Thursday, January 28, 2010

Partially Avenging the Mass Murder on the Interurban Trail

No mass murder of crows, but not a great deal to crow about either.

In my earlier post about Mass Murder on the Interurban Trail, I translated a murder of crows to be a flock of crows, like the thousands we saw roosting at dusk on King County's Interurban trail. A week later, John Vincent and I tackled RUSA Permanent 0531 Mercer Island-Redmond-Orting-MI again, but we saw no crows.

Becasue we departed an hour earlier and made initially better time than DartreDame (my wife, Pramila) and I had the week before, John and I passed through "Crowville" well before dusk. Hence, no crows in the trees.

The day had began inauspiciously, however, when John flatted within the first 8 kilometers. I saw the giant pothole in the beam of his light just as his front wheel fell into it, and soon enough his pinch flat exposed itself. It did make me consider the relative visibilities for upright and recumbent riders. I wondered whether the sitting back position of John's recumbent handicapped his ability to see the pothole. Not sure.

Later, after nearly 13 hours of riding and seven hours of rain, I know that visibility became the issue. We'd made it at last to the final leg of the trip, and it was dark and rainy and our glasses were rain-spattered and opaque. Neither of us had a dry snippet of cloth with which to wipe our glasses, and it was getting cold.

I've been riding pretty steadily this Winter so while I wasn't comfortable I still had enough in the tank to push through, round the Mercer Island Loop and finish. John, unfortunately, had had to scrap a few rides in the past few months, and really hadn't ridden a long ride since October. Finishing was on John's mind, but the visibility and toll of the conditions made it feel a little less than safe. Sadly, he had to pull the plug, but sensibly and reluctantly chose safety over recklessness.

For me, knowing what John endures just to be on the bicycle he loves--see my earlier post here about John's transition to the recumbent so he could continue riding despite neurological damage--I have tremendous admiration for his tenacity, finish or no. He's taught me a great deal, and I know he'll be out there again...and soon.

The uncanny thing is that it was the same issue for Dartre the week before as for John this time. In each case, they hadn't ridden much since October. Give that seemingly easy Permanent 0531 a dose of nasty conditions and a recent paucity of riding, and it seems to find a way to frustrate.

Looking back over my shoulder as I rode along Lake Sammamish as the sun rose much earlier that day.

So there you have it. The Interurban Trail, unassuming and seemingly minding its own business, once again hosted mayhem, but at least not a mass murder this time.

Lots of lessons learned or relearned. Training matters. Visibility cannot be taken for granted. Failing to finish isn't failure. Coming back to try it again can work (this ride gave me my second consecutive month or R2 of R12). Take nothing for granted on endurance rides. And plenty more.

My next ride, come February 6, is with a small rascal of randonneurs, so I am looking forward to the larger flock sensibilities that accompany clusters of riders. It feels already--even though it hasn't come yet--as if it is a little more Springlike (did I just jinx us all?!) in its sociability. A pair of Winter randonneurs is like the solitary pair of Mergansers we've ridden past. But a whole rascal of randonneurs in February begins to feel like that flock of Starlings that will settle into our back yard soon.

Tell me, am I just delirious and overly desirous of Spring, or does riding in groups in some Winter sun-like vague way conjure up the insinuations of Spring?

Top photo courtesy of King County.

Keep it learning and yearning,


1 comment:

  1. Congrats on conquering that permanent after all. What ride are you doing on the 6th?