Wednesday, January 18, 2006

"Groundhog Day" revisited?

Yesterday morning started as usual. I pushed the ST backwards out of the carport where it patiently waits through the night for the next day's adventures. We live in town. Our neighborhood is typical for an older one. City streets neatly define the "blocks". Our lot is actually two. It spans from the street on one side to an alley on the other. The garage is inhabited by my wife's little car and the bikes not currently doing "frontline" duty. The old truck sits in the driveway leading up to the carport but will not fit under the cover. Perfect place for the commuter bike. Problem is, I have to push it backwards to get it out. Right now that is pretty challenging since the ground is so wet and soggy the bike mires down. I can ride the bike in so there is an additional few pounds ( if you know what I mean ) on the way into the carport. Now there's a big muddy rut through the grass that runs right alongside the pickup. Maybe I should just convert the whole thing to a motocross track and rent it out!

Within a few blocks I hook up with Hwy 99 which used to be the main highway up and down the valley before the interstate was built. 99 runs North and South. The portion I ride on is pretty much industrial. I have a 4.7 mile ride to get to the East-West highway that takes me out to Interstate 5 for the run to work.

The speed limit is such on 99 that traffic can get up to 50 or so miles an hour. The really irritating thing to me are the stop lights. You just get up to speed and the lights turn red so you have to haul it back down, again. On top of that, remember, it's industrial. There is a Target distribution center and you can guess how many trucks come and go from there. Morse Brothers is a major sand, gravel, and road building concern. Not to mention all the other trucking companies that operate out of warehouses all up and down. So not only do I have to be ready to put the binders on, but there's a good chance that while I am waiting for the green light several trucks will lumber in front of me. I know they are just doing what they do without evil intent but sometimes I feel like a running back dodging defensive linemen.

Yesterday morning ( Tuesday ) I was running a little late. On Monday I was running a little ahead. Monday morning I found myself behind a little red Geo Metro with a personalized plate. ( I won't say what was on the plate just in case you happen to read this ) The driver was one of those who just could not seem to find a happy speed and stay there. I passed him only to find a moment later that he came zooming by me and then slowed back down. Traffic prevented me from passing again since my ramp up to the East-West connector was coming up. Once on the connector I still could not go around as this driver and another were playing the "let's go slow and drive side by side" game. This forced me to follow for the 5 miles to the freeway. Guess what? The guy was getting on the freeway, too. Finally, I got room to pass. You got it. Pretty soon the Geo zoomed by me once more, never to be seen again.

Until yesterday, that is. This is what is really weird. Now I'm running late. At the same exact place I come up behind this car. Now we are both following a flat bed semi truck piled high with veener on two trailers. I have never seen a truck "tip-toe" but that is exactly what this driver was doing up the curved ramp. Perhaps they have had some previously disastrous experience with a load shifting and weren't taking any chances. I finally got to pass the Geo and this time they stayed behind me. Am I doomed to meet this car every morning as some sort of punishment? Will I live the same loop like in the movie "Groundhog Day"? Guess we will find out on the next ride.

Speaking of trucks, I had a REALLY scary experience on the freeway. If you have been reading this blog you have seen that we are having massive rain. There is a lot of standing water, even on the freeway. Knowing the amount of water a truck can spray I plan my passes carefully, making sure to get around briskly. I passed a truck at the same time it went through a big puddle of water. It was like somebody emptied a wading pool onto me. For a brief while I literally could not see anything but water sheets. The faithful ST and I came out all right but there was certainly a pucker factor!

At lunch time I ran some errands on the bike. Saw another soul on two wheels. A guy on a big yellow scooter was out with full gear and a full face helmet. My wave carried the pent up energy that comes from not being used in a while. His wave started out tentatively like he was surprised that a "bike" guy would wave but soon became full fledged. The other thing that caused me great cheer and humor was pulling up alongside a mini van with a man at the wheel. There was a woman whom I assumed was his wife in the passenger seat. I could see several munchkins in the rear seats. Usually I get looks that seem to carry pity that I am reduced to being in the rain when I could be warm and dry in a cage. This guy gave me a look that clearly said "God, I wish I could be you right now!". Don't get me wrong. My wife and children have greatly enriched my life. But that look captured the spirit of why I ride. This two wheeled ride is truly my "Freedom Machine".

4 comments:

Mad said...

How about laying some cainlink fence over the muddy bit you roll the Pan over? Might stop the "trenches of the Somme" effect?

I love waving to scooters, there are so many different reactions possible. The normal reaction here is a long puzzled stare as they try to figure out if they know you, then there's the "I can't believe a biker waved" suprised half wave, the "Oh wow a biker waved" manic arm flapping and my personal favourite where they are so suprised they attempt an unprepared wave and wobble down the road like a drunk chicken.

The Bubaker said...

Grrr I meant *chainlink*

irondad said...

hmmm, chainlink might work. Good idea.

I am still laughing my face off at your reference to the "drunk chicken"!!! Unlike this particular scooter rider, most of them wear 3/4 helmets. I can just picture the look on their faces that goes from surprise to panic.

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