Saturday, June 28, 2008

The end of me

OK, today was trying to end me, bigtime.

I'm trying to embrace the "car free" mantality as well as I can, but today was definitely testing my resolve.

I needed change for the washing machines here, so I decided to bike over to the bank and get a few rolls of quarters. In the same shopping center as the bank is an Aldi, so I figured I could pick up some cheap stuff and make the taco soup recipe I saw on Fatty's blog. (the recipe is in the comment by James--I make it without the corn and it is awesome. I would call it tortilla soup, but that's just me).

Anyway, I bike out there (about 2 miles) pulling my trusty Burley trailer, but the traffic light for that intersection is not working. Great, thinks I, this is crossing a 5 lane road and the cross traffic is not stopping. So I decided to make a quick right, make a u-turn, and slip into the lot. I'm a genius.

Now, having successfully gained entrance to the lot, I proceed to ride to my bank. It's located across a lovely expanse of concrete with "No biking!" signs everywhere, so I push my bike for a while. It didn't occur to me to notice that none of the surrounding businesses had lights on inside...when I reached the door to my bank, I first notice how dark it seems, and next notice the hand-written sign that says "We are closed due to no power".


I ride past Aldi on the way back, but they are dark inside as well, so I figure out how to cross the road again--not as easy as one would initially think.

I go ahead and ride out to my brother's house to pick up a package he has for me. I decided to have all my packages shipped to his house in an upscale suburban neighborhood because the only two packages I had delivered here were stolen--and one had about $110 worth of this year's Fat Cyclist stuff, GRRRRR. It's a good 10 miles from my apartment to his house, so I decide to make the most of the trip. I grab two books I had borrowed from him (Wizard and Glass and Wolves of the Calla by Steven King, books 4 and 5 of the Dark Tower series), and throw them in the trailer. Since I'd heard there was a chance of rain, I safely stow them in a dry bag first.

I set out for his house already feeling tired, but I'm not gonna let a little tiredness ruin my carfree ambitions! The trip over there is slow, but uneventful. I'm getting pretty hot and notice that I feel no wind for most of the trip--uh oh, that means a decently strong headwind for the return trip.I get to his house and throw my box in the trailer, then we grab some lunch at City Barbecue. I recommend the mustard BBQ sauce, it's amazingly good.

Anyway, I decide to head back home because it looks like the incoming storm could miss us to the north and the brother had some yard work he wanted to do. Before I go, I check the weather and notice that there's a WSW wind at 23mph. Great, I'm heading mostly W, but a little bit S.

I decide to make it a very leisurely ride. I'm not trying to win a race, I'm trying to run errands. I spin slowly up the big hill in my path as I head back toward the apartment, but then I decide to take a little side trip to Petsmart to pick up some cat litter on the way.

When I get to the top of the big hill, it starts to rain just a little. The wind picks up. I notice darkness in front of me and to both sides. "This could be fun", I think to myself.

After another mile, the rain picks up. The wind begins to whip me mercilessly...I would estimate the gusts at 40+mph, I am cranking the pedals pretty hard and running about 8mph into the wind. The sky opens up. Lightning flashes and thunder booms around me. Finally, an adventure!

I force my way through the storm, sometimes barely seeming to move. I flip on my blinky and my headlight s othat people know I'm out there. I finally take the access road to Petsmart, and roll slowly down it, feeling the left side of my shift instantly soak through with rain. This is a low traffic road and I am still not in much of a rush, so I just roll slowly down the right side. I get to a part that has a couple inches of standing water, but I just roll through it because I can tell there's someone wanting to pass. I don't mind riding through a little water. Unless...

Suddenly the bike seems to drop out from under me. I feel a sharp impact through the bars, pedals, and seat. My left pedal is scraping along the pavement that my bike just left. Rain hides big holes.

I coasted along, looking for somewhere to get my bike on the road, slowing quickly. I put my right foot down, luckily it's a gravel surface and it's gotten shallower here. I take a quick breath and pedal back onto the road.

I'm not sure how deep the hole was that I entered. Enough for my pedal to scrape the pavement when it was not quite vertical, and apparently enough to flood the front of my trailer (since it's just a cloth flap on the front, that only means "higher than the bottom of the trailer").

The worst was over now though, and after I looked in vain for something appropriate to lock my bike to (I settled on a big metal thing that dispenses trash bags for cleaning up after pets), I bought a 50lb bag of litter and a 5lb bag of cat food.

...compared to the beginning of the trip, the ride home with 80lbs of cargo seems pretty uneventful, so I won't summarize it here since I think I've used up enough space already.

Do I get to classify this shopping trip as "epic"?


drivemybike said...

Yes, that definitely classifies as epic. Awesome story. Glad you survived!

Jared said...

ya, that's epic for sure! Glad you made it through...that sounds like one hell of a bad ride!

Tex69 said...

At the time I'm sure it sucked, but after the fact it makes for a great story and a great read. And good for you for ditching the coffin, even if the power was out.