I should have posted yesterday, since the two index fingers I use to type were the only parts of my body that weren’t sore when I tumbled into my place last night. But, after a good night’s sleep, and a good walk to run some errands, I am headed into the blogosphere with both fingers a-blazin’. The Dave Brubeck Trio and Gerry Mulligan’s “Mexican Jumping Bean” is playing right now, and that is good rapid-typing music.
I took part in the September Critical Mass ride last evening. Critical Mass rides take place on the last Friday of each month, to promote bicycling as an alternative (and more environmentally friendly) mode of transportation, and to make motorists aware of the fact that, as time goes on, they will have to share the road with two-wheeled human-powered vehicles (or three-, in the case of your blogger).
This is where, I confess, I have had some issues with the hardcore militant biking community, not just in Columbus but online worldwide as well. I have seen cyclists who treat the Olentangy Bike Trail and the streets of Columbus (the narrower, the better) as their own personal Tour de France. On the one hand, they say that bicycles and cars should be treated equally in the eyes of the law and in the eyes of safety. I agree with the theory behind this. But, were this put into practice the way the cyclists act, this means cars should be allowed to ignore traffic lights, ride against traffic, weave in and out of the lanes, straddle lanes, and go as fast as they can, speed limits be damned. (In downtown Columbus, Jimmy John’s delivery people are the guiltiest of this.)
I calculate last night’s ride to be about 10 miles. I have found Map My Ride to be a frustrating program to use, so I did not try to compute it exactly before I began typing. I was in last month’s ride, which went north around the Ohio State campus and wound its way back through downtown and ended in parties at both Franklinton Cycle Works and 400 West Rich St. This month’s ride went south– through German Village, Merion Village, and down through several blocks of Obetz.
My trike is, like me, built for comfort, not speed, so I was not really in the head of the ride the whole time. During the beginning, I was pretty close to being a straggler. The seat on the trike is not situated in such a way that standing up to pedal would increase speed. It is much heavier than a regular bike–especially a racing bike, which usually has a magnesium frame–and has no gears. I was able to catch up and hold my own whenever the ride went downhill, or stopped for red lights.
And we didn’t always stop for red lights, unless everyone was at the intersection at once. I don’t know if the organizers cleared this with the Columbus Police beforehand, but it was the same dispensation that police give funeral processions. Funeral processions are allowed to go through red lights so that everyone can stay together.
I burned God knows how many calories going up the slight incline of the bridge on S. High St. which goes over the railroad tracks and Capital Brass Foundry. I am proud to say that, although I doubted that I would be able to, I did make it, and luxuriated in the breeze and motion on the down slope as we continued onto Groveport Rd.
There was only one brief moment of fear on the trip. As we began the northward journey, we went through a nearly blind curve while going through an underpass. I was looking forward to the underpass, for a few blessed seconds away from the sun. I made a pretty wide arc while going around this curve, and saw a FedEx Ground truck in the other side, making its way around the curve, probably en route to the distribution center on Groveport Rd. He was in the right lane, and we were in our right lane, but it was still a little startling.
As we came north through South Columbus, we did go through some narrow streets off the beaten path, and this caused me some worry, since it meant having to run over some gravel and broken glass. (So far, I have had good luck with my tires, as long as I keep them inflated. One day I ran over what I thought was a discarded cellophane wrapper, and it turned out to be a broken beer bottle. My tires were no worse for it.)
We didn’t lack for variety of road surfaces. Our northbound trip through German Village went over City Park Ave. and S. 3rd St., which meant brick streets. Marietta has many brick streets, so they are not a novelty to me, but I am not used to going over them on the trike, where the shock of each bump bounces you around.
The ride had no official ending, but it pretty much dissolved on S. 4th St. at Dirty Frank’s Hot Dog Palace and the Little Palace. I have heard people sing the praises of Dirty Frank’s all over the Columbus Underground Website and all over Facebook, and thought about rewarding myself for surviving the long ride by trying it out, but there was too much of an early-evening crowd.
Although I had a bit of a second wind while heading back north on High St., I decided to lock up the trike in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation garage and take the bus back home. My mood was pretty good, and it kept my mind off the soreness in my legs.
Critical Mass is good for putting the active in activist.