It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…
OK, I admit it, I have never read “A Tale of Two Cities.” I only know this line because its used time and time again on different TV shows, including Star Trek. However, if you compare Monday night’s commute with Tuesday night’s, it fits perfectly!
If you did not know prior to this, I work in downtown Seattle Washington and live just north of here. (17 miles as the bike travels a little closer if you use the freeway and a car). Like most of you, OK those of you in the Northern Hemisphere, in Seattle this was the first day of Spring!
I am not sure about the rest of the world, but around here, the transition from Winter to Spring is a crap shoot when it comes to weather. With the odds leaning to pretty darn crappy at times. Which is why this picture posted by a local radio station made me giggle.
This has been a strange week weather wise! On Saturday, Sunday and Monday I traveled a total of 56 miles over three rides. There are some who would say I swan 56 miles these days. Pure and simple, it poured the whole time! I showed you pictures of mudslides and myself soaking wet. It was NOT the most fun time to ride.
Today, though, things changed. Out of the blue we saw 60 degrees, sunshine, dryness and no wind! Let the heralds go far and wide and declare this a day to go outside.
Reading the posts of the people who follow me I am hearing about running in below freezing weather, cold rides, and the feeling that one may never thaw out. Hell I woke of to Snow a week ago today at my house! I was beginning to think this was a “Game of Thrones” winter which can last for years. (For those of you who are not Sci/Fi Fantasy fans, forgive me for showing my geekness.)
Yesterday, however, made up for it. It was one of those rare days when everything went right!
First, my wife and I decided to move our planned date night from that night to the night before. We got some stuff done around the house, and I decided she deserved a night out now, so we headed out for dinner. (Macaroni Grill YUM!)
Second, I had meetings at the office that is literally a 5 minute commute away from our house! Couple that with the fact that the meetings got over 15 minutes early, I was home at 4:05 PM
Thirdly, and most importantly, it was NOT raining! In fact the sun was out! BOOYAH!! the first after work bike ride outside of 2103!
All of this would have made the day for me, but it got better. It was WARM. I peeled the helmet cover off my helmet so I could feel the wind in the hair, I wore shorts and the lightest windbreaker I own as well as my new fingerless gloves! It felt great! In fact, I had to shuck the coat! A shirt sleeve ride!
I had honestly intended to take some pictures along the Burke Gilman, and Samamish River trails. But I was feeling too good. I had my average speed over 15 MPH, and I was feeling no pain!
That wasn’t all though! The bike gods were smiling on me! NO small talks or ladies smoking and talking on cell phones! (there was one in an ugly geo metro convertible, puffing away that cut me off near the end of the ride, but by then I was too happy to even flip her off!) The little kids on bikes (and there were a couple) were straight as an arrow!
Even the animals seemed to be celebrating. I saw a blue Heron preening itself across the river, as well as a stellar Blue jay singing (ok squawking) away! I was looking for our resident bunnies, but no luck this time.
Finally, and this was too much to ask for, I had a tail wind for most of the trip back!!! That NEVER happens.
We all know that sometimes working out is a chore. Sometimes we have force ourselves to put on the running shoes, or get in the saddle to ride. This ride, however, is one of those that reminded me why I started riding, why I continue to ride after so many miles, and why I hope to ride well into the future!
Every year, there is one day and one ride that kicks off the rest of the season for me, when I know mother nature truly loves cyclist and the bike gods will work their magic for me. I am thinking this may have been that ride!
Well ladies and gentlemen, we are hours into the start of spring. I don’t know what that means where you live, but here in the greater Seattle area, there is actually the possibility of snow flurries! I am not sure who is in charge of the groundhog this year, but I think it’s time to stop listening to Punxsutawney Phil!
However, even though it does NOT feel like it now, better weather is on the horizon! Longer days, warmer weather, and riding like the wind after work on the Burke Gilman! (my closest bike trail and the location of most of my after work speed rides)
This also means the return of two of the most hazardous things on the trail: tiny dogs on retractable leashes and little kids just learning to ride a bike!
I am going to start with the kids. There is something in the brains of little kids. I am not sure if it is a small piece of metal that reacts to the magnetic pull of the earth, maybe one side of their body is heavier than the other, maybe they see things we don’t (SQUIRREL!) or, being smaller, they are more influenced by wind shear. Whatever the reason, little kids have this annoying habit of hanging a sharp left ACROSS the bike path, right in front of adult riders!
I am not exaggerating here. More than once I have seen these kids from a distance, either coming toward me or I am overtaking them. They do a great job, straight as an arrow, loving every minute of it, and just as I get close, they do a hard left DIRECTLY in front of me! Good thing I have catlike reflexes! (No not this cat…..)
Now you might think I would get mad at this, and lord knows I have seen many a rider yell and get pissed! However, when it comes to little kids I have a different perspective. I was a little one once (loonnnnnng ago) and I remember some of the near misses I had. I also remember how much I loved riding my bike. I am not going to ruin that by getting mad at a kidlet who honestly doesn’t know any better. Someday, they could be just like me, riding as much as possible, blogging about it, and seeing as much of the world as possible from the back of two wheels. Plus, with all the problems with overweight kids, seeing little ones out on a bike is a good thing.
This means that I feel it is my job to slow down and be ready to stop if needed when approaching the kids. I honestly believe they can’t help themselves, which means I have much more control. Average speed is NOT as important as safe kids! I also try to always compliment them as I pass. More than once I’ve heard something like “Mom! That big bike rider said I had a cool bike! Mom!” The more of us that grow up riding the better!
But then, there are tiny dogs…..
First off, my apologies to anyone with a tiny dog. I have never been a fan of them, but some are cute. I don’t dislike dogs at all, I blame the owners. For the record, MOST owners do not fit in the description I am going to give here.
For some reason, on the BG, we are infested with ladies (on my trail it is ladies, but I am betting there are guys out there somewhere too) who smoke on the trail (HATE passing through a cloud of smoke when ride) while talking loudly on their cell phones (She said, then he said then I said….) while their dog, on the retractable leash is on the other side of the trail! Yes, Virginia, they really DO think they OWN the trail!
Aside: Can someone explain the logic behind working out (walking, riding, hiking) while smoking? I HATE second hand smoke!
I of course give notice I am coming up to them, and I am polite (I’m on the bike so I am usually in a good mood). More than once I have been snarled or yelled at, “HEY this is a person and dog trail too!” (ok, that is paraphrased as there is normally an f bomb in the snarl) To which I reply, “Move the damn dog before I run it over!” This is all occurring as I have to slow down to avoid a very rude and selfish person.
Aside #2: I Really don’t want to hurt the pup, and that my concern. I little yapper dog is toast if it gets wrapped up in my wheel!
This NEVER happens with big dogs, or even medium-sized ones, and I swear it’s always the combination of smokers, phoners and tiny dog! With the retractable leashes, they let the dog out 20 feet away, it is pulling and straining at the collar, taking over the whole trail, and the owner doesn’t understand why I get mad! I bet they are the ones that don’t pick up after the dogs either!
I love spring time rides, and I would take 3 kids learning to ride for every inconsiderate tiny dog owner we ban from the trail! Barring that, maybe I can install a cattle catcher like they had in front of the steam locomotives! OR shears to cut the leashes….. Hmmmm