a shoulder to ride on

today was national bike to work day, and i did just that.  sort of.

 i parked my car at the cascade river wayside rest, extracted the form-fitting lycra from areas where discrete extraction was necessary, then rode the 10.5 miles into grand marais.  i heard birds sing.  i smelled road kill. i wasn”t late for work. 

commuting is something that once coursed through my veins.  i did so through two stints at the university of minnesota and used to thrive on moving through traffic when the traffic wasn’t moving.  in an urban setting, it is the only way to go. 

up here though, commuting is dictated by a road with shoulders.  between lutsen and grand marais, that eliminates about half the distance.  my aversion to shoulderless roads was probably formed during my 1981 bicycle trip from l.a. to st. paul.  during that journey, i was nearly doored by an rv into the grand canyon, was repeatedly pushed into any number of ditches by blasts of wind from passing trucks, and even challenged a group of phlegm-spewing thugs to a bout of fisticuffs in nebraska, after they challenged my right to ride on a road that obviously wasn’t made for bicycles.  

when their vehicle turned around in response to my heartfelt gesture of friendship (in some countries) they came straight at me.  but i held my position, imploring them t0 “bring it on, you little fuckers.” 

being tired and hungry, with 600 miles to go, spoke on my behalf that day.  his presentation was very effective. 

“that guy was crazy,” the driver said as the tires of teen-aged confusion squealed towards the safety of kearney. 

riding on shoulderless roads these days comes mindful of the distractions presented to drivers.  in the 80’s, there were no cell phones or texting.  now there are and any time i ride on a public road, i am mindful that the next car that creeps up on me, might be the last car  that creeps up on me. 

if the driver is texting, the narrative of my demise would go something like this.   

“lol…omg omg OMG…..WTF?” as the texter’s right front fender sends me into low earth orbit. 

now, i wear a neon yellow vest and if there is even a hint of driver confusion, i make eye contact…which makes me a social freak on the north shore.  

in a couple of weeks, i will ride the inaugaral “lutsen 39er”, although if i make it into the “lutsen 19er”, i’ll be okay with that.  as long as there’s a shoulder, i’ll be okay.

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About borealbilly

i am cursed by nocturnal self-awareness. View all posts by borealbilly

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