June 28 2011 Ride: View from the Top

There is nothing like two days alone with my children to make me want to get out and ride a bike. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my son and my step-daughters. They are wonderful kids, funny and smart. But I was never meant to be a stay-at-home mom. I have friends who are homeschooling their kids, and who love it. I, on the other hand, need to go to work. Summer break sometimes feels more like a new job! It was time, therefore, after I dropped my son off for the evening with his dad, to get on a bike and ride like crazy.

The Viva still needs its drum brake cable fixed, so it was all Raleighishousness. Not that I mind, really. The Viva is a beautiful, fun bike, but The Raleigh is where it’s at. I can’t explain that, but it just is. Though I didn’t have a lot of time, I said to heck with it and headed for Soos Creek. I needed something both pretty to look at, and hilly enough to work out all my energy. I knew it would really take me too long, but basically decided that I didn’t care. The amount of crabby in my -ness had risen to nearly terminal levels.

Soos Creek just gets more and more beautiful, the more often I go there. This is the beginning of the trail proper, off the boardwalk, but looking back at the marsh. The sun played with the thick, racing clouds, making the light oddly clear and difficult to capture.

At first, I had that distinct legs-of-lead feeling that comes with no warm up after a long ride a few days before. Soos Creek is immediately rolly, and there were numerous slimy invaders to zip around, so my attention was focused on making it up hills and around slugs. It was a bit overwhelming for a six pm ride after a day of shrieking and arguing and Superheros leaping off the couch. Perhaps, I thought, something like the Interurban, with its utter lack of hills or slugs, would have been better.

After a few minutes, I was able to shake the heavy weight from my legs and the sun warmed the trail just enough to beat back some of my slimy friends. I rounded the play area, which was taped off with enough “caution” tape to look like a crime zone (though I saw nothing obviously wrong… slug attack, perhaps?), and stopped to take a picture with this guy, who has posed nicely for me before.

I’d make the “Temporary Horse” joke again, but even I realize that I have to give my best material a rest, you know?

Everything along this trail is so green and verdant, which is really just two ways of saying that things were exceptionally green. These cattails were particularly impressive, and the light made the chrome on The Raleigh gleam.

The long valley in the middle of the trail was as glorious as ever, even though I have to ignore the crackling powerlines in order to say that.

Perhaps those cattails are so big because they’re really like these, due to all the exposure to radiation:

Nah, I’m still obsessed with bikes and annoyed by being home, and I have no desire to go assemble in the town square to transport giant cattails anywhere.

My previous two rides at Soos Creek, I’ve had to turn around at the end of the valley or close to it, having run out of time. There was no way that I was stopping tonight, however. Just beyond where I last stopped, I paused to take a self-portrait in the shady light. It has a certain wistfulness about it, which is only because I happened to move my head at the last second. Last year, we had a famous poet visit our school. He referred to me as “winsome,” which I was very flattered by until he used it later to refer to someone else. So this can be my “winsome” shot.

From here, the landscape was very classically northwestern, with large cedars, buttercups and other shade-loving wildflowers. The Raleigh felt right at home in this color-scheme!

A bit further on, I was passed by a young man on a road bike (not an unusual occurence, obviously). A few minutes later, I crested a small hill to find him standing beside his bike fiddling with the chain. I stopped to inquire if he was okay, to be told he had a broken chain link. I will admit ignorance regarding this idea: I didn’t know that chains could just break. I guess that’s fairly obvious in retrospect. There wasn’t much I could do for him. I offered to ride the five miles back, get my car, and meet him at the nearer trailhead, but he turned me down. He probably realized he could walk back nearly as fast as I could ride. I wished him luck, and road onward to…

The End of the Trail! By now, The Beloved was left home alone, supposedly making meatballs (it turned out he was doing no such thing, as the kitchen was too warm, so instead he was out roping himself up to the back porch to practice crevasse rescue techniques). I needed to get back quickly, but six miles on The Sports is still a 40-minute ride under the best of circumstances.

The sun was settling behind a thin marine layer, but the air was still warm and buzzing with… oh yeah, that’s not natural. That’s from the power cables.

The arrow is clearly showing The Raleigh its mark on the grand stage that is rideblog!

A last sweaty few miles and The Raleigh and I arrived at the foot of the Big Hill that Marks the End of the World (those of you 12 regulars will remember the sign from previous excursions):

April 18th and May 21st Rides, respectively.

I have never been able to conquer this hill on the return (heck, on the first ride with The Raleigh’s old rims and brakes, I barely made it down, much less up). On that ride, without the lowered gearing, The Raleigh and I didn’t even make it a few feet up. The Viva made it a bit further, but had to be walked the last half at least.

Today, however, I powered up the hill without stopping, right to the top. I could hardly believe it! Was it the lowered gears on The Raleigh? Well, The Viva, while heavier than The Raleigh, also has a much lower gear range, but I couldn’t even come close. So what was the difference? I like to think it was a new physical fitness on the part of the rider.

That’s my theory, and I’m stickin’ to it.

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8 Responses to June 28 2011 Ride: View from the Top

  1. Auchen says:

    “That’s my theory, and I’m stickin’ to it.”

    +1 :-)

  2. Dorothea says:

    Last week I took a ride that I’d first taken almost a year ago, shortly after buying Pleione the purple Electra Townie, my first bike in about a quarter-century.

    This time, the hills seemed EVER so much flatter. Go figure. ;)

    Love your bikes, by the way. Pleione seems a fair amount like The Viva, and you make me want something that’s more like The Raleigh. (Better on hills would be good. Pleione HATES going uphill.)

  3. rideblog says:

    Hi Dorothea! I hear Townies are notorious hill haters, because of that geometry that lets you stand flatfooted when you stop. From what I understand, anyway, which isn’t much.

    Raleigh Sports are a bit racier. If you find a nice one on Craigslist, you can have it geared down when you have it tuned-up, for less than $20. I got a 20 tooth cog, but many folks go to a 22 tooth, which makes hills even easier, from what I hear. I highly recommend the Sports, as they are comfortable, indistructable and gorgeous. And there are tons of them out there. You can pick up a great one for less than $150 in most markets, then throw a Brooks on it and tune it up, and you’re good to go. The Schwalbe Delta Cruiser cream tires are icing on the cake :).

  4. w1gfh says:

    “Is your life spent among whirring machinery, in adding up columns of figures, in attending to the wants of often fractious customers?”‘

    ‘Don’t you sometimes long to get away from it all? Away from the streets of serried houses, only a few miles away is a different land, where the white road runs between the bluebell-covered banks crowned by hedges from which the pink and white wild rose peeps a shy welcome.”

    “Sheltering amongst the trees you see the spire of the village church-beyond it that quaint old thatched cottage where the good wife serves fresh eggs and ham fried ‘to a turn’ on a table of rural spotlessness, for everything is so clean in the country.”

    “Rosy health and a clear brain is what Raleigh gives you.”

    -1923 Raleigh brochure

  5. rideblog says:

    w1gfh, that’s awesome! I love the “for everything is so clean in the country.” I once spent a week trying to convince an 8th grader with OCD that a 5-day camping trip in the wilds of Oregon was much safer than spending the week in a hotel. He just refused to see that there was a difference between dirt and germs. He just graduated, and is now a reluctant occasional camper.

    When I lived in England for a couple years, I used to love taking the bus to the outskirts of town and then heading out to the local animal shelter, where one could volunteer to walk a dog. I would spend an hour or so wandering through the hedgerows, looking for hedgehogs (only found dead ones), communing with cows, and making a dog very happy. It was glorious!

  6. Dorothea says:

    Thanks for the tip! I’ll take a look at Raleigh Sports. We have an excellent secondhand bike shop in Madtown, if Craigslist doesn’t pan out.

  7. rideblog says:

    That’s so good,w1gfh, it will have to be posted in the next entry (you’ll see why).

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