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".

Great.

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"?

3 comments:

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.