Neighborhood rides are always interesting, especially when you live in a neighborhood as hilly as mine. There are advantages to being up on a hill, including the fact that we have a lovely view of the Olympic Mountains (when they aren’t hidden by clouds).
But there are also serious disadvantages, obviously, when it comes to riding my bikes. The Raleigh for a brief jaunt to the store? Forget about it, unless you have thighs worth oiling and displaying on stage, which I do not. It’s the Panasonic, or nothing.
Yesterday, my normal long-ride day, was spent with my kind friend Abarth (not his real name!), getting the Shogun up and running. More on that in a few weeks, when it is all done: I like grand reveals. We had to cut our time short, so The Beloved and I could take the kids into the Big City for the Harry Potter Exhibit at the Pacific Science Center, at the foot of the Space Needle. The Exhibit is so popular, reservations are required, so we were on a tight deadline; to have missed this one was to live the rest of my life in eternal damnation, and didn’t I know it! Fortunately, we made it without incident. I was an art major, long ago, and am something of a museum buff, so I think I know from exhibits. This one was fantastic, and easily worth the hassle of the drive and the parking. All three kids emerged with wands, chocolate frogs, stars in their eyes and a big dose of movie magic. Today, we threw everyone in the car and headed to the mountains for the kids’ weekly ski lessons. So when, and where, can I squeeze in a ride? Daylight here in the frozen tundra is still limited.
What’s left is the neighborhood, hills and all. A revisiting of the end of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets kept the kids busy and The Beloved from hari-kari (wands were flourished, but no damage was done). I saddled up the Panasonic and headed out. With the new higher stem, the bike is much more comfortable for me, though I’m still not loving the pressure of my hands on the bars. I suspect that I will someday have to give in and put on padded tape, ugly as it is. Possibly the Shogun will volunteer to be the ugly guinea pig.
At any rate, I found myself on a hill the moment I left our driveway. This one would have been easy, if I hadn’t stopped first to take a picture. Like much of life, it’s the getting started that’s the problem!
You can tell I haven’t gone far yet, as the balaclava is still making an appearance.
Soon it was off with the balaclava, off with the Gore bike gloves. Why, Bagman, why don’t you arrive from England so I can mount my pretty Carradice Barley saddlebag? WHY? The little VO handlebar bag holds a lot, but it was seriously stretched at this point. Bagman! Four months and counting since I ordered it, though supposedly it is finally on its way. Without the bag support, I have no saddlebag loops to attach the bag to the Turbo, plus the bag hits the rear wheel. It may still hit the rear wheel, even with the Bagman. What I will do if that’s true, I don’t know. There’s something seriously prohibitive about returning items to England. I’m sure that’s all part of the Evil British Master Plan to Take Over Someone’s, Anyone’s Economy.
There are many hazards on a neighborhood ride, from road debris to potholes to, of course, cars. But I suspect mine is the only neighborhood where one of the hazards is the crazy redneck neighbor who has surfaced his entire driveway with what appears to be broken beer bottles. Seriously, no lie. Broken glass = classy! Well, at least he’s recycling…
Below is my self-portrait fail, as my teenage students would say. It’s like all those Polaroids taken by my grandmother back in the Seventies where she cut off my uncle’s head because he was a foot taller than everyone else. Ah, memories.
Then I hit a long, busy downhill stretch where I will fully admit to monopolizing the sidewalk. Cars + Weenie Cyclist + Downhill = Bad. Yes, I’m an English teacher. How did you know?
Long downhills mean long uphills (despite my mother’s claim that during winters in Ellensburg in the 1940s, the walk to school was uphill both ways). The Panasonic and I stopped to catch our breath no less than four times total, but here I’ve made it half-way up for my first pause.
Why do I do this? It’s madness, I tell you, MADNESS!
Then I stopped again (oddly, the second, third and fourth stops were increasingly close together).
Upon my arrival, a small black shape came streaking out of the neighbor’s yard, where she had been waiting for me since I left. The best thing about a neighborhood ride is the immediacy of the welcome home!
Mitten the Magnificent, who would certainly accompany me, except that cats are totally above that sort of thing.