I was on my own today (the other half and his folks having to drive up to Denver to take his grandma to catch her flight) and, left with the choice between sitting at home with my father-in-law’s chocolate chip cookies and going out on the bike, it was no contest: I would take the chocolate chip cookies with me on the bike. Just down the road from where we’re staying there’s a river trail that runs right around into town, and then on and out to the reservoir beyond. I wasn’t quite up for the 36-mile round trip the reservoir would entail, but, it being another beautiful day, I was up for a bit of exploration.
The weather was perfect: crisp and cool and very clear, with no wind and a light scattering of cloud. The ride down to the trail was worryingly downhill all the way but once on the trail it was gently undulating, following the course of the creek. Mindful of the altitude and the need to get back up the hill at the end, I took it at a steady pace. In fact, that was pretty much all my borrowed bike – having spent the last decade or so in the garage – was going to do. We must have looked quite a sight as we travelled down the path together, me in my flat cap and waxed coat, sitting bolt upright, it enjoying its first proper outing in years. The bike had been a little neglected and I could only really get three useful gears out of it and the back brake was purely advisory. But at the stately pace that we were going, it didn’t really matter. And besides, on the trail the only real hazard I was likely to encounter was apparently a rabid skunk.
Oh, and my fellow cyclists. For having stopped on the bridge to take a couple of photos, I heard the familiar whizzing of wheels and clicking of gears. ‘On your left’ they cried and zipped past me as I flattened myself against the parapet of the bridge, fwooom, fwoom, fwoom, all lycra and shades and helmet-mounted cameras. I said good morning but they were going too fast to hear, and besides, I don’t think they recognised me as a fellow cyclist. Clearly, I was but a person on a bike. Or maybe they thought I was about to talk to them about God?
But never mind all that. I could have ridden on forever, lured by the endless trail, but caution prevailed and I stopped at some curiously elaborate picnic tables and had my cookies in the sun and then I mounted my steed and made my way home again with my shadow running before me. By the time I got home I wasn’t even out of breath, and I’m hatching plans now for exploring further afield, and dragging the other half out with me too.
But if it wasn’t for the trail, I don’t know how much cycling I’d want to do around here. The streets around my in-law’s house are fine, enormously wide (I think the road that leads up to theirs is as wide as Big A-road at home) and very lightly used and everything so far has given me a lot of room, even when I was on the right side of the street.* There’s even the odd bike lane painted on some of the roads. But all the other roads are multi-lane monsters and the entry level car around here appears to be a pickup truck the size of our house. Even if I could stick to the proper side of the street, I wouldn’t want to be in amongst more than the lightest traffic and the quietest roads. The rest just looks too scary to be fun. I’ll stick to the trail for now, and take my chances with the rabid skunk.
*There might *ahem* have been one occasion when I found myself cycling happily along on the left. But it was a very empty road, and honestly, anyone could have made the same mistake…