I signed up for “Bike To Work Month” this month and this is the first week that I’m supposed to bike at least once per week. I was very excited to do it because we moved and so I had a new route, something that doesn’t happen too often, of course. Knowing I was going to be doing this, I prepared. I worked on the bike last night, fixing the brakes, cleaning and greasing the chain, etc. Everything else was fine, so I was ready to go!I woke up this morning, ready to conquer! There was a bit of fear because the new route is about 12.5 miles and the old one was only 8.5 miles, plus I hadn’t ridden for a couple of months because of moving and the new kid. But, I thought I’d give it a shot.
This is when I should have realized today may not go as well as planned. I remembered that, like always, I brought my laptop home (and it’s accompanying bag). That meant I had to carry a 10-12lb laptop bag, in addition to my back with my lunch, clothes, etc. I should have left it at work since I can’t remember the last time I used it at home. Oh well, I’ve been through worse and decided to forge ahead.
Part 2 of “m Didn’t Plan” is when it got to be 6:30am, my pre-appointed time to leave. I wanted to get to work by 8:00 and, this being a new route, I wanted to save plenty of time for unexpected delays (how clever of me). Well, it took me 30 minutes just to find all my gear, get it out in the front and get ready to go. Had I gotten it together the night before, like any intelligent person would have done, I would have been cruising at 6:30. I left at 6:55.
The first leg of the journey went well. I was traveling on an auto route, which meant I knew where to go. It was as I approached what I thought was the entrance to the Interurban Trail that the next batch of problems came up. See, I thought I knew where to catch the trail. Well, when I was almost to that street, I looked ahead and saw a sign for the trail that pointed straight ahead. So, I passed that street and kept going. After about 200 feet, it didn’t feel right and looked behind me and saw a trail sign pointing down the street I had thought it was on. Good heavens. I turned around and went that way.
The road curved around to the right and I saw the Drive-In theater where Heidi and I saw Pirates of the Caribbean and Finding Nemo (it’s been a while). The road curved to the left, away from the theater, while a dirt path went straight, towards the theater. There was no sign, so I figured I should follow the paved road. To coin a phrase “I came to a (kind of) fork in the road and I chose the road most traveled and it has made all the difference”. All the difference.
It turns out the dirt path was the way to go. The way I went led to the crest of a hill, which I was grateful for, as I rode up to it. However, immediately upon starting my descent, I looked up and saw Mt. Everest in front of me. Okay, maybe not Everest, but at least Mt. Rainer. As soon as I saw this, I pedaled downhill as fast I could and got about halfway up the next hill on momentum alone. But, once the momentum stopped, so did I. I was in 1:1 and could barely move. So, I walked it, I’m not ashamed to admit. If you think you can do better, I urge you to it.
After conquering (sort of) that hill, I rode on for a good while. I figured I wasn’t on the trail because they typically don’t have bike trails that intersect with Mt. Rainers. But, I figured I’d find the trail eventually. Well, I was right because I came on a sign that pointed me to the right (West) to meet the trail. I was elated. I noticed, in my elation, that the trail curved and went back North, the direction from which I had just come. I thought that was curious but figured maybe the trail curved North for a bit and then went under the freeway and resumed South. Remember this point, my friends, because my morning takes a sharp decline here.
Upon almost reaching the dirt road by the drive-in that I should have taken, I realized this trail was going North, not South. According to my bike computer, I had just enjoyed a 1.5-mile detour. Incidentally, as I was jaunting along on this path, I passed a fellow biker going the opposite direction. It occurred to me, as I was having doubts about the direction I was going, that I should ask him. Did I? No.
So, I turned my weary carcass around and rode back to the point I asked you to remember. Did you? If not, go back. Okay, done? As I approached this point from my new vantage, I saw a sign for the trail that was pointing South. Did you catch that? I was going South when I got this critical point when I saw a sign pointing West, took it and ended up on the 3-mile detour (1.5 miles each way). That means if I had kept going in the same direction, I would have ended up where I wanted. This caused me no small amount of frustration and anger. Teeth were gnashed. I may have wailed.
However, my relief at knowing where I was at and that I was finally going the right way put in a little in the way of comfort. I followed the road I was on until the trail and the road diverged. I took the trail, noting it’s downhill path and being grateful, and whistled a happy tune. Or rather, sung along to La Ley, which was on my PocketPC that I was listening to.The trail wound Southward and I enjoyed myself. As the trail was meeting up to another street, I saw a trail sign go by rather quickly. I thought to myself, “I should stop and see what direction I should go. Heaven knows I’ve wasted enough time not paying enough attention to the signs”. What did I do? I assumed I knew the right way (downhill and to the right). Well, I followed this street through a particularly beautiful part of the city all the way to the bottom of the hill. I turned right and went under the freeway.
I heard a honk behind me and looked back to notice about 5,000,000,000,000 cars lining up behind me. It was then that I realized this road had no shoulder and I was in the middle of the busy lane. That seemed like an odd road for a bike trail, so I got off the road and waited for the procession to pass. I went the other way, passing the street I had come down and went the other way. This didn’t look promising either. That’s when I realized I was going to have to climb back up that ridiculous hill. Not up it. BACK up it.
When I got the apex, approximately 2 years later, I saw a woman walking. I asked her directions for the Interurban Trail. She said it was straight ahead. Well, I never saw it, at least where she was talking about, because I happened upon the road I take home from work every day. I knew how to meet up with the trail from there, so I took it.
I eventually made it to work at 8:30am. Yup, I spent 1.5 hours on my bike this morning. My 12.5 mile commute (one way), ended up being 22 miles. I literally couldn’t feel my big toes. Everything ached. My bike seat had become part of my body. But, I made it. And, I went further than I ever thought I could, so that was nice. Thankfully, I know the way (now) to get home, so that should be 12.5 miles. Also, I’m leaving the laptop at work, so my load should be lighter. Plus, I lost about 75 lbs of sweat on the way in, so I’ll be lighter that way. Things are looking up. Wait, is my tire flat…?