Well. . . I know I just recently posted a ride report. And I fully realize that it is easy to assume that it is way too soon to post another. And I quite understand that after enough ride reports, from various other blogs, magazines, vids, etc., one may get tired of reading (or watching) ride reports. In fact, it is easy to fall into the confused opinion that all ride reports are the same. Which may be so. . .
But anyways, as I pedaled away from Bike Works this evening, and out of Columbia City, I found myself struggling with the idea that I was to ride 10 miles home in this type of weather. Spinning up and over the hill to MLK, and then up towards the I-90 Trail, I was staring at the buses that passed longingly, imagining their yellow-lit interior and their blaring heat. However. . .
As I turn onto the I-90 trail I look down and am mildly shocked to see my team-kit on and my cyclometer showing my BPM and cadence.
“Huh. . .?”
I sit up for a second and look around.
“How did I forget that I was in a bike race? Weird. . .”
Settling back down onto the hoods, I downshift and begin to pump my legs, shooting up the hill through Judkin’s Park.
“Wonder where the rest of the pack is?”
Spin, spin, spin.
Breathe, breathe, breathe.
“Either I got dropped and spit out the back, or I’m off the front. . .”
*Looks behind. Shakes head.*
“I must be off the front!”
And before I know it, my head is back in the race. I crouch lower on my bike, tightening my core muscles, relaxing my arms, spinning smoother and gradually faster. My breathing finds it’s own rhythm, coming slowly and deeply. As I absentmindedly watch the sparkles on the wet asphalt race by, I am aware of each and every thing in it’s place around me. My body can sense the pavement beneath me through the tires, constantly monitoring the traction of the rubber and it’s contact with the wet surface. My eyes scan up the path, anticipating each next curve, before returning down to my front wheel. . . and back up the path again. I feel the flow of my momentum, the delicate balance between slowing too much and losing it or going too hard and burning myself out too soon. Pulling off the bike path and passing the bread factory, I shift into a harder gear and stand up out of the saddle, slowly beginning to rock the bike side to side. I find an easy pace that I can sustain for a few blocks and float up the hill.
Passing the playground and continuing up 19th, I sit back on my saddle and continue spinning. With my hands on the flat, I take a deep breath and exhale it slowly, while trying to let my legs loosen up a bit. I always love it when I get lost in my imagination on a bike ride! Chuckling to myself, I take a long drink from my water bottle. Me. . . a bike racer. . . ha. I don’t even remember what team kit it was that I envisioned myself wearing. Ha, I say.
As I ride up and along 19th, I come back to my senses and remember that I am on a public road and am sharing it with big metal things that move faster than me and can kill me! I go into self-defense mode.
My heart rate quickens a bit and my breathing becomes faster and shallower. I switch my light from flashing to steady and curl my hands around the drops a bit tighter. Looking down the road, I scan back and fourth for the tell-tale signs of a car pulling out: the wheels slowly turning towards the street, the turn of a head through the window, or brake lights suddenly going off. I try to also remain aware of the thickness of the layer of leaves covering the bike lane (damn city, can’t clean the streets), and the depth of puddles that I am more or less forced through. I keep shaking my head and laughing softly. The water cascades down the street, the wind blowing across it in gusts. I feel like I am running up a stream. Or perhaps I am swimming up it? The cyclical motions of my feet suddenly remind me of a fish’s tail, beating back and fourth over and over. I give my spine a shake to see if I feel fish like. . . and I do!
Bobbing my head from side to side, I remember to open my gills and breathe. I find myself with the urge to jump up and out of the water, to arc through the air in a silver flash. But that would be a waste of energy, so I just continue swimming. Moving upstream at a pretty good clip, I dart from shadow to shadow, pool to pool. I go quickly, in fast bursts. I go a little slower, but with a more consistent pace. All of a sudden I am up and over the top of the stream and the water reverses it’s flow! All of a sudden I am going WITH the current, rather than AGAINST it! I somehow find the strength to swim faster, shooting along the stream as fast as the water itself. Once or twice, a bit of the water turns off and into an eddy, forcing me to slow down and even stop. I’m never slow to jump right back into the current though, getting back up to speed right quick. Flying down the hill, I come to a fork in the stream, and go left. But not the hard left, the soft left, and all of a sudden, I find myself silently floating through the trees.
My scales have grown into wings. Big and soft wings. Wings full of beautiful white feathers that catch the light of the moon through the trees. I blink once. Again. And I am off, flitting through the trees, a silent white ghost.
Hoo hoo. Hoo hoo.
The light from my headlamp illuminates the road infront of me, creating a large tunnel of light that I can see stretching out and away. At the edge of the light, total darkness.
Hey, wasn’t I in some sort of race? I forget now. . . the trees are calling me.
I blink and remember that I am supposed to be hunting field mice. I shift my eyes down towards the ground to my side. I see wet clumps of grass and matted leaves. I return my gaze to the sky through the trees. How is an owl supposed to hunt for mice on such a beautiful night? The lights shine off the Montlake Slough, creating such a dazzling picture of man-made items that even this owl couldn’t help but smile. Smile and flap his wings! I reach my arms out and flap them, propelling myself quietly through the night sky. . .
I exit Interlaken and point my bike towards the West. I merge with traffic and wait for a red light. As I am waiting for the light, I think I see something small, brown, and furry run from bush to bush. Huh. . . interesting. Wonder what a mouse is doing on the sidewalk.
I ride with traffic. Slowly.
Down the hill we go, turning North-ish again. Down towards Eastlake and the University Bridge. I see to bikers going up the hill and think that I may know them. Oh well, going too fast now. Both lights are green and I think that I can make them.
Oops, the bottom one changed. Drat. I continue speeding up anyway. There’s always the chance that it’ll change, right? I wonder what sort of odds a gamble like that has. Probably not good ones. I slow down. Just as I drop from 32 down to 20ish, the light turns green. Drat.
Didn’t matter, the bridge was up.
I roll up to the bridge, behind two other riders. One of them turns to look at me. I think he says something. . .
No. It couldn’t have been. Did he really say. . .?
“You ever feel like you are at the starting line of a race when this happens? I do.”
Looks like I’m racing tonight!