke is funny only to the teller. But I grin back anyway, because he took the time to be humorous instead of rude.

I’m used to rude or inattentive drivers. In the few months I’ve been cycling, I’ve been yelled at, honked at, given the finger, passed closely enough to nearly knock me off my bike, sent into a tailspin after suddenly braking for a reckless motorist who made an illegal U-turn across three lanes of traffic in front of my 20+ MPH bike. And yet here’s a person who treats me as a human and shares his sense of humor with me.

It’s not the first time I’ve been pleasantly surprised–there’s the middle-aged man in the utility truck who tells me he sees me every day and admires my discipline –then honks a hello every time he passes me for the next few months. The twenty-or-thirty-something in the red sports car who asks me how far I ride and then asks which direction I’m going when the light changes so that he won’t cut me off. And this goofball who tells me I’m going to get stopped for speeding.

Hey, I’ll take it.

Things I’ve Learned In the Past Week

flat out of luck

flat out of luck (Photo credit: 7-how-7)

 

In no particular order:

  • Carrying a bicycle flat kit is a non-negotiable. Jordan got a flat on Saturday when we were 4.5 miles into our 9-mile ride home from the bike shop.
  • Keeping both derailleurs in corresponding gears (e.g., 1 with 1, 2, 3; 2 with 4, 5, 6; 3 with 7, 8, 9) reduces chain wear.
  • Cycling sweat is supremely sexy. At least that’s what the boys around here seem to think. I got multiple cat calls/whistles/hollers on every single one of the 4 days I rode this week (the hottest/sweatiest week so far this year).
  • My office has a Cycling Advocacy Network (CAN) chat room that is frequented by friendly, helpful, and generally competitive people.
  • The spout cap of the Blender Bottle makes a distinctive *snap* when it’s closed. If you don’t hear this snap, you will get your shake all over your desk, your two work notebooks, and your dry-clean only skirt when you try to shake the bottle.
  • When said Blender-Bottle mishap occurs, a kind office mate will let you use as many of his paper towels as you need and will even try to make you feel like less of an idiot by telling you about how he did the same thing with a bottle of orange juice that same morning.
  • Grilled peaches with brown sugar taste like peach cobbler.
  • A grill works best when it has the right number of briquets.
  • Fleas are at their peak in July.

 

“I probably won’t get much exercise today…”

Yesterday we planned a trip for today to the bike shop, but since we have a never-ending list of house improvements and everyday chores, we had decided to drive instead of ride. So this morning, in the interest of getting my exercise in before it got pushed to the end of the day when it was too late, I went for a 3.5-mile run.

After I got home and showered and we had eaten breakfast, we decided, “Hey, let’s ride to the shop after all.” As Jordan said, we don’t get to ride together much since our offices are in opposite directions, and it really was a beautiful day for a ride. So we rode 9 miles to the shop (it’s very close to my office) and then took a little walk on the local college campus while we waited for our fenders and Jordan’s bike rack to be installed.

We found two large trees whose shade we enjoyed as we ate the small lunch we’d brought with us. Then we lay down in the grass and just talked and enjoyed the lovely day and each other’s company, and we realized how much we need sometimes to just stop–take a break from our constant busyness and just be together. We finished our lazy hour by visiting a sandwich shop neighboring the bike shop, where Jordan treated us to a shared Oreo milkshake. (The shake had an interesting hint of a flavor that I described as “sort of like some kind of vegetable,” but it was cold and sweet, so we enjoyed it nonetheless.)

Then we picked up our bikes and rode the 9 miles home, where we discovered that one of the cats had managed to pull the runner for our bay-window drapes out of the ceiling… So I think we’re going to put up blinds instead since the ceiling appears not to be sturdy enough for the drapes. (*sigh*)

Our final task of the day I’ll share in pictures, but first a little explanation.

Whoever owned the house before us landscaped with flower beds (presumably–they’re weed beds now) all around the house. While a nice idea in theory, in practice they were a bad idea: the aforementioned homeowners had built up the flower beds to the point that they were trapping water around the house’s foundation and causing it to deteriorate.

So the plan is to tear out these flower beds and fill them in with sand, topped with gravel/stone and tile (for a decorative touch) to promote better water flow. Unfortunately I didn’t think to take a “before” picture, but here are some “in process” pictures:

The flower beds were held in by walls made from these boards. The ones that are in decent shape we hope to use to repair the rotting retaining wall on the back of our garden.

The once and future retaining wall

The once and future retaining wall

Some of them, though were horribly rotted, making it extremely difficult to get leverage to remove the nails holding the wall together.

Not much left of this one.

Not much left of this one.

We had to split some of the boards to get the nails out. (Getting all the nails out was a necessary step for properly disposing of the wood.)

Jordan hard at work.

Jordan hard at work.

While Jordan finished up with the nails I wasn’t strong enough to remove, I started shoveling out the dirt.

Just getting started!

Just getting started!

I made decent progress on it (didn’t take a picture when we were done), and then it was suppertime and we were tired and sunburned, so we stopped for the evening. I’ll try to share more pictures when it’s done.

And now, just for kicks, a picture of our lovely backyard + garden that has been sadly neglected.

A bumper crop of weeds this year, I think.

A bumper crop of weeds this year, I think.