April 9, 2011 Ride

One would think, with an April date stamp, that this issue of rideblog would have some sunshine, at least tentatively peeking through the clouds like sweet, sweet droplets of golden goodness. But One, whoever the heck they are, would be mistaken.

April? we say to you sun-loving wussies in the rest of the country. We don’t need your stinkin’ Aprils, with your sunshine, and your flowers, and your baby kittens! Instead, we’ll take some thick gray clouds, some drizzle, and a good old-fashioned Common Cold, thank you very much. April… ha! As if.

With our noses streaming, throats aching and voices vanishing, The Raleigh and I hauled our bug-ridden bodies down to the tame end of the Cedar River Trail, in the single hour allotted to riding this weekend. The Beloved has a 36-foot mildew-home… I mean motorhome, which we were taking out to scenic Elma, Washington this weekend. We were, theoretically anyway, leaving at noon, and I was picking up The Boy from his father at 11:30. I was in charge of one of The Girls until 9:30. That meant that by the time I had loaded up the bike, driven down the hill and found a trail, I would have just over one hour before I would have to load the bike back up, and drive the fifteen miles to my Boy-rendezvous spot in Kirkland. Fortunately, it happened to be one of the few dry hours this weekend.

There are days when I don’t like surprises, and this was one of them. The Cedar River Trail is my fallback trail for when I’m too sick or fussy or tired or busy to go find another spot to ride. Since we spent a year renting a house just two blocks away from the trail, I know one end of it fairly well.

If the trail wasn’t surprising, something was: I had a great time riding my bike, despite my wretched head cold. The Raleigh felt sprightly and comfortable, with its new seat and rolled-up North Roads bars. Being just that little bit higher in the saddle, and slightly more upright on the bars, has added enough leg extension to give me unexpected power on hills. It’s as if I lowered the gearing on the bike, without actually doing anything mechanical. What was always a reasonably comfortable bike has become a dream machine!

That’s a genuine smile, folks.

Other hardy souls were out in the cool, dreary weather as well. The Raleigh and I stopped to admire one of several groups of gentlemen playing that most British of games: cricket. Who knew that right here in South King County, there’s a park with a real cricket pitch! We felt Veddy British as we observed the bowling and the wickets and the… other crickety stuff.

Nearby were a few very undignified-looking Yanks, preparing to play baseball. They were standing in a circle, chanting something obscene and wearing their mitts on their heads. We cycled snottily past, maintaining very stiff upper lips.

The Raleigh feels quite at home near all sorts of upper crusty pastimes, including the very Scottish game of golf. The Cedar River Trail runs past the Meadowdale Golf Course, a very pretty (public) course. Shhh, don’t tell The Raleigh. It thinks the course is quite exclusive, and has fantasies involving Drinking Tea in plaid Plus Fours at the Club with men named “Binky” or “Clive.”

After passing the golf course, we stopped to take a picture at one of the more deceptively scenic spots on the trail: a one-lot spot of meadow, with a rather lively orange hunk of farm machinery in the background. One of the first pictures I took of The Raleigh, after purchasing the bike, was shot there on a gorgeous sunny day (NOT in April).

It’s interesting (at least to me) to see the changes that have been made to the bike since I first bought it. Gone are the cheap black foam-rubber grips, replaced by… well, cheap brown leather grips with foam underneath. The old gumwall Kenda tires have been switched to cream Schwalbe Delta Cruisers. Of course, the bike has a new saddle, baskets, and wee saddlebag, as well as a ding ding bell and lights.

I think the changes have been for the best, though I’d still take the sunshine, were it ever to be offered again.

At the 5.5 mile marker, The Raleigh and I checked our watches and decided it was time to head back. With picture-taking, eleven miles would push my one hour limit and frankly, I wanted time to stop and get a peach Snapple iced tea before embarking on the drive north. I have a wee peach Snapple iced tea addiction (I have actually coerced my students into getting me bottles of the sweet nectar when they run to the gas station to get themselves candy), and when I’m sick, I’m prone to severe overindulgence of my desires. I have probably consumed several gallons of this stuff in the last two days. Perhaps I should buy stock. Anyway…

There is one interesting hill on this trail, where it snakes under the highway next to the river, and emerges on the other side of the road. To accomplish this, the trail makes a near-complete 360-degree turn (please don’t bother writing to correct my angles. I’m an ENGLISH teacher, for God’s sake!). The Raleigh and I powered up in first gear, with only a moment of standing on the pedals. When we stopped to take this photo, a nice gentleman on a carbony steed stopped to ask if I was okay.

“Just recording my accomplishment,” I said, showing him the camera.

This garnered quite a chuckle.

We progressed onward toward home, and I pondered the fact that despite a record-setting amount of mucus in my sinuses, I was actually wishing I’d had more time to ride. The trail was not as pretty as it will be later in the year (why prettify April, after all? It’s just April):

In a month or two, those scrubby bushes on the right will be head-height and covered in pink and white roses. This fall, old people wearing protective clothing will be found buried deep within them, harvesting rose hips. No really, they will.

It was just as well I rode the trail today, as the railroad trestle bridge near the trailhead will soon be closed for a month of shoring up the old wooden piles that support it.

We arrived back at the car in less than an hour. Given that I managed to stop and take twelve photographs during that time (not all of which made the cut for rideblog, which is held to a high photographic standard, of course), that means I averaged about 12-13 miles an hour!

Clearly, they designed this sign for The Raleigh!

Edit: the best part of all this? I wrote this entire post, including the date in the title, as a rant about MAY. Then I realized that one of the many reasons it doesn’t feel like May in Seattle is that it… isn’t. Apparently the snot has pushed my brain aside and taken over. I changed everything to April, but it was waaaay funnier when it was about May. Trust me.


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15 Responses to April 9, 2011 Ride

  1. Kara says:

    My april so far has been filled with allergies, thunderstorms, and snow.

    Despite all the lack-of-sunniness, it looks like you got a lovely ride in. I am jealous of your lush green backdrop to your ride.

  2. Tom Reingold says:

    With 11 miles in under an hour, and with stops along the way, I think I’ll report you for exceeding the speed limit.

    I haven’t seen much of Washington State, but I’ve loved every bit I’ve seen.

  3. w1gfh says:

    Doesn’t riding an English bike imbue otherwise ordinary scenery with a certain pastoral splendour? (Yes, that’s Oxford spelling) On the other hand, welcome to nearly-unobtainable metric bolts and the mysteries of rear hub cone adjustment.

  4. monk says:

    I wondered if your mental chain slipped a cog or you were just messin’ with us (you being an English teacher and all). My curiosity was going to force me to ask eventually so thanks for settling the issue. 😉

  5. rideblog says:

    I’ve been out of commission for days with a full-blown sinus infection and ear infections and eye infection and… I guess I have a head infection.

    Kara: that’s not even really green yet. Give us a month. Wait until you see May… 🙂

    Tom: Clearly, you need to visit and see more of Washington State. I’ve ridden, like, 1.6% of it, so I’m an expert! Bring a Raleigh 20 and we’ll build wheels.

    W1gfh: I’m avoiding all the technical aspects of owning The Raleigh in favor of ignorance and bliss. Or should I say “favour”?

    Monk: I was hoping no one caught it. But yeah, even us English teachers sometimes get confused. But then we very cleverly say things like: “I’m glad at least one of you noticed that I deliberately wrote ‘May’ instead of ‘April’? Would someone like to tell me how this might be significant to the author’s intentions for the work as a whole? What can we learn about Spring as a metaphor for growth in the clearly deliberate inaccuracy of the date tag? Is it possible we have an unreliable narrator?”

  6. monk says:

    Yes, me being retired, a subscriber, and one of your twelve loyal readers all conspired against you to get “caught”. I don’t blame you for wanting nicer weather though (my takeaway from your post). That works in any month (here in Iowa, it’s the wind). Given your “head infection”, I can’t imagine riding a bike (at 12-13 mph, no less) then blogging about it! At least you have the power of editing (unlike us writers of comments). As soon as I hit “Post”, I realized I wanted to add something sympathetic like, “I hope the weather clears soon and you head clears sooner”.

  7. jerping says:

    i like the color of your tires. anything but black!

  8. rideblog says:

    Ah Monk, you are too sweet :). My head is clearing nicely, with some hardcore antibiotics. The weather on the other hand…

  9. rideblog says:

    Jerping, I’ve been sucked into Veloria’s evil “cream or white tires only” vortex! Though I do like a gumwall on certain bikes. I think The Raleigh actually looked quite dashing with them. The Panasonic, on the other hand, did not…

  10. Tom Reingold says:

    I have whitewall tires on my black Rudge. I will post pictures soon on my picasa page. They are handsome. They are black tires with white sidewalls. They’re made by Schwalbe, and I expect them to ride better than Kenda tires, though I haven’t done a side-by-side comparison yet. They weren’t terribly expensive, either.

    Blackwall tires also look “appropriate” on an old English three-speed.

  11. w1gfh says:

    Let us know how you like sprocket change. I am intrigued by the notion of easier pedaling up hills, but I like the oomph the present 3rd gear gives me on the downhill. They used to call these bikes “English Racers” after all. They should have *some* race to ’em.

  12. rideblog says:

    W1gfh, that’s why I have hesitated to do the cog change. I, too, love that big 3rd gear. I finally decided that I just can’t justify the 10% of the time when I get to use the 3rd gear, given the 100% of the time I can’t pedal this thing up a hill :).

  13. w1gfh says:

    I’m on the fence about cog change, but a glowing report with before and after comparisons could help nudge me off.

    I notice you have your brake levers mounted at an outward angle I call the “bat wing” position. I thought I was the only one that did that! I find it’s more comfortable and gives me greater leverage on the brakes. However, looking at old catalog pics, the factory setup for the levers is quite different.

  14. rideblog says:

    Huh, I’ve never noticed that my levers are any different from the catalogs, but I don’t think I’ve looked closely. They are comfortable like I have them. I like that when my hands get hot, I can just rest my fingertips on the levers and cool them off.

    It’ll be another week on the cog change. I just realized that I have next week off for spring break, which is not a good time to put one’s bike in the shop!

  15. Pingback: May 19, 2011 Ride: Into the Sunset, Camera in Hand | rideblog

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