February 5, 2011 Ride

Today’s rideblog entry contains so much drama, it’s hardly bearable. I’m all a-quiver! Really, I feel inspired (and particularly verbose). Actually, it was a fairly eventful ride, considering I was just out-and-about in the neighborhood.

Usually, the dreaded Driveway of Broken Glass – like the Boulevard of Broken Dreams, only trashier – is my biggest excitement around here (see January 30th ride), so I set off today with hope in my heart and my eyes on the ground, as usual. Despite the long-awaited arrival of my Bagman, I elected to ride The Raleigh. A nerve in my neck has been drifting in and out of pinchiness all week, and today it seemed to have decided to be IN. Leaning over on the Panasonic, however sportily-attired with a new bag, just didn’t appeal. Frankly, I wasn’t much in the mood to ride at all. The sky was gray and dreary, and I’d spent most of the morning vacuuming and mopping up the detritus left behind by The Kids and The Beloved, who are epic in their ability to spread debris.

Still, the Giant Thermometer on the Fence read 40 degrees, and the rain had cleared off by mid-afternoon. So the Raleigh and I set off. I don’t usually ride The Raleigh around the neighborhood, because as I have mentioned before, The Raleigh is not fond of hills. But I just couldn’t be bothered to hoist a forty pound bike up onto my bike rack (twice, of course) and risk more pinchiness, and besides, when driving to the post office this morning to retrieve the Bagman, I noticed that what I had thought was an unpaved trail under the power lines on the top of the hill was in fact a badly paved road. This intrigued me just enough to provide the necessary impetus to stand-and-peddle The Raleigh up the hill from our house to where the power corridor begins. I was slightly unnerved by the police car parked at the start of the road. What if I was forbidden from cycling under the power lines for some reason? What if there were IMPORTANT ELECTRICAL SECRETS that needed to be guarded? Then I realized he was just setting up a speed trap in a really silly spot (who speeds at the top of a hill?). I slowed down and wished him a good morning, and frankly, he looked more unnerved by me than I was by him.

The badly paved access road turned out to be rather short: just a mile-and-a-half or two miles. At that point, it rejoined the proper roads in another neighborhood even hillier than my own. The Raleigh and I paused to check out a small park we didn’t know existed (we’ve only lived in our neighborhood since November, so many spots are still undiscovered). Next summer, if I can get the kids up the two blocks of somewhat-busy road to the access road (there’s a wide shoulder), this would make a great quick ride with a fun culmination. For now, The Raleigh wasn’t interested in the playstructure.

We decided to head back. The Raleigh balked at the slight uphill grade, but I did a quick stand-and-peddle, and we were fine.

At the top of the hill, we paused to take a picture with the foggy Cascade foothills in the background. A lady walking her dogs approached and said: “New bike?” obviously assuming this was the only reasonable explanation for my desire to take this particular photograph. “Nope,” I said. “Very old bike.” She narrowed her eyes and then remarked: “Ah, a classic.” “Indeed,” I replied, and peddled away, leaving the mystery intact.

The Raleigh and I were not satisfied with this initial jaunt, so we headed down toward the Driveway of Broken Glass, mostly because the road is relatively flat for several miles.

A few blocks in, I realized that I could take loopy side-trips into the neighborhood next to this arterial and still stay on level ground. My neighborhood is fairly upscale, for an old suburb. Though the houses are modest (we live in a 1965 split-level that would make Mr. Brady cringe for all its ordinariness), the views are lovely and the local homeowner’s association ensures that the yards are tidy and the outbuildings are properly unassuming. Our dues even buy us membership in a rather swank little seasonal swimming pool. Yet just a few blocks later, and I find myself in a neighborhood of very run-down houses with cars up on blocks. No wonder Mr. Broken Glass feels right at home with his path made of shattered beer bottles.

Still, I admit The Raleigh and I love to scope out other people’s homes, so we rolled on through happily enough. Then, out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something I thought was rather odd: next to a house with an adorably threatening Jack Russell puppy chasing me along his chain link fence, sat a large, fluffy, black-and-brown… bunny. In a driveway. Just sitting there. I peddled by slowly, my mind processing the bunny. Why was there a bunny? Outside? In a driveway? Should I do something about the bunny? Outside? In a driveway?

 We travelled on for several blocks, looping past more squat houses and what seemed like dozens of speed bumps, before I settled on doing Something. What Something entailed, I wasn’t sure, but clearly, an unprotected pet bunny required some sort of action. I kept imagining a frantic child, crying for her bunny. I pictured a pack of unsavory-looking German Shepherds, trolling the neighborhood for rodent flesh, ripping the bunny to shreds in front of the traumatized Jack Russell puppy. I thought: I’ll call animal control, and tell them… what? That there’s a bunny on the loose? This seemed somewhat ridiculous. Instead, after finally relocating said bunny, still placidly squatting in the driveway, I decided to knock on the door. There was a rather off-putting sign hand-lettered and encased in a sheet protector which read: “No solicitors! No salespeople! (otherwise known as “solicitors,” I thought) No trespassers!” Eh… but the bunny! I knocked. An old man answered, and the following exchanged took place:

 Me: Is that your bunny in the driveway?

Old Man: Oh no. It belongs to those people across the street (waving in the general direction of Across the Street).

Me: Do they know he’s outside?

Old Man: Oh yes. They let him out.

Me: They let their bunny out? On purpose?

Old Man: Yep. Been doing it for years. Sometimes they go on vacation for a couple days, and they just turn him out to roam around until they get back.

Me: They leave him out while they go on vacation? That’s nuts!

Old Man: Yep.

Me: Should I call animal control?

Old Man: Oh no, he’s fine. No one bothers him. The dogs don’t worry him. He just hops around.

 Thrown by the bizarre nature of this exchange, I walked slowly back out to the street. The next door neighbor had let the Jack Russell puppy out, and was kneeling by his mailbox, watching the dog bark at me. I quickly ruled out a bunny photograph. When I cast one last look in its direction, the bunny met my gaze, and then hopped off into the old man’s back yard and out of sight, as if it suspected I had it out for its freedom. I peddled a few blocks, pondering what to do. What would I say, exactly, to an animal control officer? “Excuse me, Sir, but somewhere around X street and Y block, there’s an unmolested bunny rabbit hopping about!” In the end, I decided it just wasn’t worth the trouble to save a rabbit which did not appear to be in immediate danger <let the House Rabbit Society flamers begin now>.

Still a bit unnerved by the blatant bunny abuse and comforting myself with the thought that at least it seemed to be a very streetwise bunny, I peddled on through several more loopy blocks. One thing kept me from being totally bunny-focused: my rear end.

 For a few weeks now, I’ve been thinking that I ought to get a new saddle for the Sports. This one is the original Brooks saddle, and it was definitely formed for Someone Else’s Butt, forty-plus years ago. Lately in particular, the skirts of the saddle have been very uncomfortable, seeming to cut into my inner thighs more than I remembered them doing before. I’ve even gone so far as to look for replacements on Craigslist. The current saddle is a B-72, in what can only be described as Very Old Brown. I know a B-66 would be comfier, and even more stylish with its large springs. But a new Brooks is no small investment, and I just didn’t feel solvent enough to order something like that in the middle of ski season, no matter how uncomfortable the saddle had become. Peddling around my last few blocks before rejoining the main road to cycle home, proud to have entirely avoided the Driveway of Broken Glass, I was just considering that somehow the saddle seemed even more bitey than usual when… SNAP.

I knew immediately what had happened. Total leather failure, right where one would expect it: just behind the nose of the saddle.

Well, I thought, I guess that solves the new-saddle-or-no-new-saddle debate, doesn’t it? Peddling the Sports at near the speed of sound, I sat waaaaay back and made my way home, praying that it didn’t somehow get worse as I was paralleling the busy arterial and launch me up in the air like an ejector seat on an F17. Let’s just say my stance was very similar to those guys you see riding their tiny trick bikes, knees out to the side like monkeys. It gave a whole new meaning to the term “sit-bones.”

 So a new seat it is. The only question remaining is: dark brown, or honey? Honey seems so garish, but the bike is already pretty dark brown. I’d best make up my mind, as there will be no more riding of The Raleigh until the new saddle arrives.

 Upon my arrival at home, I installed the Bagman on the Panasonic, and got the Carradice Barley fitted to its rear end. Whoa Nelly, is it gorgeous! Pics of that to come. I’m fairly certain I’ll be riding the Panasonic for the immediate future, so it might as well be even more spectacular, right? And now I’ve whetted your appetites for more adventures into the wilderness of suburban King County, where a bunny who is so-inclined can still roam as free as his forbearers, unfettered by the confines of a “hutch,” unrestrained by the expectations of The Man that all bunnies be perpetually prey or reliant upon their Owners for the Illusion of Safety (all the while gnawing their way toward Death on the electric cords of minor appliances and consuming the edges of throw rugs), alone in the grass-green universe where no false boundaries hold a bunny back from hopping whither he pleases, and totally at peace with his fluffy-Zen-bunny self.

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7 Responses to February 5, 2011 Ride

  1. James Jay says:

    Sounds like it wasn’t to bad of a ride, got to experience the new neighborhood. We moved in November and I still haven’t made it out to far. Most of my miles are commuter miles.

    Anyways, Sorry about the saddle. I have a champion special I pulled off a 1965 raleigh lenton that i’m using on my Trek and it is ripping along the front rivet it’s only a matter of time till the nose rips. I have been dreading it, so I finally bought a replacement b-17 standard last week from wallbike.

    I hope you can get a replacement soon. Your first picture of your Raleigh is very lovely by the way.

    – James

  2. rideblog says:

    Thanks, James! The funny thing is, I didn’t see any cracks or anything on this one. I just felt, for the last few rides, like it was getting uncomfortable, but having not ridden it in several months at that point, I thought maybe it was just my new preference for my Panasonic’s Turbo. “The skirts on these Brooks are just too darn wide,” I kept thinking :).

  3. Auchen says:

    I thought it a bit odd to spot the March Hare in February, (and even curiouser to write about it) but I suspect that MANY other magical, mystical things happened along your way…
    Perchance, did you attend a tea party with that hare?

    PS- I recommend the brown Brooks.

  4. Your Bestest Friend says:

    Let me know about the final saddle decision, yeah? I can’t buy it for you, but can, uh, facilitate the purchase.

  5. rideblog says:

    Bestest: Ooo, I like the illicit sound of the word “facilitate.” I’ll send you an, uh, email…

    (for what it’s worth, she really is one of my bestest friends, and she works in the bike industry. We aren’t sneaking into Wallbike at midnight to grab a Brooks).

  6. Pingback: April 2nd, 2011 Ride: The Nostalgia Edition | rideblog

  7. Pingback: On Journalism, Science, Empirical Evidence, Bee Poop and Bike Helmets | rideblog

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