Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Why I ride: sunset

Some of what I write here about riding the lovely bike paths that snake around this city might make you wonder why I do it at all. Between the stoned hippies, the large, spread-out families, the cigar-smokers, the dead cats, the sudden storms, and everything else I've complained about, it probably sounds like an unfriendly place at the least, and maybe even a dangerous one at times.

That's because if I wrote about what happens on a normal ride it would look like this: I rode 18 miles, saw 59 geese along the path, passed 8 other cyclists, and struggled with my diaper chamois irritating my lady parts -- yawn.  I only write about the funny or irritating things that happen because I'm a writer. My job is to entertain. At the very least, it's to entertain.

Besides it's hard to capture in words the sweet, fishy smell of the river, the majesty of a great blue heron taking off and flying along the river beside me for a ways, the teeth-jarring thud of an unseen pothole, the exhilarating fear of pushing my speed over 25 mph on a hill, the burn going up the steep ramp to the top of the levy and the desperation of almost not making it to the top, or even the camaraderie of riding for a couple of hours with a friend, stopping to play along the river or maybe riding into downtown for dinner afterward  ..... Those are all things you have to feel for yourself. I wish you could feel them for yourself.

Last night I rode 20 miles. I set my Charity Miles app for The Nature Conservancy and took off south along the river.

Toward the end of the ride I was afraid I wouldn't be able to outrun the sunset, and that I'd get caught on the path after dark. In spite of that, I had to stop and take a couple of photos with my phone-- one looking forward and one backward from where I stood on the path -- just so you can see why I get out there and ride as often as possible in spite of the crazy, rude people I share the path with.

Looking forward toward the city.

Looking back you can barely see the path I just traveled to the left of the sun.

Sunsets, clouds, and bridges. Just one reason I ride.