After a long week and a serious commute as usual, I was delighted to see the weather hold out enough for a quick ride after work. Though one would think that as a near-native Washingtonian (we moved here when I was four), I would enjoy, or at least tolerate, getting sprinkled upon, I find biking in the rain uncomfortable at best and miserable at worst. Though a few drops on my windshield gave me pause as I drove home, by the time I exited the freeway, the sun was shining brightly and the evening promised to be beautiful. As soon as I arrived at my house, I threw The Viva on the car rack and headed toward the Cedar River Trail, anticipating an uneventful quick ride.
Suddenly, I heard a loud BANG, followed by a whap-whap-whap-whap. I pulled into a nearby parking lot and hopped out. Sure enough, my right rear tire was completely flat and looked like it had been wildly attacked by a passing saber-toothed tiger. Fortunately, I was only a few minutes from where I bought the tires, and had purchased a replacement warranty for them. Driving very, very slowly with my hazards on, I made my way to downtown Renton and the tire store. The gentlemen there assessed my tire damage (“shredded”) and went about installing a loaner as my current tires were not in stock at the store, and had to be ordered. The Viva, which came inside during this process, was duly fawned over by the clerk, who said: “Now those are some seriously fat tires!” I noted that they were called Fat Franks, and he was delighted, and said he wanted a bike like The Viva to tool around town on. The Viva, even with its girly loop frame, is total boy-bait. If only I were 20 years-old and single! I could totally snag the tire-shop guy!
The tire store being downtown meant that I was close to my local bike shop, GHY. I decided to head over and talk to them about the Creme, which is still sitting in their back room. This entailed riding through downtown traffic, which I do not enjoy.
Even a pretty street like this one is so narrow as to be a bit frightening. Cars revved their engines behind me as I passed an unnerving number of people sitting in their parked vehicles, as if waiting for me to cycle by at just the right moment to open their car doors and knock me down so the guys behind me could giddily run over me with their giant, growling SUVs.
Did I mention my dislike of riding around cars?
Recently, Veloria of LovelyBicycle! fame wrote an entry about a rather unenjoyable moment on her local trail, and solicited her readers’ opinions on Multiple Use Paths, or MUPs. Many readers complained about the usual kids and dogs and gabby women on cell phones and aggressive road cyclists and passing saber-toothed tigers (okay, no one complained about that last one), saying they prefered cycling on the road.
Well, no thank you ma’am. I don’t like riding in traffic. The Viva and I stuck mostly to the sidewalk on the arterials, thanks muchly, and were grateful to do so. As soon as we could head into the neighborhood streets, we did. The way I see it, I am going so slowly that all the distractions of my local trails are hardly a threat to my overall health. Having crashed at the speed I normally travel, and having survived relatively intact, I’m not particularly afraid of being hamstrung by a dog leash or knocked over by a crazed lycra-wearing, tight-butted roller blader. The speed I’m going doesn’t mean much, however, when faced with two tons of steel hurtling toward me at 40 miles an hour. So road or MUP? MUP-me, baby. Mup-me.
I’m still awaiting news on the international shipping papers from Chain Reaction, and I figured the guys at GHY might like to know that. Considering I just emailed Chain Reaction about this yesterday, I hope that I’ll get the papers by email on Monday or Tuesday. Then the bike can be shipped. I spent the whole ride over wondering why my Brooks (or my pants) was suddenly so uncomfortable. I was certain it was my aqua-colored jeans, though I’ve ridden in them before. Perhaps… gasp… my butt had suddenly enlarged? But no. When I finally got to GHY, I discovered I’d forgotten to remove the BikeCap saddle cover. This was definitely noticeable (see photo above for proof). Like riding on a diaper! After reassuring the guys at GHY that the Creme would eventually leave them, and showing off The Viva (which garnered much admiration, again), I turned around and went back to retrieve my car. With the saddle cover tucked under the saddle.
The Viva and I enjoy house-watching, and I remembered back to my childhood and the hours spent driving slowly through other people’s neighborhoods with my mother and my aunt, just for fun. Today, gas prices would certainly curtail this activity, so I’ll take what I can get on the bike. Not that I found this stuff thrilling as a surly teenager, of course, but the Walkman had just been debuted, and my mother was an early-adopter of the “electronics keep my teen quiet in the car” theory, so I put up with their mania. How she would laugh now at my desire to peek in through open curtains! I’ve become a house stalker! Anyway, winding through the back streets was preferable to the main road, got me off the sidewalk, and let me take a picture of The Viva next to this sweet old machine.
The evening was still young. I retrieved my keys, and listened as the trail called. I left my newly-tire-d car in the tire store parking lot, and rode back through the traffic to the trailhead. Close by the entrance to the trail, The Viva and I stopped by this particularly fetching brick office building to take a portrait. I have a real love for red brick buildings with blue painted trim. I saw this combination everywhere in England when I was there last summer, and if I had a brick house… well, I’d be all over the sky blue trim, baby, like white on rice.
I just like saying that. What does that mean, anyway? Is there such a thing as “like brown on rice”? “Like jasmine on rice”? But I digress.
We rolled along the trail at a leisurely pace, enjoying the sunshine, the happy barks of the dogs at the off-leash area, and the absolute freedom of an empty trail at 6:30pm on a sunny Friday.
Hangin’ out near the dog park…
I contrast this with my ride a few weeks ago on the Burke-Gilman trail in Seattle at around the same time of day, and I shudder. Thank heaven everyone in my area is a total gas-guzzling redneck so I don’t have to share my MUP with hipsters on fixies and yellow-jacketed, speed-obsessed commuters! Go global warming, go!
Sun-drenched glamor shots are a Cedar River Trail specialty.
After five miles, I decided to turn around and head home to where The Beloved was apparently cooking dinner with The Girls (The Boy was at his dad’s). I tried one last stop on the bridge over the Cedar River, which is totally unlike The Bridge on the River Kwai, but now I have that song going through my head. You know, the one Obi-Wan whistles with his British buddies as they march into the prison camp and show the lazy Yankee slobs how prison camp is done. Alternately, for all of you low-brow types, it’s the song the kids in The Breakfast Club whistle while stuck in detention. Now it’s going through your head too, admit it. Ha! The power of the collective ear worm! Yes!
Self-portraits are, I swear, the bane of my existence. I hate almost all photographs of me (this one’s good, I think, though a bit… cheeky). In every one, my idiot brain morphs me into some enormous-butted, saggy-boobed, weird-eyebrowed freak. All right, but you have to admit, sometimes my eyebrows are annoyingly uneven. I do my best, but scraggly brows are just what I was born with. Cue the Dramatic Sobs! Anyway, I took four pictures before deciding this one was tolerable (note the utter lack of eyebrows). The first: big-butted. The second: saggy-boobed. The third: seat positioned perfectly to look like it was tickling my rear end. Fourth: shirt riding up ridiculously.
So there: that’s it. I did the dramatic rear-view for Veloria, who does this frequently in her own blog. She doesn’t wear a helmet, though, so she has gloriously pretty hair going on in these photos, with interesting upsweeps and such. Even if I weren’t wearing a helmet, I don’t have particularly interesting hair, so there you go. It’s looks like I’m pondering the river. Rivers are a literary metaphor for the passage of time and the broader journey of our lives. I’m sure that’s what I was thinking about, not how to make my butt look smaller in those damned aqua pants.
Finally, I rode home.
This was mostly uneventful, except for two things. First, this cool, but odd piece of public artwork that I’d never noticed before, set on a small side street next to a revamped little park.
Why random streaming electric-orange horses? Why not, I say!
Second was the group of snotty teenagers who clotted up the sidewalk and refused to budge. I just rode haughtily around them in the grass. They were apparently disappointed, as all I heard as I passed were voices saying: “She went around!” We don’t have Fat Franks for nothing, you punk saber-toothed adolescents! Eat my wide-tired dust!